I hope you all had a wonderful week, wherever you are in the world!

Here’s how we saved money this past week:

We watched Christmas movies online and popped popcorn several nights. There were many movies available to watch for free online, including on YouTube. I found a list here that includes some free Christmas movies if, like us, you don’t pay for a subscription service.

We sang Christmas carols at home.

We listened to Christmas music on Pandora at home and in the car. I just use the free service and we hooked it up to the Bluetooth so that we could listen to it in the car while we went to look at Christmas lights on Christmas Eve.

I talked to a friend in England for a couple of hours using Facebook Messenger’s telephone call option. My friend has the Facebook Messenger app but not a regular Facebook account. I thought I’d mention this option for those of you who may want to use the Messenger app for phone calls or video calls who don’t want to be on Facebook. I love that I can talk to a friend overseas for so long without it costing me for the phone call!

At the nursery, I bought another flat of pansies (16 pansies, normally $0.98 each) for $5 in their marked-down section. I gifted these to my neighbor and bought a cyclamen plant on sale for $2.98 for another neighbor.

I bought a pallet of manure (50 bags), earning the discount price off of $0.30 off per bag ($15 off ) since I bought over 10 bags. Sadly, the new discount price of each bag is now $0.50 more per bag than it was the last time I went to buy some this year, and I think we’re going to need three or four more pallets.

I mixed some of the manure in with the soil we had previously bought for the garden that I have been sifting to fill in part of the new garden beds. I can only fill in a few areas for now; the rest will have to wait until after we dig out more areas.

We bought a pallet of concrete for the posts that we are pouring in the garden. Buying the whole pallet saved us $30 off the price, which is like getting 537 pounds of concrete for free just because we bought more at once.

I used the store coupons on the Albertson’s app to buy clementines for $0.88 for a 3-pound bag. There was a limit of 2 bags at this price. I used their coupons to also purchase red leaf lettuce for $0.99 a head, and combined sales and the buy $20 get $5 off deal to buy some Lindt and Ghiradelli chocolates that were on sale as well.

On Christmas Day, I cut flowers from the garden to make an arrangement for our table. I arranged them in a silver-edged pressed-glass bowl and using a flower frog inside, both of which were purchased earlier this year at garage sales.

For Christmas, I wore the dress that I wore on my first date with my husband in December 1999. I had bought it on clearance at the time, just a few weeks before he asked me out. I haven’t been able to wear it for many years, but it now fits again and I’m so glad I kept it!

I gave two sons a haircut and helped my husband finish cutting his own hair.

I watched the Call The Midwife Christmas special on Pbs.org. We do not have cable but I have been able to enjoy watching Call the Midwife on Pbs.org each year as it airs online a day after it is on television.

I purchased a photography class on Creative Live on sale for 80% off.

What did you do to save money last week?

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  1. Beautiful arrangement and kudos on fitting into your dress! From all your landscaping work, I can see how 🙂

    This week was quiet and calm which was needed. Cookies were delivered and some dropped off.
    When dropping off gifts for my parents, I stopped at a discount grocery on the way back and was able to find some Jelly Bellys jelly beans – over a pound for $2.
    I received a bonus check – something totally unexpected. That went into the new for me car account.
    Wishing everyone a calm and healthy week!

    1. Actually, it’s just eating fewer calories. I’ve been gaining lately and this dress was a bit bigger than the other new dresses I bought earlier this year! I’m hoping the garden work will help but the last three weeks I have been gaining weight!

      1. Maybe the weight gain is from building muscle? Muscle weigh more than fat (as we all know), and it’s entirely possible that you are losing inches while gaining a couple of pounds. (That’s what I always tell myself, haha.)

        Your Christmas Day sounds lovely. Warm thoughts to you and yours.

        1. muscle does not weigh more than fat. I pound of muscle weighs the except same as a pound of fat. Just like a pound of feathers weighs the same as a pound of bricks. The distribution is different, the weight is the same.

          1. A pound of FAT takes up a lot more SPACE than a POUND of muscle, which is very compact and small. That’s how our dress/pants sizes change when we start doing strength training. Nice!

        1. I gained fat around my waist, so it’s not muscle! My muscles are like fluffy new pillows! Ha! It’s from eating cookies and eating too large of portions. My new jeans that were fitting so well are tight earlier in the day and they weren’t tight in the waist at all.

  2. Hope everyone had a wonderful holiday this week! Ours was quieter than usual, just Hubs and youngest son who lives at home and me. Our other Ohio adult kids came one by one, masked and distanced for very short visit and gift exchange. Each went home with gift basket: https://pin.it/6jlPfcT filled with 4 varieties of sweet mini bread loaves (zucchini walnut, carrot raisin, banana chocolate chip and cranberry cream cheese. I made 5 batches in my 18 loaf pan!!) , peanut clusters, write chocolate peanut Krispies, brownie mix, hot chocolate mix, a shoulder/neck heating pad and a popcorn tin. We also added something extra that was specific to that family- Disney+/Hulu for a year (purchased when they had their huge sale), a telescope stand Hubs built to replace the broken one for one family, Hubs replaced a rocker on rocking horse he built for that family 11 years ago: https://pin.it/MFzIbII , etc.

    One daughter called me yesterday to thank me again because the other set of grandparents had showered our 3 little grandchildren with literally 2 carloads of presents (toys) even though they had been asked to only give 1-2 gifts per child. The house “exploded” (my daughter’s word) with toys strewn everywhere and cranky kids. She thanked me for the edible gifts that they were all enjoying- our 8 year old grandson with sensory issues would ask if he might have a little bread for his breakfast and told his mom she needed to get the recipes so they could make some more! So I think, overall, the food treats were a good idea!

    3 of our Ohio daughters and I have a little phone “chat” among ourselves for texting any good grocery deals we find. That’s how we all knew about the sale turkeys last week after 1 saw it at her store. Oldest daughter, who lives about 90 minutes away came across 2 clearance items at her Kroger’s and Aldi’s this week- 1 pound packages of SAF instant yeast for $1.35 each (not even close to expiration date) and 5 pound packages of ground beef for $3.99 (less than 80 cents/pound)!! So I now have 15 pounds of yeast in my freezer and 10 pounds of ground beef! I know I just got ground beef for $1.27/ pound last week! So I cooked up and crumbled in my mixer about 6 pounds of ground beef. Afterwards I pressure canned 13 pints of layered chili, using pinto beans from food storage, the cooked ground beef, home canned tomatoes, poblano peppers and chopped onions in my freezer from the garden and spices I had on hand. Now my home canned chili is restocked (we love it not only as chili, but also on baked potatoes, hot dogs,etc). https://pin.it/3sbTKN6.

    Another of the 3 daughters saw a great deal at her meat market on boneless beef rump roast ($2.69/pound) so I had her get 5 pounds for me. I put it in the crockpot to cook with some homemade French onion soup mix and after it cooked and chilled in fridge overnight, I thin-sliced it for sandwiches, put 1 bag in fridge and froze 3 bags.

    I took the leftover boneless ham I bought for Christmas and cubed some and froze in 2 cups portions and ground up some to make a delicious ham salad spread https://pin.it/39ese1y. I ground up more than I needed for one batch, so I portioned and froze the rest of the ground ham to use later. It has felt like a “food processing plant” here in my kitchen this week, but our food storage shelves are really getting replenished at prices that are remarkable and end up saving so much from our food budget!! Turkeys are about thawed so I’ll cook the first one today!

    We delivered 8 baskets of goodies (smaller versions of what we gave our kids) to individuals and couples that have been isolated this year to bring some unexpected holiday cheer. The reception we got from each filled our hearts! That was the best gift we could have received!

    I made 5 extra principal mortgage payments this week when we got our direct deposit for new month. We are on track for paying off mortgage in just a few weeks!! 🎉🎉

    In my efforts to declutter, I told one of our daughters that I was going to see if she or any of her siblings might like Grandma’s china! She was so excited and when she came on Christmas Day, we boxed it up and she took it home as a Christmas gift! I haven’t used it in years and she will love using it! The cabinet it was in is going to another daughter! And I can claim a little bit more space in my dining room that had just been a horizontal space to set things on and get cluttered! Win-Win! I sent a 3rd daughter home with yarn and knitting needles I had been given with some gifted fabric. I don’t knit or crochet, she does- another Win!! To me, the decluttering and minimizing helps me become more frugal because I can then focus and take better care of what I have.

    Looking back on 2020, it has been a roller coaster of wonderful and heart-wrenching events for us. Through the challenges, we have been brought to our knees and gained more insight and sensitivity than we could have any other way. We choose to keep our focus on the positive even as we mourn and acknowledge the losses. 2021 will be ushered in later this week and we are looking forward with goals to improve ourselves and the things we have stewardship over!
    Here’s to a better New Year!
    Gardenpat in Ohio

      1. Cindi- This coming Monday, we will submit the request to transfer money over to pay it off!! We are almost there!!

      1. Cherie- the grandkids seemed to enjoy eating the treats and the mom’s were happy not to have more toys to pick up!! And, as I’ve matured, I’ve realized it’s not a competition between me and other parents/grandparents. One day out of the year and giving some spectacular gift does not make me the better mom or grandma. So I’ve let go of that worry! Makes the holidays much less stressful!

    1. We had 2 days of food processing this week, too, when my husband found 2 small fresh turkeys on clearance. So, it was roast, de-bone, cut up, make broth, etc., but now they are taken care of. It does take time, but it’s nice to have that convenience food when I want it, and I know you feel the same. Have a great start to your year;)

    2. Gardenpat, Paying off the mortgage is huge!! We’ve been debt-free for about 8 years. We’ll never go back! There is so much security in taking that off the books. Congrats, to you!

      1. Momsav- Thanks! This coming Monday, we’ll submit the paperwork to move money over to pay it off!! We are getting super excited!!

  3. Hello Everyone!
    We had a lovely Christmas and I look forward to a week off to spend with my family. We attended an outdoor Christmas Eve service for the first time since March. It was nice to attend service in person and it felt very safe as we each brought our own camp chairs and spaces were designated 6 feet apart.

    This past week I baked several no knead ciabatta loaves for neighbors. It’s an inexpensive and easy gift that is appreciated as they don’t bake. It’s important to be neighborly, and as I discovered upon a socially distant delivery some were lonely and alone over Christmas. 💔

    We made all meals and desserts from scratch. The spaghetti and delicata squash from our garden was delicious! We also had lettuce, baby tomatoes, oregano, lemons and oranges from our garden. This was the first year our orange tree produced anything since planting about 5 years ago. They’re perfect! 😋

    I gave my son a haircut. We hiked nearby for outdoor exercise for free. We watched Christmas movies on DVDs that we have. Playing family card and board games was very fun! I sold an outgrown bike on Marketplace for the first time. I didn’t use their billing as I discovered they charge 5%!

    This weekend I had a sewing marathon. I’m trying to complete the valances for our kitchen and family rooms before work resumes. I should finish the sewing today. I’ve decided some of the old flannel sheets I’ll repurpose will become wedding china protectors. After pulling china out for Christmas dinner, I noticed some existing foam padding between dishes was beginning to shred. However, the project will have to go on the list. Lol!

    Good luck with all your amendments and concrete projects Brandy. Happy New Year to you all! 🎉

  4. I’m glad you mentioned that you are already incorporating manure into your garden. I often feel overwhelmed by garden advice and have been wondering if it is too early to start doing that very thing to ready for spring.

    I’m quite sure that every woman reading your blog is seriously impressed that you can get into the dress you wore on your first date with your husband over 20 years ago. I was actually moving in the right direction, myself, until the holidays hit. No excuses now.

    1. I gained some weight and tried on four dresses before I found one that fit. It’s looser than the others with stretch velvet, and a bit bigger as well. I gained quite a bit the last two months so I am working on getting back down!

      You can definitely add manure into your garden in the fall! If your soil isn’t frozen, there’s no need to wait until spring.

          1. I’ve been eating cookies before breakfast, after breakfast, before lunch, after lunch, rinse and repeat! Thankfully, we’re almost to the end. I’m married to a chocoholic; I need a plan!

  5. It sounds like you had a wonderful Christmas and are marching along on your garden project, and I’m glad for both. We spent most of last week at my son’s. We celebrated on Christmas Eve and left at 1 p.m. Christmas Day because a storm was coming in. We stayed ahead of the storm all the way home! Being away from home didn’t allow many opportunities to save money, but there’s this–
    * I ordered $80 worth of OTC meds at no cost through my husband’s and my Medicare Advantage plans. We each get a $40 quarterly benefit. The catalog prices of everything are waaaaaay inflated, so nothing would actually cost that much at a store, but hey…it’s FREE, and that’s a very good price!
    * We stayed at a $65 motel on our way home from our son’s, and it was actually quite nice!
    * I made ham stock and used it for about a gallon of bean soup. Also made a double batch of homemade cornbread, kept out enough for lunch today, and froze enough for two more meals.

    I hope everyone here had a wonderful holiday. Just think, in 4 more days, it will be 2021…and not a minute too soon! Happy New Year to everyone here.

  6. It was a beautiful week celebrating Christmas with a small amount of family and friends!
    I made some appetizers and snacks that we enjoyed over several days including sweet & spicy roasted almonds, spinach & artichoke dip. veggies and ranch dip, and summer sausage and cheese. I bought summer sausage from Sam’s at the great price of $4.89 for a 3 pound log. Almonds were also on sale at $9.99 for a large bag that will last us well into the new year. I already had crackers in my pantry as well as the ingredients to make most of these items – cream cheese, sour cream, mayo, etc. I find it such a joy to cook with a well stocked pantry especially when items have been sourced at deep discounts.
    During the hustle and bustle of the week there were many tasks to be accomplished and daily cooking was tough. I resisted the urge to grab takeout and made a large pot of spaghetti and meatballs. I had made a large batch of meatballs and stashed them in the freezer the previous week. I combined them with home canned tomato sauce and diced tomatoes to create a warm meal that we enjoyed over a couple of dinners and lunches.
    I baked a large ham on Christmas day along with a pan of scalloped potatoes, roasted asparagus, and pineapple casserole. We enjoyed a lovely meal and then shared our meal with close friends the day after Christmas. I still have plenty of ham stashed in the freezer for easy meals in the new year and a wonderful ham bone that will make a lovely split pea soup. There is a bit of ham left in the fridge as well and I will be using it this evening in a potato casserole for dinner. I am delighted that we planned well and have not experienced the food waste that was common in holidays past.
    The cookies that I baked along with fudge and other treats served us and allowed us to give several gifts to neighbors, friends, teachers, the gentlemen who delivered a load of wood to our home, and family members. Cookies are typically a bit more costly option but when I count the number of gifts we made from them the cost becomes quite a bit lower.
    We enjoyed many Christmas movies over the last several weeks while we wrapped, baked, decorated, etc. Many are dvds that we have acquired over several years and watch annually during the holidays.
    I still have some 20 lbs of sweet potatoes that a friend gifted us and I will be researching recipes to use those over the coming days.
    The week of Christmas was quite cold in Georgia which we really enjoyed. I kept our thermostat at 64 degrees except for two occasions when we raised it to 67 degrees. We wrapped up in sweaters and lit fires and drank warm tea & cocoa which made for a lovely atmosphere.
    I purchased 15 lbs of potatoes for $5.49 and 20 lbs of onions for $4.99.
    I have a long list of gardening chores that I want to get done in the next month including tearing out any remaining struggling plants, weeding, and adding manure to the entire garden. I will look to purchase amended soil and till the entire garden space by mid February so that the ground has a chance to rest before Spring planting. I am also going to be adding amended soil to the flower beds surrounding the house and planting daffodils and irises. We have quite a bit of brush to burn, leaves to rake, and beds to clean and thin. Many plants such as our lantana, dahlias, and marigolds have self seeded and returned year after year so I will work to prepare the beds for those. I’m very excited for Spring and the garden to come.
    Enjoy the week ahead friends! Happy New Year!

  7. Good morning, Brandy! The flowers pictured are just beautiful! Here in Missouri, the plants are already sleeping the winter away so those flowers look just gorgeous to me. Good deal on the money savings for plants and manure. If we have learned anything from you, it is that every little bit helps. Sounds like you are getting closer and closer and that is very good.

    I’ve been really trying to cook from the pantry/freezers the last few weeks. I made zucchini chocolate chip muffins which were delicious. I ate some and froze some. My daughter recently tried a jar of my yellow squash dill pickles (made last summer from Mrs. Wage kosher pickle mix and yellow squash spears instead of cucumbers). We were all thrilled to know they are even better made with squash. I tend to have success with more squash than cukes in the garden so that will be another way to use them.

    Christmas was way different for us but we were able to have Christmas morning with our grown daughters (and their guys). We each brought Christmas breakfast items to share. I made homemade pecan sticky buns using pecans I had in the freezer from my parent’s pecan trees. I even had a pan leftover to share with my daughter’s fiance’s parents as that was her next destination. We also enjoyed biscuits and sausage gravy, fruit, and a breakfast casserole. Lots of leftovers meant we all took some home and had several meals left from that one breakfast.

    We skipped making Christmas dinner on Christmas Day and instead enjoyed a lazy afternoon ending with leftover snacks from Christmas Eve. We enjoyed vegetables/dip (I had snagged a discounted vege tray at our Gerbes grocery for $4.40). I made ranch dip using sour cream and a seasoning packet since that is one of our favorites. We also enjoyed spinach dip which my Kansas daughter brought along with crackers and sour dough, hard sharp cheddar cheese which was a gift from my husband’s work, and lots of gifted Christmas cookies and candies. It was so much less stressful than making dinner after an already big day. (We may keep this tradition!)

    Finally, last night I baked the Christmas ham we received as a gift. My hubby and I enjoyed our quiet dinner alone last night and it was great! I had made cranberry sauce in anticipation of Christmas dinner from cranberries purchased discounted for 75 cents after Thanksgiving. I used the box of stuff which was free during the Thanksgiving Ibotta promotion. I re-heated previously frozen green beans (I made way too many for Thanksgiving and froze them in quart canning jars which worked great). I made homemade rolls and made instant mashed potatoes which we particularly like leftover better than the real thing. It was quite a Christmas feast made with all ingredients I already had on hand from Thanksgiving with the addition of the gifted ham. We have a bunch of leftovers from that meal so I expect we will be eating on it all week after work.

    I did not do much Christmas cookie making this season except for a single batch of sugared Christmas cookies using a simple recipe I make throughout the year. I simply press the sugar cookies with a fork (like you do for peanut butter cookies) and sprinkled with red sugar. They were very pretty and easy. I used to enjoy making lots of Christmas treats but this year wanted to simplify things and tried to avoid piling too much on in an effort to enjoy more and stress less.

    We called my parents and enjoyed a video chat while opening presents Christmas morning. It was good although not like being in person. I know my parents are missing being part of the action but this was the best we could do since they moved back to FL this past summer. We are thankful for such technology that can bring us together during times such as these.

    I hope to grab more cranberries at a discount before they are all gone to try making jalapeno cranberry jam. Also – now is the time to make some goals for the New Year. The last few years have been especially tough since we lost our home to a fire in 2019 and then the virus has pretty much changed the little bit of normal we had. I’m looking to 2021 to try to put roots down again and try to focus on the many skills I used to enjoy like sewing, crochet, baking homemade bread, gardening and canning. I know these tough years just create our “story” but I believe I am now ready to get back to the me I used to be. I am especially grateful to you, Brandy and this site and the comment family which continues to inspire me and remind me of the person I used to be…

    Wishing everyone a healthy and hopeful New Year!

    1. Gina,

      Recovering from a house fire does take time. We were out of our house for a year due to a house fire. Because it was brick, it was fixable.

      Wishing you the best.


  8. We delivered cookies and buckeyes (candy) to our kids, grandkids , and great grandkids using the GPS to make sure we did not back track to keep fuel costs down. We saved over $1000 even with all the ingredients, costs of fuel to bake etc and costs of fuel to deliver from what we would have gave as cash. The only down side was my bad hip got really bad by time we got home (over 5 hrs of driving time). We did not get to see our grandson that is home from Army base in AZ. That was just sad but understandable.

    We ate from the pantry. Played Christmas CD’s and just stayed home. We decided to do a no spend month in Jan. I paid the bills and transferred what was left to the savings. We are taking the lights down today and tomorrow so to have the holidays on only 1 electric bill. We have chosen to drive our recyclables to the drop off station if the township doesn’t continue with the once of month recycling. Money has dropped in the budget so that might be what is cut.

    Blessed Be Everyone

  9. Thank you so much for reminding me of the “Call the Midwife” Christmas special. I had forgotten about it so that will be something to relax and watch this evening. I got a Christmas bonus from work so I am going to use it towards purchasing a food vacuum packer. There is only my hubby and I. I still like to buy in bulk and when sales are on but find things are freezer burning before I can use them up. I think this will be a very good investment. I will use for cheeses and meats especially.
    We cleaned out our closets and took inventory of clothing items we needed. We purchased jeans, socks, etc. when the sales have been awesome with 30 percent off and from kohl’s receiving kohl’s cash in return. I purchased $40 Gloria Vanderbilt jeans for under $15. I also needed a new winter coat. I got a really nice coat for around $35. We live in the NW PA snowbelt so a nice thigh length coat with a hood is very important.
    For our granddaughters’ Christmas we bought them cute little piggy banks that have decorations for them to put on. We like to give them presents of money throughout the year instead of small gifts that actually after a while become a burden to their momma causing clutter she just doesn’t know what to do with!!!
    Your flower bouquet is so beautiful. Thank you for sharing. Have a blessed week. Thank you so much for the encouragement!

  10. Beautiful pictures again Brandy. Thank you for sharing them. Your Christmas sounds just lovely! Congrats on wearing your dress 🙂

    *Our Christmas week was spent at home with all our kids for the 4 day weekend. There was plenty to eat and plenty to watch and plenty of relaxing. We bought salmon that Kroger had on sale and a roast that we cut up for steaks. It was cheaper that way. We always do seafood and steak for Christmas Eve. A tradition from my husband’s side of the family. I made cheesy potatoes, leftover mini croissants that needed to be eaten and a veggie platter. We ate an Eggnog Pie for dessert that was just delicious. It was given to us by a neighbor. Christmas morning was scrambled eggs, cinnamon rolls and bacon. The rest of the food we used was leftovers, crackers and dips, soup and sandwiches. We didn’t have a Christmas night dinner because of our huge breakfast and snacking throughout the day. Everything I had in my food storage except for the salmon and steak. I actually cooked for the first time last night (Sunday) and made meatless baked tacos. The Kroger hard shell tacos are $1/box for 12. I lucked out and had 13 tacos in my box. I put in refried beans, layer on salsa and top with shredded cheese. I served it with rice, canned peaches and leftover veggies. All of the food was from my food storage. I won’t need to go shopping again until this next weekend. That is a huge blessing for me – shopping can be stressful trying to get the best deals. But it’s so worth it to get those good deals.

    *We used gift cards to take our family to see the new WW84 movie on Saturday. Did the early show to get the better and lower price. We had a free drink and popcorn from our points. Out of pocket cost was $0 except for the gas to drive over to the theater. We had a really nice time.

    *My husband fixed our starter mower on our lawn mower that had broken. My husband and kids went out and raked up leaves we still have falling and then mowed up the rest and dumped the remains in my garden. We were supposed to have a snow storm so he was trying to hurry and get it done before it hit. It never came through! But it has been very cold.

    *I went to the library before Christmas to get some books to read over the holiday. I’ve been trying to exercise at home and have been using streaming services to watch shows. My husband and I escaped one from the noise to go eat at a favorite restaurant. We had a gift card and it was nice to get away and chat with our favorite waiter.

    *I put together a notebook with my Christmas lists from this year and also am including many notes. The list has what candy/snacks the kids liked, gifts that I’m giving every year (like socks, bras, underwear, etc. I look for clearance on these items). I list what food we had – what we had enough of to eat and what we had too much of and didn’t get eaten. I list what items I have tucked away for future gifts. I purchased 2 items on deep discount after Christmas day to tuck away for next year gifts and added those to my lists. I organized and sorted my paper, gift bags and bows and put them away for re-use next year. It was pretty funny to hear everyone calling out as they unwrapped gifts – don’t rip the box and don’t squish the bows. Mom wants to save them! Ha ha! I’ve discovered that I’m buying too much at discount during the year and then have too much stored away that won’t always get used. I want to use the lists to help me keep track of what I’m buying/bought and who it is for, make smarter purchases for holiday dinners.

    *I started another notebook with my shopping list and menu ideas. One side of the page has my menu and the other side is my shopping list. I got this idea from another blog. The poster said it was helpful for her to look at her menu and shop list at the same time. If something wasn’t on sale or out of budget she could quickly substitute in another meal idea because she had a list at the front of the notebook filled with quick meal ideas and meals that she had at home. I like to list the ingredients in the meal ideas to help remind me what I’m using for what recipe. Plus I like to look back and see what I’ve been making or haven’t made in a while if I get stumped at meals. I want to use what I have and store – so I’m also going to keep my freezer list in the notebook as well so I can keep using up what I’ve already got.

    Hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas!

      1. It was very fun to be in the theater again for a movie! It is a treat to have the reclining chairs in the theater. Our was closed for a long time too because of Covid.

  11. I too enjoyed watching the Call The Midwife Christmas special, as well as The Bishop’s Wife, and the Queen’s Christmas message, all free online. I will check out your Christmas movie list, as we do not have any paid TV. Thank you for sharing it. I enjoyed reading a library book, A Quilt For Christmas. One of my nieces and granddaughter came to bake cookies one day, which was a fun day. We tried a batch of candy, which didn’t turn out well, due to my not reading the entire recipe beforehand, and following instructions which said to melt “all” ingredients in a pot. We enjoyed seeing several lovely Christmas lights when we took our GD home, and the Christmas star was easily visible. When we picked up some supplies for our workshop project, my husband got his 5% veteran’s discount. Laundry was hung on the line, and batches of yogurt and buttermilk were made. Lots of our home grown produce was used, and sweet potato buttermilk pancakes were made with a leftover (intentionally) sweet potato. Cabbage, carrots, dandelion greens, lettuce, collards, chives and oregano were harvested for us, and various greens for the chickens. I’m looking forward to 2021, and am hopeful for the possibilities. https://abelabodycare.blogspot.com/2020/12/as-2020-draws-to-close-frugal.html

    1. Some of those are paid, but the bottom ones are free! I saw that list online and thought it was worth sharing!

  12. I think it is so amazing to be able to talk/videoconference – at no extra cost – with friends who live in other countries. I lived in Europe for over a decade starting in the mid-1990s, and at that time it cost around a dollar a minute to call the US. Eventually there were phone cards that you could use that made it cheaper to call, and after that came Skype and all sorts of other internet based options which were pretty much free. Sometimes it still seems like magic to me.

    Joining in from the Seattle area.

    When I left my job, my boss gave me a $50 gift card for our local Kroger store. I used that to buy some things for our Christmas dinner. On Christmas eve, I stopped by my mom’s to drop off some food, and my sister came by too. We had a nice visit. Christmas day I spent at home with my husband. We watched a Christmas DVD and listened to Christmas music on CDs we already had. I made a nice dinner, and dessert was cookies that had been gifted to us. My husband got me a machine (like a Soda Stream, but a different brand) that carbonates water and other beverages, which I had wanted for several years. He got it a special sale and it came with extra CO2 cartridges and an extra bottle. I love it and it works great!

    A few months ago I invested in a bluetooth keyboard that I can use with my phone, my tablet, and an old Surface laptop we have (the keyboard died on that). The keyboard cost around $30 dollars and has been used a lot. It only takes one battery, and I haven’t had to change it yet.

    Ordered a refill on a prescription cream I use occasionally, before our insurance deductible resets in January. Stopped by a friend’s house and we had a short visit outside on a sunny day. Worked out at home with equipment I already have. Took multiple walks in parks (I am so thankful for good boots and a good raincoat, because many of these walks are in the rain and mud). Received more Christmas cards than normal and put these up to decorate and enjoy. I had a Christmas card frugal fail – I bought some cards at a locally owned store to support them, but I did not realize that the cards were square and I’d have to add extra postage. I avoid the post office as much as possible this time of year, so I bought a package of rectangular envelopes to put the cards in so I could use the stamps I already had. Next time I will remember: Don’t buy square cards!!!

    My husband wanted a couple flannel shirts. I found them for half off at Fred Meyer after Christmas. Today I’m going to meet my sister at a local garden center on her lunch break, to look at their after Christmas clearance. They have a huge card and decoration section, so it’s fun to look around.

    Have a great week, everyone.

    1. Check out Mrs. Frugalwoods Soda Stream hack when you run out of CO2, she’s figured out how to use hers as cheaply as possible and breaks down the costs.

  13. Thanks Brandy for the Christmas list of movies! I love them this season…
    I have been ecstatic with the clearance list on Target…lovely clearance for 70-80%…In other news, my husband said we were able to make extra payments on our mortgage shaving off 21k this year which is awesome. Looking to be done in 5 years.
    I paid off my brand new cellphone as well…And we will put some payments to clear our credit cards to zero balances.
    I have been painting this year mainly watercolors and loving it while I balance schooling for the kids. Still job-hunting though for work at home openings.
    I got my first house commission this Christmas and it was tough with a bad picture of the house from my client. I just had to guess a lot things like the roof of her home(she didn’t know what it looked like) and that she loves a wintry storm look from the North. The house is in Texas and we don’t get New York storms at all here but the client grew up in the North(New York)…Plus she wanted custom calligraphy with a verse from the bible below. I was ok doing all that as I really wanted her to have a memory as she has kids my own kid’s age and I remember being in our starter home bringing the babies home from the hospital. At that tender age it maybe hard to remember when all grown up. I got something done for her on a 12 by 12 ready-to-hang canvas plus a beautiful botanical Thank -You card from me for giving such an opportunity to use my gifts.
    If you are interested in any of my arts please do follow and like my facebook and insta a/cs.I also sell my art on Society6 and Redbubble which are POD sites. I made some sales on both sites in Sept-Nov and got paid this month as well.

    Redbubble: SheebaDM.redbubble.com
    Society6:https://society6.com/sheebadm(currently having 20% off everything)


    In our finances we are happy to shave off 21k off our mortgage by extra payments. We have given ourselves 5 years to pay off this current home. we still get another year’s rent from our renters in our old home which we still own in NJ. Taxes are ridiculous but if you find good renters it’s gold to keep them and keep them happy.
    I am still in the bustle of homeschooling and virtual schooling for our kids. It may be a while before we get the vaccines out to everyone. Still also looking for job opportunities at home as well. Here is to wishing everyone a delightful and hopeful 2021.

  14. A friend picked up 4 blocks of Saputo mozzarella cheese for me (500 grams for $4.97 — on sale from $7.97) from Superstore so I saved $12. $1 per 100 grams is the going sales rate. I will put some in the freezer. I have become fond of eating melba toast so I bought two packages on sale and saved another $2.00. I bought a big bag of Fleischmann’s baker format quick rise yeast at the regular price just in case things get worse with covid and the more transmissible variant from the U.K. (now in several different countries). . I bought a 20 pound bag of russet potatoes for $6.98. 35 cents per pound is about the lowest price I’ve seen. The last 20 pound bag I bought from Superstore had wonderful potatoes in it.

    To save energy, I bake the russet potatoes with delicata squash (bought at the market some time ago) and sweet potatoes at the same time so only use the oven once.

    I will be buying an expensive bottle of olive oil reduced from $29.99 to $23.99 at Sunterra — it is a gift to myself and I’ll keep it in reserve.

    I was surprised because an unexpected turkey dinner showed up at my house on boxing day. A friend had slogged through the snow and walked it over. I had cancelled all other offers because the donors would get stuck in the snow on my street. My friend tried to drive over and deliver the cheese she bought for me but she said the street was impassable into my driveway so I told her to wait a week because warmer temperatures are on the way.

    At another store, I will buy an expensive oil oil (1 litre) reduced to $23.99 from $29.99.

  15. Your flowers are beautiful and your Christmas sounds lovely.
    I started the week with a colonoscopy. Not fun, but an important screening test. Insurance covered everything and now I don’t have to go back for 10 years!
    Our anniversary was this week. We usually go out for a fancy dinner, but this year we celebrated safely at home. I made fondue and bought a box of fancy chocolates. We had a lovely evening.
    I made jars of scone mix and packaged them with homemade jam to give to our close friends in the neighborhood. Usually we host a Christmas Eve brunch and we really missed doing that this year but we’ll do it again in 2021.
    I attended an outdoor Christmas Eve service. It was 6 degrees Fahrenheit out, so the service was short, but we all sang with enthusiasm and it was nice to be able to worship together.
    I made homemade bread, granola, and a batch of yogurt. I purchased a ham for Christmas – we love ham and this will provide us with meat for many future meals. I chop or slice what’s leftover and freeze it for future meals.
    I reviewed my budget and adjusted for 2021. We have set a goal to pay off our RV loan by June, when my husband goes on Medicare. I am challenging myself to cook from my storage for the month of January. I will have to get eggs and probably some fruit, but I intend to buy nothing else. I can put the grocery money I would have spent toward that loan.
    My slippers wore out and could no longer be patched, so I rifled through my knitting supplies and found a pattern and yarn to knit a new pair.
    I turned paper grocery bags into gift bags to use next year.

    1. Hi Cindi,
      Would you mind sharing your scone recipe? I would love to gift that next year along with the jam I make every year.
      Thank you so much!

  16. We had a very quiet week here.
    This was a no buy month for me.
    It seems all of my house bill are going up. I understand it, but I sure don’t like it. I will be looking at how we can bring down our usage.
    I didn’t ask any of the family or friends to come around since I am trying to stay safe. It didn’t do much good since my daughter’s boyfriend just tested positive for Covid-19. We are waiting for her results. She had 2 dates with him. He put on cologne for a date on Christmas with her. He couldn’t smell it. That was his only symptom. Please be careful with yourselves and your family. So many people are without symptoms.
    Windee is off work…with NO pay until her test results come back. Not helpful at this time to do without her paycheck.
    In all of their wisdom the schools are forcing kids back into the schools. This will cost us so much more than schooling at home. Car usage will go up.
    It has been a hard year for all of us. The year has not been without its blessings though.
    I look forward to 2021 with hopeful heart.
    Oh…we ate the last of the tomatoes from the garden yesterday. Back to buying tomatoes. *smile*
    I am planning our garden in my quiet time. I am hoping to make it larger.
    Thank goodness for this site. There were weeks this was the highlight for me.
    Bless all of you.
    Happy New Year.

    1. Mmmm…I’m missing fresh garden tomatoes already. I had some green that I hoped would turn, but they didn’t. Thankfully I had some cherry tomatoes frozen (whole).
      Hope your daughter and her beau will be ok.

  17. Brandy love hearing about the work in the garden! Can’t wait to see pictures of your hard work! And just think of the money saved in growing your own food.

    Meals this week-chili burgers and salad; leftovers; BLT sandwiches; ham, scalloped potatoes, and green bean casserole; popcorn; pork roast, mashed potatoes, gravy, and carrots; and leftover pork roast,potatoes,and green beans from the previous day..
    -2 small family gatherings for Christmas. 2 days with each of our daughters, their husbands, and kids. We cooked all meals, desserts, and snacks- no eating out. The one daughter we traveled 7 hours to I packed a lunch both ways as well.
    -Most of the gifts we received were food, or other types of consumables( wine, jam, crackers and Brie, beef sticks, popcorn, venison sausage, eggs, and coffee). So nice to not get stuff not needed. Also received several homemade gifts (ornaments, decorative wooden Christmas trees, and a small cutting board).
    -Did not go to the stores the day after Christmas- nothing was needed and if I go I find things to buy. So money saved!
    -We watched Christmas movies (on DVD’s we own). Still want to watch “It’s a Wonderful Life”, hopefully this week.
    -Home this coming week so it should be a frugal week. I have some cleaning and organizing to do. Blizzard coming in Tuesday night/ Wednesday.
    Have a great week!

      1. Brandy thanks for the link. Checked out Instagram will be following your pictures. I won’t complain about my sandy soil and having to water because it also is nice black dirt and the garden grows well with the addition of organic fertilizers.

  18. Hi Brandy and everyone.
    Your flower photos are beautiful and it sounds like your Christmas was really nice. I tried to watch Christmas movies and listen to as much music as possible. Music and Christmas lights are my favorite things of the holiday season. I, too, watched “Call the Midwife” Christmas special.
    I finished knitting a a shawl while watching the last of the “Lark Rise to Candleford” series that I borrowed from the library. I also made four dishcloths to donate and am finishing two crocheted octopuses a friend asked me to make for the baby quilts that she makes and donates. I still have a good stash of yarn on hand and don’t need to (or won’t let myself buy any more even though there are good sales right now) buy any for several months.
    We had Christmas brunch with a few family members, including my mom and aunt. I brought sticky buns, a savory entree and fruit as my contribution. I made clam chowder, chili, and olive bread for later in the day. We did see a few family members in stages throughout the day. We also received Christmas cookies and candy and have plenty to dole out over the next few weeks.
    I felt a lot of peace and joy in my life this last week as I contemplated the birth of Christ.
    Here’s to a new year and chances to begin again!

  19. Seasons greetings and best wishes for 2021 from Ireland. It has been a very quiet Christmas overall here, restrictions have greatly increased since Dec 27th and as both myself and my husband work in healthcare we spent the days between the hospital and quietly at home. We enjoyed a low stress Christmas concentrated on appreciation and gratefulness for family alongside thoughtful gift giving, long walks and good wholesome food. Unfortunately we were unable to secure tickets to attend mass in person but visited our favourite church and lit candles for our family and our intentions. I am working in a new hospital this year and was gifted 10 unexpected (expensive)presents from colleagues on 23rd December. I am extremely thankful that myself and my mother have kept over the years a gift closet which we add to each January with sale items 75-90% off and unwanted gifts. I felt obliged to return the favour to 4 colleagues and was able to create 4 beautiful gifts that were appropriate and tailored to the recipients tastes from items on hand that we had in storage, wrapped beautifully in 95% off gift wrap. Whilst I am very grateful for the thoughtfulness of others and understand why a number of the gift givers wanted to gift me something to thank me as it had been a hard year in the hospital and I had gone out of my way to help them I always find the presents which come with exchange expectation to be additional work. I was also informed that all the managers at my grade give a specific sum of money to our overall boss each year. The money had been given in my absence and I repaid that colleague however it is often difficult when working in such an environment to practice your values. I am not sure how others feel about this as I am actually extremely generous to those I am close to all year round but dislike starting customs that have expectations of been repetitive without true grounding. Our management team is very small for such a large acute hospital and as my predecessor was part of this gift giving for 20years prior to my arrival and the other managers will be retiring in the next 3-5 years I am reluctant to say anything. I am thankful however that my frugal ways instilled from my mother were able to see me through without discomfort and additional stress.I hope everyone has a positive year ahead in 2021. Blessings to all from Ireland, Julia.

    1. I so understand your situation with the gifts. I was able to stop those practices at companies where I was the HR leader – moving it more to ‘giving ‘ to the community or something that wasn’t compulsory. My last job was at a hospital and there had been a present giving up and down the various management chains in many departments. Fortunately the new leaders coming in were able to change that as well – some people were very upset. I mean really UPSET. But most were extremely happy with that changes. I find compulsory giving of any sort just plain old uncomfortable – for everyone.

  20. After one basketball playoff game, players got 2 coupons for free crazy bread from Little Cesars. Our middle school finished 4th for the season (out of 9 middle schools in our city)

    I reinforced the hooks and eyes on my favorite bra with stitches to make it last until spring (or until if there’s a new stimulus)

    Mom sent over kool aid, scented wax melt, vaporub, and bread.

    My husband again grilled way too much food(I asked him not to because our freezers are full) I’ll need a plan to incorporate the meat into dinners this week so it won’t go bad.

    Stayed home the 2 days after Christmas aside from a quick stop for soda, milk, and dog food. I did pick up 3 boxes of chocolate covered cherries for .89 each, a pack of peppermint marshmallows for .49, and a box of sugar cookie pop tarts for .75.

    I almost finished the blanket. I need to put the border on it . I did show it to my son Christmas and he loves it. Thankfully he’s a patient kid, lol.

    We stayed in on Christmas. Played card games, watched movies.

    The guy hubby works for gave him a bonus of half a weeks pay. I tucked it away into savings.

  21. I’m so impressed with all the work that you and your family are doing! That is some SIGNIFICANT landscaping! I’m glad you and your family had a nice Christmas together.

    My frugal accomplishments for the week:
    – I needed a quick lunch for my family one day so I used up a bunch of leftover cooked veggies in this frugal ramen soup (http://approachingfood.com/ginger-garlic-veg-ramen-soup/) and used up the heel of some cheese and some old bread in grilled cheese. Everyone was satisfied and leftovers were cleared out!
    – I ended up making gift labels using Brandy’s idea of a wax stamp on a paper tag, and they turned out great! I had everything already so no OOP.
    – I redeemed airmiles for $10 in groceries, and bought treats for me (iced tea and egg nog) and some almonds. I ended up paying only $2 OOP.
    – I made chocolate-covered almond toffee for my former workplace and as a gift for one of my husband’s health professionals. I used winter themed treat bags that I already had in my stash. I didn’t have corn syrup so I just used honey instead (that I had traded for previously). Total OOP cost was $2 for the almonds, and the gifts were very elegant.
    – I found a few new STEAM style games for my daughter to play: put the pompoms in the whisk (fine motor skill practice) and ‘painting’ with water on a piece of construction paper (the paper dries out and can be used again). I had everything already, and it kept her busy while I was trying to finish some chores.
    – I baked up a batch of cookies, using up some of the candy canes we were gifted (http://approachingfood.com/candy-cane-cookies-what-happens-when-my-baking-cred-is-challenged/).
    – I baked up a batch of triple chocolate muffins to use for snacks/breakfasts for the week, as I ran out of milk for my preferred breakfast of cereal, and I don’t purchase pre-made snacks. I used a silicone mini muffin baking pan that I received as a gift. I was hoping that it would be easy to remove the muffins, but I found that they still stuck. Anyone have any tips for using silicone muffin pans? Do you still need to grease them?

    Looking forward to learning from everyone else, as always!

    1. Margaret- I’ve used silicone muffin cups. Mine popped out as long as the muffins were completely done and cool. I pushed from the bottom, peeling down the sides to pop out the muffin.

        1. Hi Margaret
          I’ve also discovered that leaving them until cool stops them breaking. I don’t grease. Just peel them out slowly

  22. Hi Brandy and everyone
    How wonderful that you can fit back into your first date dress, well done!
    We had a different quiet Christmas because of restrictions but enjoyed the day and have met both daughters outside in parks to exchange presents and just be together for a short time.
    We put together a Christmas food hamper for the daughter who is a nurse and was working Christmas Day.
    My husband received several bottles of wine and sherry from his gardening clients.
    We picked parsnips and parsley from the garden.
    I had saved stale bread in the freezer and used it for breadcrumbs in our homemade parsley, lemon and thyme stuffing for the turkey. We have been eating leftovers every day.
    We received some allium bulbs as a gift and my husband has planted them already.
    I have mended a pair of trousers and mended a hole in a woollen jumper by needle felting some wool roving over the hole.
    Some of you might be interested in UK Christmas TV, there were a couple of new programmes about Wartime Christmas, a Christmas special of All Creatures Great and Small, also a new Escape to the Chateau at Christmas and programmes about Christmas at Chatsworth House ( fabulous decorating) and Highclere Castle ( Downton Abbey). The BBC are showing an adaptation of Rumer Goddens book Black Narcissus. I’m not fond of the book but I pass the information on. I don’t know when these programmes can be seen around the world, if you know all about them please forgive me.
    I wish Brandy and all readers a Happy New Year, here’s to a better 2021 and our continued friendships through this blog. Stay safe all.

    1. All Creatures Great and Small will be aired in the U.S. starting in January on PBS. This is the public broadcasting channel, and on their website, they show many of their shows a day after air, leaving them available to watch for three weeks. Some of those shows have been Call the Midwife, Downton Abbey, and Poldark. We get a limited number of shows from the U.K. this way, usually six months after they premier in the U.K.

      My friend in England and I were talking about the television tax that you pay in the U.K. I have a number of readers in the U.K., so I’ll clarify how it works here. One can have any number of televisions in the home, but no way to watch anything on them. Or, one could buy a dvd player and buy dvds (or rent them for free from the library). One can pay for cable television, which has different tiers of programming (more money for more channels) A monthly bill can easily be as much as you pay for the yearly television tax. (This can often be bundled with internet services; I know many people in town who pay $200 a month). “Cable” television can be through a cable or it can be a satellite service, where you have a small satellite attached to your home. One can have an antenna, which shows a very small number of channels from some of the major stations and usually PBS. How well this works depends on your location. Here’s more on that. Then, of course, we have online subscription services, such as Netflix, Amazon Prime, Disney+, and more.

      Many of my readers enjoy watching the shows that you recommend; sometimes we can find them online on YouTube! My husband has been watching many shows that aired years ago in the U.K. that we haven’t been able to get in any other way here. He was watching a show from 2011 last night.

      Acorn TV is a subscription service that allows people to watch shows from the U.K. in the U.S. Our library has a way to “check out” a week at a time online using our library card, so I can watch some shows for free that way.

      Britbox is a subscription service ($6.99 a month) from the BBC. This has many more shows than Acorn.

      I personally watch very little television; I rarely have time to do so! I watch Call the Midwife and I watched Downton Abbey when it was on. Usually, I’ll catch just one show a year like that, or maybe two, so 14 episodes (including Christmas specials!). We do have a family movie night on Fridays at home, so we’ll continue that, though sometimes often the movie is just a children’s movie, and I don’t always watch every one of those. I usually mention the shows I manage to watch online for free.

      1. Thank you for that info Brandy, interesting to hear how other countries pay for TV. I’ll mention TV sometimes if I think your readers would like it. Some people in the UK complain about paying for a TV licence but I think it’s great value as it funds not just BBC TV channels but also the many BBC radio channels including the World Service. I think the payment is worth it just for the Natural History unit of the BBC which makes the excellent David Attenborough and other wildlife programmes.

        1. When my friend told me about the tv license I was shocked. When she mentioned again this past week about people finding it expensive, I told her that’s easily a monthly payment (or less) here for cable, and she was shocked! She knew we had antennas and thought we didn’t pay for television. Granted, when she visited me 20 years ago, we had an antenna at that house and did not pay after buying the antenna, so I can see why she thought that. Eventually, we got cable, as the antenna no longer worked. They changed the type of antenna and what was aired several years back, and we did not have the money to buy an antenna then, so we continued without cable. I like missing most commercials (though I do see them on YouTube, but not like before). We only had cable for about three years in our twenty years of marriage.

        2. Canada works the same way Penny – I pay a ridiculous amount monthly and I’m determined to reduce it in 2021. More and more I find there’s not a lot on regular cable services and the streaming ones offer a lot more so I’m looking to move things around a bit.
          I think your TV license is also a basic list of channels but you can also add other services – is that correct/

          1. Yes Margie the TV licence allows you to use a TV and view all BBC channels and lots of others, channels with commercials that fund them. We can pay for Netflix ,Sky etc if we choose but we don’t. There’s so much rubbish on TV and we don’t watch shows that are vulgar, gory, sexual, violent or horrific .It is a joke amongst my family and friends that I can handle Bambi but anything more and I’m out! Most of our viewing is BBC channels so no need to pay extra. Then of course there’s radio and good books!

  23. Lovely pictures as always, Brandy. You are probably already aware of this, but All Creatures Great and Small will be airing on PBS beginning January 10. I think this might be something my entire family will enjoy (we have all the books). Glad you got to see Call the Midwife. That was my “ahhh” moment at the end of Christmas day.

    1. I’m so glad you all mentioned the Call the Midwife on PBS. I watched it yesterday while baking and it was so fun! I haven’t watched since the first season so it was fun to see new characters and some of the original ones.

  24. I have done 2 returns, which always feels good. I’m watching my Buy Nothing group carefully as it seems there are a lot of things being posted. I got a cute reusable shopping bag through the group this week.
    I returned a bitter lettuce to the store where I bought it, and received a box of spring greens in exchange. I was happy with that. Our daughters are with us and cooking and baking up a storm. I am keeping the food in the fridge in good order, and freezing what is not being eaten, to avoid as much waste as possible.
    I have put several things in online shopping carts, but have not actually bought anything after Christmas.
    I have done end of month bookkeeping for my shop, which feels good, and I followed up on a refund that had not been issued. It seems that this happens semi-regularly.
    My husband checked the tire pressure in our 2 cars, and each of our daughter’s cars. Driving with correct tire pressure saves gas.
    I’m feeling ready to take Christmas down, but am waiting until tomorrow when our girls are visiting their grandparents. I’m feeling severely challenged by our very small house. I keep trying to make it work though!

  25. Christmas was slightly unconventional. I sat with a hospice patient on Christmas Eve until service was no longer required. Christmas day was distributed in their original shipping boxes. My children guessed what was in each package and bid on it. They traded , negotiated and argued over who was mommy’s favorite child. They laugh and giggled and had fun. Sugar cookie was gifted about 20 Barbies. She still has a large gift card arriving that we will use for her February birthday. We gathered many of baby Henry’s gifts and some of the girls gifts and took them to a neighbor who had received 3 young stair -step children and one older girl . My children had plenty and Henry certainly wouldn’t miss any. No one really ate dinner. I took my ham to my dad. Sliced the meat off and brought the bone home. I’m going to make green pea soup tonight and take back to him. My favorite neighbor brought me hot fresh tamales very late at night. That was my most favorite gift. I’ve saved half of them to take to my dad ,as he also will really appreciate them. We connected a new Roku box to the tv . Sugar cookie spent $4.00 to buy 2 months of 2 streaming channels at 99 cents a month. I will cancel after she watches her favorite series. I found one free channel ” Tubi” , had a lineup of extremely inappropriate material and had the son remove the channel from the tv. At age 30, I don’t supervise her like I did as a small child but this was unacceptable. She’s about age 10 cognitively. I’m plotting and planning my budget for the new year. I keep adjusting and rearranging things. I know that I must keep some flexibility or I will set myself up for failure. We have decided to support our local Catholic church. They provide food to 40 elderly families in our rural community. I will spend $20.00 a month couponing for health and beauty items and household items to donate to the boxes. Sugar cookie enjoys plotting out coupon shops and it helps her math skills. I recently discovered that items we had purchased the last two years to help someone were being returned to the store on a regular basis. Although cash was not returned , store credits were issued and not spent on the intended recipient . This made me very sad. We are focusing our kindness on the elderly this year. I believe it may be possible to do front porch drop offs and the daughter will surely enjoy that. We are going gluten free and working on our pantry. Exploring new meal options and dessert options. I love having the internet for this .We plan on having a no spend year as much as possible. I’m hoping to save 60% of my income. I may need to purchase a headstone this year. I guess I need to explore if there are any options for this. We are looking for a brighter year. I hope everyone is having a warm winter. We still have not needed to turn our heat on. I replaced my filter and and did check the unit. I’m hoping my electric drops 50% .

    1. Oh, Lillianna! I’m so sorry you had such a hard week! How kind of you to sit by the bedside with someone as they passed.

      I’m sorry your giving has not been appreciated. I think helping those who are elderly is a great approach to take this year.

      You did not say who will need the headstone, but I’m sorry you’re facing that this year. Sending virtual hugs!

      1. Penny, yes. Veterans and their spouses can be buried for free in a veteran’s cemetery. My dad will be buried in one, and then my mom with him. Even if they are cremated. And, their grave or niche will be marked with their name. This past year I was finally able to purchase a marker (flat in the ground) for a child I lost in miscarriage years ago. It was $800. Very basic.

  26. A very Blessed and Merry Christmas to you and your family, Brandy…and to all your readers!
    I have been reading about all of the work you are doing in your garden. It is quite a job to move all that dirt. We have done it in the past, but this past summer, when we were taking down the back beds to move them, we hired someone to do it with a bobcat. It was just too much for my husband and I to do alone (in the past, the kids were around and would help) due to some medical issues we were experiencing (my husband had moved to the back 1000 retaining wall blocks for the new beds by hand. He refused to use the wheelbarrow because he wanted to get his steps in, but ended up with severe carpal tunnel, tennis elbow and trigger finger SMH). He did build me a new raised bed, and extended our other bed. I now have the structure for cold frames (we made out of old windows from the house) up and am growing food in north central Illinois during the winter. So far, it is working out well with the few “experiments” I planted, and I will be expanding this next year. Kudos to you for doing all the dirt yourself! Your flower arrangement is beautiful…am I seeing olives there?
    We had a wonderful Christmas with the four youngest and their significant wives/fiancee. It was very laid back. We watched Christmas DVDs we already had, and some shows on television. For our older kids, we Facetimed to watch them open their gifts. It was the first Christmas for our grandson (6 months old), and we received an extra special gift from his parents that morning…an ultrasound showing baby #2 is on the way! No greater gift than family on this earth! And I say earth, because Our Savior is our greatest gift.
    Hope to do a no-spend January. Thank you to you and everyone for all of the encouragement and ideas!

    1. Laura, Congratulations on your second grandchild!

      We rented an excavator to do the digging but have been shoveling out the dirt to load it on the trailer to take to the dump. My children have been helping do that part. My husband says the excavator was quite fun to drive, and he caught on very quickly, which is good, because we are going to have to rent it a couple more times still!

      1. Thank you, Brandy! As you can imagine, we are thrilled and praying for a safe delivery and healthy momma and baby. Having had so many children (7 for me), I always get a bit anxious for others. I never thought to rent an excavator…we did get a good price on taking the beds out and grading the front yard though. I just saw your photo on Instagram of the yard and I am in awe. When we were younger, we did everything ourselves, but some jobs are just too big for the two of us now.

        1. We hired someone the first time but my husband did a lot of digging by hand as well; I had just had our fourth baby a few months earlier. For the front yard, we were able to have my brother-in-law come help us with his backhoe. He no longer has the backhoe so this time we rented a mini excavator from Home Depot. My husband said it was a lot of fun to operate! We will need to rent it again, most likely two more times.

  27. We had a quiet Christmas at home. (as quiet as can be with 3 excited boys, but for us it was a calm day, haha!) We had picked up a roast to make pot roast on Christmas day. We’ve always done a turkey or ham, but there were no deals this year at any of the grocery stores, so we paid the same price and tried something new. My husband pulled out our camping Dutch oven, cleaned and seasoned it, and we used that in our oven to make a simple pot roast using the American Test Kitchen recipe, and HOLY MOLY it was amazing!! It was very hands on (flipping every 30 minutes for 4 hours) but it was so silky smooth and flavorful and the juice it made was SO yummy over the meat and mashed potatoes! I think we’ll only do it again for a special occasion because it took so long. I had picked up a bag of potatoes for $0.25/5 lbs a few weeks ago and had kept them in the garage. We made mashed potatoes, steamed some frozen peas, and called it good!

    We mostly gave our children items they will use for homeschool (books, games, art supplies) but they loved it all. I’ve been collecting items for the past couple months. My mom had asked for a wish list for the children, so I emailed her some ideas. I was surprised and pleased she stuck to the list! We don’t have a large home with extra room for extra toys, so I tend to get picky about what comes into our home (and I just don’t like all the junky plastic toys that break within a week!) The boys have been playing Monopoly for the past three days now! (It’s great for math skills!)

    My husband has a training in Las Vegas next week. His clinic is paying for the conference (over $3000) so that is a blessing, but he has to cover hotel cost. We were able to find a cheaper hotel than the one the conference is at. He’ll be given all meals. Since Las Vegas is only 2 hours away, we’re playing with the idea of all of us going down there and spending a day at the Las Vegas Children’s museum. It’s open and could be a fun school field trip for us! Brandy, do you have any other suggestions of child-friendly places? We thought of the Ethel M. chocolate factory and cactus garden. We’d do a stock-up at Winco and Sam’s Club (both aren’t in St. George!) for bulk items.

    1. Ethel M. is requiring reservations. You should see what is available.

      Restaurants are limited to 4 people at a table, no matter if there are more people from the same household, and tables are 6 feet apart. I don’t know what the rules are at the children’s museum, but check out their website. Businesses are limited to 25% capacity here.

      I would suggest going to Valley of Fire with your boys. It’s a great time to go and there is more than you can see and explore in one day. We’ve only seen a bit of it and are hoping to go see more soon (probably next month). Plus, it’s outside and away from the crowds. You’re supposed to pay $10 to go in and there is no one to give change, so you’ll need to have cash on you.

      I don’t know what is open at the Springs Preserve–perhaps only the gardens, but perhaps the museums as well. I would check their website.

  28. I also watched Call the Midwife. It is especially poignant for me as I was delivered at home by a midwife in England in 1958-we lived those times so extra special to me.

    This morning I made up some chili with leftovers. I also made cranberry, oatmeal muffins with cranberries I bought for 50 cents per bag after Xmas. Thank you to the reader who mentioned eggnog pie which I had never heard of. I had half a litre of eggnog left and made one-I did find it took a little longer to cook but it was yummy. The rest will go in the freezer for later. As my sister and I are both designated visitors for my Mum and she is moving to Germany on Sunday we met at Mum’s and played a couple of games of Scrabble. We all had a laugh a minute and I think it was good for my Mum who of course has been staying at home. Not much spending happening here as we are mostly staying home. Good news for the Americans who will be receiving stimulus cheques in the New Year-my American husband included.

  29. Merry Christmas and New Year to all,
    Beautiful flower arrangement for Christmas And Congratulations on getting into your dress…great idea to have kept it!
    My thrifty activity of the week is using up all the leftovers in different ways. Looking forward to making an annual yule log sponge cake for the New Year. Reread “A Child’s Christmas in Wales” by Dylan Thomas from the library.

  30. The flower photos are beautiful Brandy but my goodness, those Pinterest photos show a LOT of hard work. That trench looks as though it is made of concrete – no wonder you need so much soil and manure. The photos of the flowers are gorgeous – won’t it be lovely when your new garden will be full of vegetables and flowers! I echo what others have said – you will have amazing muscles – despite the cookies!
    Christmas Eve was spent driving around with my “bubble” friend to see the lights. It started to snow and we ended up driving around for two hours as it was so beautiful.
    Christmas Day we had breakfast at her apt. and later she came upstairs to my place for dinner. I cooked turkey breast, turkey thighs, stuffing, turnip, mashed potatoes, carrots & brussels sprouts! We were stuffed and had to wait for over an hour before having our tea and some of the trifle I had made. There was also mincemeat tarts, chocolate biscuits, fruit cake and stollen – none of which we could eat so there are lots of treats that will last for ages.
    I also had a small ham which is sliced up = some eaten with leftovers on the weekend and the rest into the freezer. I’ve made a bread pudding with some leftover brioche buns and the last of a litre of eggnog, hard boiled some eggs that needed to be used up and cooked up some veg that were getting to be past their best. Really trying not to waste anything.
    I have had a very lazy weekend, puttering, reading “Death of a Cozy Writer” and watching the first three episodes of “Queen’s Gambit”. I really must get myself outdoors tomorrow for a good long walk!

    Happy New Year everyone!

      1. Dear Brandy
        I read your blog by smartphone and can not find the place to comment, not after your post, neither below all the comments. I only see Reply option after every comment. Can anyone help? Thanks!

  31. Brandy, you might check to see if there are any folks around you who raise rabbits or alpacas. Both of those animals provide manure that does not have to be composted before use. I have used both manures on our gardens with much success, and the alpaca farmer is always happy to give me as much manure as I’m willing to take – he even loads it into my truck with his tractor bucket! Your county extension office may be able to tell you if there are any 4-h groups in your area with alpacas or rabbits, and it could save you on garden preparation.

    We had a quiet Christmas at home, and it was really nice. One evening we got into the car and drove around to see some of the Christmas lights on houses, and listened to the local ‘all Christmas’ radio station. I took one of the candy canes off our tree on the way out the door and we shared that in the car. It was a really pleasant, simple evening.

    There was a series of Christmas giveaways at my workplace, and I won one of the prizes – a set of art supplies. I have been taking various free online tutorials for watercolor, and this set had watercolors, colored pencils, drawing pencils, oil pastels and crayons. We have been enjoying the set quite a lot, and it ended up being a ‘family present’ for us this year. I took advantage of an online offer to join Craftsy for $2.49 for an entire year. I cancelled the automatic renewal right away, and I’ve already watched some of the tutorials there. There are some watercolorists there whose lessons I’ve wanted to see, and this is a great price to get a year to do that.

    We spread a little peanut butter onto pine cones and rolled those in bird seed for the birds again. We’ve enjoyed their visits at our bird feeding station.

    We borrowed books, music and movies from the library, hung our clothes outside to dry, ate leftovers when we had them, and did all our usual money-saving things. I’ve been using Mango Languages through my library’s website to learn Japanese for free too!

    After six years away, I re-started my blog, and I’d love a visitor if you have a moment. It’s at tenthingsfarm.blogspot.com Thank you!

    1. Laura,

      Part of the garden makeover is up removing all the soil that we brought in from two of the largest beds. To “save money” 14 years ago, we brought in local horse manure. It was supposedly composted; it was not. It was still green and killed off half my new bushes and fruit trees because it was so hot. In addition to that, it contained weeds from crabgrass. I have fought this grass for 14 years, and two years ago I thought I had eradicated it from the garden. This last year, it was worse than ever, because it was entwined in the roots of the trees and the bushes. I would dig and pull it all only to be overrun with it a foot and a half high two weeks later throughout the beds.

      I will only use sterile, composted manure from now on. It is worth every penny to me.

      I know that rabbit poop is not hot, but I won’t take a chance on weed seeds like that ever again. I have lost too many weeks of my life pulling crabgrass and now removing entire beds (plus a couple of feet wider from where they infested the native ground with their underground runners) with a rented excavator. I am afraid of finding more of this grass in any bed in the new garden. I hope we can truly eliminate it. There is a spot where it is growing in my wall and I have not been able to kill the roots that grow into the wall. We glued the blocks down, so I can’t get to them. This one spot of crabgrass worries me greatly as I know how it can spread.

      Oddly enough, someone locally asked me if I wanted horse manure this past week to save money. “No!” I replied, and then explained.

      On the watercolor classes: Have you seen Anna Mason’s classes? I love watercolor, though I have not painted for years, but her classes are what I want to try next. AnnaMason.com or find her on YouTube. Her paid classes are longer and slower; the YouTube ones are more sped up but there is still a lot there to learn.

      1. I have had luck killing weeds with boiling water. Perhaps in that one spot on the wall that you can’t get to you could try it. I used leftover water from boiling corn this summer. I applied it several times until weeds stopped appearing.

        1. Susan, I have had great luck spraying straight vinegar on it. Of course, you can’t do this if there are other plants around or you are going to plant there right after spraying.

      2. I have a similar horse manure story, Brandy! It was just an idea, and I can understand why you would not be interested. Anna Mason does have a couple of tutorials on the Craftsy site, and she is one of the artists I was referring to when I posted here 🙂

        1. No worries! Getting the horse manure was such a huge, costly “frugal fail”, so I want to be very cautious now.

          1. OK, I’m going to say it–I garden 99% without chemicals, but there is that other 1%….. Ask at the garden center what is the best herbicide for crabgrass. I believe that Weed-B-Gone is supposed to control it, but find out. When it comes out, cover everything around it (maybe don’t plant anything new nearby this year) and have at it with the sprayer! May take more than one application. I have gotten rid of the last remnants of invasive weeds this way, usually by painting the solution on the leaves with a paintbrush, but I realize that wouldn’t work with the strands of crabgrass. Luckily, we don’t get crabgrass here. Back in the day, it had to be treated with a pre-emergent, meaning that if you saw it, it was too late.

            1. I tried Round-Up for the pot in the wall! I sprayed where it comes through the back and dug down in the bed above, ripped everything out I could, and sprayed where it comes out of the wall. That tiny piece in between the bricks is keeping it alive! I will be trying again, though. It’s that strong and hard to eradicate. Like you, I generally garden organically.

              1. Try painting the chinks in the wall with a brush, and be prepared to do it every time a strand pops out. After you’ve dealt with the strand, paint it again. Also, read the Round-Up label. We think of Round-Up as killing everything, because it is non-selective, but make sure it says it works on crabgrass. I haven’t had much luck with Round-Up on wild blackberries under the deck, although it makes them sick. I’m going to hit them next spring with Lilly Miller’s Blackberry and Brush Killer, which does work.

  32. We had a pleasant Christmas Eve and Christmas. Too much food, but we were really good at getting leftovers into the freezer for future meals. We gave and received simple and thoughtful gifts. I was pleased to get some new books and an amaryllis bulb. Fun to look forward to. I purchased four yards of Christmas fabric at clearance prices, plus some clearance ribbon to make gift bags for Christmas next year. I have some plain red and green already that I will also use. I’m hoping to sew these in January instead of buying wrapping paper next year. This should save us money in the years to come.
    For the new year, I’m hoping to do a No Spend Year. I’ve been trying to work out the “rules” for myself. I’m thinking of no personal spending or eating out alone, and greatly reduced budgets for food, entertainment, etc.
    A non-frugal thing we are doing this week (but hopefully helpful) is we are adopting a dog, hoping it will help our teenage son with anxiety. We are going through the Humane Society and accept the fact it will cost some money. Grateful we have the money in savings to do things like this. Fingers crossed we can find a dog who is a good fit.
    Hope everyone has a great week!

  33. Hello Everyone! Hope everyone had a nice Christmas. Our holiday was pretty quiet. We eat leftovers on Christmas Eve. My husband made a special breakfast on Christmas morning. We had already had the sausage and bacon, and just had to buy cheese and tater tots. Not healthy by any means! But we only enjoy once a year. We had a zoom call with my parents that morning so they could watch us open our presents. It was nice to see them even though we couldn’t be together. We had another zoom call later that afternoon with family scattered across the United States. That was a lot of fun. My mother-in-law is in our bubble and came over for dinner. It’s very simple dinner of ham, Which we had in our freezer. My husband made a pan of scalloped potatoes from scratch which were delicious! He used a mandolin slicer that I had bought literally 25 years ago and had never taken out of the box. We were so full that we didn’t even have dessert. Several people dropped off food gifts for us, including candy, Christmas cookies, cakes and pastries. It was so much! We shared the pastries with another friend of ours and brought some of the cookies and candy up to my parents the next day. We went up the day after Christmas to visit my parents. As my mother is dealing with a terminal illness, there’s been a huge surge in Covid cases here in our area. So she decided that she didn’t want to lotta people in the house, you could come in wearing your mask to use the restroom and wash your hands. My husband mother-in-law and son went on an adventure in the city while I stay behind to help my parents. Other than that not too much else going on!I’ve already started writing thank you notes for Christmas gifts using cards that I already had and stamps and address I will say were gifted to us by my parents. We are trying to stay home as much as possible. I did stop at a local grocery store here and picked up a meal and several items to bring to a friend of mine who I’ve known since kindergarten. She found out in September that her mom has stage four pancreatic cancer. Her mom is now nearing the end of this journey. I remember when my mom had cancer five years ago. Our friends and family were so nice to drop off food and meals. We wanted to do that and pay it forward. So I went to Whole Foods and purchased two rotisserie chickens, a couple of bagged salads, bread, butter, fruit, dessert & drinks and dropped it off at her house. She & her family were so thankful! My husband and I were so glad we could do this for them. We are so thankful for this year in the sense that we have had many blessings. We continue to pray for others who are having a more difficult time. Thank you Brandy and the folks who post. There have been times this year when this blog helped me get through the week. Seeing everyone’s post every week gave me something to look forward to. Here’s to looking forward to 2021!

  34. We had a quiet week, finishing and delivering all the gifts here and there, with a few short “porch” visits along the way. On Christmas Eve, we had our traditional meal of fondue. I made cheese sauce and bread, chocolate sauce with fruit and tempura shrimp and also batter-dipped mushrooms and onions (same batter as the shrimp, but made like onion rings in the hot oil pot.). On Christmas Day, we drove down to the beach and watched waves for a while. It was very different than our “normal” but beautiful, as always, despite the rainy weather. We knew very little would be open, so we made sure to take everything we might need. Even though we did not use the towels, extra clothing, it was nice to know we had it if needed. Our Christmas meal was cheese slices, veggie sticks, some ham, Christmas goodies and Diet Cherry Coke. It was not traditional, but we enjoyed it.

    I love your garden progress, Brandy. That seems like so much work, but it will be so nice to have each garden bed how you want it, and full of fertile soil. I hope you can have a very productive garden with all this work.

    The day after Christmas, my husband came across 2 small fresh turkeys on clearance. We then spent 2 days dealing with them. Now I have sliced turkey breast for sandwiches or salads, baggies of chunks and lots of broth. I also boiled the ham bone from last week’s ham and made a large pot of ham and beans. While dealing with the turkeys, I made up a large pot of turkey-rice soup. We’ve had soup for the last 2 days, and leftovers, so it will be time to cook again tomorrow, I think.

    Today, I was able to get outside and work on the new raised bed. Previously, we had filled it with some dirt that was dug up from an ugly flower bed I’m changing. Today I added bone meal and a layer of purchased soil and planted strawberry runners that had grown down into the flowerbed last summer. Strawberries need to be renewed about every 3 years. The runners I had filled about 1/2 my new raised bed as a good start for the future. I still have a raised bed in another location that will still give me lots of good berries this summer, then I will dig up the entire bed and replant it. Knowing that I need to constantly have a new strawberry patch in the works, Rob built me this new raised bed section in the fall. There is actually a second one and I plan to fill the rest of the space with early spring veggies.

    I also filled the yard Debis bin with clippings from some bushes in the back yard.

    We took a few walks. We got some of the school lunches.

    I’m always in a mood to clean after Christmas. We took down all the decorations and tree yesterday and put them all upstairs in the shop where they belong. Today, I started the monumental task of organizing my food storage shelves in the garage, as I do yearly around this time of year. I got quite a bit done, and will do more soon. I like to keep close tabs on things out there so waste is kept to a minimum. I also like to wipe things down and kill all the spiders at least once a year:)

    My aunt found a drive-through light display for us to go to. As she is in our little “group,” we all piled into the van with the kids and went together. It was fun, and a nice activity for my niece, nephew and daughter.

    My amaryllis lily bloomed, just in time for Christmas. Pictures of it are on my blog: http://beckyathome.com

  35. Our Christmas was pretty quiet – just the two of us but we played Christmas music, opened our gifts to each other, went for a walk and just, generally, had a nice day. My mom was Swedish and every Christmas Eve it was a tradition in our family to have Swedish meatballs and mashed potatoes. So I had this on Christmas day, along with lingonberry sauce and salad. I only made one type of cookie this year which was my grandmother’s brown sugar/cinnamon cutout cookies.
    Two days before Christmas we
    went and visited my son’s family to drop off their gifts. They live a little less than an hour and a half away. We gave them a plate of my cookies and money. I was too afraid to send the money by mail. It was so great to see them and we socially distanced with masks.
    We watched another musical on Broadway HD. I think that this is something we will really enjoy having.
    We go for a walk every day and are reading many free books. It is difficult to find grocery bargains here as the stores seem quite expensive. So I try to concentrate on making everything from scratch and not wasting. I have a new tunic pattern and material. In January I want to start sewing again.
    Today I made granola and my husband made a pile of waffles to freeze.
    Guess that is all:)

    1. Elisa,

      You can send money through your bank to their account for free using Zelle! The recipient just needs to sign up for it on their bank’s website and use their email or their phone number. You then choose to send money to that person and the bank wires it over. I use this service when my mom picks up some groceries at the store for me. She takes an elderly woman shopping, and sometimes I need to pay back the elderly woman instead of my mom, so I pay her that way, too! It’s really easy to set up; it takes less than five minutes. This would be a safe way for you to send money in the future.

  36. Hello Everyone! We had a much different, quiet Christmas and I liked it. This entire holiday season was stress free for me and it is making me thoughtfully consider what I want for the future. While I am not enjoying what this virus and pandemic has done, I am appreciative of the chance to reevaluate what is of value and importance to me and my family.
    I had to take a payout of unused time off or I would lose it so we are putting that money towards a new upright freezer. Our current freezer is 23 years old, the top shelf is unusable because it keeps frosting over and it is not energy efficient. Searching for the best deal locally and online.
    For some reason I baked way too may cookies so the excess are getting frozen for future treats. I stopped in Dollar General for some toiletry items and checked out the Christmas clearance. There were packages of bows and ribbons in non traditional Christmas colors, deeply discounted. I was able to purchase 12 bows, 4 packs of curling ribbon and a spool of thick ribbon for $1.65. This will last me a few years.
    Looking forward to saying farewell to 2020 and ushering in 2021 in a quiet & peaceful manner.

    1. Christmas was that way here too, and I found myself reflecting the same thing. The holidays were less stressful, and for me, that was a treat!

  37. Dear Brandy
    One more comment. I would like to write many things but I just say Thank You for all you do (and don’t). Have a wonderful New Year! I rely on your blog and am known in my family for reading it.

  38. I have not commented in a month. I had gone through the house and sold a lot of items on the yardsale site. I made over $2000 with most items only $5 or so. I used it to buy Christmas gifts and a few decor items I wanted for our new home. I gathered the last bit that had not sold and donated it for a tax benefit the days before we celebrated Christmas. It felt good to clear out clutter and not have to find places for the items.

    * My mother in law moved in with us in the end of September. Her brother entered end of life. He was never married so she was his closest relative and went to be with him at the hospital. The nursing home where he was did not allow visitors so it was a blessing he had to go to the hospital where they allowed one visitor. She stayed at his home in town and was careful to sanitize after her visits. They only allowed her 30 minutes each day, but were lenient as they saw he was dying. We had a small graveside service with about 15 people. He liked to hunt and fish and the florist made an arrangement with a wood freezer head, antlers, and a wooden fish pick. it was really unique and perfect for him. He has a house we will have to go back to sell or donate items and then sell the house. It is three and a half hours from my home so they will do it after hunting season so my husband can hunt.

    * I have been 20 months letting my silver grow out in my hair. Here is a progress photo from 3 months to now https://www.instagram.com/p/CJMm_yjHh6Q/?igshid=g682m4cm4v8l. I was spending $120 every 6 weeks. My roots started showing at 3 weeks, so I used a spray root touch up between. I did it at home for years, needing 2 boxes since my hair was so much, and that was with a bob hairstyle. As I got more silver it was not covering so I started going to the salon and she used a special dye to cover the gray. So, I had enough and in April 2019 stopped. I was so nervous to tell my stylist and when I did she fingered through my hair and said, ” If my gray was as beautiful a color as yours I would grow it out, too.” And this is a 30 year old girl! So I lightened the colored part so it wouldn’t stand out as much and have been growing it out. I have been so scared of negative comments and have not had one.

    * The numbers have gone crazy high in our state. I know a few people with the virus. So we are trying to stay in and I stocked up a month ago on medicine and cleaning products and staple food. I am making another list of items- I gave my kids toilet paper and paper towels so need to stock up more. I am going to do one more run and would like to see if Joanne’s has Christmas fabric on sale for some projects for next year. Then, I am hunkering down again.

    * I have gained so much weight and feel so awful when I walk and move so I am ready to stop eating everything and get back to low carb. I am starting to walk and my husband hooked up a TV and DVD player in our room so I can workout again. I have the old Firm DVD for the 1990s with a Fanny Lifter step that I love to do. I am mixing the weight portion of Firm with the cardio from T25. After this round I am going to do P90x that I have.

    *My MIL treated us to a Honey Baked ham for Christmas. I finally figured out the sugar was making me ill. After I ate it I would have a headache and be zonked out on the couch. Since it has the sweet sugar taste I don’t like the ham for beans or scalloped potatoes. Question: what can I do with it. My husband cut all the meat off the bone and I need to freeze it, but really don’t think I can use it. I don’t want to eat it after it makes me feel so bad.

    Some frugal things that came to mind: ( I know I am preaching to the choir, but sometimes seeing things again is a reminder)
    1. Take advantage of pretax flex accounts through your employer for medical expenses. You save the taxed amount. When we go to the doctor or buy medicine we pay with our credit card and then turn it in to the flex account for reimbursement. That way we get the credit card points, too.
    * We put everything, even our tithe, on credit card and pay it off each month. We can cash out the points for store cards, or use for travel. In the past I have flown to Italy, Germany 3 times, California, Hawaii 3 times, Las Vegas, a trip to North Carolina, Washington, and St Louis all with free tickets earned. We gave my son a ticket home whe he was stationed in Hawaii and also from Washington. I have also cashed out for Walmart and Target cards to buy Christmas in the past. My husband used to travel with his job so we were able to put all that on our card, which earned a lot, now it isn’t as much, but still adds up.
    * I save all the litrle bits of leftover vegetables in a container in the freezer and dump that once full for soups.
    *My hair is long and I don’t have to wash it as often. It is healthier only washing twice a week. I used to wash daily. I thought it would be oily, but my hairstylist talks about how healthy it is. I also let it air dry and don’t use as much heat on it, especially when am not going anywhere. I am saving water, and product.
    * We have been able to set aside 6 months living expenses. We are in a new home and now working to prepay as we can. Mother in law is paying $500 a month rent so we are applying that to the mortgage and trying to add another $500 a month.
    * I cut a pork loin into pork chops. The precut ones at the store are too thick for me and I dry them out when I cook them, so I slice mine thinner. I did not know about cutting a loin for years. You can also cut a beef tenderloin and that is filet mignon cuts. But the beef tenderloin is so 3xoensive I never buy it. The pork is often $1.69 a pound or better.
    * I keep broth on hand so I can make a soup anytime. If someone is showing signs of getting sick I start them on Airborne, and make a chicken soup and garlic toast, and push water.. The bone broth and garlic are supposed to work wonders.
    *I try to hang dry my tops. I take out of the washing machine and hold the hem and shake/pop them to get wrinkles out then hang. Some items need a 5 minute spin in the dryer to get wrinkles out.

    1. How inspiring! I was thinking of listing a few things for sale on a local Facebook garage sale page; I haven’t done it for several years. I wonder if I can sell enough items for $5 to make $2000? That’s a worthy challenge! I am going to seriously look at what I can sell that we are not using.

    2. Bama Holly, have you tried the honey baked ham in bean soup? I have a pot on the stove now. I saute onion and diced carrots in a little olive oil and when they’re starting to brown, I sear the ham a little, then fill the pot with water. I add pepper, bay leaf and rosemary sprigs because I think the rosemary offsets the sweetness of the ham. When it’s done, I take the ham off the bone, toss out the rosemary and bay leaf, add a splash of balsamic vinegar to cut any fatty taste and garnish with fresh parsley to give it a clean flavor.
      BTW, your silver hair is gorgeous!

      1. We put a ham bone from a sugared ham in white lima beans and could taste the brown sugar or whatever is on the ham in the soup. I haven’t put the Honey Baked bone in. I cut off all 5he outside rind I could and think I may soak it in water to pull if as much of the sugar as I can, then add to beans or turnip greens.

      2. I took all the meat off and cut the outside edge where all the glaze was. I then froze that meat and the bone. I rinsed the bone off trying to get off any glaze.. Today I pulled out the bone and used it in my black eyed peas until they were done. I then took the bone out and cut off all the meat and put half in the peas and half in the turnip greens, transfered the bone to the turnips and cooked them. I had no sugar taste in either dish.

    3. Your hair color is lovely. I stopped coloring my hair 3 yrs ago. It is nice to get only an occasional cut without cost of color. My hair is below my shoulders & the salon always charged extra for the length when I had it colored. During lockdown I went 8 months without a trim. My childhood friend who is a hair stylist cut my hair on Thanksgiving. I was grateful!

    4. Bama Holly – this is about the sweet ham. This may sound unusual but try simmering it in broth. I have done this for ham that is too salty. It will be milder tasting but it will still make tasty sandwiches and casseroles. My family likes it.

  39. Such a beautiful Christmas floral arrangement, Brandy! I watched holiday movies—Elf and Christmas Story are favorites. We also enjoyed the Yule Log (instrumental version) which I could have on while I worked from home.
    We loved our Christmas week Zoom calls! I got to see my daughters, my grand-nephews and grand-niece as well as my siblings, niece, nephews, in-law’s families and cousins! It was fun to catch up with everyone and hear about their celebrations. I enjoyed listening to people’s ways of dealing with everything this year has thrown at us. There are children who have moved back home, lots of folks learning to cut each other’s hair and everyone is playing board games and putting together puzzles.
    We saw one of my sisters in person when she came by with Beef Wellington and Christmas pudding with hard sauce. My husband and I went to see my mother-in-law (all masked) and we brought her a warm throw!
    I continue to make our meals and eat all our leftovers. No grocery shopping this week because we didn’t need anything.
    I am getting ready for the new year. I kept a budget book completely up to date during the pandemic so now I know I can do it. That is a goal for 2021 (after 20+ years of budget books abandoned by February)!
    I will take a look at my clothing in 2021. Once I stopped dressing in work clothes and had my entire business wardrobe clean at one time, I was a little alarmed and chagrined to see the extent of it. I am inspired by reading Brandy’s past blogs and comments about having 10 days’ worth of clothes. I realize I have a long way to go!
    I am continuing the November plan of expressing gratitude. In 2021, my goal is to memorialize thankfulness daily in my weekly planner since there is space and it basically contains my whole life between its two covers!
    I wish everyone in this lovely virtual community a healthy new year. I appreciate the advice so generously shared and I am awed by the wealth of knowledge you all possess!

  40. On Christmas Eve we attended a parking lot worship service at church, which was different, but nice. Then we drove around to look at some Christmas lights, one of our Christmas Eve traditions. We had a quiet Christmas Day at home – watched a bunch of holiday movies, opened our gifts to each other (and to the cats!), ate a ton of finger foods, and enjoyed the day. I had purchased a ham for Christmas dinner, but we ended up not being hungry enough for a large meal that night, so I cooked it yesterday instead. We’ll enjoy those leftovers for several meals, and the bone will be saved for a pot of pinto beans.

    Recent frugal accomplishments: I purchased razor blades and shaving soap off Amazon to restock for the year. My husband and I both shave with soap & brush and a safety razor. Better and closer shave with no irritation, ridiculously cheap when compared to storebought canned gel/foam and plastic razors, and also much less waste. I stopped into the grocery store yesterday afternoon to pick up a couple of random items, and decided to check out the markdown meat section. They had packages of ground beef 50% off, around $2.50 for 1.5 lbs. I bought all they had (about 14 packs), plus picked up a large beef roast for $8, and a smaller pork roast (enough for 1 meal for us) for $1.65. I almost never see ground beef under $3/lb here, and we were starting to get low, so it was a welcome find! Our chest freezer is now completely full. We took our coffee, lunches, snacks, etc., to work each day instead of buying anything out. Had the windows open with a/c and heat off at home as much as possible. This time of year in Texas allows for open windows, which is a nice savings. We are going to be cold and wet the rest of this week, though, so they are closed again for now. I sold an item I was no longer using on Craigslist for $100.

    We have decided this year to focus heavily on our savings and investing, and are also starting a low buy/no buy year for certain items. There are some areas where we tend to spoil ourselves with overindulging and overspending – mostly things like clothing, shoes, accessories, etc. We’ve decided to stop buying those items this year and use/work through what we have. We are very excited about it although I’m sure it will be something of a challenge (and a test of willpower!). We’ve started by unsubscribing from several tempting retailer email lists.

  41. Longtime reader, rare commenter 🙂
    Trying to utilize what is in my pantry and refrigerator. Made chocolate chip chip cookies from scratch for my daughters to enjoy.
    Listened to Christmas music for free on Pandora. Wishing everyone a Happy New Year!

  42. For those in Canada with Safeway/Sobeys if you buy 5 Source yogurt for $10 you earn 100 airmiles which is enough to redeem for $10 in groceries-so free yogurt. I think the offer is good into next week.

  43. Your flowers are absolutely lovely.
    We had a different Christmas week than planned. We thought we would have my son and fiance’ for Christmas Eve dinner and then just DH and I for Christmas. They ended up going to her parents’ place for Christmas Eve, and ours for Christmas. My mother was also able to come for Christmas dinner, as long as I picked her up, drove her to our house and then straight back with no additional stops. My son gets tested at least weekly for his job, and his fiance’ has been working from home. We left it up to my Mother, and she just wanted to spend Christmas with family. she has not been able to come to my house since March, so this was wonderful.
    My wonderful mother-in-law passed away early Christmas week. She was 92. It was not unexpected. She had been suffering from dementia for the last 7 years, with the last 4 being particularly bad. She was ill for less than a week before she passed. The family (there are 5 siblings) all seem to be coping well. I think that is one reason my mother decided she wanted to spend Christmas with family. She is 97.
    We had our typical Christmas dinner on Christmas day (we have another full-blown Thanksgiving dinner). I made turkey soup afterwards with the bones and some of the leftover turkey. Also used corn which was frozen in September, and onions and carrots from the garden.
    We have been eating a lot of carrots. We are down to 3 bags left from our early October harvest.
    My sister sent us some smoked cheese and smoked salmon that her DH made. He loves to smoke food. Also 2 new masks she made, and some chex mix. I sent her cornbread mix, brownie mix, and cream of chicken soup mix that I made. Also sent a small jar of gourmet popcorn seeds. We fill a basket for each other every year. The basket she used this year for me, is the one I used last year for her. I sent her basket from last year back to her, filled with the goodies. It’s pretty easy too, as my elder son lives in her hometown, and his fiance’ lives in mine. He, obviously, is the transporter.
    We did not go out to eat at all the last two weeks. Not that unusual for us though.
    I only worked one day last week, and will only work 2 days this week. I am really getting into semi-retirement mode. However once tax season rolls around, I will be back pretty much full time. I asked my boss yesterday what their plans for me are. I am willing to retire now, unless they need me. He said No, don’t retire yet. He wants me to be his eyes and ears for questions when other staff are having problems it seems. that’s fine, I am willing to train the next generation of CPAs.
    I feel a little disjointed. I guess with everything that happened this year that is not unexpected.
    I hope everyone has a nice last week of the year, and that 2021 will bring much joy to everyone.

  44. That is such a lovely floral arrangement! I did not know about the Call the Midwife Christmas special. I love that show.
    How we saved this week:
    -Making a charcuterie board did Not turn out to be inexpensive, but it was fun. We enjoyed it for several meals and made sure we used all of the leftovers.
    -We are beginning to plan our garden spaces and projects for the spring.
    -We rearranged the living room after taking down the Christmas tree and made a play area for the grandkids using shelves and baskets we already had.
    -I have tracked our spending for all of 2020, so I have an easy to read record of where all our money is going. This is very helpful for me to plan our 2021 budget. I’ll be focusing on our grocery/household spending, as that is where I can be most effective.
    -I’m planning a “low-spend” month for January to use up things in the pantry and freezers.
    Details and photos are on my blog at http://thebudgetinggranny.com/savings-and-goals-journal-26/

  45. Hi Everyone,
    This past week was a busy week of baking because I gave everyone baked goods for Christmas this year. I purchased all baking supplies on sale and saved myself quite a bit of money doing that. I delivered the baked good on Christmas Eve, Christmas day, and even the day after Christmas to family members. I was able to purchase all of our children’s Christmas gifts on sale and received Kohls cash back for the things I purchased there. I also received some cash back by clicking through ibotta to the websites to order. I had two big (pricey) items that I wanted once we moved into our new home and with the Black Friday sales and extra percentages off I was able to get both of them for over half off! One was a roomba type vacuum that came in handy when I was too sick to sweep and vacuum the floors and the other was a food saver. I had been borrowing my dad’s but I wanted the one that I could also use on jars to seal lids. I am normally not one to shop a lot so I felt very worn out spending money even shopping online! I received a lot of gift cards to Marshall’s for Christmas which I will use throughout the year to replace worn out clothing items or home items. Looking forward to the New Year and learning how to save even more money 🙂
    Sarah L.

  46. We made a ham for Christmas. Then I made Yellow split peas soup with some of the ham. We were able to share the ham with my mom, sister and a friend of my son. The ham was a gift from my other son. Then I took some soup to my sister and froze the rest for later. We had mashed potatoes with the ham. Then my husband and I made Indian spiced potato pancakes. We enjoyed some and then froze the rest for later. My husband also made some wonderful burritos using the ham and onions and peppers with a bit of cheese. We ate them one morning and froze the rest. Amazing how far a ham can go. We have been enjoying eggs as our new dozen have been laying at least 6 a day. My son enjoyed a movie from the library. My husband and I had a picnic on a nice day. I have been using all of the produce that we have in the refrigerator. I don’t want to waste food or money. We have been turning off lights. We were able to pay taxes and we will buy propane. Trying not to spend money so we can save and not struggle with taxes or other unexpected bills. I know my husband’s old truck won’t last much longer. And we need tires and other car maintenance. I used Duolingo to study French. I hope to study more languages. I have studied Spanish, German, and Latin in the past. I hope to make the time to study again. I have enjoyed music on Pandora, decorating for Christmas, looking at lights and free Tickets to the zoo lights. It has been a good week!

  47. Thank you Brandy, and everyone else, for all you’ve shared. South Africa is in the midst of a terrible “2nd wave” and we are in lockdown again. All shops and businesses remain open under strict regulations, but I suspect tough times lie ahead in the very near future. My husband and I have just returned from the brief annual retreat we take every year in the week between Christmas and NY to reflect on the year past and together set our goals and plan for the coming year. We are thankful to be finishing off such an horrendous year in a strong financial position, but want to continue to exercise prudence as times are uncertain, and we also need to find extra funds in our monthly budget for educational needs. I am doubling my efforts to save money from the household expenses (food, utilities, clothing mainly) to cover the increase in this area.
    Food is a big thing for me. With 6 children, all at home every day (my husband works at home too), some day’s I feel like all I do is prepare food! I know I need to plan better in this area to provide 3 meals and 2 snacks daily that will be low cost and not consume all my waking hours! All ideas and suggestions welcome!
    A local high quality store is selling all its remaining Christmas meats at a 50% discount. This means quality meat at a low price per kilogram! I hope to find a few gammons and another turkey at one of their many stores within 5km of home, which I will freeze.
    Our garden is producing lots of zucchini, patti pans, green beans, butternut, chard, green onions, eggplant, celery, basil, and some tomatoes. What I can’t use fresh I dice up and freeze. I use a lot of it to make minestrone soup regularly – a family favorite even in the summer heat. I will be planting more lettuce, chard, beans, zucchini, and and radish next week, and also planted a few sweet potatoes that sprouted. I have successfully grown sweet potatoes before but not for several years. I don’t have the time to use all my garden space right now so it makes sense to plant them again using space that will otherwise be unused. I have also been buying fresh produce selling cheaply which I then process and freeze with a goal to incorporate it into meals thus lowering overall costs. I will be combing through Brandy’s recipes and menu plans in the next few days for some inspiration to once again lower our food costs.
    I have militantly turned off lights and unplugged appliances. The children’s bath water is used to flush toilets and rinse cloth diapers. I have placed a basin in the kitchen sink which catches water from rinsing hands, fruits and vegetables; this waters the herbs and potted lettuces several times a day! This might not appeal to everyone, but I inspect clothing each evening and what isn’t visibly soiled or smelly gets reworn the following day. This is reducing laundry costs (water, electricity, detergent) and the time it takes me to hang laundry on the line outside. Our bath towels are hung out to air in the hot African sun daily which drastically reduces how often I need to launder them. We purchased several boxes of disposable diapers (we call them nappies) on a Black Friday sale. I intend to make them last until our youngest is potty-trained by only using them at night and when we go out for longer than a few hours (which under lockdown is unlikely). The rest of the time he is in cloth diapers. He is our last baby so we should never need to buy disposables again (which I admit I find sad).
    I sewed several pairs of shorts for the younger boys using fabric I already had, and continue to work on sweaters for the children even though winter is 5 months away. I have enough yarn on hand to make a sweater for every member of my family, and plenty still for the charity projects my daughters and I enjoy working on. I accept any offer of yarn or fabric, and what we don’t personally like we use for charity projects. I have a huge pile of mending I know I need to tend to, and am using worn out items to make cleaning cloths and hankies. I am already combing online thrift stores for the items I know my children will need for winter (denim jeans and boots mainly), and accept any offer of hand downs (and pass on anything we won’t use to the many needy folks we know).
    I am glad for this online community! Thank you to everyone who so willingly participates, and especially to Brandy! Happy New Year everyone!

    1. Hi Brandy,
      I guess I was wondering if the caliche is like the walls of a pot and then you put good soil in, how do you prevent water from being trapped and the roots of trees etc frpm sitting in water. I really admire your project.

      1. It can definitely trap water! But it can be like a terra cotta pot, where the water can seep through. Raised beds use considerably more water and are hotter, which is not necessarily a good thing here.

        1. Oh good to learn that the water can seep through the caliche walls. Am following the project with considerable interest! It will be truly beautiful and in the end more manageable!

          1. It can still get water-logged, though! That’s why when we had a valve break in our valve box and food it overnight, our cherry tree drowned. I turned off the water early in the morning when we found it, but it still suffered because the ground couldn’t dry out. Years later, the replacement tree died as well. I haven’t had cherry trees since, but I will in the new design in a bed away from the valve box.

    2. Hi Tracy,

      You are managing admirably. Since it is important to have 5 or more servings of fruit or veggies per day, I think I’d emphasize one snack or more per day being a simple piece of fruit such as an apple or an orange. You could also make your own yogurt in a machine and use some of that for snacks. I would make sure that for breakfast everyone has some protein along with cereal, oatmeal, toast and jam. This will keep them satisfied. A glass of milk perhaps or some yogurt or a piece of cheese.

      Also if you could make a large broccoli salad to keep in the fridge for a couple of days (I’d add the mayonnaise dressing daily not store it with the salad).

      I think Brandy has some very nice muffin recipes. I’d make a couple of batches then freeze a lot. Take them out of the freezer the night before and serve them for breakfast. There are muffin recipes which you make as a mix in bulk and that last for 6 weeks and that you just use as needed. I cannot find my recipe for them but will look — it was a McGill recipe. Maybe one of the kids could help peel carrots for use as a snack. I’d try to keep meals and snacks simple with a special treat on the weekends. I would avoid serving them fruit juices or pop — will save their teeth if you do. Get them used to drinking lots of water with some glasses of milk. Hot chocolate would be a nice treat occasionally.

      Prayers for South Africa — and the new covid strain and surge. Happy New year in these trying times. Ann

      1. Thanks so much! I do have a bran muffin recipe that I mix and then it keeps in the refrigerator for a month (I make a double mixture twice a month, each makes 3 or 4 batches of 12-18 muffins). Blueberries have been selling cheaply and I froze several containers, so I plan to try blueberry muffins soon. My eldest son enjoys making muffins which is great – keeps him busy with a healthy activity and saves me the time doing it myself! I include fruit with their snacks but it doesn’t fill the boys enough on its own. Carrot sticks are great, especially with Brandy’s white bean dip (I use chick peas). Milk is really costly here, so drinking glasses of it isn’t a frugal option, but I should give homemade yogurt another try – thanks.
        I really appreciate your ideas. Thank you so much!

    3. when I had teen boys going through growth spurts one thing I made was twice baked potatoes and froze them. They could take them out and microwave. You can make up a whole pan and use those for mealtime also.
      *I would grill or bake a whole bunch of chicken and loin pork chops and freeze in small portions. Some ways were BBQ, Mexican flavored, Greek seasoning, Dale’s Sauce, ranch seasoning.
      *I rarely had a seperate meat and sides. It was used in casseroles, served over noodles with a white or cheese sauce, in a stir fry, in a soup. I also used in Cobb or Mexican salads.
      * I bake a ham and cut up the meat and use in quiche, breakfast casserole with hash browns, in breakfast burritos, in scalloped potatoes, in a pot of beans, in soups, or in tetrizinni.
      * Buy pork loin and cut into loin chops or use as a roast, or cook and shred with BBQ sauce.
      * add beans to chili and serve the chili over rice
      * add beans to tacos
      * make quesadillas, nachos, burritos, pizza
      * I would make noodles and a white sauce and add in whatever meat I had left over, roast, ham, chicken, pork, shrimp then add veggies.
      I am sure you probably know most of this but hope something helps

    4. You are very inspiring. Doing so much to try to cut costs can get wearing over time. I’m sure this site will help you keep on track. Keep well and safe. Xx

  48. I’m not sure why but my previous post didn’t make it onto the blog so I’ll repeat my savings..

    I bought 4 blocks of Saputo mozzarella cheese that was on sale for $4.95 ($1 per 100 grams), saving $3 per block.
    I put 3 blocks in the freezer. I bought an $8.95 package of baker’s format quick yeast in case the pandemic gets worse with the U.K. variant which is much more contagious. I am going to revert to my pre-pandemic diet and not eat so much processed food, I’m going low sodium again, too.

    Time has been spent trying to obtain a final grant for the book and resuming working on the book. A neighbour whom I don’t know has just volunteered to write a geology section and we will probably accept if we hear from our first expert that he doesn’t want to do it. Either way, it is good to have a new volunteer.

    I will cook my Christmas ham today. (the last of the processed, high sodium food except for the split pea soup fr0m the bone). As it bakes, I’ll be baking the huge sweet potatoes that were bought for me on sale about two months ago. I’ll bake potatoes (I bought a twenty pound bag for $6.95, one of the lowest prices I’ve seen). I’ll also bake the delicata squash I bought from the market. I have a small pumpkin I’ll cook, too. I love winter squash because they keep so well. I’ll save energy by baking everything at once. I’ll put the cooked sweet potatoes in meal sized portions in the freezer so for most of January I’ll have ham and sweet potatoes from the freezer. As a treat, and to make room in my small freezer above the fridge), I am thawing some of the Italian prune plums I bought at the market and will stew them (a favourite treat in the winter!).

    Brandy — I have a question about your garden project. Have you dug below the depth of the caliche? If not, how will drainage work so the remaining caliche doesn’t trap the water underground?

    Finally, I’ll take this chance to wish a happy and healthy New Year to everyone.

    1. You cannot dig below the caliche, really. Technically yes (like you could take out a huge caliche boulder for example) but the ground is like this everywhere. This is one of the driest deserts in the world, and long ago it was a lake bed. It is just rocks on top of rocks for thousands of feet down and most are lime rocks. Water can somewhat seep into the ground here, but essentially, the beds are like huge pots made of lime and clay.

    2. Tracy, I have 7 kids and they are all currently at home. I cook a lot also. Mine are older now (lots of teens/young adults) so they do fend for themselves more, but as far as ingredients/things I like to offer- I make homemade salsa (huge jars full) and they love this with chips or making themselves quesadillas or nachos. I always have apples, bananas, cucumbers, celery, and things for quick sandwiches available. Popcorn usually too. One thing my kids love that is a bit more fiddly is twice-baked potatoes- I can make 30 halves for so cheap, just scooping out the potato from the shell halves, mixing with some sour cream and milk, and a bit of cheese. Bake in oven. Then they can pop them out of fridge and heat up for a quick and filling snack. Hope that helps!

  49. Tracy, I am not a mother of 6 but here are a few suggestions that might be helpful.
    -I think Brandy does 3 meals and 1 snack if that would work for your group too
    -can older children/husband take on some of the cooking responsibility?
    -I assume you already cook double meals and serve leftovers
    -do you have a crockpot that you can plug in with a stew for dinner to save you some time
    -snacks and some meals can be very simple-eg bread and jam, a piece of fruit, eggs and toast, toasted sandwich, soup etc. I enjoy reading about your life in South Africa-we too in Canada are having a nasty second wave of Covid and just starting to vaccinate older folks and health care workers.

  50. We cut our hair, finished wrapping presents, and put up some more decorations around the house that will be enjoyed a few more weeks after Christmas. We usually put everything up unless its snow related on Christmas Eve. I cooked a small roast (from freezer) and vegetables in the crockpot for the the two days before Christmas Eve. I froze broccoli and cooked a ham to freeze except for a sandwich each after smelling it for hours. We decided to have some frozen precooked turkey instead of ham on Christmas since we had had it recently. We all worked together and talked on Christmas Eve (husband was off for a change) while we washed grapes, cut up broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, and celery; made dip, sausage balls, a sweet snack, and punch to go with turkey in rolls for Christmas and the weekend without cooking. This was less cooking than usually and we realized later that we forgot the pie and didn’t miss it. We had Christmas candy. I cut the cauliflower down the middle and cut the core out diagonally to remove it as I had seen recently. It was so much easier and quicker to separate florets with very little cutting afterward. We spent part of Christmas Eve catching up with older out of town relatives and a quick Merry Christmas to other friends and relatives. Christmas was the most relaxing we have had in years just staying home by ourselves. We ordered fill dirt on Saturday to use in a few places around the house. It will be delivered next week.

  51. I made Christmas Eve dinner, packaged it up, drove an hour and a half, and did porch drop off for my youngest two, and other relatives. I did a socially distanced visit with my oldest after Christmas. We parked cars, and visited masked, six feet apart. It just cost me gas for the 3.5 hour one way drive. I left him his birthday present. It was good to see him much healthier, as the last time I saw him about six months ago, he was hooked up to all kind of machines at the hospital (not Covid so I could briefly visit for ten minutes. ) I had paid utility bills for my kids for Christmas, in addition to the summer sausage, cheese, and wool blankets I gifted them. I am so glad I ordered months ago. The mail here was backed up and many packages were not delivered on time. They were all very happy with their gifts. For New Years I made turnip green soup with black eyed peas, hambone, garlic, cajun spices, diced tomatoes with green chilies, etc. I had soaked a lb of dried black eyed peas, cooked, and froze them for later.

  52. Your flowers are beautiful, Brandy, and I am impressed by all the incredibly hard work you are putting into your garden. I’m looking forward to seeing more pictures as it progresses.

    We had a quiet Christmas here- we are a small family of a few adults and one baby and so we made the decision not to exchange with each other as a group (although I did privately gift my husband some much needed new socks in fun patterns). The baby needed things and of course Christmas is for children so we bought him a few clothes and books and simple toys and we took turns opening them for him. My mother was with us (all of us stay isolated in our social bubble) and she was so delighted to enjoy her only great grandchild. She’s struggling with dementia and for some reason, gifts and gift giving distress her terribly so we made the right decision to not really exchange. She was just happy to be with us.

    But- the house was festive. We played many games and made many batches of cookies, more than we should have eaten but Christmas comes but once a year.

    And we did something that was reverse-frugal for someone else. We had a smaller appliance that was purchased in anticipation of needing it at a new house. It was not needed after all and we were reluctant to risk infection by going into the store to return it. I asked in our neighborhood group if anyone needed this brand new appliance and someone said they were on a fixed income and could really, really use it. We arranged for them to pick it up from my front yard, contact free. It made me happy that someone else could enjoy it.

    I hope everyone here has a Happy New Year and that everyone has good health and stays safe in the months to come.

  53. The last few weeks have been quiet. I am spending today working out necessary expenses for the next year and adjusting the budget. It is my goal to pay off all of my debt except the largest two (mortgage and student loan) in 2021.
    I am hoping to pick up some new frugal skills in the new year. I would really like to learn to how tap my maple trees and make maple syrup. I am also hoping to learn more cooking and baking skills.

    Happy New Year Everyone !

  54. Hi Brandy,
    I thought I would dip my toes into raising a vegetable this spring and have been researching tomatoes, but I’m overwhelmed by the varieties. I live in zone 9, like you, and wanted your advice. I will be using a large clay pot, but can’t decide which kind to plant. We want it mostly for slicing for sandwiches. Any advice?

    1. Large tomatoes are not recommended in our area. Early Girl and Better Boy are the ones recommended, as they flower and set fruit before the heat sets. I have found better success recently by starting with the largest plants at the nursery. My sister-in-law always did this, and she harvested loads more than I did, because her plants were large enough before it got too hot for them to flower. I’ve had better harvests since buying the larger plants.

  55. Happy New Year-It is so inspiring to be part of this community.
    As a family, we did not celebrate in person rather opened our mailed gifts via portal. It was nice considering the situation. We were given a portal as a Christmas gift and during these times really enjoying it. We can sit for long periods of time and play remote, read, and drink coffee-that feels good and brings joy.

    We reviewed the year end finances and started the new spread sheet for 2021. There weren’t any surprises as we keep checking things and adjusting. There were increases in the grocery line and decreases in vacation and fuel. This spread sheet has really helped for us to see the whole picture and is well worth the time of entering all our transactions. It also has been a double check for mistakes.

    Staying home and working on projects. We made a big list and staying focuses. DH built a nice little bench from some found old virgin timber boards he had. He used every scrap of wood and varnished it. It’s the story of where the wood came from that made it special.

    Food prices continue to climb and we are watching every ad and item. Roma tomatoes were 3.88/lb at the grocery store-passed. We are going to check them out at Walmart. We are trying not to waste and are really thinking about how we use items. Made a huge pot of chilli and used the last of the celery that was going bad.

    I am straightening out cabinets and am reminded of what we have so no money spent. From my organizing I did put somethings up to sell on Ebay and they sold.

    Feeling blessed during these challenging times and the best of the New Year to all.

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