I listened to music on Pandora and YouTube.

I watched the Call the Midwife Christmas special on Pbs.org.

I mended a sweater.

I harvested lemons, lettuce, Swiss chard, and garlic chives from the garden.

I brought lots of empty canning jars out of the pantry to cover and protect seedlings in the garden from a large drop in temperature. I used old sheets and towels to cover citrus trees.

I sowed seeds for cold-loving vegetables: spinach, mache, and arugula. I also sowed seeds for Bells of Ireland and poppies, both of which germinate better after being cold-stratified.

I evaluated my seeds for the following year and made a couple of orders.

I used a free shipping (one-day only) coupon to order a small amount of seeds for the garden.

I ordered from a second company that offers free shipping all the time.

My husband made the first of two sawhorses from metal scraps. I will use these to support the sections of the new pergola, (of which he finished two sections this week), which I will paint before they are welded in place. As they are going up near a wall, this makes it possible to paint the backside of them.

In the winter, we are only permitted to water outdoors one day a week. My water bill came in–and it was the same amount it was earlier this year before we put in drip irrigation and sprinklers! I am thrilled the new landscaping is using so little water while growing more food and flowers! Drip irrigation really uses a small amount of water. We’ve also managed to cut our indoor water usage.

I continued to use shower warm-up water to water potted plants on the patio. I used bathwater as well one day from a child’s bath. We don’t fill the tub all the way, as that would be a lot of water, yet what was there was still plenty to water many pots on the patio.

My gas bill came and it was beyond incredible. Normally this is one of the highest months of the year, but it was lower than last month’s bill, which I shared here. The weather has been very mild, and I have found that if I keep the heater set to 65 degrees, it rarely turns on.

My bill was $13.98. The basic cost to have gas is $10.80. This is now my lowest bill ever, even lower than summer, when we not only use less gas, but the rates are lower. (Also, our rates just increased). We used three therms for the month.

I have been analyzing how we are using so much less gas. These are the things that I have seen:

I am combining oven use to make the most of my time when it is on, cooking several things at once and making larger amounts at once. We then have enough to have leftovers for several days. We are having leftovers more often, which means using the microwave more than the gas stove and oven. It also means less hot water is used to wash pots and pans.

I am heating the water for rice to boiling for just a minute, then turning off the pan and covering it with a lid to finish cooking.

Everyone is taking shorter showers.

We had to replace our oven earlier this year, after going a year without a working oven (though we replaced the broken parts on the last oven, there was a larger issue). The new oven takes ten minutes to preheat while our old one took twenty. Still, though, we are using less gas than when we didn’t have an oven at all, so I know it has to be more than this.

What hasn’t changed: I continue to wash my clothes on cold, save for a load of cleaning cloths, which I wash on hot with bleach. I still turn up the heater temporarily when the house feels a bit too cold to me. The thermostats (our house has two) are programmed to be at 65 degrees all day (though I can program them to 4 different settings throughout the day if I wish), so a temporary override to 67 or even 69 degrees, if I’m feeling particularly cold, only last for a few hours. I seem to be the only one who is cold in the house; each time it feels cold and I ask the children if they want me to turn up the heat, they say they aren’t cold at all, so sometimes I just put on an extra sweater and keep going instead.

It doesn’t seem possible to continue to use this little, so I will continue to analyze what we are doing to keep the bill so low. This next month is usually our largest bill of the year, as we run the heater more. I hope to continue our trend of using less gas throughout the next year.

What did you do to save money this past week?

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160 Comments

  1. Wow! Congratulations on the low gas bill 👏 Also your floral arrangements are stunning!

    Last week I:
    * was lucky enough to find some great deals on items I’ve been looking for at thrift stores on day after Christmas when everything was 50% off
    * continued to eat meals and snacks provided during holiday get togethers and used up leftovers creatively- our grocery bill was $50 this week plus I had another $5 store coupon!
    * was gifted some amazing items from BN Group: maple syrup sampler and candy, 2 natural deodorants, a vintage baby blanket, candle, new reusable bag set, and some bentonite clay!

    Hope everyone is staying healthy and happy 😊

  2. Wow! Your energy bills are incredibly low!! I’m afraid for our bill this month. We really need to insulate the house as the walls have none and our attic needs more. I should’ve added this to our 2022 goals.

    This week we have stayed home due to Covid. Two family members tested positive and are resting and recuperating. This meant no money spent on Christmas vacation outings such as ice skating or trips to visit family.

    I am very thankful that I keep a fully stocked kitchen and medicine cabinet. I didn’t need to buy anything to cook, clean, or medicate. It has made Covid less stressful and all of us quarantined.

    We used a free community-based Covid testing program. This saved us from spending on the at-home Covid tests. Also, the school district provides free kits for students. I will continue to use free testing rather than spend a lot on purchasing kits to test and re-test. With all of this time at home, our streaming has been very worthwhile the past week!

    I am low on my favorite skincare. I was about to order on Amazon when a reviewer mentioned it was less expensive on Overstock. Upon investigation I discovered she was right! I ordered from Overstock and was able to use an additional %10 discount code. 😊

    Stay healthy and well everyone. Have a blessed and beautiful week! ❄️

  3. Your flowers are gorgeous! I was already to head back to school, but was notified last night that there would be no school today as our teachers and aids are sick. Unfortunately, there is a shortage on substitutes. One good thing is my pantry is getting a good clean out, but I would rather have a pay check!

  4. I used 2 $3 off any treats at Pets Mart(I have 2 dogs with November birthdays). I got 2 boxes of milkbones for .99 each.

    Walmart Market had some after Christmas 50% off markdowns. Got 18 ounce bags of walnuts and pecans for $4.99 each(put in the freezer) , another popcorn tin for $2.50, 3 boxes of gingerbread muffin mix and 2 orange cranberry and for $1.12 each, 2 sugar cookie mixes($1.12) and 2 christmas brownie mixes ($1.75 each). These should keep the youngest baking most of winter.

    Ended up with 14 cups turkey stock from 2 turkey carcasses. I froze it in 2 cup portions.

    Sold 2 items and made $35.

    Went back through my mom’s apartment and took a truck load of donations to the DAV. This will save me time throughout the year as her apartment is less cluttered(I also tossed 6 bags of trash and had 5 bags of stuff picked up from a but nothing group.)

    Returned an item I didn’t end up needing to the store for a full refund.

    Earned $10.75 Amazon rewards from Amazon shopper panel and $5 from Verizon rewards

    We stayed home New Years. We are always in bed long before midnight. The teen spent the night at a friend’s.

  5. I am excited about a new year!!

    I set some goals and so far, we have eaten only from our freezer and pantry! I committed to not buying any groceries unless there was an exceptional sale of something we regularly use.

    However, my DIL called to tell me about a clearance at her specific Krogers on Nestles Chocolate Chips – 75 cents/bag. That is a price point I can be happy with and my supply has dwindled from all the baking/candy making recently! I called 2 other daughters and found out how many bags of which variety they each wanted. We got milk chocolate, semisweet and semisweet minis! https://pin.it/4rADjIi. Got them all vacuum sealed in quart jars (which keeps my empty quart jars working rather than all tucked away!)

    Then my friend who works at a different Krogers texted me on Saturday to tell me about her store clearance- Kroger (2 pound) brown sugar and Kroger (5 pound) AP flour for 50 cents each! I texted the 2 daughters and DIL on my phone and took their orders (as well as some for us). The DIL (with our 2-1/2 month old grandson who just came home from NICU & 5 other children) told me that she had just realized her flour was running low. Between the 4 families, we bought 80 (5 pound) bags of flour and 32 (2 pound) bags of brown sugar! The total came to $56. And all 4 of us have replenished our food storage that had been running low. This is always when we replenish those because we find them on clearance!
    The weather here is wet and dreary and we joked about how each of our houses will be making chocolate chip cookies this week!! Good smells as they bake, heats up the house! And my friend who told me about flour and sugar? She’s going to come over and get some of my chocolate chips to add to her pantry!!❤️

    I started Noom and got a 40% ibotta rebate from it so $67. back. Hubs has been doing Noom and lost 30 pounds and son and DIL have also lost 40 pounds each. It says I should be at my goal weight by July!

    I was looking through our file cabinets for a handout I wanted to use for a class I’m teaching next week and instead of finding it, I did find the welcome packet from when Hubs started work 27 years ago for the company he retired from 2-1/2 years ago! Plus the yearly insurance options booklets for several years (1998-2009!) plus EOB statements from over 20 years ago! I made sure that any specific identification info was removed but it literally filled a whole trash bag with unnecessary papers and emptied out the equivalent of 2 file drawers!! So the decluttering continues!! I also weeded out car registrations for cars we haven’t had in over 15 years!! Mind you, these are not file cabinets I go into very often but at least now, they will only contain current and relevant things!

    Our meals have all been using up food in fridge, freezer and pantry. I cubed up a couple ham slices and got out 1/2 box of spaghetti noodles that were in pantry and made a 9” square baking dish of Ham tetrazzini. Packaged up the leftovers into 4 individual portions so that, effectively the one recipe made 3 dinner meals for the two of us! https://pin.it/7MEelGc.
    I cooked up a package of bacon in fridge and, using 3 plain croissants we were given, made Bacon, egg and cheese croissants for breakfast! Each croissant made 2 servings (we cut them in half ) so that gave us 3 breakfast meals! I’m getting excited about this challenge to Use what we have for meals, snacks and it’s motivated me to plan in the morning what we will have for dinner that night and do any prep work ahead! I’ve always known how to do this but it seems like every so often, I need a reminder to stay motivated! Lol!

    On the sewing/quilting front, I have now completed 18 of the therapeutic neck pillows, using up some more of the polar fleece I was given! I still have a big bag full left and it’s all yardage rather than scraps, so I’ll be searching for use it up ideas!

    I completed this quilt -https://pin.it/4maI6P7 and https://pin.it/5Z3WGRh for one of your readers which was Lenni’s #221.

    Then I made this Streak of Sunshine quilt (free pattern- https://quiltville.blogspot.com/2005/06/streak-of-sunshine.html) for a quick, inexpensive baby quilt for a shower I’m invited to this coming Saturday! Lenni’s Quilt #222- https://pin.it/3gxEbTz and https://pin.it/2orfq9o. This is a great go-to pattern when you need to make a quilt in a hurry. It lends itself to using scraps too!!

    Hubs sent in the receipts for OOP prescription costs for the year to our supplemental insurance so that will mean a bit over $400. He also has submitted for the final $880 reimbursement from our HRA. That will make a nice buffer for January since it’s a longer month! We got word that our property taxes will go down by about $458/ year because of the Homestead exemption we were granted. Not as much as I hoped, but we are still grateful to see it reduced.
    Still looking for ways to economize, recycle and just generally be responsible stewards with all that we’ve received. Seems like every week, there’s a new idea that we come across in your blog or somewhere else that just improves our lives!

    Many thanks!!

    Gardenpat in Ohio
    HandmadeinOldeTowne.com

    1. Gardenpat: Thrilled your grandson is home. I so enjoy your comments and all your ideas. Thank you.
      Many blessings to you and yours, specially that little one.
      Patricia

      1. Patricia Koernig and Elizabeth H. – Thank you! Our little grandson came home for the first time since he was born 2-1/2 months before just two days before Christmas!! His siblings (ages 13 through 2-1/2) all agreed that he was the gift they wanted most to have at their house for Christmas!! Lots of appointments back and forth to hospital and his doctors to monitor his progress, but so far, so good!!

        Gardenpat in Ohio
        HandmadeinOldeTowne.com

    2. I’m so thankful your new precious one is home from the hospital. Best wishes to you and your wonderful sounding family.

  6. Cara- Thank you for the Brussels Sprout recipe. My family loved it!

    I too watched Call the Midwife Christmas special on PBS app. We went and saw Christmas light at the Ark Encounter. The only charge is $10 for parking. We were on vacation the past two weeks. We stayed home. Watched lots of movies and my husband and sons played lots of computer games. Inspired by everyone here, I have started cross-stitching a new design with only items I already have. The past 20 years, I have mostly cross-stitched from kits. This is new and exciting to me!

    1. I’m so glad they enjoyed it. We eat them often that way. We also will cook them in a tiny bit of stock with capers and those taste great, too!

  7. Hello Brandy and everyone
    Well done on reducing your utility bills, it must be especially pleasing that your garden remodel has reduced your water bill while hopefully producing more food and flowers.
    I mended the mesh bag I use for lingerie in the washing machine.
    My husband washed both our cars, saving £16 on using a car wash at a garage.
    We received two attractive free calenders.
    We pulled parsnips and leeks from the garden. My husband bought some tulip bulbs marked down very cheaply because it’s a bit late to plant them. He has planted them in the cutting garden for me.
    We have eaten all meals this week from leftovers and I’ve frozen several packs of turkey and sausagemeat and several large portions of bubble and squeak. I haven’t shopped for food in a fortnight.
    In a sale I bought some fabric panels for quilting reduced from £12.99 to £4.
    It’s my birthday in January and my husband asked what I would like as a present. I said I would
    like a new winter weight dress so he suggested I whizz off to the sales and see if I could find a good quality dress reduced in price. I found a lovely dress reduced by 40%.
    The new series of Call the Midwife has started and this week the latest David Attenborough nature documentary The Green Planet begins.
    Stay safe everyone.

    1. I am very happy about the water reduction! The water situation here is very concerning, and further water reductions are expected because of the extreme drought situation for the seven states that depend on the Colorado River for water. Redoing the garden let us do our part in cutting water usage, solved several garden problems, and gave me more space to grow! I’m so happy we made the changes! Now I am looking forward to it all growing in!

        1. Well those will help in Northern Nevada. They don’t really affect the Colorado River basin and water in Southern Nevada.

  8. 1. First I want to thank you again for the idea to look for a used grandfather clock. I never would have thought of that and I’m sure your suggestion will save me hundreds.

    2. Bells of Ireland – I love them, but was informed they really wouldn’t grow around here, and my area is pretty close to yours in moisture. You mentioned planting seeds. Have you had luck with them coming up before? Ideally, I would get small pants as I have so little luck with seeds.

    3. You have not had an oven for a year? How have you cooked all your goodies for your large tribe?

    1. Certainly!

      I like certain style of grandfather clocks, but not all of them, and my husband is not a fan of the one that belongs to my parents, as it chimes at night.

      The flowers were not very large, but they did grow–some years! Ha! Some years they didn’t grow at all. I plant them along the drip irrigation. They were about half the height they say they would be, which is to be expected in a climate like ours for many flowers.

      We cooked more in the crockpot, on the barbecue, and on the stove. We skipped having things like baked potatoes. Rather than roasting chicken, it went on the grill. We definitely spent more on propane in 2020!

      1. We collect American wall and mantle clocks, unfortunately we haven’t got a Grandfather clock. On most clocks if the chimes up the clock will run silently. Though after a time you don’t notice it, we often ask each other did the clock chime. We buy at auctions and house clearance and have never spent more than £35 but you may have to have them serviced and cleaned which can be expensive.

      2. Do you have an Instant Pot? I do my baked potatoes in it and they are so good and perfectly cooked. I usually eat sweet potatoes, but have done both types. I use mine a lot to cook my from dried beans, red beans for red beans and rice. And I am from Mobile, which is a French Cajun sister to New Orleans and we are picky about our RB&R 🙂 I do my chuck roast and pork with a mushroom sauce, corn on cob ( fabulous!), and will never make boiled eggs any other way again.

    2. Twelve years ago we purchased a grandfather clock as an anniversary gift to each other. We found it on Craig’s list for a very good price. Ours has a switch so you can set it not to chime at night, though we have found that we don’t really notice the chime now and it does not wake us.

    3. Brandy, I, too, was wondering how you cooked 21 meals a week for 9 people without an oven for A YEAR. Unbelievable!

      Last week was just the usual frugal stuff. I like reading about others’ usual frugal stuff, for two reasons: (1) What is usual for you may not be usual for me–I get new ideas every single week; (2) I think usual routines save the most overall–the little stuff, done all the time, really adds up. You gotta love mindless frugality! This was my week–

      * I didn’t shop any of the after-Christmas sales, although I did order a pair of red Skechers I’d hoped to receive for Christmas. These fall somewhere between a need and a want.

      * I made bone broth with the prime rib bones and turned it into about 3 quarts of really yummy vegetable soup. We had it for dinner one night, lunch two days later, and I also froze a quart.

      * I went through the fridge and froze all of the leftovers. I would like to say this is “the usual frugal stuff,” but unfortunately I don’t do it as often as I should.

      * I cleaned the soleplate of my iron with a paste of baking soda and water, which then enabled me to do two little mending/alterations projects that I’d put off for a few weeks.

      * I saved $5 off usual prices by shopping at the Franz Bread thrift store.

      * My #1 resolution is to declutter my home in 2022. This isn’t a goal–I am resolved to do it! Last week I went through all of my greeting cards, wrapping paper, ribbon and gift bags and got rid of the stuff I’ll never use. Then I divided everything into Christmas and all-occasion bins and slid them under the bed in the guest room. I had a lot of greeting card envelopes that I’m donating to a thrift store–hoping someone who makes cards will want them.

      * One of my other resolutions is to exercise my brain by writing and playing games. I started playing Scrabble online over the weekend. The game I’m playing, which is free, is wordswithfriends dot com. I currently have 3 games going, two with people chosen at random and one with a friend. It’s quite addictive. If anyone here plays Words with Friends and would like to start a game with me, my user name is mikemax1968.

      HAPPY NEW YEAR TO ALL!

      1. I received 3 requests this afternoon to play Words with Friends. I am assuming they came from here. I am thrilled! Two have left me messages that I cannot open. (I’m assuming they are introducing themselves if their user names are different from the names they use here). They are hntrsmom and marsbamom. I’ve only played for a few days and I’m not really onto it yet. I clicked on the blue conversation box beside the icons and nothing happens.

  9. My almost seven year old daughter and I pet sat for a bunny in our home over the holidays. I split the money with her as half way through the stay, my daughter went to her Dad’s house. He was adorable and of course she wanted to keep him but like all “new” things, the novelty wears off. I let his owner know to think of us in the future.
    I started reading the tightwad gazette and we already made the egg carton crowns she writes about in her first issue! We used glitter glue pens my youngest received as part of a birthday gift.
    My oldest learned to ride her bike without training wheels! I am so proud of her hard work. They love spending time outside.
    My NYE plans were all free! A friend had extra tickets to American Underdog and invited me. I then met my younger sister and her family at Embassy Suites where they were staying for their happy hour. They offer free snacks and drinks.
    I then when to a neighborhood party where I brought a bottle of prosecco I already had. We had a fun night of appetizers, dessert and drinks and playing games.
    I picked up the monthly freebies from Sprouts (a natural food store) – and there were some great items.
    I shopped Kroger and Walmart’s holiday mark downs. I picked up some great toys at 70% off for the gift box and my girls for throughout the year. I also purchased baking mixes, sprinkles, cards and a few wrapping items at 75% off. I used a gift card my boss gave me.
    Saturday started my No Buy January and my Low Buy Year! I am keeping a journal of everything so I can go back at the end of the year and read both my successes and failures. I am trying to spend a minimal amount I have a Walmart for groceries and use the gift cards I received.

  10. Congratulations on the low gas bill. I am concerned for mine because of the cold weather we are having. Today is warm though. High is supposed to be 40. Maybe that will melt our snow. We definitely needed the moisture because of the drought so we are grateful and I’m sure our farmers are too.

    Cooked a whole chicken in the crockpot and divided it into meal sized portions. We used one portion last night to make white chili.

    Made two loaves of bread just in case we lost power. Bread is so expensive in the store so this saved a lot of money and warmed the kitchen too.

    My daughter visiting from Pennsylvania made cinnamon pecan muffins with stuff from our pantry to go with the pot of regular chili we made before the storm hit. They didn’t last very long though. Lol

    We had to turn the thermostat up because the basement was too cold for sleeping. It didn’t help much so my daughter slept upstairs instead. My husband bought insulation board to put up on the walls and ceiling and put it up. It’s made a difference. The bedrooms downstairs need to be finished out and that is a project for this new year. We are also going to buy ceiling fans to put up for summer cooling. So many projects need to be done. 🙂

    Made a broccoli salad using what I had on hand. We only had to buy the broccoli which was on sale. We added an apple from our fridge, a pear from a Christmas gift basket and nuts and dried cranberries from our pantry. The dressing is mayo, sugar, and vinegar. That’s going with homemade Alfredo pasta tonight.

    My biggest resolution this year is to give up Dr Pepper. It’s been three days and so far so good. Doing this will keep us out of the stores therefore leading us to spend less money. So it’s a win!

    Hope everyone has a happy, frugal week!

  11. More beautiful photos, which are so welcome on these winter days. I’m giving you a standing ovation for your gas bill! It’s something my Mom and I used to do when something exceptional was done. I know the whole family was involved, but I expect your attention and guidance made the difference. Last week, I sewed a button on my husband’s shirt, mended two sweaters and two ornaments, and removed and redid some stitching on the summer quilt that I was never happy with. On warm days, I pulled up invasive honeysuckle in two areas, along with cedar and wild blackberries, and vinca in another area. With several bags of cranberries in the fridge, I decided to freeze two, started a batch fermenting in honey, and kept enough fresh to make one more round of sauce. Broccoli was harvested, and what wasn’t eaten fresh was frozen. A serious frugal accomplishment was purchasing a 55 gal barrel of vegetable glycerine my husband found on Marketplace, which originally came from one of my trusted soap suppliers. The current price is over $850 with an additional $250+ for shipping, and they were asking $50! It’s good for many types of bodycare items, as well as medicinals, so I just have to decide what items I want to make. With that much, I may also try to sell some in gallon jugs. https://abelabodycare.blogspot.com/2022/01/a-new-year-of-possibilities.html

  12. Looking at my notes for this comment, I think one of my goals for the year out to be learning to practice brevity. I won’t but I should.

    That gas bill is insane and incredible! My electric bill for 28 days from mid-November to mid-December was $66 and $30 of that was the daily service charge (.99/day), the street light outside ($2.40) and the round up amount (14 cents) that funds assistance to those having trouble paying their bills. I’m on track for a similar or slightly higher bill this month, which has been over $100 since I moved in 3 years ago.

    I received a check for $48.75 as my second and final payment from the Countrywide closing company class action lawsuit. I deposited it using the app on my phone, saving the cost of the stamp and envelope to mail it to my out of state bank as well as the time it would take to arrive and be processed. If you want to shock them, try telling teens and young adults about getting a paper check and standing in line at the bank with everyone else to cash it on pay day.

    I picked a dozen cherry tomatoes, 2 dozen snow peas, and lettuce, using all of them in salads throughout the week. I’m not saying it’s been hot around here, but two of my lettuce plants are showing signs of bolting from the heat. It’s been in the high 70ies/low 80ies F for over a week and most of the week before that. I haven’t had to use the air conditioning but I came close a couple days. A cold front came through Sunday night and we’ll be down in the 50ies the next couple days until it warms back into the 60ies. I’m sure those of you in the north feel sorry for me with the cool down.

    I made chili and a whole chicken to provide multiple meals. Both were cooked in the crock pot except for browning the beef in a skillet and finishing the chicken in the oven for about 35 minutes to get the skin crisp and brown. In addition to having chicken the night I cooked it, I made a tortilla pizza with chicken, bacon, dehydrated sweet onions, barbecue sauce and shredded monterey jack cheese. I also made chicken salad with dried cranberries, apples, celery and toasted almonds. I made chicken broth with the bones in the same crock pot with the drippings, celery and the top of any onion that had started to sprout and which I had in water, making it grow even more. I cut up veggies for salads and snacking, shredded cheese, and baked corn bread for the chili. I used half a can of pumpkin that was left over from making cookies a few weeks ago to make what was billed as the best pumpkin cake ever. It wasn’t but it was still good and I froze part of it for eating later this week or next.

    This was a week of “finally got around to it” and crossing multiple items off my to do list that had languished there for weeks if not months – planting onions, shallots and garlic, potting some aloe vera baby plants for my daughter and emptying the refrigerator, ditching the science projects it held and organizing it better to avoid science projects in the new year. As I put away the Christmas decorations, paring them down to what I really love as I go, I’m also organizing the large walk in closet where they and about 50 million other things are stored. I bought 2 storage bags with reels for my Christmas lights. I’m keeping only the LED lights which I bought in quantity 2 years ago and offered the remaining strands of white lights to my daughter and her friends. If no one takes me up on the offer, I’ll donate them.

    January will be the most expensive month of the year for me as I pay my car insurance premium for 6 months (up 8% over last year), flood insurance (up 20%), personal property tax on the car (down a few dollars) and real estate property taxes (down 23.5% because I now qualify for the homestead exemption granted to seniors and the disabled who meet certain conditions). These taxes are less than half what I was paying in Maryland in 2018 for a house with an assessment that was $29,000 less than my current house. The Maryland house is now assessed at the same value and the taxes are 3 times what I’m paying in South Carolina. Moving here was one of the most prudent and frugal moves I’ve made, including state income taxes that are 2/3 lower. I could actually drop the flood insurance since I do not live in a flood plain and it’s technically not required but I really don’t want to take chances on this if a hurricane comes through.

    1. LOL about the bank comment, Mari. My kids think it’s funny when we tell them about getting candy from the bank teller. My husband and his siblings used to hold up 3 fingers to show how many suckers they needed. The ATM doesn’t pass out candy!

  13. Congrats on your wonderful savings! And thank you for the beautiful picture of flowers.

    *We were blessed with several snow storms which are so needed here because of the drought. I’m very thankful. We have more storms expected this week. My husband and children went out to shovel several times which provided free exercise. In between storms there were clear blue skies and clean air. It was wonderful to be out in the sunshine during the day and admire the star lit skies at night. Peaceful and free entertainment.

    *I bought very few items on after Christmas sales – bows, my daughters ornament for next year and 2 roles of wrapping paper. All were 50% off. The bows and paper I picked I can also use for birthday and wedding gift wrappings. I’ve cleaned up all the presents. We had a load to take to the thrift store which we saved the receipt for our taxes.

    *Our NYE was spent at home with enchiladas and movies. We had 3 children with us to enjoy the meal then off they went to other activities or work. My husband and I watch the same film every year before midnight. My youngest enjoyed watching Star Trek – she borrowed the DVDs from her uncle. We made homemade caramel popcorn to enjoy. We had Martinelli’s apple juice to toast in the new year.

    *We offered to babysit our cute grandbaby to help out our daughter and son-in-law. She was an absolute joy and I will happily do that frugal activity at any time. It’s tiring, but full of snuggles, giggles and sweet baby smiles. I get in exercise by chasing her around as she crawls as fast as her chubby legs will go – it’s pretty fast.

    *I went to the local library and picked up more books to read – Sophie Hannah (who writes Agatha Christie mysteries with Hercule Poirot), Paige Shelton (who writes mysteries set in Alaska) and Jane Cleland (mysteries about an auctioneer house and appraiser.)

    *I found GF flour on clearance at my local grocery store – 4lb bags. I bought 5 bags for my daughter. It had bread recipes on the back and was created by a Utah company. These should be great for my daughter to try and make. I made 3 loaves of homemade bread and froze 2 loaves. I made homemade granola and shared some with a friend that had surgery.

    *We are keeping our Christmas tree and tree ornaments for a few more weeks and maybe through January. My husband quite enjoys the lights. We put away our other decorations but I also kept out one nativity for year round appreciation. Decorating with things I already have is a fun frugal activity. I’m making new wreaths for the winter months for my front and back door. I will use wreaths, flowers and ribbon I already have. I did purchase a few additional flowers at Dollar Tree.

    *I bought extra candy to use for January (mints) and Hershey kisses for February. I bought discounted flowers and put them in one of my square vases to display in my kitchen.

    Have a wonderful week!

  14. I accepted a sub job at the last minute, packing my lunch and dashing out the door. It pays well and is in the office away from people.
    I received toilet paper and a linen sheet with a small tear from Buy Nothing. I’ll use the sheet to make a top.
    Cooked my weekly batch of rice and beans and weekly batch of chicken legs-giving meat and broth. All done in instant pot. It’s such a game changer for dried beans-they can go from dried in the jar to cooked on the table in an hour and a quarter.
    I am working on using up the bits that always get overlooked. Yesterday is used whole wheat flour, 3 black bananas and some sour milk that is frozen to make my husband banana muffins. I was raised on home-ground whole wheat flour and I hated it. I have no idea when I bought this whole wheat flour (I know it was within 2 years) and it’s been in the freezer. I’m gluten free but my husband eats regular flour. It’s funny that I even hate baking with it for him. But I’m determined not to waste it. I’m also clearing the bits and pieces that were used once or twice and then left in the back of a cupboard/cabinet. So refreshing to use them and have the space again.

    Happy New Year to all!

  15. I loved seeing the photo of your roses. And congratulations on your lower gas bill. I believe our absolute minimum in $18.
    This week I did some mending, including adding pockets to a favorite dress and sewing myself a new pair of pajama pants from flannel purchased on sale a couple of months ago. My husband and I took down the Christmas decorations and cleaned the house on New Year’s Eve to get ready for the New Year. I printed out some freezer inventory sheets and filled them out, which I hope will be helpful in keeping track of what we have. I’m doing the Three Rivers Challenge in January and hope to not go to the grocery store at all during that time. I canned 8 pints of potatoes from storage that were getting a little wrinkly. I made a batch of hot cocoa mix (I use Alton Brown’s recipe and I pulse all the ingredients in my bullet blender until they’re very fine, which helps everything dissolve quickly.) I made two loaves of French bread.

  16. -Used the last of our fresh apples from our trees(honey crisps stored in the crisper drawer of the refrigerator). Made apple crisp for New Year’s Day.

    -I am starting my January $50 grocery challenge. I am also keeping track of jars used. In the 2 days of the start. I opened a quart of spaghetti sauce, a pint of diced tomatoes, a pint of tomato sauce, a quart of hot dills, and a half pint of candied jalapeños. 5 jars so far.

    -This week it is in the 10 to 20’s below zero at night and some days remain below zero during the day. Since we are retired this is the time to stay home, stay warm, and work on decluttering and inside projects.

    -We are halfway through our garden onions. We planted Copra onion sets this year. It is the best onion harvest we had. They are stored in the basement spread out to keep them aired. They are covered with a dark cloth. They are not growing at all. This will be what I plant moving forward. If they do start to get soft I will cut them up and dehydrate or freeze them.

    -I made a pillow from supplies on hand and a garden cross stitch I had done several years ago for a Bday present for my sister. Her Bday is in January.

    Have a great week!

  17. I didn’t need to go to the store last week, so that saved time and money. We have been eating through our leftover. We still have some snacks and sweets around, but those gifts are starting to diminish. While I have appreciated the kindness of others, I have been eating more sugar than I usually do.
    I have been walking to “run” my errands to the store, library, and credit union. It keeps me healthier and I don’t have to drive my car as often.
    A friend was leaving town and gave me a bag of kale/cabbage salad mix. It’s a nice salad option.
    We got the last of Christmas presents dropped off and the decorations down.
    I am anxious to get our gas bill. Our furnace, set at 68 degrees, has been running a lot the past few weeks as we have had a lot of snow (a blessing!) and cold weather.
    We spent New Year’s Eve at home. At midnight I heard fireworks so I got up and looked out my window. I could see fireworks about a mile away.
    I read “Small Pleasures” by Clare Chambers. A sweet, sad story.
    Have a wonderful week and New Year, everyone!

    1. A mile away for fireworks? I stood in my driveway and could see fireworks in any direction that I looked, all in my neighborhood. I could hear about 6 more shows but couldn’t see them. Most fireworks are legal in South Carolina so we had some pretty impressive shows

  18. Lovely flowers! I need to decide what I want in my planters this year.
    I found pork loin for about $2/pound (can’t remember the exact cost). I’ve cut it up for meals: pork chops for 4 tonight; 2 more meals of pork chops for 4; pork loin roast which will feed 3 of us at least 2 meals each; green chili verde which will feed us 3 meals each; stir fry for 3. That’s 30 servings for a little over $16 for the meat. I spent the morning cutting up the meat, cooking 1 round of pork chops, the roast, and the verde. The rest is in the fridge or freezer. I like to cook in batches because then I don’t have to cook or plan or think about what to fix for a bit, plus it saves lots of kitchen mess and time.
    Here’s to a frugal and wonderful week!

      1. Barbara, ask the meatcutter to cut it for you. I’ve never been charged for this. Just ring the buzzer and ask. I’ve also had turkeys cut in half and whole chickens split and, again, no charge.

  19. Wishing each of you a healthy, and peaceful new year. May laughter reign in your homes. Thank you Brandy for providing this space for us to learn and share. It is so very appreciated.
    Patricia/Fl

  20. Your flowers are just beautiful.
    This is for the last two weeks. My DH and I had Christmas Eve, Christmas, NYE, and New Year’s day on our own. We didn’t really mind it though, as we have had an exhausting year. We were able to do what we wanted and when we wanted, without having to worry about someone else’s schedule.
    I got a pork butt roast for 97¢ a pound and cooked it up in the crock pot. We had BBQ pulled pork sandwiches with some of it, made pork enchiladas and a pork quesadilla, and froze 3 bags of the meat. Also made chicken enchiladas. The enchiladas and quesadilla, along with some Spanish rice were enjoyed on Christmas Eve. For Christmas dinner my DH BBQ’d ribs. I made potato salad, roasted veggies and beans. It was about 12 degrees outside, but he braved the cold.
    We were below freezing temperatures for over a week. It was cold, but we snuggled under our throws when we were sitting, and it is amazing how shoveling snow can warm you up. Especially if you know hot chocolate is waiting afterwards. We keep our heat at 65 during the day, if we’re home and a little below 60 at night.
    We got down to zero one night. Just to be on the safe side we kept a trickle of water going in our kitchen (the only wall with pipes on an outside wall) and left the cupboards under the sink open, so heat could filter in. Frozen pipes are not inexpensive. However, we were fine.
    I repaired a pair of PJ pants for my DH.
    Made chex mix twice, garlic cheese dip, almond roca and gingerbread.
    Best deals at the store were $1.99 for 3 pounds of clementines, 48¢ for a pound of butter, and 28¢ for a can of olives. All of those were limited to one. I also used a $7.00 off meat coupon from Safeway rewards, and got 3 pounds of 93% lean hamburger for $4.97.
    I made coleslaw with cabbage and carrots from the garden. I only have purple cabbage left, so it was made with purple cabbage. Cabbage and carrots store really well. I have 1 1/2 more bags of carrots eft from the garden.
    I took the plunge and canned 7 pints of pineapple from the 4 pineapples I bought a while ago for 79¢ each. We also had plenty to eat fresh.
    Worked 4 days in the last two weeks and took breakfast and lunch all four days.
    Cooked beets that we still have from the garden. They store well too.
    Made focaccia bread twice. Once made it into pizza, and the other time into garlic cheesy bread. Both times were YUM.
    Hope everyone has a fruitful and productive 1st full week of 2022.

  21. We made all meals at home last week. My husband took a thermos with tea to work. I ate some fast food today. I’d forgotten how awful it makes me feel. Now back to cooking at home again and packing snacks for when we are out. We watched ‘It is a Wonderful Life”. I love that movie! I’m reading The book of Stillmeadow by Gladys Taber. I am really enjoying it! I borrowed it from the library and finally gave myself permission to just sit and enjoy a book. It has been so relaxing! My husband enjoyed the parts that I’ve read to him. We have been carefully using what we have at home from food to slivers of soap. It all saves us money. When my husband is away I turn out the lights and use the light from the windows. When he is coming home I turn on more lights. It makes him happy and I feel that is important. But if no-one is in a room I will turn off the lights. I carefully read ads online and go to the stores for their sales. We bought beans and hamburger from one store and everything else from Aldi. last week. This week I see chicken leg quarters on sale for 38 cents a lb. So when we go to town I will buy just chicken there and if they have some sales on veggies I might buy some. Otherwise, we will go to Aldi. I will definitely pack a few snacks so we don’t eat out when we go to town. I have been enjoying looking at seed catalogs. I also looked at the seeds we already have. I may just use what we already have. My husband swept up the ice melt after the ice melted on the back porch and used it on the front stoop. I’d never thought of doing that and loved his frugal idea! We like to encourage each other when we can. Being frugal is our game. He likes my frugal style! Again, I wore my thrift store sweaters and scarfs this week. I can trade scarfs to make one sweater look a bit different. It is fun! We were careful to watch the washing machine and get the clothes into the dryer so we wouldn’t have to wash them again, saving water and energy.

  22. Hello, frugal friends! I hope you all had a fun New Year’s holiday. We did out usual lumpia, fried rice and salad dinner with our kids and grandkids coming over. We had the leftovers the next day. Like others, I am trying to use up rather than throw out things. I had enough lettuce under the homemade “greenhouse” this pat week to make us each a salad for dinner during the week. I was able to get a few good deals at Kroger last week. I got a gallon of skim milk for $.49. It was a short date so I just froze it in pint jars for this upcoming month. I bought 10 avocados at $.49 each. I processed them and froze them in large spoonful servings for my morning avocado toast. I have enough for the month. I got 2 bags of spinach for $.99 each and 2 large containers of fresh mushrooms for $2 each. Each container was equivalent to 4 smaller sized containers which were selling for $1.99 each. I dehydrated most of the mushrooms and used the rest in the lumpia and salad. I am allowing myself $25 for groceries this month. I am trying to use only what I have on hand.
    We finally received some significant rain this past week. I was the crazy neighbor who got up early to collect the worms crawling on the road as I walked the dog. I collected 100 worms to add to the garden beds. I do this a couple times of year, usually in the spring, but this was too good an opportunity to pass up.
    I stayed home most of the week and worked on quilts and home projects.
    I made a few goals for this year. I appreciate your goals post to remind me to think things through.
    I need to buckle down on saving energy as our most recent electric bill was $250. That is very high for us. I did use the oven a lot and due to the weather has to use my dryer a lot in the past month. I will try hanging laundry inside this month if the weather does not cooperate. I usually use the dryer for one load of shirts and pants. Everything else usually gets hung on the line. I will use my crockpot and other small appliances this month. I do bake bread twice a month so will be more intentional in grouping things to bake when baking bread.

  23. Will you be making a (Youtube or whatever) video of a tour of your garden, explaining what you have done and what remains? I think that would be such an enjoyable thing for us. You have done truly remarkable things, thing I would have thought only professionals could do. Well done, friend!!!

    1. I don’t think I’m cut out for YouTube! I just watched a woman make a very short video of a dress for Instagram. It was an intricate dress with lots of handwork. She said making the video took much, much longer than making the dress!

      I do want to learn to do video but I don’t know where I would put the children while I video!

  24. I would like to ask where everyone gets/shops for their vegetable garden seeds? I have always used Seed Savers Exchange and the local Farmer’s Co-Op. As prices are rising, I wondered if there were any places that might be less expensive?

    1. Baker Creek, Territorial Seed Company, Eden Brothers, and Outside Pride are my go-tos right now. I primarily buy open-pollinated seeds, but I’m still working on collecting enough seeds to not have to buy any each year.

    2. I haven’t shopped there recently, but fedcoseeds dot com used to be very cheap. This is the company AmyD recommended. Sometimes the packet price was the same as other brands, but the number of seeds per packet was always more. They have a large selection of heirloom varieties and organic seeds. And you should see the oak tree I bought from them 22 years ago!!

    3. If you are like me and only need 2 or 3 plants of each vegetable grown try your Dollar Tree or Dollar General store. The packets are often of heirloom types and range from 3/1.00 to 1.00. They have plenty in them (freeze the leftover seed for future years) and I have not had any trouble growing from them.

    4. I don’t think they are going to be cheaper, but I’ve always love High Mowing Organic out of Vermont. Our local library also has a seed catalog which is free to access – maybe yours does as well.

  25. Car gas is $2.85 gallon in college town, and $3.25 gallon in my “work” town a couple of hours south of there. Went back to work, technically part time, at my old job, as planned. That is frugal because more money for retirement … lol. Made “swamp” soup for New Years, i.e. can of collard greens, or turnip greens, or mustard greens, etc. whatever green you want, can of rotel like tomatoes, can black eye peas ( or whatever bean you want,) leftover pork, does not really matter whether ham, sausage, or bacon, onion, garlic, salt, pepper, Knorr or Lipton vegetable dip mix, broth, water and cook in low in crockpot or stove. It seems to cover most vegetable categories… lol. Made cornbread also for New Years Day to go with soup. We went from 83 degrees to really cold within 24 hours. Have not run heat much at all in December so will see how electric bill does. Made sandwiches and cut up carrots for work lunches. Making pumpkin “pudding” in the oven right now. That is just a pumpkin pie mix can that I put in greased pan without the crust. I happened to have a can on hand and decided to use it. Made hamburgers and then made hamburgers with onion and gravy. Saw a cooked chicken reduced to $2.86 in Walmart and got it and made chicken casserole, and chicken salad. Walked an hour a day on pretty days.

  26. Winter is actually the least expensive time of year for us for climate controlling our home because we have an outdoor wood furnace. We normally collect our own firewood, but we did pay about $400 for a few cords of wood this year, on top of what we collected/chopped ourselves. The outdoor boiler heats our forced air system as well as our water, so our (35 year old!) water heater gets a break for about half the year 🙂

    Last week we saved money by spending nothing at all. No grocery shopping- nothing! We have eaten leftovers from Christmas and have begun to eat down our freezer storage. I am trying to be mindful of expiration dates on items in our pantry so we eat things up and reduce food waste. As things have run out, we have made do. The instant hot cocoa ran out, so I made homemade for the kids when they came in from playing in the snow. My sparkling water ran out, so I’ve been drinking water with bottled lemon juice for flavor.

    I harvested kale from the garden to put in soup. I thought the kale was all that was left but I found three onions still growing! I also relocated a rosemary plant and planted my garlic for next year (admittedly about a month late, but we had an unseasonably warm fall so I’m hoping it will still be fine). I planted over 50 cloves of hardneck garlic. If I got 50 bulbs next year we would be over the moon! We love garlic and I go through about 25 bulbs a year or so. I’d love to be able to propagate my own cloves for planting.

    Last week I took inventory of our stock and made a list of items we need. As things go on sale (if?) I will pick these items up.

    While cleaning out a closet I found two pairs of children’s winter gloves that were gifted to us but were too big for my kids a couple of years ago. I had tucked them away until they were older and forgot about them! Now the kids have new gloves and it cost us nothing. Glad I cleaned that closet!

    I’ve been painting my nails with polish I have on hand instead of buying new colors or going for manicures. I’m also going to skip my hair appointment this month to save a little extra.

    My mom offered to give me a rug she found in the basement of her new home. I brought it home, shampooed it with the carpet shampooer, and it’s now the new playroom rug. It looks brand new.

  27. My husband shot a ten point last Monday. It is at the processor, but we have meat coming.
    ***The cabinet above the refrigerator had a lot of space not used since it is tall. I mentioned it and my husband used scrap wood and made a shelf. I put a Tupperware cake taker, all my party type divided dishes, extra containers I use during the holidays, and less used items. I was able to get items off my pantry shelves to make more room in there.
    ***He also used wood he had to lay down plywood in our attic, giving us about 20×30 extra footage. Where he laid it we can now walk out on it and on the far wall he told me he could put hooks and make a wall for all my wreaths. We need to buy hooks for that
    ***We had another couple over to watch the Alabama game (Roll Tide!) New Years Eve. I made tacos, cut up celery, carrots, broccoli, and tri colored peppers with Ranch dressing to use as a dip. I made deviled eggs, ranch seasoned pretzels, and made a Walmart brand brownie mix. I’ve never made the brownies and remembered it was my friends birthday. They are gluten free, so I was a little afraid they would taste wonky. I melted some white chocolate melts and drizzled on the brownies and then added sprinkles. Man, they were really good!
    ***My daughter, son in law, and grandson came through driving from Idaho to Florida, and stayed two days. They arrived New Years Day. I fried venison, made black eyed peas, turnip greens, cornbread, and mashed potatoes. They have not had fried venison steak and loved it. It is not huge pieces, about the size of a chicken tender…my SIL ate 6 pieces plus 2 smaller ones! https://www.instagram.com/p/CYNRVLsp0d1/?utm_medium=copy_link
    ***I found my meat freezer door ajar and the top two shelves thawed. So I spent NY Day and the next day cooking food. I grilled chicken and made Italian chicken, BBQ chicken, soy lemon chicken, southwest chicken, blacken chicken,, and chicken with Daddy D’s seasoning. I baked three sheet pan recipes with three different balsamic vinegar recipes. I did one with potatoes, carrots, onion, peppers, and broccoli. The others were supposed to have vegetables, but I didn’t want to use my vegetables up to freeze and will do them later. I grilled BBQ, and Daddy D’S pork chops, then was tired so I dumped 8 chops in the crock pot with Italian dressing and Ranch. I made two roasts in a crock pot, and separated into 6 meals then froze the Au Juis to make a soup later. I used beef stew meat and added mushroom soup and seasoning in the Instant Pot to make a stroganoff when I make this dish. I had 3 steaks from our cow we grilled for a meal with daughter the next night. I had 7 packages of cubed venison- each having about 6 pieces. I made 3 for NY day that I mentioned above then friend all the other, put it in a cookie sheet, well sheets, and flash froze it. I put those in a bag. I hope it will work to pull our a few and reheat in the air fryer. I had a package of venison stew meat which we have never tried. I floured it and fried it when I did the other and the guys ate it and said it was really good. I didn’t freeze it, I don’t think it would survive freezing and reheating.
    ***I thought I killed my Instant Pot. In the middle of all this I had the pot liner out and poured broth in the Instant Pot. It went to the electrical parts and out onto my counter and floor. I unplugged it and put it on a towel. Next day it wouldn’t come on. Today I plugged it in and it comes on. I will start looking for a backup at garage sales, but I think it works.
    ***The day my daughter came it was 79⁰ and we had tornadoes come through. We cleaned out the closet under the stairs as it is the safest place. We took in motorcycle helmets, and tennis shoes. Next day it began to cool and that night we made a fire in the outdoor fireplace and roasted marshmallows in sleet. It began snowing and we got about 4″. My grandson had a sled and we have a hill in the backyard so he was able to sled. I went and asked the neighbors to come sled so they came over. https://www.instagram.com/tv/CYRn4X0AMX8/?utm_medium=copy_link and https://www.instagram.com/p/CYRSJMJLJNC/?utm_medium=copy_link
    ***I harvested turnip greens, radishes, and lettuce leaves. I covered my whisky barrel planters with a sheet and have covers over the garden beds with hoops. https://www.instagram.com/p/CYPpso5JE8j/?utm_medium=copy_link
    *** All the quilt groups are doing quilt alongside and selling fabric bundles. I have been so tempted, but decided I am going to use what I have and finish what I can with what I already own. If I complete projects and need supplies later, I can buy them later, but not letting myself get tempted now.

  28. Hello! It’s been a while since I have commented on frugal accomplishments although I read them every week without fail. Not much here, but this is what I’ve done for the past month.
    1. Our water heater started leaking at the cold water connection. We have a small one for our master bathroom so we could still get hot showers, but no hot water in the kitchen for almost two weeks. My husband called the manufacturer as the water heater wasn’t even two years old. They sent us a part to fix it but that didn’t work so they sent us a RA code to return it to the place we purchased it from for a new one. So blessed we didn’t have to purchase a new one.
    2. Stayed home for Christmas and New Year’s. We made candy on Christmas Eve, per our family tradition and gave it to family and friends instead of purchased gifts.
    3. The Thursday before Christmas we made “appetizers” and had a “party”. It was just our household. We allowed the grandchildren to eat in the living room and we all dressed in our Christmas pajamas and listened to the radio broadcast of It’s a Wonderful Life… something we do every year the week of Christmas, but our grandchildren think it’s the most awesome thing ever since they aren’t allowed to eat around the coffee table the rest of the year LOL.
    4. I receive a daily email about our electric usage from the day before. This has been so helpful because I can see where we are starting to use too much electricity and I’ll start reminding family members to turn off lights and such. I set the heat to 70 degrees last night. We haven’t been using it as it been in the 80s here in South Mississippi, but we had a cold front move through last night and it got down to 29 degrees.
    5. For New Year’s I cooked a ham that was gifted by my husband’s company. It was a nice sized boneless ham so I sliced up the left overs and froze them for future meals. I also cooked some cabbage. I did not do black eyed peas this year even though we traditionally eat those for New Year’s because of my husband and mine’s diet. I also did some stuffed bell peppers with bell peppers that were on sale for .33 each. I split three and stuffed them with a sausage, cream cheese, and cauliflower rice mixture and then diced up the other three for future use.
    That’s all I can think of now. Have a great day!

    1. I like the daily electricity usage that we get, but I still can’t figure out how we use more electricity on Sundays! I’ve been trying!

    2. Where did you find a radio broadcast of It’s a Wonderful Life? I would love to gift that to someone! Is it on CD?

  29. Brandy, my stove top is gas but the oven portion is electric. Many of the new stoves are like this. Maybe yours is too!

    1. Mine has both, but it’s an option to use the electric. My last oven had this too. I don’t use the electric convection setting as it requires a knowledge of different cooking times and temperatures. There was a part that burned out on the new oven (the starter) and I KNOW it is using the gas. When it works, there are flames at the bottom of the oven.

  30. What lovely flowers, Brandy – and I have to comment on that blue glass Ball jar. I have a collection of them that started when I was about 20 when my mom gave me one that belonged to my great-grandmother. I know have several and they hold dog and cat treats on my counter as well as flowers. They have a special place in my heart and I am glad others like them, too.
    The only shopping I have done in the past two weeks was a grocery trip using a gift card we received for Christmas. I bought useful items for pantry restocking that were on sale so they will be helpful in the weeks to come and cost no money out of pocket. I love practical presents!
    I mended a sweater and one pair of shoes I wear often. Glad to keep favorite things in good working order as it limits how often things need replacing.
    NYE was a fun family celebration with my parents – a lovely meal with contributions from all and good conversation with no one spending any extra money. We have enjoyed eating leftovers from holiday meals and from food gifts which has made our everyday meals a bit more special and fun.
    Our weather last week was unusually warm which saved us a lot on wood for the stove. We don’t have a heating bill but can certainly notice when we go through less wood than usual which means our stash lasts longer. We typically have about 3 seasons worth of wood split and drying on our property but are always preparing more. We have two trees on the ground in the woods behind our house that fell last year. We have been waiting for some snowy weather to buck them up and cut them as it is easier to move them on snow. Thankfully, we got snow today (yeah!) which should last a while so that task may move up in priority this week. Good thing we enjoy harvesting firewood so it saves us money in many ways.
    I have been late to the party as far as using savings apps like Ibotta, etc. It just felt too Big Brother-ish to me and I feared opening myself up to all kinds of junk texts, etc. I also didn’t know if it would be worth the effort as I am not a big shopper and almost exclusively buy store brands. But, I decided to give Ibotta a try and made $6 on the grocery trip where I used the gift card. So what was free to me was even more free. Can’t argue with that. I had linked my store card to the app so it was no extra work on my part. We shall see. If it remains that easy, it will be worthwhile as every little bit saved helps.
    I cut my oldest son’s hair. I finally got smart and cut a hole in a kitchen trash bag and put it over his head as a cape. He has complained of the little hairs that get stuck in whatever shirt he is wearing at hair cut time prickling him even after I wash it 2-3 times. No problem this time and, of course, I saved the bag to use again and again.
    I always hang clothes to dry on the line outdoors on on drying racks inside. When the wood stove is on, clothes dry in no time so it makes this task even easier. My cats also use it as a jungle gum so there is free entertainment, as well.
    We might not notice the minute of extra daylight per day since the Winter Solstice but my chickens do. They all finished their molt, grew their feathers back in and have been laying more eggs. Always much appreciated. We still don’t have enough to trade/barter as we do during the longer days of the year but we have enough for our use. My boys always like to tell people they have never eaten a store-bought egg (at home, anyway.)
    On the book front, I am reading “The Song of Achilles” by Madeline Miller. I have read a lot of Greek mythology over the years but always learn something new. It has been fun reading this at the same time I am reading the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series with my boys. I am also reading “The Cheapskate Next Door” by Jeff Yeager. I tend to read most books on frugality I read or hear about but somehow had missed this one. So far I haven’t really learned much of anything new but the author writes in a humorous way and I like to know there are others of us out there. I particularly like the author’s findings that most frugal folks express a high degree of satisfaction with life and claim that spending more money would not make them proportionally happier. Frugality has given my family so many opportunities, provided such rich experiences and given us such freedom though I know some think of frugality as nothing but deprivation. That’s one reason this group is so encouraging. It is such a positive space and I thank you all for that!
    Hope everyone’s New Year is off to a wonderful start.

    1. I used to use a towel when cutting hair, but I finally bought adult and child-size haircutting capes from Sally Beauty. They have been well worth it!

        1. I have been thinking about getting an actual hair dressers cape but haven’t looked into it. Glad to know they can last a lot longer than I think the trash bag will!

  31. On Sunday I was able to get some great deals at the fruit and veg wholesaler-bananas and mandarins for 50 cents per lb, bag of 6 peppers for $2.00, large cauliflowers for $2.00, celery and kale for $1.50 per bunch, grapes for .99 per lb etc. I will definitely be going on a regular basis-and picking up requests for others I know who can’t easily get there.
    Today I tried out a pop up market at a community centre-I think it is geared to low income folks but they said all are welcome so I decided to check it out. The first table was all free and I received yogurt, cream cheese, eggs and whole wheat buns. There were various fruits and veggies for purchase but I did not need any yet. They also said on the first Monday of the month if you self declare as a low income person from that community you get $10 of fruit for free, which is great for those in need. I did not require this but nice to know it is there for those who do. I may look at volunteering there in the fall as food security is so important.
    I returned 3 jars to the market for $3.00 back. I have been thinking I might try your idea Brandy of reusing my bath water or hubby’s shower warm up water. In my case though because I live in a 2 storey house it would make more sense to use a pail full for flushing the toilet.

    1. If anyone in your family takes baths, don’t drain the tub immediately. Let the water cool in the tub, then either drain it or remove a bucketful at a time for a free flush (or whatever). The heat from the tub will help heat the room. You can accomplish the same thing from a shower if you plug the drain to save the water, but a lot of people don’t like standing in water.

      1. I just read about this a few weeks ago. Unfortunately, our shower does not have a plug at the bottom (only a drain) but added humidity in our very dry climate is always nice in the winter.

        1. Brandy, the humidity is probably worth more to you than the heat…which is not a big deal, but every little bit helps.

          If anyone is interested in plugging a shower drain, these work great–https://www.bedbathandbeyond.com/store/product/simply-essential-trade-flat-rubber-sink-stopper/5555764?skuId=69648367&enginename=bing&mcid=PS_bing_nonbrand_kitchenelectrics_Local&product_id=69648367&adtype=&product_channel=Local&adpos=&creative=&device=c&matchtype=e&network=o&gclid=17f8f232db0a154cb7e893e636fd2c37&gclsrc=3p.ds&msclkid=17f8f232db0a154cb7e893e636fd2c37

          1. I emptied it right after their bath into the garden. They usually take baths in the evening but this time it was in the morning and so I took the bath water right out. I would never leave a tub full of water! That is definitely dangerous.

            1. We can see that you are particular regarding anything to do with your children’s safety, etc. Your pictures always show them so healthy and well cared for.

        2. There are silicone drain cover plugs on Amazon. I got one that goes over the drain in a bathtub and can seal a drain quite well. Ours looks like an orange starfish.

  32. I love your rose pics, Brandy, and wow, that’s impressive about your gas usage!

    My frugal week:
    I made chicken noodle soup from homemade stock (I’ve been saving bones and veg scraps for a month), and served it with homemade pita. A very frugal meal.
    – I had some apples that were ripening faster than expected, so I made an apple crumb cake, and peeled, sliced, and froze the remainder of the apples.
    – I made pizza (https://approachingfood.com/easiest-pizza-dough-ever/), as I do every week. Always a hit with my family, and so inexpensive.
    – I made tacquitos, using up leftover lentil-based burrito filling (I had previously mixed a free pkg of jambalaya flavored rice with taco-seasoned lentils. Sounds odd, but wonderfully flavourful), a few tortillas from the freezer, and served it with sour cream (on sale), guacamole (avocados on sale, lime juice from my fridge, salt, and the last of a tomato I had lying around), and salsa. So good even my not-fond-of-legumes husband liked it, and I cleared out the last of a few things from the fridge and freezer.
    – I baked bread instead of buying sandwich bread for the week.
    – there was a toy I wanted to get for my daughter (some animal figurines I wanted to use for sensory playscapes) but I had been holding off on buying it until I earned some money via surveys, since it was a want not a need. (Survey money is my play money!) The day the money arrived in my account, the price of the toy dropped by 50 percent, and I quickly ordered it!
    – I sold some outgrown clothes and shoes to a kids second-hand store, and donated additional items to a thrift store.
    – we reused NYE decorations from two years ago to decorate for our family night in
    – we had planned to order Chinese food for NYE but after a 1.5 hour wait, the restaurant canceled the order. So we ate leftovers. Saved money!!!
    – redeemed SB for $10 to my paypal account.

    Looking forward to learning from everyone else, as usual!

  33. Good smarts on the gas bill!

    Last week’s discussion on gift-giving and goals (from the comments) gave me a lot to think about and encouraged positive changes to be made – Thank you everyone!

    We accepted free food from work and family.
    I claimed a free hat/scarf off a local buy nothing group.
    I work with a great group of people – a few have January birthdays. I made personal handmade gifts for each with materials I already had.
    I hope everyone has a calm week.

  34. Brandy – those flower photos are just beautiful – what a gorgeous shade of pink! Congratulations on all the money saved – you work so hard so I am glad that you get to see the benefits.

    It was a very quiet week here as Covid numbers have escalated again and we were asked to do very little mixing. I walked with my bubble friend three times and she very kindly drove us to the north end of the city to drop off a couple of gifts and to have a visit in the driveway with a friend that I haven’t seen in person for about a year and a half. In return, I bought us hot chocolate one day and coffees another day (I do also help out with gas money now and again).

    I went to the grocery store once, mainly for some fresh items and for a few things on my Loyalty Point list – otherwise I bought nothing. I’ve made mushroom/barley soup, a ham & cheese quiche and a batch of different veg that just need to be warmed up. I froze some of the tortiere (meat pie) from New Year’s and a couple of slices of the quiche for next week. I will also put a few servings of the soup into the fridge for later. When we head out for our walk tomorrow I’ll take a serving of soup to my friend and she has a serving of lasagna for me – we plan to do a bit more of this meal swapping throughout the Winter. I’m also trying to use up a few pantry items for meals – my light supper tonight was a tin of sardines in tomato sauce on toast. Not everyone’s taste but I enjoyed it and sardines are good for you and cheap so a Win/Win in my book. I’ve also been trying to use up a jar of sauerkraut to ensure that I get some of those fermented foods into my diet on a regular basis. I can see a few odd food combinations in my future but I only have to please myself so that is an advantage.

    I took down the rent cheque and paid all other bills online. My rent went up this month but only 1.2% after a two year freeze due to the pandemic so I can’t really complain but my private Health coverage (through my former employer) also went up a few dollars so it all adds up. And of course everyone talks about the rising cost of food! We are back to WFH though for the next few weeks at least so that will save me transit fares. I’d already topped up my card for this month so shouldn’t need to add very much at all for the next one (although I will try to stay ahead of the game). I have money to cover off the few fresh items I will need from the stores and I have a bit of spending money – although, aside from the occasional cup of coffee there isn’t much to spend it on at the moment (restaurants, movie theatres, museums etc. are all closing again as of 12:01am Wednesday). I received two new puzzles, along with a wonderful new book for Christmas so I have lots of things to keep me interested and a few treats to spread out and enjoy throughout the month so life could be worse. I will be back to working PT tomorrow but aside from a few Zoom meetings I can pretty much set my own schedule so I need to remember to work some daily exercise into my routine and stick to those 2022 goals I listed in your last post Brandy.

    Happy 2022 everyone.

  35. Have you compared the average daily temperature for previous Decembers to the 2021 data?

    Our gas bill fluctuates considerably based on the average daily temperature outside. It’s been a mild winter for us so far. Our average temperature for December 2021 was 1 degree warmer than for December 2020, but 5 degrees warmer than December 2019. I’m thankful that the bill is lower right now, but my budget is based on data that includes several much colder years.

    1. Yes! But–even in the summer I don’t use this little. My summer bills are about $25. Rates go up every year during the cooler months from October to March. This is very odd.

      1. Perhaps your meter is malfunctioning. Our electric meter stopped working for six weeks once. Unfortunately, we didn’t get free electricity! We had to pay an estimated bill (based on past usage and the average daily temperature).

        By the way, if you ever have time to do a short post about how you kept your grocery bill down during a year without an oven, I’d love to see what worked for you. Our oven was out for 8+ months and it was challenging not being able to bake anything.

        1. That is my biggest fear! Like HOW are there are three therms used? I still worry that will happen but I also don’t really want call at the same time! LOL!

          I wish I could tell you that we spent less without a working oven, but we did not. I had to buy bread, and we ate more of other things that cost more. We ate fewer potatoes. We didn’t make cookies, though! (But my daughters ended up making them with grandma many times!)

  36. Thrifty action this past week was working on tweaking a household budget for the upcoming year ahead. Listened to a broadcast of the Florida Legislature featuring local farmers that were voicing their concerns on rising prices, such as fertilizer and transportation of their products.

  37. We had a quiet New Year’s Eve and Day. Our son tested positive for covid, so he is up isolating in his room and my husband and I are staying home in case. Thankfully he is just experiencing bad cold symptoms and is so bored he cleaned his room! * We’ve been cooking all meals at home, including tacos, spaghetti, mac and cheese, sandwiches, soup and chunky soup over rice. For NYE we cooked some lovely steaks that were gifted us. Such a treat!! * I submitted an application for At Home Library Service. My holds will be mailed to me free of charge. It’s for anyone with mobility, disability issues, or illness. It will be such a blessing! *It’s been super cold here (below zero) so we’ve been adding sweatshirts and using blankets on our laps. Trying not to raise the thermostat. * My online college classes start this week and I chose used text books instead of new. * I added some new undershirts for my son to my walmart order. I chose the generic ones as he likes them just fine. Those were out of stock, so they substituted a package of Hanes undershirts…more expensive and a higher quantity, but I paid the price for the original order. * Hope everyone has a wonderful week!

  38. My husband and I were both off last week from work, and we spent almost every day at home. My birthday was on Thursday, and my husband made me chili for dinner, and we took a nice walk around the neighborhood. I could not think of a single thing I wanted for my birthday so close to Christmas, so dinner with my family made me so happy. The kids came over for NYE and so did our niece, and we spent the evening visiting and playing board games. My daughter and SIL brought a meat and cheese tray, my niece brought a veggie tray, and I made two different kinds of dip – Buffalo chicken dip and chili cheese dip, using the leftover chili from my birthday dinner. I laughed so hard my face and stomach hurt! I used up some leftover turkey and chicken broth from the fridge to make turkey potpie. My friend invited me to do a decluttering challenge with her for the month of January, and it is going well! I’ve sent things to my children’s homes that they need and have thrown away a lot of papers and other unneeded things. I have taken in a few items to work to share there.

  39. Great job Brandy on keeping the heating bill down. Something I learned recently.. we had a walk in shower installed last year and it backed up with water it doesn’t have a tub so we were a little freaked out thinking about having to call a plumber but I remembered I have a large shop vac I use for vacuuming only and pulled it out, got all the water sucked up out of the bottom of the shower we were then able to “snake” the drain. Anyways that would be a easy fast way to get the water out of the tub I’m guessing you used buckets to get it out after bathing the child? ShopVacs have wheels so it was easy for me to push it across the house (one floor level) to get it outside. I haven’t been frugal this week I went to Menards today to get husband winter gloves as we have now managed to loose 2 pairs of his gloves. While there I bought a storage canister set $8, a pack of wide mouth canning lids $4 something, a helicopter toy for a friends little boys upcoming birthday $2.99 and a 2 pack bowls with lids Anchor Hocking $9.99. They did have a 15% rebate so I saved around $8 for everything but frugal fail because it wasn’t planned except the gloves. I did bake 160 small spice cookies from dough leftover from Christmas Season that I had saved in the fridge instead of buying cookies husband loves spice cookies. I bought 3 silicone type ice cube trays at the thrift store last week $5 for all 3 to make husband Peppermint hard tack candy.. he was having me buy them weekly at Krogers $2.49 a tin of Altoids I can make a batch of hard tack peppermint flavored candy for $2.06 and it is way more than the 8 tins we buy each month for husband.. he likes to have them at work or for a treat here at home. I have lollipop silicone molds too that I’ve bought over the years that I make as part of my Christmas Gift Baskets always a hit with the adults and kids lol. There are so many wonderful flavors out there from LorAnn I believe is the supplier. So when you think of that for a year it’s $239 dollars a year -$24.72 A savings of $214.32 yearly making it myself unbelievable that we were spending that much money on candy mints. I just did that math while I was on here so yeah I guess I did have a frugal wake up moment there. I am going on the assumption that one batch which makes a lot will last all month. To be more concise I’d have to try to figure out how much electric cost I would use for using my stove top for the 45 minutes it takes to make it but still I think a substantial savings. I also learned you can make peanut brittle from that same basic recipe adding peanuts and baking soda but that will be on my list of things to make for Christmas gifts next year.

    1. Where did you get your lollipop molds? I was looking at several on Amazon and most were not silicone. Those that were did not have great reviews. I haven’t made lollipops with a mold before (just poured on silicone mats) and I wanted to try some next month.

    2. We wore out a shop vac (probably not that brand; that is a sort of generic term), the motor finally burning out. However, the base-bucket could still be used for a mop bucket as it doesn’t leak and is on wheels.

  40. That gas bill is amazing!
    We only have electric, but try to keep that down by heating with wood heat, turning off lights, etc. We pay quite a bit compared to some others, though. We are lucky if our electric bill is under $200, even with a small house and trying to save electricity and using wood heat. Still, it’s better than at our old, much larger house. Power is just expensive here.
    This past week, I spent a lot of time reading library books on my IPad, watching Disney+ (compliments of one daughter), and being entertained by our grandsons, niece and nephew. It was a quiet week, with lots of spare time in it. Nice. We had snow more than once, which is rare here, so were able to hunker down here at home more than usual.
    We bought groceries on sale, and got some terrific bargains. We cooked a lot at home but our daughters took us out for lunch one day, which was awesome. One time, one daughter bought about $50 worth of groceries for us as a surprise when she and Rob went to the store together. How kind!
    I started deep cleaning a few areas. The whole house needs it…. but one area at a time.
    I practiced a few recipes in my new air fryer I was given for Christmas and also used the Instant Pot and Crock Pot a couple of times. I often have to cook in a hurry, so I like to try new recipes when I have time so I can have them in mind when I am in a hurry. I didn’t ask for the air fryer, but since someone decided to buy us one, I want to utilize it. I’m hoping it might be an energy saver, but I really don’t know.
    I tidied the sewing room and started making some microwave cozies that I had wanted to make for Christmas, but didn’t get done. Or started. Before today.
    I sorted, ordered and received my seeds. After going through everything, I only ordered from Territorial, instead of 2 or 3 catalogs, as I often do. I didn’t need as much as sometimes, as there were some seeds leftover and Rob has been saving seeds for the past 2 years. So we decided that rather than pay postage for more than one place, we would choose them all from Territorial, even though it meant trying a couple of new varieties. I’ve been ordering from them for about as long as they have been in business. They are not the most inexpensive seeds in the world, but in this case, I believe you get what you pay for. They grow well and I get a lot of seeds in each package. I like to choose the varieties for disease resistance and short amount of time to grow until the vegetable is ripe, as we have cool nights and a shorter growing season than some. I often use 1/2 the package one year, and save the other 1/2 for the next year for things like tomatoes and peppers. Last year, I ordered 2-1/2 pounds of Blue Lake bush green beans, and I have lots left. It is much cheaper to do it that way and bean seeds come up for me just fine the second year. I grow a tremendous amount of beans to can. I will try to get a few Dollar Tree seeds for some items where I’m not picky about the variety, such as romaine lettuce, and a few others. Rob saved so many cucumber seeds and the purple pole beans, along with some others. He only saves from plants we know are open-pollinated. I do like to use certain hybrids in my garden, but he doesn’t save the seeds from those, as they won’t breed true.
    I put some pictures on my blog: http://beckyathome.com

    1. I really like that company, and for the amount of seeds you receive, I think they have good prices on vegetables and fruits. I think there are better deals on flowers elsewhere.

      I have a bunch of seeds from them I ordered last year, so I ordered from two other places this year instead. I didn’t need a lot but I wanted to try a couple of new things and buy some more flower seeds.

  41. Well I talked to DH and we put a bucket in the shower to catch the warm up water. After that I will dump the bucket into the tub for some of the cold water and after my bath I will use the tub water to flush the toilet. A change as water and sewage is quite expensive here.
    My Mum said when she was growing up they used to bath once a week in a tin bath in the kitchen which I am sure they filled with water from the stove. Youngest and cleanest went first and whoever worked outside and was dirtiest went last- all in the same water. Mum said on her wedding day she first went to the public baths for a bath and hair wash-this was 1951. Amazing how we now take a daily shower or bath for granted and it is so easy.

    1. I just watched Belfast–no indoor toilets in 1969. There was one outdoor toilet for the family. I agree; it’s an amazing modern convenience and many of our mothers, mine included, remember not having such luxuries.

      1. How was Belfast? Very much want to see it. Will have to wait until the price drops on pay per view!
        Also, thanks to everyone for the seed companies suggestions! I love to garden more than anything! It is my joy and salvation!

        1. Really, really good! Every line was so meaningful. Even things that seemed like simple conversations were really pointing to the deeper situation. I think I would watch it again so as to make sure to catch everything. I didn’t realize how carefully crafted every line was until the end of the film, and then I wanted to rewatch it just to listen to the conversations again.

  42. Happy new year to all. This past week I got the sniffles & immediately took my usual arsenal of liposomal vitamin C, D, zinc, Immune Shield, and Kold Kare– all are immune-enhancing. I also gargled and snorted dilute povidone iodine after listening to Dr. Peter McCullough on how it immediately reduces viral load in the respiratory tract. All I had was some sneezing for 2 days and didn’t feel under the weather. I was happy whatever bug it was came & went so quickly! I say this only to pass on the information on some products and a process that work to help the body get rid of viruses in the system.

    I had frozen some cooked organic collard greens we got for free and put black-eyed peas on to soak so we could have Hoppin’ John on New Year’s Day. This will be a new tradition for us, because it was only this past year that we found a way to prepare black-eyed peas so we actually enjoyed them.

    Other than that, it’s all the usual!
    Thanks, Brandy!

    1. Thank you for sharing about the povodone iodine. I recently researched how to make versus purchase. It’s a frugal win for sure to make as well as to stay healthy.

      Thank you for the reminder to add this to my family medicine cabinet.

  43. I am joining in with the amazement at your gas bill. I don’t have gas available to me, but please keep us posted if you discover any other ways in which you managed to keep it that low. Most energy reducing tips are transferable.

    I am on a no-spend month, unless: it’s a need (such as food, TP, etc.), or something I’ve been actively looking for over a period of time and finally find at my price point or lower.

    As an example, I recently discovered a trash can in a thrift store to replace one that broke. It is bigger, the right color, and made of coated wire instead of plastic, for $2.99, so I bought it. I also found a Ralph Lauren hand towel in great shape and the right color to replace a very worn hand towel that I use in my kitchen to dry my hands – 99 cents. The worn towel is now a cleaning rag.

    I re-used dirt from pots that were filled this fall to plant tomatoes. The tomato plants are done, of course, so I emptied the pots into a raised bed.

    I mulched some of my yard plants with leaves and pine straw blown down by recent wind and rain.

    The downstairs heat in my house tends to draft up into the cathedral ceiling area, so I have the ceiling fan up there on low, gently pushing the warm air back down. I can keep the heat lower downstairs that way.

    I bought a Paypal gift card with Swagbucks and transferred the amount from Paypal into my bank account. I used that to pay extra on a medical bill.

    I baked only the annual Christmas cake. I used to bake cake and cookies and make candies, too, but there is really no need for them these days in my family.

    It’s a new year and I hope it will bring good things to everyone here!

    1. Less baking means less using the oven–which means a lower bill, no matter whether you use gas, electric, or propane. I agree that most things transfer for energy savings.

      I really didn’t think the things we were doing made that much of a difference. I figured it was just a small difference, but WOW do small things add up! Just to be sure (because the weather was rather mild last month) I asked parents in a local FB group to see if they also had crazy low bills. Only two people said yes. One said hers doubled. Others said they were normal. One person gave me grief over keeping the heat at 65. I pointed out that many people in colder climates keep the heat at 55 or even 50 (many readers have mentioned it) and she didn’t agree at all. She said no one does that. I know that’s not true from all of you!

      But what I did learn from posting there and asking the question that our actions are definitely making a difference. It’s not just a mild winter.

      We’re getting into the coldest month and the time for my largest gas bill of the year. Already I am noticing the heat coming on more. I am very interested to see if we can keep the bill down this next month. I have had it as high as $110 and I usually expect $79. Somehow I think it will be lower now, though not as low as the one we just have.

  44. Brandy,
    Your gas bill is incredible. I’m afraid we could never accomplish it here with our frigid winters.

    Thanks to “I” for her kind delivery some of the treasures she found at the discount grocery store.
    I really am enjoying the mandarin oranges.

    Another friend has been storing some ground beef and cheese in her freezer for me. These were on sale but I didn’t have any room in my freezer above the fridge. I have been working on reducing my frozen fruits so I have room for some of the things my friends are keeping for me.. As this friend has to drive down a wicked hill to come to my home, I’d rather she do it now before the hill gets bad with ice. I then don’t have to buy any meat for the month. And due to the increase in omicron, I’d like my friends who’ve been shopping for me to

    I cashed in my points with our utilities company so will get $50 off my next gas bill. Also I have accumulated $50 worth of grocery points so next month I’ll use them to shop.

    cbc.ca, the national Canadian broadcaster is showing the new version of All Creatures Great and Small so I’ve started watching that as well as the new season of Escape to the Country (about house hunting in Great Britain). About Escape, it is nice when it is snowy here, to see the green countryside there. Each episode has something unique either historically or culturally that is educational yet entertaining. Both are free and online so I can reward myself at night for a good day’s work.

    I had my booster shot and for the past week have been extremely tired. We received our first comments from one of our Indigenous consultants about our Indigenous history chapter and it looks promising. So we are on the homestretch…

    1. While our gas bills are low, it is the summer electric bills that are very high! So we just have the opposite situation–and half the year is pretty much summer here, lol.

      The second season of All Creatures Great and Small is not available here yet. I went ahead and read all of his books last year, which was a great fill for my impatience! But I know the show will also have its own details, and I really enjoyed it. I look forward to watching the second season!

  45. I note the comments on using shower or bath water for other purposes. My showerhead uses very little water. It is eco friendly. In growing season, I will collect the water. It is somewhat discouraging because our efforts are rather unproductive in reducing costs because of unavoidable administration charges. I save water by not doing laundry or dishes unless I have full loads. All of my appliances are water and energy saving. By choosing to fix my gas rate, I do save about 99 cents per gigajoule for the transaction fee because apparently the fee arises from the cost of the gas company having to calculate on a daily basis the gas that customers on a floating rate are using and the variable cost of gas each time. So I save the transaction fee. If I go back to floating, I would get a rate of half the normal transaction fee as that is what my old plan (which I can resume on 30 days notice). Some people flip back and forth between fixed and floating rates on an almost monthly basis.

    1. Low-flow showerheads, faucets, and toilets have been the law here for 20 years, and all water that goes down the drain is collected, cleaned, and used by the water district. In this way, they can reclaim 95% of water used. Still, I have to pay for it on a tiered system every time it comes through my pipes, so I do my best not to waste water. As a large family, it’s easy to always run full loads of dishes (twice a day!) and full loads of laundry. I make sure to have appliances that use less water and electricity; that is very important to me (all Energy-Star rated).

      Your gas bill is interesting; we don’t have choices here on our gas rates.

      We got to vote to have the electric company switch to using more solar, and they are doing away with their coal-burning plants and putting in more solar fields in order to meet to be compliant by the deadline. We have lots of sun here, so it’s nice to see the changes happening.

  46. I am late to the game, but was so busy with work that I have not commented since mid-December, so I will play catch-up with my comment. I work for a church and Christmas is one of our busiest times (other than Lent). I am ready to start a new year!

    Our Christmas at home was nice, but very warm – we broke temperature records and were in the mid-80s. Not my idea of holiday weather at all! We had everything for our usual Christmas meal (spiral cut ham, macaroni & cheese, brussels sprouts, red velvet cake) but instead ended up eating tamales with chips and queso for Christmas dinner. It was spontaneous but we enjoyed it, and we cooked the ham meal a couple of days later so nothing went to waste. Our air conditioner finally got a break when an Arctic front came through on New Year’s Day. We were down in the upper teens/20s at night, but even so, we do not have to turn the heat on. Our place stays around 68-70 degrees consistently (holds heat very well). We have been in the 50s and 60s during the days, which is nice as we can keep the air off and open the windows for fresh air. Hopefully this will last a while and we can enjoy some seasonal weather. The heat has been unusual this winter! For New Year’s Eve, we visited with friends, made homemade pizzas, and enjoyed a quiet time at home.

    Husband and I both had the week after Christmas off from work. We worked on projects around the house and enjoyed cooking meals at home and spending time together. I baked homemade bread and we used the ham bone from our Christmas ham for a large pot of pinto beans.

    Randoms: At the grocery stores we saw smoked turkeys for $6 each and spiral hams marked down significantly, but we did not purchase any due to limited freezer space. I made a batch of broccoli cheese soup for my lunches this week. We went to Costco and stocked up on ground beef, chicken breasts, and some other household items to start the new year. I colored my own hair and did my own manicure at home.

    I hope everyone has a wonderful start to the new year!

  47. Hey all,

    I love your flowers Brandy! I bought seeds for my flower garden this year, avoiding some more expensive varieties and calculating with seeds I’ve saved what I can realistically grow. I saved cosmo and dahlia seeds and don’t care if these don’t grow exactly true since that’s part of the fun for me with flowers. I wouldn’t feel the same about mystery zucchini.

    I am still out of work following an emergency surgery at the beginning of December. I was totally fine and then had severe pain and had a very rare type of hernia which got badly kinked off and obstructed. I previously this year had surgery to repair torn cartilage in my hip so I don’t have much paid time off. I’ve been thankful for savings and short term disability insurance as well as for kind coworkers who sent me gift cards and took up a collection for me. I also had the surgery and care at the hospital I work at so I will not get a bill of any kind.

    We saved money by using gift cards for groceries, eating from the pantry and eating from our freezer.

    I sorted through all my daughters clothes and filled a box for hand me downs to a cousins daughter. This made room for new clothes and gifts.

    My mother and sister repainted my childhood dollhouse and gave it to my daughter for Christmas with several boxes of calico critters furniture. We have collected calico critters second hand for a while. They are so cute, sturdy and sweet and my daughter loves them. They fit perfectly in the dollhouse and she loved giving the baby koala a bath and having mama fox cooking in the kitchen. If you have never seen these they should be a classic toy in my opinion.

    I will dye my own hair and get a cheap haircut this week. I normally cut my own but have given up my normal pixie cut and cannot cut straight across the back like I want while it grows out. So I’m paying a one time haircut fee to not look crazy while it grows out.

    Enjoyed reading everyone’s accomplishments!

  48. Incredible on the utility charges! How wonderful that your dedication has paid off! For us, it seems that no matter the self discipline I use, it never seems to save much $$. I often wonder if our utility company is charging what they EXPECT us to use instead of what we ARE using…However, I know it is always good to choose a more sustainable way of life so never a bad thing to use less regardless of the payoff so I continue to do what I can.

    Ways I have saved or plan to save this week:

    * I have ingredients I had planned to use to make my covered dishes contributions to Christmas dinner and plan to try to use them up this week. (We had a last-minute change of plans so did not attend a large gathering for Christmas dinner and so didn’t need to make my potluck dishes.) Those extra ingredients (now) are cabbage – to make frozen stuffed cabbage rolls; salad fixings for packing my lunches this week; (I plan to make rice for the cabbage rolls like you are now making it, Brandy!); and brussel sprouts and bell peppers (making a stirfry with them tonight along with Hawaiian Chicken for supper, which will also use up some pineapple juice that I have had in my pantry for quite a while);

    * I made banana bread using 3 overripe bananas WHILE my oven was already baking a generic frozen rising crust pizza (I find they are cheaper than buying cheese for homemade pizza and we both like them). I was short one egg for the banana bread but replaced it with a few Tablespoons of mayonnaise which worked fine;

    * I made homemade French dressing one morning before work.

    * I ate home canned pickled beets w/ my salad. The beets are cylindra (heirloom) beets (longer/skinnier) so were perfect for canning.

    * We opened a jar of home canned raspberry beet jelly for toast (which was made w/ the juice from cooking the beets before pickling and mixed with sugar, pectin, and raspberry jello). It’s an old family favorite which tastes wonderful on toast, biscuits, w/ peanut butter for sandwiches, or for filling a jelly donut.

    * Seems the office has been loaded up with unwanted food gifts (fruit, cookies, nuts) so I’ve had plenty of things to snack on for free. (Hard to resist!)

    * A friend invited us to his house for NYE dinner. I made homemade yeast rolls with ingredients already on hand. I keep bulk yeast in my freezer. Yeast rolls are so easy and cheap to make! Not many of my friends make them so they seem like a real treat but cheap for potluck LOL.

    * This weekend (during an ice storm), I crocheted mittens (my first crochet mitten project) using Bernat blanket yarn I already had. Finally, I was able to follow a mitten pattern. They are thick, cozy, and warm! I even washed/dried them to see how durable they were and they washed up perfectly! I hope to make mittens for donating or for gifts for next year. Seems like I never get homemade gifts made on time so this year, I’m starting now.

    * We made homemade frenchfries in our air fryer for lunch yesterday using sliced potatoes (peelings ON this time LOL). They are so delicious!

    * During the ice storm, I made my husband his first mug of homemade hot chocolate. (He thought he liked Swiss Miss the best.) It is the simple recipe found on the Hershey’s cocoa container and we both enjoyed it very much!

    * In our tiny house, last year we invested in clear plastic tarps which we used to enclose our small porch area during cold weather. That little plastic porch will almost heat our tiny house if the sun is shining even in Missouri. We enjoy sitting out there as we watch the day wake up. I never realized how much heat could be created by enclosing a porch. This year, my husband anchored the tarps down to the concrete patio using 4×4’s (which he already had on hand). Now the wind doesn’t blow the plastic and the whole little porch is air tight. Our kitty can access the porch using a flap in the plastic and we are all much happier and warmer as long as the sun is shining!

    * I have been trying to focus on new inspiration for meal planning to avoid eating supper out. My husband and I have been together 36 years but we have way different meal preferences. I still haven’t made that frozen lasagna using uncooked noodles and I definitely need to do that soon since that is something we both enjoy.

    Wishing everyone a happy and healthy 2022!

    1. My great-aunt lived in Missouri facing the Mississippi River. She put in nice windows on her east-facing porch, and it was beautiful–definitely the best “room” in the house!

      I really didn’t think we were making a huge difference on costs in the gas department, but the usage sure shows that little things all add up!

  49. Hi everyone! I have been reading these frugal posts for years, but have never written in. I find when I go a short period of not reading, I get a little extra spendy, but reading these helps keep me motivated.
    *I got a free greeting card at Paperstore/ Hallmark with their monthly program. I still have to get my January card. I make sure I go there when I am already in that area. I get all my other cards at Dollar Tree.
    *I went to Michael’s the day after Xmas to get my Xmas greeting cards for next year on sale. They were all $3 per box on sale, regularly $9.99. I can’t imagine paying $10 for 12 cards. I used a coupon to buy yarn as I learned a cousin is having a baby in April and I always knit the first born in families a blanket.
    *A very bad habit I have (though it’s budgeted) is take out food. I sat down and made a meal plan for dinner’s in January and other than produce, I shouldn’t have to go to the grocery store. My boyfriend lives with me and we have gotten into some bad habits. I would like to use the money saved towards some debt I am carrying. The news just reported a 6.5% increase in price of groceries right now (I’m in MA) so shopping from the house is important.
    *I earned $10 in Amazon Shopping Panel. I am actively entering receipts in Fetch, Coinout, Receipt Hog, and ReceiptPal as well as shopping panel.
    *I have a Bj’s Membership and they sell gift cards at a discount. Every month, I buy a $25 Dunkin Donuts Gift Card for $24.79 and load to my app. I get Dunkins 2x a week max so this helps. Also on the app, after a certain number of points, I earn a free coffee.
    *I have a timeshare called Disney Vacation Club. I know timeshares are bad. For years, I ran numbers before I bought in and it works for me. Anyhow, dues are due in January. In a Facebook group, I learned that you can pay dues with Disney gift cards so I went to BJ’s and used my Disney Visa to purchase Disney gift cards at a discount and paid toward my dues. I saved $40 or so dollars. Then I paid my Visa off. Every little bit adds up
    *Not frugal. My TV died after 8 years. TV is a main form of entertainment for me. My boyfriend and I tried all sorts of troubleshooting from Youtube, but couldn’t fix it. I shopped Target through Rakuten to save money and did drive up pickup. Then I used my Target card to save 5% on purchase. This will be paid off in February.
    *My town recently changed to having a bulk pickup of $30 for trash. This means anything that doesn’t fit in the trash can will cost $30 to pick up. Previously this arrangement was free until Dec 31 2021. I was annoyed about having to call to pay money to pick up a non working tv. My boyfriend suggested posting on a buy nothing group stating it doesn’t work, but maybe someone can fix it. Within 30 minutes, someone wanted it and came an hour later.
    *We went to my boyfriend’s sister’s for dinner on New Years. She sent us home with leftover Chinese food. This lasted for a few meals for us.
    *I cancelled one of my subscription streaming services.\
    *This week, I plan to return cans and bottles for 5 cents each and that goes into my vacation fund.
    Happy New Year.
    Anne-Marie

  50. Happy New Year! Congratulations on the gas bill. I have been cooking out of storage and trying to use up things in the fridge. Spent a quite night at home on news year eve grilling some hamburgers in 70 degree weather to have winter weather two days later with snow and sleet. I have started rereading the Tightwad Gazette for more inspiration and have gotten some library books. We had lunch provided one day at work, always a blessing. I bought some flower seed at Dollar Tree. Thank you all for the inspiration and advice.

  51. This has been a relatively inexpensive week for us. I have been a little frustrated finding that “deals” I was happy I got before Christmas on grandkids’ gifts are now even cheaper, and my DH tells me to just let it go – I had everything researched and purchased, wrapped and ready to go – then both stepdaughters’ families got COVID, and tomorrow will be the first we’ll see some of them. So there was no rush after all. From here on out, I’d like to have an early Christmas day with the grandkids (4, 3, 2 and one coming this week – two families) … so the gifts are not just part of one mad rush over a few days, then stuck in a playroom/closet.

    All meals but one were homemade and I found a superb recipe for a vegan shepherd’s pie that will go in my monthly rotation (from the America’s Test Kitchen Plant-Based Cookbook from my library). That was a highlight on New Year’s Day. I know now how to speed up the preparation, as well, bc my carrots never softened in the sauce. I will completely precook next time. I partially precooked and thought I was ahead of the game 🙂 … Also made bruschetta and Smitten Kitchen’s Pasta e Ceci (pasta and chickpeas but I use little white beans instead), harvest apple salad with dried cranberries/glazed pecans and an apple cider dressing, bean chili, pasta e fajioli, and tried my hand at a new recipe of a vegan “meaty dip” that actually turned out very good – without a bunch of nutritional yeast in it, only 1.5 TBSP. Base was vegetables cooked/drained/blended and then add a lot of ingredients, but all were items that we have on hand. I’ll make that again for the Super Bowl. Ate it first with tortilla chips and that was good, but .. not exactly healthy. Leftovers were used on a baked potato (yum) and also on cooked sliced potato wedges in air fryer (yum) another night.

    I’m on the fourth book in the Ration Book series and have really been enjoying them. They’re print books, so I’m having to google a lot of English and Irish terms/words/sayings – I love it. I bought books 2-5 from different used bookstores online and have been chugging along. A big thank you to those who recommended them on here. I said to my husband when I’m done with them, I need to find someone else who would enjoy them to pass them on to! I wish I had the first book in print to make a full set. I should look for that. I borrowed the ebook from my library for that one, but mine didn’t have digital or print copies of any of the other Jean Fullerton books.

    1. I loved them! My library didn’t have them all but I read the ones they had as e-books. How nice that you could find the printed books!

  52. We have had more extreme weather than usual lately in Fairbanks. Around Christmas, we ended up with 3 feet of snow. We also had freezing rain during that time so driving is difficult. Our street is one of the last plowed, so driving will continue to be difficult for some time.Now we are back to very cold weather. Today is around -20F. I have had 2 medical appointments and we also had our boosters finally. We are supposed to have several more days of cold so I hope to stay home now. This is my husband’s first week of returning to work half-time. Thankfully, he can work from home part of the time as he seems to be reacting to the booster. He reacted some to his second shot, so we wanted the booster in the start of the week so he would be recovered by Sunday so that he can lead the worship service.
    Christmas was simple and quiet for us. Christmas Eve we had an early service at 3 PM. Christmas Day we went to our older son’s home. They also had a man who works with our daughter in law. He is from Minnesota so seemed like a member of the family! I cooked a ham dinner on Sunday that we enjoyed throughout the week. My husband bought hamburger on sale after Christmas, so we also enjoyed having a meatloaf. We have 2 freezers full of food and a pantry so we are well stocked for bad weather. We may not have every cut of meat we would like, but we are well able to find the food we need. It is a blessing to have what we need.
    May you all stay safe and well during these wintry days. Those of you who have winter gardens, be thankful for them. Our front yard, where we have garden beds in the summer, is covered by 5 feet of snow. It is hard to believe that summer will come and we will have an abundance of fresh vegetables! Thanks to all who share their frugal ideas here!

  53. Happy New Year, all!
    I found a package of pre-sliced apples for 99 cents at the grocery store and made apple crisp with those and a few that were leftover in the refrigerator drawer. I don’t peel the apples, making it a bit chewier.
    Paid six month of car insurance for our two vehicles. We save almost half the premiums for being long-time users of that company, accident-free, multi-line discount (both home and auto), multi-car discount, and safe-vehicles, (whatever that last one means).
    Stayed with the same health insurance company this year as last, and its “rewards” program gave me many points for watching all their short videos (re)introducing me to the company and online account. Didn’t take long, and I got enough for a $100 gift card for seeing what I learned last year.
    Before taking the furnace filter out to vacuum it, I turned the thermostat setting down, then forgot to turn it back up when I was done. When I remembered several hours later, we realized we didn’t notice too much difference. This is setting me up for trying to fudge it a little lower and see where we notice it. We are usually wearing sweatshirts and keep the temperature low as it is.
    Bought Christmas cards for half-price for next year.
    Need to repot a few indoor plants into larger containers and am waiting for warmer weather to sort through the pots in my sheds. I haven’t found flower pots for sale in stores during this season.

    1. Do you have a local nursery? They will have pots.

      I have already seen garden pots in Walmart and Target. Both places are just starting to stock these items but they should be stocked soon.

  54. I’d love it if you would write a blog post about combining oven usage to save money. My husband bakes all of our bread, and bakes it in a cast iron casserole in the oven which he preheats on max for a really long time! I’d love to figure out how to use the oven for a bunch of things in a row or at the same time on baking day but I have just never managed to figure out the logistics – what we could cook then, what order to put things in, the timings of everything. All without ruining the bread!

    1. Right now it’s all an experiment so maybe in the future! I was trying to figure out ways to do it this morning.

      One thing I do is try to bake four loaves of bread at once.

      The other night I put in two pans of potatoes, which need a hotter temperature, in to cook first. Then I prepared some chicken and put it in to cook in the middle. I turned the oven down slightly–so it was a bit warm for the chicken (but it was in a covered pan, which helps prevent burning) and the potatoes were at a slightly lower temperature, but they already had a head start.

      If the oven is already hot and you have something that takes up the whole space, you could make something else and have it ready to go to cook right afterwards, saving warm-up time.

      It all seems to be adding up to a lot, judging by the bill, so I will keep experimenting!

      1. When I bake bread I start with a cold oven. My loaves are done in 8 x4 pans, sometimes on just a sheet pan and in sometimes glass sometimes aluminum. After placing the pans on the middle rack I turn on the oven to 400 and as soon as the pre-heat or 15 minuites is gone by I turn it down to 325/350 depending on the pans for another 15 minutes and if they look like they are browning quick I will start checking earlier -I use the tap for hollow sound method of doneness. Maybe this will help when starting the baking process for some of the readers

      2. One of the things I’ve started doing since my oven takes so long to preheat is to go ahead and put whatever in the over during preheating, if that’s possible and then adjust the time. For example, when I roast vegetables or bake potatoes, I just start them when I preheat. When the oven reaches the desired temperature, I stir the roasted vegetables and put them back in for another 20 – 30 minutes. A trick my grandma used when baking potatoes was to first put them in water on the stovetop and bring to a boil. Once hot, she put them in the oven and they baked in half the time. She did it more to save time, but it might reduce electricity/gas. I also have had great success baking potatoes in the crock pot, especially in the summer when I put the crock pot outside.

        1. I do that too (putting things in and turning on the oven) for baked potatoes, meat, and other dishes. I don’t generally do it for baked goods, but there are a few exceptions. I’ll have to look at that.

    2. I cooked a pumpkin yesterday and couldn’t get all of it at once, but the top shelf could fit a slender pan. So I made pumpkin granola with the first batch of pumpkin. It all timed out nicely and my hubby was happy to have some granola!

    3. If your hubby only likes to make one loaf of bread at a time the easiest thing to add to the oven is baked potatoes.You can wrap in tinfoil or just oil the outside of them and put them in the oven beside the bread.Put in as soon as he turns on the oven to preheat and if they’re not quite done when the bread is just leave them in longer.You can then have baked potatoes for supper and put the rest in the fridge for home fries the next day or peel and slice for potato salad or make potato soup.When I put a meatloaf,pork chops ,meatballs or chicken in the oven I always add a casserole dish of plain rice to cook alongside or rice pilaf or roasted potatoes or I chop in fairly large chunks potatoes,carrots&onions and place in a casserole dish with a little bit of water in the bottom,dot with butter and sprinkle seasoning salt on top and put the lid on.Another potato dish is to melt some butter in the bottom of a casserole dish or cake pan,sprinkle garlic powder over the butter and then sprinkle with parmesan cheese(fresh or powdered) cut potatoes in half(peeled or unpeeled) and place cut side down in the mixture and sprinkle seasoning salt on top and cover with foil and bake until soft.The bottoms get nice and crispy.

  55. Well, last Sunday the day after Christmas, found my husband in our ER for an abscess on his head. While they were working him up, they discovered that his blood sugar level was high. Apparently, he’s been diabetic for awhile but we had no idea. He got admitted for surgery to the abscess. Due to the lack of beds at the hospital where I work, or shall I say lack of RNs, he sat in the ER for two days. Had surgery last week. Was discharged on Thursday. He was treated at the hospital where I work and I carry our medical
    Benefits so the cost of everything should be very small.

    We have a wonderful diabetes education RN & has done a terrific job teaching my husband. I’m now Facebook friends
    with her and sometimes message her with questions.

    He’s now home on insulin. Thank Goodness I signed up for the HSA savings card! His insulin and antibiotics and diabetes testing supplies cost me $256 out of pocket WITH insurance! The HSA card paid for it all!
    *used a $50 Dunkin Donuts card I got for Christmas from my in-laws & used that for coffee & breakfast a few days on my way to visit my husband
    *stayed home when not at the hospital.
    * saw my son as I took him
    To an orthopedic Dr for his knee
    *ate most meals at home.

    what a crazy end to 2021 for us!

    1. I’m very thankful your husband was able to get the care he needed.
      Thank you, also, for your work as a nurse!

  56. I am so grateful for a new year! I spent Christmas Eve in the hospital as my son underwent surgery on his broken hand. I am grateful for an orthopedic surgeon who gave up family time to repair my son’s dominant hand. I was the only non-employee on the entire first floor of the hospital. It was so strange. I have only purchased milk, a small beef sausage (for New Year’s), and bananas in the last week. We had two family christmas celebrations and got a huge amount of leftovers. It was nice not to cook much last week. I deposited December’s 5th week paycheck into savings minus gas and doctor bills. We need to install new windows, and I am literally depositing every spare dollar and even loose change into savings in order to make that happen in 2022. Five windows and a new sliding glass door will be a hefty spend. So grateful that my husband is a licensed builder. We will save so much on installation fees. Thank you all for sharing your wisdom, positivity, book selections, and recipes here. I love the calm and purposeful place this is. I am thrilled today that I bought a new black skirt for 9.99 at an outlet store. I love this kind of find! For the first time ever I have taken 3 cuttings of blackberries and they are all sprouting. If I can get them to root I will have 3 new plants to add to my garden in the spring.

  57. Monday the last family member, a son home from deployment, left after a month to return to base. We were relieved all the visits went well and we can resume a more normal schedule!
    Not much to report, I found some marked down oranges and we ate them and the peels went to a citrus cleaner. Same with apples, we ate them and then froze the cores to make apple cider vinegar next week. I just finished fermenting a half gallon. I took a detox bath with the apple cider vinegar ,baking soda and Epsom salts.
    We have resumed keeping the thermostat at 58 and using a space heater for the room we are in. We try to be in the same room, cutting down light usage and heating costs. Lined dried the laundry from family members laundry. I did put a new flannel sheet set on our bed, I found them at Black Friday sale and decided they would be a great investment with running the house cooler! Our electric bill was lower than last year for December. Good job, Brandy on your significant savings!
    Hoping the New Year starts off well for each of you.

    1. I love hearing that you put on flannel sheets and keep the heat at 58!

      When I asked locally about the bill to see if others had a bill like mine, I stated that we keep ours at 65 as a reference point. One woman was so upset saying she refused to freeze in her own house. I know from all of you that many of you keep it much colder, and so I said so, but she was insistent that no one keeps their heat that low! I knew it wasn’t true. Thanks for sharing!

      1. We keep heat off till November 1st and we turn it off April 1st so the house is 50’s many times
        I prefer 60 but ….. electric is expensive
        We have down quilt and dress warm

        1. Thank you for sharing! I definitely think it is doable.

          Come April 1st here I am close to running the air conditioner. I always try to keep it off for most of April, but if it gets up to 82 in the house I turn it on.

          Our winters are short and mild; it’s the summer electric and water bills that are high here.

          1. And I’m happy to hear you say your inside summer temp gets up to 82. I live in the south and we have ours set that high. If it’s very humid, we sometimes allow the AC to come on at 80. Some people think we are odd but my family is used to it. And really, it’s not that bad.

            1. Well, I set the a/c at 79. But when it starts to warm up, I will wait until it gets above 81 before I turn it on, starting with just a few hours a day.

              If I set it at 76 my summer bill would be $600. My first month here (15 years ago) it was $550 and I immediately turned up the temperature the next month to 78. We’ve since moved it to 79.

  58. I was at my local midwest Dollar tree today and saw they have out their vegetable seeds..most were 4/1.00
    However I also discovered the store brand of liquid laundry soap and liquid fabric softener are now in MUCH smaller bottles. Original size was 64 oz and the new size is 42 oz.- Thats 22 ounces Less! or look at it by the load-6 to 15 loads you can’t do per bottle depending on your laundry. I did manage to find some of the old bottle sizes and was able to get 7.
    I also bought 5 bottles of bonus size Palmolive dish soap (16 oz) and then went to Dollar General and discovered the giant size bottle of Palmolive was 5.19 for 96 oz-would have been like getting a bottle free if I had bought it there. oh well..I will keep it in mind for next time.

  59. I love the colour combination of the glass jar and flowers. It is gorgeous.

    Our week was quiet, following the busyness of the festive season. Lots of leftovers. No shipping at after Christmas sales. Lots of decluttering. Bike rides and playing in the street with the neighbourhood children. It’s lovely to live in a safe, friendly, community oriented place.

  60. I love the flower photo…although I enjoy a good break from the heat and the bugs, I am missing my garden spaces. I have been saving my Swagbucks and cashed them out for a discounted Amazon giftcard and then Paypal to use for some new gardening supplies, seeds, a seed blocker, a new D-fork for my compost and heat mats for my seedlings. I still have enough to order two David Austin rose bushes! It makes me extremely excited to order some new gardening things and it not come out of our household budget. I am extremely excited to try soil blockers in place of seed starting trays. It eliminates needing to replace the plastic trays after a few uses. It should be healthier for the seedlings being able to air-prune roots and over time save money in seed starting supplies.

    I gave my husband a haircut. I made all meals at home. I cooked a whole chicken that was small in my instapot and we had one night with mashed potatoes and vegetables. Then I used the broth to make soup and everything green (chard, frozen celery and herbs) that went into the soup came from my garden. I used the bones to make two batches of bone broth. The first is very rich and comes out more like stock and then the second batch, more like traditional broth you would purchase from the store. I use my crockpot or instapot and cook them on low for 24 hours each. I save bits and pieces of vegetables in my freezer to add to it. Although we have been below freezing in the 20s several nights, we were slated to be down to 14 degrees and then 19 the next night so I cut my herbs way back and hung to dry. Then I took cuttings to root of my Rosemary plant since I had lost two last winter. If they all make it, I can give several away. I cut large batches of Swiss Chard, Tatsoi, Choy and lettuce. I covered my plants but am still not certain if they will make it through the week with so many cold nights/days.

    We lost a very dear friend last month who loved to garden. His daughter asked if we would be willing to take her father’s worm farm and tumbling composter. We had just been researching how to make our own worm farm and my 8-year-old daughter is ecstatic!

    Before the very cold weather settled in, I worked in my front flower beds separating Daffodil bulbs and Iris rhizomes. Last year very few daffodils bloomed, when I dug up the bulbs, they were so thick with new smaller bulbs there was no room for them to really breathe. I separated, replanted some, took others to different flower beds and shared with my sister. I only have a lighter purple/blue Iris and white (which didn’t bloom last year) but have such an abundance of rhizomes. I split them, replanted many, gave some to my father and then stored some away to plant in the backyard around my garden space. The smaller bulbs will not bloom right away but in a few years will be beautiful and cost nothing. While I weeded and worked in the beds, I dug many self-seeded perennial flower plants from our driveway for my father. The wind carries the seed and some of the Sweet Williams seem to root anywhere. I planted tulip bulbs I had purchased on sale also. They were very inexpensive but also didn’t look very great. I am really hoping some make it.

    My father brought 3-18 pack of fresh eggs from his chickens to us. Our chicken have molted and are just getting their feathers in good but are not laying reliably yet. I made hard boiled eggs for snacks one day and cook them much like I do my rice. I bring to a rolling boil, boil for about a minute, cover with a lid and turn off the propane. They take about 15-16 minutes to cook but come out perfectly. He also brought popcorn, apples, oranges, grapes, pears and each of the children a package of nuts they enjoy. I am extremely thankful for his kindness.

    We have been keeping our heat higher than yours at 66-68. With our house having 3 different controls, we only heat the sections of the house we are in. At night the other parts of the house that are not on the end with the bedrooms are placed at a lower temperature. I am always cold when everyone else is fine so I wear a sweater, an extra pair of socks and slippers.

    I hope everyone has a wonderful week!

    1. Amanda, I am sorry about your friend. I think he would be very happy to know that you are enjoying his worm farm and composter.

      Our house has two controls, but they both include bedrooms, so I have to run both. Like you, I am always cold when others are fine, so before I turn up the heat, I check with everyone else to see if they are cold. If it’s just me and I can do fine by just putting on another layer, I do. Sometimes I turn it up for just a couple of hours while I work on something (especially in the kitchen, where it is hard for me to wear an extra layer while cooking or doing dishes as I would get my sleeves wet).

      1. Thank you. He was in his 90s and had been sick for a long time but shared our love of gardening.

        That makes it harder with needing to use both. We are in a one-story ranch style home and all the bedrooms are on the same end of the house, so that helps us a great deal. We still have higher bills than I would like but we keep working away at it. I admire that you always keep trying even when your bills are extremely low. Helps keep us motivated to do the same.

  61. Brandy–We live in Fairbanks, Alaska where it will be somewhere in the -30s tonight and keep our heat at 64 degrees even when it is -50. We wear long underwear, sweatshirts and sweatpants, and fleece jackets. I have been known to cover up with a robe too. Our fuel company doesn’t
    appreciate our economies, but they don’t pay our bills!

    1. I am smiling, Alaska Gram. We were as cold as you were on Jan 5. — please take this Arctic cold front back to the Arctic.

  62. It is minus 35ºC tonight. I was just finishing something in the kitchen when I looked out and saw
    two women coming up my driveway. It turned out it was one of the young women we nominated for a scholarship but she did not get it. Still, she and her mum arrived bearing gifts. They gave me a large bag of sunflower seeds for the birds which was most welcome as I’m running low. They also gave me a gift card for groceries — it is a great surprise!

    1. Oh wow, that is cold! How kind of them! And how nice that they know about the sunflower seeds.

      1. When I interviewed the daughter, we sat outside on a beautiful summer’s evening at the patio table (due to covid). There wasn’t much time to complete an interview and the process for nomination. I dropped everything to get the paperwork done. Because we were at the patio table, we were right next to the bird feeder. That’s how she knew about the sunflower seeds. She is one of the most thoughtful young women I have ever met. It would make your head spin to learn about everything she does. I’ve told her that she should apply for a Rhodes scholarship as she is that brilliant and accomplished. Not only did they have to haul the bag of sunflower seeds up a long driveway but it wasn’t shovelled either as I was working on the book all day and didn’t realize it had snowed quite a bit. For some mysterious reason, in my yard, it can look like it’s not snowing in the back while it is snowing quite heavily in the front. The good thing about our weather is we get Chinooks, warm winds from the west that melt the snow. Although it is minus 40 with the windchill this morning, by Saturday the temperature will go up to minus 4 and by Tuesday it will go up to 14 above C. It will feel balmy. People here always live in hope for a Chinook. It wreaks havoc on growing plants, gives people migraines, but no-one here would like to do without Chinooks. P.S. In our book, one of the explorers was here in 1798 in December. It was 58º F above. Occasionally at Christmas people have walked outside not wearing coats at all, it has been so warm.

        1. Wow! 14C is what we just warmed to here yesterday!

          That would be a problem for plants all right.

          We will get at least one if not two more freezes before the trees blossom, but they are certainly swelling with buds when it gets that warm.

        2. Ellie’s friend I too live in southern Alberta and can’t wait for the chinook that’s coming in on Sunday or Monday !The only good thing about these cold snaps is that it helps kill ticks and other bugs !Do you remember a few years ago when Leonardo Di Caprio was filming a movie in Alberta and experienced a chinook? He called it the result of global warming because it was 20c. below one day and 20c. above the next day ! He had never experienced our chinooks before.

  63. Commenting late but wanted to say I keep my apartment at 17 Celsius which is just less then 63 F. This week are ‘high’ temps for the day are freezing. Overnight temps and some day time temps are in the minus celsius.

    I’m on the ground floor. Under the thin carpet and vinyl is a cement slab. There’s no way I can pay enough to keep my apartment warm in the winter. My solution is to wear two pairs of thick socks and over sized slippers.

    This winter, I’ve closed off my ‘tv room’ and set that thermometer at 15 C. The ceiling of that room is the outside deck for my neighbor and not insulated enough.

    Happy New Year to all.

    1. We have cement slabs here too. I never thought about floors and how they affect the temperature of the house. That is very interesting.

    2. SJ, You might look into a cork underlayment under the carpet. It might provide good insulation. I’ve been looking into
      a floating cork floor and have been reading about underlayments too. Something to think about. Would keep
      the floors warm in winter and cool in summer. Not sure if it could be used but it is a thought. I fortunately have a down duct furnace and underfloor heating under my concrete floors in my partially unfinished basement so I even walk barefoot across them. It is the unfinished, uninsulated walls that are a problem. I may put up some cork bulletin boards on the walls.

  64. Brandy, my mom used to peel and cut the potatoes and put them in a pot of water. Once boiling, she turned it on low and continued to cook for a long time until soft. My mother-in-law showed me a different way: once the water and potatoes boil, you dump out all but an inch of water and put on low (I put the pot on the low energy burner) and it takes far less time for the potatoes to cook. They are also more textured than boiling them to death. Just thought this might be of interest.

    1. That is very interesting, especially as my new oven has more smaller burners than my last one. That could be part of the lower gas usage.

  65. Stocked up at the wholesaler across town to save money today. Deals included
    25 lb box of gala apples-$10
    bags of cut up broccoli and cauliflower-10-12 oz each 1.00
    Green beans-1.00 per lb
    acorn squash -.49 per lb
    mandarins and navel oranges-99 per lb
    anjou pears 2.99 for 3 lbs
    zuccchini $1 per lb
    romaine 1.00 each
    butternut squash .99 per lb
    larger bag of sugar snap peas-$2.00
    huge bag of spinach 1.00
    pints of grape tomatoes-$1.00 each

    Definitely worth my time and money to drive there.

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