The weather is beautiful here and it has been wonderful to work in such lovely weather in the garden.

We borrowed a jumping jack to help us compact the new soil in the garden beds as we were filling it, to prevent it from falling later. While garden soil needs a certain amount of air to be healthy, we want to prevent it falling by a foot after we plant trees and shrubs, so compacting it before we plant is important. The jumping jack saved us $240 in rental fees over renting a compacter.

I cooked a large pot of black beans in the crockpot which I used to make tacos.

I also used the crockpot to cook a large chicken. I used the leftover chicken, along with carrots and celery (from the free school lunches the district is giving to all children ages 2-18 this year) to make a large pot of chicken noodle soup.

We picked Meyer lemons from the garden for lemonade. I zested the lemons and dried the zest for homemade lemon pepper.

I gave one son a haircut.

What did you do this past week to save money?

Would you like to support my site?  As an Amazon affiliate, I earn from qualifying purchases made through my links. This means that I earn a small percentage from ANY items you place in your cart and purchase within 24 hours after going to Amazon from one of my links (i.e., it doesn’t have to be an item I have linked here).  If you’re going to be making a purchase from Amazon this week, I thank you for using my links to support this site!

Similar Posts


  1. In the spirit of decluttering, I began clearing a tall cabinet in laundry room to make more storage space. I discovered I had 2 packages of baby shower paper plates and a big package of matching paper napkins. We never buy paper napkins any more (we use cloth) and rarely do we buy paper plates but these were extras from a baby shower I hosted about 4 years ago! 😱 So Hubs and I are eating our meals on the paper plates and using the paper napkins at the same time!! Saves on washing dishes and napkins since these were free PLUS we are decluttering and making space in cabinet!!

    For all of you who have said such encouraging things about our youngest son’s moving in with his sister’s family, here’s an update. Teachers were getting vaccine on Thursday, so school was remote. I went over to watch kiddos. Son-in-law ended up staying home because they had a plumbing emergency and plumber was coming over. Plus 4 year old had upset tummy. Definitely NOT a great day. I knew daughter would be stressed, plumbing repair was unexpected and expensive with more work needed in the future. So I looked at her weekly dinner menu plan in the kitchen and verified with son that this was accurate. Lasagna was on the menu for that night and I knew that when she is stressed that it is irritating to come home and find that her husband (who gets home 2 hours before her each day) hasn’t started the dinner that she had organized! So I got out our “Miracle Lasagna” recipe that you don’t need to precook noodles for. I emailed recipe to our son (in the kitchen with me already) and told him it would be a nice treat if he got this meal made when his brother-in-law was dealing with plumber. He went through it methodically. I gave him tips here and there but let him do it! It will now give him an easy dinner that he knows exactly how to make! Here’s the recipe:

    Under self-sufficient, frugal things, Hubs announced to me that since it’s just the two of us, it’s high time for him to take over half of the dinner making every week. So he looked through my recipes and chose Texas Style Chili (a family favorite from Frozen Assets) and made it for dinner last night! I took out one of my DIY Jiffy Cornbread mixes in a jar and made 6 muffins to go with it! He debated freezing some of the chili or putting it in our leftovers drawer of the fridge and we’ve been enjoying it as a hot lunch option as well as a leftovers dinner option!

    On the quilting front, Quilt #117 that came in as a new local client got quilted with a new Busy Bee design. It was fun to try my hand at a new pantograph. She got this quilt for $20 at an estate sale and after I bind it, it will go on one of her guest room beds. When she picks this up on Wednesday, she will drop off the other estate sale quilt top for me to quilt and bind. This investment in my machine has become the source of a steady side income for which we are grateful!! And I got Quilt #116 bound. I couldn’t stand it and “had” to start a new quilt because I saw a photo I liked and it was easy to “decode”. Of course, it will be using only leftover scraps I have! a

    Hubs has 2 cataract surgeries scheduled for mid-March two weeks apart and fortunately our insurance should cover all of it.
    In For our retirement dental, we self-insure and while it covers all the basic things including office visit 100%, Hubs will still need about $3000 for a tooth extraction and 2 bridges and a couple other things. We are still grateful that he can get this done and will adjust our budget to get that paid back to our savings within 2-3 months. Not frugal but he’s worth it!!

    Our son’s old bed frame (a captain’s bed) was falling apart so we sent him with a headboard from one of our guest rooms and daughter had bed frame to attach to the headboard.
    In the interest of recycling wherever possible, we found that there was a lot of the frame around the drawers and even 3 sides of the drawers themselves that were unfinished pine that we cut into 18” lengths and gave to our daughter that’s out on 13 acres as firewood! So that was nice for them and us!!

    I tried a new muffin recipe for the week’s baking- Lemon Coconut Muffins- They are quite tasty and I had all the ingredients in the house already. We will eat some/freeze some since it made 16! Yum! I need to refill my supply of DIY muffin mixes this week!

    Very cold winter temps, snow started to melt but then refroze and will remain frozen all week. So there is ice and crusty snow on sidewalks, yards. Roads are clear, fortunately!
    Hope you are enjoying your mild winter weather, Brandy! I’m a little envious but this gives me time to focus inside.
    Gardenpat in Ohio

    1. I keep a very small stash of paper plates/napkins on hand in case we would all get very sick at the same time. It was recommended to me by a friend who had that happen to her family, and having the task of dishes removed from the daily list was a big help, according to her. You may want to save back a few of those plates and napkins for just in case! 🙂

      1. Laura Foye- Very true and we do have some paper plates in our Emergency Supply tote. We have a case of 30 paper towel rolls that we got on clearance for $7 (.23/per roll) so the napkins aren’t needed. These were extra paper plates beyond that and were in a tall cabinet that I’m clearing out. It also had about 18 tablecloths including ones that were extra long to fit a dining table we no longer have! 😱 It was also housing pet supplies for a dog of ours that passed away 4 years ago! I have designs on that cabinet to use for more home storage items! It’s exciting to see the space being used for more practical things!
        Imo- part of being prudent and frugal is making sure we are only keeping thins that we need/use. As we are aging, this is becoming a higher priority to Hubs and me!

    2. I am so impressed with your son. He is doing so well. Just a thought . . .I buy pretty paper plates and napkins on sale and save them from grandkids birthdays to use for lunches when we travel, usually a road trip. I certainly understand your wanting to clear out clutter and get a break from dishes.

    3. Happy mid February Everyone!!
      This is shaping up to be a week of preparation for my Family as my Mom will have knee replacement
      Surgery on the 16th.
      We are planning to do a thorough clean of the house, wash bedding,
      Blankets, floors, bathrooms, walls and windows. Also on my goal list is to get several Meals prepared that will keep my family well
      Fed but require little effort. I work full time from home so I will have to look after my Mom plus all of my usual tasks. I want to make sure that everyone has what they need.

      We dug through my Mom’s pajamas to ensure that she has plenty of comfy pants to accommodate the bandage without having to purchase anything extra. I have several quick items On hand such as tuna fish, eggs, rice, potatoes and loads of dried beans. I’m Planning to roast two small chickens and make a small batch of cranberry sauce. The leftover cranberry sauce I will bake into two loaves of cranberry bread for easy breakfasts. I will use the meat and carcasses to make a pot of homemade chicken noodle soup. Brownies will be made this weekend as well as a basic pound cake. I’ll cook up a pot of pinto beans and a batch of rice so that we can stock the freezer with a batch of bean burritos for quick lunches.
      We had hamburgers this week. Leftover buns were made into garlic bread. I used leftover ham, leftover steamed broccoli, 2 red peppers that were wrinkling and several green onions that were on their last legs to bake 4 quiches. These went into 4 pie crusts from the freezer that needed to be used. We ate two and froze the leftovers.
      We used two leftover shoeboxes to make a valentines box for our son in the shape of an alligator. The alligators mouth opens so that treats can be put in.
      We continue to eat meals at home, run full laundry loads and leave the thermostat set at 65.
      We made a batch of sourdough starter last week and baked two loaves of bread. We enjoyed one loaf of French bread to go along with vegetable beef soup. The second was chopped into croutons and will be thawed, tossed in melted butter, herbs and garlic and toasted.
      I have a large bag of chopped orange and yellow peppers that need to be used and I am planning to do so in a pot of homemade tomato soup. I will freeze some soup for easy lunches in the days ahead.
      I’ll be ordering black gold soil for the garden in the next several weeks and tilling it into the garden in preparation for planting. I have all of the seeds I need on hand but will need to purchase some flower seeds and seedlings as they become available.
      We are trying to stay in as much as possible and can’t wait for Spring to arrive so that we can move out of cold and flu season weather and symptoms that are going around. We are thankful to be well and looking forward to better days ahead.
      Blessings to all!!

        1. Best wishes to you, Juls Owings, on a quick recovery from your hip replacement surgery. We’ll be thinking of you.

    4. I’m really impressed by how fearlessly your son is tackling new recipes, and making life easier for his sister and brother-in-law on a stressful day. And hooray for Hubs and his decision to take on half the dinners. What a difference this will make to your weeks, I would think. The fact your daughter has a meal plan posted shows how her mother’s organization habits have rubbed off. I love the family effort.

  2. How lovely that you had beautiful weather. It has been very cold here. I did go skiing one day, which was very nice. This week I made a large batch of marinara sauce, used 1 ½ cups for dinner one evening and froze another 4 pints. I also baked whole wheat sandwich bread and French bread. I inventoried the freezer and made a list of meal options using items I have on hand.
    I purchased a rug for my living room from a neighbor who is selling and moving.
    I started seeds for lettuce, rainbow chard, white turnips, red and green cabbage and peppers under a grow light. I should be able to transplant everything but the peppers to my greenhouse in 5 or 6 weeks.

  3. Many thanks to everyone for their kind words last week after the death of my cat. They were much appreciated.
    The forecast was for a day of snow this week, and later in the week a whole week of bitterly cold weather. I bought a few groceries so I could stay home, including two 2-lb packages of pasta at its best sale price ($2 a pack Cdn./ $1.56 US). This is several months’ supply for me.
    I cut my hair. I moved the small wall mirror from my bathroom and propped it up on the table in the kitchen alcove, so I could sit while I cut it. The alcove has great overhead lights, as well as two walls of windows, so it was easy to see what I was doing.
    The library in the next town over has reopened for pick-up service, so I called to see if I could renew my membership remotely. The librarian agreed to me paying by check in the mail. I got over to the post office before it got cold. The senior membership is $10, as opposed to $15 for adults. She renewed the membership without waiting for the check, so I have two new books to read and two others on hold. These are all e-books. They have a lot of new books, and are not so busy as in the first co-vid wave. They have also signed up quite a few new electronic services, which I’d like to explore.
    I had run out of stamps and envelopes, so I bought a package of 10 envelopes preprinted with permanent stamps. They cost the same as 10 stamps, saving me $2.99 on envelopes. This is about as many as I use in a year, but the permanent stamps mean that the postage is correct as long as I have them, even if postage goes up.
    The cold weather is in the -30s (-39 C Sunday morning, or -37 F). I’m not planning to go out until it is warmer on Friday or so. One of the best things about retirement is not having to go out in extreme weather. Lots of housework to do, as well as books to read and shows to watch, so I won’t find it difficult to keep busy.

    1. I did not reply last week but I felt your pain. My beloved cat who was only 8 died in November. He jumped off the bed & struck his head on the dresser. A freakish thing to happen. I was crushed & depressed for weeks. I’m glad you have another furry friend to comfort you. I have a new (rescue) cat. He is mending my broken heart with feline love!

      1. How awful for you. What a shock that must have been! I am so glad you have a new cat to love and take care of.

  4. I learned a lesson in patience this week. The free dryer that we received came with a pedestal. We did not want that. I listed it on FB, for free, and had many interested. One after another the 3 that said they would come, never showed up. It sat on the driveway for 2 weeks and I wondered how I was going to get rid of it. I listed it on Craigslist for $10 and someone came and bought it. I was glad I kept trying, after the very frustrating no-shows.
    I made creamy broccoli soup with potatoes for the ‘cream’ because I can’t eat milk. I grew the broccoli.
    We took my mother on an outing to the beach. We packed our lunch and ate at the top of a hill overlooking the beach, before parking on a residential road and walking down to the beach. We saved $10 by not using their parking lot. It was a lovely day out.
    I returned cabbage starts that died immediately when I got them home. I up-potted some seedlings that had their first true leaves, and also spread out some seedlings that had germinated in the garden. I still have plenty of broccoli, kale and collard greens growing. We continue to pick up lemons in free boxes in neighbor’s driveways. I made candied lemon peel for the first time and it was delicious! I posted pictures in my monthly Etsy shop newsletter, and said I was lucky to have any peels left for an ‘after’ picture since there was so much sampling! Recipe is in the newsletter too!
    I altered a pair of pajama bottoms, picked up free tea from my Buy Nothing group, my mother fertilized some of my trees and veggies with alfalfa meal, we used rain water from the barrels to water the fruit trees, I sold two items from my shop over the weekend, and froze lemon juice.
    Thank you Brandy for hosting, and to everyone who comments. I love reading them. The sense of community is such a blessing!

    1. Kara, apparently I do not possess your well of patience. I have given my overflows to the local charity store for years. One day I got the great idea to join the local Buy Nothing group, thinking that would be even nicer. The very first thing I advertised was awarded to a man from whom I never heard again. Next, a woman said she wanted the item and set up a time to pick it up. She never showed.

      That was it. I’m back to the charity store. I have no patience for this kind of lack of responsibility.

        1. Very often, I have found that “free” things are hard to give away. But if you charge very little for something (like you did), it will get picked up quickly because people don’t want to let a great deal slip through their fingers! Pretty silly but… 🤷🏼‍♀️

    2. My daughter can’t have milk. Love the idea of potatoes for cream. Also thanks for the link to your newsletter. I subscribed!

  5. It was a quiet week for us, but we found a few ways to save. I altered some clothing that was too loose due to some weight loss I’ve experienced, and that helped add some variety back to my wardrobe. It appears that my weight is ‘settling in’ at a new setpoint, so I feel more comfortable altering items now, and having them work for me for a while.

    We borrowed materials from the library – audio books, some physical books, and I used a database to gather some information.

    My husband made delicious meals all week and I took leftover portions for my lunch at work. He uses coupons, sales, and rebate platforms such as Ibotta to save a lot on our grocery costs. Last weekend I made a loaf of rustic whole grain bread. I followed the directions to the T, and it was too salty for our taste. My friend suggested making it into croutons, and that worked beautifully! I had some yesterday on a bowl of homemade pumpkin soup, made from a Kabocha pumpkin we grew in our garden.

    I buried vegetable scraps in our garden so they will break down and nourish the soil. I also reached out to a local alpaca farmer, and come spring, I’ll pick up a truckload (or two) of manure to add to our garden as well. Our garden and landscaping projects don’t hold a candle to yours, Brandy, but we do have some things we are doing this year that will benefit our plants and our food supply. We planned our 2021 garden, and I was happy to discover that I don’t need to order or purchase any seeds at all.

    I’ve got this week’s menu plan and more listed over at my blog – visitors welcome!

  6. I used cardstock and some water color markers to make Valentine’s cards to send to a few friends and my family. It was fun to be creative and I had all the supplies already.
    We had a Super Bowl Party (just the three of us). I sent my husband and son to the store for snacks and they got enough snacks and chips to last for awhile. They had fun. That came out of the entertainment budget, not the food budget.
    I teach the four and five year olds at church. I like to give a little gift at Valentine’s Day. I was able to buy pencils, candy, and some Playdough to put in a little gift bag. It turned out to be about a dollar per bag, which I am happy with. My husband will help me deliver them on Saturday or Sunday (we aren’t doing in-person church yet).
    It has been well below zero all week here. We are sticking close to home due to covid anyway, but we are happy to do it now! We are layering and eating comfort food instead of turning up the heat. Cozy cozy.
    I’ve been enjoying reading, watching shows and crocheting and knitting from my stash. Simple pleasure!!
    Thanks to whomever recommend the YouTube videos from Mornings with Granny! I’ve been watching some of her videos every day and enjoying them so much. She is really inspirational about stretching food dollars and planning simple, inexpensive and healthy meals. After what I read here, hers is my next favorite. I love it when people here share!!
    Thanks again to Brandy and everyone who posts here each week! I appreciate it so much!
    Happy Valentine’s Day, Friends <3 <3

    1. Hi, Becky, that was me who recommended “Mornings with Granny”. I am so happy you like her channel. My favorite thing she does is her “what if” scenarios. They really get you thinking! She is such a sweet, pure, happy and content granny!

  7. This has been a week of definite ups and downs. On the up side, my daughter just let us know that she and her boyfriend of over twelve years are getting married this week.
    They live in southern California which has had a pretty bad Covid problem. They got their license and will be married via Zoom with an official from the Santa Barbara courthouse officiating. They have been engaged for a couple years and originally talked about a destination wedding. I joked that they could get bridal outfit pjs to be married in.

    I cut my husband’s hair. I made food from scratch like french bread, quiche and other tasty items. I cleaned some closet clothing shelves and added some lavender sachets which I made.

    On the bad side of things….I bought 10 yards of a beautiful looking vintage cotton print for $10 at a local boutique thrift store. I set it aside for several days before taking off the tape wound around it to throw it into the washing machine like I always do. I noticed all these specks on the inside of the fabric. Hundreds of specks to be precise. My husband and I got out a high powered magnifying glass for a closer look and compared with online photos. I am very worried that they were bedbug droppings. We packed the material into a ziplock bag and disposed of it. I spent the next day cleaning and vacuuming, etc. It has been over a week and I haven’t seen any crawlies so far. If you read up on bedbugs, it is definitely not something you would ever want. Anyhow, I think that it will be awhile before I buy any fabric or clothes from a 2nd hand store. I realize that most the time it is probably okay.

    The saddest part of my week is that my brother is dying. I think he has only a few days left. I was able to talk to him via Zoom. His care facility will call us toward the end so that we can be with him. They make this one exception to their Covid guidelines. We were quite close so this is very hard.

    I have been watching All Creatures Great and Small on PBS. 14 years ago we were spending some time in England and I made my husband take me to Darrowby for two nights. We went to the pub featured on the show. Also visited the real surgery of James and Seigfred (spelling?).
    And I believe they had the car featured on the show that you could sit in and have your photo taken. I also made the poor guy take me to Shrewsbury. I don’t know if any of you remember the Brother Cadfael mysteries. A favorite of mine.

      1. Thank you everyone for your words, thoughts and prayers. Having strength is the hard part – I thought about calling him tbis morning (after my daughter’s Zoom wedding which we will be able to see) and seeing if he is able to talk but I would probably start to cry. I know that many people are going through tough times right now. Love and hugs to you all.

          1. Yes, I tried twice today to get ahold of him through his phone and care facility with no luck. Will try again after dinner. At least my sister and niece did a long Zoom call with him this morning.

        1. ElisaB, I lost my oldest sister in September from a long illness. We were 3 hours out of Charlotte when she passed. She was not conscious. I was not able to tell her I loved her or that it was OK for her to let go. Please, do not miss an opportunity to tell your brother that you love him. He needs to hear the words and you need to say the words to him. Blessings and prayers.

          1. Thank you so much for your sweet note. I am sure that your sister knew your love for her.
            I did manage to get ahold of my brother and tell him again how much I love him. Plus I was able to say how appreciative I was of all the fun things we did together. He had a difficult time talking but told me he isn’t feeling bad about dying and is ready to go.

          2. Hi Sabrina,
            I tried to answer your sweet note yesterday but I think I forgot to hit Post Comment so I hope this doesn’t pop up twice. I am sure that your sister knew how much you loved her. Since my brother got ALS over a year ago, I have known his time is limited. I am probably nearly annoying with hugs and “I love you” to family members. I was able to call and tell him again last night.
            But I know what you mean as one of my husband’s sisters passed unexpectedly and wish I had told her what a good friend she’d been.

    1. Elisa, losing someone we love is the most difficult thing on earth, I think. I hope you call him because you will be thankful you did. Lifting you up in prayer and sending prayers that your brother is wrapped in love as he journeys home.

    2. I’m glad you will get to see him. a lady I know never saw her hubby again after they transferred him to another hospital. it is hard to see someone die, but you will be glad that you were with him.

  8. You were right to compact the soil. I’m no expert, but I know I have to add compost to my raised beds every year because it goes down so much. I hope you are able to get the work done in time to plant this year.

    This was my frugal week–
    * I got the water bill for our vacation home and realized something was amiss. My July and December payments weren’t credited! I was able to print copies of the canceled checks directly from my computer.
    * We are prepping the house for 90 day rentals to traveling medical staff.  I brought home a whole carload of personal stuff and was able to restock a lot of products that will $ave in the long run.
    * And I found LAST year’s seeds (which we had to buy twice) to plant this year. I was thrilled to find two packets of “Alaska” nasturtium seeds. “Alaska” is the variety (sold by several companies) that has variegated leaves and tends to trail, if this interests anyone.
    * I cleaned out the fridge for the first time since before Christmas and had to throw away 3 things–a dab of moldy rice, a little leftover cheese sauce (I feel bad about that one) and an entire bunch of green onions. The onions ticked me off because they went slimy in about a week. It was all worth about $1.50 at most–probably the least food waste I’ve ever had. (I have been working on this).
    * I canceled AcornTV, saving $5.95 month. We haven’t watched it much lately (mainly getting my Brit fix on PBS Passport).
    * I used curbside pickup at my local library for the first time and checked out 4 books. Recommended: The Day the World Came to Town, about when US airspace was closed due to 9/11 and the 10,000 residents of Gander, Newfoundland, fed and housed nearly 6,600 passengers of the 38 airplanes forced to land. A real feel-good story! This is the story that inspired the Broadway hit “Come from Away.”
    * I cut the good parts of an old bath towel into rags. How old? My husband took it to college in 1963, don’t know if it was new then. It was still whole (and not holey) until it got used as a paint rag. I cut around the dried paint spots.
    * I cut my daughter’s bangs. 

    1. Thank you for another book recommendation. I enjoyed The Last Bus to Wisdom because of you.
      That is a pretty impressive life of a towel. My husband just tore 25+ year flannel pj bottoms. I offered to mend where the flannel wore through since I am doubtful they make flannellike that still.

  9. How nice to read everyone’s week.

    I love that you were able to work outdoors Brandy.

    Our weather has been much too cold, with a lot of ice, snow, and rain.

    My biggest frugal spend was finding 8 packages of beef sliders (12count) for $.99 each
    and 3 loaves of 21 grain bread for $.69 each.

    My biggest save has been staying home whenever possible.
    My husband cut one son’s hair

    We have played numerous games of Dutch Blitz lately, as well as exercising with a Wii Fit
    (Everyone gets 15 minutes per day) One day in the last 2 weeks it was nice enough it be outside and we really enjoyed it!

    I’ve enjoyed reading, even though I haven’t posted lately
    Have a wonderful week!!

  10. Some of our garlic is sprouting, so I dried a batch to powder. I harvested a cabbage, parsley, kale and mixed winter greens. Yogurt and bird suet were made. Homegrown sweet potatoes, lima beans, tomatoes, crowder peas, onions and garlic were used. I prepared a bed, and planted Frosty peas. Two bags of single pancakes were pulled from the freezer for a breakfast. Soap oils were warmed on the woodstove. I redeemed 2200 Swagbucks for a Lowe’s GC, and got 100 back. Your taco soup was made for lunches. It’s such a wonderful and easy recipe. I just love it! All the leftover bits and pieces were used in a frittata.

    1. Laurie, that’s funny, we also made Brandys Taco Soup recipe! It was so good! I add cheese, sour cream and eat it with tortilla chips. We had quite a bit left so I froze it and in a couple weeks I will throw it in my crockpot and have a second meal from it. I think the second time around I am going to throw in some cream cheese to change it up a bit. So frugal!

      1. It must be the week for Brandy’s taco soup recipe!
        I make mine in the Crock-Pot (slow cooker) and added chicken leftover from Saturday night’s roasted chicken for dinner on Sunday.
        We serve with a lettuce/spinach salad and tortilla chips.


    2. Ya’ll just gave me a wonderful idea! I have a bag of dried black beans, quinoa, barley that I have been trying to figure out how to use (the recipe that is given was not good with the first bag). I can make Taco soup with it! Omptah!

  11. My week was similar to many other weeks: grocery shopping to fill in spaces in my fridge, reading books from the library, watching movies on a streaming service, walking, knitting projects to donate from donated yarn, and trying to use what I have on hand.
    A friend in our new apartment complex offered to give me a mirror. It suits our style and is large–32 x 48″ I think. It will go over our dresser. She also has a small table with shelves for our office that is barely used. I will give her the $50 she is asking for it.
    I found .45 while in line at the grocery store. I guess people don’t look down! It wasn’t dropped by the person in front of me.
    My part time job is getting busy again. It’s interesting, enjoyable work and can do about half of it at home. For the next few months I will be bringing in extra income.
    Be safe and have a lovely Valentine’s Day!

  12. Wow! Great work on your yard! It will be so fun to see the completed project.

    *I spent a lot of time at home except for Saturday when I drove to help one of my kids. Made all meals at home except for my husband and I’s date night. We had one of my children’s friends sleep over on Saturday night and all my kids were home except one for the weekend. My oldest son had a friend come home with him after church and made themselves some pancakes. He made lots of pancakes! I decided to make up scrambled eggs, bacon and use the leftover pancakes for our dinner. I had plenty of leftovers to keep everyone snack happy and meal happy. My youngest made rice krispy treats for everyone to share. We popped popcorn and watched movies from our streaming service or from our dvd collection.

    *I visited my mom on Saturday and my sweet brother who lives with my mom loves Scooby Doo as much as my youngest daughter (15). He bought 2 new movie combos and a series that she hadn’t seen before. He loans them to her because we take excellent care of his movies. It saves us so much money. We also had a neighbor drop off a container of homemade swedish meatballs that I will use for a meal this week. Thankful for people who share.

    *Still exercising at home and my husband I went for a walk. My husband walks 5 miles everyday which is amazing to me. I can only do about 1.5 miles with my feet, but am still aiming to get in 10,000 steps at home. The cement and my feet don’t like each other for long periods of time.

    *We’ve had crazy weather! We’ve had snow, wind and then 50 degree days with sunshine. We noticed a neighbor’s cherry tree is starting to swell. We worry the fruit will be frozen off. Utah is known for hard freezes in the early spring. We have peach, nectarine and apple that we planted 2 years ago. I really want to be able to harvest fruit this summer from those trees.

    *Made over a tomato based clam soup by adding leftover noodles and topping with parmesan cheese. Used coupons and sales and saved over $150 on my grocery bill. Made a large pork shoulder roast last weekend. We had it with hamburger buns and cheese, over rice and used the last of to make pork and black bean quesadillas (to use up the last of the cheese, small amount of leftover black beans and 5 tortillas). I’ve stopped making menu plans and instead work with what I’ve got in the fridge/pantry/freezer. I make up menu plans and hardly ever follow them because of leftover this and that. It needs to be used up and not thrown out!

    *My dog will only take pills using pill pockets. I have to use 2 of those pill pockets to give her all her pills everyday. Does anyone have any cheaper ideas on how to do this? I’ve tried peanut butter on a cracker, marshmallows, wrapped in cheese or bread. She spits the pills out! Appreciate any more frugal ideas 🙂

    *I bought my daughter a t-shirt on sale at our grocery store! Love those unexpected frugal finds!

    Have a wonderful frugal week everyone! Love this blog for its wealth of information.

    1. Hi Amy, We give our dog pills in cream cheese. He thinks it’s a treat and it works better than peanut butter for us. Good luck!

    2. Two suggestions, Amy–
      You can cut a Pill Pocket in half and squeeze it together with the pill inside. Cuts the cost by 50%.
      Also, the couple that run the kennel where we occasionally board our dogs keep a can of Alpo for pilling dogs. He says they will do ANYTHING for the Alpo.

      We bury a small pill inside a piece of string cheese, and it works. But then, that dog isn’t the sharpest knife in the drawer! None of our previous dogs would do it. Half a PP always worked, though. The vet says the dog can smell the pill inside and you aren’t fooling them…you are just giving them something they want more.

      1. Bury the pills in Liverwurst. The smell is overpowering the pill. We used it at the clinic I worked at. Worked like a charm!

    3. Hi Amy,
      We put pills in a piece of hotdog. Dog is so excited, she doesn’t even chew! Just swallows it whole – no spitting out of pill! I don’t know if this will be cheaper. Good luck!

    4. I always found my dogs would swallow pills if they were in a big dab of soft cream cheese.or cream-cheese-based chip dip. For a long time I put the cream cheese on a small piece of bread, but then found they would just lick it off the tip of finger. Depends on whether the dog can be trusted to lick and not bite! I don’t know if this will help, but I’ll mention it: one dog I had would swallow something with a pill in it if I showed her the pill first and she could see me put it in the treat, but if I tried to slip it in the treat without her seeing it, she would always spit it out.

    5. I keep a can of canned dog food in the fridge. Every morning I take a spoonful of dog food out and push my dog’s pill into the glob. Our dog has never failed to eat the pill along with the canned dog food. I just keep a baggie over the opening of the can and store it in the fridge. One can of canned dog food (around $1.00) probably lasts us somewhere around two weeks.

    6. I had a cat that I had to give pills to for asthma. The vet told me to pop the pill in its mouth, as far back as I could, hold his mouth closed and blow softly on his nose. It made him swallow. I don’t know if that would work for dogs. Our dogs always take pills wrapped in cheese, but the pills are very small.

      1. I also had my vet teach me how to pill my dog…basically, pop the pill back into their mouth, hold their mouth closed gently and blow into their nose. The dog will automatically swallow. I had to go to this method when my golden retriever would end up eating every ‘wrap’ imaginable and spit the pill out on the floor.

      2. Michelle, this is exactly what I do with my dogs, too. It isn’t very pleasant putting the pill in, but it does work. I have had a couple of dogs who could spit a pill out of any treat I tried. One even waited until I left the room to spit it out. I would find it later.

    7. These are awesome suggestions! I hadn’t thought of any of these ideas. Thank you all so much frugal friends <3

    8. My bullie is notorious for spitting out her meds after eating the yummy add on 😁. The pet store recommended The Honest Kitchen grain free beef recipe dog food. It’s in a form where you get just enough in your hand for the amount of pills you’re giving and then add water to make a paste and then just pop the pill inside. My Daisy hasn’t figured it out yet and I’ve been doing it 2 years now. Good Luck !!

      1. Braunschweiger..dogs can not resist it. offer a pinch or 2 without the pill and tease a bit getting them excited about the treat then give the pinch with the pill.. it should go right down!

    9. I used 1/2 of cheese also. I wrap the pill in a 1/4 of the cheese and then have the other 1/4 in view. our dog is so interested in getting The “extra snack ” she gobbles down the wrapped pill.

    10. I used to push my dog’s pill into a piece of banana. After a while, whenever he saw me walk towards the bananas, he would get so excited because he knew that a treat was coming his way!

  13. Each day I remind myself that I can eat an elephant one bite at a time. I’ve been at the hospital for 8 days with my mother. With her being terminal , covid restrictions do not apply to me. I am always so grateful for the many freebies here that many other places charge for. Parking , internet and tv are free. Food gets expensive but I guess I make it up by not driving. I’m packing a to go bag for our next trip which is inevitable. Sugar cookie is having a birthday. I’m positive I have gifts I can pull from their hidden secret locations. I need to look. She requested a stuffed crust pizza and cupcakes from Wal-Mart. That’s cheap enough. We continue to keep our heat off. My bill is down to 100 from 240. The weather is not cold but frequently rainy. I’m not sure my spending will stay low but I will try to stay on budget. Best wishes dear friends.

    1. Thank you for that reminder! I need that today.

      I’m glad you are permitted to see your mother.

    2. Lillianna, I am so glad you are able to spend time with your mother even though I know it is very hard to watch her failing. I went through the same thing with my mom too. May your time together be blessed and may you and your mom be filled with the peace that passes understanding.

    3. Hugs to you during this hard time with life and with your mother’s health. I love your attitude and the way you keep going and are so creative.

  14. Hello everyone, I have good news about the excess of stuff I need to get rid of. The shop owner came over and bought $800 of items, and wants to come back. I was able to clear out some areas where I don’t feel so crowded now. Thanks to everyone who sent prayers my way. I feel better and my stress level has improved. I actually feel like I can slow down and get something done.

    I found my grandmother’s cast iron corn stick pan and was going to get rid of it. When I tried to use it years ago everything stuck. I seasoned it and cooked a batch yesterday. It worked great, I’m happy to keep it to use.

    I tried soap on the zipper of a soft sided suitcase. The zipper worked but would stick in places. The soap worked to loosen it up.

    I’m using hoopla and Libby apps from the library.

    I fixed a window roller shade. It is very old and ripped on the bottom. I looked into buying two new ones but what I want is hard to find and more expensive than I thought. One idea was to just switch out another window with a shade I never raise. But then honey said why don’t you just cut it off. That worked, I just folded up a new hem. And since they were extra long it worked out well.

  15. This has been a relatively quiet week.
    I worked 5 days this week and brought breakfast and lunch all days.
    Made taco meat one day and tacos that night. Had tostadas for dinner the next night. Yummy. I could eat these every day.
    My DH finished shelling the dry beans we grew last summer.
    Made fried rice with leftover brown rice we had cooked earlier. Used eggs from our neighbors. Carrots and onions from the garden. Pork chops we’d cooked earlier. Celery from the fridge and peas from the freezer. Just used soy sauce for flavoring. Had that for dinner on Friday, and it is lunches this week.
    Cooked a batch of calico beans and one of black beans in the Instapot. Both were grown in the garden in different years. They are in the fridge for making chili this week, and we will freeze the rest.
    We had a rack of baby back ribs in the freezer. Took them out and DH BBQ’d them on Sunday. Had homemade onion rings with them with candy onions from the garden. The onions are larger than a softball!! Had a really good crop this year. They keep for months in our “fruit room” which is a room with cement floors and walls in our basement. It is not insulated. Also made roasted vegetables from carrots from our garden and broccoli and cauliflower purchased a bit ago on sale.
    Did the usual, washed full loads of clothes (We only wash 2 loads a week, and then a load of towels every other week). Ran the dishwasher only when full. Kept the heat turned down and wrapped up in blankets and wore extra warm clothes if cold. We turn our heat down to 58-60 at night We have flannel sheets on our bed, then a comforter. we each have a separate blanket on top, so we can keep it on or throw it off as we wish.
    We are expecting really cold temperatures this week. Daytime will not be above freezing and down to 3 degrees one night this week and 6-7 another night.
    My mother (she’s 97) received her first COVID shot about 10 days ago. The next one should be in another 10 days. she has been on virtual lockdown since the first of the year. I have not been able to visit. We are hoping after she has her second shot, my sister who is in healthcare and therefore has already had both shots, will be able to visit. I am on the list in Washington, but have not yet been able to get an appointment yet.

    1. I was very sad that my 100 year grandmother’s small nursing home had 100% compliance with the vaccine and they still won’t allow visitors unless you are outside looking into the window. I hope that doesn’t happen in your case.

  16. My mom sent over hangers, ice cream, chicken, pizza, and a coupon for a free item at Wendy’s

    The boy was cleaning his room and found a Starbucks gift card. He wasn’t sure where it even came from. He gave it to me to use($10 on it)

    The 14yo made cookies from scratch and we had everything on hand.

    Deep cleaned our bedroom. Tossed some things that were beyond salvaging. I listed 6 shirts and 2 lightweight sweaters on a buy nothing group. Feels nice to have the extra drawer space. Also let go of 5 fleece blankets that we hadn’t used in years.

    Got all the donations out of my room finally and dropped off.

    Stayed home as much as possible, mostly reading. Chipping away at stuff on our dvr so we can finally get rid of the satellite.

  17. It is very cold here now but last week was mild enough to get out walking three times. I am hoping we can walk at least once this week, even if we have to bundle up. We are eating out of pantry and freezer at the moment so we didn’t grocery shop last week. This week shopping will be only for milk and a few fresh vegetables. We continue to be blessed abundantly by our local buy nothing group. From food to toiletries to clothing to housewares to games and puzzles, we have saved a countless amount of money and known the kindness of our neighbors.

    I hope everyone has a lovely and productive week.

  18. Hello Brandy, I hope you and all your readers had a good week.

    It snowed here in New York this weekend and I enjoyed a beautiful walk in the park with my dog.

    I hemmed a pair of pants that had long been in the sewing pile after a friend sent me a catch stitch tutorial. This hand stitch, coupled with iron-on fusible interfacing, provides me with a quick alternative to getting out the sewing machine for hemming and works fine for my purposes.

    Currently trying to get a CoVid vaccination appointment for my parents. They are eligible on our area but appointments are hard to come by. I will keep trying.

    Stocked up on a year’s supply of pet medication while the veterinarian’s supplier was having a sale. We still have a few months left from last year’s stock-up but they will get used, and buying during this sale saves us a lot of money.

  19. We had lots of rainy weather this past week (typical Seattle winter weather). But as of tomorrow we are heading into some cold, sunny weather, which is my favorite. We may get some snow too. I like snow but when you live in a hilly area that only gets infrequent snowstorms (and is therefore not well equipped for the situation), it is rather problematic.

    My husband’s last day of work is Friday so I have been keeping track of my grocery expenses to make sure we don’t overspend. It’s going to be an adjustment after years of having a good income. We will live from savings for a while. But we have done this before, so hopefully it will turn out ok.

    In early January, I bought an electric toothbrush at Costco. When the February flyer came out, I saw that the same item was on sale for $30 less. So I asked at Customer Service whether they’d adjust the price. They said yes, as long as the purchase was within 30 days. Thankfully, it turned out to be 29 days, so I got my $30 refund and was happy.

    Did grocery shopping at Trader Joe’s and picked up a bunch of tulips that were described to be long lasting. Well, they dried out in the vase in 2 days, which was very strange (I have never had this happen before). So I took my receipt back to the store, and they gave me a refund. Their flowers can be hit or miss.

    Used Nextdoor to give away a plastic drawer unit I no longer wanted. Donated a couple items to our local YWCA. Continued to help my mom clean out her condo, and took home a few things I could use.

    My husband’s succulent plant sent out a small side shoot, so we repotted it, and hopefully it will take.

    Cooked from the pantry and freezer, and incorporated leftovers into new meals so nothing would go to waste. Made a big batch of green soup (similar to Brandy’s swiss chard soup) using chard that I froze last summer from our farm share. I always add a bunch of cilantro near the end of cooking time, and then puree it all together. It turns out really good and you can’t taste the cilantro (at least that’s what my mom says, and she doesn’t like cilantro). Shared some of the soup with my mom. My husband made popcorn several times.

    Got a free 8 ounce container of dip (I chose artichoke dip) from our local coop. This was the member perk of the week.

    Otherwise, just did all the things I normally do: took walks in the park, worked out at home, read blogs, watched Youtube and streaming TV, hung out at home, made several batches of water kefir, and cooked from home.

    Have a great week, everyone.

  20. We’ve had some medical bills to pay, so I’ve tried to be extra careful with other purchases. I needed an MRI done and now need to have physical therapy for 6 weeks on a shoulder I dislocated a few weeks ago. I had a shopping list with all the local deals ready to go today (Monday) and combining it with a library run to return books due today and pick up books on hold. Unfortunately, that was all cancelled because my husband came down sick, did a rapid test for covid and within the hour it came back positive. This was Saturday morning. We used the rest of our milk, bread, tortillas, and applesauce over the weekend. I knew I could make bread and tortillas and we could make up some powdered milk. I can only use one arm, so it takes a bit longer. Then I started exhibiting symptoms and definitely did not feel up to making bread. Luckily, a friend from church texted me to see how my shoulder is doing and I told her we all have covid. She arranged for some meals to be dropped off on our porch. My mom (many states away) used our local grocery stores online purchasing and delivery to have groceries dropped off at our house. It was totally a surprise and I cried when I opened the door. So many good people surrounding us. She sent us juices, granola bars, individual yogurts, and individual applesauces. Those are things we don’t normally buy so my kids were SO excited! Also, bread, milk, and tortillas! I’m happy I don’t have to make them from scratch, when all I really want to do is lie down. 😉

    1. That’s wonderful what your mother did for you! Thanks for letting us know and giving me an idea.
      Since my parents and my sister-in-law all came down with covid at the same time I was wondering what I could do.
      My brother is trying to help them all and work too (he works outdoors). I can try to get groceries ordered for them.
      Since I live several states away, it’s the best option.

      Hope you get well quickly.

    2. I hope you all feel better soon. My family and I had Covid right after Thanksgiving. I dropped a pile of groceries at my son’s apartment as he had no food. I had pretty much everything he needed in my house. The worst part for hubby and I was having no energy and wanting to sleep a lot. That lasted about three weeks. The best thing to do is rest as much as you can and take the supplements that are recommended. Praying for a quick recovery.

  21. Hi Brandy and all,
    In order to spend less on groceries, I updated the freezer inventory and reorganized the canned food pantry and then made the menu alternatives for the week. So far this year, we have eaten one meal out, and I used a gift card for that!

    On a positive note, we use McAfee anti virus software (used to use Norton but like McAfee better and it was cheaper and did as good a job for us). Last year for our 5 computers we paid $61. This year the renewal came in at $108! So I called and after a long wait at the call center, the woman explained I needed to be on a promotion for a better price, and so she then offered me a yearly fee of $40! She said, next year when I get the renewal notice, call back in and ask for a promotional price. So heads up anyone out there using McAfee! Savings are one phone call away 😉

  22. Hello All! It has been a while since I’ve posted but I enjoy reading your comments each week. Like so many, I appreciate the kind, gentle supportive nature of this blog. It is centering and a joy. We have been thinking about our next 5-10 years and have decided that our house will be too large for us as our children leave the nest (We have one child in college and 2 daughters in high school). Our plan is to look to sell the house in another 3-5 years. We are doing things that bring us enjoyment and also add value to the house. We will be updating a bathroom vanity, the over fan/vent, refreshing some screens, etc. We have been doing some major landscaping work. This hasn’t been very frugal but we have done almost all the work ourselves. It will add value to the house so we think it is money well spent. We have revised our 2021 budget and have started saving more money. I received a 1% salary bump as a “cost of living” raise, which is very very nice. My DH recently received a raise and we are putting all this “raise” money toward paying down our mortgage. It is fun. We hope to pay off our house a year or so before we are ready to sell it. When we purchase something after this, we will be looking for something much smaller. We have been doing our usual to save money: reusing ziplock bags (except those use for meats), bringing lunches to work, cooking from scratch, eating less meat, working to buy from thrift shops instead of buying new (though honestly, we need very little).

  23. I have not commented in a very long time but keep up every week with everyone’s accomplishments. We sold our way too large multi level home on a 55 mile an hour road and outright bought our current home on one acre in the woods – all one level – including laundry but still have a full basement. The floors are all hard so much easier to keep clean with the pets and easier to get around if my husband winds up in a wheelchair at some point. And best of all, we are less than a mile from the state park on Lake Michigan with miles of hiking and beach front to explore as well as sooo many other small lakes to put our small boat in at. We traded our yacht that we kept in a marina and pretty much used as a floating cottage for a bass boat that has all the room we need for us and the dogs. No point in keeping a boat in a marina when you can get back home to your own comfy bed in 30 minutes! Plus no expensive marina fees and maintenance and the motor is much, much more fuel efficient and my husband can maintain it himself (he physically couldn’t maintain the twins in the big boat any longer). We are saving at least $100 a month in heating costs alone due to the smaller home even though we need insulation badly and new windows. The electric bill is also lower but not by a huge amount since we are still running most of the same stuff as at the other house.
    Our son got married the week after we moved. They decided to have a courthouse “ceremony” and then celebrated with only immediate family at her Mom’s house. It was lovely and they didn’t blow much money on the day but still managed to make it very special.
    It hasn’t all been rosy – there are some things we found out about the house after the sale went thru but that can happen with any used home purchase (property lines were not where their survey said they were – we aren’t out any land, it just makes putting in a garage almost impossible). We had to put down one of our cats 2 weeks after moving in due to a urinary blockage and then 2 days after the election, we had to put down my beloved 6 year old Dane Xander – it happened so fast but the cancer was so advanced there was nothing we could do. The hole he left was immense and about 6 weeks ago, my husband brought up that he thought we needed to look for a new pup for both our other Dane who has been lost w/o him and for me as I had become quite depressed (which is somewhat normal for me – just not this severe). We searched everywhere but most dogs were pit or pit crosses (border collies with muscles and needing much more stimulation than I can handle – I’ve worked in a kennel and seen many, many breeds and just know they are not a dog for me) OR they were far too small to handle playing with our 140 pound girl, or they weren’t good with cats……..and then an ad popped for a 10 week old Dane pup who needed an immediate home. Their landlord had okayed the pup and then reneged on the agreement once they had him for 2 weeks. He was the right sex, right size, right color (brindle with a mask)……We said we just weren’t going to get another Dane – they’re expensive and have shorter life spans but someone was looking out for me. He is a handful but he has sooooo many of Xander’s characteristics that I wonder if Xan is there teaching him in spirit. I still hurt terrible with missing Xander, but Finnick is quite a distraction and I am very much attached to him. We start puppy classes Wed evening but at 3 months he is already 50 pounds so he may very well be the biggest pup there!
    This house still has most of the “builder grade” wire closet shelving which isn’t the most efficient use of space. I have been looking for a couple of cheap used bookcases to DIY a closet makeover in our master bedroom but then someone was giving away a huge modular closet set up with drawers and everything. It’s all white laminate but with a house with as many animals as we have, laminate can be a good thing. I plan on replacing the drawer handles at some point in the future when thrift shopping is safer. (I am high risk for complications due to asthma). We also found many, many cinderblocks and pavers buried (we have no idea – I have also found a LOT of broken glass, and entire 55 gal drum of alcohol bottles, boxes of screws that it appeared someone just threw across the yard?!) I used the cinder blocks and pavers to shore up a retaining wall that had partially collapsed until I can re-do it this Spring/Summer. The people left behind a bunch of tools, lumber, paint and misc. building things that we have sold if we already had it, or put to good use. We used money from a garage sale to buy the fencing we needed to fence in an area for the dogs to run. I have identified several hard (sugar) maples on the property but I won’t get to tapping them this year. There are wild black raspberries everywhere and I have even found a patch of wintergreen 🙂
    My In-laws, my parent’s and our daughter (she works in the hospital) have all gotten their covid vaxx’s and my husband gets his next week so we will all be able to get together again!!! I am so missing coffee with my parent’s. Hopefully, I will be somewhere in the next round.
    We have cut out almost all eating out and have only been shopping once a month. I am trying to convince my husband that we could go w/o shopping (other than milk and fresh produce) for several months and still have plenty of food left over! I no longer have a big room for a pantry but just a closet which has been very challenging. I ended up with an extra shelf in the dining area to hold some of the extras but I am scheming to make a pantry closet in that area with doors so it isn’t just all “out there” when we have company.
    This past week was our once a month shopping trip and we managed to find BS chicken breast and 80/20 ground beef for 1.99 a pound I split it all up into one pound packages (the breasts all weigh a pound a piece!!) and vac sealed them all for the freezer. We have also have been much more mindful of how much food we are wasting – we still find it hard to cook for just the 2 of us so I have started putting away another meals worth of whatever we made in the freezer immediately. This also really helps with the temptation to order out when we just don’t feel like cooking. We buy frozen pizzas at the discount grocer for when the pizza craving hits (yes, I know I could make it by hand but I HATE to do it) They aren’t as great tasting as the ones from the local pizza place but a whole lot cheaper! The discount grocer often has gluten free options or even flour at times too which helps with that cost.
    I am making up many different plans for gardening – I never had to worry about deer at the other place (or turkeys, squirrels and chipmunks!) plus we are in the woods so the front yard is it for veggie and fruit growing. The plus side will be it will eliminate some of the grass so less lawn to maintain. It is also a bit of a micro climate this close to the big lake so what grew well at the other house, may not here so lot’s of planning going on which is really a welcome distraction from the COLD that has moved in. The snow has been beautiful, but the bitter cold not so much. The poor pups are out lifting one foot after another because it is so cold it hurts! The quiet here is unbelievable – you often here nothing but the wind and birds. I had no idea how I needed that peacefulness until we were moved in here. Now if I could just get my anxiety under control which skyrockets every time we leave the house because I am still not familiar with the area.
    Does anyone have any ideas if there are any bushes that will grow in FULL shade – absolutely no direct sun ever – and on the North side so needs to handle negative temps as well?? The neighbors on the one side are…..interesting :/ Blocking the view is on our list of things to do lol
    I have spent quite a bit of time mending things that have been sitting around forever or just getting rid of it. I’ve made new “slings” for a director type chair that was left here with fabric I had on hand and have recovered a cushion for one of my outdoor chairs too. I’ve used old pillows to stuff a new vinyl bed cover I made for the pup. I made it in such a way that right now, it is folded in half but he will need a larger one in another 3-4 months so it can be opened up and stuffed with the rest of the old pillows I have saved. The vinyl I have had for years and was free from someone getting out of upholstery work. I make removable covers for them out of whatever heavy duty fabric I either have on hand or can find at the thrift store (table cloths are great for this). I couldn’t afford what they charge for a bed the size a great dane needs and the beds never last either! I made myself a new clothespin bag out of a outdoor fabric remnant I’ve had kicking around for years LOL I knew I’d find the right project for it eventually!
    I took apart the vintage one that had become threadbare and used it for a pattern and reused the hanger it came with. Now I just need to decide where the easiest place will be to carry a load of laundry to – that still gets sun lol.
    And I better wrap up this book – puppy needs out and some play time!

    1. Melissa, congratulations on your new home, boat, and dog!

      I have a shady area in my garden now, due to my neighbor’s very large palm trees that are growing right up next to the wall that divides our properties. I was reading several article on a blog called The Spruce this week looking for ideas for plants that will grow in shade. Several of them don’t work here (I’ve tried 5 hydrangeas already, which was a very expensive experiment; they couldn’t take the summer heat even in full shade) and we have alkaline soil, not acidic, but if you have acidic soil, rhododendrons and azaleas could work for you (and hydrangeas could work for you too). They had many articles for shade and some for deer-resistant plants as well!

    2. My front garden is shaded and I am mostly growing rhododendrons. Some varieties grow tall and wide, although I don’t know how tall they would get in your Great Lakes climate. We had some big ones in Oregon, which has a mild climate, and they do not grow as fast in northern Idaho, where we live now. They can be pricey, but not too expensive if you are willing to start small. I have had mixed results with hydrangeas. I had several oakleaf hydrangeas that I never pruned, and they got to be 6 feet tall. It took a long time in a sheltered east-facing location. Barberries aren’t tall, but they also will take shade and look nice with silver-blue plants. Daphne will grow in shade, although they like a little sun to bloom well. They have beautiful variegated foliage. Red twig dogwood also has variegated foliage, can grow quite large and wide, and is doing fine here on the north side of a 6 ft. fence.

      What about a hedge of arborvitae or some similar shrub? I have to admit I am not a fan of these hedges, but I’ve seen some with flowering shrubs planted on the side that faces the house, and it can be beautiful. Another thought is a row of Colorado blue spruce trees (they grow fast here in zone 6) interplanted with flowering shrubs. This wouldn’t be a complete privacy screen, like arborvitae, but once the trees and shrubs started getting bigger, you wouldn’t notice much beyond them.

      1. I have limelight hydrangeas on the shady side of my house and they do well and handle the cold (southern wi). I hope you get to know your new area soon so your anxiety is less. We have moved many times and we always found new places/people that we treasure to this day.

    3. Melissa,

      We have Arborvitaes that provide shade, privacy and stay green in the winter months.

      Karen (Michigan)

    4. So sorry for you losses. Losing special pets is so hard. I am so happy you found a home close to Lake Michigan!! I so love that lake!!! We live 2 hours east, but spend many a summer day at different locations from Harbor Springs, to Petosky, to Ludington, to Grand Haven, and Silver Lake. It is my favorite place to be. I never get tired of the waves and sunsets. What a fun new adventure for you.

    5. What a busy time you have been having. I am so sorry you have lost your cat and your dog. There is just no way to get through that easily. I’m looking forward to hearing your adventures with your new pup as he discovers everything he can get up to as he grows up, and with your new house. New or old, they all have surprises in my experience!

    6. We live on a very shady lot in Michigan. I have had the best luck with this rhododendroms, azaleas, and oakleaf hydrangeas. My red twig dog woods died because too deep of shade.

  24. We haven’t shopped in over two weeks, Thursday it will be 3 weeks since we grocery shopped. I’m surprised how long the greens have remained ok. I am having fun making Indian food. Eggplant curry, spinach Curry, Moong Dal, are a few of the things I made this week. We cooked a roast with veggies that my sister couldn’t use. I cooked some fish and ate carrots. We ate Deviled eggs several times. Oatmeal with peanut butter and chocolate, Bean soup and cottage cheese, and my husband made some homemade yeast rolls.

    For entertainment I read a book called “Have a Little Faith.” by Mitch Albom. I enjoyed the book. I’ve read his other books “Tuesdays with Morrie” and ”Five People You Meet In Heaven,” . I enjoyed those books as well. I’ve also been working on writing of my own. I’m hopeful. It is nice entertainment if nothing else.

    We have been layering our clothes, wearing warm socks, and piling on the blankets at night to keep warm. I am not driving anywhere. It is too cold and my defrost is inadequate. So I am doing interviews and appointments by phone. That is saving us gas money.

    We run full loads of laundry and full loads of dishes. We are using food that we have on hand.

    I am planning a garden. I really look forward to it this year.

  25. Hello Everyone!

    This week had some saves and some fails. I cooked and baked all meals from scratch (including pizza, spaghetti, taco chili, blueberry buckle and oatmeal bars). My fail was an attempt to make a batch of yogurt. It curdled due to distraction. Multi-tasking doesn’t work LOL! I cooled it, strained it and fed it to our hens. They were also the recipients of fruit and veggie scraps. Nothing goes to waste!

    I planned a trip to Safeway this morning (my distraction). I loaded my account with digital coupons and used a $10 off coupon. In addition, I scanned my receipt for an additional $1.80 Ibotta rebate plus I will receive a PayPal rebate for a promotional purchase. I purchased some NY strip steaks for $3.99/lb. which is the lowest price I’ve seen in years. I vacuum sealed and froze them. I’ll probably pull them out for Valentines Day. My fail at Safeway was not noticing I was charged for 66 bags for a price tag of $6.60. Ugh!!! I didn’t bring my own because baggers aren’t allowed to touch customers bags due to Covid. I would’ve held up the line with my slow bagging skills. I will bring them anyway next time.

    I’ve pulled out a quilt that I began several years ago that was set aside. It’s a 9 patch quilt that will hopefully be completed by my son’s birthday in a couple weeks. He appreciates things like this. I enjoyed listening to free audiobooks on Hoopla while working on the quilt.

    In addition, I cut my son’s hair, started 2 more trays of seeds, and took a load to Goodwill. I made some returns for refunds. My family and I exercised at home. We had a game night this weekend and enjoyed some forgotten (unopened) Moose Munch from Christmas. That was fun!

    Have a blessed and beautiful week!

  26. Two suggestions, Amy–
    You can cut a Pill Pocket in half and squeeze it together with the pill inside. Cuts the cost by 50%.
    Also, the couple that run the kennel where we occasionally board our dogs keep a can of Alpo for pilling dogs. He says they will do ANYTHING for the Alpo.

    We bury a small pill inside a piece of string cheese, and it works. But then, that dog isn’t the sharpest knife in the drawer! None of our previous dogs would do it. Half a PP always worked, though. The vet says the dog can smell the pill inside and you aren’t fooling them…you are just giving them something they want more.

  27. My biggest project for this past week was re-organizing the food pantry in our camper. A few years ago, we lived in it for a few months. I realized that time has been racing by, and some of the canned goods from that time period were still under the bench seats. I removed all the food and replaced part of it with items with long expiration dates, or if it was home-canned, 2020-dated. I did not load it up as full as it was before. We don’t need as much food in there anymore, but I always want enough to cook full meals in there. When we camp, sometimes there are no stores nearby. If there are, they are often high-priced because they are in a remote location. I don’t mind buying one or two things in a pinch to support them, but can’t afford to buy it all when I get there. Instead, I take home-preserved, or buy at good prices here. And…believe it or not, we have had friends or family show up unexpectedly at our campsites in the past. More than once. For dinner. Or lunch. One time 10 people showed up:). I love being able to say, “I’m glad you are here. Please stay for dinner.” And I always have enough food, even if it’s strange combinations! And that makes me happy. It was a good time to replace all older items in the camper freezer and fridge, as well, as we had to empty those out for the repair shop. At least we didn’t have to empty every single item of bedding, etc., as most areas were not affected by the problems needing to be fixed.

    We used the “clean the camper” menu plan this week and I cooked daily with those older items until they were almost used up. I piled my tiny counter with these items so they were staring at me every morning, so I was very motivated to use them up! (Obviously the fridge and freezer items were put in there.) There were a few things left over after my marathon week, but I feel successful and will use them soon.

    If an item says it’s outdated, I open it, smell it, look at it, and if I feel safe, taste it. Usually it’s fine. If not, I throw it out, but most of it was fine.

    The camper was recently sent in to the shop for repairs because it began to leak. We paid quite a bit to get it repaired, but there were several small things that my husband wanted to fix himself in the interior. So he’s fixed a latch here, put in screws there, re-attached molding in another place….until every little thing is fixed except one latch that he needs to go buy a part for. We saved a lot that way, as the repair shop charges quite a bit per hour. What saved the most was finding the leak early on before great damage was caused inside. We did lose a couple of kites, a few books, and a fishing pole that broke, but it could have been much worse.

    My husband started quite a few seeds this week in our greenhouse. He also harvested more lettuce that he grew in there. Pictures of his efforts are on my blog:

    We used home-preserved foods and school lunch foods quite a bit and I did wait until today (Monday) to go to Safeway to use the $10 off $50 before it expired. Since I’ve been re-stocking the camper pantry with longer-dated items, it was easy to come up to the $50 mark, as I was picking up some items for my daughters as well. I got milk for $1.99/gallon, Tillamook cheese for $5.99/2-lb loaf, and some other things. I downloaded lots of other coupons, too, so was very pleased with my shopping trip.One thing I repurposed the school carrots and celery for (funny that you had a bunch, too, Brandy) was a big chicken-vegetable stir-fry.

    Rob and I got our second Covid shots this week, and suffered very minimal side effects. My arm was less painful than after the first shot, and healed after one day. Rob never felt a thing either time.

  28. This has been an up and down week. I was also waking up extremely early some days and had to nap some or else I didn’t have a good day. My husband’s laser eye surgery healed well. His other eye tested better so it doesn’t have to be done now unless it changes in 4 months. I finally got him to call to see another of his doctors early to check a symptom. We left here with melting snow, but began to see ice on the trees nearer the office. I dropped him off and went to drop my shoes off to be repaired. Halfway there he texted the office was closed until 12:00 and they didn’t call anyone. The repair shop was also closed. He got back his previous appointment. Another afternoon we dropped off the shoes and took two flourescent lights to Home Depot to recycle and buy 2 more for the garage. A win was a trip to Ollie’s where we found a larger bottle of chili powder, large containers of three of the nuts that were in a mix we liked that we could make much more for less, and 2 peach and 2 lemon cans of pie filling, all for $24. The frugal fail was our electric bill. It was like pre old heat pump days. But the right eyes opened the bill first and part of the cause stopped.

    Some cooking included Braised Chicken with Cabbage (and other vegs.) and Cilantro rice; and baked eggs, biscuits, bacon, and pumpkin pies. We made homemade Nachos for Saturday night. We only needed a jar of cheese. I took half of loaf of Italian bread and made baked French Toast for Sunday. Sunday night we had finger food. My husband used a gift card he had for chicken tenders with sauce from Chic-Fil-A. We also had broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, celery and dip, four types of cheese with crackers, orange slices, and Doritos.

    I researched shortening knitted sweaters by hand. When I have time I will try it on an old sweater first. I hope week after next I can start allocating some time every day for sewing.

    My Christmas Cactus that has the oddest, beautiful red blooms finally opened up after 2 weeks. We all love it. Stay warm everyone!

  29. Brandy I am glad the weather there is beautiful to do work in the gardens and you have been able to do so much work in filling the garden beds with soil and compacting it 🙂 . I am glad you were able to pick some lovely lemons to make lovely homemade lemonade and lemon pepper and cooked some lovely family meals.

    We had a week of things breaking down firstly our whipper snipper engine broke off the engine mount and fell on the ground while DH was using it and the pull cord mechanism also broke on the same machine 😮 . Then I was using our 7 year old push mower and the mower started to overheat and stopped and wouldn’t go again, darn and dash 🙂 . We have been home small engine self learned mechanics this week to repair things.

    Our Vicky challenge added up to $144.56 in savings last week 🙂 .

    In the kitchen –
    – Cooked all meals from scratch.
    – Baked 4 loaves of combination wholemeal bread in our bread maker saving us $14.56 over buying the loaves locally.

    Financial –
    – We earned $210 in paid gardening jobs.
    – Paid an extra part payment off our mortgage saving time and interest off our home loan.
    – Saved more money into our home maintenance fund bringing us to 79.33% of the way there to our goal and saved more into our 6 monthly living expenses emergency fund bringing us to 61.72% of the way to our goal.
    – Managed to save enough from other budget categories to buy another new push mower with (still waiting on them to arrive as they are in short supply) and also with extra funds in the budget we purchased a new whipper snipper too.

    In the gardens –
    – Separated corn seedlings that sprouted after we trench composted shredded bean and corn plants in there. Think DH missed a couple of dried corn cobs in the mulching process and the kernels survived and sprouted 🙂 . I ended up after thinning them out planting 3 large garden beds of bantam sweet corn seedlings.
    – DH sprayed around the paths, fence lines, around the outside of the garden beds, around the fruit trees and buildings for weeds and grass.
    – We mowed and whipper snipped the property as we have had a lot of rain here.
    – Comically we tried to change the ride on lawn mower blades with me with my booted feet on the blades and DH trying to undo the nuts on them which failed dismally 🙂 . We then went on the internet and found a tutorial and found out you simply put in a block of wood in the deck to stop the blades turning and lock them in. Ratchet spanner in hand and me holding the block of wood in the deck we changed our ride on lawn mower blades in 10 minutes saving us $60 in labour over sending it in to have the mower blades replaced at the local mower shop 🙂 .
    – We then played Mr and Mrs fix it again and changed the spark plug on our old lawn mower and cleaned out the air filter which was mightily clogged and saved ourselves another $70 -$100 on a service for the mower. It now starts and goes but we will have to wait until next time we mow to find out whether the motor is still overheating.

    I am glad we were able to fix and maintain small and larger garden equipment ourselves this last week as it has been a good learning curve and we have learned a valuable lesson that there is always easier ways to do things if you do a little research first 🙂 .

    Have a great week ahead everyone :).

    Sewingcreations15 (Lorna).

    1. That is a bummer that you had to buy new lawn equipment; I think I remember you buying those not too long ago!

      1. Hi Brandy and yes we purchased a few chainsaws and spare chains previously which are still going well thankfully and we did that as a lot of shops were running short of them so that we have spares to use as we cut a lot of firewood here for us and others 🙂 . One of our chainsaws had died of old age so we purchased 2 more powerful ones on a good sale.

        Yes the whipper snipper that broke was one that we purchased under a year ago and it was a very cheap one but the quality was not there unfortunately. Sometimes it pays you to buy cheaper equipment and other times not, so this time we purchased a Stihl one which should last a lot longer.


  30. Sounds like you are making progress on your garden project!
    How we saved this week:
    -I redeemed coupons for two boxes of free PopTarts for my husband.
    -I got four avocados for $2.14, and tortilla chips for 99 cents per bag. My husband made snacks to eat during the football game on Sunday using mostly items we had at home.
    -I cooked a ham from the freezer and we used it for many meals, with some left over to freeze and use later.
    -I measured my garden area. I haven’t drawn out my garden plan the last couple of years. This year I am, so that I can use the space more effectively.
    -I’m slowly working on finishing the unfinished parts of our kitchen. I’m working in small sections as I don’t want my whole kitchen to be a disaster all at once!
    Details of our week are on my blog at

  31. It was a good week for tech use – worked from home for 25 hours, had a Zoom Coffee Hour for church and a Zoom volunteer session with English students. Then I paid all of my bills online to save time and money for stamps. I had a look at my cable/internet bill and decided to give them a call. My internet is now boosted considerably and I have gained access for 6 months to extra channels and all at $40 less than what I have been paying. I was polite but insistent and it took a bit of back and forth but finally got a deal I can live with. The extra $40 will go towards paying off a small CC – the goal is to have it finished by the end of April.

    All meals were made at home except for one. My “bubble” friend and I drove across town to meet up with two other friends that we hadn’t seen in a year. We wore our masks and just walked but it was great to catch up in-person. We bought lunch and ate in our cars – side by side. I had a Reuben sandwich and have to say that it was delicious! The only groceries I picked up last week was some salad greens and a couple of cheeses so very low spend. I just keep working through the freezer and the pantry and trying some new recipes to keep it from getting too boring.

    I did two large loads of laundry last week and don’t anticipate doing anymore for at least another week. I’m being very careful about what I use and also do a bit of hand laundry here and there so I normally only use the laundry room about twice a month. I had looked out a bagful of things that I no longer wanted so I left it on the table in the laundry room and it was gone in no time so that helps with my de-cluttering efforts.

    I walked 4 times last week – at least 7,000 steps each time and even saw 3 white tail deer on one outing – they were beautiful. We are still in strict lockdown so there isn’t much else to do – but – kids are going back to in-person school next week and they may start to ease things in Toronto the following week – at least a bit. We have all the variants now so the Health Authorities are still being very cautious. I wear two masks when I leave my apt. and I’m back to wearing rubber gloves when grocery shopping. I have to go out a couple of times later this week but will keep the time out to as brief as possible. It is extremely cold here now so I’m prepared to be a bit of a “wimp”. I’ve been out consistently up until now so I think I will give myself a break over the next week or so and stay warm! A lot of books that I’ve been wanting to read have arrived at the library so I have the perfect excuse for a bit more time on the couch! 🙂 I find it so odd to hear about all the gardening that so many of you are doing – it’s usually close to the end of May before much gardening can begin up here – I’m just hoping for a break from the extreme cold and enjoying all the wonderful flower and garden photos many of you post.

    Have a wonderful week everyone.

    1. When the end of May comes, I’ll be retreating indoors most of the time! It gets too hot then to spend much time in the garden!

  32. I don’t know exactly what a Jumping Jack is but after reading your entire post, I assume it is some kind of compacter. But I wasn’t sure and for awhile I thought you meant some kind of Jumpy House in which children cavort. I assumed with seven children still at home you just moved it around the yard and let the children go to work. 🙂

    I finally decided it must be a piece of machinery, but I rather like my idea.

    1. Haha! We did jump on the soil in other beds with the children in the past, but it wasn’t as effective. It sill fell quite a bit.

    2. Great post, how I smiled at the visual of a jumpy house with all Brandy’s kids in it, and then seeing the house get moved around the back yard ;). I too didn’t know what it was but figured it to be some sort of compacting machine.

  33. Hi Brandy and everyone
    That was a great saving on the machinery for the garden. It’s good that you still have parts of the garden producing lemons etc.
    This week we picked cabbage, leeks, kale and parsnips. I am so thankful for the garden produce we preserved, this week we have used potatoes, onions, garlic, bay, bottled tomatoes, frozen raspberries and redcurrants and home made pickle.
    Lidl had a deal on celery, 35 pence a head so I bought extra for soup. They also had cress seeds for 29 pence a packet or 5 packets for £1. I bought 10 packets ( there was still some for other people) because the cheapest I’ve found it elsewhere is 99 pence a packet. The amount of seed seems similar. I try to grow a carton on the windowsill each week.
    I used a chicken carcass for stock. I packaged up some of our dried bay leaves in glassine envelopes as a little ‘makeweight’ in a birthday present for a friend.
    I used stale bread to make oven baked croutons.
    A friend sent us a bouquet of scented narcissi from the Scilly Isles.
    I cleared the fire grate and spread the wood ash around our roses.
    My husband is taking a horticultural course and as a student can buy membership of the Royal Horticultural Society for £10 per annum which is a good saving. This provides very good gardening magazines, free entry into RHS gardens around the UK and ability to buy tickets for member only RHS days at Chelsea Flower Show. The show has been postponed to September this year.
    I received a substantial tax refund which has gone into savings and my husband and I both won £50 on Premium Bonds. For non UK readers these are government bonds you buy, your money is safe and can be withdrawn at any time and your bond numbers are entered in a prize draw every month. Prizes range from £25 to £1 million.
    Stay safe everyone.

  34. I hope your weather continues to be beautiful for a while, Brandy, making that yard work easier to handle.

    I’m getting a modest raise next week, but after taxes and IRA deductions, I’m not sure how much “extra” I will get. My goal is to not use it, if possible, but save it. I feel lucky to have worked this job all the way through the pandemic, and to get a raise now is fantastic.

    I cut my husband’s hair.

    I shopped carefully this past week and spent less than half of my normal budget at the grocery store.

    The rains are falling today, so I pulled out my 15 year old TravelSmith raincoat and wore it to work. It has a hood, which means no fighting an umbrella getting in and out of a car.

    I filed some important paperwork for my husband’s health insurance, making sure I beat the deadline.

    I pulled Christmas ham from the freezer and had it with vegetables for dinner last night. That’s the last of that ham. I hope the Easter ham sales will be better than the Christmas ham sales, though.

    I made a card as a joke for a sister who makes lovely homemade cards. I used a cut up brown paper bag, masking tape and some of the grandkids’ coloring pencils to make a birthday card for her, declaring that no way could I compete with her beautiful cards, so I wasn’t even going to try! I put it in an envelope from my stash and used a leftover Christmas stamp to mail it. I hope it makes her laugh.

  35. Greetings from Plymouth, Massachusetts! Pretty snow is falling today. Does anyone have any easy, inexpensive vegan recipes? My daughter and I are vegan and would love some good recipes!

    Thank you very much!

    1. I and my family are vegan. Cheapest things to eat will center around beans, brown rice, oats, potatoes, and frozen veggies. I often make a lentil soup or veggie soup, then the next day will use the small amount of soup leftovers on top of baked potatoes. I also like to create “bowl” meals, where I assemble small amounts of a grain and several types of veggies in a large bowl—hard to describe, but you get a nice variety of flavors that way. Recently I created an Asian bowl, where I had brown rice, broccoli, edamame, baby carrots and cucumber slices, drizzled with a tahini dressing. Check out the Forks Over Knives website or FB page, they often post wonderful free recipes.

    2. Hi Tara,

      I’m not vegan, but I’ve been incorporating more meatless dishes into my menu plan. I found a book at the library called ‘Power Plates’ by Gina Henshaw ( well, I think that’s her name ;)), which had lots of tasty and not time consuming recipes. My husband liked them as well and he is ‘particular’!

    3. I like to layer my food beginning with a starch: beans, rice, potato. Then add vegetables and next condiments such as olives, jalapeno peppers.
      Being plant based-whole foods ( for cholesterol reasons) for the past 3 years, I’ve gotten a lot of ideas for meals from books at the library by Michaela Karlson, ENGINE 52 by Rip Esslysten.

  36. We continue to eat from-scratch meals. Notable was a squash bisque that almost became a fail. While making the soup, I asked my husband to hand me a can of evaporated milk from the pantry. I use that instead of full cream which the recipe lists. He handed me a can, I opened it and started to pour it into the soup but then noticed it wasn’t evaporated milk. It was sweetened condensed milk! Ha! So, I had only poured about 1/3 of the can into the soup and finished up with plain milk for the remainder. We ate the soup and it was just fine, maybe a little bit sweeter than usual, but no one complained. A few days later I added the remainder of the sweetened condensed milk to some cream cheese that was in danger of expiring. Added some lemon juice and vanilla. Put it on top of some graham cracker crumbs with a little strawberry jam on top, for a tasty dessert. We were able to get our first COVID vaccinations last week. The people there were very well organized and it only took a few minutes, plus 15 min. waiting time after.

    I pray for all of you who have had or are now experiencing special difficulties.

  37. What a beautiful rose, Brandy! It’s so encouraging to think of you having your roses now. We picked the one Meyer lemon that has been ripening on our tree for months, had it for lemon sugar crepes, and were delighted with the taste. The boys couldn’t imagine having a tree full of lemons, and outside!

    This week, we made soup, baked a good bit, ate up the pantry, refilled the upstairs spices from our big box of San Francisco Herb Company (at our house, my mother in law’s, and my mothers! No one wants to pay for tiny spice jars ever again.), and splurged on making some homemade chicken tenders. It’s just amazing how well one can eat when just cooking at home.

    I’ve been decluttering old art projects, desk, basement, closets, laundry room. It’s nice to find more function and beauty in a spot just by subtracting.

    We were happy to accept a set of hand-me-downs from a neighbor, and when I looked at them they had such treats! Smocked jumpers for little ones with special embroidery! I love smocking.

    The seeds that I sowed in a flat to prick out later did pretty well on our heated mats and under lights. The tatsoi line had a little spot that looked mildewed, so I pulled that out and haven’t seen any more. I’m going to give them a couple more days to get bigger before “graduating” them to their next flat. I planted winter salad greens.

    Wishing you all a wonderful week!

    1. My husband wants more lemon trees, so that we can have lemonade more often, so I have figured out how to fit in two more in the garden! We will have seven trees in total.

    2. I just copied down what you said, “It is nice to find more function and beauty in a spot just by subtracting.” Just the inspiration I needed! Thanks! -Nell

  38. I learned something, I just assumed (I know, I know) that with your dry/hot climate you would not need to compact your dirt. Very interesting.
    I made a vintage-like scrap/embroidered mini collage and a flannel hankie to put in with Valentine’s Day chocolates for my parents for Valentine’s Day. My mom and I make each other homemade gifts for this holiday and each year even though always simple we get more creative.
    Made Skinnytaste’s butternut squash mac and cheese – and that is delicious! We also made Budgetbytes nacho cheese dip for a date night junk food.
    I am finding that doing online grocery ordering/curb pick up (Walmart) really helps me easily stick to our grocery budget. I order once every 3 weeks and really being mindful of what can be used/needed.
    Our elliptical (of 15 years) is wearing out/metal pieces breaking. The mister contacted the manufacturer and all the “bad/old” pieces are under a lifetime warranty. They shipped them to us for free and the mister was able to make it like new again.
    This week we are supposed to get a snow accumulation of 3” every other day, so that will be a good exercise to get out and shovel.
    Happy Valentine’s Day everyone!

    1. Someone in my local online gardening group was so worried because her garden bed (a raised bed) fell a foot in height from last year. When you buy soil, it’s so nice and fluffy, but it certainly doesn’t stay that way!

  39. Our frugal accomplishments for the week were:
    *Meals made were cheesy turkey burger casserole with corn, crispy flounder with rice and tossed salad, ham with green beans and roasted potatoes, garlic chicken with macaroni and leftover green beans, pork stir fry with homemade yum yum sauce, hamburgers with homemade fries.
    *Spent a snow day at home going through my pantry and pulling out anything that needed to be used soon. I then made a list of meals I can make using those items. I also spent the afternoon organizing receipts for taxes.
    *Used cans of refried beans nearing expiration to make bean burritos and froze them for easy lunches. I will eat applesauce that was nearing expiration along with them.
    *A friend was given a ham for Christmas. She asked me if I would cook it for her and in exchange keep half of the meat. I also doubled our sides that night and took her and her husband a plate of food along with their 1/2 of the ham.
    *Fixed a meal from my pantry for a friend who had hip replacement. I made garlic chicken orzo (split the recipe in 2 and froze one for us), green beans and cinnamon pumpkin bread.
    *Used an expiring package of vanilla pudding mix, the remains of boxes of graham crackers and vanilla wafers, and a half-full container of cool whip along with homemade chocolate frosting to make an eclair desseert.
    *Accepted a free lunch at work.
    *Used $7 in ECB’s at CVS to stock up on nasal spray.
    *Purchased a discounted box of kinetic sand to put in my gift cabinet. Also stocked up on deodorant to get free shipping.
    *Walked at home and on a local trail with a friend.
    *Received a free cappuccino with gas fill-up and redeemed a survey for a free apple pie.
    *Used an expiring pancake mix to make pancakes for the freezer.
    *My hubby was sad we couldn’t have our normal Super Bowl party, so I planned a special menu of ham & cheese sliders, homemade mozzarella sticks, chips & homemade salsa, sugar cookies and ice cream. We had our own little party. 😁
    *Paid our credit card online. We put gas and some monthly bills on it and pay it off in full each month. We earn cashback, which I use to pay the bill.
    *My husband lost the brakes in his truck on the way to work one day this week. Thankfully, we have an extra car so my dad picked him up and took him home to get it. We did have to pay $120 to have his truck towed to our house, but thankfully he can do the repair himself.
    *Filled out a survey to earn a free apple pie.

  40. Brandy–I haven’t posted in awhile. Fairbanks has had a very mild winter but lately we have had a week of minus temperatures. I has been getting closer to zero in the afternoons. We add extra clothes but have been able to keep our house at our normal 64 degrees. Our new windows are much less drafty than before.
    My husband will retire at the end of March, but his last day at the church will be February 28. He will be on vacation all of March. We are trying to figure out retirement decisions. He hopes to do some interims in the future. The disadvantage will be that I cannot accompany him much as one of us has to physically be living in our house half of the year to continue to not pay property taxes as we are over 65. I moved to Fairbanks to care for a 2 year old grandson while his mother worked and earned a Master’s degree. It was lonely but I’m very close to that grandson!
    My mobility is limited but I stay busy in winter cooking, reading, and knitting hats which are donated, often to churches in Native villages. I have now knitted and donated over 3,225 hats. I enjoy occasionally seeing one in use out in public! My husband is looking forward to more gardening time this summer!
    Yesterday while I was at an appointment, he went to Costco for us. While there, he found chickens marked down to$.59/lb. When I heard about that, I texted my massage therapist as she is just starting an independent practice. She’s a single mother with 2 teens so I wanted to share the blessing with her. After 7 years, we are friends as well as client and therapist. I hope to be able to do more sharing with her.
    Thankhers to all of you who participate in this blog. Because of our sharing, I don’t feel as isolated and it is enjoyable reading about life in warmer areas. Brandy, you certainly have other things to do but thank you for reaching out to others who are also frugal minded!

  41. Brandy,
    Happy to hear you are still having weather that permits continued work on your garden re-do.
    I was getting tired of the grey and wet winter weather here in the Pacific Northwest this weekend so I used a Christmas gift card combined with a sale to purchase a flat of primroses. They filled two large pots that are in front of our small town city hall. This way everyone can enjoy them. On my way to purchase the flowers, I used a Starbucks gift card to purchase a hot chocolate to drink while I planted the flowers. I enjoyed it and it helped beat the winter blues. I hope the flowers bring joy to everyone in town.
    I really liked the Christmas book bags that Barnes and Noble had this year but they are way out of my budget. I popped into B/N last evening and they had a few left that were marked down to $3 each so I purchased two to use as Christmas gifts. I hope to find some good deals on books throughout the year to place in the bags.
    I picked up a free chair a few months back. It is a metal dining chair. I ripped off the fabric seat cover and when the weather is nicer I will spray paint the chair black with spray paint I already have. I had my husband cut a wood seat to fit the chair. I have painted the wood seat a solid color and now plan to paint a decorative boxwood wreath on it. I will use this for extra seating on the patio this summer.
    We were gifted a small package of smoked salmon for Christmas so the other night my husband and I had that with crackers, cheese and apple and called it dinner. It was delicious.
    I finished crocheting a baby blanket that cost me $5 in yarn. I started knitting a small throw blanket with some nice, expensive wool yarn at the beginning of this pandemic. I am using really small needles so it is slow going. I put it aside months ago and made a couple baby blankets. I am now back working on this project and already have the yarn to finish it.
    Today the weather is cold but beautiful, sunny skies. I took a walk this afternoon which was really nice.
    One final thing I wanted to mention was that earlier this winter I had to visit the doctor for pink eye. I recently rec’d the bill for that visit and they allowed a 20% discount if paid in cash within 30 days. I really appreciated that because we all know that every little bit saved helps.

  42. Loving the rose photography. Snow still covers the ground here so we are looking upward to find beauty for free. The winter skies have been amazing (except for the snow) and we see Orion brightly picked out in 8 stars almost every night.
    I have cooked all meals at home including pots of soup and chili which I love this time of year. I didn’t shop this week; I am writing my list for Saturday grocery shopping. I opened vitamins I had bought BOGO free with an additional $1 coupon but they revealed themselves as a frugal fail when I saw that the daily recommended dose was 3 tablets. Grrrr. Next time I will read the label!
    I rediscovered sweeping the floors with a broom. I may be preaching to the choir but somehow I got into the habit of vacuuming all the time and I can’t remember the last time I gave my broom a workout. What nonsense—sweeping is quiet, efficient and free! My dogs even seem amused by the process.
    My thoughts include so many readers here and I send condolences to all who have lost beloved family members and cherished pets. I pray for the health of all of you facing surgeries and fighting illness.

  43. I’m focusing on increasing my fruit, vegetable and tumeric intake. This week I made a vegetable and tumeric stew with lentils and barley as well as cauliflower soup. Smoothies all contained fresh spinach leaves. Snacks were raw carrot, spinach, tomatoes and red capsicum (peppers?) with hummus or tzatiki. Or green apple with plain yoghurt (no sugar and lots of probiotics). Also walnuts and almonds. Tuna and salmon for the children. Boiled eggs. Sandwiches and chocolate chip cookies for the children. Grilled chicken on spinach wraps with salad. All in all, a positive food week so far.

    We discussed our finances and short to medium term goals.

    We read books, went for bike rides, played board games, did art and craft as there is no TV this week at our house. Very enjoyable.

    Have a great week.

  44. Hello Everyone! My Mom has been doing some clearing out and gave me an under bed storage box. I put this aside for my son as he is planning on moving out to attend law school in a few months. My husband called our phone carrier and was able to get us a monthly $20.00 discount and also signed us up for a year of free Discovery+. I received an offer for a bottle of detergent from $1.97 from CVS and also combined offers and coupons to bring a twenty dollar item down to $10.80. My office participated in the Wear Red for Women heart association fundraiser and I needed a red shirt. I ran into Goodwill and found a red sweater in my size and it was half off. When I came home I realized that it was a pricey brand name that sells for over $65.00. I paid $1.50! My husband built a cabinet to store our record albums. He stained it to match the TV stand he built us a few years ago. They are both beautiful custom pieces that he created for less than we would pay for something manufactured and of lesser quality. I’m so grateful to have a husband with such creativity, talent & skills especially since I severely lack in those areas! Our grocery bills continue to be under budget as we eat from pantry and freezer. Still not going anywhere or doing anything so that saves too! I received my 2nd vaccine dose through my employer and unfortunately was one of those who experienced the icky side effects. I took a day off work and slept for 11 hours! Luckily, I was back to normal the following day with only a bit of fatigue. Wishing everyone a healthy, happy, frugal week!

  45. COVID winter has helped us save money. First, our numbers have been high lately. I started using instacart, which was slightly cheaper than shopping myself, even with the tip (no impulse buys, especially no ice cream). Then I discovered curbside pickup, which is relatively new here. Even more savings because there’s no fee and they aren’t great at substitutions. Often things are missing, so I just do without.

    This last week, we made a lot of potato dishes. Shepherd’s pie with beef from the freezer and an abundance of carrots. Also made soup.

    Our schools have the same free lunch deal as yours. We’ve been mostly too lazy to go, but needed to pick up supplies at the school on Monday. So we got kid 2 lunch. Then yesterday, he asked for it. Apparently he misses school lunch. We picked up two for both kids. My teenager eats so much… Will probably pick up again today, as there’s another supply pickup.

    We played games, went on family walks. We used a gift card to get takeout once. We read books and watched TV. I made lemon bars from the neighbor’s lemons he gave us, and froze the rest as juice and zest. We spent an afternoon at the beach.

    I’ve been eating a lot of oatmeal.

    We picked the last of the garden… Two tomatoes, a pepper, and the last of the green onions that I’d replanted from roots. Now I’m thinking of buying some seeds to start the winter/ spring garden.

  46. Well, the big frugal news is we have paid our house off! This is 5.5 years early on our 15 year mortgage so we saved a ton in interest. We just have a small amount left on our truck and we will owe no one. In other frugal ways, I baked bread and cooked at home along with some free sandwiches and pasta dishes my husband brought home from work all last week. He works in a doctors’ office and they had lunch brought in every day last week. I went grocery shopping for the first time in 3 weeks. I bought enough fruits, veggies, and milk for the next 2 weeks. I was able to use a $2 rewards off the total. For the 2 weeks I spent $48. I also earned another $3 rewards for the future. My husband is totally vaccinated for Covid. I am still waiting. I am in the 1b category, but my area is still only vaccinating essential personnel, prisoners and those over 75. Because I am still waiting, I am staying home for the most part. I walk and do yoga for exercise. I have spent a LOT of time on the phone trying to find a facility for my 91 year old father. My brother is doing the actual day to day responsibilities so anything I can do to help I will. I live out of the area so this is about all I can do at the moment especially with the pandemic. My father is fully vaccinated but not my other siblings and relatives near dad. For Valentines this year I stitched up a fabric heart pocket for each of the grands and put a dollar inside. I posted them today. For the rest of the family I am making and decorating cookies. I will deliver them safely. Blessings, frugal friends!

    1. Congratulations, Marley!! We just paid our house off last month and as I make out our budget,I keep trying to add the mortgage category to it!! Lol! And we are getting emails, text messages and actual mail from our bank and others trying to persuade us to take our an equity line on our home!! Same day we paid it off, the first offer came in! Lol!! No, thank you!!
      Give yourself a pat on the back for that accomplishment!

    2. What an accomplishment! And what peace of mind! We paid ours off on my husband’s 60th birthday. It’s nice to pay it off anytime, but I think it is really important before retirement.

    3. Marley,
      I love that you made hearts and put a dollar inside each. I remember when my grandparents would send me a dollar bill — it was always a thrill.

  47. Greetings to all. My best frugal accomplishment of the week was saving $389 on booking an airfare home for our daughter next week. I used pts acquired by getting a credit card for $120 annual fee which I will cancel after one year( it also included a free companion ticket which I will use next year). Otherwise the last minute fare would have been $509! Ironically I think I could have flown her to Europe cheaper!! Her grandpa is here in the nursing home and did not sound too well when I saw him last week so I suggested she might want to visit sooner than later-he had his second Covid shot yesterday. Meantime, having booked her flights watch him outlive us all!!

    Today I am staying inside as it is -37 C with the wind chill. For dinner I am making ham and scalloped potatoes. My DH’s stimulus cheque found us here in chilly Canada and hoping for a third one once approved. We are working on income taxes but not so pleasant looking at what we expect to pay-oh well luckily we can pay unlike some others. I hope everyone has a good week.

    1. It is 21 degrees Celcius here today. I have only experienced temperatures that cold once in my life. I would be inside too!

    2. Hi I,

      It is wonderful to have your daughter come home to see her grandfather. (even if he outlives you all)!


  48. I have not been sticking to much of a plan with anything lately. Getting back to this blog has helped a lot. My father passed away last week and I was not very motivated. He had dementia for 16 years (caused my a brain aneurism that didn’t burst). I am thankful that he is with God now, and no longer suffering. That has eased the sadness greatly. Sad to say, I had food waste I cringe to think of. The last couple of days, though, I have been busy using up items in the frig before they, too, go bad. I did make an Irish stew and when it called for parsnips, I threw in three turnips I had pulled from the garden early December instead. They were softer and sprouting, but worked well (green sprouts too!). Made a lentil soup with leftover roast beef and some carrots that needed to be used up. Made Shepherd’s pie with the leftover mashed potatoes from the first roast beef dinner, the leftover gravy mixed with browned ground beef, along with a jar of home canned green beans. Also made a new French onion soup, which was delicious. Had the vermouth (who knows why?) in the house, as well as part of a bottle of Madeira wine from one of my daughter-in-laws (only needs half a cup). When I served it for lunch, I threw in some seasoned croutons (past date but still good) and a slice of Swiss cheese for each of us that needed to be used up. Just made six small loaves of date nut bread (recipe calls for raisins, but I like the dates better and I had them on hand). Will be taking frozen jars of all the soups and stews down to my daughter who is crisis nursing in Texas. Next up…cabbage and Polish sausage soup (more carrots used up!). My son-in-law is in culinary school and he has been taking all my kitchen scraps and carcasses/bones and making stock with them. This is a job I despise, so it’s a win-win for me as he brings half of the stock to me and they keep half.😊 Cooking and baking is therapeutic for me. This winter, since it is just hubby and I, we have been keeping the temperature at 66 at night (any lower and hubby gets a headache), and 68 during the day. This is much much lower than we have ever kept it. With the kids gone, our water bill has drastically reduced, as has our electric bill. Getting back in the groove!

    1. Laura, I’m sorry to hear of your father’s passing. My husband and I spent the last decade caring for both our Mums who had dementia. It’s such a cruel disease. I wish you peace and be kind to yourself about the food waste, sometimes life happens.

    2. Laura, I am so sorry about the loss of your father. When my mother dies she had suffered for such a long time. I was glad she was no longer suffering but the grief of her passing was still there. Hugs.

  49. Keeping it simple here. I used a gift card from Target to purchase Valentine items for my classroom, a few groceries and some plastic containers for food. Still have about $5 left on it. Got a coffee while out running errands using a gift card as well. A family brought in bagels for the staff so I took one for breakfast one day. Nothing exciting this week.

  50. We’d bought a bag of amazing salted caramel corn before the holidays. SO wanted some more so I pulled out my grandmother’s recipe. Found a bottle of corn syrup that I had bought at Dollar Tree awhile ago as emergency sugar source. It turned out so good! Not as sweet which both of us now prefer. Also made chex mix with cereal I had bought in 2019! It turned out great so made another batch of that as well.

    Eating out of the pantry, freezer and fridge. Did one trip to town to do a pick-up at the grocery store. Find that keeps the grocery bill lower as I am not so tempted! Did put in a $10.00 bouquet of Alstromeria. It was so lovely – included two colors so I filled two different vases. We are having a cold, wintry spell and fresh flowers really perk me up! They will last a long time.

    Filled up the pick-up with 30c off.

    Doesn’t feel like much is happening to report – guess it is the winter doldrums!

  51. I’ve used hotdogs before too, but now that you mention it I do remember doing the vet trick for one of our dogs that ate the hot dog but not the pill. Worked every time!

    1. Last week we had one of our sons come to visit, he is about to redeploy to Asia. His daughters came and then another son in the military came as between their deployments they haven’t seen eachother in 4 years. We had a family gathering and I was able to use a gc that I was given for Christmas for chicken nuggets for everyone, that was nice to have a more relaxed gathering. I was able to get a sweater for my husband’s birthday, a pair of gloves and a kitchen item for my daughters’s birthday and a shirt for another son’s birthday, all from a gc we got from our insurance company. So it was a blessing to use it for clearance items and get all three birthdays covered. Today, I filled out a survey and got a $10 extra bucks coupon.

      I have been keeping the house at 61 during the day and 62 at night. I am very thankful, as our gas bill doubled despite reducing the temperatures by 2 degrees. I go around bundled up but it is well worth it, our bill would be really high if I didn’t run it so low.

      I have had continued blessings with marked down produce. Today, I got 12# bananas for $2, #12 oranges for $4, and 6 avacados for $1.

      We have been line drying our clothes, getting books from the library, and exercising from home. Life has been quieter this week and we are enjoying it!

  52. So nice to hear about your garden progress every week! And how lovely that you can still get fresh items like lemons from your garden even if you’re changing up so much of it.

    My frugal week (not much, as I’m still basically on bed rest):
    – Made my favourite easy soup using leftover bits of veggies from the fridge (
    – I got confirmation of $200 children’s learning grant from government
    – My daughter and I sent homemade valentines using materials that we had at home, including construction paper and ribbon (gluing, threading, and drawing practice)
    – We made marbled paper valentines for the family using more items from home (shaving cream, printer paper, and food colouring)
    – I used a Starbucks gc to buy the cheapest baked treat on dbl points day plus it was during a promo so got I got an additional 50 points, enough for another free baked good (say, the most expensive one!). Ordered through the app, so no need to spend time in store (ie reducing covid risk), I was in and out again before the door had closed from my entrance. Plus, it was just what I needed before a long day of drs appts.
    – Watered down any juice I had, so it was still flavourful but fewer calories and also cheaper.
    – I used the $5USD I earned from SB last week to purchase a onesie for my bebe-to-be. I ordered it from, and including shipping, once the $5 was applied, I only paid $2.40 Cdn.
    – My sister didn’t want the rest of a bag of plant-based cheese, so I’ve been using it for grilled cheese for lunches. Not my favourite, but still nutritious, plus no waste

    Looking forward to learning from everyone as usual!

  53. I know this is the second time I wrote this week. My husband only got 9 hours this week. I didn’t get many either this week. Next week probably won’t be any better as far as my husband’s job goes. Just glad we have food and that we can still pay bills for now. We have been very careful about spending, trying to save where we can. I wore two sweaters today to keep warm. I am so glad for everything I have learned from your blog and online community Brandy. I’m a bit scared because we canceled our other health insurance, thinking this job would have insurance. I hope my husband’s job picks up. I’m praying. If we are very careful we might be able to pay our bills for two months.

    1. Tammy,
      If you are in the US and don’t have healthcare, I would like to suggest looking into plans through the ACA (Obamacare). There are no exclusions or price increases for pre-existing conditions (this was one of the wonderful provisions of the ACA-they cannot and do not ask about pre-existing conditions). And the price you pay each month depends on your income. We were without employer sponsored healthcare last year and we got a plan that was heavily subsidised due to our income. It was VERY affordable.

      1. Kara,
        Thank-you for the information. That is what we had before my husband got this job. We may get it again. It is affordable and it is good insurance. I’m just sorry we canceled our insurance. It may be that it will warm up and he will get more hours. I was just worrying last night. Probably more than I needed to.

    2. Just to let you know I read your post and am thinking about you, and wishing you all the best.

      Don’t hesitate to reach out for any help that might be available. Calling 211 can get you information about all kinds of resources for people in need. There are many people these days in your situation, so I hope you don’t feel too alone in this.

      My dad, who was a very wise man who lived to age 88, used to say that things have a way of working out, and I think you’ll find that’s true. It is just scary when we don’t quite know exactly how that’s going to happen.

      1. Elizabeth,
        Thank-you. It sounds like your dad was very wise. I think my dad would tell me worrying doesn’t help a thing. I was worrying more last night than I am today. Thank-you for writing.

      2. Hi Elizabeth M.

        I’m not sure if they have 211 in the U.S. If things get bad food-wise for them, I think
        they might get help from a church because I think (I might be wrong) that Tammy and her husband
        are religious. i’m sure there are other places they could get help.

          1. Thanks, Brandy. I appreciate your confirming this. I did remember to check that 211 was available in the US before I posted, but that might not always be the case!

        1. Thanks Anne,
          We are ok. I think I was worrying unnecessarily. We are going to plant a garden this spring. It is supposed to get warmer the week after next. Then my husband should get more hours. I am praying for that. Thank-you for the ideas. I am glad we have food now. The Mobile food pantries are canceled around here due to the weather right now.

    3. Tammy, you are in my prayers. Skills we have used to get us through hold us in good stead all our lives. It sounds like you are well prepared.

      1. Laura,
        Thank-you for your prayers. I have been thinking about our skills. I have been sending writing out. I hope to sell vegetables this year. I may do farmer’s markets or open a little stand at our little farm. I was worrying when I shouldn’t.

    4. Tammy, you can get help from St Vincent de Paul at a Catholic Church in your area that has a group. Call the different Catholic churches. St Vincent de Paul helps with food, rent, mortgage, car repair, drs/medical bills and utilities. You do not have to be Catholic to get help. St Vincent de Paul helps those in need. Do not hesitate to call them to set up a meeting.

  54. Frugal wins:- Accepted 1/2 a jar of coffee from my neighbour who had ‘gone off coffee’. Used garden grown lettuce and beans in meals this week.
    Frugal fails:- purchased two chocolate bars and ate them both. This is why I don’t normally buy chocolate, no control.

  55. Although I am late-2nd week of Feb…..thrifty action this past week is re examining all of our insurances. Currently reading a good story by Amanda Dykes, SET THE STARS ALIGHT from the library.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *