I picked Meyer lemons and pomegranates from the garden. I cut two kinds of basil from the garden as well. I made pesto and dried the basil to use later.

I enjoyed herbal tea from peppermint and lemon verbena that was grown in my garden.

I cut and dried lemon verbena from the garden and covered the plants when the temperature dropped close to freezing for a couple of days. If I cover the plants with glass jars, they will make it through the winter here without dying.

I gave two daughters a haircut. One wanted a bob and one wanted several inches taken off.

This is the soil that we brought in that was in our beds previously which has been screened to remove any rocks and roots. We’ll be adding large amounts of manure to this before putting in back in the planting areas.

We continued our work in the garden, removing the rocks that make up our soil and taking out the soil in the beds that has been contaminated with crabgrass roots. We haven’t been able to eliminate the crabgrass in 14 years that was caused by bringing in local horse manure, and this past year it was worse than ever. I don’t usually post frugal fails, as I like to keep things positive here, but this was a big one, and I will only buy sterile manure from the store from now on to keep my garden free from these horrible, choking weeds. We will bring in new soil for the garden beds that we have and the new ones that we are digging. Sometimes, buying the more expensive thing that will last longer (and, in this case, be a superior product) is the better frugal savings.

We took three loads to the dump this week. If you bring your most recent garbage bill and your id (with a matching address) it is free to dump. Otherwise, each load of dirt would have cost us $64 to dump.

I looked at the grocery ads and noticed that a 3-pound bag of clementines is now priced at $3.99 for a sale price at multiple stores. Last year and for many years, the sale price has been $2.99 for a 3-pound bag. I am glad that we are planting mandarin trees and I hope that they do well in the garden, as having our own mandarin trees will really help to offset the rising price of food. It will be probably five years before our trees will be large enough to produce much, but if they do well, they will be a great blessing to us, as clementines are a family favorite. For now, I am not buying any clementines, as we continue to pick up the school meals that are offered to all students in our district. We have received oranges and apples, which has eliminated my need to buy them this fall. The only foods I purchased this week were candy and edible treats that we will be giving to the children, each other, and my parents for Christmas (most of which are stocking stuffers). I am now done with Christmas shopping for my family.

I programmed our programable thermostats for winter. I keep them at 65 degrees F, which is fine during the day and at night, but a little chilly in the morning. To make it easier to get out of a warm bed, I set the thermostats to go on to warm the house to 68 degrees on the weekdays before anyone gets up and for a little while afterward. The heat only runs during that time in the morning, as it hasn’t been cold enough for the heat to run any other time.

We started our regular December tradition of singing Christmas hymns each night when we have family scripture study. I love the way this simple activity helps to bring the Christmas spirit into our home and it costs nothing.

My two youngest boys have been pretending to be robots lately. My teenaged son made them the body of the robot costume from a large Amazon box that we had and my dad made the “rectangle shoes” that my four-year-old said a robot needs along with the head from a box that he had.

What did you do to save money this past week?

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  1. I love the robot costume, I love the haircut photo–this blog gives me such a good feeling. Thank you, Brandy, for all you do.

  2. I buried vegetable scraps in my garden to enrich the soil.

    I started the lessons in Japanese through Mango Languages, which I can access for free with my library card. I also borrowed books and a TV series from the library.

    I worked from home one day, saving a little on fuel and wear and tear. This week I’m working two days from home.

    We were careful to use leftovers from meals as lunches other days.

    We gathered pine cones from our trees, applied a little peanut butter and rolled them in bird seed as our holiday activity for the week – a holiday treat for our feathered friends. I also made a gingerbread (cake, not the cookies) as a treat for the family.

    We used to wood to heat our home as needed, and wore warm clothes.

    I used scrap material and notions from my sewing supplies to make cute gnome ornaments for our tree. I’ll also be sharing some with friends.

  3. I am at the end of my pay period for the month. I still have about 20 dollars left so that is good.
    All of my household bills have gone up. This is not from using more, but the price has gone up. I will have to tighten my belt and see how we can bring the items back into my budget.
    All meals eaten at home.
    My grandchild had to play in a band concert for Christmas. Don’t get me started on how stupid I think this is during a pandemic. It was a “required for a test grade” thing. While waiting for the grandchild my other grandson and I stopped at Sonic for drinks. We only buy drinks during “happy hour”. You get the largest drink they offer for a small amount of money.
    I continue to read free books. This is one of the best ways to “get away from your troubles”.
    I am using my Ibotta app. a lot for food. It takes a little more time and trouble, but is worth it to me. An example is: getting a dollar off a box of 100 tea bags. That is a lot when you add it up over a year. I buy enough tea and coffee for a year at a time. I think once I get used to using the app it will be really worth it.
    I have all of my Christmas bought. Everything was bought on sale with free shipping. I never left the house to shop.
    I’m binding a quilt for one of my daughter’s Christmas gift. This quilt is made from left over fabric and batting from other projects.
    I test quilt patterns for a woman. I’ve done 3 quilts for her in the last couple of years. She also designed a fabric line that I used to make a wall hanging for Thanksgiving. It is a crazy turkey. I am going to make kits of this turkey to sell in my Etsy shop for next year. I wanted to use Patience’s fabric so I asked her where I could buy some. She sent me a catalog for the fabric AND all of her quilt patterns. This gift added up to $80.00 plus whatever the shipping would be. I was speechless with her generosity.
    December is a month I spend in contemplation every year. I look to see if I accomplished my goals for the year. I, also, set goals for the next year. As we all know it has been a very difficult year for everyone. Most of my goals have flown out the window. I’m finding it difficult to set many goals for this next year. We never really have control of our lives (though we think we do) so I don’t know why I am struggling so with this.
    In the last 2 weeks I have lost an aunt and a friend’s daughter to Covid-19. Everyone…please stay safe. Wear your masks…it is a prudent thing to do.

    1. I’m sorry for your losses, too. It infuriates me that some people can’t be bothered to follow the covid guidelines. Bless your heart during these troubling times.

    2. I am sorry for your losses. You will love Ibotta. I only purchase the items that are free after rebates or things we already use! I did really well recently with combining a sale, coupons and Ibotta on pullups that I am set for 6 months, she only wears one at night. It does add up after time.

    3. I’m so sorry for the loss of your loved ones, and hope that happy memories will comfort you in such a difficult time.

    4. Becky – I’m trying to still figure out Ibotta too – but I agree with you. The savings are with the time and effort.

      I’m so sorry about loved ones. Hugs to you

      1. Jenny, thank you. I don’t think there is one family that doesn’t know someone that has been lost to covid.

        1. We lost my granddad back in the beginning of April to COVID… It has been a trying year for everyone in different ways. Warm thoughts for you, Becky.

    5. Becky, thank you for sharing. I can relate and nod in agreement with so much of what you wrote and took pause to be thankful for what I couldn’t. Your post I can guarantee will be in the back of my mind this week as a cheer to stay on track.
      I m sorry for your losses.

  4. This has been a busy week of quilting for clients: Quilt #96- https://pin.it/wZV5aD1, Quilts #97 and #98 were two panels that I quilted next to each other so client could use her 1 batting piece and a single backing and just cut them apart afterwards to bind them. She has individual ornaments that came with the panel and after she embroiders them, her great-grandchildren can attach then on the tree over and over. https://pin.it/3Ct7NmS. This client is an active 85 year old. Same one that had me quilt all those Halloween quilts! She does keep Lenni busy! Quilt #99 was made for a different client. She is gifting this to a friend and it is made entirely of the friend’s silk scarves! Fortunately, she had used stabilizer on the back of each piece. https://pin.it/7tK9fRq. Quilt #100 was back to my client who had me quilt #96 (as well as Quilts #91-#94) https://pin.it/3qP9DTH. Who can resist puppies in old trucks? 😀 Quilt #101- same client- https://pin.it/3ASdWgp and then today Quilt #102- https://pin.it/3BV40Sj. I have 1 final one to quilt for this client who brought me 9 Christmas quilt tops. I’ll get that done today. The one thing her Christmas quilts and my 85 quilts year old client with the Halloween quilts and now Christmas tree quilts have taught me is how easy it is to take a simple fabric panel (Hobby Lobby has their Christmas panels 50% off now!) and by adding some extra borders or blocks using small bits of fabric can turn these simple panels into something more splendid and unique!! Quilting for other people has not only added income to our budget but also given me such inspiration for future quilts to try my hand at!! Earning and learning at the same time!!

    I made another batch of muffins using the lemon poppyseed muffin mix I made and adding yogurt, cranberries and chopped pecans. Then I found a recipe for butterscotch oatmeal muffins and made a batch of those later in the week. My canister of old fashioned rolled oats in the kitchen was empty and I was too lazy to go downstairs to the basement to refill it, so I substituted the same amount of 7 grain rolled cereal that I had in another canister in the kitchen! Oh my goodness, did they ever love those!! https://pin.it/5plLB1t. I also used my powdered milk +water in place of the liquid milk called for in recipe. I often do that in things I bake or cook. No one notices any difference in taste and it saves the liquid milk for drinking or pouring on hot or cold cereal. I cooked up 6 pounds of the breakfast sausage I made a couple weeks ago into sausage crumbles and packaged all of it, except 2 cups, into ziploc freezer bags to use in the future. The 2 cups I kept out went into breakfast burritos. They also used 18 eggs that I scrambled (we have a large excess of fresh eggs right now so I’m finding ways to use them up!) and some shredded cheese! 15 minutes worth of time and I had 24 burritos made!!
    Hubs asked me if he could make some fresh salsa that he found on Pinterest to use some of our fresh garden tomatoes. I had picked all of our green tomatoes before our first freeze a month ago and have had them ripening inside since. It also used a fresh red onion and I had that in my pantry too. Hot peppers from the freezer from earlier garden harvest as well as home-canned Rotel. It turned out really well and he was so pleased!! Here’s the recipe: https://pin.it/4OahCDr.

    I used some of Hubs fresh salsa to make IP chicken burrito bowls. I used leftover turkey instead of chicken! So easy and tasty and gave us enough for lunches/dinners after our initial dinner for the 3 of us. Some put it into tortillas and made burritos and others put it directly into a bowl and ate with tortilla chips on the side to dip in! Either way it was very tasty! https://pin.it/7oAotCN. I tallied it up and that day, I had used 2 jars and 3 cans to make breakfast, salsa and dinner. That is quite typical. Our food storage is not there on shelves to be admired. It is an everyday part of our diet. It saves us so much time and money that way!
    When our bills for the month came in, I noticed a $69 charge on our Southwest Visa card. I was confused because we never carry a balance on it and certainly haven’t flown anywhere recently. In checking, it was their annual membership charge. We called and asked them to cancel the card and the charge since we don’t know when we might be flying again, certainly not in the near future. They were very nice about it and so we saved the $69.
    I made a short trip to Kroger’s with a very specific list. I picked up 2 tubes of Colgate toothpaste that cost 19 cents each after Kroger digital coupons, 2 big (28 Oz) bottles of Tresemme shampoo- which were free + gave me $1.02 after Kroger coupons and ibotta! So you don’t think I made a special trip to Kroger’s for these, I had to make a bank deposit from quilting income and Kroger’s is exactly between my house and the bank so no extra gas was used! And, speaking of gas, using the free Gas Buddy app on my phone, I got gas at Sam’s club for $1.81/gallon when everywhere else had jumped to $2.05 and up! I got it on Thursday on my way home from babysitting 3 grandkids all day so daughter could be in person at work!
    So, in many ways, just a routine week. A little savings here and there and some bits of extra income here and there and it all gets us farther along the self reliant path! Now that Hubs has been retired for 18 months, he’s been the best cheerleader over our efforts to become more and more financially stable. He really notices the savings on groceries/other things and is excited to have time to take a more active part in our savings “teamwork”! I am so grateful to be able to work together on common goals with this sweet fellow!!
    Thanks, Brandy and all, for so much inspiration and so many good ideas I had never thought of that you’ve given me so generously!

    Gardenpat in Ohio

    1. Congratulations on passing the 100 quilt mark! How wonderful to think of all of these quilts going to people who will cherish them for so many years to come.

      1. Elizabeth M.- Quilt #104 was just brought in by new client so I’m loading it on Lenni right now. It’s a baby quilt and I’ll have it quilted in 90 minutes or less.
        Quilt #103 is finished and being picked up today along with the other 3 for the same client.

    2. Thank you for the sewing ideas. As I’m cleaning all my sewing area, I’m now cutting the scrap fabric into blocks. I love looking at all the quilts you do. They have given me new ideas
      I feel that you and Brandy help me to garden better and learn to use what I have

      1. Nancy in Colorado- Here are a couple scrap quilters that I love to get ideas from:
        susies-scraps.com. She is in Australia and is so creative using scraps to make not just quilts, but bags, etc.

        The other is Bonnie Hunter: https://quiltville.blogspot.com/. I got my ideas on how to organize my scraps from her.

        I know there are others but these two always have lots of free ideas, tips!
        Gardenpat in Ohio

    3. I love that Christmas Tree quilt! I’d buy something like that. I pinned the recipes for muffins and the rice bowls.

      1. Patsy- Glad you liked them! The chicken (turkey) burrito bowl leftovers were gobbled (LOL!) up sooner than I thought they would be! I may make another batch just for lunches!!

        Gardenpat in Ohio

  5. Your sons are adorable. I love the bob haircut on your beautiful daughter. It takes patience to get it to look that good. My sister and I always used to cut each other’s hair as teenagers and even into our 20s.

    My husband and son cut their own hair. I usually trim it up.

    We have been diligent to eat up leftovers. Since I’ve not been cooking as much, our food bill has risen…even with the neighbors bringing a couple meals a week. I’ve told them to hold off till the next round. Thankfully, my son has taken over the shopping, so I don’t have to think about cost. He does a good job getting food we will eat, but doesn’t (yet) adhere to price points. Doesn’t seem so important right now with my eating requirements and that there are only three of us. He has started taking lunch for both himself and his dad. Wise choice.

    I’m susposed to be knee deep in more cancer treatment, but tested positive for Covid over a month ago (no symptoms and quarentining for all). No symptoms fortunately, but I need a negative test to continue. It can be positive and not contagious for quite awhile. Just praying for negative tests to get going. I’m struggling with this waiting and not worrying.

    While I’m here and feeling better, I’ve been working on some projects that had been set aside. I’m almost finished with a blanket for my son, dehydrated 2 gallon jugs of potato slices, dehydrated the parsley from the aerogarden, and sent Christmas cards. I might even get to canning the frozen applesauce I made earlier this fall and making cranberry sauce to can from a free bag of cranberries I have in the freezer. I ordered 4oz jars for that and they finally came in.

    I debated sending the cards because of the cost and labor involved, but decided to go ahead. This year seems to be a year that people might need a little extra support. And I was well enough to do it. I had to order more cards online that are just OK. I do miss in-person shopping. I’d much rather have supported a local shop and found what I wanted, but this year is what it is!

    Christmas is strange this year. To avoid bacterial transfer from plants, I need to have our tree outside. We did have to buy outdoor lights. My son and I found and cut the tree from the forest, so that was a fun and free (goes on our wood permit already purchased) adventure. I’ve had the presents all purchased and wrapped. They’re all useful this year. I’ve noticed that sometimes it seems like everything just needs replacing, and this is that year. We’ve supplemented or replaced just about everything it feels like! And now my husband’s work boots have stitching coming out. The shoe/boot guy can fix it, but he takes forever. What to do?

    Finally, two graduates this December received money from us as that’s what they most need. And, I didn’t have to buy more stuff from Amazon and double ship it. My daughter is having her photos made into metal prints as a small side business (Alexandriasviewfinder on instagram). I bought one of the farm my mother grew up on for her for Christmas. At 82, I think she’ll love it. I also wanted to do a little something for our generous and helpful neighbors, but really need to stem the spending. I remembered that I had some dark chocolate sealed and stored that I didn’t use last Christmas, paper candy boxes and red string from eons ago, extra coffee (in my chemo daze I ordered an extra 5 lb bag and it won’t last forever), and brown paper lunch bags. I’m putting together dark chocolate bark with dried cranberries and roasted walnuts -that I have on hand – with some very good coffee. No out of pocket cost and I get to use up my mistakes for some nice presents! (We are not fond of dark chocolate.)

    Blessings, Trish

      1. So easy to make, too. Chocolate chips work as well. I posted the recipe (with pictures) at my food instagram…savingfoodforeating.

        Lots of recipes on the internet too. I just like the chocolate melted over water since I’m not microwave savvy and overcook things, unfortunately. A microwave is new to me.

    1. Trish – here’s hoping for a negative test soon so that you can resume treatments.
      Bless your son, he is really stepping up.

      All the best.

      1. Margie,

        He is, isn’t he. Making the transition to being an adult.

        Thank you for your kind thoughts. I appreciate them.


      1. Cindi,

        Don’t you know it! If I’d suffered the symptoms of Covid with chemo, it wouldn’t have been good. I’m truly blessed that I’m super healthy and protected.

        Thank you,


    2. Trish: Hoping for a negative soon, so treatment can continue!
      Our chocolate bark sounds delicious! Sending you love,

    3. Trish, I’m so sorry you tested positive for Covid. With everything you’ve been through, it seems so unfair! We are waiting for a friend we saw on Friday (with no symptoms) to get tested. She has a telehealth visit today. It does seem as likely that this could be seasonal flu, which would be better for her (Tamiflu is possible) and for us (we’ve all had flu shots). She has a bad cough and congestion, but thankfully no headache or temperature (yet). We are quarantining until we know. Oh, I think your husband should get a new pair of work shoes AND get the old ones fixed, then he can rotate.

      Brandy, I agree with the pictures. I was super impressed with the haircut, and then I saw the robot costume…especially the shoes, LOL!

      My Christmas shopping is done, too. About half was bought locally, weeks ago, and about half online. I don’t have a lot to report this week, but there’s this–
      * I bought two 16-packs of Duracells at Office Max/Depot with 100% rebate about two weeks ago. I bought the same deal a couple of months ago for stocking stuffers, so these were for us!
      * The $34 battery rebate got credited to my Rewards account in about two days. I went back this week and bought a big desk calendar that I hang on the fridge with magnetic hooks. Cost: $0. The decorated calendar was $18 and the plain one was $7…I’m all for beauty, but I’ll let you guess which one I got!
      * I returned a string of LED Christmas lights to Target (next door to Office Max) because they didn’t do what I expected and I would need two more $20 strings to make it work.
      * I have been paying a lot of attention to the food that is in the refrigerator, whether it’s leftovers or opened packages, and I’ve all but eliminated food waste for the last little while. I’ve discovered my daughter will eat anything if it has olives in it! (Note: my mother did NOT waste food, PERIOD. When she died and I cleaned out her fridge, all of the leftovers were labeled and dated, LOL).
      * My best friend lives 400 miles away and sent me 4 Christmas dish towels she made with her embroidery machine. She also sent me over a month’s worth of a medication my daughter takes and which she had recently stopped. I’m now about 35 days ahead on this one, too!

      Hope everyone here is having a wonderful week! I am re-reading the Father Tim/Mitford series, which is always a good thing to read at this time of year (actually, at any time of year, but especially now). 

      1. Thank you, Maxine.

        Just received the news that the test is again positive. I could test positive into January. Not contagious and the infectious disease people as well as my state health department are satisfied. It’s just that the stem cell transplant/bone marrow transplant (same thing) is so difficult they won’t start it till I do test negative twice. Just praying the cancer doesn’t grow. Praying!

      2. NEGATIVE! Our friend tested negative! We are, of course, relieved that we weren’t exposed, but we’re really happy that she doesn’t have Covid.

  6. Your photos always make me so happy, Brandy! This photo of your daughter is gorgeous! The bob is a cute hairstyle for her. I almost started drooling looking at the photo of pomegranates and lemons (neither grow well here in Minnesota). YUM.

    It’s been a rough week – two deaths, my husband still recovering from surgery, two dear friends with children who are having major medical struggles right now, and another dear friend entering into hospice care (he’s in his second round of cancer and it is now terminal). A very mentally trying week.

    Frugal things this week: I baked bread, made two types of soup from scratch (specifically to have leftovers to use for lunch), and did all the ironing (I always feel so caught up when I get it all done!). I also ordered the very last Christmas gift – now I just need to make time to finish the last couple of gifts that I need to make. Our daughter made gifts for two friends and our son has started baking cookies to give as gifts to his friends. We also started baking cookies to hand out to our parishioners for Christmas Eve service – many will drive up for communion and we will give them out then as well as the hand full that will be allowed in for in-person worship. Most will watch online. Either way, it’s a lot of baking so we’re starting early! I have been purchasing items piecemeal with our regular grocery budget for several weeks so no extra cost out of pocket there. I’m sure there’s more, but I’m not remembering them at this point.

    Thanks for all you do on this blog, Brandy. It really is a bright spot right now and I appreciate it.

  7. First, I cooked our Thanksgiving turkey according to Brandy’s recipe. I will NEVER brine a turkey again! It turned out perfectly. The meat does fall off the bone so there is no picture perfect turkey on a platter presentation but for all the time and hassle it saved me it was more than worth it. I will cook it this way for the rest of my life. Thank you for sharing this method, Brandy.
    On the frugal front:
    *I used the interlibrary loan system to get three books by Julie Summers. One came all the way from Alaska! The library usually charges $4/book to cover the postage but they told me I did not have to pay because it was the season of generosity. That saved me $12 theoretically, but they are so nice and helpful I will pay them anyway. It was in the budget and they still saved me over $40 in having to buy the books. They also have out a weekly children’s craft kit so I picked up 3 of those for the grandkids to make on Christmas day.
    *I finished our Christmas shopping using Amazon and free shipping saving $16 in shipping costs.
    *My husband and I took several hikes on pleasant weather days. Here in the mountains we have many trails within easy access.
    *I have stayed home all except one day in the past 2 weeks. When I did go out I grouped my errands.
    * I had a $2 credit at a local grocery store and used it to buy 3 avocados and 1 cucumber with no out of pocket cost.
    *I found chicken legs marked down to .29/# at another grocery store. I got 5.5 # which I divided into meal size packets. For $1.50 I now have 4 meals worth in the freezer.
    *I went to Walmart to purchase the gifts for our church Adopt-a-family person and was able to get several items well below my price point. My best deal was a nice jacket marked $11 (50% off) but rang up $5! That made my day and allowed me to purchase another item on the person’s list.
    *I did my usual cook at home, use up leftovers, watched our light usage, etc. Thanks for the tip about LED bulbs at the Dollar Tree. I will check into that for sure. LED is all we use now. Our electricity bill only goes up about $1 this time of year even with lights outside and on the tree.
    I am looking for some free/inexpensive stocking stuffer ideas. I went back and read some of Brandy’s ideas. Brandy, the links for the paper toy printables is no longer showing anything. I am on the hunt for a free site as I think they are a great idea. If anyone can steer me to a site with free paper toys/dolls I would appreciate it.

    1. I’m so glad you liked the turkey! I love the time and trouble it saves, and how juicy it is!

      I didn’t know about the printable site no longer working! If I find a new site I will post it!

  8. Your fruit looks just lovely-I dream of having homegrown tropical fruits in my yard in winter but I don’t think that will be happening in Canada!! Off to see my Mum and take her some groceries. According to the current restrictions she is allowed 2 visitors as she lives alone-so it is my sister and I. She is moving back to Germany in Jan so then my brother will be the other visitor. My only frugal accomplishment this morning was getting after my husband to chase down a $2,000 govt payment that I believe he is short from the govt relief back in the spring-he had sent in a request and not heard anything back so he requested a phone call back within 2 business days to avoid being on hold for ever. Hopefully he can get to the bottom of it by talking to a real person and see if he is eligible. Although I would happily hold for an hr if it meant I might get a big payback!

    1. I – You may already do this: When you are on hold, put your phone on “speaker” so you don’t have to keep it up by your ear.
      Of course, some places have better hold music than others….

      1. Thanks Heidi Louise-somehow I can’t adjust the volume on my speaker when I am on hold. I took my Mum out for lunch and then we went for a drive to the mountains-the lakes are not yet frozen and a gorgeous blue. I think she enjoyed the drive as she is cautious and has been staying home-there were no other customers in our favourite Indian restaurant so we felt quite comfortable there. We saw one herd of Rocky Mountain sheep and it was sunny and 14 degrees C which is very nice for this time of year.

        1. I,

          How wonderful that you were able to go to the mountains with your mother and see the gorgeous blue lakes. Again, I am envious. I, too, enjoyed our balmy weather. My ladies group just had a silent auction for a one night stay at Mount Engadine Lodge. It ended with a handsome amount for a scholarship fund. I haven’t stayed overnight at the lodge but the Sunday brunch was lovely! (brunch not being held during covid).

  9. -My frugal success of the week was taking one week of grocery money to the store, and buying food that would last two weeks. I planned what I would buy in advance and stuck to absolute basics. I had lots of vegetables already, so I focused mainly on getting more meat and eggs and a variety of carbs. I won’t need to go back for food until I get Christmas items the week leading up to the holiday. The only other thing I will need are supplies for the cats, which I’ll get at the end of this week.
    -I was disappointed to find out a couple of hours after I returned from the store that the same store was having a one-day sale the next day as part of a local shopping event, where a number of the items I bought would be at lower prices. Given the surge in cases in the province, I will settle for the success I had, and be glad I avoided any possible crowd, though our local Co-vid numbers have gone down the last few days.
    -Another success was that the last time I went to the pharmacy, I bought some medical tape to tape my mask to my face under my glasses. This stops the glasses from fogging up. I tried it this week when I went to buy groceries and it worked perfectly. The tape I bought is flexible, designed to be used on hard-to-tape places (across my face and nose). It wasn’t cheap, but I had been shopping without my glasses, which made it difficult to see prices. The tape stays put, but is also easy to take off when you want to.
    – I enjoyed a long phone conversation with my sister-in-law who is well along in recovering from a serious reaction to a drug, which had left her unable to think or have a conversation for a long time. We talked about people we have in common, new people in her life, and the books we’ve been reading, and it is lovely to have her back again. I also reconnected with a long-time friend through the Goodreads platform. She had disappeared this year from other social and work platforms, and I had feared the worst.

  10. What a blessing to read this blog each week (though I seem to comment less and less).
    Right now, I’m simmering soup on the stove. This is a gift-in-a-jar type recipe that I plan to gift to several people this Christmas. I decided to try it myself first, though, as I don’t like to give untested recipes as gifts. This, along with a few other food items, will become a gift for all of my kids’ Sunday school teachers and our pastor’s family as well as my aunt.
    I’ve finished my Christmas shopping, other than a few gift cards I’ll pick up next week. We weren’t able to put much back for Christmas this year, but we found so many good deals that I think we’re actually giving more than usual. My grandmother has me do her shopping for my children and I was able to find several DVDs and books at the dollar tree. I also comparison shopped and used coupons. In this way, I bought 6 gifts (from my grandparents) for each of my 8 children for only $25/child.
    We’ve seen so many people suffering and dying here. It’s difficult to celebrate a joyful season when so many are hurting!
    I did some grocery shopping last week, but don’t plan to go again until March. I’ll have my husband stop once every 10-14 days to pick up $20 of milk and produce but that will be it. We have so much food stored and I don’t want to go to waste. It also seems wise to stay out of the stores as much as possible. I’ll be documenting my meals as I use things up on my Instagram account (Sweet.Simplicity.Mom) starting January 1st and I’ve already documented what we’re starting with in my stories if anyone would like to follow along.
    Have a safe and happy week, everyone!

  11. I made crust less quiche bites in the 48 slot mini cupcake pan s friend gifted me and froze them. I made boneless skinless chicken breasts in the crockpot and shredded them with my hand mixer and froze in meal portions. I successfully completed my Christmas shopping without using Amazon for anything.
    I made homemade laundry detergent and all purpose cleaner.

  12. That bob haircut is adorable.
    Which daughter is that? She looks so grown up.
    I periodically check the unclaimed funds website for my state (Colorado) and the state where we used to live (Texas), and over the years I have been able to claim several hundred dollars in payments that never made it to me for one reason or another. This week I checked and discovered a $41 payment from our former electric co-op in Texas (where we have not lived for over 21 years!) I filled out the form online and will soon receive a check in the mail. So it is worth checking these sites, even if you don’t think you’ll find anything.
    I made sandwich bread and yogurt and all meals at home, washed laundry with homemade detergent and dried it on a rack in front of the woodstove. I read and listened to books I downloaded from the library, as well as a couple of books I requested through inter-library loans. Thank the Lord for libraries! I finished my Christmas shopping and got all my packages mailed.

  13. Working from home for over a week now has certainly saved me a lot in transit fares and since I have a 2 hour window on one fare I timed my two trips out so that I could take the subway, shop, and then return home using just the one fare. I haven’t done a lot of shopping over the past couple of weeks but did have to stop at an ATM, go to the drugstore, Post Office and the library so combined any outings that I did have.

    I had a few small gifts in my stash which will go to my “bubble” friend on Christmas day – which we will spend together. I won’t travel out of town to family and she won’t go to the friends she often eats with as they are combining too many families – against the rules! I bought a few gift cards for some others which will go in the Christmas cards I will mail tomorrow and that is it. I’ve told other friends that I will host a Christmas in July (or September) party once we’ve had our vaccines and they are just fine with that idea!

    I have gotten very strategic about laundry and have planned it so that I will only do 4 more loads before Christmas – saves money and my exposure time as it’s a common laundry room in my building.

    I have continued to alternate between my freezer and my pantry for meals and I’m really hoping to severely limit my grocery shopping in January and February to some dairy, fruit & veg. I have one CC that I want paid off by April and the extra grocery money will go towards that. I have plenty in my pantry and really need to make sure that I’m actually using it up! I’m going to head out for early opening tomorrow to try and get a turkey breast, package of thighs and a small ham for Christmas and then I’ll be set. I didn’t have any luck at the other grocery store yesterday – they are well stocked during the week but don’t put out as much on the weekends.

    Covid numbers have gone up again here so we are in one step away from complete lockdown – schools are open and essential shops but malls, restaurants (except for takeout), museums, theatres etc. are all closed. Smaller stores can only be open for online order pickups – and must be located outside of malls. Aside from walking with my friend I don’t venture out a lot. The weather was bad last week so only made it out for three long walks – managed about 3 miles each time but would have liked to be out a bit more often. I’ve got indoor chores and office work to do today but I’m hoping to get out again tomorrow. Otherwise, I watch Hallmark movies, read and watch Youtube documentaries, chat to friends and the days go in.

    I love that picture of the pomegranates & lemons! You did a great job on cutting your daughters hair and your little guy certainly looks as though he’s shaving fun in all that dirt! I completely agree with you when you say that sometimes paying a bit more is the wisest (and most cost effective) way to go. My dad always said “You get what you pay for” – and I have always bought the best quality that I could afford and if this means one pair of good shoes rather than three cheap ones then so be it. That one pair will usually last me a lot longer than the cheap ones. I hope that doesn’t sound snobbish – remember, I said the best quality I could afford and that applies to each individual’s budget as everyone’s circumstance is different. The one good thing about this pandemic is that it has truly made me aware of what I need versus what I want and that I value people and experiences over things – I just hope I remember this a year from now!

    Take care everyone – stay safe.

    1. Margie,

      My daughter got a tiny washing machine that drains into the bathtub to use in her apartment. It keeps her from being at the laundromat. She has a drying rack but also bought a small dryer (which is in the living room). I know in the city in a small apartment, a washing machine and dryer are huge luxuries, but I wonder if more people could fit this little washing machine in their apartments. It’s very, very narrow. When I was in Europe, we had washing machines (albeit larger ones) and drying racks, but no dryers. I’m guessing Toronto is like New York City and washing machines are a rarity.

      1. Brandy – could you please share the brand of washer and dryer your daughter purchased? I have one made I think by LG but it attaches to the kitchen sink for both its water and discharge. Unfortunately it doesn’t work with the kitchen sink in this apartment. Hooking into the bathtub would be perfect for me.

        Your photos of your kids made me smile, thanks. I’m sure your little ones love playing in all that dirt.

        1. She said the washing machine is made by Costway. She bought it used from someone who was moving. The dryer brand is Panda. I’ve not heard of either of those brands, but I’ve also never seen such small machines, either.

          1. Thanks Brandy and the other people for the brands.
            My small dryer was a Kenmore and plugged into a normal, 110volt household outlet. I set the dryer up in my bathroom and ran the vent out the window.

      2. I had a similar unit when I was in college – wash and spin, and I hung my clothes on a rack to dry. I loved it so much. I’ve often thought that when we are in smaller space, say in retirement, I would go back to that. It did a great job!

    2. Margie, when my daughter lived in a tiny over-a-garage studio apartment, I found a small washer/dryer machine (single machine) that did very small loads, but kept her out of a laundromat entirely. The dryer worked by extraction, so it needed no vent – it drained the extracted water into her kitchen sink. She just rolled it to the sink, hooked up the water line, ran it through wash and dry, and rolled it out of the way when done. I found it online at a site that specialized in very small appliances. She sold it to her landlord when she moved out, as it made her studio a much more desirable apartment.

      1. Thanks for all the tips on the mini washers & dryers. We aren’t allowed either in this building as it’s an old building and the plumbing can be an issue.
        When I do laundry it’s usually a large load and the only items I put in the dryers are sheets & towels as I have a laundry rack. I have a number of sets of sheets & towels and lots of undies & socks so I do manage to limit my time in the laundry room – I have even been known to do a bit of hand laundry to stretch the time. 🙂

        1. Margie,

          I don’t know if this would help you (or anyone else looking to stay out of the laundromats), but we purchased a Lavario manual washer and it’s good for delicates, loads of accessories (socks, undies, gloves, etc), or a pair of jeans/a couple of towels. I got the optional “RV” spout hookup because of the shape of our tub faucet, but depending on your plumbing, you don’t necessarily have to. Sits right in the tub or if you have a large enough kitchen sink.

          It uses pressure to squeeze the water out, so thicker materials like jeans may retain more water still. If you want to save your wrists and wringing the rest of the water out before putting on a drying rack/clothesline, a spinning clothes wringer like the one sold on Lehman’s might help.

          Hope it helps someone – we’ve been very pleased with it. 🙂

  14. Love the robot costume!

    Joining in from Seattle, WA.

    I finished up training my replacement at work, so I am now – by design – unemployed. The timing actually worked out well because my mom is not very mobile right now and needs assistance with a few things. Even though we are on lockdown, you are still allowed to assist family members and others who need your help. So I will spend a day or two helping her out this week.

    A good friend of mine lives overseas but is now on the East coast visiting her parents. I made her and her parents some cloth masks and mailed them. Sending packages to US addresses is much cheaper than sending packages abroad! I had all the supplies on hand to make the masks, so no OOP cost.

    Decorated for Christmas using items I already had. Only purchased one small string of lights. Cut a few branches from nearby trees (pine, cedar and holly) to make an arrangment for my patio in a small white metal sleigh I already had on hand. Added some fake berry stems and a fancy pinecone from my supplies, and it looks great. My sister decorated a wreath for me and I hung that on our front door. She stopped by for a few minutes to drop it off, so we had a short socially distanced visit outside.

    The weather last week was beautiful and sunny. I took several walks outside and visited a local botanical garden this past weekend. It was nice to see the sun and have a break from our normal gray skies at this time of year.

    Have a great week everyone!

  15. *We’ve had many things decide to not work in our house. My husband, the wonderful handyman, has spent time changing oil in two of our cars, helping flush out the system of another son’s truck, will be fixing our kitchen faucet which is leaking. He will also be fixing our washer because the bearings need to be changed out. It’s so noisy when it runs! He also spliced and shortened an electrical cord on our christmas lights. He’s a busy man and I’m grateful for his talents.

    *We had all meals at home except for date night. The plan is the same for this week to have meals at home.

    *One daughter had a medical crisis which I had to take her into the clinic for x-rays. The medicine I had to pick up cost $4 and the other medicine required we still had from the time before. Thankfully she is feeling better.

    *My oldest daughter came to stay with us while her husband was out of town. We had fun watching movies and going for walks around our neighborhood. And fun just talking and laughing. We have been receiving packages for her online baby shower at our house. People are so kind! All my kids were home for the weekend so the house was full and lots of food being eaten. But we didn’t go out – I had everything we needed right here at home.

    *I’ve completed my Christmas shopping and am so thankful for Amazon! It’s made it so much easier for me to get done what I needed to get done.

    *I continue to read library books, exercise at home, sit on my deck during the day/night and watch the birds or stars. I write in my journal daily and 3 things I’m grateful for today. I also list 3 things that I feel I did a good job on that day. It’s easy to feel down during Covid and I like to remember that I’m trying to do good things during this time. I’m also able to continue therapy online each week. That has been a huge blessing for my mental health. Having someone help me challenge negative/stress thinking has helped me stay calmer during the week. My favorite new phrase is “I prefer” over “I have to” to do something. I just put that in there in case it helps someone else. My have to list can get overwhelming. But my prefer list is well thought out and helps with stuff that does need to get done.

    *I didn’t do as well using up food last week. I found a few items past their prime in my fruit drawer and 2 leftovers that had been shoved into the back of the fridge. My goal this week is to be more on top of that again. Our Sunday dinner turned into things that needed to be eaten ASAP. We had BBQ chicken that had a bit of frost bite on it, roasted broccoli and red onion (that really needed to be used up), pineapple and mandarin oranges (also needed to be eaten), and mini bagels that were getting stale. I put butter and garlic salt on them and put them in the oven to warm. All eight of them were gobbled up by my kids who said I should make those again.

    *I organized the top of my bedroom closet and also went through all the boxes I had been receiving from Amazon. Separated each person’s things into one box per person. I would like to wrap only 2 boxes per person this year to cut down on the time it takes to wrap. Have plenty of bows and wrapping paper from other years to use.

    Have a wonderful week!

    1. Thank you, Amy, for the “i prefer”. I’ll remember and use it. My mental health has taken a beating with this virus. Any help is much appreciated!

      1. Debbie –

        You are welcome! It was such a helpful phrase to me in how I use my time, how long I prefer to be somewhere and in other ways. Hugs to you <3

      2. Algebra? ALGEBRA! That’s where math lost me. My problem is that I DON’T CARE ABOUT FINDING THE UNKNOWN, LOL. My husband is similarly gifted in math (we do arithmetic, decimals and fractions well, though). My sister took two years of algebra, a year of geometry and a year of trig in high school…and those are only 4 of her problems, LOL. Seriously, glad you remember it and that it helps.

  16. I love our programmable thermostat! Can’t do 68 degrees, though. I have always been intolerant to cold, and as my husband progresses through Alzheimer’s Disease, he doesn’t like to be cold, either. Good thing we live in Arizona, right? The Alzheimer’s is making it difficult for him to handle all the technical and electronic things he formerly did, so I’m thankful that the thermostat is programmed the way he likes it, and he documented his work so I can keep it that way. Once a techie, always a techie!

    1. I wish I had documented more. We have the same situation. You should have seen me around midnight a week or two ago–someone had unplugged the satellite box and TV and I was hanging on to wires and saying – this connects this to that over and over again, and managed to get everything plugged in and working again. I love having my TV on just before bed, and catching the news first thing in the morning while I lie in bed. Upset that routine and I’m not a happy camper. My husband, whose career was as an electronics technician can barely change a light bulb these days (and at 4’10”) I could use that help! I keep telling my DD and DGD that I don’t know how they can get along in the world without having taken physics in high school. I use that knowledge all the time–that and algebra!! I can never remember which number gets divided by what but if I use algebra I can figure it out.

    2. I wish my late
      husband had done the same. I am now figuring out the a/c , TV apps etc as he wouldn’t write things down.

      1. I can so relate. He can no longer use the remote without help, and I really don’t know what ALL the buttons do, but I can turn it on and off, and turn down the volume (he’s hard of hearing.)
        My troubles were compounded by not remembering all the things that cars need done! Last year when I thought about snow tires, our (much appreciated) mechanic informed me that I had not removed the snow tires in the spring and would now need to buy 4 new ones. I did that, and also am trying to keep inspections, registration payments, and car insurance due dates on track. It helps that I finally sold his old “winter” car–a beater car to drive in bad weather. One less car to think about.
        We have saved a lot on gas lately, however. Nothing is open, you can’t eat in many restaurants and they can only have half capacity, etc. My weekly tank of gas is lasting about three weeks–my daughter does our shopping, I used online places for 95% of Christmas shopping, and we have taken very few rides on a sunny day–most days are kind of grey this time of year. We do go to dr appts and the blood draw lab and almost no where else. My husband has been walking with his pocket GPS but has also eloped several times in the last couple weeks. He wants to walk to his boyhood home—which I do drive past when we are up that way, but it’s about 35 miles away. His brain is busy with the 19 years he lived there, but we’ve been married for 58, so it was a long time ago!! My daughter is great about hopping in her car and bringing him back when he gets headed in the wrong direction. He doesn’t realize how dangerous it is to walk on the shoulder when there is so much truck traffic. We tell him daily or more often!
        He was quite surprised to have Thanksgiving dinner sprung on him–despite all the many TV ads, etc. he didn’t realize it was that day until we started setting the table. (I guess he didn’t notice we were cooking for two days straight before that.) Keeping secrets is easy–even if he overhears us talking he forgets about it within hours, or even minutes! He will really be surprised for Christmas!

        1. Maria – you must be exhausted. I have two friends in similar circumstances with dementia – one looks after her husband and another looks after her mom. One does wander but the other is afraid to go outdoors so that is a blessing in a way.

          My friend’s mom talks about going home to Montreal – she hasn’t lived there is about 70 years but the memories are the strongest from that time. Since none of us will be able to visit this Christmas the only thing we can smile about is the fact that we could put up the tree in July and her mom would be quite happy yo celebrate then.

          All the best to you.

  17. Lovely bob on your daughter, Brandy! I always enjoy reading about Brandy’s (and everyone else’s) frugal accomplishments and suggestions. It inspires me and gives me ideas as well.

    This is that lovely and rare time of year in Texas when we are actually able to have the windows open, so we’ve been taking advantage of that. We do close them at night, as it gets too cold, but during the day they’re open. I love the fresh air and the savings on the central heat or air. Unfortunately our neighborhood has a lot of construction ongoing, so the open windows also bring dust, which means more frequent dusting for me. Today is my typical day to do my “heavier” house cleaning – bathrooms, glass cleaning, mopping etc. – and catch up on laundry, so I’ve been working on those. During the rest of the week I stick to daily maintenance cleaning – quick vacuum, feather/swiffer dusting, scooping the litterbox, trash. I had a box of Affresh washing machine cleaner I’d picked up at a yard sale recently, so I’m running one of those through our washer.

    Today I have a pork loin in the slow cooker with some bbq sauce and the leftover Thanksgiving cranberry sauce. I will shred that and we’ll either have it on some buns or make burritos this evening for dinner, with leftovers for tomorrow’s dinner. Almost all of our meals have been eaten at home, including of course, Thanksgiving dinner. It was just the two of us and we cooked the usual meal – turkey with dressing, cranberry sauce, sweet potatoes, brussels sprouts, and cream cheese corn. For dessert we splurged and ordered a fudge pecan pie from Collin Street Bakery (local Texas company known for their fruitcakes & baked goods). It was delicious and we enjoyed it for several days! I recently bagged and froze what remained of our turkey for future meals. We had a lovely holiday at home.

    Supplies here are starting to run low (toilet paper is getting ransacked again), so we have been careful to stay stocked up on groceries, pantry items, medications, paper goods, etc. I feel like we are pretty set on everything we need. We are not hoarding, but I have been picking up a package of toilet paper if I am out shopping and see it available, so we will not run out. Last week I bought a 10 lb bag of chicken leg quarters for $1 (which went directly into our chest freezer) and eggs for 29 cents/dozen, on special grocery sales. I watch the ads each week for those special deals and pick them up if it is something we will use. I have been trying to focus the rest of my shopping at Aldi and Costco for the best prices and quantities.

    I am still only going in to my office 2 days per week. We are not back to in-person worship (have not been since March), and the covid numbers are very high here, so it’s likely it will be 2021 before anything may begin to change or improve. I work at home 3 days per week, but that gives me time at home to stay caught up on things like laundry and house cleaning, chores, etc. I am enjoying the available time at home, although I do wish the circumstances were different. Our gas is still incredibly cheap here (I paid $1.83 yesterday for premium), and I’ve been using very little with my current work schedule, so that has been quite a moneysaver. My husband still works at his office full time (his company is considered essential). He has been taking his coffee, lunch and snacks to work daily. I eat at home most days. Tomorrow is a scheduled workday for me and during lunch we will have our office holiday party. Our regular party (an evening party at an outside venue) was cancelled because of covid, so they are providing a nice lunch to each of us in the office and a small bonus check (which I am grateful for!). I am so thankful for our jobs, especially this year. We have so very much to be thankful for.

    I hope everyone has a great week!

  18. Cute haircut and she is very pretty! I have a bob also….lol. I so enjoy the pictures of your kids enjoying playing in the dirt and with boxes! It reminds me of my childhood. My youngest son received a very large scholarship offer for law school. I am happy because this is frugal. I put up the $5 Dollar General neon blue Christmas tree that I bought several years ago, and a matching blue Christmas stocking. That is the extent of my Christmas decorations. I may find a few other decorations and put them up. I made ground turkey, with rice, dandelion greens, onions, and cheese, and took that to work for lunch. I made a breakfast strata using ham luncheon meat, and various cheeses that need to be used. I made chicken livers, with carrots, onions, and green beans. I actually do not fry them, I simply cook them in the oven in a cast iron skillet and prefer them that way. I diluted horseradish sauce, hot sauce, made ranch dressing from stuff I had at the house, diluted dish soap, diluted cleaners with a little water, I diluted hand sanitizer with rubbing alcohol, etc., to make them all last a bit longer. I cut my hair myself. Our Covid rates are horrible. I ordered from Walmart.com dog and cat food to be delivered to my doorstep. I also received pizza warming covers (I don’t know the official name) to carry food to my kids’ doorsteps at Christmas. I am trying not to accidently eat anything that I would be serving Christmas, so I don’t have to go back to the store. In that regards, I have set a special place in my house to put pantry Christmas Foods so I don’t mess up. That includes water chestnuts for the spinach dip, Knorr vegetable dip, canned sweet potatoes, regular potatoes, canned artichokes, parm. cheese, hot sauce, canned peas, canned green beans, canned mushroom soup, the onion crispy things I use in green beans, the mayo I plan to use, the disposable containers for delivery (I hate doing this but desperate times call for desperate measures) molasses for the sweet potatoes, canned corn, sugar, corn meal, flour, alum foil, onions, etc., I have also set aside a special section in my little fridge top freezer for the turkey breast, and turkey wings. This may sound silly, as it is so small, but I do not want to be tempted to use the turkey wings before Christmas. As it is, I will probably have to go to store and run in and get long carrots because I keep eating them! I am going to try to save the ones left, and maybe that will be enough. Y’all stay safe.

  19. The haircut is great, and the picture of your son in the dirt is so cute. Give a kid a small pile of dirt and that child is happy.

    Our Meyer lemons are yellow, but not dark yellow enough yet. It won’t be long, though, and everyone is salivating over the thought of lemonade and lemon pie. Giving our tree the correct fertilizer at the correct time has made all the difference to it. Our soil is just too poor otherwise.

    We are thinking about planting a Satsuma tree this year, too. They are so tasty! I think they are my favorite version of mandarins.

    I cooked our “spare” turkey and I have de-boned it and frozen most of the meat. I have the carcass cooking in the crock pot.

    I refreshed the mulch around our blackberries with clean straw leftover from spring mulching, and kept protected until now.

    I heaped another layer of leaves in our worm bucket.

    I ordered cat food online. My dog is allergic to chicken, and always finds a way to snitch a little from the cat’s bowl, so I can’t feed my cat chicken. It is by far cheaper to order online than to pay for grain-and-chicken-free food in stores.

    I used Swagbucks to order a gift for a friend, with free shipping to the recipient.

    I purchased a tiny “refrigerator” (on sale) to put by my husband’s hospital bed, so he can keep orange juice, and the insulin pen that must stay cool, by his bed. It’s hard for him to get up and down at night, so this makes it easier for him to take a dose of insulin if his sugar goes up, or get some juice if his sugar drops too low. Now we won’t be throwing out leftover juice because it sat out all night, or have to discard insulin that got too warm and no longer is effective.

    I straightened out the drawers in my bathroom and found an unused lipstick that I had lost.

    Since we finally cooled off, I pulled out a second-hand store quilt to add to my bedding , along with the flannel sheets given to us by our daughter and son-in-law when they bought a bigger mattress and couldn’t use the sheets anymore. The quilt and sheets don’t match each other, and neither matches the bedspread, but it doesn’t bother me. Considering the prices of quality bedding that I see these days, I will stick with what I have until it wears out.

    I filled, sanded and repainted some old screw holes in our walls after I moved some art and changed the locations of our curtain hold-backs.

    I am all but finished with Christmas shopping. I had to change one gift idea, and I want to physically look for a couple of small gifts, then I’m done!

    I cooked four burgers for the two of us. We ate two fresh from the grill pan, I took one in my lunch the next day even though I’m not a real fan of leftover burgers, and the last one was crumbled into spaghetti sauce, where it worked perfectly.

    1. I really like the Satsumas but have not seen any locally. Those that can be ordered online are tiny and double the price of what I can get locally.

  20. I love the pictures!
    The positive emphasis of your blog is truly lovely. And I think that sharing things that did not work as we had expected can be of great help to others. Your story of the crabgrass is certainly helpful!
    I’m keeping after food waste, if I see something languishing in the fridge, I try to visualize a dollar bill in the trash. It’s very motivating to me. It helps that my husband is a very obliging and non-picky eater!
    We drove out to the beach yesterday (45 minutes) and it was so refreshing. I did paddle in the waves (very cold) and then put my old smart wool socks on, appreciating the darning that I had done on the heels of them. It has extended their life greatly.
    My husband and I went for a walk to look at Christmas lights one evening, and came across a huge box of free persimmons. We did not have a bag with us, but managed to get 17 persimmons in our pockets!!
    I saved laundry to do today, the warmest day of the week. We don’t own a dryer. I have wishes for one about 2 times a year. We do live in a mild climate, though I lived in England with no dryer, and used cloth diapers with our babies, so it’s do-able in cooler climates.
    I just ordered 2 prescriptions by mail. Shipping is free, so it saves me gas to drive 20 minutes to pick them up, and also decreases my exposure to germs. It feels like a good win!
    Blessings to all!

    1. I agree that frugal fails are good to know…maybe even more helpful than frugal accomplishments. (Don’t you wish you’d known about horse poop sooner?) I would like to add that I have never regretted buying quality items, which aren’t necessarily the most expensive. What I look for is “best value.”

  21. Your children are so adorable, Brandy! I love seeing children playing outdoors!
    Most days, it doesn’t feel like we’ve accomplished much but we keep trying. The bearings went out in my car so that had to be taken care of. The bill is paid by CC and paid in full. I buy gift cards with the cash back which go for gifts. Target had a 10% off deal this weekend on their gift cards. I bought several to put away for gifts for next year. If we need anything during the year from Target, we’ll use a card ourselves.
    I’ve been super diligent about saving warm-up water in the sink and shower. I pour some of the water into a pot to heat on the stove and wash dishes. The dehumidifier water is also saved unless the bucket is already full. The water bill has not gone down in recent months. I’m hopeful that this month will be actual. I could call it in but i’m not a fan so i don’t.
    All meals have been made at home. We haven’t eaten out since March which is a good thing! My husband has been embracing eating a sandwich in the car. Pre-covid, that would have been unheard of!
    Christmas gifts have been wrapped and mailed. We won’t talk about the cost of postage! Holy cow! I bought no wrapping paper, no tags, no bags, no ribbon and no tissue paper. I don’t believe i bought any last year, either. I may have to buy paper for next year but i’ll buy at thrift stores etc.
    I’m still walking every day with several friends. We’ve had another woman join us so that makes five. It really helps to have a bit of a social visit, even with masks and stops for dog business. We’re all over sixty, one is over seventy, and we discuss everything except the currant person in charge in Washington. (per my request) I use the word ‘discuss’ loosely. Some of us are half deaf, we can’t talk very loud with a mask on and we trip over each other’s words and sometimes leashes. It’s awesome and i’d recommend it for everyone!
    I filled, and diluted, lotion, dish soap and hand soap.
    I bottled up two herbal medicines and started a few more. I’ve also started putting just a touch of oil in my wet hair to help curb the dryness and frizzies. It really helps so i’ve started an almond oil infusion with rose buds and calendula petals for my hair. Does anyone else remember buying little plastic bottles of oil for dry hair? This is way, way cheaper!
    I mended my favorite (only) turtleneck. It seems i lean against the sick and counter and end up with tiny holes in everything. All in the same general area.
    I was a cooking crazy woman recently. (cookies and cupcakes and bars, oh my!) I made up several containers for friends and neighbors. They all know i like to bake and share so they loved it. One told me the cupcakes were ‘to die for’ so, so worth sharing!
    That’s all i can remember. Have a safe week ahead!

    1. Try wearing an apron. It prevents holes in your clothes that pop up from where you rub your shirts while doing the dishes. My aprons are always stained in that spot, so it protects your shirts in more than one way!

      I love that your husband is now taking his lunch! That’s great!

      1. Brandy what fabric do you find is best for making an apron out of? Are there any that are better than others at keeping stains from setting into your clothes? I am careful but I always seem to be wearing a white shirt the day we eat spaghetti or wind up wit grease spots from sautéing.

        1. The thicker the better! Twill or duck cloth is what I like to use. I always wear an apron in the kitchen.

  22. Hi Brandy and everyone
    Your daughter looks so pretty with her new haircut, great hairdressing and photography skills!
    It’s been a busy, tricky week and two evenings running we ate eggs because the meal plan went out the window. Takeaways are a 40 minute round trip ( except fish and chip van on Fridays) so eggs are much quicker. My husband kindly said he didn’t mind eggs two nights running, he was just grateful for hot food.
    The price of heating oil has dropped and we have a surplus in our budget account so we’ve reduced our monthly direct debit.
    I used a chicken carcass to make broth.
    A friend asked my husband for some help and gave us another load of firewood as a thank you.
    Another pair of free socks arrived in the post from a company I never buy from. I’m not complaining, they will go to a daughter.
    We used parsnips, kale and apples from the garden.
    I sold 1 item on eBay.
    I received a letter offering me work as an exam invigilator next year ( assuming exams go ahead) and I will be very glad to earn extra money next year.
    I sorted some seeds we had dried, kept some for use next year and bagged up some in glassine envelopes which I decorated with Christmas stickers. I will tuck them inside Christmas cards for gardening friends.
    Stay safe everyone.

  23. Lovely photos as always Brandy! Thanks so much for this space – it is such a light!
    So thinking of this last week and what we did to save….
    I made a double batch of my banana bread recipe and used the last of our homemade whole berry cranberry sauce in it instead of bananas. Wow it was good. We enjoyed a loaf and took a loaf to share to some friends of ours that enjoyed it with coffee.
    I cooked two chuck roasts yesterday bought on sale several months back. One was made as traditional pot roast and served with mashed potatoes and peas. Our potatoes were on their last legs so they got used up quite nicely. The second roast was made as a Mississippi Pot Roast with homemade banana peppers from our garden and will make lovely sandwiches this week for us. I also cooked up a large batch of chili – half went to the fridge and the other half was frozen for a quick/easy meal later in the winter. The chili used up the last of a large batch of pinto beans I made using a ham bone from our Thanksgiving ham.
    We were blessed to be able to share groceries with a family in our community this week. Thanks to the garden we could load them up with lots of fresh veggies and the stockpile provided many pantry items – how wonderful!
    We have continued to heat our home as often as we can with our fireplace and try to keep the thermostat at or below 65. Some nights and days it has not been possible but we don’t stray more than a few degrees. Still I am watching carefully. Laundry loads are combined and we are running full dishwasher loads. I have made the appointment for our dog to get her allergy shots – not inexpensive but cheaper than the cost of medication if her ears become infected due to allergy.
    Covid numbers are up in our area and when I do go out I am trying to get all that I need in one trip and plan for any possible shutdowns as well. I bought our Christmas candy at 50% off and found one additional gift that i had been looking for marked down 40% with free shipping. I am trying my best to use up all leftovers and stretch our food dollars as much as I can.
    Praying that everyone is well, stays well and finds joy in the warmth and beauty of this season.

  24. I am an apron wearer as well. When you see what the aprons look like after a year’s washings, you will be thankful your clothes have been saved! Stains!

  25. Love this post every week. Your children are darling, Brandy!
    Had another successful soup with saved scraps of leftovers from the freezer. That fed us for two meals. Have some children coming home for Christmas. Since they are coming from out of state (and are young and less careful) they are getting covid tests after they get here. They have already made the appointments and found places free or that our insurance covers. I appreciate them being so careful. Because of the extra people coming, I’ve been carefully meal planning and shopping ahead. It is a larger grocery bill but still WAY less than getting take out for everyone (no in-person dining here). I’ve really been enjoying looking through our boxes of holiday decor and reminiscing. I know someone who buys new decorations every year and I think it’s sad she doesn’t get to reminisce. I especially love all the ornaments the children made when they were little. Entertainment here continues to be games, shows and movies we can stream or own already and reading. We’ve enjoyed the Christmas movies and books I store and then bring out every year.
    Glad our shopping is done and hoping to enjoy a peaceful season.

  26. My kiddos love boxes too! They love to make cars out of them mostly.
    Hello! It’s been a blessed week. We have been amazed by the goodness of God and others. This week my hubby was given a grant from a local company for his small business (teaching tae kwon do). He received enough money to pay for his insurance for the year to come.

    We received the leftover food from a funeral reception. Because of covid restrictions many people could not attend and there was an abundance of leftover untouched sandwiches, chips, and salads. We ate the sub sandwiches and salads for several meals.

    We were able to make a beautiful garland of dried orange slices from oranges we had on hand that were about to go bad.

    I helped clean out a home of someone who had passed away. The family let me take any art supplies I needed before they went to the thrift store while cleaning out. I was able to get my daughter some brushes, paper and a large clipboard for her Christmas presents. She is wonderfully artistic and thinking art will be her major in college next year.

    A neighbor was downsizing her pantry preparing for a move and gifted us a box full of pasta and other dry foods that we can use this winter. Everything was still in its box and in good condition.

    Out city gifted each family $75 to spend locally around the town to help stimulate small shop spending. Because of this gift we were able to order pizza one night for our entire family and go on a date night also. It was such fun to eat out which is a rare treat for us.

    We also received eggs from our chickens which are still laying about 3 a day. A little less than half their normal laying, but still laying yummy eggs.

    I gave two daughters a little trim and one some bangs.

    We also made some homemade cleaner of orange peel vinegar and water and used it to clean the counters and windows this week. The smell of vinegar is much nicer/mellowed by the orange peels when it’s allowed to sit in the vinegar for days.

    I was able to trade two swim lessons for two jars of homemade cranberry jalapeño jam. It’s not spicy at all but has the yummy taste of the jalapeño and is amazing with cheese and crackers or as a spread on sandwiches.

    This week has been so blessed and I hope it was and will be for everyone else out there! Have a great week!

  27. Hello Everyone!
    I can’t believe it’s December already. This year is flying by and has certainly kept things interesting.

    After 20+ years of marriage, many of our household items also needed replacing this year. I agree that the cheapest option isn’t always the best, especially when considering longevity. I have found that reading actual customer reviews are more accurate than Consumer Reports. Our mattress is 17-18 years old! In the next 6 months we’ll purchase another. We’re already researching reviews, prices, and testing mattresses so we can the right one at the best price. We definitely got our money’s worth last time!

    I made 2 loaves of rye bread and 2 pans of sourdough rolls this week. One is to eat and the other is to freeze. It’s a time saver! We made from scratch pizza and soup with items on hand. I made a batch of pumpkin pancakes to use up leftover pumpkin.

    My son’s skin was so dry it began to crack. We used the body oil and after several applications he is getting relief! I’m happy with the gallon jug investment so far. 👍🏼

    We had a movie night at home this weekend. We waited 2 months for Mulan to be free on Disney +. We’re patient enough to save the $30 new release fee. In addition, a little Christmas music and decorations on-hand made for a lovely Sunday afternoon.

    I’m planning a big Walmart trip tomorrow. Much of CA is shut down and our county may follow. One friend waited 3.5 hours for haircuts prior to shut downs. I’d rather prepare ahead to fill holes and avoid crowds.

    Have a blessed and healthful week everyone!

  28. Your Christmas hymn tradition sounds lovely. We had several inexpensive meals last week, which included your taco soup, vegetable soup, and a number of things we grew pulled from the freezer. I tried the first of the canned cabbage in the vegetable soup, and we thought it was good. I drained off the liquid first, and we couldn’t tell any difference from fresh, so it’s good to know any excess can be canned if needed. A small head of broccoli was harvested, as well as lettuce, thyme, collards and parsley. For our new workshop, we found two French doors and three windows on FB Marketplace for $170. A small bouquet of cedar, pine, holly and catbrier berries was gathered. http://abelabodycare.blogspot.com/2020/12/workshop-progress-frugal-accomplishments.html

      1. I followed Jackie Clay’s instructions:

        Clean heads & remove any discolored leaves. Cut into small wedges and pack into hot jars, leaving 1″ of headspace. Add 1/2 tsp salt to pints, 1 tsp to quarts, if desired. Pour boiling water over cabbage, leaving 1″ of headspace. Remove air bubbles. Wipe rim of jar clean; place hot, previously-simmered jar lid on jar, and screw down ring firmly tight. Process pints for 30 mins and quarts for 35 mins at 10 pounds of pressure in a pressure canner.

        She recommends draining off the canning liquid, and heating it in either milk, tomato based broth or boiling water to minimize any strong taste. It worked well for us.

  29. We are not quite out of food from the bulk purchase that I made in October, but there arent many different choices for meat. I was thinking about stocking up on some beef for $3.99lb, but I never made it to that store. Instead I scored on 80lbs of pork loin for $60. Some days I grind up some pork and use it in place of ground beef. Last week I had made home made refried beans. We had leftovers that werent getting eaten, so tonight I made a huge pot of taco soup, using the refried beans to thicken it up. That should last us at least 3 days. I recycled my app money for everything that I bought. Ibotta had several $10 bonuses for online orders. The bonuses all stacked too. I made a large amount of purchases at walgreens and did curbside pickup. I stocked up on things that we needed or could be put away until we need it. I did made each purchase one at a time and got all the bonuses. My child decided she wasnt going anywhere last week. I saved gas money at least by not going out much. I made a target purchase yesterday using a $10 off $50 on toys coupon. Had it shipped directly to grandchild to save on shipping. Dh’s insurance from his new job finally kicked in, so I was able to use the benefits for some prescriptions that needed to be filled.

  30. Love your blog Brandy. I’ve only commented a few times but I always enjoy reading all the frugal accomplishments your readers leave too. All of you are amazing and I’m learning so much. My favorite frugal read😊.

    We are working hard to pay off what is left of our debt. We paid off a large amount before our zero percent interest charge came up. Our last debt has zero interest until March and we will have it paid off by then!! Feels good to be almost there. When we do use credit we pay every month now. My husband was laid off a few years back for 7 months and we used up almost all of our savings, because of that we have worked really hard to build it back up and I have started “paying ourselves” every pay day so we add something to it every month. Some
    times it is less others it’s more but it is nice knowing our emergency fund is growing especially now in a pandemic and rising costs.

    We sold our car we were not driving. This helps because no more car payment and saving on our car insurance. This car was for my husbands last job but his new job he has a company vehicle he can use. And my van is older and has been paid off for years we use that for the family. We do pay for the gas in his company vehicle, they charge us a flat rate and have been charging us even though he’s working 100% from home so that’s a little frustrating.

    We pick up the school lunches which is so helpful, we know it supports the program and I also help drop off to other families who otherwise wouldn’t be able to pick up meals. They started doing weekend bags for everyone who picks up on Fridays, no registration everyone gets one. This is amazing! Some of the items my kids won’t eat I give to my neighbors family, they have 6 kids in their household and it really helps them.

    Almost all of my Christmas gifts have been purchased and paid for. I did some Black Friday online shopping and got great deals at Kohl’s and earned Kohl’s dollars. I used the dollars I earned to order some more Gifts. I was able to get some wonderful gifts at great prices. Amazon has also been so helpful too. Cashed out my Ibotta for $50, it takes awhile to earn but it’s simple enough.

    Hallmark had a promotion to get 3 free cards, filled out the online form
    And just got my free cards in the mail.
    Used my rewards from Safeway to get free eggs, 2 cucumbers, 2 boxes of pasta and 1 free avocado. Since we don’t drive as much I gave my friend my $1 off gas at Kroger so it didn’t go to waste.

    I don’t Garden but I love reading about your garden transformation. I look forward to seeing it all come together.

    Thanks everyone😊

  31. I love the picture of your son. I used to love playing in the dirt. One of my favorite presents one year was a toy dump truck. I still have it.
    Made muffins one morning before work, so I could take some to have with my soup lunch. Had the dry ingredients in a container, so easy to make.
    Worked 3 days and took breakfast and lunch all three days.
    One of our local stores was having a baking sale. Was able to get 5 pound bags of flour for 99¢ (got 6), Butter for $1.99 (got 2 – the limit), eggs for 99¢ a dozen (got 2 – the limit), 2 pound bags of brown sugar for 99¢ (got 6) and canned milk for 50¢ (got 2). Felt pretty good about those prices.
    My DH go our Christmas tree at Fred Meyer on Tuesday, so got the 10% senior discount.
    We put the lights and decoration on the tree. I don’t have collections except for Christmas ornaments and Nativity scenes. I take them out and enjoy them for about a month, once a year, and then they get put away. I love to remember the stories behind each of the ornaments. I started getting my sons ornaments their first Christmas, and have given them one almost every year since. This year my elder son, who is engaged, asked if he could have his ornaments after Christmas, so he and his fiancee could put them on their tree next year (they are getting married in April).
    Cooked a butternut squash from the garden.
    Used onions, potatoes, dried herbs and frozen veggies that had come from our garden.
    Visited my mom, and helped her get down her Christmas decorations, and put them up in her apartment.
    Got candy for Christmas at 1/2 price from Fred Meyer.
    Went to to Costco for a gift card for my son, and got 2 roasted chickens and the gift card, and that was all.
    Took all the meat off of both chickens. Some is frozen for part of our Christmas Eve dinner, and some will be used in white, chicken chili tonight. I pulled white beans from the freezer that I had previously cooked for the chili.
    Made broth with the bones from the chickens. That will also be used in our white chicken chili tonight.
    My sister left 2 Cosmic Crisp apples with my mother for DH and I when she visited. I picked them up on Saturday. We had one on Saturday night with our popcorn that we had for a snack while watching a movie. The other one we will have tonight with our chili. They are soooooooo good.
    Hope everyone had a good week.

    1. I have everything to make chicken noodle soup tonight, but I’m not in the mood for it. I have cooked white beans in the freezer. I will make white chicken chili instead! We haven’t had that in a long time!

  32. I finished my Christmas shopping. We went a little bigger this year than normal, but I found some amazing deals and really did not spend more out of pocket than usual. As an early gift, my husband treated me to a hair appointment (it’s been many years since I have had this done). It felt frivolous but was such a treat to have my hair cut and colored so nicely. I feel like a million bucks! I also made a few gifts, including an eyeglass chain for my mom, keychain for my boss, and earrings for a girlfriend of mine.

    This week we kept the house cooler than normal and snuggled up in warm clothes and fuzzy socks. I made soups and chili and hearty meals from things I had on hand to keep us nice and toasty. Yesterday I roasted a whole chicken that I purchased on sale for $5 a few months ago. It will stretch to feed 5 of us for 3 meals: chicken, salad and quinoa; chicken Alfredo; and chicken tortilla soup. I believe I purchased it for .79 a lb. Whole chickens are a bang-up deal, in my book.
    I applied for a job this week. If I get it, the pay and benefits will be substantially better, and I will get to work from home at least two days a week, saving gas money. Here’s hoping and praying!
    My husband got a raise this month. The extra money is going to our stock investments and has already grown.
    I’m looking forward to Christmas. This will be the first Christmas in my 35 years I haven’t gotten to at least see or talk to my grandad, as he passed earlier this year. Christmas was always a special time for our family and he made it so enjoyable. I’m looking forward to reminiscing on those times and carrying on some of those traditions with my boys.
    Have a good and safe week, everyone! Chin up!

  33. As always your photos are delightful, Brandy. The robot photo will be etched in my mind for a long time. As someone who appreciates the convenience of Amazon purchasing, the environmentalist in me has trouble with all of that packaging. This gives me hope that some of that packaging material is finding new use beyond heading to the landfill. So creative.
    My frugal accomplishments for the past week are as follows:
    – Purchased 4 bags of cranberries for .99 per bag. Froze 3 bags. Made cranberry sauce out of 1 bag for Thanksgiving. Froze one jar and shared with my sister-in-law who hinted that she would like some.
    – Purchased 7 large sweet potatoes for .19 per lb. I baked them all. Ran them through the food processor with a bit of butter, sage and cinnamon. Served some for Thanksgiving dinner and put the remainder in mason jars and into freezer for future meals.
    – Stuffed my Thanksgiving turkey with lemon, garlic and a bunch of fresh thyme from the garden. Had 3 dinners from it. Sent my son home with one dinner. Made turkey salad for several lunches and then froze the rest for future use. Also froze the carcass for broth making.
    – Made rolls for Thanksgiving dinner. I did the dough in my bread machine and then baked them in the oven. The yeast I used had been in the freezer and was a year past the expiration date. The rolls came out fine. We used half for Thanksgiving dinner and tucked the rest into the freezer.
    – A neighbor was accepting donations of warm clothing and bedding for the local homeless population. I have driven by the tent city they are living in many times and find it heartbreaking. It was the incentive I needed to clean out our closets and coat closet. Was happy to be able to fill two bags. The rest of the clothing I purged went to the local women and children’s safe house.
    – I have been wrapping Christmas gifts with my collection of wrap and gift bags that I have had for many years. Since Christmas is usually celebrated at our house, we have accumulated a lot of wrappings. I refuse to buy new until the supplies dwindle. It always amazes me how nice the packages come out with bits of this and that. If the wrapping starts to look too shabby I toss it. Otherwise, nobody seems to know that it is being recycled from year to year.
    – I clipped rosemary and holly from my garden to make a pretty and festive bouquet for my table.

    I think that is it for the week.

  34. Brandy I am glad you have been able to pick so much from your gardens and do more work in the gardens too and the boys are having fun with dressing up as robots 🙂 . Children love just simple yet frugal things to play with and for some reason cardboard boxes are the top of their list many times.

    DH is slowly doing better and with doctors orders he can do exercise 30 minutes at a time but not lift more than 5kg in weight. We were able to do a paid gardening job as I said to DH we could put the backpack weed sprayer unit in a wheelbarrow to fill it and use it so he wasn’t carrying the 28kg full weight of it. I pushed the wheelbarrow and he sprayed and I must say it cheered him to no end to be able to get outside and do something and I did the push mowing while DH did the ride on lawn mowing. Working around things by using tools and equipment that you have especially in times of operation recovery makes life so much easier if you think laterally to get jobs done.

    Our savings added up to $93.38 in savings last week 🙂 .

    Earnings –
    – DH and I earned $80 for a gardening job.

    In the kitchen –
    – Cooked all meals from scratch.
    – Made 2 loaves of bread in our bread making machine saving $5.18 over purchasing them locally.

    Purchases –
    – Bought 12 x 250g blocks of Philadelphia cream cheese on half price special and coupled $10 off rewards dollars we had on our card for buying normal groceries saving $38.20 on usual prices.
    – Purchased a brand new demo model vacuum cleaner saving $50 on usual prices to replace our vacuum cleaner that died. Got to say that the vacuums with the power heads and turbo upholstery brushes work so much better in getting up the dirt/cat hair off carpets and lounge covers too.

    Hope everyone has a wonderfully productive week this week 🙂 .


    1. So glad to read that your husband’s recovery is going well Lorna. The both of you are always so busy – it must be frustrating for him to have to take it easy – just make sure he doesn’t overdo it! 🙂

  35. Everyone sounds like they are doing super well. When we were in Lockdown, through most of our winter, I found it was a great money saver. Rather than going into work, I worked from home and my garden benefitted. We could only going shopping once a day, which is still much more shopping than I normally do, but I would go once every few weeks with a lot more intention. I had a list and I’d carefully thought through all the items I really needed to buy before I put them on the list. We could only catch up with folk online, so no food bought for church morning tea, no food bought for having friends over, or visiting. Lockdown really helped with the frugal lifestyle.
    Frugal wins:- I’ve utilised the silky undercarriage of an old electric blanket (removing the elastic) to cover the cherry tree and protect it from marauding birds.
    – I swapped some excess food for cake decorating items, coloured writing icing, and packets of different coloured icing. This is great because I’m making cup cakes for our church Christmas lunch.
    Frugal not sure – I’ve provided the cash for two Christmas presents and my Dad is getting them for my sister and brother in law. I still have to get my parents Christmas and birthday presents.
    Frugal Fails – I must admit, now Covid19 is gone I am catching up with more folk now that we out of lockdown.

  36. It was another nice, frugal week!
    I took the kids to see Santa at a program sponsored by a dental office. We aren’t patients there, but they had Santa photos, cookies, and my older daughter even won an art set as a door prize. It was a fun afternoon.
    We went to a Christmas festival at a church, where the kids enjoyed the petting zoo, train rides, games, and crafts. They were selling hot dogs, so I planned for us to have hot dogs at home. Everything else was free. The advent wreath kit they gave each family has real branches that are so fragrant, and they even included ribbons and candles. It was a very nice event.
    A new Aldi opened close to us, with some great sales: blueberries .99/pint, .33 mangoes, .36/# apples, and many other specials. Even though it was the first day, they had clearanced tortillas at .60/package, so I bought some extra to freeze. There were a lot of good markdowns at Kroger, also.
    I bought a sale-priced gift card for Sprouts, $90 for $100 value. I don’t shop there often, but I will use it eventually.
    I bought several kids storage units to organize kid toys. While I wouldn’t pay full price from Pottery Barn Kids, these were inexpensive and appear to be durable. The lot of 4 was listed for $125, but the seller gladly accepted $100.
    I took the kids to a park we hadn’t visited in a long time.
    We got a book for my oldest daughter’s book club from the library, instead of buying it.
    $5 or less meals were: chicken noodle soup, chicken teriyaki stir fry, taco salad, homemade pizza, beans and cornbread, and fried egg sandwiches.
    We ate at Burger King once, but I used coupons and the app to make it cheaper.
    I bought yeast at Sam’s using my aunt’s card, and also used her card to buy several $25 Costco gift cards, which I will use over the next few months. I usually put $22-$23 worth of gas in, then use the balance toward my Costco purchase, and pay the difference in cash, getting two transactions from each $25 card. I don’t buy much at Costco, but I will get pizza from there for one daughter’s upcoming birthday.
    I found more uniform shirts (used) for my boys.
    The weather has been nice in Houston. I haven’t run the air conditioner or heater in quite a while.
    Hope everyone has a nice, frugal week!

  37. Hi Everyone! It has been awhile since I have commented on a post. Last week I saved so much money shopping the sales and using digital coupons along with the ibotta app! I was able to purchase some high ticket items I had on my list for awhile by waiting patiently for sales. We recently moved so I have been focusing on sale items to restock our pantry. I enjoy reading how everyone saves money each week and have gleaned so many good ideas!!

  38. I continue to calculate our new budget for the upcoming year. I did not renew our AARP membership as it simply gave me no savings last year. The smallest savings add up. After reading last weeks post about the battery deal at the office supply store , I also purchased it. We needed batteries and the store rewards will buy sugar cookie a large case of copy paper. ( Thanks Maxine ???? ) This is one of the very few things she requests. I redeemed all our top cash back rewards for Wal-Mart gift cards. I have ordered four 44 lb bags of my cat food and 12 bags of cat litter. $115.00 total. I have to pick up several bags of Amish bar soap for my children’s sensitive skin. My stockpile is adequate for the year and I’m looking to have a no spend year. Of course , sugar cookie will have a monthly allowance. Baby Henry’s grandfather has dementia pretty bad. Clementines make him smile. I took him a whole case full this week. I would have gotten a second case but I simply don’t have the physical strength I need at times. Sometimes I feel like I’m wrestling a giant anaconda trying to retrieve items. I used a coupon code from Walgreens to get free photo prints. I’ve received several Shutterfly codes from entering a coke rewards contest. I’m hoping for free greeting cards. I’d like to send special cards out for sugar cookie since she won’t be joining her extended family this year. I applied for a Target red card. I will use my $40 off $40 coupon for a Christmas ham. In fact , I may not buy until after the holiday to get more at a lower price. On another note, my mother will be passing soon. We have had several close calls. There is no holiday joy in the home. I’m trying hard to keep things together for sugar cookie. This may very well be the hardest time of my life. For anyone else having a hard time, my thoughts are with you.

    1. Oh, Lillianna, I’m sorry that your mother is nearing the end of her time here on earth. Praying for peace for you.

    2. Lillianna,
      I am so very sorry to learn about your mother. My thoughts are with you and your family during this very difficult, sad time.

    3. Lillianna, my thoughts are also with you. My mother’s care home have told me she is end of life, she has stabilized a little and we don’t know how long she has now. She has advanced dementia and gives me a verbal battering each time I visit. Tough times. Sending you sisterly love, look after yourself.

    4. Lillianna my sincere sympathies for you during this time of your Mom’s life
      My Mom has been gone 8yrs and my Dad 3 years and not a day goes by I don’t miss them
      Nothing prepares us for this, know that people care about your difficult time

  39. –This week has been very quiet. Most of my money savings has been accomplished by staying home. I didn’t leave the house for a solid week. When I did, it was to pick up my nephew, then right back home. We did watch the kids for 3 days and my aunt, who is in our very small “group” came over to visit once, so it wasn’t too lonely.
    –We cooked everything at home. On the day that we were getting Jake, we were held up. It was a temptation to grab a burger or something, but pushed through our hunger, went home and made a lunch mainly from canned fruit and a few odds and ends. We were so glad we did.
    –My daughter has been making gluten-free cinnamon rolls. Way too yummy!
    –My garden gave me a few more veggies. It’s the best fall/winter garden I’ve ever had. Still, I’ve had to buy produce because we eat a lot of salad. We waited around 10 days to shop, then my husband carefully filled my list from 2 different stores. I got to use the $10 off $50 coupon at Safeway, but it took me a while to get enough items I truly needed to do that. I have been purposefully menu-planning to use the stored food I have, since I have so much stored from a summer of preserving.
    –Pictures are on my blog at: http://beckyathome.com

  40. I forgot to add a note I meant to write to all of you who have lost a loved one, or have someone suffering from Covid or any other sickness. I just wanted to express my sympathies and encouragement for you all. It’s truly sobering to see how many are affected. Our state, Oregon, is out of official “freeze” mode, but cases are rising quickly. We just choose to stay home as much as possible, and are blessed with a job that allows us to work here at our house. Hang in there, everybody!

  41. My husband got a job! We are very happy. He should start next week. I made a large batch of pinto beans, hubby cooked some pork and flavored it with cumin, chili powder, garlic, onion powder, and a bit of Louisiana hot sauce in it. Then he put it on tortillas, baked it, covered it with some tomato and cilantro, Yum! I just ate a little bit of the blended pinto beans cold as a snack today and they were good! I found that if I eat veggies in the evening , the next morning my blood sugar is much better. So I saved a ton on buying meds. I am also not eating anything with sugar in it. One evening I ate carrots, the next day I sautéed spinach with a bit of garlic in olive oil. My numbers were great the next morning! I am very happy! I’m also eating less than I usually do. It makes me feel much better. I made homemade hummus and ate that with veggies for several meals. We are trying to eat what we have before we shop more. We turn off lights when not in use. Put on sweaters when we feel chilled to avoid turning up the heat. If we are still cold we do turn it up. We borrowed movies from the library. Enjoyed talking on the phone with family members. Used the internet for job searches as well as entertainment and information.

    1. Congratulations on your husband’s job! And it sounds like you are doing a great job with controlling your blood sugar!

      1. Brandy,
        Thank-you. I feel so much better when my blood sugar is under control. We are very happy that he got a job! I hope you have a great week!

      So happy to hear good news of your husband getting a job
      Just what we need this time of year……best wishes to you and your family

  42. I enjoy your posts and am always in awe of how hard you work. I think posting your frugal fails would be a good thing for your readers. It could help us avoid them. Who would have known horse manure would cause 14 years of dreadful crabgrass?

  43. Hello Everyone! My Mom gave us some muffins she made, ate a few & froze the rest for later. At one of the offices I manage, I admired a bow that was on a gift someone had been given. She gave me the bow and now it is the topper of the Christmas tree I have in my kitchen. My husband has been losing weight also and needed some clothes so we shopped the local thrift stores. He found 3 shirts and a pair of jeans that will hold him over to at least January I’m guessing. He is a teacher and school went virtual this week due to the rising number of cases. He still has to go to he school to record his classes so no gas savings but at least his exposure is lessened. While at the thrift store I found a brand new in box item for$7.99, current retail is $20-$30 depending on the store. I purchased & will use as a gift. On a suggestion from someone here I looked up our state’s unclaimed money website back in March. Both my husband and I were listed. I sent in the paperwork and last week we received a $50 check made out to my husband. I checked the site and my claim is still pending. We also received a $26.10 check from a class action lawsuit over flooring we purchased and installed a few years back, our floor is fine but I won’t turn down free money!
    Just want to thank you Brandy for hosting this site and blog, it is such an uplifting, frugal and informative haven. Wising everyone and safe and frugal week!

  44. I love the robot picture! Boxes can provide so much entertainment!
    I’m glad you’re able to clear out the crabgrass in your garden beds. I don’t fight with crabgrass, but have a terrible time with mallow weed (I think it’s also called cheeseweed.) It grows even during the winter and has an incredibly long taproot. It was brought into the garden area one winter when my stepmom had to separate a few of her goats. The goats spent several weeks in the garden area and the mallow weed seeds must have been in the hay. It’s been awful l since then. Since I don’t use weed sprays, I just try to pull it or dig it out before it goes to seed, but it’s a constant battle!
    This week to save money, I shopped the sales at the grocery store, made a double batch of cornbread, and started seeds indoors for lettuce, spinach and Swiss chard. I’m working on the photo calendar we make each year for gifts. I’ll use a coupon code when I order it (hopefully today! I’m running out of time!)
    We are staying home as much as possible and doing pickup for grocery items whenever we can.
    Photos and details of our week are on my blog: http://thebudgetinggranny.com/savings-and-goals-journal-23/

  45. One more day and I’m then beyond the self-isolation period in case I was exposed to Covid at the hospital or in the cab when I went to Emergency. Fingers crossed and prayers.

    I have cut back on food I’m buying. I will get the small maple flavoured ham for Christmas — not inexpensive but a treat. My friends will pick it up by curbside pickup.

    I will be switching to using my pantry for awhile so my friends don’t have to shop on my behalf.

    A friend brought groceries for me — I spent $44 but saved $16.00 My gardener/friend brought
    me a small Christmas tree (for outside since I’m allergic) when she went to the forestry reserve with a permit to cut three trees. The government waived its Christmas tree fee this year so it is a free tree. I have it outside and decorated.
    No lights but big Christmas balls. Once Christmas is over, I’ll take the decorations off and cut up the branches and put them on the peony bed for mulch.

    I will also start making my own soup and bread so I can save what’s in the pantry. I think it will be either buttermilk biscuits or soda bread to save on using up the yeast — at least for the near future.

    I’m still working on the book. I’ve been given permission to access a church archives. By looking at the baptismal/christening records from the 1870s to 1880s, I’m hoping to be able to identify some individuals who were living in this area. I am very pleased to have been given access to the records in early January.

    I am pleased that some years ago I bought several pairs of winter boots on sale from LL Bean. I have a difficult time finding boots that fit because the large part of my calf is located differently from the average. The boots were “slouch” boots. I waited till they were on sale for $30 then bought more pairs. I thought the present pair was the last pair but I found an additional pair in what I thought was an empty box, tucked away in the storage room. So I shouldn’t need to buy new boots for about 5 or 6 years. The style is no longer available and now the boots on the site are very expensive.

    1. What great luck at finding the boots!
      I hope by now you have the all clear for Covid exposure. A friend of mine and her 94 year old mom have just had to start quarantine – her mom’s once a week PSW was exposed as her daughter (who lives at home) is a nurse and has tested positive! There is just no escaping it!

      I work in my Church’s office and I’m working on our Archives whenever I’m in the office – it is fascinating reading through it all – in fact it’s distracting. I have a lot of papers at home right now as I’m researching how the 1918 Pandemic affected the church community of that time.

      HM soup and biscuits are always a good idea! Take care.

      1. Thanks — Margie from Toronto,

        I am just past my self-isolating/incubation period after my hospital visit/taxi trip. My window washer was in the house yesterday — I unlocked the bottom back basement door so he went in and turned off the outside tap (up close to the ceiling so I can’t do it) and had him check a smoke alarm. I had no contact with him at all as I stayed upstairs.
        He also went up on my roof to clean the eavestroughs, washed 3 outside windows, set 4 mousetraps for the garage.
        I absent-mindedly touched one of the light switches he had touched but I immediately had a shower (I was going to anyway) so I’m hoping I’ll be ok. He is only rarely ever around other people or in their houses now. So here goes another 14 day period. Nothing says he has covid. (yet) I cancelled my annual furnace servicing as the fellow is in a lot of homes. I have my furnaces serviced every year; otherwise the warranty is void. If the covid curve goes down, I’ll have him come — again just in the basement while I stay upstairs. I just have to figure out how to send my Christmas parcels.

        I ordered a coupon online from Chapman’s ice cream — it is a $4 coupon off any Chapman’s ice cream product.
        Limit of one coupon per family per year. Good deal!

        It sounds like interesting reading in your archives.

        stay safe

  46. I found my local Goodwill blog, and it brought up the urge to visit hoping for a treasure. BUT our numbers are up and we are on track for a lockdown not to mention it isn’t a necessity (mentally yes, but..) While wavering I looked more closely around the home and re-arranged some items, made new outfits with clothes I own and now feel very content. I do look forward to going again though.
    I forgot to eat the cranberry relish at Thanksgiving, so I turned into quick bread.
    I am collecting warm up water for the kettle and house plants.
    All my utilities have raised their rates. I will need to adjust for this.
    I have a friend who loves VW Bugs, I found a cross stitch of a Bug with a Christmas tree on top – and drew out a pattern for myself.
    I decorated for the holidays even though I did not feel like it. Using what I had. I am glad I did as it does lift spirits. Also made a list of holiday cookies I can make using what I have and can be divided and dropped off with the gifts. Things I/we would love to eat but would not want a whole batch of (for the waistlines sake). I figure 3-4 of these recipes in a tin would be a welcomed gift.

  47. Finally back in the swing of things.
    -Meals this week-turkey roulettes with turkey gravy, orange cranberry relish, and green beans; pheasant wild rice soup; spaghetti with meat sauce and garlic bread; ham, eggs, and hash browns; lasagne and green beans; baked pheasant in cheese sauce, mashed potatoes, and brown sugar carrots.
    -I retired Nov 1 and my hubby Dec 1. As a nurse and during these trying times I am grateful to be able to do this. I have done a lot of stocking up this fall in preparation for the winter. If I am not going to work, I plan to remain at home as much as possible to avoid the cold and snow. Plus I have many projects on my list. Freezers are full with garden produce and meat. Also lots of jars on my shelf.
    -Made lefse with my daughter and grand daughter. We make this 3-4 times a year, usually around holidays. My grand daughter helped cook it. It turned out great, such a treat!! And the russet potatoes we used were given to us. A friend gave us #20 from their garden.
    -Cooked a 16# turkey for Thanksgiving that was given to us last Christmas. We have had several meals. I also ground up the cooked turkey in my meat grinder on my Kitchen Aide. I froze four 2 cup packages. They can be used as sandwich spread when mixed with mayo, in casseroles, and in soups.
    -Pumpkin pies were made from frozen pumpkin that was cooked and frozen this fall.
    -Groceries bought this week were: organic pears-$2.69/lb. I will be dehydrating these. Also cranberries for 89 cents/lb, (extra bought for the freezer), and butter at $1.99/lb-bought 6 for the freezer.
    -I helped my daughter make stockings for her 3 kids from scraps of Christmas fabric I had, no money out of pocket. We used a stitch and flip technique with strips of fabric.
    -I purchased gift cards at 20% off retail from SunRise Mills. This is where I purchase my flour as I have a gluten intolerance but I can eat their flour as it is organic, whole ground ancient wheat (turkey red). So I paid $80 for $100 on Black Friday, On Cyber Monday I used on of the gift cards to purchase #25 of flour and I received a free sourdough starter.
    -Using scraps of fleece (cut into 16 inch squares) I made a blanket top. I then paired it with a big piece of fleece, cut strips and tied them together to complete a blanket for my niece for Christmas. All the scrap fleece was from different pairs of pajama pants my mom had made for her for past Christmas gifts. I brought the material home from my mom’s to make this.
    -Sewing some other Christmas gifts as well-some appliquéd kitchen towels, pajama pants, and ornaments. Also framing a couple of prints for gifts as well.
    -Hope to get gifts wrapped this week and tree and decorations up. Have all the supplies and decorations to do this, no out of pocket.
    Have a great week everyone!!

  48. Your children and photographs are lovely. Thank you for sharing the occasional frugal fail. I certainly understand wanting to keep things positive but it is helpful and encouraging to realize that we all have them. I’ve been reading your blog for years and marveling at the things you do.

  49. The bob looks spunky and darling, and the robot costumes warm my heart! We enjoyed some box robot costumes for Halloween this year too. And your pomegranates look just beautiful. I know it takes skill and time to make photos show the beauty of what’s in front of you – thank you.

    This week, we’re still eating arugula, Swiss chard, and lettuce from the unheated greenhouse. I’m delighted! Boston’s been cold, in the low 20’s at night, but the thin fabric over the plants plus the greenhouse itself seems to be enough. The inch-tall seedlings aren’t growing bigger in their flats in there, but that might be a bit much to ask, this near the shortest day.

    I took branches saved from last year’s Christmas tree and made potpourri out of them, some dried orange peels, lavender, and pelargonium leaves. It smelled so sweet. I gathered more wisteria vines to make wreath bases from. I’m really having fun with that! I always hated the thought of paying oodles for a fake looking wreath from a store, or worse, paying even more for a nicer wreath that wouldn’t last long. I’m going to see what I can come up with from these found vines and scraps.

    We ate from the pantry, cooked our meals, had the happy realization that our 5 year old likes beans and the other kids can be persuaded (!!), so that will simplify life a lot. We’d been studying the Middle Ages in our homeschool curriculum, and I often think of those dear ladies keeping life going with what they had. It sure adds a sparkle to my washer and dryer and vacuum cleaner! And Motrin, and store-bought shoes, and and.

    Boston’s sewage COVID numbers are not pretty right now, so we’re staying home. It’s absurdly comfortable to stay home this time of year, bake more cookies, sing more carols, have more playtime. Maybe the stir-crazy days will come later, but it’s lovely to enjoy it right now. I am doing curbside pickup of one more big stock-up of staples just in case we need to be home more than I anticipate.

    Thank you for all the ideas. Hoping you all have a safe and beautiful week.

  50. I took my van to get an oil change and was able save on that by going to a “discount” place that doesn’t have any extra fancy things. I found out about them from a neighbor that has several old classic cars. I figured he’d know a good place in town. I was able to take my van in and then drop my husband off at work using his car. Luckily, our three kids fit in the back of his Camry even though they complain it’s squishy. We then came home and made some Christmas cards for our neighbors using old cards from previous years . Instead of mailing them, we did a “secret santa” thing and the boys ran up to the porches and left them on the doorsteps. Saved a stamp, exercise for the kids, fresh air, and a fun activity.
    When the car was done, we loaded back up into the Camry and drove over to the shop to pick up the key. The guys there mentioned I would need a new battery soon. (It did die a week ago and we were able to charge it at home.) We stopped by a park on the way home and the battery totally died! Like, all the way died! I tried jumping it using someone’s car at the park, but it was a no-go. An angel drove us (me and 3 kids!) back to the repair shop to now get my husband’s car again, so I could go pick him up, then go buy a battery, then go get some tools from home, THEN go back to the park to install the new battery. It was such a hassle, but I figured we saved a couple hundred dollars of labor by doing it ourselves (even if it was 7pm at night in a dark park and very cold) It was sure an adventure and an exciting time for the kids!
    I was really tempted to just throw in the towel and pick up something for dinner, like a pizza. But my husband helped me to remember that we had some leftovers in the fridge that would be easy to heat up. Bless him. He’s such a good sport. So, we had leftovers and the kids went to bed super quickly.
    Wishing everyone a merry christmas!

  51. My frugalness last week mostly involved time. Our whole family had health issues in and around the same time as well as my MIL. We missed our yearly clean out twice so I have been throwing away, decluttering, rearranging, and donating in order to get our home back to normal so it can be run efficiently again. I will continue critiquing the way I do things at this point in my life and eliminating items that are not useful.

    I dried orange zest in the toaster oven. I love to try new things so I researched African Peanut Soup when someone posted making it. I found a recipe and I had everything but one spice so I used a substitution. It was easy, really good, and filling. My family loved it.

  52. Hello Everyone!
    Brandy…I love your daughter’s bob haircut. I laughed when I saw a scrunchie on her wrist…I do the same! It has been quite the few past weeks. We enjoyed video calls with my husband’s family, including his brother who lives in Ireland. I went grocery shopping for my parents again and was also able to pick up a few things for us. We again are on lockdown here in Silicon Valley. We took an inventory of what we had in our freezer and pantry. We feel we have enough to last several weeks, if not months, if we can’t get out. We have been making more of an effort to use what we have on hand and not go to the store. I had a bag of apples that were on its last legs. I was going to make applesauce, but that wouldn’t have gotten eaten either, so I made two batches of apple bread, one for us and one for my parents…it’s was delicious! The time had come where my son’s room needed to be overhauled. We have been trying the last six months to work on it with him and he has tried, but just can’t seem to let go of anything. With Christmas coming, we certainly needed to make some tough decisions. So I basically spent one whole day going through everything, donating toys and games that he has not played with in over a year, more like two. Between that and going through the rest of the house, we gathered three large black garbage bags to donate to the Goodwill. It was such a good feeling to see these things go that will benefit someone else. I also found several new toys that were in our “gift closet”. We have not gone to any birthday parties this year and it is unlikely that my son will go to any next year. By the time we would use them, they would not be age appropriate for my son’s friends. My husband and I decided to donate them to Toys for Tots. One of our neighbors has a huge (and I mean huge) Christmas light display at their house. Every year, they have an ice cream truck come and invite the neighborhood. The last few years, they have also added a toy drive for Toys for Tots. We will bring the new toys here. There are a few last things and rooms to go through and then we’ll be done. I didn’t realize how good this feels. The last couple of weeks we did not go get the school lunches that our district provides for our son. We now for sure which items he likes and which ones he doesn’t not. We had a over abundance. Waiting a few weeks has helped clear room in our freezer. I have been wrapping Christmas presents with paper and ribbon I have on hand. I decided last year not to buy any new gift wrapping items, no matter how good the deal until I use what we have. My husband and I have been enjoying walks after dinner for exercise. Our washing machine has decided not to work. We had a repair man come out. The washer needs a new water pump. The cost of the call, labor & parts is around $300.00. Quite the savings as opposed to buying a new machine. We are hoping that we are done with home repairs….this year we have already replaced our water heater and garbage disposal. My husband and I decided not to exchange Christmas presents this year. Not that we don’t want to, but we talked about it and there really isn’t anything we need. As a present for each other, I am taking a day off work to coincide with my husband’s day off. My mother in law will come and stay with my son. We will then spend the day walking in a town about an hour away from where we live and at the beach, and packing and bringing our lunch. I am looking forward to the distraction. I found out that a very good friend of mine (who is younger than me) has been diagnosed with Stage 1 Ovarian cancer. Then I found out that my mother has Mantle Cell Lymphoma. So, trying to remain positive 🙂

  53. *Got a free tall iced coffee from Starbucks. During the month of December Starbarks is giving front line workers a free tall size brewed or iced coffee.
    *Found a large box of plus size clothes on my evening walk. These will go to the resale shop that a local church runs.
    *Hubby’s fall tomato crop has done well. Many of the green ones he picked before a light freeze. These are ripening in the house.
    *Got a round trip ticket to Florida from Texas for 70$. I need to go check on my condo in late December. I know COVID is surging but I will take my chance. I’ve been teaching all semester F2F & have remained healthy.
    *Hubby had both knees replaced in Sept. & a scar tissue release in Dec. The bill was large but w/ my employer’s insurance & Medicare the out of pocket was small.
    *Our utilities have been low in Texas as it has been warm. I use an electric blanket when it had been cold. (I bought a new king size electric blanket in Florida last spring on clearance for 21$. Not much use for electric blanket in south Florida.)

  54. I knew I forgot things earlier! I made a smaller sheet pan of eggs with mushrooms and red peppers for breakfasts. That combination was very good so I will make a large one the next time and freeze some for later.

    My son wanted to make cider punch that we usually make before Christmas. It has been unusually cold so I gave him a few tips and he made it. Recipe: 1 1/2 oranges and lemons are juiced. Put the juices in the large pitcher. Rinds are simmered in a pot with 2 cups of water, 1 1/2 tsp whole cloves, and a cinnamon stick for 25 mins. Add 1 cup of sugar and strain. Add to the pitcher along with 1/2 gal. of apple cider. Good hot or cold. He used 3/4 cup of sugar and we may reduce it to 1/2 next time. A laugh–My husband had some when he came home and remarked that it seemed sweeter.

    Earlier this week Aldi had hams ringing up at 1/2 off.

  55. I don’t comment here much but since I get so much absolute peace and joy from your wonderful blog, Brandy, and these comments, I wanted to add mine. 🙂

    I saved money this last week by:
    -Turning the last of my Thanksgiving leftovers (homemade cranberry sauce) into Surprise Muffins (plain w/ cranberry sauce middles topped with colored sprinkles left from another recipe) and into cranberry fluff (one cup of cranberry sauce combined with leftover homemade whipped cream). Both were awesome and a real treat.
    -I used some leftover cooked chicken given to me by my daughter turning it into enchiladas using the chicken, a can of kidney beans, a little cheese, and some smooth taco sauce I had open in the fridge. Served with the last bit of sour cream, I absolutely enjoyed every bite!
    -My husband and I ride together to work saving gas. We rarely ever miss a day together in the car. What a treat after years of never having much 1:1 to now be empty nesters during a pandemic and never get away from each other. LOL. We both count these moments as blessings – even on Mondays! 🙂
    -Lots of cooking at home and not eating out because of the virus has been a plus financially. My husband is limited in his cooking skills but he has become a pro at making burgers, using the airfryer and even prefers to cook his bacon on a skillet outside on the grill. We live currently in a tiny house and it is pretty air tight so we prefer to make anything very aromatic outside. Both of us sharing the cooking has been fun and easier on me for sure!
    -We both eat every meal made from home, even packing breakfasts and lunches each day. I usually bring (to work) homemade muffins made from overripe fruit, baked oatmeal, or homemade granola for breakfast. Lunches are usually leftovers, soups, PB&J sandwiches, or a recent favorite is simply refried bean/cheese burritos. Delicious stuff!
    -My office provides coffee and it is so good that I prefer to enjoy my morning cup at work instead of having it at home. I think I have somehow equated peace and relaxation to the quiet time in the office with that delicious cup of coffee.
    -We live in Missouri and have installed clear tarp surrounds around the porch of our tiny house. It’s been so gloriously warm and sunny in there that I have some lettuce, beets, and some flowers growing in pots. They are very exciting to watch and tend to as we await the harsh Missouri winters we know are headed our way. The clear tarps are giving it a greenhouse effect and so far everything is growing nicely!
    -I’ve been slowly working on buying Christmas gifts. I see lots of folks are making things. I would love to know what everyone is making?

    I’ll sign off but wanted everyone to know how very much I enjoy this blog and all of the sweet comments. What a supportive group of folks. I gain so much inspiration here and even on days my anxiety is crushing, a calm sweeps over me with a short taste of the simple and frugal living this site shares. Much thanks to you Brandy for so much inspiration and the venue for others to share their ideas and kind words.

    1. We make Brandied cherries every year. Hubby and I are making a tiki toss for my son with his favorite sports team as the logo. It will have a can opener on it too. Great for when he can hang out with friends again. I do food baskets for several older people. I make sauce with meatballs, different soups, chili, muffins, cookies and breads. My youngest daughter loves to paint and is very good too. She has done paintings for all of us.

  56. Gina: What a wonderfully heartfelt post! I agree with you about the comments on the blog.
    I don’t do much in making gifts, though have one to work on. Somewhere in Brandy’s gift posts under “saving money” is a description of how to make tasseled bookmarks. I have made several in the past from tourist maps, with clear plastic/contact-paper-like to protect the paper. Each tassel takes about one skein of embroidery floss. I have some motel stationery from long long ago, (few places put that out now!), from trips our family took when we were children. I am going to use the paper headers and envelopes to make bookmarks for my sisters. Holiday Inn, St. Paul– Maui Surf– Cave City, Kentucky– and others.

  57. Gina, nice to see you here! I made a robe, a pair of pajama pants, scrunchies (stocking stuffers) and cloth napkins. The robe wasn’t too difficult, but I had to follow the pattern directions exactly, even when they didn’t make much sense, LOL. (Eventually, they did). I may make some bath bombs, although I usually have as many failures as successes. The ones that fall apart can be used as bath salts, but I don’t give them as gifts. A couple of years ago I sent my new daughter-in-law’s mom and sisters white chocolate fudge with dried cranberries. They thought it was soap. Fortunately, I found this out before they took a bath! It is a delicious recipe, but I’ve retired it as a gift, LOL.

    In the past, Brandy has made a gift-a-day in December. I’m betting she’s too busy hauling dirt to do it this year, but you can find those posts in the archives.

  58. Not so frugal here as we are replacing the new water heater on Monday-I have noticed I keep needing to turn it up and prefer to replace it before it completely goes-it is almost 20 years old and probably all crudded up with lime deposits from our hard water. Within the next 5 years we will also need to replace the roof and car-and perhaps the furnace? We have budgeted for all this. On a more frugal note this morning I found 5 lb bags of potatoes at my local grocery for .97. I am making an early Xmas dinner next week as DD will be here-will also make a plate to take to my Mum’s and one for my daughters Grandpa at the nursing home.

    DD also had an expensive week. Their puppy got sick and they found out she ate a joint while out for a walk-it cost $1500 for diagnosis and treatment so hopefully their pet insurance will cover!! They have only had her for 2 months.

    1. Oh that’s awful that someone left a joint where a dog or child could find it! You are lucky to have had your old hot water tank for 20 years — the new ones only last 10 years. Good planning to replace it before it became an emergency in the depths of winter. Mine (which was 10 years old) started to leak on Christmas Eve last year. This time around, I am going to replace the anode rod after about 4 years and hope that will extend the life. I flushed the old tank every year when I had my furnaces serviced. Good deal on potatoes — I bought a 20 pound bag for $5.00. I like these potatoes, too — they’ve already been cleaned well.

      Now all I have to do is to figure out how to get my last three parcels to a post office to be mailed…

  59. Love the two photos of your children.

    Our week has been great. We:
    -were given dinner one night at a friend’s house (I took dessert)
    -my children received very generous gifts from our friends when we did our Christmas get together yesterday
    -today we went to the museum and I had a coupon to purchase lunch for the four of us for $8! What a treat!
    -my children swam in my friend’s pool
    -weekly grocery shopping was $32
    -my daughter received two bags of hand me down clothes
    -my Mum bought my daughter a book and puzzle for Christmas which she has been wanting for a long while
    -my 4 year old son completed a gifted Lego set that was for ages 7+. He did it on his own, so now I know I can give him this age range, which opens up more present ideas
    -meals included waffles, pancakes, cereal, smoothies, antipasto, sausage sizzle, tacos and burritos, chicken kievs with caesar salad, bacon egg and cheese on english muffins, gnocchi bolognese, steamed vegetables, boiled eggs, quiche, bananas and green apples
    -I have almost completed my online market research and will receive $300 on completion. Four more days to go
    -my husband completed one overtime shift at a rate of 200% pay
    -I am taking my daughter to the theatre to see The Nutcracker ballet later this month
    -I booked a night away for my family at a theme park resort for my husband’s birthday next year. It includes accommodation and entry to the theme park beside the accommodation plus three other theme parks about 25 minutes drive away. Will be a fun family outing and my children will get to see polar bears, penguins, dolphins, seals, go on rides, swim and watch three or four shows. It cost $219 total! If we went to one theme park for just one day it would cost over $360 just for admission so this deal is fantastic!
    -I was ordering and paying for the Christmas day ham for 15 people but my brother in law kindly did it. That now leaves me with the Buche de Noel, crepe toppings (mother in law is cooking crepes on the spot around morning tea time and we will have a stone and berry fruit platter with it), 2 gingerbread houses and I think that is all 🙂🎄
    -the majority of our COVID restrictions have ceased so things are quite normal. Still social distancing, some but not all people working from home, cafes and restaurants have more space between tables and we need to check-in whenever we go somewhere for contact tracing.

  60. For those who have read all of the “Darling Dahlia” series and want something similar, author Deborah Woodworth has a series set in a 1930s Shaker settlement. It’s informative and well written.

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