My largest money-saving in the last two weeks was buying as little as possible and using what I already have.

I used some samples of lotion that I have been wanting to use. They lasted me for a week.

I made meals using what I had on hand.

I cut roses from the garden to enjoy in my room.

I studied Urdu using free resources via the library using Hoopla and videos on YouTube, along with the app I have subscribed to for 6 months.

I attended a free Christmas concert. I wore the DKNY velvet dress that I bought on clearance this summer for $20 (which was originally $100). Many of you asked me to post it when I did. This is the dress:

I asked on my Instagram stories and had several people say they would like me to share more frugal clothing ideas. I will be posting more there.

The little bracelet closest to my hand was one my daughter got at a garage sale a couple of weeks ago for 50 cents. The other belonged to my great-grandmother.

What did you to save money the last two weeks?

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108 Comments

  1. This past 2 weeks have been incredibly busy! Holiday and winter prep continues.
    Our weather got really cold which meant we concentrated on indoor projects. But when we saw that one day last week, the weather would go up to 53 degrees, we got everything ready and spent an hour putting up the plexiglass panels we use every year to the lower 2 foot of the chicken coop perimeter. This is on their wire enclosed walls to keep the wind, rain and snow from blowing in on them. The plexiglass cost us about $75 initially but this is our 3rd year using it and it’s amazing the difference it makes inside the coop to keep our girls warm! They continue to reward us with about 5 eggs a day! We also noticed as we put up plexiglass that there were some shingles that had blown off the roof of the coop. Dave went to Habitat for Humanity’s ReStore and got a bundle of shingles for $7 and waited until we had another warmer day later that week and reshingled that area! Good thing we noticed because, over the winter, the roof could have rotted and broken through leaving our chickens cold and wet!

    We’ve been making a more concerted effort to eat from our food storage- pantry, fridge, freezer. I cooked and deboned our 2nd Thanksgiving turkey and put more freezer bags for easy meal ingredients that are ready to go! Been trying to decide in the morning what we will be eating for dinner and getting any prep done. My food spending has dipped as a result!

    I did find on Flashfood (2) 9-1/2 pound boneless whole hams reduced to $14 each rather than the marked $37 each! I’ll donate one to our congregation’s Christmas dinner. I also found three 3-1/2 pound packages of ground beef, originally marked over $18 each for just over $5 each. Called my daughter who works full time and can only shop on Saturday’s and she was delighted to pay me for those! Such a blessing for us to be able to find and share with those around us! This week I found 3 packages of 80/20 ground beef again weighing a total of 9 pounds for a total of $11.97 ($1.33/pound) saving about $40 over it’s marked price! My goodness, I love Flashfood! I shared this with my friends who have 6 children and they were pleased!
    Then from Krogers, I bought 4 big 105 load jugs of A&H laundry detergent, 4 cans of Progresso soup & 1 big tube of Colgate Max Fresh toothpaste. Regular price would’ve been $53.41 but with sale, Kroger digital coupons & ibotta, my total spent is $9.41, saving $43 (82%). Took me less than 15 minutes in store. The store is 2 miles from my house. These are things that are “basics” rather than “extras”. So I’m pleased!

    I finally got this king size quilt all quilted up and ready to bind. https://pin.it/6QyFRCS . It is a gift for our daughter and son-in-law in Texas that I started making about 8 months ago in between other projects. It’s good to see it close to completion!

    A friend brought over a Halloween pumpkin for us to give to our chickens. They were overjoyed with the treat and any leftover bits will be composted.

    Our annual car insurance renewal premium had gone up by over $500 without any changes on our part so Hubs looked around and was able to reduce our payment by almost twice that – to $460/year instead of our previous $1000/year (which would have renewed at $1500/year!) That equates to real money savings and we are determined to keep a watchful eye on all those insurances,etc that try to auto-renew!

    I find that I’m in a position now where I can buy only when I decide it’s a good deal rather than a big shop every week. I’m grateful for that but it didn’t happen overnight so my advice would be to do the best you can in your specific circumstances.

    Gardenpat in Ohio
    HandmadeinOldeTowne.com

    1. Wholly unrelated to your savings this week, but I keep meaning to tell you. I’m enjoying the chive plants you gave me and I was able to donate the seeds I saved from them to our local library’s seed bank. I thought you would like to know that those chives are continuing to grow and bless others locally. Have a happy holidays!

      1. Emily- So glad you’re still enjoying the chives and that they will thrive for many years to come! For our part, the hostas you shared with us have really done well in the garden bed that Dave made just for them! They are his very favorite landscaping plants! Thank you so much for your generosity!

        Gardenpat in Ohio

  2. I also have been using what we have and staying out of the stores. I’ve been ill and staying at home which has allowed me to sort several areas of the house and do some of the tiny things that make the finishing touch-like gluing the corner of the Roman blind trim that kept peeking around the edge. The big project was painting our brick fireplace -painting old brick is a big job but it REALLY brightened out living room.

    I’ve sold several things on FB marketplace for my daughter and today got a free kitchen table also on FB marketplace. I had been wanting to try a different shape table in our space. And if I don’t like it I can always sell it. That was a big savings over buying a new table.

    I have made granola, English flapjack, chocolate shortbread and cardamom gingerbread cookies as gifts for various people. Also dried persimmons to gift. Just about done with all of that.

    A good savings this time of year is printing postage at home through pirateship.com. It offers discount postage (I think it’s a bulk rate like eBay gets) and also saves me standing in line at the post office. I have sent a lot with them through the years. I can even send overseas, the website includes customs forms.

  3. What a lovely dress! It couldn’t be better for the holiday season.

    I have been buying lots of groceries for the last few weeks. Some have been at low sale prices, other at high regular prices. I’ve been trying to stock up a little ahead on meat and fish, so that I can skip a trip or two to the grocery store if the weather gets bad or I’m not feeling well. I finished getting the herbs and spices I was wanting, including cayenne, which I hadn’t see locally in several months of looking. I’ve been enjoying fresh mandarin oranges as a seasonal treat. Not great prices, but very high quality, juicy fruit this year, so I will take it.

    Because of a strike by a major sugar supplier, there is rarely sugar in the store. I got a small bag of organic sugar and organic brown sugar, so I could bake a little if I wanted. There is no shortage of products with sugar in them, though. Christmas treats are emphasizing small amounts in pretty packaging and lots of special shapes and colors. It is not quite like war-time rationing, though we’ve seen some equivalents on sale, like corn syrup.

    I had ordered a large bag of cat food in October, which Amazon delivered to my front step. It would last till sometime in February, not the ideal time for getting more. I ordered another bag, plus a large bag of kitty litter. Amazon delivered these heavy packages to the post office instead of my house. The taxi driver seems to be away. I asked someone who had given me a drive before, and she agreed, though it took a couple of days for us to get there. When I carried the parcels out to her truck, the vehicle wouldn’t start. The owner of one of the liquor stores happened by on his way to open up his store, which is very near my house. He agreed to take me and my parcels home, while my first driver got her vehicle in for repair. He also volunteered to boost her truck, though we knew by that stage it was something else. He had me home in a few minutes, and got to his store with plenty of time to open up on time. No time or effort saved compared to carrying small bags of food and litter home all winter long, but it was much less expensive for me. Not for my driver. Her car needed a new starter.

    I went to the bank this morning. On the way home, I stopped at the pharmacy and picked up a few items. Tuesday is 20% off all non-sale items for seniors. Realized the pharmacy was very quiet, so I got my flu and covid vaccines as well. They made me sleepy, so I had a nap all afternoon. I am feeling well other than that, though.

    I’ve been trying to get winter clothes ready, but realized I just didn’t have enough. I’ve ordered two tops and two pairs of pants (trousers) from Land’s End at 50% off, so I’m pleased I didn’t realize I needed these until sale time came. I should have these in the next few days.

  4. Friendly Reminder : Dec 15 is deadline to renew health insurance via marketplace so it doesn’t lapse Jan 1. You can do online or via phone call.

  5. Your red dress is absolutely stunning on you.

    I have a question for you. I have in mind to get a very dark rose bush, close to a wine color or maroon. I looked through my David Austin catalogue for next year but didn’t see anything like that. Do you have any ideas about where I might look?

    1. Anne, remind me what country you are in.

      DA had a deep red one that they retired in England but is still avaliable in the US called Munstead Wood.

      I want one called 1812 and it is sold by Palentine in Canada (they ship to the US) but they sold out within minutes of opening orders at midnight a few days ago.

      1. I live in the U.S. Wow, about the one selling out so quickly. Do you think there will be more? Did you get on some sort of wait list?

        1. There is no wait list. All the rose companies I know of have been having the same phenomenon with orders opening and the favorites selling out within minutes. All my online rose groups talk about it. There is a very large growing interest in growing roses, and the companies are expanding their operations and still selling out.

    2. Anne, we live in the UK and grow a rose called Reine de Violette. It is deeply perfumed but is an old style rose so doesn’t repeat flower like DA roses often do. We also have a rose from DA called L. D. Braithwaite which is deepest crimson/ wine.

      1. I forgot about those two! Thank you, Penny!

        I have been focusing on roses of other colors rather than reds and I had forgotten those two.

        1. I decided to do more of an internet search and you aren’t going to believe what I found. I thought my two new bushes for spring would be a cream color and a burgundy. I stumbled upon a tree rose at Jackson and Perkins that had cream roses and burgundy roses ON THE SAME BUSH. I have never heard of such a thing and it kind of seemed like a sign from the heavens to give it a try. But it is $120.00. Before I pull the trigger I wanted to talk to my only rose expert (you) about this. Do you have any advice about this?

          1. Hi Anne. Sorry for the late reply. I wrote a lengthy reply earlier and my blog ate it!

            Rose prices are WAY up this year. Like crazy up. I think everyone decided to grow roses. The growers are having to expand their operations to keep up.

            I bought two White Lies rose trees in the spring from Home Depot for $35 each.

            The rose you are looking at is probably two kinds of roses grafted together.

            If you are super in love with this particular rose, then I would buy it.

            But if it doesn’t have to be this rose, I would look at my other options and see if there is something I would prefer for less money from another company.

            Whatever you choose, don’t hesitate to purchase it. Roses are selling out within minutes of companies opening up their orders for the year. I’m in several international rose groups on FB and people are talking about this and what they could and couldn’t get, and how stuff was no longer available by the time they go to check out.

  6. Hi Brandy!
    I love your outfit and your flowers are beautiful as well! We have saved money by not eating out and having a picnic in a grocery store parking lot after shopping one day. We watched movies on Hoopla, free from the library. We borrowed a movie from the library. We wash full loads of laundry and dishes. My oven stopped working and somehow it started back up after trying the broiler. However; my husband did order a part in case it does go out. He has fixed it before. We accepted some fruit and vegetables from a friend. We used potatoes and onions from my mom. We made sure to freeze anything we were not going to use right away unless it was something that would keep a little while longer. This week, I plan to use up what we have before we go shopping. At least, use our fresh stuff. I am trying not to waste. My mom made me a grilled cheese and potato soup one day when I was in town running errands and I stopped by for a visit. I have been enjoying the wildlife. We have been seeing owls at night, lots of deer and other animals. My son and I enjoyed watching the clouds and the airplanes one day and my husband and I have looked at the stars a lot this week. Both things are free and very relaxing.

  7. I love your DKNY dress…stunning colour!

    We are attending a free christmas concert tonight and it will also have a second hand store that I will go to afterwards.

    We rode our bikes to the swimming section of the lake and had a swim and then cooked a barbeque lunch on the grills they have there.

    We went fishing locally and caught crabs in the crab pot as well as fish. All fish frozen for later. Crabs shared with family and we ate them for dinner for three nights with different sides each time. I also made crab balls and put them in the freezer to have as appetizes on Christmas day

    I received two Christmas gifts from two separate people. One contains home made sweets, which we have been enjoying.

    I didn’t go grocery shopping (only quickly bought some milk and got free bread x 3, sweet potatos x 10, apples x 12 and cinnamon pastries x 10). I enjoy the cinnamon pastry with some blueberries (from our garden) and a cup of tea for breakfast…it feels indulgent!

    My children harvested lots of fruit and vegetables which they then delivered to neighbours and family. I cooked a big batch of soup with the vegetables. We have been enjoying smoothies with the fruit every day, sometimes twice a day!

    I used Canva to make free birthday invitations for my childrens parties and printed them at a photo place for $3.20 (on sale). I changed up the font etc to make them look better and used a wedding imvitation template for my daughters…turned out great.

    Ordered and received a necklace on Temu for my daughters birthday. It has her name engraved on it and her birthstone. Cost $1.29 including shipping.

    Have a lovely week.

  8. OHHHH my gosh you and the velvet dress…… there are not enough adjectives to describe the impact and how great you look BESIDES the frugal acquisition!
    Your are Christmas Elegant, love the look
    Your description of using things we have definitely defined these last weeks

  9. Hi Brandy and everyone
    Thank you for posting your lovely red dress, I have been looking forward to seeing it since you bought it. I love that you are wearing a garage sale bracelet along with your great grandmother’s bracelet. Jewellery with a story is even more precious.
    I finished my sewing group Secret Santa ( a quilted, embroidered fabric notebook cover) and made the home sewn reusable gift bag part of the present too. I’m not a great needlewoman but the recipient seemed pleased. I have also finished a small counted cross stitch for a card.
    We picked parsnips and leeks from the garden. I batch cooked and froze cooking apples and butternut squash. I have been ill for a few days so my husband helped me make the Christmas cake. We have been eating down the freezer.
    My husband found a great deal online for a dozen white hellebores at £2.50 each. They cost at least £12 in a garden centre. I am going to pot one up to flower indoors over Christmas.
    I took one of our bulk buy potted hippeastrum wrapped in a new charity shop Christmas tea towel as a hostess gift.
    I muddled up dates for a Christmas lunch at floral group and had to rush round putting together a table centrepiece and Christmas themed raffle prize at short notice. The garden yielded enough foliage, berries etc for the centrepiece which I made festive with some small baubles and my gift box provided a Christmas apron with fun Santa baking spatulas, all bought on sale.
    I mended three dog drying coats using extra strong velcro we cut off a gardening overall my husband wore out. I sewed a couple more reusable fabric gift bags using charity shop fabric and the tail end of threads on several bobbins.
    During Advent Lidl are running a daily promotion for money off or buy one get one free. I have used it a couple of times to double up donations to the food bank.
    I used a voucher for a free bakery item.
    Stay safe everyone.

  10. I love the roses they lift the spirit, it will be about five months until I see any here.

    It has been a cold and wet week here so unfortunately the heating has been running, hubby feels the cold not being able to move around much. We are still in credit with the energy company which is good at this time of year.

    We went to the Aldi before the rain arrived, I managed to buy marked down pain aux raisin x2 croissants x 3, mushrooms x2 and a chicken . I also bought a half shoulder of lamb for xmas dinner.,

    I baked some mince pies and a walnut pie and used the instant pot to make stock from the chicken carcasses I had in the freezer and with that I made a large pot of Cucumber soup. We hade this for lunch and I put 4 servings in the freezer.

    I have taken a large bacon joint out of the freezer which I will roast, slice and portion up and put most of it bake in the freezer for easy meals.

    We are at our daughters for Christmas so not a lot to do, I made the mince pies and Christmas pudding a while ago. I have been asked for 2 pints of custard, daughter is a custard freak so if there is any leftover she will eat it.

    Have a great week everyone.
    Chris

  11. Hi Brandy,
    The dress and you look beautiful, thank you for posting. The photo reminds me that I used one of your links a few months ago to buy a dress, I wore it last month to a 1940’s event (the style is so classic it fits any time period) and it was perfect. I moved into a townhouse in May and had to replace the refrigerator…a few days ago, I found turkeys on sale for $0.89/lb and bought one (didn’t buy one at thanksgiving since my home is still torn up for painting and tile work). Got home and found this small turkey, 15 lbs, wouldn’t fit in the bottom freezer! What! So I am cooking it today. So beware these new appliances, it never occurred me to that the bottom freezer drawer wouldn’t pull out enough to fit a turkey! When I moved I sold my small chest freezer…I will need to reevaluate that. Have a good week!

  12. Lovely dress, lovely lady!

    On the frugal front:
    I ordered several gifts from Target and Walmart and scheduled drive-up pick up. Staying out of the stores this time of year always saves me money.

    I invited a friend over to make earrings using the remaining supplies from our Thanksgiving crafts. I served treats, but when I realized she had not had time to eat dinner, I whipped together a mini charcuterie plate. She made point of telling me how nice it was to be cared for after a stressful work day. I was touched that such a simple act helped her on a hard day. We had a nice, cozy evening.

    We went to dinner with two other couples last weekend. We all piled in one car to drive to the next town over for inexpensive and absolutely delicious street tacos. Afterwards, we played a fun card game.

    I finished decorating for Christmas. I did not buy anything new this year (even though I would really like new throw pillows!)

    I used the Upside app to save $0.23/gallon on gas and grocery rewards to save $0.18/gallon.

    I typically do a much better job of completing my Christmas shopping during the Black Friday-Cyber Monday weekend. Planning ahead is my best frugal hack. I wish I had done a better job this year, but I was able to score a few deals and cross a couple items off the list.

    I renewed my indoor walking track membership. Unfortunately, they made a mistake and over charged me. After a number of emails and a phone call, we sorted it out.

    I odered Kcups for $0.29/cup and scored a great deal on crackers for DD2 using an online promo code.

    I read Poverty, By America by Matthew Desmond using the Libby app and The Future by Naomi Alderman on the Everand app.

    I look forward to reading about everyone’s frugal feats!

  13. That dress looks absolutely gorgeous on you Brandy!

    Love the flower pics too. It’s cold & dreary now in NE Ohio. It’s dark when I go to work & dark when I come home. Only good thing at this time of year is seeing all the pretty Christmas lights at this time of the year!

    I bought a bone-in ham at Giant Eagle, our local grocery store chain, for 0.88/lb, which I thought was a great deal. I believe it’s a ten pound ham. We froze it for usage later. Regular price was $40 & we paid $8.

    Received a $25 GC to the same store from my Union as our Christmas Gift, so that paid for the ham!

    Nothing much of interest to report.

    Hope everyone has a great week as we get closer to the Holidays!

  14. That red dress is stunning and I am glad you took it to get it fixed – that was a smart investment in my opinion! The roses are a delight to see as frost sets in over here.

    I need a newer winter coat. ThredUp had one that I was extremely interested in, but something was telling me not to commit. I am glad I didn’t as I found exactly what I wanted at a thrift store for a third of the cost from ThredUp.
    My closest friends and I haven’t gotten together in a while, I was happy they were excited to meet up at my house and have homemade soup (ingredients from my garden). Simple is the best.

    But yes, enjoying and using what I have has been the best frugal accomplishment these last few weeks.

    1. Thank you. I think I will be able to wear it forever! Winters are mild here so the chances I have to wear it will be few each winter, but I intend to enjoy it as much as possible!

  15. You and the red velvet dress are stunning! Perfect for a Christmas concert. I love that your daughter and great-grandmother contributed to your look by way of the bracelets. You are a wonderful reminder that we should wear family gifts and not store them away.

    1. Thank you!

      When my great-grandmother died, my grandmother let me choose some of her mother’s jewelry to keep. I didn’t even know about this bracelt. I wonder how often she wore it; she wasn’t someone with a lot of money and I can’t imagine she got to dress up and go out often. I wonder if she bought it herself or if it was a gift, and if so, who gave it to her. I wear it often to church and on nights out and think of her.

  16. Your dress is beautiful. We have been enjoying spending time with family and watching Christmas movies on TV. We have still been walking in the cold. We are getting exercise and fresh air at the same time. We have been trying to stay out of stores and are just eating and using what we have. We are so blessed to be able to do this. We have been reading a chapter of the book of Luke every night and discussing it as a couple. My work had a luncheon for everyone yesterday. I am going with a friend to her granddaughter’s Christmas program at school. I love Christmas programs and plays.

  17. Hi Brandy, you look lovely! May I ask why you’re learning Urdu? It’s a beautiful language, you’ll love the poetry if you’re into it. Ditto to this “My largest money-saving in the last two weeks was buying as little as possible and using what I already have.”

    1. My husband suggested it. I have Urdu speaking friends and while we can speak in English, my husband said you like the culture; you should learn the language. I am having a lot of fun learning it and am enjoying the challenge. Already, I am picking out words in clips that I see on Instagram from comedians, content creators, and movies.

  18. I received a coupon for a free tortierre(meat pie) at an upscale market close by. It fed us for three meals and was delicious. Other things we made were homemade bread( with added 12 grain cereal and oats to increase the nutrition), oatmeal coconut muffins(I forgot to add the oil so had to add a tsp to each muffin cup and stir it in-they were fine), shepherds pie( added some lentils to stretch out the ground beef), Thai chicken, ham and veggie quiche and pizza.
    The water bill came yesterday. We spent 83 cents a day for water but by the time sewage and other service charges were added the monthly total was $87. We used 32 US gallons per person per day. No idea if that is good or not. I am not as careful as Brandy-I bath rather than shower( although my husband takes a quick shower which I think compensates), we have low flow toilets only flushed when necessary and a water efficient washing machine and dishwasher.
    Ellie’s friend kindly gave me a copy of her book which my husband and I have been perusing-it is much bigger than I imagined so I see why it took so much time.
    My husband has been taking the lead on Christmas shopping. Our daughter and her partner are travelling to us for Christmas so we look forward to that.
    Small frugal fail-I mistakenly picked up organic bananas the other day at Costco-they didn’t taste any different to me. Lesson learned.
    The weather has been milder than normal for the past couple of months so I am expecting a smaller gas bill. Best wishes to everyone during this busy season.

    1. I’ve been buying organic on purpose at local Kroger. Only 4 cents a pound more than regular so I decided it would be an attempt at healthier eating. (But how much healthier could one banana be from another?) we only eat 4-5 bananas a week.

    2. I started purchasing organic bananas because I hoped that the workers were employed under better work conditions.
      I saw a documentary about how workers in banana plantations wear no protective clothing when the banana are sprayed with insecticides.
      Maybe a bandanna across their face.
      Usually no shirts but just shorts under extreme heat conditions.
      What results is the worker becoming sterile. Also ,there are increases in cancers, particularly skin and respiratory.
      I was shocked and began purchasing organic bananas as a result. I understand most people may not know this information. Once I knew I had to act.

  19. The dress is beautiful and you are beautiful in it! And the roses are gorgeous — so nice to see them as I look out at the snow on the ground.
    I had my hair cut and while there purchased a discount card – you prepay for whatever number of haircuts you want. The card doesn’t expire. Each time I use the card, it will save me $2, plus with everything being pre-paid, I only have the tip out of pocket at the time of my haircut. I purchased 6 and was able to use one that day.* I spent some time in the kitchen and made a batch of yogurt, sandwich bread, bagels, and two loaves of sourdough. I also made and froze a bunch of cookie dough for Christmas cookie platters. I made my annual batch of 3 dozen tamales – I used all the turkey leftover from Thanksgiving. Finally, I cooked the turkey carcass with a bunch of vegetable scraps and made 6 pints of turkey broth.* I have been saving survey points and cashed them in for an Amazon gift card to buy an item we have been wanting.

  20. I live rural so everything except local post office is far. I love shopping at Salvation Army store 43 miles away. I went to their Red Kettle kickoff a few weeks ago and signed up to be volunteer bell ringer (2 hour shift at Kroger). Last year they were able to help 300+ families with red kettle proceeds. That is great for small towns in Mississippi. It was gorgeous sunny day and warm enough by my shift at noon not to need a jacket. I was able to make 13 other stops while out and about. Checking my calendar but I may be able to volunteer to work another shift next week. It is an enjoyable 2 hours. People are so friendly and generous and it’s a hoot watching the little kids put money in the kettle. I even had a lady who wanted to buy me a treat and drink while she was inside buying her groceries. Only thing I would do differently is remember to get my drink out of car. 2 hours is a long time without a drink for a Diet Coke addict. Last year I had a co-ringer but was alone for this shift and it was just too much trouble to unhook the kettle and take with me to my car to get my drink. First stop afterwards was Sonic for fresh Diet Coke.
    -I’ve been buying 🎯 liquidation for months at local (only 17 miles away) store in anticipation of holidays. Some was as much as 95% off. Yesterday I was able to deliver tons of toys to local bank for their toy drive for kids at St Jude in Memphis. Still missing some activity books but hope to locate in next day or so and drop those off during bank’s Christmas open house on Friday.
    -We did a book swap at annual girlfriends’ cookie day-lunch. I’m taking all the unclaimed books to local library and putting on free tables and swap racks a few at a time. Had copy paper box full of extras.
    -Family Christmas this Sunday. It’s bring your own steak plus assigned sides. We keep it fairly simple with salad bar, baked potato bar and desserts. I know nothing about buying meat so I give my nephew my credit card and he picks out meat for me, my 87 yo mom and his family and I pay. He gets a little break in the Christmas budget and I don’t have to go to grocery which I love. Plus he is a meat marinating genius if some sort.
    -Headed to big city next week for 5 days of dog sitting. Free vacay for me with things we don’t have near home like great restaurants and Netflix. On Friday I’ll check out a couple of thrift stores that had 75% of great Christmas stuff last year. Past experience says not too crowded as long as you go before noon. But other than that I’m staying in house with dogs, tv, books and some great curbside meals.
    -That dress was absolutely made for you. Looks terrific with your coloring. Love your accessories and hairdo.
    -Merry Christmas to all who celebrate. How you are able to spend it with those you love.

    1. TCR, I was a member of Rotary when we lived in Lewiston, Idaho, and one of my best memories of that time (about 30 years ago) was being a Red Kettle volunteer bell-ringer for the Salvation Army. It was probably the best time I ever had in Rotary. I’d be volunteering this year if I could stand in one spot that long. And, as for “The Lady in Red”– whatta dress, Brandy! Don’t worry about only wearing it a few times a year–that dress is timeless. You can wear it forever!

      J in PA mentioned waiting to buy a coat she wanted at ThredUp and found a similar coat at a thrift store for 1/3 the price. I found the same thing about buying a prime rib this year and those of you that shop at Kroger stores might listen up. I was literally on my way to Fred Meyer (Kroger) yesterday to buy a rib roast for $4.97 lb. (an amazing price) when it suddenly hit me that anything that looks too good to be true, probably is. My first thought was that the meat might not be USDA Choice. I looked at the digital deal ad and it didn’t say. It just said that it was $7.97 lb. without the coupon. Then I saw prime rib was advertised for $7.97 without the digital deal, and it was “Select,” which is a step down in grade. It is, by definition, tougher meat because it lacks marbling. Then I read the digital deal coupon and it stated “one pound.” One pound! If I understand this correctly, the first pound of roast will be charged at $4.97 lb. and the remainder of the weight at $7.97! Does anybody know anything about this? It lacks a LOT of transparency in advertising.

      Later in the day, I discovered the Safeway/Albertsons ad, which I thought hadn’t been delivered yesterday. They are advertising USDA Choice prime rib for $5.97 lb! I rarely buy anything at either store because they’re the most expensive stores in my town. But that’s where I’m buying my prime rib this year. (My husband has always joked the Christmas rib roast is the only good meat we see all year, LOL). But, it MIGHT get better. I have a paper coupon for 10% off, received when we got flu shots at the Safeway pharmacy. I’m not sure it will work, because it says not valid “with any other other offer,” and that might include digital coupons. Or not. If I can use it, the prime rib will be $5.37 lb. for the whole thing. I’ll let you know!

      Safeway is currently owned by Albertsons, which has been an Idaho-based company since the 1930s. However, I read that all of the Albertsons and Safeway stores have been bought by Kroger and the deal will close early in 2024…….

      1. Yes, they were bought out. My son was working at Smith’s, a Kroger-owned store. They cut his hours from 40 to 12 months ago; they said they were cutting everyone’s hours to be able to make over the Albertson’s stores. He no longer works there.

      2. The 10% off coupon worked! Big surprise! I also bought 3 lbs. of bacon for $11.97, less 10%. That coupon saved me $8.13.

        Brandy, interesting about Smith’s. They seem to be rebranding the two Albertsons stores here to Safeway–they were taking down the Albertsons signs yesterday. This will give us 4 Safeway stores in a city of 56,000 people. When they merge with Fred Meyer, Kroger will own 5 supermarkets here. This will leave only two non-Kroger stores in Coeur d’Alene–Super 1 (a local chain) and Winco.

        1. My mother and I have both changed to doing most of our shopping at Winco. The prices seem to be lower there now as the loss leaders have mostly disappeared.

  21. Forgot to mention that we keep our house at 68F during the day and 64 at night. I sleep in my flannel nightgown and snuggle under my flannel covered duvet. Although I know many of you keep the temperature lower, clearly I like to be nice and cozy!
    Visited my sister last week at her farm-they had just butchered 2 pigs and 10 chickens and while I am sure the meat is healthier and cheaper for them, I was reminded that I am definitely a city girl!

  22. The color of the dress is lovely, and it looks so nice on you!

    Our roses are old, unidentified “wild” roses, and they are still holding a bloom or two, but the sudden cool days we’ve had have stopped the flowering for the rest of the year.

    It’s been an expensive time for us here, on top of shopping for Christmas. We’ve had repairs, replacements, higher bills…. I hope this period is about done. I’m taking care of the pennies, though. Every little bit counts.

    I start my Christmas shopping early, as sales happen all through the year. I had to buy three books that weren’t on sale, but other than that, I got sale prices on everything I’ve bought, and I also bought supplies on sale for the gifts I made. One of the books I bought that wasn’t on sale didn’t ring up correctly, but I didn’t realize until I got home. The register had no screen facing me so I could see prices, but at that point, I’d looked at so many books and prices, trying to choose, I couldn’t remember what prices were on the books I bought anyway. I looked at the receipt later and realized a book marked $37 rang up for $45 – that’s quite a price increase! I returned with book and receipt to the store and I was given my money back, then the book was repurchased for the correct price. The manager explained that the company had upped the price for the newest printing of that book, company wide, but the ones already on the shelf at the lower price were supposed to be sold for their marked price, not the newer, higher price. However, cashiers don’t know when the prices have changed, so they just scan the book and charge what the computer says. I think there might be a hope on the part of the company that people won’t notice their book rang up for a higher price, or won’t take the trouble to get their money back. Otherwise, I would think they would instruct cashiers to verify the price with what’s on the book when ringing up, wouldn’t you? Sorry to be suspicious, but…

    I’m keeping the heat lower at my house and dressing more warmly when I’m home.

    I switched auto insurance this summer to get lower rates and was relieved to find I had the same 6th month premium this winter. I know many others who found their insurance premium jumped quite a bit. We’ll see how it does next summer, though.

    My office bought lunch for all of us, for a lunchtime meeting, and my lunch was big enough to save half for dinner that night.

    I made my own crackers.

    It’s cool enough to use the oven now, but I still plan so that I cook two or more dishes when I use the oven.

    I’m looking forward to a week off at Christmas, thanks to my office closing for that week. Among other reasons to enjoy it, that means I won’t commute for a week, saving $80 in gas money.

  23. That is SUCH a beautiful dress, and you wear it so well! I also really enjoyed your new soup recipe on IG!

    My recent frugal accomplishments:
    – I made more pizza mini muffins for my kids snacks (I can hardly keep them in stock in my freezer) using my easiest-ever pizza dough
    – I tried a new kid-friendly recipe: an egg yolk stuffed sealed sandwich, cooked in a toaster. Kid-friendly and inexpensive!
    – I then used the egg whites leftover to make flourless chocolate cookies. Yum!
    – I also made chickpea salad wraps (https://approachingfood.com/californian-chickpea-salad-wraps/), using clementines I previously bought on deep sale.
    – I signed my daughter up for free soccer and basketball classes, run by the city. I was able to sign my other daughter up for music and swim classes, run by the city. Those are paid, but much more affordable than private. Spots for everything were limited, so I logged on via two devices the literal second spots opened, and got access. Whew!
    – I printed out a few months of paper calendar for free. I usually buy a new agenda several months into the new year when prices have dropped by at least half price. Until then, I’m happy to make do with a printout.
    – I’m giving a lot people home-baked gifts this year. My workplace got, variously: Milano-style spritz sandwich cookies decorated festively and wrapped in individual wrappers from my craft stash, chocolate covered almond toffee breakups (all ingredients purchased on sale), vegan walnut snowball cookies and dairy-free snowball crossed with spritz cookies (wrapped up in reused containers with labels that are literally older than I am but hey retro is in), and so on. Everything looked and tasted fabulous, and I didn’t break my budget. The hardworking staff at my condo got boxes of chocolate purchased on sale and out of my grocery budget. My kids so enjoyed handing them the boxes. And the kids at my kid’s bus stop got individually wrapped and festively decorated little spritz cookies. I got lots of compliments from other parents, and my daughter was happy to be able to give her friends cookies. The teachers got spritz cookie decorated snowball style (my daughters helped me, so my eldest was especially proud to give them), wrapped up with saved pretty cupcake boxes and wax paper, with stickers that said ‘homemade with love’ on them, plus homemade cranberry sauce in recycled jars with homemade labels. They all turned out very nicely. I also gave lovely Christmas cards that I had gotten free from someone who was moving, and packed it in saved bags. Basically, I used some ingredients and a lot of labour and ingenuity to gift gifts on a budget. The bus driver got a package of salt water taffy that was too much for our household, and our pediatrician got a box of Lindt chocolates gifted to me (better for my waistline and my budget).
    – I have a few cookie tins to finish up, and I made different things including a variation on my fruit and nut fudge clusters (https://approachingfood.com/fruit-and-nut-chocolate-fudge-clusters/) using walnuts and coconut.
    – I sold two items on fb marketplace. Just a few dollars, but little bits add up over time.
    – instead of meeting a friend for coffee and spending money OOP, they came over after the kids were in bed, and I made tea and served freshly baked cookies. I sent them home with freshly baked cookies in a re-used container.
    – I polished my silver wine bucket (that I use as a poinsettia plant holder each Christmas, and which I had traded for many years ago) using tin foil, boiling water, vinegar, and baking soda. The chemical reaction polishes it right up!
    – I combined sales, cashback, coupons, and price matching when shopping. My best deal was getting 5 bottles of brand name bbq sauce for free, plus overage. My next best deal was two boxes of crackers free, plus overage. Another deal, free bags of ‘artisan’ popcorn (coupon plus sale plus cashback). I also got blocks of cheese that normally cost $11.99, for $2.99 (sale plus points plus coupon). I’m planning a few cheese boards for hosting later in the month, and planning to do it as economically as possible.
    – I earned a $20 gc to Walmart (or Amazon) by reading and reviewing books on Reedsy. I’ll get the gc in January. I’ve done this in previous years, and it’s legit. (If anyone is interested, let me know and I can post my aff link, which would get a successfully accepted reviewer $25 for their first review, as opposed to the current $10). If I had more time, I would earn the max allowed of $120 (12 x 300 word reviews worth $10 each), but I just don’t currently have time to read another 10 books this month. As I’m a fast reader, I was able to quickly read the two books that I did. Free books plus a gift card? Made me happy!
    – I had friends and their kids over for a dinner/playdate and served ‘kid charcuterie’ as a meal (cheese and cracker board, homemade hummus with homemade mini pitas, veggie and fruit platter, homemade cookies, plus homemade lemonade made using lemons from a flashfood produce box). Because it was almost all homemade or purchased on significant discount (13 cent boxes of crackers, etc.), it was very affordable to entertain. I also made homemade salt dough ornaments for them to decorate, as the activity. Lots of fun, and not much OOP.

    Looking forward to learning from everyone else, as always!

  24. You look beautiful, Brandy. What a gorgeous dress.

    Frugals:
    – Used a $10 off a $50 or more purchase at the coop.
    – Made over a gallon of broth from turkey bones I put in the freezer from Thanksgiving. I still have more bones. The broth is delicious and I froze a bunch.
    – Decorated for Christmas using things I already had: a six foot prelit tree, ornaments, a nutcracker I had bought at a thrift store years ago. and various other decorations. Bought myself a new Christmas stocking at Land’s End for 60% with free shipping (it ended up being around $16).
    – Made a decoration for my entryway by putting large colored jingle bells, a small piece of tinsel and, a sprig with silver berries in a glass vase. I already had all of these items. It looks so festive and I am enjoying this arrangement.
    – Got a free calendar from my credit union. Also received a small calendar with coupon codes in the mail (from a company I order supplements from).
    – Ordered some supplements I needed at 40% off (during a one day sale).
    – Took walks when it wasn’t raining. Worked out at the gym, and used the pool, sauna and hot tub.
    – Made copies at the library for free (you can print/make copies of a certain number of pages each week).
    – Checked out books from the library. Watched streaming shows and YouTube videos. Listened to Christmas music online and on the radio.

    Last week, I spent four days on a women’s retreat in Arizona. I had been wanting to go to this retreat since it was first announced earlier this year. However, it was very expensive as it was being held at a luxury resort. It was run by a therapist I had worked with previously. I had talked to her about wanting to go, and she offered me various discounts in recent months, but it was still more than my budget would allow. Well, a few days before the retreat, she asked if I wanted to come along at no cost (there was an extra room that had been paid for but the participant was unable to attend). I would just have to pay for my own airfare to get there and back. So, I did. I was able to spend four days with some wonderful women, participating in workshops, eating delicious meals, and enjoying the beautiful weather. A massage and facial were also included as part of the package. It was an amazing chance to get away and do something I really wanted to do. I ended up paying around $1000 for airfare, parking, and a few other expenses, but it was worth it. This is a huge blessing that came my way and I am so grateful.

  25. Good to see you back! What a perfect dress for the holiday season. I hope you enjoyed having your husband home for Thanksgiving and that you all got some wonderful family time together.

    Our weather continues to be much warmer than usual here, which means we keep doing flower farming chores we’d been planning to just do in spring right now. Because of that, I’m actually terribly behind on my Christmas shopping and prep, but that’s okay — it will all get done eventually 🙂

    Here are my own frugal wins for this last week:
    https://www.toloveandtolearn.com/2023/12/12/weekly-frugal-wins-scraping-the-bottom-of-the-barrel/

  26. Your dress is absolutely gorgeous. I am not normally a fan of the color red, but it looks fabulous on you.
    The last two weeks have been interesting. We got 4 inches of snow, but now, it is almost all gone.
    I did quite a bit of cooking – Made homemade pizza, using a focaccia bread as the pizza crust. Made two loaves of French bread to have with turkey sandwiches. Made broth and then homemade turkey and vegetable soup. The carrots onions and corn were all from the garden – some via the “cold” room, some the freezer and some in the refrigerator. Made fried potatoes, peppers onions and eggplant – all with items from our garden picked this fall. Made breakfast for dinner with eggs, sausage and muffins.
    Made three batches of candied cashews and a batch of peppermint bark. Made a double batch of onion soup mix, a triple batch of cream of chicken soup mix, and a big batch of taco seasoning mix. Put together my sister’s Christmas gift. We exchange a basket of goodies each year. Rather than buying new baskets, we just each refill the basket we were given the previous year. We have been doing this for at least 10 years. Her basket contained: Candied cashews, homemade onion soup mix and cream of chicken soup mx, 2 jars of dill pickles, a jar of zucchini relish, a jar of pickled beets and one of tomato basil sauce. These were all things I canned over the summer or into the fall. I also tucked in several bulbs of garlic from our garden and some dish towels and homemade dishcloths. I put these between the jars so they would not hit against each other, and potentially crack.
    Purchases were – a gift combination of gift cards from Safeway, which gave me a $25 off on my next purchase coupon. My DH got his “free” OTC stuff from his Medicare Advantage plan – this included cough syrup, cough drops, toothpaste and Vitamin B-12. Winco had the large baking potatoes for 20¢ a pound – so bought about 12 pounds. Avocados were 48¢ – got 4, Mission tortilla chips were 98¢ – got 2. A local store had their baking sale so topped off for a year’s supply of butter for $1.99, flour 5 pounds for 99¢, sugar 4 pounds for 99¢, chocolate and white chips for $1.99 and canned mil for 79¢. Also, at another store got Chex cereal for $1.99 to use for Chex mix.
    And finally, I applied for Social Security to begin in April, when I turn 70.
    Hope everyone has a good week.

  27. I love the red dress and you look wonderful in it!

    Like you, my savings have come from not grocery shopping–or just picking up a few necessities.

    We went to three parties over the weekend. One was potluck, another I helped to plan and I was able to bring home a container of yogurt that wasn’t used, and the third for my family potluck as well, from which we brought home some pulled pork, rolls, pasta salad, and cookies.

    My friend lent me her Kindle so I could read a book for my book group (another potluck event!)

    I’ve been knitting a shawl made from yarn scraps from friends.

    A friend gave me tickets to a Vivaldi by Candlelight performance at a local cathedral. Enchanting light and music!

    We are blessed with health, a warm place to sleep, plenty of food, and plenty of ways to be of service. We are feeling to joy and peace of the Christmas season.

  28. Brandy, your dress is fabulous, and I love the necklace as well. They’re a great combination!
    We were super lucky that a car repair ended up being just a new battery, not a new alternator. I am so grateful for our kind and frugal mechanic.
    We had two large horizontal blinds with broken tilt mechanisms (the part that lets you twist them open). We were able to order replacement parts for about $30 online including shipping, and my husband helped me take down the blinds, replace the damaged parts, and reinstall the blinds. A huge savings over buying new blinds!
    I hosted a mahjong luncheon and made all the food myself. I also made a mahjong mat for my table out of neoprene I bought on sale. All of the mahjong mats I have seen online were prohibitively expensive, and this will protect my table surface and is also a color that I really like.
    I have been putting together Christmas gifts and am grateful to “past me” for some frugal buys that are paying off now. A specialty food company I like has a major sale every July, so I stocked up on things like fancy salt that wouldn’t go bad within six months. I had also found inexpensive red and white plaid plates at Target and basket wrap on clearance at JoAnn a few months ago ($3 for 3 huge rolls!). I added in some homemade goodies and small gifts specific to each recipient. Altogether it made for 6 very pretty and frugal gifts. I also was happy that I restocked my wrapping paper, gift bags, and gift card box supply during the sales after last Christmas, and that I had purchased a large number of gifts during a special event that local retailers here in Dallas have in October. All of that saved me money but is also making me less stressed by front-loading my planning by several months.
    My husband and I also went on our favorite December frugal date. There is a park nearby that does an incredible lights display, wrapping hundreds of trees in many different colors of lights. They reflect in the water of the lake, making for a peaceful and beautiful scene. We took hot chocolate we made at home in reusable insulated cups and had a lovely time walking for 45 minutes on the paths around the lake and the small islands.
    Thank you to those who recommended the Calm Christmas podcast. I have enjoyed listening to it.

  29. Your dress is beautiful. I found a new workout tank top at the thrift store as well as a new Le Creuset baking dish for 9.99. I bought my husband and son some clothes for Christmas there as well as new oven mitts for my mom. I had my eye on a gift at big lots and got a $10/20 coupon so it was half price, also grabbed my mom some Christmas lights. I bought a local Christmas tree from a friends tree farm, not cheap but important to us. I resisted buying a $50 porch pot at the tree farm and may try to attempt to make my own. Not buying any new Christmas decorations.
    We’ve been spending a lot of extra time cleaning and painting a rental house. One day our heat went out at our own house. More eating out than usual, since I’ve been home less to cook. Our house also got hit by a stomach virus. We missed several holiday parties, which did save some money, although I’d rather have not been sick. Still managed to bake bread a few times, applesauce oatmeal bars and pumpkin muffins. I curb picked a few pumpkins, which I’ll roast, purée and freeze as well as a large fancy glass jar out of a recycling bin.
    Sold stuff on eBay and marketplace. Money in, junk out.
    Trying to stick to buying the basics at the store and eat down the pantry. I found some good deals on milk and yogurt last week so I stocked up.

  30. What a gorgeous shade of red! Love the dress! And thank you for the lovely flowers – it is cold and dreary here so they are a real pick me up!

    Like many of you, staying out of the shops and using what I have over much of the last three weeks has made a real difference to the budget. I did go to the grocery store on the weekend – mainly for edible Christmas gifts that were on at good prices – plus earned me extra Loyalty Points. I tend to give GC, edible gifts, or tickets to something for those that I do buy for and I believe that I am now done! Two gifts went to friends when we enjoyed a holiday house tour – I paid for the tickets as my gift to both of them. I have purchased GC for the caretakers at the office (they do an amazing job and are all lovely people) and I have edible gifts for the rest of the staff. I have purchased specialty honeys for the few friends where we exchange token gifts and I have almost all my cards in the mail! My small tree is decorated, my creche is on display and I will buy a poinsettia this weekend and that should be it!

    I used ground beef and pork from the freezer to make two meat loafs – ate this for two days, took a serving to my office mate and the rest is packaged up into individual serving portions and into the freezer. Did a bit of an inventory and the only meat I’ll need to buy for the next couple of months will be some ground beef, a large pack of chicken thighs and some bacon (I’m doing Christmas morning brunch) – otherwise, I’ll be using up what I have on hand from now to the end of February. I also made a pot of mushroom/barley soup and some tuna salad so that has made for some quick and simple meals this week. I also made an apple crumble with some apples I bought on sale a couple of weeks ago.

    We are very busy at the office (this is definitely the busy season when you work for a church). I attended our free Christmas concert on Friday and it was wonderful – we did accept donations for our refugee sponsorship program and raised almost $10,000!!!! We have had a special Advent service every Wed. with a light lunch that I organize afterwards so that has added to the workload. I am looking forward to this Saturday as I am getting my hair cut, meeting friends for brunch and then going to see “42nd Street”! It is part of our subscription series so the tickets were paid for last Spring – it will be a lovely day after an especially busy week!

    I have started my budget planning for 2024 and have a list of companies to call about negotiating some lower costs – I am prepared to cancel or walk away from certain things if I don’t get a better deal so it will be interesting. I do have a list of items that I want to purchase – mostly for my apt. – but intend on paying cash for everything. I am also determined to up my debt repayments over the next year so there will have to be some major belt tightening in other areas. It will be a challenge!
    Have a wonderful week everyone – and try not to become too overwhelmed!

  31. Oh that dress is gorgeous!
    I’ve been leaning hard into sales to get some things we needed to replace. Kohls cash from that got me a skirt for work and jeans. Also got a drawer organizer and some silicone replacement lids for dishes.
    Dad is surprising my youngest with some gear for lacrosse for Christmas.
    Used up extra marshmallows to make a “hot cocoa” cookie for kids to enjoy during finals.
    Got some fresh produce at farmers market. The roast I bought at the store because I was craving comfort food was not cheap. I didn’t realize prices had gone up so high!
    Christmas pitch in is Friday at work. Making cranberry muffins from leftover berries from Thanksgiving. Gift is a Penzeys spice box I got on a deep sale when I was there earlier this year as well as some holiday kitchen towels. Total out of pocket was $10 for about $45 worth of product.
    Making soaps for my husband’s stocking (he finally said what scents he likes) and made bath bombs for the adopt a child through work.
    A friend messaged that there are 2 12 packs of diet coke in the office if I would like.
    Going to church to pick up a few skeins of yarn. We are driving to my inlaws and I’ll have a lot of car time and can work on prayer shawls then. The group usually meets when I work but they posted in the church bulletin that they have lots of extra yarn donated. I can give time!
    Van repair was “only” 400 so that is a blessing.
    Will add more if I think of it. Have a blessed week!

  32. It’s been a great, frugal couple of weeks in Houston, TX!
    I took the kids to a grand opening of a new restaurant, where we got a free dinner. It would have been $96.25 for the food we ordered, which was delicious.
    I found some useful things at Goodwill Outlet, $1.29/#: partial box of ziploc bags, unopened soap, a working flashlight, plus I bought some Lululemon items and two American Girl dolls. You never know what you’ll find there!
    Some friends gave us a car seat their youngest outgrew, which my son will be able to use. It’s a Diono, which is narrow and will work well with the other seats in my van. So kind of them to think of us! A new Joe V’s opened closer to me, so I stocked up on pork spare ribs .67/#, canned vegetables 3 cans/$1, chicken breast .77/#, avocado 8/$1, etc. Their prices are very good and I plan to continue shopping there.
    I found Purdue pre-cooked chicken packages marked down to $3, with $2 off coupons attached. I got 6 packages at $1/each, will throw in the freezer for an easy weeknight meal.
    I bought the .50 Jimmy John’s sub rolls again, these make great sandwiches for lunches.
    My aunt and uncle babysat the youngest while I took kids to 5 dental appointments. No cavities, praise the Lord! It was so nice of them to help me out. They don’t have grandchildren and are so kind to help me with my kids from time to time.
    I sometimes find myself in a pity party (thinking of myself as the old woman who lived in a shoes); I have a small house and feel stretched thin sometimes, but, I really do have so much to be thankful for!
    Sent two sons to birthday parties with gifts from the gift closet.
    I’ve been cooking a lot, it seems. I find that I feel more satisfied and less likely to want to eat out when I cook good food at home.
    I bought a bigger fridge from someone in a neighborhood facebook group for $100. It’s bigger than our old Samsung, which was having issues. This is a JennAire; hope it’s ok. So far so good.
    I found out I get a paycheck in December I hadn’t realized I will get. That will help! I’m saving up for a cd. 😉
    It looks like Randall’s finally has butter $2/#, so I need to get some in preparation for Christmas baking.
    Hope everyone has a nice, frugal week!

  33. That dress is lovely Brandy! We have been busy getting ready for Christmas. Shopping is done except for the last minute food items. Still some baking and decorating to do but those are home-based activities so I am happy with that.

    Our pantry shelf and freezers are full so there is very little grocery shopping to do the rest of the month. January is going to be a no spend month and this will not be difficult with having so much in.

    We continue to be blessed by our free groups. We received a large lot of frozen and canned foods, a Christmas picture that is lovely with our nativity, a new with tags mens fall jacket, a winter scarf, some small Christmas gift bags and an NFL hat that my son will love.

    Hope everyone has a lovely week!

  34. Like “I”, I received a coupon for free tourtière. She was very kind and offered to come pick the coupon up from me, go to the store, then
    return to me with the tourtière. I cannot eat it because of my egg allergy so it was my Christmas gift to the friend who does my weekly shopping. She in turn had already picked up hers but was thrilled to get a second one as she is hosting a lot of people for Christmas. I am very grateful to I because a couple of days later she and her husband picked up 15 cans of Dole’s pineapple for me for $1.46 per can (regularly $2.50 or more per can).

    My big expense was 4 taxi trips to and from doctors’ offices. After the first doctor’s visit, I was referred to a cardiologist. Amazingly, I had an appointment within 1 week. (Frankly I was a bit scared to get such a quick appointment). I had several tests in his office. Passed with flying colours, with one test to go. Cost to me = 0. I had a nice taxi driver originally from Morocco and he and I discussed the proper way to cook couscous (very different from the North American way and much better sounding). I am sure the pot he was describing was a couscoussier. I can use my double boiler which has a top with steamer holes. I am keen to try it as couscous is very inexpensive (well, relatively so) and it sounds great. He said he is going to have his wife make some for me and deliver it over. This will be very interesting. I have always wanted to go to Morocco so we chatted about it in general. I said it was too bad about the recent earthquake but he said it has changed the water table so now they have water where before they didn’t so they can grow things. It was a long drive so it was nice to chat.

    This week’s special was skinless, boneless chicken breasts at Co-op for $4.88 per pound which is half price. I don’t know if I’ll get any
    but my shopper volunteer said she would try. If so, they are going into my friend’s freezer.
    My shopper volunteer has been quite ill with a virus so I don’t know if she has recovered enough. Not covid.
    Covid and the flu are really surging here and especially in B.C.

    I think Elizabeth M.’s strategy of having a supply of food so she doesn’t have to go out if the weather is bad or she is ill is very sound.
    I have been trying to stock up for those reasons too – and so I don’t have to ask someone to go out when the driving is bad.

    Elizabeth M. also mentioned the strike of the major sugar company in Canada. I have a good supply of sugar. I eat almost no sugar
    but have it for the hummingbirds (but not in winter here). A friend was going to Ten Thousand Villages, a store which sells products from
    developing countries where she was going to pick up brown sugar so she picked up a small bag for me too. I’m thinking of sending a bag of white sugar out to the coast to my great nieces as they get hummingbirds.

    I’m not sure I mentioned it but I had a hand held shower which had a cracked hose part. Also the holder broke years ago. I wrote Grohe which made it as they claim to give a lifetime limited warranty. Well, kudos to Grohe. I wrote their customer service department and enclosed photos. Within about 5 days they said they were sending replacement parts. Sure enough the parts arrived today so when the plumber puts in a new toilet he can fix the shower hose saving a second housecall service fee.

    I was appalled to see the tornado damage in Nashville and relieved that some friends are all right.

    I send my warmest wishes for the holiday season. Stay warm and safe.

    1. I didn’t know that about the earthquake changing the water tale in Morocco! That is HUGE. Their drought has been extreme–worse than here. I am happy to hear that! Thank you so much for sharing!

      I don’t use hummingbird feeders; I have tried, but it is so warm here that the sugar water can go bad in 2 days in the heat. Instead, I have planted flowers in the garden. The hummingbirds especially like my lemon trees, my zinnias, and my agapanthus (none of which are red!). I see hummingbirds almost every time I step into my garden.

      I have always cooked couscous by pouring boiling water over the couscous and letting it sit and absorb the water. I am curious as to how he does his.

      1. Hi Brandy,

        The cabbie described a two pot system, which is called a couscoussier. In the pot on the bottom, he said they cook vegetables or meat such as lamb, beef, chicken. The steam from the bottom pot infuses the couscous on top. In the steamer type pot on top, they put the couscous. It is a much more complicated method than you or I use. There are some videos on YouTube which explain the process. The couscous is actually cooked/steamed three separate times. The first time a bit of olive oil is added to the couscous and then some water (probably warm or room temp) and then the fingers are used to mix it around. Then it is steamed over the bottom pot contents. Allow it to cool on plate for ten minutes then add oil and water. mix around with hands. The second time the couscous is taken out of the pot and put in a bowl or on a plate. It is allowed to cool. Then I think the olive oil, then room temp water is repeated, mixing the couscous by hand. the rest it for 10 minutes. Finally on the third step, after the steaming, the same process with oil and then water added but pressing the couscous together in a ball. Then after the third steaming, the veggies and/or meat and sauce is added on top of the couscous to serve. It is much more labour intensive than our quick couscous where we add it to boiling water, turn off the heat, cover, let it rest for 10 minutes then stir with fork to fluff it up. I suspect the Moroccan way is incredibly fluffy and tasty. The above is just
        a rough recounting of what he told me.

  35. You look great in red!

    Earned $15. 70 from Ibotta. Most of that was the free turkey rebate, I purchased a turkey breast to use later.

    Made $35 on Marketplace.

    Had a .75 off a gallon of gas at Hyvee. Was able to get 20 gallons for $1.92 each.

    I used a sale and $10 Walgreens rewards to get 4 12 packs of Coke for under $10

    Amazon sent me an email that I could get MGM+ free for 6 months since I recently purchased a firestick

    Made a return to Amazon promptly for a refund

    Got rid of a few things on a buy nothing site

    Ate breakfast and lunches at work

    Found a few cans of dog food that fell behind something

    Classes are done for me this semester. I’m hoping to read something fun before the next one starts in a month.

  36. Renovation work began on our kitchen last week and by Friday I had a functioning kitchen. New counters arrived today, so perhaps this week or first part of next they will be installed, and that job will be complete. We saved a bit of money on the kitchen reno work because we cleaned out all the cabinets, etc., before the men arrived. Doesn’t everyone do this?! Also because we did not ADD a thing, we just went along with what we’d already discussed with the contractor. Everything was paid for except the labor when the work began and that money was set aside and in our savings. This week the bathroom work began. I’m glad we saved on the kitchen because the bathroom is a wee bit more complicated. Again, though, all money is set aside and we are paying for it right up front. Like many others I am doing a pantry/freezer challenge this month. Yet despite this I have spent right at $300 on groceries this month. No stocking up, except for the odd piece of meat on sale, just buying produce and dairy products. It blows my mind that things now cost what they do. Today I did a full pantry inventory. I’ve done well restocking over the past few months and noted only three items that I definitely should restock but I feel comfortable with where we are at present. I have looked at our budget for the year ahead. It will take a bit of finagling to get the budget to balance this next year due to more outgo and less income but we will manage. I say sincerely though that it’s not insurance or utilities that will take the biggest effort. It’s the cost of groceries and the lack of sales items advertised, etc. Not to mention the higher costs. I’m very blessed that I’ve got the experience necessary to manage well.

  37. Happy Wednesday!

    School gets out on Friday. This is always an emotional week for me. We are on a block schedule at the high school so I only have my students for a semester. By now we have bonded and I hate to see them go. It is also soon my birthday ( the big 60) and we have pushed forward with the renovation of the century home on the Sacramento River. This week is especially charged with packing for my birthday Christmas Market River Cruise from Switzerland to Amsterdam. I bought it in February and took me nine months to pay back my emergency fund but I know it will be worth it. My son is going with us and at 21 I don’t know how many more trips we will have just the three of us. Here are some ways I have saved during this week compared to every other last weeks of school.

    * I had a tradition of once a year ordering DOORDASH Jim boy tacos for the department potluck. I was always anxious because it is burdensome and VERY expensive ($80 for 18 tacos.) This year I signed up for dessert and am bringing the large box of See’s Peanut Brittle my mom gifted me.

    * I usually give 2 $25.00 gift cards to my TA. Busy, I just gave a card with cash $40.00. He was thrilled.

    * Since we are leaving for the cruise, I have eaten down everything in the frig. Hubby and have have had different odds and ends. I have supplemented with the dozens of persimmons from our tree, made creamer from almond milk I made ( meh!), had simple lunches at school. Hardboiled eggs and homemade yoghurt. There were many treats around campus so I did not feel deprived.

    * I worked so hard at the century home last weekend I forgot to eat. 7 hours of clearing out a large terraced rose garden. I uncovered all the paths finally. There is beautiful concrete stripping/bordering. For some reason the past owners lined these with not very attractive mid sized rocks and also railroad ties. ??????? Hubby drove the John Deere up with a bucket and I heaved rocks into it for hours. (They will not go to waste. Our levee district uses them.) I moved the disjointed white flagstone and made a single 24 in path that lead to the new rose arbor we made using a beautiful heavy duty, old arch. There were also rocks around each rose bush???? Those are gone. I dug up dead agapanthus. I dug into large cactus” bushes to reveal steps. I unveiled a beautiful old brick pathway that circled a weeping willow. I am thinking of advertising a “crossfit” exercise class and charging people to come and work with me.

    * The biggest “savings” of all is I am not doing usual Christmas gifting or decorating. The ship will do it for us. Little souvenirs from the Christmas markets in France and Germany will be “gifts” with a happy new year card included of a great picture of the three of us.

    Merry Christmas

  38. You look beautiful in the dress.

    We have decided to pay off the house as it is now the only debt we carry. According to our mortgage lender we have already paid off 4 yrs and 4 months in 2 yrs of a 30 yr. loan.

    I have an inherited IRA from Daddy that I have to now take RMD and have it closed within 10 yrs of his death, thanks to change in rule of IRS. I talked it over with my financial advisor along with Hubby and decided what I pull from there is going directly on the mortgage. That additional amount will have the house paid off in 5 yrs. I don’t have that much in that IRA but told Hubby if we work hard and stay focused we could still get it done. Then I showed him what I was seeing right now.

    We both will be on Medicare (with Medigap and Part D) in Jan. After paying for that we will save $9,000 in difference of what we had before from his employer he retired from. That is $9,000 that can be split between a new *used* car when we replace the 2005 Silverado and the mortgage.

    We paid for GoodRX gold on advice of our youngest that uses it. We already saved more than what the membership cost us in these last 3 months. What it saves us will go on the mortgage.

    I have stocked for two years. Except for dairy and some fresh veggies off and on until garden season comes around (I’m in north west Ohio) we won’t NEED anything from store. I did remember you Brandy saying something about stocking variety. I not only bought it with that in mind. I will be growing it also, like yellow wax beans, Jade green beans, purple beans and Italian wide beans. I have all the seeds I need (and never all that I want LOL). I already figured out where I will get my plants as I decided using my grow cart would cost more in electric (our electric company helped figure it out and the guy was shocked) as I don’t need 4 or 6 of the same plants. I can buy fresh produce from the Amish and Mennonite around us also during the growing season.
    Prayers for peace
    Blessed Be
    https://chefowings.blogspot.com/2023/12/choices.html

    I have variety of dried beans. I canned some of them for quick meals.

    I got chuck roast on sale at Kroger’s, used my Fresh mode credit and a coupon and ended up only paying $2.78/lb. I got the limit of 5 packages, canned 9 quarts. of beef with broth, 2 quarts of broth(made from the fatty part I cut off while canning and slow cooked in woodstove oven, and used the last 3 cups to make shredded beef with gravy over mashed potatoes and 2-6 inch pot pies for our suppers. I canned 11 quarts of turkey broth from the turkey carcass I saved in the freezer and 4 quarts of chicken broth from the whole roasting chicken I got marked down half, the last of the chicken made chicken and noodles over leftover mashed potatoes and chicken and dumplings.

    I have not been to the store for a month. Hubby got a gallon of milk at Save A Lot while getting fuel for the Ford 350 truck.

  39. Hi Brandy and everyone!

    I ordered 10 kg (22 lb) rye flour from our local food coop, but the supplier did not answer the person trying to order it. Luckily some other local branches of the coop had 2 bags of 5 kg ryeflour they couldn’t sell, so I will get it at a great discount! I also ordered 10 kg yellow peas, I have found quite a lot of nice recipes lately – inexpensive protein! We make yellow pea soup, humus and yellow pea ‘meatballs’ – very delicious!

    My husband gave me a haircut.

    Today he has taken the train to Sweden to go for a hike in the woods – it is an inexpensive way to go ‘abroad’ just for a day, and enjoy nature in a country that is very different from Denmark even though it is so close by. It only takes a couple of hours each way, and the train fare is not expensive. He has brought a thermos with coffee and lunch to enjoy on his hike.

    We have decorated for Christmas using things we already own – many memories are connected to some of the older things. I have made an advent calender for my son with small packages every day – normal days it is just a small piece of candy from the discount store, the four advent sundays he gets something that I have bought at the second hand shop – a DVD, a book and also some Christmas decorations my mother bought for him when she was in Germany recently – mouth blown glass, very nice!

    We are still eating fresh apples we got from different local friends – we store them in the garden shed, and they keep very well. Last year we didn’t take the apples in when we got a cold spell, and they all spoiled shortly after Christmas – lesson learned! This year we remembered to take them in during a cold spell in November! We have found out that the floor in our utility room is quite cool when it is cold outside, so this is where we put them untill the weather warms up again.

    We had our water heater replaced recently as well as some water pipes in the utility room. We had a quote from a plumber, that made us gasp! But then we asked a local plumber to work by the hour, and the price was cut by 75%! He even did it cheaper than expected – even though we can see, that he charges A LOT more on the parts used, than if we had bought them ourselves. We know this from experience, so we did buy the water heater ourselves online a while ago, which I think has saved us a lot of money. The utility room is much cooler now than it used to be – we hope this means our bill for heating water will be lower – we bought a very well insulated model to save on energy costs.

    I have made a lovely Italian Christmas Cake – filled with nuts and dried fruit – it also contains orange peel, flour and honey, and nothing else, which means that it keeps very well. I used some honey I got for free from a friend and dried apples I made in September with apples fram the garden. We eat a small piece the four Sundays of advent, light a candle and sing a song – nice tradition appreciated by the whole family.

    Have a nice week everyone!

      1. Hi Brandy – of course, here is the recipe:
        100 g (approximately 3,5 ounces) whole grains (like barley or wheat)
        100 g yellow split peas
        100 g mushrooms
        1 tbsp olive oil
        1 handfull of parsley
        1 clove of garlic
        1/2 onion
        1/2 tsp chili powder
        1/2 tsp cumin
        3 tbsp bread crumbs
        4 tbsp rice flour (I just use plain wheat flour, and it turns out fine!)
        2 tbsp water
        1 apple
        salt and pepper

        Boil the grain until tender – time depends on if the grain you use is parboiled or not. If not parbolied, it is best to soak the grains for 2-3 hours to reduce cooking time. If parboiled grain is used cooking time is around 25-30 min, if not, soaked whole grains takes about 45 minutes to boil. Meanwhile boil the yellow spilt peas until tender – it takes about 25-30 minutes.
        Rinse and cut the mushrooms in slices, fry them until slightly golden. Put all the ingredients except the apple in a food processor and proccess for a slightly mashed consistency – I like it, when it still has some texture. Grate the apple and mix with the rest, adjust consistency with water or flour if necessary (to make it more wet or dry) and adjust to taste with salt and pepper. It looks so much like meat I had to remind myself several times that it was OK to taste! Make into ‘meatballs’ and fry in oil until goldenbrown and cooked all the way through. Yummy! It takes quite a lot of oil to cook the meatballs, so I have considered frying them in the oven. I haven’t tried it yet though, so I don’t know how it turns out, but I know it can be done for instance with bacon with a good result.

  40. Brandy that dress looks stunning on you and an absolute bargain for $20 🙂 . Lovely you are learning a new language and the roses would be beautiful placed in any room. Like yourself we are working on what we have at home for making meals with as we have ample storage.

    Our ward was asking for donations of non perishable food and baby clothing for new Mum’s. Happy to say with many donations we were able to help 3 families in our local community who were struggling with the high cost of living.

    In the gardens – we saw a lawn aerator on eBay for $225 from a business near us so we were able to pick it up on one of our trips that way with a slight detour saving paying $79 in postage. The saving was $305 from buying one in a local hardware store in our area. DH can’t wait for it to rain to soften the soil and use it.

    Personal finances- I transferred a fair sum to our emergency account from being under in other budget categories. I worked out our cost of living had gone up 20% in the last year with the increase cost of bills, insurances, groceries and everything we usually buy so that was an eye opener. I sat down with DH and we did a new budget for 2024 to account for the price rises and added 5% to all the bills that came in this year to allow for next years price rises.

    In the home – I did some extra spring cleaning and cleaned the walls in the bathroom. I also swept down all the walls in the rumpus room to get rid of dust on the walls and skirting boards.

    Grocery shopping – from IGA we bought 4 x 300g packs of Kabana on sale for $4.50 and coca cola on half price sale. From Coles we purchased 2 x 6pk of hamburger rolls on markdown for $1.59ea, pizza rolls on sale and 6 containers of cadbury choc coated peanuts, hazelnuts, almonds and sultanas for Christmas on half price sales for $5 ea. From Woolworths we bought some staples and used our $20 off rewards card and 4% off e-gift card. From the reject shop we purchased 12 tins of wet cat food for $1.25 ea saving .50c per tin buying it elsewhere. All totaled our savings added up to $71.49 so we are happy.

    In the kitchen – we cooked all meals from scratch.

    Have a wonderful week ahead everyone : ).

  41. To Margaret @ Approaching food
    I am interested in learning more about “Reedsy”. I read at least three books weekly while waiting for my husband at his chemotherapy appointments. Making money for doing something I like is a win win.
    Thanks,
    Diana P
    robb32557@gmail.com

  42. It’s been a busy couple of weeks here on the mountain. Holiday preparation and everyday activities keep us going during the day and help us sleep well at night. 🙂
    *We had planned to participate in a Christmas craft sale at a local tree lighting service with our homeschool co-op but, unfortunately, it rained that afternoon. One of the items we made to sell were 3D hanging stars out of vintage sheet music which would not have held up in the damp conditions (definitely indoor decorations.) So, we stayed home, made more stars and finished more tobacco walking sticks (the other item we were selling) with leather handles and took them to our neighbors antique booth the next day instead. A week later, all of the stars were sold as were a few of the walking sticks. Yeah! Glad we had another option for our creations and that they were so well received. Of course, these are also items we are giving as gifts to a few people so they serve double purposes. We have made more stars (this time, in two different sizes) and restocked the shop. Hope people are still shopping. 🙂
    *We sold $78 worth of other items in that same antique booth in November and got the check for those sales last week. It all helps!
    *I am always on the lookout for tablecloths as we are messy 🙂 so was glad to find a beautiful Indian cotton one at Goodwill for $2. I have amassed quite a collection over the years, many of them vintage, and enjoy using them everyday.
    *I decorated my mailbox and front porch with greens from the woods and bows I use year after year. No cost and gives me pretty things to look for while on my daily walks in the woods. Found a hawk feather (which I collect) and added to an ironstone pitched where I display them year round.
    *Took 2 cuttings from my largest geranium and planted them in new pots. I have good luck propagating them this way and look forward to having new plants for my porch in the s[ring. Right now, they sit in a sunny window and make me smile.
    *Limiting our grocery purchases to good deals and things to fill out holes in our pantry. Found spiral cut ham for $2/lb. which is the best I have found so far. We will enjoy that. We continue to eat from our Thanksgiving turkey which was packaged and frozen in 1 lb. amounts. I also bought a few loaves of bread from the discount rack just for some variety and to give me a break from baking.
    *My uncle sent me a box full of antique and vintage books. One of them has my grandfather’s name inside and another his mother’s. Two others are books inscribed to my uncle from my mom when she gave them to him as Christmas presents when she was 13 and he 11. All very precious to me and will join my collection of inherited family books. I have a lot and love them.
    *A friend went out of her way to help us this week so we made her brownies and put them in a pretty winter-themed container we already had. She appreciated the gift and it cost nothing extra but time.
    *I have been doing art classes on a free app with my 11 year old (the professional artist in the family.) I used to draw a lot and had gotten out of the habit. I love that this is something we can share. He is working on a plan to get prints made of his drawings to sell.
    *We celebrated St. Nicholas Day, as we always do – simply and with sentiment. My boys leave out their shoes and notes to St. Nicholas and they are rewarded with a note, a clementine, a few chocolates and a candy cane. Every year, they hear (and now read) the legends of the 4th century Bishop of Myra and it is a beloved tradition. I am impressed it still seems to mean as much to them now that they are pre-teens as it always has. Of course, I haven’t outgrown anything either. I am incurably nostalgic. 🙂
    *We have also been enjoying a history of Christmas curriculum guide from The Homeschool Historian. https://thehomeschoolhistorian.com/ It was only $8 (PDF) and FULL of fascinating references and resources from elementary to high school age. We have enjoyed a few of her guides so wanted to mention this as a resource for the home educating families here.
    *My youngest finished his semester of music lessons with Junior Appalachian Musicians (JAM). It’s an organization with many chapters throughout the region and offers very affordable music lessons for kids through adults (if space is available.) I highly recommend the program for anyone in the areas covered. https://jamkids.org/ He had his recital at the local historic theater and really enjoyed being on a big stage for the first time. His grandparents are giving him a ukulele for Christmas so he will be able to keep up what he has learned (he borrowed one for the duration of his lessons.)
    *The two choirs I am involved in (bell and vocal) at our church had our annual Lessons and Carols service Sunday. We worked hard on several pieces and were very gratified to get wonderful reviews from the congregation. I continue to feel that joining these choirs is one of the best things I have ever done. I am getting such wonderful music instruction for free and have become a part of a community I dearly love. All for the “cost” of getting over being intimidated and giving it a go. 🙂
    *Our homeschool co-op had a field trip to one of the member families farms. We cooked food outdoors over a fire, tried our hand at blacksmithing and learned about chiropractic treatment of horses. I am eternally grateful to be part of this group of families who know that learning doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg. Plus, we have a lot of fun!
    *Looking back at this entry, I see I wrote a lot about community and, for us, that is one of the most important components of our frugal lives. We are surrounded by people who look out for each other and use creative thinking, hard work, and many hands to make things happen long before money is employed. I know many of you all can relate and join me in being grateful for this on-line community that is so encouraging and inspiring. Just think, if we all lived near one another what we could do! 🙂
    *Have a lovely week, all!

  43. Hello, frugal friends! It has been a good two weeks here in the mountains of Virginia. We had some much needed rain the past two weekends. I uncovered the spinach so it could be watered by Mother Nature. We still have lots of spinach to enjoy. This is my challenge for the winter: to see how long I can keep the spinach growing. There is not much new on the frugal front. Grocery sales are minimal. I was able to get a couple of hams for .99/#. Every year our church hosts the homeless men in our area for the two weeks of the holidays. We have no homeless shelter for men in this area so Social Services rotates through churches in the area for the men to have a place to sleep and be fed throughout the year. My family has made it a tradition to feed them dinner on Christmas Eve. Last year I made breakfast for dinner which went over very well. I will do that again this year. I will make the same menu as last year: a variety of pancakes, ham slices, fruit, orange juice, and Christmas cookies. There are usually only 7-12 to feed and it is so easy. So one of the hams will be used for that. The other ham I had Mr. Fix It slice up and I froze in smaller portions. We use ham instead of bacon for breakfast. We ordered Mr. Fix It a pair of pants and a small travel purse for me from Amazon. We used credit, coupons, and discounts and got free shipping. We are going on a mission trip to Africa in June with our church and I wanted a very small purse that I could put money, card/ID, passport and my phone. This one is wallet size with a shoulder strap so I think it will be perfect. As previously mentioned grocery sales are few. I have decided to skip the grocery store this week. Brandy, that dress is very flattering to you. I love the color. And I am envious of your curly hair. Growing up my little brother had the long eyelashes and curly hair while his three older sisters had short lashes and stick straight hair. You got such a great deal on the dress. You mentioned in your post about giving more ideas for saving money on clothes on your Instagram account. Is there some way you can make the information a blog post eventually? For those of us without accounts on other places like facebook and Instagram it would be very helpful. Here is wishing everyone a frugal, healthy and safe week!

    1. Marley, I have very straight, thin hair. It used to be very, very long (mid-thigh length). One day I saw a picture of a woman with short, curly hair, and I loved it. This choekced me; I always thought I would grow my hair until it reached my knees. I was 21 at the time. Within a year, I had cut 21 inches off the length of my hair.

      I tried curling my hair a variety of ways over the years, usually with the curling iron, but it was never quite the look I wanted.

      Until 2 years ago.

      I started using sponge rollers. I start with dry hair and put in medium sponge rollers all over and small ones on the lower back part. I heat set it with a blow dryer for a few minutes. I then leave them in for at least 30 minutes, but preferably an hour to an hour and a half. If I am pressed for time I will do 30 minutes but use hte blow dryer on them a couple of times.

      Then I take them out, run my fingers through them, and spray with hairspray. I have to use a fair amount of spray for my hair to stay.

      1. Thanks for the tip! I will try it. I saw sponge rollers at the Dollar Tree. I will probably have to use half a can of hairspray to get the curls to stay but it might be worth it. I might also try the spray on gel my granddaughter uses when setting the curlers. Once upon a time I had really long thick but fine hair, almost to my waist. Now it is more a bob length. I have reduced the number of times I get it cut as it is hard to cut straight. I go about 3 times a year. I may have to cut it back to 1 or 2 as the cost has gone up so much. I cut my own bangs in between cuts so that saves me some money. By the way, I love your pictures of the roses. I can only seem to grow knock out roses. They don’t have much of a scent which is one of the things I love about roses. So I really appreciate seeing your pictures from your garden. Also, I am also noticing many “not customer friendly” changes at our local Kroger. I am sorry your son had to get another job because of corporate decisions. I hope he did not have any trouble getting a new job.

        1. Since you have thick hair you will need more curlers. I only use the green medium one from Conair and then the little yellow ones for the back lower part. I pull them out ringlet style. Then I use my fingers. I had to use two packages to get enough in the right size.

          I have used mousse in my hair with good results, but I found I don’t have to. I use a strong aerosol spray and I usually have to spray it three times, making surr to spray underneath.

          The heat set makes a huge difference and it also means I don’t have to sleep in curlers, which is so uncomfortable.

        1. Unfortunately, this method tangles my hair.

          I have found that just spraying it afterwards works well enough.

          The longer the curlers are in, the tighter they start and the longer they last.

      2. Brandy – I have read your blog for many years and would never have guessed your hair was not naturally curly. It looks so natural! I am impressed by your hairstyling abilities. Now, we know you can do everything! 🙂

  44. Lovely dress; very festive! Is there any chance that you might also post your frugal clothing ideas here as well? I’m not on IG.

    1. I will see what I can do! I was just thinking to post some outfits on IG and share where they are from (and the price I paid if I remember). Most of my pieces are thrifted, but there are some exceptions.

  45. You look so lovely, Brandy! What a pretty dress. Great deal! *My biggest success is that I (finally) graduated with my bachelor’s degree in Marriage and Family Studies. I studied online with BYU-Idaho. I took between one and three classes a semester and finished the second half of my degree during the last four years. I earned an associate’s degree in 1989. This was a frugal way to do this in a couple ways: first, I chose a school that had reasonable tuition and second, going slow kept my overall tuition cost lower each semester due to fewer credits. I am very thankful to have had this opportunity and am relieved to have finished. * Due to that, I’m a little behind on Christmas prep, but have been catching up. Today I did a little baking and candy making. I’ve been adding a few ingredients to the grocery order each week to spread out the cost. * The grandchildren (and their mamas) came over a couple days ago to help decorate the tree, set up the nativities and village. I fed them and had hot chocolate in the crock pot for them, with whipped cream and sprinkles. They are 6, 5, 4 and 3 so it was super fun. The nativities are a little mismatched, but I love it. Still haven’t located one baby Jesus, but I’m sure He will show up! Maybe Christmas morning!! Seeing Christmas through the eyes of a child is the sweetest part of celebrating. * All the gifts have arrived and I need to start wrapping. I went to see what wrapping supplies I still had and was pleased to see that I replenished after the holiday last year, but had forgotten. I love when my former self gives my current self a wonderful gift like this!! * I hope everyone is well and feeling the peace of the Season.

      1. Just like me! Keep plugging along. What really helped me when I thought it was just going to take too long to even start, someone said “the time is going to pass anyway. You might as well start and do one or two classes a time and see what happens!” I wish you success!

  46. Such lovely velvet and you must have been eye-catching at the concert! Is the necklace from a particular place or culture? It sets off the red so well.

    1. The necklace is an Indian necklace. It is from Tarinika. I don’t own much jewelry and most pieces I have are from a garage sale, from Amazon, or something I have made myself. This is an exception. They have 10% off on all their ads right now so you should be able to get a discount code. I got a ton of ads for similar companies, but this one first–and this one is FAR less expensive than all the other companies whose ads came up in my feed.

      I loved a lot of their pieces. I’ve tagged them on IG; I would love to work as an influencer for their brand! Here’s to hoping!

      1. Thank you for the company name! I don’t do well with necklaces, but I like bracelets and found several on their website I will look at further.

        1. After I got that ad from them, I got ads from so many other companies. I liked the pieces from Tarinika the most–and I also loved that they were 1/4 the price of the other companies! They also have a rewards program, which I didn’t know about until I saw the info about it in the box with my necklace. I really liked so many of their pieces. I am not used to seeing jewlery that I like nor buying jewelry, so I was genuinely surprised at how many things they had that I really liked, and thrilled that it was not overly expensive. My mother saw my necklace and thought it cost way more than it did.

  47. You look amazing!!! Is there a special reason for you to learn Urdu? Did I miss something?
    This week was pretty frugal for me thanks to the wisdom learned from here over the years, that we can prepare for Christmas all year and offset the impact. I had my gifts packed in November, now it’s just cruising. I made new cut out paper stars for the windows and as gifts for my friends. Something like this: https://www.instructables.com/How-to-Make-6-Pointed-Paper-Snowflakes/?amp_page=true. My trick to perfect snowflakes is to iron them with a kitchen towel over, so that the folds disappear. I also found more advanced designs on Pinterest.
    My husband and I worked a lot to move furniture around, it gave us the change we needed and made our house be more suited for our current needs.
    I gave myself a fringe trim. Not great, but no longer giving “goat attack” vibes. Progress!
    Gave myself cassia hair treatment (khadi brand), which helps with hair texture.
    I used water from hot bottles to water plants the next day.
    I did some teaching gigs on Saturdays which gave me the extra income I really need now.

    1. A university roommmate taught me to make snowflakes like this. It is so much fun.

      My husband suggested I learn Urdu as I have Urdu-speaking friends and enjoy the culture. I had been debating which language to study next and was considering Spanish, Italian, or Arabic. When my husband suggested that, it felt right. I have been studying for 2 months now.

      Urdu and Hindi share 75% of the same words (but use compeltely different writing scripts), so it feels like I am learning a language and a half 😄 This is nice, too, since I follow both Urdu and Hindi speaking accounts on IG. I am recognizing words that I have learned, which is exciting.

      Knowing the words are mostly the same served me well this week. I said “thank you” to someone in public on Tuesday in Urdu, and the man (who was very shy and quiet before) looked at me in absolute shock and much more loudly than before said in disbelief, “You speak Hindi?!?” It was my first time really trying to speak to anyone and I must have nailed the pronounciation. 😁 That was super fun and encouraging.

      Not that I really have time to add one more thing to my plate, of course 😆 But I have been enjoying it quite a bit and the challenge has been a positive thing in my life.

  48. Brandy, that dress is so lovely on you. It’s perfect!

    All year I look for sales so I’m well stocked for holiday baking, which is what I gift. When making doughs I start with light doughs, then darker and more flavored. This saves on water and time as there is no need to wash anything till done.

    My sil changed our normal Christmas menu, so now I’ll bring shrimp cocktail, which I already have everything for, and more cookies, my third round of assortments to bake this season, but I have the supplies. Cut out iced sugar cookies, chocolate peanut butter surprise, chocolate peppermint crinkles, Mexican wedding, Italian anise, snickdoodles, oatmeal cinnamon chip, and gingerbread. Probably more I’m forgetting. Oh and chocolate peanut butter fudge. All will be gifted.

    I went to a beauty school for a haircut. I wait a few years in between to be frugal, so this was a treat and she did a great job with the help of her teacher.

    Two grown sisters hosted a cookie baking get together in honor of how their mom and I did with them every year growing up. We all baked and ended up with assorted cookies, so gave me a head start on my baking and saved on buying specialty ingredients.

    The weather has been mild, my new lime tree is in bloom!, so I’ve been trying out running the furnace just in the morning to take the chill off and will see how it impacts my bill.

    I haven’t decorated for Christmas, I can’t find the hangers I made for the lighted wreaths outside, so I look like the grinch house. This is what happens when friends come over and help organize, then I can never find anything, lol. It’s saving on my electric bill though.

    I did my own Christmas nails with polish I already had. My sil is hosting Christmas Eve locally saving a trip out of town.

  49. Brandy, please help me place an Amazon order using your link. I can’t find it anywhere on your website. I mean, I have had to hunt for it before, but I think I’ve looked everywhere and I just can’t see any of the products you recommend that would give me your link. Has that disappeared? Where can I find it exactly? Thanks!

    1. Hi Cathy! Thank you so much for asking! I just updated the post and put the links at the bottom of the post! I was dealing with a sick child the last two days and finally just go my post up without any links. Thank you so much for using my links! I appreciate it!

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