It’s been a busy last three weeks!

My car overheated a few minutes from home, and I had to replace the radiator. While they had it out, I had them check the drive belt and replace it (it was wearing). Since it wasn’t much more work, they only charged me $25 for the labor. I also had them replace the radiator hoses. Thankfully, I found a mobile mechanic who could come to the house, preventing me from doing more damage to my car.

I harvested blackberries, apricots, figs, mint, oregano, parsley, and green onions from my garden. I gave mint away to three friends two weeks, and also cut some to dry for tea, in addition to using it fresh. I am really happy to have planted more, and the mint I planted in the shade under my fig tree is filling in the area nicely (an area that is otherwise barren in summer). I dried the oregano to be used in recipes. I aim to grow enough of several herbs so that I never need to buy them.

I found hotdogs marked down on Manager’s Special to $0.38 for a 12-ounce package. There was a limit of 4 at that price, but after that, they were $0.48 a package, which is still half the price they usually are on sale. I bought 24 packages and froze 21 of them.

We ate lots of apricots and blackberries from the garden.

I gave apricots to several friends. I’ve made some new friends recently who are happy to entertain at home. This is something my husband and I used to do, but over a decade and a half ago, we found that more and more people didn’t want to entertain at home, preferring to only get together at restaurants. It is very refreshing to be able to get together for a meal and conversation at the homes of friends again.

I made a blackberry upside down cake using blackberries from the garden and substituting applesauce for the oil.

I finally found a workbook for learning Urdu! I have been looking and looking since October. While looking to see which Spanish language books I had in my library, I came across a Dutch learning book that I had bought years ago for my eldest. I looked up the publisher and they had a similar workbook for Urdu on their website (which is not on Amazon or anywhere else that I had seen). While it was expensive, I was able to purchase it 20% off during their Memorial Day sale.

I found two blouses and a dress for myself at Ross. For those who live outside the US, Ross is a discount shop that has a few items of last season’s styles from all different retailers, heavily discounted. There might be just one of an item. I usually find dresses between $14 and $35 each (originally marked around $100).

I took cuttings from some decorative sweet potato vines that I had purchased at the nursery, and rooted them in water, making more vines, which I planted in pots in my garden. I also rooted a basil cutting and planted it in the garden.

I collected poppy seeds from my poppies to plant next year.

I cut flowers from my garden to enjoy inside.

I used a coupon for a free car wash to have my car cleaned inside and out.

I designed a garden for someone in another state. This was a huge project and I can’t wait to see how it turns out once she has planted it all.

What did you do to save money the last few weeks?

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83 Comments

  1. Your blackberry upside down cake looks incredible!! Would you mind sharing your recipe?
    I must admit I’ve had blackberry envy when I’ve seen your harvest photos, Brandy! But now, after all the rains we’ve had, my blackberry bushes have exploded in size and they are now covered in blossoms!! https://pin.it/3be8VqN9. So I know that if I can be patient a little longer, we will have our own bumper crop of blackberries! I also have so many blackberry starts that have gone over my fence and rooted in my alley that I am offering them to friends and neighbors for free so they can start their own!

    Two more client quilts being picked up in the morning with 3 more coming in tomorrow. So business has kept steady for my daughter and I and we are grateful! It’s a way she can add some money to their family budget without leaving home to do it! So these are the 4 that we completed this week for clients: https://pin.it/5rlktAOwi and the pieced back she made to use up stash- https://pin.it/2KTuyVhzP and https://pin.it/60QLQhAGa and close up- https://pin.it/5ja1aWMI4! Then these 2 for a new client who had heard about us by word of mouth- https://pin.it/22jNUYKgh and https://pin.it/1vwIyo9QB with close up: https://pin.it/3ReJIRrA4.
    I also put the binding on 6 of my own stashbusting quilts so they are completely finished! https://pin.it/4zoGlzTGg , https://pin.it/52hBIPlPD , https://pin.it/5oEt4nqAz , https://pin.it/2Z1ZpjqLo, https://pin.it/336r1xWiR and https://pin.it/10IwowCqH. I got Stashbuster #9 started: https://pin.it/45zn8DFuj. Still no end in sight for my scrap stash!

    I rearranged/reorganized some of my canning shelves to make space for newly canned foods and was pleasantly surprised to see that our inventory is now rotating through more quickly as we have been consciously reminding ourselves when we are out and in a hurry that our larders are full and we can put a meal out in minutes without the cost of takeaway food somewhere! Our expenditures this month have also reflected that! Interestingly enough, we have not felt at all deprived by this! Guess even at my age, there are always things to learn or improve on! 😉 https://pin.it/1kZSuzRyK

    The chickens love their renovated exercise yard and have been a great way to recycle some of our weeds while rewarding us with eggs every day for us and our friends and family to enjoy!

    We picked cherries from our tree to get them before birds. Not a huge harvest but I found a recipe for Small batch sour cherry jam (https://pin.it/1XGRDzjCM) and made it. It used all of my sour cherries but it was so good that Hubs and I had PBJ sandwiches for dinner using some of it and were so pleased with the result! Delicious and not a cherry wasted! I used some of the strawberries from the garden to make 8 half pints of Strawberry Jalapeño jam too! I’ve realized that even little bits can be used to build up our pantry!

    I’m going to clean my refrigerator today and organize it more. This is a routine “maintenance” job that I do to keep it not only sparkling clean inside, but also to inventory the contents to prioritize how quickly I need to use what is there. Doesn’t take long, but the savings from this are real!

    Still so much to learn from you and your readers! Thank you for creating this community all those years ago!

    Gardenpat in Ohio

    1. Gardenpat, I took a ride on a country road with my grandchildren this weekend and was pointing out the blueberry bushes that grow wild on the banks of the road to them. I was telling them how Granny used to make me go up the hills and pick the blueberries and would keep saying, “Get them all, Terri, if you don’t the birds will eat them!” She used to say the same about blackberries. I could never figure out as a child why she hated for the birds to eat the berries, but as an adult I understand better that she didn’t want to see any of the free food available go to waste.

  2. Your garden fruits and flowers look wonderful. I can’t believe how productive your garden is.

    I had tomato seedlings coming up out of my compost bin at my house. I dug them up and planted them in my community garden plot, not having a clue as to what type of tomatoes they were. The plants thrived in the Sonoran Desert conditions and as they are ripening I realize they are “cocktail tomatoes”, “tomatoes on the vine” that I purchased from Walmart. I don’t have the formal name for the variety but they are prolific. I had started my summer garden from seed and was concerned about the poor germination rate that I hadn’t experienced with my fall garden. But the bed is now full of what we are jokingly calling “the garbage tomatoes”.

    A neighbor gifted me two bags of peaches. In the fall, I will gift her bags of pomegranates from my tree. My herbs are doing well except for the basil which was completely eaten by a packrat one night. Ugh.

    I’m glad you were able to get your car repaired so easily. Again, you have a lovely garden and I always look forward to seeing pictures.

  3. Brandy, I love the photos! So colorful and such a treat to grow your own food.
    I’m 1 week out from my hysterectomy. Thank God there was no cancer but I’m definitely in it for the long haul when it comes to recovery. Good news is I may have hit my out of pocket max so I’m encouraging my family to get as many tests done as they may be this year.
    I did minimal prep work before surgery because of my symptoms. I focused on starting my veggie garden, even though it’s not 100% planted.
    I made a few freezer meals and started some chive blossom vinegar. It’s about ready to strain and put up. I’m hoping to feel up to making garlic scape butter tomorrow.
    We also made dog treats for our neighbor’s dog using pantry staples.
    Getting a lot of use of our streaming apps for entertainment this week.
    Hope you all are doing well!
    Robbie

    1. I hope you are feeling better soon! I’ve been there, and once healed up, it’s a wonderful feeling to be pain free. 6 years out, I’m still grateful to my surgeon on a daily basis 😁. Prayers coming your way!

    2. Abdominal surgery is always tough – be sure to give yourself lots of recovery time.

    3. Hi Robbie, I hope you have a speedy recovery. The best advice I received after my hysterectomy was to walk up stairs backwards. It puts less strain on the abdominal muscles.
      Take it easy and rest so your body can heal well. 🙂

    4. Best wishes for your recovery. I had a hysterectomy when my 3 children were in grade school, as well as gall bladder removed when I had a newborn and a 2 year old. Fun times!

  4. I spent $20 on groceries at the small discount department store, and then didn’t spend any more for three weeks after. I ate a lot of what was in my pantry and freezer, including most of the items my neighbor gave me from her pantry clear-out. I really enjoyed a lot of vegetarian meals, and didn’t find I missed having meat, so I think I’m getting the nutritional balance right.

    For the last week, I’ve been restocking. I went to the grocery store for meat and vegetables, and placed an order with Amazon for brown rice, dry black beans and green lentils, and some pouches of rice and pot barley and spice mixes, which are ready to heat and serve. I placed another order for cat food, cat litter and a big box of garbage bags. I made a couple of trips to the pharmacy to get ibuprofen and a prescription, and picked up toilet paper there that was on sale. I’ll need more meat and vegetables to get through the second half of the month, and also need some baking supplies, but altogether the prices have not been too bad for the amount of food and other supplies I have bought. I do find it helpful to divide up my purchases by category when I need a lot. Otherwise, I forget some key items, and I don’t have an easy way to go back to pick them up.

    The month has had unusually high bills as I’ve had to catch up some in other areas, but I have made pretty good progress with them.

    The local taxi driver has not returned to work, but I was able to get one ride I needed to the grocery store.

    We have had rain almost every day for several weeks now. After a very dry winter, it has relieved the concern about the possibility of local wildfires, and has replaced the soil moisture for farmers, though it has slowed seeding of crops down. I’ve had to put my foot down about limiting the grass cutting to once a week. My budget just won’t go further than that. The lawn looks lovely and green, though a little disheveled for a couple of days of the week. The bank of lilac bushes in front of my house in in full bloom, though very wet! It is a little discouraging it being too wet to be outside much, and seeing so few people, but it is very typical weather for the season. I remind myself we are at the very beginning of our summer, so there is no reason to give up on having some very pleasant time outdoors.

    I hope everyone is well, and thriving. The temperatures are very shocking where you are, Brandy. I’m glad to hear about your projects. They’ll keep you busy inside when you have to be.

    1. Summer is the time for indoor projects here. In winter, I am busy in the garden.

  5. So glad you are back to posting! Good you got some preventative car work done as well as the repairs.
    We got a long-overdue new mattress and box spring with free delivery on a Memorial Day sale. So much dust has left our house, between the old set and the bunnies under the bed. I washed blankets and mattress covers and hung them outside.
    Am planning a visit to Seattle to meet up with my sister. Should be a comfortable trip, as we have generally similar ideas about a great many things, and don’t need to spend much money to have a good time.
    Went to monthly Senior Day at Walgreens to get preliminary supplies for a medical procedure at a discount.
    My library has started making new releases available for online reservations before the books are released. I am in line for the final Maisie Dobbs, “The Comfort of Ghosts,” (author Jacqueline Winspear is ending the series), and a new China Bayles by Susan Witting Albert, “Forget Me Never.”
    Happy my potted pansies are still going strong and are easy to pick for small bouquets. We had lots of rain this spring and they are doing well. Lilies are just starting to bloom.

  6. I used $70 in Stitch Fix credits towards a pair shorts.(I loved all the clothes they sent, but so pricey 😭)

    The teen and I both had free nuggets on our McDonald’s app, so we got them one afternoon.

    Since my classes are done for now, I dropped Lit Charts, saving $7.99 a month.

    I brought ham, salad, and cheese from work

    A friend of my husband offered him a Marriott discount, so we did an overnight in Kansas City. We stayed in an Art Deco boutique hotel for nearly 1/4 the normal rate. We did eat out at The Cheesecake Factory, then spent a bit at a casino, but it was a much needed overnight away.

    I received a free dose of flea medicine for one of the dogs and a coupon for ice cream from a review site.

    Earned $11.25 from Amazon Shopper Panel Rewards

    Since it was the end of the school year, teachers were cleaning out their rooms, giving away random items. I picked up a few books for tutoring and a couple decor items.

    My kitchen manager sold me a large shelf she wanted to get rid of for $10.

    My yearly physical was covered by my insurance, and my mammogram will be also. I’m just worried about the cost associated with getting the varicose veins in my left leg repaired hopefully while I’m off work this summer.

    Not so great: my husband quit his job, on my last day of working for three months, no less. I knew it would probably happen, the guy he worked for went back on a lot of things that were promised, I had just hoped I had replenished our savings a bit.

  7. The blackberry upside down cake looks so delicious! Yum!
    I am almost finished with the initial plantings of our front yard make over. It’s take a lot of physical work and the donation of plants from several friends (so grateful for friends who are like minded – trading thinned perennials is so gratifying in so many ways!) and I am really appreciating how it has turned out. I did purchase several things for the yard but it was budgeted and they are seeming to take to our yard well. All but one of the plants I transplanted last fall came back this spring. I’ll have more to transplant later this summer and fall but for now, I’m so close to done!
    Eating out of the freezers and pantries in preparation for summer garden produce. Our CSA starts in two weeks from this coming Friday and we have several things in the vegetable garden as well. We’re eating well, so far.
    Had the clothes dryer disassembled cleaned and received a really good report for the dryer – it should last quite a while yet. The clothes washer, well, not so much. Time to start saving for that one!
    Our university age children are working at their summer jobs as summer sleep-away camp counselors and our daughter certified as a lifeguard, which not only earns her more money at her current job but gives her more options for when she goes back to school this fall. The camp paid for her certification, which is good for two years.
    I picked two bouquets of flowers for the house – a small bouquet of peonies and roses for the dining table and a tall bouquet of giant bearded iris for our kitchen counter.
    I’m done with teaching for the summer (I’ve taught summer school for the last 10 years) and my husband is on sabbatical until August. His sabbatical is solely for rest and I do not have to go back into the university until the end of July, to start preparing for fall semester. We are saving a lot of gas money right now and really enjoying being home most of the time. We need the break physically and mentally and it’s a very nice change!
    Have a wonderful week everyone,
    Lea

  8. Your blackberry upside down cake looks delish! Would love the recipe using applesauce. Thank you!

  9. I love seeing all the photos of the fruit. It makes me want to try them. We bought plane tickets this week. Sugar cookie got Southwest tickets ,which includes 2 suitcases for 100.00 round trip. I wasn’t so lucky. I had planned on $30.00 Frontier tickets but had to choose a higher option. I did not want to arrive at midnight on each leg so that put me at $112.00. My electric bill is starting to climb for the summer. I’ve asked my son to monitor it closely for me. I’m going to go back to using my clothes line. That’s going to require me to hack my way about 20 feet to it. My backyard is uncontrollable. That’s a problem for another day. I’ve had several good trips to my favorite dumpster. Today I brought in 5 huge trash bags of boxed shelf foods. Lots of macaroni and cheese products, boxed augratin potato’s and rice a roni. The families were happy to have them. Feeding the children in the summer is even more of a struggle. I had 30 packs of tortillas and see some rolled up peanut butter and jelly in their future. I pulled taco kits apart and kept the sauce and seasoning packs for other meals. Twinkies , a few chips and cheese dip made a few people smile. My favorite item was the 2 bags of cherry tum chews. On a second run ,I brought in a couple large bags of frozen microwaveable foods. The kids are eating well. As for myself , I mainly keep fruits and vegetables. I’ve adjusted my diet with the Trim healthy mama method. My pants are falling off of me. I’ve lost about 15 lbs in a month. My sugar is regulated and so is my thyroid. My sugar cravings are gone and I plan on getting rid of a few more pounds. I rescued 2 large bags of charcoal and we will probably cook out for the Fourth of July. I’ve transplanted my lavender to its new flowerbed. I’m hoping it does well. A few weeks back I ordered a few replacement items. My new microwave arrived quickly but my new crockpot had not arrived in 3 weeks. Kohls sent out a replacement and actually delivered two of them. I didn’t order the cheapest basic model , so I’m happy they said to keep both. Having no pants that will stay on has been a problem. I went to Goodwill and bought me 2 pairs of capri shorts. Both were nwt and w the various sale , they were 15.00. My bird couple must have baby birds. I see them going back and forth with worms frequently. The apples I peel and place in tree seem to disappear. I think I have a sneaky squirrel taking them. I also found a baby copperhead in my ornamental grass under my cherry tree. I’m now paranoid. That’s probably exasperated by watching a short segment of Dune with my son. Life is slow and quiet here. It really is a stark difference to my previous life. Happy week friends.

  10. So many gorgeous photos in this post, but the granola, white poppy, and blackberry cake are favorites. How wonderful to have made new friends that feel like you about entertaining. This will surely save quite a bit of money these days. A modification is being made to my style Kia, to make it less likely to be stolen, which is apparently a thing with them. I was surprised they were working, but I was asked if I could bring it in to the dealership on Monday, Memorial Day, which I did. The repair was made for free, and nothing of note was found otherwise, which was lovely to hear about my 14 year old car. I visited a niece in Asheville. We took lots of walks, did some thrifting, and ate very well. I have to admit, it was so nice to go to a larger city, where menus were clearly marked with gluten-free and vegan items. It wasn’t frugal, but the time together was priceless. On my way home, I stopped by a discount store, and was able to find a handful of items, including organic diced tomatoes and olives. I harvested lettuce, broccoli, basil, oregano, mulberries, and broccoli, and my husband harvested an onion. With the lettuce bolting, we’ve eaten lots of salads. A business purchase was made, going through Swagbucks for 5% back, and I used a 20% discount code.

    1. Laurie, would you mind sharing the location of the discount store? We live not too far from 40 and go that way frequently and would stop at the store gladly. Thanks.

  11. Gas was $2.82 a gallon at SAMS today. It was much higher over Memorial Day at $3.04 a gallon. I renewed my basic SAMS membership for $50, or was it $55…..I cannot remember at the moment, bc I have found it pays for itself in the gas savings alone. I also like to buy my toilet paper, paper towels, olive oil, foil, rice, garbage bags, Oil of Olay there. Their orange juice broke down to $3.00 for 52 fluid oz so even cheaper than Aldi. I did buy my cheese, eggs (1.79 a dozen) at Aldi because it was cheaper. I bought my ground beef at Aldi because it was $2.39 a lb and I have not seen that price in a while. I bought my mushrooms and spinach at Winn Dixie on sale. I went swimming over the holidays at the local state park and it only cost me $2.00 bc of my age. I walked in the neighborhood and at local River park. I ate blackberries I picked at the local River park that were going to go bad if someone didn’t pick them. I read a book from a free little library box.

  12. I bought a 2 lb bag of limes for $1.00 on the Flash food app. My husband said he was working one day and a lady came up and gave him $100-for doing such a good job she said!
    This week my friend is paying us to look after her 3 boys for the week. She sent along a boatload of food-not to mention sports equipment for several of their games.
    The last 2 weeks I tried home delivery of imperfect veggies as I had a discount coupon-can’t say I was overly impressed. This month I am again trying the Good Food Box which has 35-40 lbs of fresh fruit and veggies for $40. I will see if I like that any better.
    Our daughter just turned 25 so I got her a DNA test kit that also gives health information. We know a lot about her background but if she can be screened for any diseases that may be in her history that would be good. My husband has been settling the estate of her Grandpa who passed away last year without a will. He did have power of attorney but once a person dies that is no longer valid. He filed his taxes and a refund came to his estate. My husband was unable to cash it at the bank without opening an estate account and hiring a lawyer-good grief. We had hoped to pass it onto his special needs daughter but that won’t be happening.
    Ellie’s friend and I are planning a day out to the mountains later this month-on a day that admission to the provincial parks is free. We are hoping to see bears and other wildlife.

  13. Here is what I accomplished in my last 3 weeks:

    Week of May 15
    -Made a large crockpot of 3 bean casserole for a potluck at church. I had everything in the pantry or freezer. I used the last of the bag of cooked bacon bits from Costco from the freezer. Some smoked shredded pork from the freezer I bought it at Costco and we didn’t care for it (great way to use it up), frozen onions from last years garden and home canned tomato sauce, BBQ sauce, and beans. I brought home an empty crock pot!
    -Canned 3 quarts and a pint of pickled asparagus.
    -Made Dijon mustard from scratch (I do this once a year) and canned 6 half pints.
    -I made 2 large hot pads. I bought two quilted place mats with birds on them a while back at the thrift shop. I folded them in half, using bias tape made the hanging tabs and sewed them together with the bias tape loop in the corner. For $2 I have nice big thick potholders.
    -Meals this week were: roast pork, mashed potatoes, gravy and green beans; pork commercials from leftovers; roast pork BBG sandwiches from leftovers;
    -Only a gallon of milk bought this week, no other groceries.
    -I gave a friend and my sister each a small seedling from my fern peony. These are very slow growing, don’t transplant well and are very expensive to buy ($100-$200 in a nursery). They only grow in colder states that I am aware of. I got my original plant from an old gentleman about 20 years ago and it is finally throwing some seedlings. Hopefully they can get theirs going.
    -water from the canner was used to water plants.
    -My daughter came to help me plant the garden. It is all in, now it just needs to grow. We are expecting rain next week, so that is good.

    Week of May 22
    -Cooked 3 chicken carcasses and my bag of frozen onion, carrot, and celery ends and peelings in a couple of crockpots overnight. I then used some cooked chicken from the freezer and the broth along with chopped onions, diced potatoes, and frozen mixed vegetables into 5 quarts of chicken pot pie mix. I made some chicken noodle soup for a meal. And I still canned 6 pints of chicken broth. I have things in the freezer that need to be cooked and canned now that jars have been emptied.
    -Picked rhubarb and made a strawberry rhubarb pie. Yum!!
    -We got 2 inches of rain, so no watering this week.
    -The only groceries bought this week were a few loss leaders and a couple of basics. Milk, eggs, and a can of black olives for basics. Loss leaders were strawberries 2#-$3.99, butter-$3/# limit 2, link sausage-$2.99/pound package limit one; cottage cheese-16 oz $1.59, and sour cream 16 oz $1.59. And I got 3 one pound packages of dried black beans on the clearance shelf for $1/each. We are using what we have in the freezers and home canned jars on the shelf.
    -I made some deviled eggs. Love these and they are something I only seem to make in the summer.
    -Picked asparagus and rhubarb from the garden.
    -Canned 8 pints of strawberry rhubarb pie filling. I used the 2# package of strawberries I bought to make this.
    -Meals were chicken noodle soup and grilled cheese sandwiches; spaghetti with meat sauce; hamburgers and lettuce salad; chicken wings and oven fries in the air fryer; brats and German potato salad; and of course leftovers for several meals.
    -The garden seeds are starting to sprout. I see kale, lettuce, radishes, beets, potatoes, and onions.
    -We got a stirrup hoe and a dehumidifier from a free pile at a sale. The hoe needed a new handle. My husband had one so he switched it out and it is as good as new. The dehumidifier just needed a good cleaning and a new filter and it works great as well. It looks brand new. It is amazing what people throw instead of trying to fix or figure out what is wrong. We live in such a disposable world.

    Week of May 27

    -I had 10 packages of beef short ribs from the last 2 steers we bought in the freezer. We don’t like to eat them as they are so fatty. I roasted them in the oven and cooked them in my large electric roaster with water. I got 6 pints of beef pieces in broth and 10 pints of broth.
    -I canned 5 more pints of pickled asparagus (these will be for food basket gifts for Christmas).
    -I canned 6 half pints of gelled cranberry sauce from my last 4 bags of 25 cent bags of cranberries from last fall that I had in the freezer.
    -I continue to do 2 scrapbook pages a day for grandkids albums that are do on their birthdays in the fall.
    -I am working on a cross stitch project when traveling in the car. I bought the pattern at the thrift store, the Aida cloth is from the thrift store and I have the DMC floss
    -I planted a camomile plant I received in the mail. I pruned my indeterminate tomatoes, replanted some green beans that didn’t come up, mulched the cucumbers with grass clippings, and replanted my rutabagas that also didn’t come up.
    -Groceries this week, loss leaders-Frozen organic strawberries, cucumbers, butter (limit 2# for $3 each), cottage cheese 2/$3, and then some milk and half and half. There just aren’t any good sales here and because we are rural and small town we have no programs for cheaper food. We have most of our meat that we buy from local farmers, and of course our frozen and canned goods. Will be glad when we start getting more from the garden. Plus we have a robust farm market system as well.
    -Did some mending that needed to be done.
    -I am working on a cross stitch from supplies I already had. This is a project I work on when I am in the car. Because we are rural, when we go somewhere’s it takes a while.

    Have a great week!!

    1. I like your place mat re-make. Pot holders in dollar stores are strictly decorative as far as I can tell, with almost no thickness to them. I sewed denim from old jeans onto the backs of two to have a pair with both the pretty part and the usefulness.

    2. Would you mind sharing how you did the mustard? We have tried a couple of batches and it’s been too hot to even eat. Thanks.

  14. We have an odd heat wave right now, which makes me think of all of you who live in hot places. I’m getting good use out of my solar oven. The berries are also doing so well.
    I’m working more than I would like but I do appreciate the money.
    We are working on some finances and home maintenance while my husband is off school this summer. It’s frugal to take care of things! And especially to make sure that all of our investments and savings are working as hard as they can.
    Friday is free donut day at Krispy Kreme!

  15. 1. Ending a 35 year teaching career this week. I have been very successful passing on all the tools of our trade. Even though I hate an “all staff email,” I have sent several with pictures of things that were snapped up. I have filled our department’s cabinets with craft packs and supplies which they will hopefully use with the kids. My department tends to be quite “academic” in its approach. Me, not so much. i am thrilled very little is coming home. I will be moving in two years to a renovated Riverhouse and I will NOT move things twice.

    2. Everything that wasn’t claimed is now at Goodwill.

    3. It is a funny feeling. I have three days left with the kids and the room is completely empty. Still it is filled with laughter and quips and learning and love. it isn’t the stuff we have for teaching. It is the class that has become a team. I did keep a .99 beachball and a piece of roll of string for an impromptu class volley ball game. I have a .50 nerf ball for silent ball and a giant Jenga set if the final deosn’t take the whol time. Still I have a computer and a giant tv to project games and all kinds of learning. Tech has made such a huge difference. I started with no phone, airconditioning much less a computer. Our desk had inkwells in them. yep! i will be sorry to say goodbye to my last class.

    4. I want to start this next life packing lightly. I’ll go through clothes and donate or sell. I have cleared my personal files. The front yard is nearly a completed xeriscape now that will need little tended. I even cut my hair – from bob to shag.

    5. I have been so blessed with a vocation and a calling. No big celebrations. Hopefully a quiet turn of the key and a thank you to God for good direction.

    1. Congratulations on finishing your teaching career. It makes a huge difference to many children. I’m very grateful to the teachers in my life and my children’s lives. Thanks for what you have done.

    2. Mary Ann, I hope your retirement in a few weeks will herald a lovely new chapter in your life. After 35 years dedication to children’s education you deserve it.

    3. Mary Ann, all the best on the journey forward. We don’t start over, rather take with us a lifetime of learning, experience and wisdom. You sound like you have touched many lives with your love for teaching and innovative ideas for learning. I can’t wait to see the journey to the riverhouse. God be with you.

    4. Thank you for sharing your thoughts. They are inspiring! Wishing you the best in your next stage of life.

    5. CONGRATULATIONS
      I hope to slip into retirement soon maybe 2025
      I have been a registered nurse for 40 years and I am tired
      Hopefully if we can afford it I will follow you for my next part in life
      Enjoy I imagine bittersweet
      Keep us posted on phase 2 lol

    6. Congratulations, Mary Ann! That is such an accomplishment. I wish you a very happy retirement. I’m entering year 27 of teaching 6th grade.

  16. I love reading these accomplishments. And they seem like large ones, too! I also so enjoy hearing about all your garden produce.

    My frugal accomplishments:
    – made pizza using my easy pizza dough recipe (https://approachingfood.com/easiest-pizza-dough-ever/), and packed it for a dinner on the go on an after school sports day. Some days are extra busy, and I pack two snacks and a meal for my kids: after school snack, dinner, after sports snacks, and drinks. The cost would be prohibitive if I didn’t bring food from home.
    – I made carrot apple muffins for after school snacks. I used one less egg than the recipe called for, and left out the nuts and raisins. Every kid who has ever tried it, loves it! I didn’t have large carrots, so I used the baby carrots that I did have.
    – I cat-sat for a weekend, and earned enough to take my kids out for sushi. It was very satisfying to be able to provide an ‘extra’ for my kids. Usually I make my own ‘sushi’ at home for the kids, using sushi rice, seaweed snacks, cucumber, and homemade everything but the bagel seasoning; not authentic, but my eldest appreciates it!
    – I reused bagged milk bags (yes, I’m Canadian) for garbage bags. I have one container that they fit perfectly.
    – I fixed my printer by unclogging the printer cartridge and refilling it. I was very proud of my troubleshooting to fix the issue, and the money it saved! I have to print a lot at home for my work, so go through a lot of ink, and the savings I have by refilling it myself is mind-boggling.
    – hosted a picnic playdate at a local splashpad. Brought homemade pizza, fruit on sale, veg bought with loyalty points, sparkling water on sale, juice boxes from Costco, and homemade chocolate chip cookies (made with plant butter, which is cheaper than regular butter). Used water toys we already had, including re-useable magnetic water balloons and water squirters. I also brought our soccer toys. Super fun playdate, and very inexpensive.
    – taped a dollar store kite back together after it broke, using packing tape, and it works perfectly well, much to the delight of my kids and their friends.
    – used dehumidifier water to water balcony plants
    – I was able to buy a pepper plant on sale for $1, and my mother bought one and gave it to me too. My balcony raspberry bush is thriving and looks to be giving a bumper raspberry crop this year, and the pea plants are growing, along with the sunflower plants my girls got free last year. I’m on my second attempt at growing lettuce (I can easily start them indoors, but they don’t seem to transplant very well), but am determined, as lettuce is very much a money saver in terms of growing produce. My chives grow without my touching them, year after year, and I’ve planted other plants…but things got shifted and I’ve forgotten what. So it’ll be a fun surprise when they grow! (Mouse melons? Ground cherries? Beets? Could be any of them.)

    Looking forward to learning from everyone else, as always!

    1. Margaret– I expect you know this, as you research in so much detail, yet I will mention anyway that using “grayscale” or “draft” settings when printing saves ink.

    2. Hi Margaret! I always enjoy reading about the creative ways you save money and provide for your girls. I was a single mom of seven for most of my life (even when officially married) until a wonderful man and I joined forces and finished raising ten kids. Boy, did I have to get creative. One would think those ideas would last a lifetime, but as things changed for the better, some of them fell by the wayside. However, I have noticed that I can still reach back in my brain and pull them out for our adult children who now have young families or are starting their families (baby due June 18 and baby due June 20). Our youngest daughter and her husband have a five month old and it is amazing the things I have shared and she is now doing☺️ Makes me feel like I still have something to contribute. That’s the hardest part…our lives have gotten much quieter now that the ten of them are all on their own and their lives are, well, their own. Anyhow, as for your lettuce…I have never had luck transplanting it so I just sprinkle it in the dirt and let it grow Willy Nilly. I don’t get big heads, but I do get plenty of lettuce.☺️ You are doing a great job! Kids remember experiences and someone being there with them more than they remember things.

      1. Thank you for your lovely and supportive response, Laura S! Any and all tips to stretch my budget are welcome, and I’m sure your family appreciates them too! And I will try your lettuce planting method soon!

  17. It sounds like you’ve had a busy few weeks. The apricots look amazing.
    I’ve been harvesting lettuce, kale, asparagus and herbs from the garden. I got most of it planted. I gave some bushes that weren’t happy to a friend and divided and moved some peonies. A friend gave me a bunch of trellises and tomato planters, which I’ve already put to use.
    We had family come to visit for a week. They brought a lot of meat and snacks, so we provided the main meals. I’ve made several loaves of sourdough, oatmeal applesauce bars, and chocolate pumpkin muffins. I took muffins to a potluck event. I haven’t had to buy any salads in over 6 weeks. We’ve been eating tons of asparagus and some canned veggies from last summer. Trying to use up the odds and ends from the freezer. I made strawberry freezer jam when strawberries were on sale for $1 per carton.
    I cleaned out my garage and sold a bunch of stuff on marketplace. I curb picked a nice kids play kitchen. I bought my son some pajamas and expensive like new shoes at a garage sale for $7 for everything.
    I spruced up my guest room with some curtains I had on hand. I fixed a broken picture frame wire. A friend gave me some new outdoor chairs. I was given kids clothes and passed down some things my kids had outgrown.

  18. So nice to see you back Brandy – and as always your photos are just gorgeous! So glad that you were able to get the repairs done to your car at a fairly reasonable cost.

    I get paid around the 24th of the month so do my grocery shopping from that date. I had kept groceries to a minimum over the past couple of months but needed to do a bit of a restock this month. I am now good for all paper goods and toiletries for the next six months, and I have at least three to four months worth of cleaning products. One thing I do need to do a restock on next pay is my first aid supplies – that is rather depleted so will be a priority.

    Groceries have still been mostly produce, dairy and a bit of bread. But I did top up my canned veg, UHT milk (which I haven’t been able to find for the past month or so) and canned fish. The one meat purchase was five pounds of ground beef which was on sale $6.29# (don’t faint US readers) – but I was able to double up on Loyalty Point Offers. In fact, I accumulated $30 worth of Loyalty Points in the past 3 weeks so I used them to load up on more fresh produce – trying to eat a salad almost ever day now.

    Only ate one meal out and I was treated to that by a friend (I had bought her a concert ticket), otherwise, I have cooked from scratch, taken in a meal and/or snacks as needed at the office, and generally stuck to two meals a day. I’m eating more fermented foods and drink a glass of plain Kefir every morning – that plus the salads do make me feel a lot less sluggish these days. I’ve made up taco meat, fish cakes, a HM quiche, cooked chicken a couple of different ways, and made a couple of pots of really tasty soup so I think I’m doing pretty well at avoiding as many Ultra Processed Foods as possible. I’m trying to cut down on breads and cakes/pastries etc. and it’s too hot in the Summer, but the plan is to make more of my own come the Fall.

    Besides paying down debt and trying to save “sinking funds” each month, I also plan for about one major expense each month. May paid for my A/C rental and installation. June will pay for some dental work. July will pay for a small trip to see family for a major celebration mid- August and my August pay will be for a small chest freezer (plus I’m going to purchase a food saver machine – so any recommendations are appreciated). I have a bad habit of sometimes frittering away money so often find that if I have a plan for a major purchase then it works out for the best. Prices aren’t coming down but there are sales to be had so I will do my best.

    All the first of the month bills are paid, I have one social event this week that is budgeted for, and a bit extra will go towards fresh food. We are once again looking at a major transit strike as of Friday morning so I want some extras. I can walk to shops if I have to but it is 20 to 30 minutes one way – and it’s uphill for a good part of the way since I live in a valley section of the city so don’t want to have to do it more than once. We’ll just have to see what happens but I like to be prepared.

    I have not purchased any new clothes for the Summer – still trying to lose weight so that I can fit into clothes I already own! I may need to break down and buy a couple of tops but will wait for a sale. Otherwise, I plan to make do.

    I did purchase a used copy of “Dining During the Depression” which someone on this site mentioned. So interesting and I am definitely going to try some of the recipes. I also read “The Farmer’s Wife” – got it from the library but loved it so much that I am going to buy myself a copy – and again, lots of great recipes, along with a wonderful memoir – I highly recommend it!

    I hope that everyone is well and I look forward to catching up on what everyone has been doing.

  19. All your fruit looks beautiful and I’m sure it tastes delicious. There’s an apple tree nearby in a lot slated for development. The tree has lots of tiny fruit, so hopefully it will still be there in the fall so I can enjoy some of its apples like I did last year.

    Ways I saved:
    – Saw my primary doctor and he gave me an unopened bottle of supplements that someone didn’t want. It is a brand I like but stopped buying because of the cost.
    – Later I saw that my insurance had processed my doctor’s visit as a specialist ($65) and not primary care ($30). So I called my insurance company to have that reprocessed. While on the phone with the rep, I also found out the lab had overcharged me, so I will call them for a refund once I get the insurance paperwork.
    – Needed some king size pillowcases for some overly fluffy pillows I bought on sale last year. They never quite fit into standard pillowcases. Found king pillowcases I liked at Target, but they were $45! Went to Goodwill and found 3 king pillowcases for just over $5.
    – Used two $5 off coupons at the local co-op. One I received after filling out a survey.
    – Went to check out at a grocery store at self check. The man who had checked out before me left his change in the machine, so I called out to him to come back and get it. He told me to keep the change – it was over $4.00!
    – Bought broccoli, cauliflower and asparagus on sale for $1.49 a lb.
    – Bought a rather large personal watermelon (that name makes me laugh) for $1.99, which is a great price. Shared it with my mom and three cousins when they came for a visit.
    – Foraged greens from a vacant lot.
    – Used the library to check out books and to print out my three free color pages a week.
    – Found four books at the free little library around the corner. Returned them when I was done.
    – Bought cards at the dollar store.
    – Bought an outfit online for my niece’s wedding next month. Used a 25% off coupon as well as a $10 off voucher my mom did not want.

    Frugal fail: I buy Ezekiel bread (one loaf every 2 to 3 weeks) at Trader Joes for $5, this is the cheapest place you can get it. I don’t go to Trader Joe’s very often, because other stores are much closer. Well, last weekend, I was down to my last slice. I was at a local grocery store, where the price for the same loaf is $8.79. It was either pay that or drive or drive 12 miles roundtrip to Trader Joes, having to deal with traffic and a very busy parking lot. I just bought the higher priced Ezekiel at the store where I was. Next time, I won’t forget to pick it up at Trader Joes!

    Looking forward to everyone’s comments.

    1. I buy their bread, too. Love it! We don’t have a Trader Joe’s. When i visit family, 400 miles south of us, i always stock up on all the goodies we can’t get here. I even buy their thick, delicious graham crackers for a friend. There is nothing like them!

  20. Your car situation is a good reminder that we can save on labor costs by arranging additional services during unrelated repairs. Big win!

    On the frugal front:
    We hosted my family for dinner to welcome DD2 home. I served a simple and frugal meal. No one cared that the menu was less than gourmet, they were all just happy to see DD2.

    Every Memorial Day weekend, HH attends a guy’s weekend. This year, the numbers were down so he offered to host the group at our cabin saving rental fees. One of the guys picked up our boat from storage saving the delivery fee.

    I watched the movie Begin Again on Hoopla and listened to the audiobook The Only One Left by Riley Sager on the Libby app.

    I started a new job in a new field at an office less than one mile from my home. I go home to eat the lunches I prepared for the week on Sunday night. I resisted buying any new clothes until I can gauge the dress code.

    I bought annual flowers for half price from the Lowe’s clearance section and inexpensive hanging baskets from Costco.

    DD2 wanted a mini rice maker for her apartment next year. I ordered it through Kohls and maximized savings by using a Memorial Day promo code, Kohls Cash and an in store pick up incentive.

    DD2 needed business casual clothes for her summer internship. We inventoried her wardrobe and listed needs before shopping. Surprisingly, we purchased everything on the list at discount stores. (We both dislike shopping and were relieved to avoid a trip to the Mall of America!) When talls were not available, we ordered the tall size while in the store in order to receive free shipping.

    I look forward to reading everyone’s frugal feats!

  21. It sounds like you have been busy! I’m glad you are doing some things you enjoy. I have not driven anywhere for this month and I will not drive for at least another 3 weeks. It is not so bad. My ankle is healing and that makes me happy. We are saving a lot in gas money. But we are spending in medical bills and time off work. I’m glad we have insurance. That helps so much! We are eating almost exclusively at home. We did eat breakfast one day out. We both regretted it, because of the expense. We enjoy each other’s company whether we are at home or at a restaurant. My husband has been making some excellent meals and I have been teaching my son some things about cooking. He is doing a great job and is proud of himself. I like that! We also bought some very simple things to make during the day. I usually cook everything from scratch, for the most part anyway. But it is difficult to carry things from the pantry to the kitchen with crutches. So simple sandwiches or canned soup during the day it is. I found our my mom had taught my son to make tuna salad and he was so proud to make that for me and have some for my husband too. Both my husband and my son have enjoyed cooking so I think we will just have to take turns cooking. It is good for everyone to know how to cook anyway. Unless they want me to take over again. I taught my son to make a pumpkin pie, how to cook noodles. We also made a vegetable soup with homemade chicken broth together. We discussed the spices and he had some great ideas. We both cut up the veggies. It was fun! And we ate barbecue chicken that my son made with my help. Cooking as a family is fun! Breaking my ankle isn’t fun, but there are some good things from it. My husband made kafta and a fatuous salad. I’ve been planning meals and asking him if it is something he wants to cook. I can cut up things sitting down. But he has been doing the foot work of going back and forth to the pantry that is a ways from our kitchen. We went to goodwill one day. My husband pushed me around in a wheelchair. I found a book on learning the Finnish language. I thought that would be interesting. It was something I really didn’t know anything about. I have just started the book. I love languages. It is fun for me to try and understand things I hear and to try and talk. I even enjoy reading in other languages. The book was only$1.99 and comes with a couple of tapes. I’m not sure if they work yet. But I hope to find out once I find my old recorder. I have cilantro growing and basil. My husband and son have picked some for some of our meals. Oh! Also the lavender came up this year. I had planted it in a pot and did not expect it to grow this year. But not only did it come up again, but it also multiplied. We have been very good about eating what we have and only buying things we will eat. We have checked our freezer before going to the store. I also bought a few dresses at thrift shops at the beginning of the month. I wanted some long dresses that would cover my orthopedic boot for the most part. I like dresses anyway. I have used the internet to find recipes and to listen to music. Often I type in the ingredients I have on hand to see what I can make. It is fun and the results have been tasty. My husband is going to remodel our shower himself. That will save tons of money. Right now there is a large step down. That is not going to work for me. So I don’t have to do sponge baths the rest of my life, he is going to lower it. When he has time that is. I’m happy that he is willing to tackle it. It has always been difficult to step down. But now that I broke my ankle, it really is a dangerous step. We enjoyed visiting family this month. They don’t live too far away. I’ve enjoyed spending time with my grandchildren and my sons. and my daughter-in-law as well as other family members. I got to see a grandchild graduate from grade school! And, I have a new grand baby.

    1. Congrats on the new grand baby Tammy. We will become first time grands in October. So looking forward to joining that club!

    2. Tammy,

      Somehow I missed you’d broken your ankle. Sorry to hear that. When I was in university, one of my profs had each of his four children cook dinner once a week. In order to invite anyone as a guest, the family member first had to have it okayed by the chef of the day. it was a great system and I wish my parents had followed it. One of my brothers never learned to cook while the other one borders on being a gourmet chef.
      Congrats on the grandchildren — exciting to have a new baby in the family. best wishes for a speedy recovery!

      1. Ellie’s Friend,
        Thank-you! It is exciting to have a new baby in the family! I am getting better and am able to do so much more now. We are enjoying cooking as a family.

  22. It has been an expensive month for us, but also a good one.

    I planted out 18 asparagus crowns (still waiting for shoots to emerge) and 60 strawberry plants (which are all doing brilliantly!). We got plenty of rain for them at first, but now I need to trek over there with a watering can. We hope to get an outdoor tap installed soon. My other gardening has not gone well. The timings have been thrown off by my pregnancy and I dont think many of my seedlings are going to make it. Que sera sera – there’s always next year!

    I have figured out how to build two fruit cages for half price by buying garden arches and buying the netting separately. Assembling them will be my last garden project this year as I am getting too pregnant to do anything comfortably. But it should mean we actually GET some raspberries and strawberries!

    I researched homeschool maths curricula and decided once again not to buy one but to wing it myself. My eldest is only six. I did buy a big set of history books and some French language tapes, but they are nonconsumable and can be used for all my children. This is a high priority for me when looking at homeschool materials, and I am happy to spend on reusable resources. I still think homeschooling has been very cheap for us so far.

    Our washer dryer broke and we were able to have it mended for £90. The motor brushes (?) were all worn out.

    I have been diligent about sticking to our meal plan and moving meals around where necessary so food doesn’t go bad. I reorganised the chest freezer and incorporated many random oddd and ends into the meal plan. I hope to eat it down completely before the baby comes so I can defrost it and refill it with easy heat-and-eat meals.

    Our new schedule is going well. It was disrupted by illness and we have had several field trip days, but I like having a default day structure on normal at home days. The kitchen has been much more under control, the children have got better at clearing the table, and I have done some more work on the picture book I am writing. I sort of hoped to get it done by November, when the baby is due, but i am making peace with the fact that that might not be possible. It’ll keep til next summer if necessary!

    1. I like to use The Math Worksheet Site. I pay for the yearly subscription but they have a way that you can try it out for free. I use this for all the lower grades.

  23. Hi Brandy and everyone
    Your photos are glorious, so uplifting. Good that the mechanics were able to deal with several issues at once, saving money, time and hassle. I hope we will see you in your new dress sometime.
    I redeemed consumer research points for a new bread bin and collected from the store, where I was going anyway, for free delivery.
    I redeemed supermarket loyalty points for summer weight pyjamas for myself.
    I used loyalty points from another supermarket( I have no loyalty, I shop anywhere for deals) and knocked a few pounds off my mobile phone bill.
    I bought a clothing gift for a daughter in a 25 per cent off sale and picked up some more loyalty points.
    From the garden we have had several pickings of peas, lettuce, chives, parsley, purple sprouting broccoli and flowers for the house. We have sown and planted out so many things I can’t remember them all! Some are second sowings because of pest damage.
    At my sewing group I traded a bunch of Sweet William for a small piece of black felt I needed. I have every colour felt under the sun except the one I needed. I made brownies for the group using pantry ingredients. I used overripe bananas in banana choc chip loaf cake.
    I mended a pair of leggings.
    Our electricity use for May was lower than the previous two years.
    The UK government has launched a preparedness site and is asking people to make sensible preparations in case of extreme weather, pandemics, malign action by other nations etc. My family have been doing this for years but I am buying more bottled water as per their list. I know many readers around the world are experts in this.
    I checked my entitlement to the full State Pension, due in 2026 for me, and was a few months short of full contributions. I paid the shortfall which is very worthwhile as I will receive much more money back in due course.
    I found some lovely things in the charity shop , a small velvet clutch bag/ purse, new coin purse, 3 new tea towels, a pack of newborn onesies and a cross stitch kit. They have all gone into the gift box except the coin purse which I needed.
    Stay safe everyone.

  24. For the first time we got 6 red raspberries off our plant! Growing up my neighbor had red raspberry plants and whatever came to our side of the yard we could eat, and when they went on their yearly vacation we got to pick ALL the raspberries. There is nothing better than fresh red raspberries and I am happy to say mine taste just like childhood. I also got my kids hooked on fresh raspberries. Six of us have been getting 1/2 or a 1/4 of a raspberry for taste. I fertilized the 2 plants this spring and they are really coming in so hopefully next year we have even more.

    The past month has been a financial one. First, we had to replace the rear oil gasket on our Suburban. While that was being repaired the mechanic called to say they caught the gasoline lines are rusting so that also had to be replaced. Our fuel gage has never worked in the ten years we have had the vehicle. To fix that is to replace the fuel pump. Since they had to take out the fuel pump to fix the rusted lines we also got a new fuel pump for only the price of the part. It is so nice to have a working fuel gage. We also had to have the two lines in the AC unit replaced. We travel a lot in that vehicle and need the AC working. Two days after that half of our live tree fell over. Thankfully it did no property damage. A tree company who took down another tree gave us 1/3 discount since we are repeat and it was emergency situation. It had dry rotted. Needless to say we have some debt to pay off now. I am so thankful for knowing how to enjoy free things and stretch the dollars. We have a fire pit, love going to playgrounds, and have a disc golf set so we can go play Frisbee golf.

    One of my kids attended VBS with his friend. We homeschool and are still schooling this month. So things are going along regular schedule here. Thankfully we have not had to run the AC in our house yet. The office room that has all the computers has its own AC window unit that is running and the one upstairs bedroom also has an individual AC window unit that has been running. To save on cooling the house I am finding lots of crock pot meals to cook. The garden is growing along. As others suggested I added a lot of manure compost to our clay dirt that is in our garden and everything already looks better. I am hoping to actually get tomato and green beans this year.

  25. The cake looks scrumptious! I’ve been enjoying your Instagram posts and you make pitting apricots look so easy.
    I collected poppy seed heads at the township woody/leaf waste drop off. I was dropping off trimmings and saw 4 heads of the orange oriental poppies. They grow wild around here in a few spots. While also at the township, got a better deal on mulch through our township. You scoop and transport and pay a third of the price as bagged. I use 2 -3tubs that equal about 9 cubic feet per visit. Every time I drop off tree clippings, I grab 2-3 tubs at a time.

    I made a rhubarb cake from my rhubarb plant and used the big leaves as weed blockers in areas that I have temporary dug up.

    Celebrated my birthday with a gentle hike and sundae cones bought at a huge discount. That day, there was a free pile – post yard sale. There was a 1940s desk that had some paint and old finish. I have all the supplies (donated by family) and thankfully, the paint is not chalk paint (would require a different paint stripper). The spot I envisioned this desk going is a perfect spot space wise. I haven’t done something like this in 20 years, so it is fun to feel young again (ha!)

    Hosted a small friend get together. I agree with you, it is so nice to entertain at home. Everyone contributed something and there was plenty for leftovers for everyone to make a to-go plate.

    Hope everyone has a calm and productive week!

  26. Wow, Mary Ann, what a blessed career! Your students have received lots of love and imagination, along with their education! Enjoy your retirement!

  27. That upside down cake looks just beautiful! So does everything in your garden.

    The past week has been fairly chaotic with family visiting from out of town, but not too expensive because I prepared beforehand. I have been able to eat food I have at home and use things I already own for the most part.

    I also took advantage of Chewy.com’s Memorial Day sale and stocked up on my cat’s favorite food at 33% off (buy 2, get 1 free). I inventoried my own food and personal products and found that I shouldn’t need to buy anything for at least a month, except maybe some fresh produce and dairy substitutes. Based on that, I am planning for June to be a no-spend month. It’s a good way to kick off the summer, when I always have less income.

    My bedside lamp finally died, after becoming more and more unreliable over the last few months. I did not immediately buy a replacement and will see how it goes without one. If I decide to buy another lamp, I’ll wait and watch for the right one to show up on Ebay at the lowest price.

    My phone has been having problems, too. It keeps freezing and lagging. Very annoying since this phone is not even a year old. I usually get a good 3 or 4 years of use from a smartphone before it starts having trouble keeping up. I finally deleted all my unnecessary apps, including all the games and social media. This helps my phone work a bit better so it will hopefully last longer, and as an added bonus, I won’t be wasting so much time on it or seeing so many ads.

    I found several new books I want to read at the library and put them on my “want to read” list. I will have plenty to read without buying any books for a good long while.

  28. Your photos are lovely as always. That cake looks yummy. Car repairs are never fun, but at least you got home and the repairman came to you. How exciting to find a workbook like you wanted. I love books, and learning new things. We have been working in our garden and have picked cucumbers, squash and zucchini. A friend from church gave us some more tomato plants, and the extension office was giving away free seeds so I got some dill, flower seeds, and some microgreens to try growing in a jar for sprouts. They also had a free flower arranging class, I had to bring a vase and brought some flowers from my yard and some wild flowers. It was fun. I have about 8 hummingbirds at my feeder. My FCE Club met at a tiny tea room, we were set up in a gazabo and had tea, broccoli salad, chicken salad sandwiches, tea cakes, and caramel puffs. We had so much fun and I met some new friends as we car pooled there and sat at small tables. I didn’t think I would like hot tea, but we tried 6 different kinds and it was very light and not real strong. My husband, his sister and I went on a small trip to a rodeo to see her grandson get baptized at Cowboy Church and to see him compete in a rodeo. It was so much fun. We had to stay overnight, but we got to see a different state and the rodeo was awesome. My aunt, niece and I went to a thrift store when we were out and about and got a dress, 2 t-shirts, a hoodie, 2 small billfolds all for $10. I have been looking for a small billfold. I started a new job at my work on Monday and I am stressing over the new tasks. Cooking at home, washing full loads and reading library books keep me going.

  29. Glad to see you back, Brandy! Sorry for your car troubles and glad it worked out. It’s been fairly quiet around here, just plugging along. * I received a $50 gift card to Joanns and was able to utilize sales and coupons to get a bunch of fun things.* I also received a gift card to Culvers which I will save and use another time.* We had a combined birthday party for my husband and son, whose birthdays are just a few days a part. They are big Minnesota Timberwolves basketball fans and their party was in the middle of the western conference finals, so I did a Timberwolves themed party. I mostly used things we had around the house, that we’ve gathered over the years. It was a really festive and fun time. * I was thinking I needed some new jeans (I wear jeans every day, except at church). I was bothered by a drawer that didn’t close well anymore and found four pair of jeans I own that didn’t fit quite right. I brought them down to the sewing room and plan to alter them to fit better. Maybe I’ll make capris with a couple. Glad I didn’t go off and buy more before I found them. * Grocery shopping has been going well with meal planning and utilizing leftovers. I’m adjusting (finally) to cooking for two. We rarely buy snacks anymore. I make or bake a treat every Sunday night and that’s what we have til it’s gone. Good for the budget and our waistline. * My husband has more time this year, so has taken back the job of caring for our lawn which is saving us a couple hundred dollars a month. I appreciate him very much. * Our mailbox was getting unsightly. One of my daughters found a plain white mailbox for $5 at the hardware store. She bought it and painted beautiful lilacs on it as a surprise for me. My husband took the opportunity to change out the post also. It looks lovely. * Changed my decor from spring to patriotic. Used things I’ve saved from years past and a couple things I bought with the aforementioned gift card. It’s festive (and free!). *I’ve been busy reading library books and working on knitting/crocheting Christmas presents. Keeps me out of trouble. *We were able to keep the air conditioning off til June 3rd. Thankfully we only had it on one day, then a storm came through to cool it off. We were able to turn off the A/C again. I saw on the news there is a bad heatwave out west. Praying for all of you out that way.

  30. Brandy, your apricots are gorgeous. We planted an apricot tree 5 years ago and have yet to get an apricot. Usually, we get a late freeze just when it is in blossoms. It happened again this year. We do have a few cherries on our 4-year-old tree and many peaches on a 2-year-old tree. No apples on the 2-year-old tree. I haven’t checked the blackberries or raspberries yet. Hope they make a few for us.
    I pick lettuce every day for my salad from our raised bed. Most of the plants look good. I did plant seeds in two other beds, and many have sprouted, but I did not label them so will need to identify them by their plant. I already see lot of pea plants.
    Making progress on eating down the freezer items.
    Decluttering our out-of-control guest bedroom. My sister-in-law will come in September, so I am motivated. Donated and tossed many items that were not used or needed. I try to work for 10 minutes a day to declutter, and it does add up.
    I enjoy all of the comments.
    Thank you.

  31. I’ve made most of our meals at home. I have had the best time cooking of late. I decided to start eating a lower carb diet and it’s been so fun to figure out where I can fit in extra vegetables. It’s been a good exercise with the reduced price produce I keep finding. And benefit on the side is that I’ve lost a wee bit of weight.

    I planted strawberry tops that had little seeds on the flesh. Also seeds of portulaca (moss rose). I also took cuttings of basil, coleus, portulaca, ivy. I had one bit of ivy that had rooted well and was planted in a planter to be kept here indoors. It’s flourishing. I moved recently rooted things to various flower pots outdoors. I cut a bouquet from my own plants to have indoors. It contained gladiolius, hydrangea and day lily cuttings.

    My pets have stopped eating very much now that the weather has heated up. I’ve been saving the foodscraps from plates in a bag in the freezer, which I’ll use to piece out their meals if food runs short for them.

    I received four $off coupons from one of the groceries I frequent. I’ve put them in my wallet so I ‘ll be sure to use them. Ditto with the refund of $coupons from Quaker Oats for a recalled product I’d returned at their request.

    I orderd two pairs of linen capris for wearing around the house. They were sized wrong and didn’t come near fitting. I put in for a return and was immediately refunded my money and told to send them to a friend or thrift store so someone might get good use of them. How nice.

    Took my grandchildren out for the day. We had a morning at the library where it was International Boardgame Day, then we picked up lunchables and juice boxes at the dollar store and went on a picnic at a park. They enjoyed the whole day.

  32. Love the look of your blackberries. Sorry to hear about the car, but smart to get other things fixed without a huge increase in cost.
    Week of May 13-19: Hung laundry on the line. Had the garden rototilled. Pruned a tree that shaded the garden. Made 2 dozen muffins, a rhubarb crisp, pizza pockets, homemade baked beans, bread 2 times, salad. Our son and DIL visited, along with our granddaughter. We had a BBQ with hamburgers and hot dogs, broccoli from the freezer and corn from the freezer with dried thyme and butter. DH blew out the fans that we use during the summer (we don’t have AC). Planted red onions, potatoes, cauliflower and broccoli. Made my OTC order for free things that I get with my Medicare plan.

    Week of May 20-May 26: Cooking – made big salad, 3 baked ziti, bread, cooked a big batch of calico beans and then chili and cauliflower soup. Mowed the lawn. Saw son, DIL and GD twice. Purchased peppers (4) on the ugly produce section for $1.00. Cleaned out the cedar chest and organized all the bedding. Albertsons had Tyson chicken for 97¢ a pound for a 2 1/2-pound bag with a limit of 1. It is in the freezer. Took a baked ziti, a salad and a loaf of bread to my son, DIL and GD when I visited.

    Week of May 27 – June 2: Cooking – Made bread, porcupine meatballs and homemade pizza. Had broccoli and corn from the freezer. I had one day when I wasn’t feeling well. Used a $14 meat coupon to get 4 pounds of sausage for $1.00 after the coupons. Weeded the front flower garden. Received my accrued vacation pay after retiring in May. Went to a minor league baseball game with son, DIL and GD, and then they spent the night at our house. Received my OTC items in the mail. We finally are having temperatures above freezing at night, so the rest of the garden will go in this week. I planted whited beans (Great Northern), extra broccoli plants and zucchini. It was cold and rainy most of this week, so I took advantage and read books and relaxed. Not going to have much time for this for the next few months.

    Hope everyone has a great week.

    1. Nancy in Eastern Washington- Seeing that porcupine meatballs were on your menu list made my mouth water! Haven’t had those in years! But, I have some ground beef in fridge I want to cook up and I have lots of jars of rice…… I do believe that we will be having porcupine meatballs tomorrow night for dinner!!
      Thanks for the idea!!

      Gardenpat in Ohio

      1. Gardenoat -growing up,my mother taught each of my sisters and me how to make one dish for dinner. My eldest sister was macaroni and cheese, next eldest was fried chicken, mine was porcupine meatballs and the youngest was hamburgers. She was a librarian,so if she worked late whatever she took from the freezer determined who cooked. 😊

  33. I work at Ross. I want to let everyone know that we mark down many items every Monday, and there is a 10% discount on Tuesdays for everyone 55+. Once a year after Christmas there is a huge sale where all clearance items are marked down, some all the way to 48 cents. As an employee I get a 20% discount and a few times a year it is 40%.

  34. I left a post yesterday but may not have hit send. This has been a very expensive month for me.
    I had hoped to buy some clothes from Land’s End for 40% off but missed its sale. The next day that sale was off
    but the day after it had 50% off on the same clothes and free shipping so it was to my advantage to procrastinate.
    I had hoped to go with I to the mountains but got ill in the middle of the night before. I then found we can go later on a free pass.
    I had hoped to get rain barrels installed this year but had not yet done it. Our city had a huge water main break
    so outside watering of any kind is prohibited until the system is fixed. The City has asked everyone to
    cut back, not to use washing machines or dishwashers, to limit showers, to only have shallow baths. Although I had emptied most of the standing water outside for mosquito control, I had not used two buckets. I used one yesterday and will use one today after I finish planting the annuals.
    I’m hoping for rain or that the water main is fixed soon or both. Except for the month of July, I do not usually use a lot of water outdoors.
    I have always wanted a columnar apple tree so ordered one on sale. I had to have a very deep cavity filled — my first since 1976. I was in a lot of pain so put a bottle of water in the freezer and used that instead of wasting a bag of peas. I never had wisdom teeth so have not experienced dental pain before. I cannot use otc painkillers so I toughed it out but the first day was hard. I still look like a lopsided chipmunk but it’s going down. As for groceries, one of my volunteers is away next week so I ordered yesterday. I got many items on sale from No Frills, including ice cream. It wouldn’t help my weight but believe me it helped the dental pain. I am going on low sodium food now to control my blood pressure which is normally good but recently has been very high. I should be able to get spending under control.

    1. I’ve been watching the news about the watermain break – what a mess! It doesn’t look like a quick fix so people’s gardens will really suffer. Hope you get some rain to help.

      1. Yes, the water main that broke is a feeder line that services 60% of the population.
        We are not even allowed to water outside by using watering cans. I’m glad that
        I had two buckets of rainwater left. We had a very small amount of rain last night that helped a bit.
        It looked like rain today but it passed on by. We are allowed to have short showers so I will be collecting shower water
        for my outside plants. I’ve now planted all my annuals. I planted a columnar apple tree and a new rose. Fortunately I did not have
        to dig too deeply as I couldn’t have done so with my knees. I’ll use the remaining bucket of rainwater on the apple tree and
        the new rose. We are still about a week away from a fix. Fortunately, due to the cold weather, I had not yet planted a vegetable garden.

  35. I realize that I ought to have put quotation marks around “I” but my post is confusing between I myself and the other poster “I”. It was “I” who discovered that we can go to the mountains on a free day when a pass is not needed, not me.

  36. Some farm markets and big box stores have plants for very little, mark downs should start soon
    I use a pretty celery green plastic pot that came off a hanging basket last year-tool hanging top off, put it in a woven basket matter 3foot high plant stand I got at flea market for $5 added mulch free from our town yearly and I scoop it up in retired plastic trash cans. The plants came from coleus wintered over, a salvia- boccopia- petunia bought for 3/ $10 asparagus fern again wintered over all winter
    Given to my sister for her front porch as she has neither time nor money to splurge
    All plants were purple, white, green and in the light green pot showing thru woven planter it really looked nice at her house- a pretty beige/ taupe color with black and white accents

  37. It has been quite sometime since I commented here – I’ll share why below.
    On January 7th I was preparing for family to leave my home by making breakfast for everyone. I was flipping whole wheat pancakes when I noticed that was had begun to drip on my head. We realized shortly after that the toilet upstairs in our bonus room had some kind of issue, water was pouring from the tank and the bowl and the entire upstairs of my home was standing in 6 inches of water. I will spare you all of the details of this as it is a small book but the end result was that we had to move out of our home for 5.5 months, work is still not completed in my home, I am working each and every day to empty more boxes, organize, clean drywall dust off of everything we own not to mention every nook and cranny of my home and I have 80+ people scheduled to be in my home for a baby shower celebrating the birth of my family’s first great grandchild in 12 days. Saving money during this time has been very difficult but we have managed to cut corners where we can to save. We will still come out of all of this with some debt but I think we can tighten our belts to get everything squared away as quickly as possible.
    We did have an insurance claim but PTSD resulting from a water leak episode that bad nudged me to replace all the toilets in our home and we discovered additional issues in each bathroom which led to remodeling all three baths completely.
    We purchased toilets for our home from a discount shop which saved us over $500.
    Since we just bought and moved into our home in 2022 and had redone flooring, had the whole house painted etc. I was able to rely on contractors that we were extremely satisfied with to come in a do some work for us. We saved a bit there since we were repeat customers.
    We had originally put hardwood floors in our home but elected to put back LVP with a wood look to it. This product has come quite a long way, is highly durable, easy to maintain and much less expensive than solid wood. This decision saved us about $12K.
    I shopped sales for everything. I bought light fixtures, rugs, mirrors, faucets…you name it all on sale. We purchased our countertops from a local vendor from a remnant and their prices included all the prep work & installation.
    We had to replace all of our master bedroom furniture and again I shopped sales to save 30-40% on everything we purchased.
    We had a contractor selected to do the work but on the day he was t begin work he quit. My brother in law tackled the job for us. Although there have been delays I am grateful he was willing to take it on.
    When we knew we were going to have t move into a rental I found a local air bnb to avoid costs of transferring utilities, paying deposits, etc.
    Since we have been back in our home – about a month now saving money has been a bit easier. My biggest frugal fail has been that I have not been able to plant my summer vegetable gardens. I will be purchasing and putting away veggies & fruits that I purchase at the farmers market when budget allows.
    I have been batch cooking to make it easier for us to eat all meals at home and to compete with my son’d never ending appetite. Since snacks are so costly I have been baking cookies, muffins, soups and protein rich meals to try and fill him up. In season fruits & veggies are also on our go-to snack list.
    Some wins and some losses, such is life. Still a blessing to awake each morning with another day to glorify Him.

    1. Oh wow! What expenses! I’m glad tou were able to find ways to save on them.

  38. Its been a busy few weeks! Homemade favorite treats include cherry clafoutis with our cherries and buckeye bars with pretzels pressed into the chocolate layer.

    I called my child’s care provider who had not billed our insurance for well child visits but instead sent us a bill (despite being required to hand over my care each time for scanning and these visits being covered 100%).

    We had roof damage from when tornados were in Central Ohio (we were not in the path of a tornado, just a very bad storm) and it has been pulling teeth to get our insurance to cover it. First only a repair was authorized, but it does not match. It is frustrating but worth it to keep on them to get it repaired, properly.

    My youngest graduated from Pre-K and we hosted the reception at home, with a simple sheet cake I baked.

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