I dug mache (corn salad) that had self-seeded in my garden in a clump and moved it to more places in the garden so that each one can grow larger.

I did the same with self-seeded lettuce plants.

I planted paperwhites that had multiplied in my garden into pots that I already had.

I made a triple batch of laundry soap.

My son, who works at the grocery store, texted me to let me know they had Lindt chocolate for 90 cents a bag, and asked if I wanted any (regular price is $9 each). I said yes, and I went to his work to see what other Christmas clearance was available. I will use the chocolates for the children for Valentine’s Day. I also bought graham cracker and chocolate pie crusts on clearance for $0.33 each, 4 white taper candles for $0.15 each, Scotch tape, bags of Hershey’s miniatures for $0.40 a bag (regular price $4), bags of peanut-butter M&M’s for $0.30 each, and two sets of measuring spoons, two cookie scoops, and two candy thermometers on clearance that I will gift to the next two oldest children at home when they move out (it is time for me to start putting together items for them as I find them).

I read two e-books from the library by Mhairi Mc Farlane: You Had Me at Hello and If I Never Met You.

One of my daughters went through her clothing and decided what things she no longer wanted. I ended up with a skirt, a blouse, a cardigan, and a dress for myself. Anything her youngest sister didn’t like and that I didn’t want we put in bags for donation (or a garage sale; we are still going through items in the house).

What did you do to save money last week?

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  1. I haven’t posted for a couple weeks because it’s been so hectic! My brother passed away on Dec. 15. While we were up there in the 3 preceding days, I fell the day before his death in the hotel bathtub and have cracked (hairline fractured) a rib. Drive back (6 hours) to Ohio was painful but I made it through. We drove back up 3 days later for the funeral on Monday. I was sore but okay that day until afterwards at my sister’s when I suddenly couldn’t breathe and the pain was overwhelming! Spent 5 hours in ER, got X-rays and pain meds. Drove back the 6 hours to Ohio the next morning and checked in with my family doctor. He did some testing and follow up that the ER hadn’t and I was grateful to be back home.
    I had all the food ready to host Christmas Eve family open house but the snowstorm cancelled those plans! I cooked up beef stew in crockpot, chicken spaghetti and Turkey pot pie in oven and Hamburger Pattie’s on George Foreman grill for our son who came the day before the snowstorm to housesit while we were at the wedding!

    The day after Christmas (Monday), we were scheduled to fly out on SW airlines for our daughter’s wedding in Houston on Wednesday. Unless you have had no contact with the outside world, you can imagine how that went. On Monday, after the first 2 flight cancellations, the ticket agent found a single seat available on a flight the next day. So Hubs and another daughter & SIL opted to drive down (18+ hours) to Houston while I took plane for comfort! Tuesday had 2 flights cancelled, an U er to airport at 2 AM and finally a daughter found a United flight Tuesday late afternoon for me. That flight was delayed three times before we boarded and then we were further delayed because the wheels and road under them was icy and they couldn’t get traction to move! Eventually I arrived in Houston at 1:30 AM Wednesday with the wedding at 2 that afternoon! So we had our adventure and are happy to be home!

    Just before the holidays, Hubs bought 2 more heavy duty shelving units to replace the other shelves (actually old bookcases) that we’ve been using for over 25 years. This will give us more room on our canning jar shelves to organize our jars of food. We’ve increased our canning quite a bit this past year so we can use the space!

    I’m determined to be using our freezer/pantry almost exclusively this month now just to keep expenses down. With all the travels to Michigan, hotel stays/food/gas and then travels to Houston- Hotel for drivers, rebooking new flights for me, etc, it has been a speedy month. Grateful we could do it, but now we need to buckle down!! If, however, there are amazing clearance mark downs on anything that we normally would use, I will buy them. I just found Nestles morsels for 50 cents/bag (regular $3.49), peppermint cinnamon flavored almonds for 43 cents/6 oz with holiday tags and sell by date past Christmas 2023 so those will be used in Christmas gift baskets I make!

    So now’s the time that we will be careful in our managing our resources so we can get back to building up our savings.

    For those who live in cold climates, I hope you are safe and warm.

    Gardenpat in Ohio

    1. I am sorry to hear about your brother and your fall!

      I am glad you made it for the wedding. I saw a headline today about a bride missing her own wedding due to all the cancellations.

      1. Brandy- Thank you. We actually fared so much better than so many that were not able to get to their destinations on time! We feel extremely blessed!!

        Gardenpat in Ohio

    2. I am so sorry for your loss, but glad that you were able to visit with your brother regularly during his illness.

      I am sure you will have no trouble eating solely from your pantry this month, though it sounds unlikely to me that you will stop finding deals during that period!!! (I means this in a complimentary way of course.) I sometimes have to remind myself that just because something is on sale doesn’t mean it is meant for me in a given season. I hope your rib heals quickly.

      1. Elizabeth M- Thank you! You’re right, of course on pantry/freezer “eat down”! Tonight we had carnitas burritos and literally every ingredient was not only from our food storage, but also purchased on sale or clearance or from our garden and home canned! And they were SO tasty!!

        And, yes, I have found clearance on baking staples and items that will be used in gift baskets next Christmas that I’ll report on next week! Suffice it to say, my Kroger receipt says that since January 1, I have saved over $367. in their stores!! 😱😱 Everything I bought was 70%- 90% off!

        Gardenpat in Ohio

      1. Betsy- Thank you! It has been a “forced” rest. My energy level and discomfort has left me lacking. It’s making me crazy, so I’m starting to power through to get some of the things on my to-do list done!! I’ve avoided taking any pain pills for over 3 days now because they leave me loopy! I’m giving myself until the weekend to recuperate and then I will get back to 100%!! Lol!

        Gardenpat in Ohio

    3. Gardenpat, I’m so sorry for your loss. I don’t comment often, but I always look for your posts here.
      I don’t know if you’ve gotten an email from the Southwest airlines CEO, but look out for one, they are giving those of us who had flight issues over the holidays 25,000 points per person (a $300 value) for future flights. I received the email today and have already added the points to my account.

      1. Sandy Beach- Finally today, after lots of friends told us they received the SW email giving the travel rewards vouchers, we got ours which meant about $600 additional in our travel account credits. Since we have a grandson in WA graduating high school this year, this will mean we will probably fly without cost when added to the other rewards we had from cancelled flights of Hubs! Thanks for the heads up!!

        Gardenpat in Ohio

    4. Sorry for your loss GardenPat. What an ordeal it was to fly this holiday season. We had a direct SW flight from AZ to FL at 5 AM (purposely to negate delays) on Christmas Eve day. We headed to a very crowded airport at 2:30 AM- people were lined up out the door (75 feet+). Our hotel was packed with people in the lobby, at 2:30 in the morning & and headed directly to the free airport shuttle, to catch the last seats available.
      Glad you made it to the wedding and back home-hope you feel better!

      1. Nancy in Florida- Glad you were able to return to Florida before things crashed more!
        I sometimes take for granted how easy it is to book a flight and travel cross country without a second thought! We live in an amazing time!

        Gardenpat in Ohio

    5. Gardenpat, I am so sorry to hear about your brother. How blessed you were to spend the time with him that you did! Also, very sorry to hear about your rib! That is painful and it’s good you have a wonderful family doctor. Prayers for a quick healing. Wow! On the Nestle chips! I am amazed at the deals you find! Congratulations to your daughter! Thanking God you were able to make the wedding!

      1. Laura S- The past month has been a bit of a blur but now I’m anxious to get back to my projects and regular routine! Lol!

        Gardenpat in Ohio

    6. Gardenpat – You have had your share of excitement for a while! I hope you are able to rest and heal for a bit. Blessings to you and yours and my condolences on the loss of your brother. How wonderful you were able to spend time with him recently. 🙂

      1. Mountain Mama Dawn- I think I’m ready for some “uneventful” times for a while!! The trips up to Michigan to visit my brother this past 2-1/2 months are precious and priceless to me! I am forever grateful that Hubs was so supportive of all those trips (He insisted on doing the driving while I navigated !) Thank you for your condolences!

        Gardenpat in Ohio

    7. Gardenpat I can’t tell you how sorry I am to hear about the loss of your brother.
      When I read about your fall I was in shock, I was thrilled to see you made the wedding and thought of course you did! Your an amazing person and your adventures are a joy to read even with sadness how you share with us is inspirational
      Best wishes

    8. Sorry for the loss of your brother. Also sorry to hear of your fractured rib; I had one from an injury in a car accident years ago & I know how painful that can be and how long it can take to fully heal. Praying for you!

  2. Wow! Brandy! Sounds like you hit the mother lode at the grocery store!

    I shopped at Sam’s and bought some pork chops. The one’s that were visible looked nice. When I got home and started to repack them, the meat on the bottom was just awful! Big hunks of pork, not at all resembling pork chops! I was so upset. They sent a survey about my purchases and I let them have it—not that it will do any good. I am finding more and more that the quality of all goods and services is just unacceptable—no matter the store or price!

    For New Year’s Eve, we went outside and banged pots and pans at midnight. The kids still laugh about us doing that. Have always done it in our family. Not sure of the origin! We also watched lots of football and had a surprise visit from our oldest Grandson, which was wonderful!

    Made a large pot of chicken noodle soup yesterday. Time to tighten our belts and go back to survival mode! With the coming utility bill after that frigid weather and the coming increases in food and gas, every penny is going to count!

    Still making my way through all of Geraldine Brook’s books. Such a great writer! Also, have started perusing seed catalogues! 🥰

    Hope everyone had a great New Year’s. We all need to hold hands and face the coming year together! What a joy to be part of such a great group! Kudos to you, Brandy! Onward, ya’ll, by all means!

      1. Found this:
        Banging pots and pans:
        The tradition is carried out across the world, from the UK to Australia, although it is widely believed that the tradition originated in Ireland. The action is said to ward off evil spirits and negativity, paving the way for a happy and positive year ahead. National News

    1. What a wonderful tradition! My parents never celebrated for the New Year. As our kids grew older, we had their friends over and had appetizers and celebrated. Now that they are grown, hubby and I go to bed before the new year rings in. My New Year tradition is to watch the Gidget movies😂😂 Does anyone else remember Moondoggie fondly?

      1. Laura, my mother loved watching Gidget movies! I grew up watching them with her and have such great memories ♡

  3. Great Christmas clearance deals!
    I pulled all the frozen garden tomatoes and peppers from my freezer and made 7 pints of picante sauce. I used canned crushed tomatoes I purchased on sale this summer to make 7 pints of pasta sauce. I unraveled an old sweater and wound the yarn to use to make a new sweater. I filled a Rx at the very end of the year, knowing my co-pay goes up after January 1. We had a little cheese dip and some small slices of cheese left over from our Christmas Eve brunch, so one night I made grilled cheese sandwiches and tomato soup (the soup is made with a can of tomatoes.) I listened to library books and free podcasts while knitting.

  4. Thank you Brandy for all that you do keeping this blog going.
    My husband is still trying to get disability. It been 6 weeks since he has been lay off. Received 2 checks from employment but because he will get paid for the holiday at his lay off job just for insurance no pay for us. He will get another employment check in 3 weeks time. I have a job but doesn’t pay enough to cover all the bills. Thanks for you Brandy and everyone I have been stocking up on groceries, I planted a garden in the summer and canned and froze. Check my seeds so we are fine this year. I found some good deal after Christmas started my Easter baskets shopping for the grandkids. Sew some rice bags to try and keep the heat down. Hope that 2023 year gets better for everyone. Thank again.

    1. Lisa, we are in the same boat. Husband is still waiting to get approved for unemployment (was laid off in October!) and was told by the unemployment people to apply for disability based on medical history. Trying not to be discouraged and doing all we can to get ahead of things.

  5. Wow! Great clearance finds 🎉

    *son brought home party leftovers- chicken quesadillas and wings
    *was home sick 5 days (saved on gas and was thankful to have plenty of otc medications stocked up to make myself a bit more comfortable)
    *Christmas clearance: nerf, Mario, and Spider-Man bath sets for nephews’ birthdays (2.49!); grill sets, ribbon, candy
    *set aside a few duplicate or Rob your Neighbor gifts to use next Christmas
    *I’m keeping a much more detailed gift list on my phone including what’s in my gift stash. I love shopping all year long for the best prices.
    📍Grocery Store: skipped
    📍Buy Nothing Group: 6 bars of soap and a few disposable razors

    Happy New Year!

  6. I’m thinking I may have had mache in a restaurant salad, but am not sure what it tastes like. I’m thinking it’s quite a mild green? How wonderful your son can let you know about grocery sales, and you were able to pick up so many deals. I was finally able to get The Rose Code from my library, and will look up the books you mention. Last week, I went to our little local grocer. Though they were out of the cilantro I stopped there for, I found 12 oz grade A maple syrup on the clearance rack for $3, and bought 8. At the nearby Dollar General, I found 50% off Christmas, and picked up twinkly lights, a pack of gift tags, and spool of ribbon. I used our potatoes and vegetable broth in mashed potatoes with mushroom gravy. Lots of sweet potatoes and greens were eaten in various forms throughout the week. A few Christmas items I wasn’t using were added to the donation box. I dried laundry on the line, and found cherries for $3.99/# at Food Lion. While in town, I thrifted a 1/2 gal canning jar $1.99, canister for my shop $2.99, and two pretty handmade pottery bowls 2/$3.99. Our elderly neighbor passed away. The day after the funeral, my husband brought a trailer load of our wood to his widow. I prepped all the pears, and the apples that wouldn’t last, and made sauce, canning two 1/2 pints of each. I hope to process the remaining apples soon. https://abelabodycare.blogspot.com/2023/01/a-new-year.html

    1. It’s very mild! I bought it in France and Switzerland but I cannot buy it here. I’m so excited that it self-seeded like crazy this year.

      1. Brandy, I found Mache seeds in the High Mowing seed catalog and Territorial seed catalog. I’ve never grown it, but I’ve been reading the “Four Season Harvest” by Eliot Coleman and he plants Mache lettuce since it is so cold tolerant. I have it on my list as well as trying Claytonia perfoliata also called miner’s lettuce seeds to order. I just got a new cover for my greenhouse. I live in the high desert, so we are very hot in the summer, but cold at night in the winter. I’m hoping the greenhouse will help.

      2. I thought mache was also called corn salad. And, if so, then it’s available from Territorial Seeds. I haven’t tried growing it but a friend used to grow it and that’s where she’d get her seeds. YMMV

    2. Laurie, that is one of the nicest, kindest things your husband (and you, I’m assuming) could have done for your neighbor’s widow. And without asking. Good for you.

  7. Those are some amazing prices on chocolates! So nice that your son knows to keep an eye out for bargains that benefit the family!

    My frugal week:
    – I combined sales, coupons, cashback offers, price-matching, loyalty point offers, and promos when grocery shopping. My best deals were a free high-end yoghurt, a free vitamin water, and two free boursin cheeses (I was so pleased with that!), the latter of which I saved for our NYE celebration at home.
    – I redeemed a promo for a free fries from New York Fries. My daughters enjoyed the treat!
    – I baked a yoghurt cake for breakfast. Instead of the blueberries and lemon zest, I used what I had, frozen foraged berries and orange zest. I also replaced some of the yoghurt with frozen veggie puree. Healthy, tasty, and made with what i had at home!
    – my daughter won a prize from the library, a puzzle and another book for our library. It made her day!
    – We used the public library lots and lots. Borrowed books and e-books, and took advantage of NYE kids programming as well. I soooo appreciate our public library!
    – I looked around for a chocolate chip recipe that used fewer chocolate chips, as I’m running low on them, and want to wait for a sale.
    – had to buy some clothes for my daughter, but combined sales with Rakuten and free shipping.
    – I chopped up two frozen veggie burgers and added homemade taco spice, to make burrito filling.
    – I took my kids to my sister’s condo to swim in her pool. Free entertainment!

    Looking forward to learning from everyone else as always!

    1. I read a little book about making Christmas special with very little money and it talked about making chocolate chips with just one chocolate chip per cookie. She made the dough and scooped it onto trays and just pressed one chip into the top of each. I haven’t gone that far, but I always buy mini chocolate chips because I feel like you can use way fewer and it still seems like a lot.

      1. When I was in the second and third grade, I was good friends with a girl whose mother always made oatmeal cookies with two chocolate chips pressed into the top. I loved them! My mom got to know the girl’s mother and started making them, too. I think I’m gonna have to make a batch!

    2. Margaret,
      When I was a girl, we almost always made the cookie recipe on the back of the Toll House Chocolate chip bag, every Saturday. My mom froze them, but I was raised on a farm in a time where there was dessert at every single meal except breakfast, so we went through them. My mom always doubled the batch and just used one bag of chips (so 1/2 the chips called for). I never knew until I was older that everyone didn’t do it that way!

      I found them for $2/bag on sale, could get 5. I used a gift card I received from a grateful neighbor for babysitting her boys last summer a few days. I think Costco has them for less per ounce, but these were free to me this way.

      1. I never use the full amount of chocolate chips called for in a recipe! I always find it’s too much chocolate per cookie, and I’m an inverterate chocoholic, so that’s saying something! Glad I’m not the only one!

    3. Lisa, we are in the same boat. Husband is still waiting to get approved for unemployment (was laid off in October!) and was told by the unemployment people to apply for disability based on medical history. Trying not to be discouraged and doing all we can to get ahead of things.

    4. Margaret@ ApproachingFood- like Sarah Leonard who commented to you, I always try to have mini chocolate chips in my pantry because it not only “tricks” the grandies into thinking they are getting more chocolate, it also tricks me!! Lol! And I’m the one substituting them for the regular size!! Lol!!

      Hopefully, you will find a good sale on baking chips soon!! But, well done for using what you had on hand!! Not only reflects your frugality, but also your creativity in finding ways to use what you have!!

      Gardenpat in Ohio

  8. We bought toilet paper fo 50 cents per four pack. We are on a spending freeze until we find out what our income tax will be. I want to be able to pay the taxes if we end up needing to pay. Whenever it freezes outside, my husband doesn’t get hours. Just glad that we have been careful, for the most part, about how we spend our money. It is warmer so he should get hours this week. I have been crocheting a scarf with yarn that I bought for a dollar. I learned how to crochet this stitch by watching YouTube. I have been using cloth handkerchiefs and cloth napkins. Cooking from our pantry and freezer. We borrowed movies from the library. My mom has been teaching me to sew. So far I have been repairing things. We may get to making curtains this week. I’ve enjoyed spending time with my kids and grandkids. I visited my parents and sister and niece and great niece and great nephews. I played piano with my sister. It was fun playing a duet that we played when we were kids to show to her grandchildren, my great nephews. We also did a dance, or tried, that we did over 40 years ago. We actually remembered! Of course, we couldn’t do the flips and stuff we did when we were kids. But it was fun to show the kids what we did when we were kids! I really enjoyed watching my great nephew show the family what he learned during the piano lesson. He was so proud! It was nice to see them enjoy learning! My great nephews are picking up the piano fast. All of that was free entertainment, and so much fun! When visiting my grandkids, I got to draw with my granddaughter and my husband made a car with my grandson. We all had a great time! My son took us to lunch. We enjoyed talking to all of them. I ordered scissors on amazon and have yet to have my husband trim my hair. But we will do that soon. I haven’t had my hair done in several years now. It is time to trim it at least. Still waiting for propane to come. Starting to think we really might need to get some electric heaters. Hoping they will come soon. We are ok so far.

  9. Hi Brandy and everyone
    What great prices you got for the Lindt chocolate etc and so nice that you are able to put things aside for when the older children move out.
    I couldn’t get my comment to go through last week so forgive me if this is a bit lengthy!
    My husband’s car broke down and our recovery service was so appalling that he made a formal complaint. The complaint was upheld and we received a refund of the money it had cost him with an extra £150 as an apology. This almost covered the cost of the car repair.
    My second hand car developed a small fault which the garage dealt with as it was still under warranty.
    My husband repainted the bathroom to freshen it up using paint we already had. I switched things around in there using items we had.
    Royal Mail have started bar coding postage stamps so we can’t use old stamps forever as before. I came across a book of old stamps in a handbag and was fortunate that the deadline for using them up had been extended so I used them on some Christmas cards.
    I wrapped presents in fabric gift bags I sewed last year and wrapped a couple in new teatowels which I buy cheaply when I see them in charity shops. The teatowels were part of the gift.
    We politely declined an invitation to a New Year party saving ourselves the cost of driving there and a hostess gift. I hope that doesn’t sound mean. We stayed home and I cooked us a nice meal using things from the freezer.
    I stripped the meat off the turkey and froze it for future meals. I made cream of parsnip soup and carrot and orange soup with leftovers.
    I bought a small amount of fabric in a sale specifically to make gifts for a couple of friends. I have been waiting for the sale.
    Before Christmas when I gathered all the gifts together I thought I had overdone things a little for a family member so I held over a present for his birthday this coming year. We like to keep things as equal as possible for all the family.
    Our electric blanket has died but instead of replacing it we’re keeping it old school with hot water bottles.
    I checked our electricity usage for December and it’s less than the same month for the last two years. That’s the good news. The bad news is that our bill has almost doubled even though we’ve cut our usage. Very disheartening. Households will continue to receive government support with electricity bills of £66 per month until the end of March. We will just soldier on reducing our consumption and be grateful that our weather is currently very mild.
    Stay safe everyone.

    1. Petrol is expensive. Sometimes, it’s just too much of a cut to the budget to make the drive to a party. I know I’ve had to pass on free activities many times over the years as I just didn’t have the money for the gas.

  10. Sitting at airport after visiting daughter, with newborn, and family, after a huge snowstorm where she lives, waiting to board airplane to fly back home to potential tornadoes tomorrow! It is 75 degrees at home! I packed a lunch for me bc airport food is outrageously priced! I bought groceries for her, which is a savings for her family, and cooked, so we did no eating out during my visit. I wore my old clothes and will be trying to do a no spend year, except for necessities, this year. Things have just gotten too expensive. I have a 2 year supply of beans and rice, so I have the basics to build meals from. I don’t think I need any new clothes unless it is underwear and tights, maybe socks. I will need new tires this year but that is a necessity.

    1. Cindy in the South, when packing a lunch for the airport how do you get it through? I thought only pre-packaged stuff that is not open can go through. I know you can bring a bottle and then fill it up with water but how do you get food through? Airports are always so expensive its ridiculous and I would much rather bring a homemade sandwich or something.

      1. Hi Laura –
        I understand your confusion, and I well remember standing at the side of the TSA line and quickly eating a (commercially sealed) container of yogurt that was not allowed on the plane (I just couldn’t trash it, and we had enough time…). In my experience since then, homemade sandwiches are fine, as are cookies, pieces of fruit, cheese, crackers, nuts, and wrapped chocolates, so you can put together a quite elegant lunch for yourself for a LOT less than the airplane would charge! Just stay away from things that are the least bit fluid or soupy. Your nearby seat companions will be envious…

      2. I had it in a clear plastic bag. It was ham and cheese sandwiches and I put it on the conveyer belt basket and it was x rayed by the security folks and they let it through. I have never had a problem with turkey and cheese or ham and cheese sandwiches at the Salt Lake airport, or Atlanta airport, but I don’t know about other airports. I also had an apple and it went through.

  11. Hello!

    I spent some time researching tomato varieties and ordering seeds. My tomato plants get blight every year, so I am trying some new varieties that are supposed to be less susceptible. I read somewhere that blight can be airborne, which seems to be the case for me.

    I get several monthly magazine subscriptions for free, and when I am finished with them, I pass them along to my mother. My mother then gives them to another elderly woman who loves magazines. I am thrilled that they are being shared and enjoyed.

    The kids and I made cookie cakes for a few neighbors. I personally don’t like cookie cake, but everyone said they were the best they have ever tasted. I think the store bought ones have an artificial taste. They were so easy to make, and we decorated them with piped icing and sprinkles. My kids really enjoyed making and delivering them.

    I used a gift card to purchase a new vacuum, the Bissell Featherweight stick vacuum with extra attachments. It was hard to believe it was only $31, yet had excellent reviews. So far, I am loving it! No more cordless vacs for me! I got tired of buying expensive batteries, including Amazon knockoffs.

    I saved some boxes to put my Goodwill donations in, rather than using my own trash bags.

    Took my two kids to the mall to use gift cards they couldn’t wait to spend. We had a free birthday coupon for a cupcake at Barnes & Noble. We brought it home and they shared it. We only go to the mall a few times a year, so I usually let them get a pretzel. I couldn’t believe how expensive they were…about $6. They instead chose kids meals from the food court, which cost less, and they got so much more. They’re learning!

    Have a great week!

    1. Make sure to plant your tomatoes in a new place. Tomatoes should be on a four-year-rotation to avoid blight.

    2. I choose my tomato varieties carefully, as well. About 10 or 15 years ago, I lost my entire crop to blight and only canned 7 quarts from around 100 plants before they died. At that property, I had a huge garden, so they had been rotated correctly, but succumbed anyway. Every since then, I’ve had much better luck. I plant disease resistant kinds, and continue to rotate, as best as I can in the smaller garden space I have. That is why I try as hard as I can to keep over a year’s supply of tomato products canned and always rotated according to date canned, in my pantry–just in case it ever happens again.

      1. That’s awful!

        Thank you for pointing out that blight can happen even with the rotation of crops. I didn’t know the importance of rotating tomatoes for years and I have met many seasoned gardeners who didn’t know either, so I mentioned it, but yes, it can happen anyway.

    3. I think I’ve read somewhere, that blight form potatoes can also infect tomatoes, hence it’s a good idea not to grow the two crops too close together, and be careful not to spread disease between them. Something to consider if you’re growing both crops.

  12. It has been a long time since I commented. My frugal accomplishments are just basically my normal way of living now but I will try to identify them:

    Heating- on for 2 hours a day ( 1 hour in morning and evening). I did have it on longer during that very cold snap before Christmas ( Americans don’t laugh- I know that for you it would not have been cold at all) but even that increase in heating only lasted 1-2 days. We wore a lot of extra clothes/ blankets otherwise.

    Christmas- had a turkey and goose squirrelled away. Didn’t buy a ham. Used last of goose fat jars bought for £0.13 each few years ago. I cook a lot on Christmas Day- so no cooking for next week. In this case a blessing- see below.

    Family- my mother has been very unwell recently ( in hospital for 8 weeks, still not great). She lives in Scotland and my sister who is local to her has been doing a huge amount. I realised I needed to go to Scotland and realised I could leave on 26/12 and return on 28/12 without losing any work. The problem was the train strikes. I managed to get flights for myself and my youngest and managed to get £500 off the price using avios. For last minute flights over Christmas they were a great deal (£200). We only took hand luggage and the airport is relatively easy and cheap for us to get to via public transport. My mother got to see her youngest grandchild which she really enjoyed. Incidentally- I took up my sister and BILs Christmas present ( I had not had time to post them and felt awful- thought I had more time but forgot about strikes) as well as a birthday present for my sister who has a birthday soon. We stayed with my sister and I went out with her to Aldi and bought supplies for my mother and sister ( I used a gift card I had mistakenly bought a while ago- this was good as no Aldi near me). We brought down a present for someone who has a birthday soon. My older children ( young adults) looked after dog and house. This made me smile- while in airport bathroom on return a very young adult told me spontaneously that she had been waiting approximately 5 hours for a domestic flight ( think she was just very stressed). I sympathised then pointed out she was almost certainly due a refund and should check the website- I spread frugality wherever I go!

    I brought down cuttings of Christmas cacti in daughters hand luggage. Forgot about them. When hauled them out today they had rooted ( sister put them into damp kitchen towel). Just need to plant them.

    I cook vegetables by boiling water in kettle, adding it to pot, bringing to boil, switching off gas and leaving it. As well as veg I cook rice this way. Cooks perfectly.

    Everything is bought reduced. Now the till in my local supermarket tots up savings as well as the total. I’m very happy if savings near/equal or even more than eventual total.

    All food from Christmas eaten or frozen. Carcasses used for stock or frozen in bags ( reused) to be used soon. Rescue angel ( dog) has dried food with stock as meal. I don’t buy tins as vet told me they did not have much nutritional value. He (dog not vet) gets a perfect health report at each annual checkup.

    Vegetable special offers included potatoes 2kg for £0.19 before Christmas. I bought 10 packs. Have made up packs of mash to have through year as well as having roast potatoes on Christmas day, chips yesterday, using in soup etc. Again used above trick in cooking. Used left over cream from Christmas in mash. Had broccoli cheap too. My children love it. Also used stalk ( peeled and chopped) in stir frys together with leftover turkey / goose. Bought cheap carrots as well. Now am kicking myself for not buying more potatoes- ah well. This year I will do better- they always have this deal at Christmas. Probably should confess that I got a shop delivered for once as hate stores just before Christmas- the pressure to spend huge amounts of money on gifts just causes me stress. I buy gifts when I see them for a good price and think of someone who would love it. I don’t have a supermarket delivery plan as I normally shop yellow stickers and they don’t get delivered!

    Went to shop today for first time in ? 1 month. Bought reduced Stilton ( in nice pots) and a present ( burger cookbook with spices) that I can use as present for son. It was reduced from £8 to £2. Bought cakes I can put into youngest’s lunchbox for school. £0.28 for 6. I will freeze the Stiltons ( except for 1- quality control).

    Still driving ancient car. Thanks to lovely mechanic she still hobbles along. Having horrible thought that need new car. Then I recall a mechanic ( not the lovely one I’ve known for 17 years) telling me in September 2020 that I should junk her and put the money towards a new car- hmm. Old lady still running. Even with mechanic costs still cheaper than new car at moment.

    Car insurance quote decreased by £100 for the year. Did shop around- still cheapest.
    Stopped some subscriptions. Could have done it sooner and need to watch that.

    Have made New Year resolution not to buy any more wool ( yarn) for crochet or tapestry kits this year. I have at least enough wool to make 5 afghans. I would like to point out ( in my defence) that one set of wool is to make an Afghan for my sister and BIL. I have a lot of tapestry kits. Not had chance to check how many- really don’t want to admit to this but as I love them all they will be done.

    Anyway- Happy New Year everyone!

    1. Heating prices are rising everywhere and are quite bad in the U.K. My friend told me she was planning to not turn on the heat at all this winter.

      Of course we will not laugh. We all understand.

    2. A trusted, longtime mechanic is worth his/her weight in gold! That and proper maintenance. My daily driver of about 15 years just turned 21 and my trusty old campervan will be 51 in march. Even with the bigger expenses over the years, you are absolutely right, it is still more economical than the associated costs of a new car. Another bonus is that it’s easy to spot in a large parking lot because no surrounding vehicles look like it! I’m the second generation owner of the campervan, my son will be the 3rd in about 10 years. It is family, too! Cheers to you and your older car!

  13. Oh! that lettuce looks divine. I planted some early fall and nothing came out. It was a weird planting year. I am missing fresh salad greens, and other early risers right now.
    I worked a lot of extra hours the past 3 weeks. This will be used for car payments. The following weeks will be slow (contract work), so even though this was exhausting and I got behind on housework, I now have time to get the housework done 🙂 and not worry about the car payments for a bit. While in that 3 week period I made sure to pack food and drink to stave off temptation, especially when I was getting tired.
    I used cereal boxes to wrap gifts when I ran out of shirt box-sized boxes.
    The gift drawer/stash came in handy a lot. Now it is time to replenish.
    A stocking was a bit lighter than the rest, so recycled sweater hand warmers were easily made – and I think that was their favorite gift.
    We have been hosting a lot and even though we are being practical – it did cost more than it has previously. Will be taking the next month or so to re-work the budget to accommodate for hosting in the future. Although I do want to share this gift. Having a light conversation with a client, I joked I wouldn’t get holiday cookies/dessert made. She gifted me a huge tray of homemade cookies from her mom who cannot find enough people to bake for. They all tasted so good. So grateful for my client’s generosity.
    Bought a house plant and will divide it to share.
    Happy new year every one!

    1. J in PA, I love that rather than discontinue entertaining you plan to adjust the budget to allow it. That’s what true frugal living is in my personal opinion. We adjust to afford the things we feel we want to incorporate into our lives! I think it’s a hard concept to grasp but it’s very important, especially if you must live frugally, to incorporate the things that add to the beauty/pleasure one gets from life. Like Brandy finding ways to afford flowers (growing them herself) and for myself it’s buying books and having real perfume.

  14. Hello, frugal friends from the unseasonably warm Appalachian Mountains of southwest Virginia. Was it just last week I was living in sub 0 weather? To begin, we received our electric bill…twice what it was at this time last year! I know it included Thanksgiving and Christmas plus the unusually frigid cold but our house is the most energy efficient house in the neighborhood. I cannot imagine what our neighbors are having to pay. So I am paying strict attention to our electric usage and am hoping Mr. Fix It will jump on board. I was able to cook New Year’s Eve traditional dinner of Chinese chicken wings and lumpia using small appliances instead of the oven and turning off the rice a few minutes before it was done. I found marked down lumpia wrappers a few months ago and bought and froze them until New Year’s Eve. .99 versus 4$ a package. With it just being Mr. Fix It and myself I plan on doing more double batch cooking as it costs less to reheat food in the microwave than to cook rice two or three times a week, for example. We continue to use our solar generators/chargers for our smaller devices but I am going to see if I can use the smaller one to cook using my electric fry pan. I also went to the AEP website again to see our usage this past month. I reread their tips for reducing usage and am doing all they suggest for the day to day things. We already use LED bulbs everywhere including our flood lights outside. Our house has more insulation than they suggest, and we have had their energy audit. I will continue to look for ways to conserve. In other frugal ways I used .10/gallon off to fill my car. I went 3 weeks without a fill up and I still had half a tank when I filled up this past week. I used the crockpot to cook some beans with a ham bone leftover from feeding our church guests Christmas Eve. I mashed and froze the beans and will use them for the next 6+ months to make bean burritos. I still have a second ham in the frig so will cook my turkey craw beans and maybe can them in the near future. I am saving canning lids for next season. Pam at Rosered Homestead Youtube suggested using a dime under the can opener to keep from getting a dimple in the lid. Works like a charm. I am reorganizing my laundry room/sewing area. I have been making doll clothes for my granddaughter and to donate and things are getting a little too messy. One thing I have been doing for a few years is to use plain Cheerios (or store brand) as dog treats. Our little terrier mix thinks they are something special so as long as she is happy I will stick with it. 1 box goes a loooong way. I still keep regular small dog treats but they aren’t used as often so the box can be stretched. Mr. Fix It and I went on a breakfast date and used a gift card. Our sit down breakfast cost us $7 out of pocket. Last week Kroger had a bunch of clearance items so I stocked up a little: .49 cans of cream of mushroom soup, .84 boxes of granola bars, .90 puzzle boxes (I bought several of these as I will use them as part of Christmas next year.),and a small cupcake kit for .25. As it is now January and I am challenging myself to a no/low spend month I did pop into Kroger today to get a gallon of milk and some sale cabbage and bananas. While there they had more items on clearance so I was able to get large dark chocolate candy bars for .50 each. I also found a bag of 5 lemons for .99. I always buy lemons on sale, freeze the juice for lemonade for our family get togethers and summer time. I dry the zest too. I am going to try making sauerkraut this week with the sale cabbage. I am keeping a stock up shopping list for February in order to fill any holes. We are eating from the pantry, freezers except for fresh fruit and milk. I have allowed myself $100 for groceries this month. I did not go to any after Christmas sales although Joann Fabrics was a temptation. Brandy, having your son work at a grocery store is like gold. I worked with a friend who knew someone working at the local grocery store and she would always let me know if there was a great sale on something. Otherwise, I would never even know. It helped a great deal on the old grocery budget. Blessings, frugal friends near and far.

  15. My 18 y.o. Kitchenaid mixer stopped running. Watching a few You Tube videos helped me diagnose the problem, I ordered the part and replaced it and now it works like a charm! The part was under $25 and fairly easy to replace.

    Did a lot of scratch cooking, and made a lot of tasty meals based on current sales (1.50 for fresh pineapples, .97 for 10 lb. potatoes, etc.) combined with items in our pantry. DH is an Ibotta/sale/coupon shopper – his total expenditure for the entire month of December after rebates was $14, tWe also donated a crate of food to the local food pantry.

    Read books and listened to audio books from our library, put together a jigsaw puzzle, recycled to reduce our trash, and mended some clothing.

    1. Laura, that is one beautiful thing about the Kitchen Aid mixers, and a good example of spending money upfront for a long-term investment! We have fixed mine as well as my father-in-law’s, and my son found one at a thrift store that he and a friend fixed.

  16. Oh completely forgot- have two antique armchairs I need to recover ( covered with white fabric- which is why they were cheap when bought at auction more than 10 years ago). I have the fabric ( bought cheap in bits and pieces on eBay) to cover them. Looked up cost to cover – £600 -£800 each. This is just the labour ( not including the fabric). I am now doing the work. The first is looking really good and I am getting excited about it. Savings ( when finished) will be £1200-£1600 for recovering them both. I had to buy tools – total cost approximately £40.

    1. Sheena, I’ve just made a slipcover for an old wingchair in my living room. That is my fourth. It was very daunting to tackle but I found that taking it very slowly and trying each piece in place helped me feel more confident in what I was doing. I did the same when I recovered the chair years ago. Just put one piece in place and worked slowly through the whole fitting and attaching. It took me forever and it’s not perfect, but you know what? NO ONE has ever walked into my home and asked “What happened to that chair?” lol

  17. Letting you know that your blog is still inaccessible going through Google. I was glad to be able to access this through your Facebook Link.

    1. Try clearing your cookies. It works fine but your cookies will remember it from before.

  18. We are in the 20s and 30s here. It’s nice to see green growing things from your garden. It helps to remind that spring will come again and to enjoy the winter quiet. But I do love to see the green leaves in your yard.

    I also went to the grocery store and picked up clearance items. I got gift tags, cards, baths salts, Lindt truffles, my daughter’s tree ornament for next year, clearance body wash, small decorating gifts for next year. The total came to $81. The checkout register didn’t put in the correct prices of clearance. The cashier fixed everything for me and gave me an extra 5% off 70% – so 75%. My total came down to $18. I liked that amount a lot better for payment.

    I also ordered more fabric wrap bags on sale for next year. Those fabric bags have completely changed my attitude about Christmas gift wrapping. It was a game changer for me. I dislike wrapping and it was so much easier this time.

    I made a chunky ham and bean soup that used pantry items and leftover ham. We loved it. I’m going to make it again asap. I put the recipe in my file for favorites. It hit the spot for these cold snowy winter days. I know this website has been linked before for recipes. I like to use her recipes and make them even cheaper if possible. https://www.budgetbytes.com/chunky-ham-and-bean-soup/. I have been freezing leftovers to pull out for later meals to reduce food waste. But I did miss some green beans and spinach in my produce drawer over the holiday week. Those were tossed.

    We haven’t left the house much since Christmas. I saved up my points for gas and filled up for $2.80/gallon. Errands have been to the library or grocery store. I downloaded free books from Amazon that are included with my Prime membership. I cancelled 2 Prime channels that were $1.99/month one month early. We had watched everything we wanted to watch. Our library doesn’t have these shows to rent so it’s a cheap way to watch.

    Christmas Eve we did do our traditional dinner out with a few of our kids. We parted ways after dinner and we drove to look at the last night of Christmas lights display in that city where we had dinner. We came home and watched movies and read books. My youngest went to a church dance. The theme was Neon Country and we used things from home for her costume. She borrowed my cowboy books. She put a handkerchief we had around her neck. She did french braids and her dad’s cowboy hat. The dance committee gave every kid that came a set of neon light up glasses. The activity was in our city and only 2 minutes from our home. It was free admission for her. She carpooled with friends.

    The holiday season completely exhausted me. I wasn’t functioning well. The most frugal thing I could do was to rest, rest, rest and I did. Comfy clothes, warm blankets, books and sleep. My husband has been doing the same but he has also been sick. We’ve kept our hands washed and things disinfected as needed. He’s been drinking lots of water, herbal tea, meds we had stocked up on in the summer – cold meds and throat lozenges. It is a relief to not have to run out to the store for things – because the shelves are bare here. It breaks my heart to see people begging to find cold meds for their sick kids on our local city page. But it also lightens my heart as people share where they have found medication.

    I returned most of my Christmas gifts. I am determined to not do this again next year. I have absolute brain freeze when it comes to getting what I need at Christmas. I’ve made notes in my notebook of what things I would like to have for next year. The returns are easy but it’s still annoying for me. My family insists that I get somethings for myself or they will. I’m so caught up in organizing and planning the holiday for my family that I just freeze out anything I might need. Using my notebook for a guide next year will be so helpful and avoid this situation.

    I also found it useful for this year to keep reminding myself that it was enough. I didn’t need to do more or buy more. Our children’s inlaws have much more money to spend than we do and I will not let myself feel like what I offer is less. It’s just different. And it’s good. I choose to be grateful that my kids can have both experiences with wonderful families. It’s a blessing for all.

    I’ve made up my own version of No Spend for the new year. I want to use more food storage, keep up on clearance/sales, have no spend months, read my book piles and not buy new books. I will keep utilizing the library and the services available there. I want to start adding some weights to my exercise. I will review month by month and adjust to what works for me and our family. I’m doing goals month by month, week by week and day by day. Not for pressure but to do what I can do and be proud of my accomplishments. I have spiritual, physical, emotional and creative goals. I disregarded anything that seemed too huge and broke it up into smaller things/ideas/suggestions. I tend to obsess over what more needs to be done and yet sometimes it really doesn’t. Getting outside every day would be another good goal for me. Just not when the air quality is horrid. 🙂

    Have a wonderful week for a wonderful new year.

    1. It is hard not to compare to in-laws, isn’t it? But we can give from what we have. I cannot spend on my granddaughter what her other grandparents spend on her, but that little girl is still happy to see me on video calls and in the end, it doesn’t matter that I spend less on her.

      I remember as a child that some of my grandparents could spend more than others. It was very obvious in the gifts that I received. It never stopped the love I had for them, and what I valued most was the time they spent with me and the things they taught me.

  19. My New Year’s resolution is to manage food better with less waste.
    That is my only goal (to keep it attainable). The weather is finally beautiful here – I hope to get some outside chores done. It wasn’t very frugal last week. Although I shovelled most of the dusting of snow, because of my injured tendon I couldn’t shovel where cars had compacted the snow so I hired someone to spread sand and gravel. I am looking forward to January as we should start receiving a $100 per month grant from our provincial government (we may have to apply for it), a cost of living increase,
    a subsidy for our energy bills. No one item is a lot but it adds up. I am shopping very little as I need to rotate my food pantry. Also I’m trying to clear some of the frozen food out of my freezer above the fridg so I’ll be having peach, p;um, apple crisps.
    I have been watching a long program on YouTube about the Dark Ages — hardly ”dark” — and with interesting section on early Christians. I have been watching all of the films with Gregory Peck and plan to watch classic films that I’ve never seen before. Happy and healthy New Year to everyone!

    1. I have the same resolution to manage food better! I am reading a book from the library called “Cooking Scrappy” by Joel Gamoran (100 recipes to help you stop wasting food, save money, and love what you eat). He has a sense of humor in his writing style, and I am really loving the book. I can’t believe how many food scraps I was throwing out that could be used in other ways. Anyway, I found a used copy in very good condition (less than $7) at Amazon that I put in my cart to purchase later when I get enough Swagbucks to get a gift card for Amazon. A brand new copy at Amazon is $29.

    2. I have the same resolution, to waste less food. Found a book at the library that is helping with that. “Cooking Scrappy” by Joel Gamoran. (100 recipes to help you stop wasting food, save money, and love what you eat). It amazes me how many scraps I was throwing out that could be used! Anyway, I like the book so much that I found a used copy (very good condition) at Amazon for less than $7. Full price is $29. So I put it in my Amazon cart until I get enough Swagbucks to buy it.

      1. Kathy in Colo Spgs- What a great idea! I just checked our library online and they have 7 copies of Cooking Scrappy available so I will have one waiting for me to pickup yet today! Looking forward to reading it!! Thanks again!

        Gardenpat in Ohio

  20. I have never tasted mache, although I have read of it. Does it taste just like lettuce? I love volunteers in the garden. I figure if they came up, they want to grow at this time of year, and it’s great you can transplant them.
    We got some Christmas candy on clearance, but the deals were not as good as you got! I’m happy for you (and your kids!). I sent my husband with strict instructions to get things with red, silver or gold wrappers so I could use them for Sunday school treats over the next couple of months. We will happily eat the green-wrapped ones! Hershey Kisses are decorated with little Christmas lights or something, but I hope to use them on cookies, so it won’t matter since you unwrap them.
    As always, at this time of year, I feel a renewed sense of excitement in the simple things like cleaning, using things up, cooking, saving money, etc. It helps me stay on track when I feel inspired and energized. I did some extra cleaning, got out beans to process into meals and to freeze for later, and sent my husband off to JoAnn’s to use a $10 off $10 coupon that showed up on my app. I think it was a reward from some items I bought before Christmas, but I’m not sure, as I was expecting $5. No worries–I can use $10. I have been doing a little sewing and need elastic badly.
    I checked out an Instant Pot cookbook from the library and used it a bunch. I had my husband look on Amazon and found it for only $11 so he ordered it for me. I put a picture of the Teriyaki Chicken I cooked on my blog: http://beckyathome.com
    Happy New Year!

  21. Brandy, I thought of you the other day when buying potatoes. They had 20 lb bags of imperfect red potatoes but they looked fine to me so I bought 1 for $9. That will last the two of us quite awhile. Today I bought some sale priced clothing at Costco-4 tshirts for $10, a pajama lounger for $9.99 etc. I also bought some cute little bathing suits for the triplet 3 year old boys and 5 year old brother-hopefully I got the sizes about right but if nit they will grow into them. My sister and I are planning 2 back to back European cruises in June. I have never been to Iceland so that should be fun.

      1. This is so funny to read these two notes as I just was trip dreaming/planning and have tabs over for Iceland as well as for camping in Newfoundland/Nova Scotia. Maybe that’s a sign… 🙂

        I’m trying to be more aware of the leftovers we have and use them up or freeze them for another meal before cooking too many other meals, so we’re not inundated with them. We both eat leftovers, no complaints, but often I’m antsy to try a new recipe and then we end up with more food left. Meals have included vegetable barley soup, mushroom soup for husband, dinners of roasted veg, and leftover Thai food. Scored a free frozen plant-based burrito that husband will try, that was priced at $3.49. I’d never pay that much for something we can make for $0.50.

        We hosted my husband’s daughters and families in our post holiday gathering after delaying it a week when the winter storm moved through. It was drama-free, for a change, and actually was enjoyable. We made the decision to order takeout since they don’t eat plant-based and so I cooked for the young kids (4 that are 5-and-under) and they loaded up with fruit as well … and ordered seven entrees – exactly what each person wanted. It was an expense but saved so much time and was a nice treat for us as well. My husband asked if everyone was up for that as a tradition and got thumbs-up all around. Rarely have they ever brought a dish to a gathering, but one brought a vegan apple crisp, which was very thoughtful of her and it was delicious. One stepdaughter wanted velveteen hangars I’d bought but my clothes get hung up on them (no pun, just hard for me to pull stuff off as apparently I’m impatient) … so I had about 40 for her. She also wanted a large bin I had, so we loaded up all of their gifts in it and that’s out of the garage as well. Slowly we’re clearing out stuff that isn’t working for us. It’s a hard line in my mind to be frugal/thrifty while also not storing too much for possible use one day. I struggle with that.

        We made the switch from vegan to a healthier whole food plant based eating style, closely following the Nutritarian Plan. I am hoping to improve health and lose weight so I can fit into a bin of clothes of smaller sizes I’ve been holding onto. If not this year, out they go. I’ve successfully cleared out larger clothes, and want to just have clothes that fit and nothing in a holding pattern.

        Post-holiday sales purchases were limited to dish towels and tissue paper. I was hoping for a few better finds.

        1. You mentioned It’s a hard line in my mind to be frugal/thrifty while also not storing too much for possible use one day. I struggle with that.

          Hubby and I also have this problem. With supply chain issues and rising costs, we save things also, but we put it aside and try to think about it for a bit before donating or tossing it out. We try to evaluate if it’s hard to come by now, can it be fixed and is it a more expensive item. My parents lived during the depression and WWII They saved everything into their later years, which bugged my siblings. But I can understand the why so much better now. It’s a hard balance to keep when trying to be frugal, so you are not alone on this one.

        2. Good for you for taking moves to improve your health! I used to be vegan, but was still overweight. When I moved to eating whole food plant based, I lost 50 pounds and now feel better than I have in my entire life!

    1. My trip to Iceland was one of the best I’ve ever taken – can’t wait to go back! It is just so different from anywhere else. Enjoy!

  22. Great savings on the chocolates and pie crusts.
    My friend wanted to shop the after Christmas sales so picked me up and treated me to lunch. I bought multiple $29.99 brooches marked down to $1.99. These will be gifts for next Christmas.
    I soaked chia and oats to use for breakfast for the week with grated apple. I made a pasta dish, using lentils instead of mince meat, and Christmas ham. I made a large batch of soup. I used up 4 avocados and 3 cucumbers we were kindly given. We had multiple mango smoothies, using mangos we harvested.
    I didn’t go grocery shopping.
    We swam in our neighbours pool five times while they were on holiday. It was kind of them to let us use it and we wrote them a thank you note and gave them some cupcakes my daughter cooked.

  23. Thanks to the few that replied to my comment last week. I used to be a chronic grump. It’s nice to see lasting improvements in my character. Laughter was something I had to learn to do and I don’t take for granted how freely it comes out of me now.
    Our family isn’t without troubles or toil but we’ve definitely grown in the happiness department.
    To anyone going through rough seasons or just happen to feel stressed all the time, please let me cheerlead you into knowing: “You can be happy in your circumstance!”

    My husband and I discussed our budget for the year. We’re on the same page with our goals which will help with our accountability to one another.
    I’ve created a weekly meal night for all of our kids and grandies to stop in for a meal (hoping to ease their week and stay connected). I’m using food storage and creative menus to achieve this. So far, our family is loving this opportunity to decompress and, truthfully, stay united. Food is an interesting motivator.
    We’ve made, and started to implement, plans to reduce our water usage in the garden, while also adding more edibles. We’re in an area of heavy drought, so it’s inevitable for residents to manage their load.
    I repaired several items at home. I love improving something broken or worn. Could be recognized as my life story. 😂 Hard won. Hard earned. Very satisfying. Extra lines and wrinkles.
    Asked my husband what his perfect day looks like. Wrote those down to encourage him to do a little off the list everyday, to feel happy and light. I did this all of last year and really felt the difference in my personal fulfillment. I called it my ‘Everyday Happiness Project.’
    Did the usual breathing, baking and bathing (clothes, plants, self, children, etc, etc) marathon each day. Yes, breathing. 😉Huzzah for the daily achievements of living life!

    1. I LOVE this discussion on the Perfect Day. It would be a fun one to ask children and friends, too. I think we would all learn something from it.

      1. It really has been enlightening and interesting! My personal experiment has become, I hope, a pattern to help the doldrums around these parts.
        Assuming we were talking about vacation or time away, my husband gave me bullet points of what made a great day. For example, a quiet breakfast with me and a walk on the beach were two of his thoughts.
        So…. I’ve made an interpretation. More breakfast date mornings, at home, with my hubby and extra weekly walks (we live nowhere by a beach 😏) are in order.
        Doesn’t that sound fun and fulfilling?
        I hope you enjoy this experiment too!

        1. I like how you did that!

          I asked a friend yesterday this question, and he replied he would have to think about that. I am going to ask several other friends and my husband. I also pondered the answer for myself. I am not certain yet what mine would be, but it is a great thing to think about.

    2. Connie, you’ve got a big hit on your hands!🥰🥰 I LOVE your idea of asking what does your perfect day look like! I am going to ask this of my husband, children and their families and friends! What a fantastic way to spread happiness!

  24. Happy new year!
    We kept things simple this past week. Enjoyed time with family at Christmas and a nice dinner at a friend’s for New Year’s Day. Brought over honey fermented cranberries for the hostess.
    Broke up medical bills into interest-free payments when we could.
    Opened the windows since it’s in the 50s during the day! (We had -30 windchills going into Christmas, so this is a needed blessing.)
    Went to farmers market and TJ for an outing. Picked up a few things we could use where it was cheaper than at our stores near home.
    Raked up some leaves to compost on my garden. Tore up my fresh wreath from the scout fundraiser. Composted what I could and saved the bow and decorations for packages next Christmas. So very little waste in all.
    Oldest is doing a play. Will be working in lieu of show fees.
    Inventorying my pantry as we had been gifted some items while my oldest was recovering from surgery. Making a plan to use up things, and I am on the hunt for couscous and quinoa recipes.
    Junking out like many people do. I sent a bag to Goodwill when my husband went to the store. I gifted some craft organization tools I will not use and will bring some outgrown books to the school library when we go to scouts this week.
    I’m trying to be more intentional with my activities outside of home after the last few months of chaos. I messaged my girl scout families to see what if anything they want to do this semester. I will let that guide things vs. me putting all the energy in planning when high schoolers have busy schedules.
    Helping my oldest source scholarship prospects. I have been so proud of her progress. Her goal is to complete her physical therapy assistant degree then work through her bachelor’s degree and PT doctorate. Fingers crossed we can get her through the first part!
    Have a great first week to the new year!

    1. My favorite quinoa recipe is Quinoa White Chicken Chili from a website/blog called Closet Cooking. Very easy and cheap, other than the quinoa, which you already have. 😉

  25. I saved gift bags, ribbon and tissue paper to re-use. We have been using some of the same gift bags for over ten years! I found a few items on clearance to put away in my gift box and a few fun Christmas decor items for next year.
    *Our Christmas ham lasted for several meals and froze the leftovers and bone. I was also able to send some ham home with my Mom.
    *I made homemade Cincinnati Chili for New Years Eve dinner. That will last us several meals, and I will freeze the extra as individual meals for lunches.
    *We were able to get take out using gift cards we received for Christmas!
    *My Oncologist’s office provides a Nutritionist at no charge. I am taking advantage of that. I am learning a lot about nutrition and am sharing that information with my family members. Received a free protein shake from my Nutritionist.
    *I made way too many cookies this holiday, so I froze them in bags. It’s easy to take out a few cookies to snacks or dessert when we want them.
    * I received a huge set of food prep containers for Christmas. I’m planning on using them to freeze more individual meals so that I have “fast food” in my freezer. These are microwavable, so they will be perfect for that.
    *My frugal fail is that I let my pantry get unorganized and out of control the last month. My January goal is to get my stock organized and inventoried. It’s really a mess!

  26. Your chocolate haul had my mouth watering. I simply could not stash chocolate like that because God forgot to give me the gene for self control when I was born.

    Can’t believe the next daughter up is full grown and your size. We need a new picture of the girls as it has been awhile.

  27. I returned our Directv equipment to avoid any charges. I just had to drop it off at the Ups Store and they boxed and shipped it.

    I used time off to deep clean house. I listed several bags of things on a buy nothing site, three were picked up, and I donated nine others.

    Redid the budget since we eliminated a few things.

    I signed up for the winter library reading challenge. I’ll earn a mug at the completion.

    A neighbor brought over 2 pounds of ground chicken and 2 jars of peanut butter.

    The teen spent the week at my mother in laws, so we ate stuff she’s not particularly found of. We used leftover chili for chili dogs, and used up bits and pieces in the freezer.

    I found half price brownie mixes, gingerbread cookies, and mixed nuts after Christmas. I only purchased 2 each.

    My mother in law sent home some new Tupperware bowls(she received them with another order and didn’t want them)

    I gave my mother in law a 2023 calendar I received as a gift, and I left three baby blankets to pass onto hubby’s cousin who is looking to adopt a baby

    My husband found some chicken legs and thighs for .88 pound. I regret not having a bigger freezer, but he got two family packs each.

    Used a code for a free 8×10 from Walgreens

    I caught up on book club books, and magazines with Kindle Unlimited.

    Found a planner for 2023 marked down to $8 because it started in August of 2022.

    Earned $12.50 in Amazon shopper rewards

  28. 1. Going on a trip. I got a reasonably priced ticket. My neighbor in Florida will pick me up from the airport. Her work is 15 min from the airport there & she is kind enough to pick me up after work. I think Uber would be 50$ or >. She will also take me to the airport when I return.
    2. Went to lunch w/ my friend. Each of us has a January bday. I had a bday offer on my phone. The server also applied the offer to my friend’s bill. We each got 8$ taken off our bill. Of course we left a nice tip. I brought 1/2 of my food home for husband.
    3. Used a credit card offer that gave a 2$ credit for 5 different purchases if you used contactless tap & pay. It was a bit of a hassle to find tap & pay equipped credit card readers. But I persevered & made the 5 purchases. I only bought needed items (wireless mouse, grocery items, a pair of sandals for hubby’s birthday that he needed).
    4. Ordered some free magazines for gifts & for two for myself using an offer from the Toll Tag department here in Texas. (I ordered 2 for my Florida neighbor as well as family members.)
    5. Went to the bank on Jan. 2 & it was closed. I even tried to make a deposit using the night deposit box. But there were no deposit slips available & I had used all the ones in my checkbook. Rats!! But I found a like new Nike pullover in the lawn at the bank that I think will fit hubby & a quarter in the bank drive thru. Maybe not an entirely wasted trip.
    6. I have found a good bit of change this year. I will take it to the Coin Star machine to redeem for a gift card of some sort.
    7. Took a load of men’s shoes & clothes to a local homeless shelter. The items were trash picked but in good condition & clean. (I always launder items if needed before donating.)
    8. I am using a 35 year old leather Liz Claiborne purse. It was 125$ bought new. I am still using it. That pebbled leather wears like iron. I also have a black wool coat that is 30 yr old that I wear in cold weather. King Charles reportedly gets his old shoes & clothing repaired & wears items 30 years old on occasion. Of course his items are bespoke but my items have held up well too.
    9. I complained about a credit card situation & the CC rep added 3000K Hilton Honors points to my account. I calculated the points worth about 15$. I was happy to get anything.
    10. Checked Gas Buddy before last gasoline purchase to find the lowest price in my area for fuel.

    1. Does your bank allows check deposits via their mobile app? My husband does this for work checks and it saves him a LOT of time and gas. He loves this feature. You literally take a photo of the check using the app and it deposits the check without you having to go in.

  29. This week I’ve read a book, rearranged the contents of some bookcases, cooked and baked as usual and helped our daughter look for an apartment. Thankfully she found one, and signed a lease, and we’ve spent the last 2 days helping her move in. She’s not all moved yet, but there are fewer things of hers at my house than there were last week. She received 2 wooden dining chair and a set of 4 water glasses from my Buy Nothing group. I received an electric juicer and gave away a houseplant that was too high maintenance for me. We went to IKEA today for our daughter to get dishes and other household things and I only spent $5 myself, both items were on my list. I think it takes great restraint to walk all the way through IKEA and only spend $5!
    I’m trying out a new budgeting spreadsheet this month, I’m wanting to improve my game on budgeting/planning/tracking.
    A Happy New Year to all.

    1. Kara,

      I am VERY impressed you made it through IKEA with only a $5, on-list spend! My son and I love to go wander IKEA, but oh, the temptation to buy “allthethings” is great there. We’re lucky to have moved and it’s now three hours each way. LOL Well done!!!

  30. Happy New Year!
    Last week I rescued a spider plant that had been left behind in one of my offices. When I brought it home I was able to divide it into 3 separate plants. I love free plants! I borrowed a book I wanted on my library app. My husband went to the local grocery outlet/meat market and purchased a beef tenderloin & 2 lobster tails. He cut the beef into 3 filets and 1/2 pound of beef tips. The lobster & beef cost $38.00! We had a surf & turf dinner for the 2 of us for New Year’s Eve costing less than 1 meal advertised at a local restaurant for the holiday.
    Being diligent about not wasting food, creative leftovers & freezing what we don’t eat. No groceries purchased except for the above, eating from freezer & pantry.
    My daughter left behind a moisturizer she didn’t care for so I put it in my bathroom to use.
    Listed another item for sale on Mercari. I am slowly going through the house cleaning out and finding things to part with.

  31. What with the increasing cost of energy usage, food, fuel, etc I find myself trying to figure out every little way to decrease costs. I take food out of the fridge to reheat and get it out several minutes ahead to warm up. Thismis a simple way to reduce time needed to reheat leftovers. We have had a the house at 62 since I was sick , but still better than last winter at 63. I found marked down sandwich meat for my husbands’ lunches. There were 12 oz bags of pecan in shells so I grabbed three. I will borrow a friend’s nutcracker that borrowed last year and something broke. My son repaired it better than new! He cut down a dead oak in our side yard and it was way cheaper than paying a tree crew. He worked on a tree crew for three years and they loved his work ethic and skill! A couple of blueberries will get more sun and I may plant a few more there now. I made a weeks worth of smoothies with our home grown pumpkin, free yogurt, marked down bananas and pumpkin pie spice. I used your taco soup recipe, Brandy, it made several meals and we had it for New Year’s Eve with homemade cornbread and slaw! Yum! Brandy, I am so thankful you found such a amazing clearance items and prices!
    I am reading my library books and enjoying them. I walk daily as long as it isn’t raining. I found that the local red center is also home to the senior center. The website has a lot of free activities and exercise classes. I signed up for a free first aid class and I thrilled at some new oppurtunities to grow and exercise!Our son is repairing our exercise bike, hopefully he will reassemble it shortly. I made a homemade salve that I am adding to gifts for some upcoming birthdays for my daughters and DIL’s. I showed one of my DIL how to make it along with ACV and lotion bars. I found several birthday gifts on clearance and am beginning a stash for next year now.
    I always eagerly await the weekly posts, this is my most frugal joy each week!!

  32. I am so glad you got some bargains, Brandy! I have been avoiding shopping recently and will only need basics such as milk and fresh vegetables and fruit this month. We will be using canned and frozen fruit and vegetables too as fresh is very expensive at the moment.

    We have been very blessed by our buy nothing group recently. It has been a lot of food recently. We have received fifteen yogurt drinks, three packages of Swiss rolls, a box of pasta, two chocolate gingerbread men, two bags of mini bagels, a carton of eggnog, five boxes of macaroni and cheese and a jar of mayonnaise. In addition we have received a scarf, a Christmas placemat and two winter tealight holders.

    We had dinner at my aunt’s house for new year and came home with some leftovers that will provide several days of lunches for us. All our reading has been from the library and we have watched videos we already have or on YouTube. We have done very little driving so have used little gas. It has been fairly mild in the last few days so the heat has not been on much, saving us money on these costs.

    My goal this week is to keep decluttering and to finalize our budget for this year.

    Hope everyone has a lovely week.

  33. So glad the New Year is here and the holidays are just about past. We still have one more week with visitors in our house, and then I can begin my post-holiday clean in earnest. Didn’t feel like a lot of frugality the last week, but here are the highlights:

    * Used Christmas money to purchase dumbbells and a weight bench on sale at Amazon. We’re looking to ditch our expensive YMCA membership in a couple of months, so this will help us do that.

    * Planned menu and grocery list for January. We’re good about eating at home, but I switched to monthly menu planning last year (instead of weekly) because it’s easier for me to do one big shop at the beginning of the month and just stop in weekly for perishables. One area I could improve in, though, is Sunday lunch. My family always wants to go out after church! Our small group gathers 1-2 Sundays a month at someone’s home where we do a potluck, but I need to have something in the crockpot or already prepared for the remaining Sundays.

    * Used $15 Kohl’s cash to buy socks for my oldest son with no money OOP.

    Other than that, just the usual frugal stuff. Happy New Year to all!

    1. I LOVE my crockpot, especially on Sundays! Take chicken breasts (I use boneless, skinless) and put in the crockpot. Mix (8) oz cream cheese softened, 1 pkg dry Italian dressing mix, and (1) can cream of chicken soup in a small bowl, and pour over the chicken in the crockpot. Cook (4) hours on high, then turn to low until you are ready to eat. You can start out with frozen chicken and this still turns out good. This is a nice meal to come home to from church. I served it over mashed potatoes with cooked carrots and green salad. You could also serve it with buttered noodles or rice. Like I said, REALLY good.

    2. Natasha, so funny…I used my $15 Kohls cash to buy socks too, albeit, for hubby. Combined with the $5 coupon I got from an Amazon return, I paid less than $4 for his socks. So happy. He has a $10 birthday gift from them so we will be buying more socks. He likes a special kind and they aren’t cheap, but they do last longer.

      1. It must be the season for socks for husbands. I bought mens’ socks at Kohl’s also. They had a buy one get one 50% off & I had some Kohl’s cash also. I got some gray ones as I think they won’t show the dirt like white ones. I don’t know how men manage to get their socks so dirty. My white socks never get dirty & stained like the hubby.

  34. -It has been a busy couple of weeks, we were gone 6 days over Christmas-4 days to our daughter’s in Wisconsin and then went right to our other daughter’s in western Minnesota for 2 days. We then brought her 3 children home with us for 4 days to give her a break. The kids have been home a lot with storms and doing in home electronic school.
    -Recieved back all fabric sacks used this year (they were sewn for gifts from 2021) for gifts. So they have been used 2 years. Only tags added, no paper, bows or ribbon trim needed. I folded them up and they are stored in a plastic tub on a closet shelf. I did add a couple new sacks this year. I buy the Christmas fabric at the thrift store.
    -It warmed up here, we took the kids sledding twice at the golf course. There is a large hill there. Then of course we came home for hot chocolate.
    -I am starting a pantry challenge for January and February. We need to empty and shut off one of the freezers (we have 3). My upright has all the veggies and fruits from the garden and frozen meals. The small chest has my flours, nuts, baking supplies, and frozen tomatoes from the garden that now need to be canned. The third other medium chest has our meat. We got a quarter of beef this fall, pheasant and venison from husband hunting, and other miscellaneous meat. I want to open 40 jars of canned food in January.
    -I also plan to do some canning in the next few weeks, tomatoes into Bloody Mary mix, spaghetti sauce, and tomato sauce. I also want to can some soups and meat.
    -I made chicken pot pie from a jar of canned chicken, jar of canned cubed potatoes, jar of canned mushroom soup, and some frozen mixed veggies. Topped with frozen biscuits from the freezer. Easy and yummy! Grandkids loved it.
    -Made some spiced almonds in the crockpot. Used half for a gift and we ate the other half.
    -Made lefse for the family. 5# of potatoes- 1/4 given to my husband’s brother. 1/4 to each daughter’s house and the last 1/4 was split between 2 friends. My MIL used to make it, since she has dementia and now is unable to do that, I have taken this on and share with friends and family. I also made kringla to share as well.
    -The nice thing about going for Christmas is I bring the goodies but nothing comes home. That way we aren’t tempted to be eating all the sweets. Neither of my daughters are bakers so they appreciate having the goodies.
    -It has been foggy here the last couple of days, the trees are heavy with white “hoar frost”. They are beautiful! Especially when it cleared up and we had blue skies! Love enjoying Mother Nature.
    -Did a large Costco shop in preparation for the pantry challenge. Plus I was almost out of a few things. Spent $300 but we won’t be shopping at Costco until at least March. My monthly grocery budget is $350. I will not spend more than $50 a month for January and February for milk and fresh produce. So after the stock up I will put at least $300 back in my pocket at the end of the two months. Plus clear some jars and empty a freezer.
    -Meals made were: chicken pot pie, spaghetti with meat sauce and salad, homemade pizza, hamburgers and homemade fries, fried cubed potatoes and sweet potatoes with bacon and eggs, and a beef roast with baked potatoes and asparagus from the freezer. Can you tell we had kid friendly meals? The grandkids love to help me cook. It teaches them skills and keeps things reasonable when we have them. We also made cookies and handmade hamburger buns.
    -In preparation for the pantry challenge, canning shelves and freezers were organized and inventoried. Now I know what we need to use up.

    Have a great week!

  35. That is great that your son can keep an eye out for clearance deals for you. I got several bags of M&M’s for 84¢. But you beat me. I used almost everything in my gift closet for Christmas this year. I did get some items for 75% off to restock this week. I got sets of hot sauces for $3 and change. They expire 6/24. They will be going to the men for Father’s Day or birthdays. I got several bath sets with Epsom salts, oils, and loofahs for $3 and change. I got blanket and sleep mask sets for $5. I got several Pez dispensers for 50¢. Baking sets were $2.50. It was a good start on the gift closet.
    I refilled all prescriptions. I have a deductible for January.
    My son got Covid on Christmas day, so we stayed home. We had plenty of food to have a nice Christmas at home. It did save us a 3 hour drive each way to my parents. We are seeing them next week (if everyone is healthy) to celebrate. We Face Timed with them.
    I made beef barley and chicken rice soup as per my son’s request.
    I went to S&S for chicken cutlets that were on sale for $1.99 a pound. I got the 2 largest packs that I could find. I separated them when I got home. A dozen eggs were $5.19 a dozen and milk was $4.29 a gallon. I passed on both. The next day I went to Aldi where I got eggs for $2.89 a dozen and $1.80 a gallon for milk. Hubby works near a BJ’s and needed an item for work. He sent me a picture of the 5 dozen eggs. They were $21.99. We finished all of our eggs that were in the freezer from last year. They cost me 60¢ a dozen then. I did restock on butter a few weeks ago. It was $1.99 at Aldi so I got 10 pounds.
    My son took my daughter’s car to work with him and did her inspection and rotated her tires. It saved him some gas and her some time.
    Hubby fixed the light on the snow blower.
    I trimmed the dogs nails.
    We are having an 80th birthday party for my dad. My sister owns a share of a restaurant so we are having it there. She is covering that. She asked the other 3 of us to do everything else. I am doing a slide show for the party and as a gift to my dad. My youngest daughter and I are doing the favors (cookies). Both items will cost very little since I am doing them myself. We are all wearing clothes that we already own. I will make my dad a photo album of the party when I see a good deal on it. I get email coupons all the time.
    I pray that everyone has a healthy, safe and happy new year.

  36. Such wonderful post holiday deals. Our holiday was long sold out on our little island. It’s fun to hear what you found. I also adore Corn Mache and miss growing it in my warm climate. Speaking of time to start my seeds. It’s been an unseasonably wet December for Guam I normally would start them at Thanksgiving. We received 9 inches of rain normally we get 4 inches in December. I’m enjoying my Christmas decorations. We have many commitments right up until the holiday so I enjoy doing Christmas stuff during the actual 12 days of Christmas. We don’t open gifts until Epiphany which helps because shipping is so slow here. It also really gives us the opportunity to savor our tree, our treats, and our traditions. I did start my January annual activities, I emptied my small freezer and did an inventory. I do the Three Rivers Homestead Pantry challenge and my goal this year is to not purchase any groceries outside of dairy and produce for 2-3 months. Our big goal this year is to start living on our retirement pension each month even though that is 17 months away. We plan on taking our second pay check of the month and putting it in to additional savings. Even though our home is paid off we would like to do a patio extension and remodel the kitchen before my husband retirees. To that end I’m trying to limit as much of my shopping as possible to our one little base thrift store. I also would like to lose some weight so I can where some of my beautiful clothes that are currently 2 sizes to small. This year I really hope to take full advantage of our banana, mango, and avocado harvest April-July. Last year lots rotted before I could preserve it. I’d like to gift Mango Jam, Mango salsa and chocolate covered dried Mango’s for the holiday’s next year. Thank you as always for your post Brandy. It helps to keep me focused and on task.

    1. My best friend lives in a zone 10 gardening climate, and while mache wouldn’t work there either, I am seeing all the wonderful things about living in a frost-free climate,like harvesting right now. Your mangos are definitely one of them! They could only grow here in a greenhouse in winter. I adore mango salsa; it’s more like a salad for me (I can eat it straight!) This is such a productive time for zone 10 gardens right now and it’s fun to see what others are growing.

      I’d really love to grow mangos. I’ve seen the few people growing them here in greenhouses in the winter, but no one has them in the large pots they would really need in order to get a decent harvest.

    2. Connie L., Thank you so much for sharing all of this post. I need to find a happier place once again myself as the past three years have been more than challenging in too many ways. I shall have to try the perfect day and then incorporate small pieces of it into my every day! That is such a lovely idea.

  37. Happy New Year to all!
    *Meals were easy last week thanks to all the leftovers we had from holiday celebrations at my in-laws and my parents’ houses. We came home from both occasions with lots of food. Our parents always insist we take the food home as they don’t eat as much as they used to and our boys only eat more and more. 🙂 We are grateful for the extras and it is fun to figure out different ways to serve them.
    *While watching movies in the evening, I did lots of mending – clothing, blankets, coats, socks, etc. I had collected quite a pile and it felt good to get those things back into regular use again.
    *My husband took the week off of work and we used the time well to finish installing trim in our sitting room and kitchen. I have been painting ever since but am making good headway using paint we bought a while ago on sale. He also spent a lot of time with our oldest son doing some regular maintenance on his dirt bike. My son learns new skills from this practice and his bike stays in good working order. Maintaining our home, property and equipment in good working order is probably one of our best frugal strategies.
    *My youngest son and I went hiking at a state park with friends. It was a beautiful hike through the snow and we enjoyed the company. We have many places to hike on our own property and nearby but it is good to get a new point of view every once in a while.
    *I liberated an almost full very large roll of wrapping paper from the dumpster at the trash transfer station. Hard to believe what people will throw away.
    *I went to the grocery store for a few on-sale items and fresh fruit using a $30 gift card I was given for Christmas. I love practical presents! The fresh fruit was used for a fruit and cheese tray we served at an hors d’ oeuvres gathering with my parents for New Years Day. I also served some smoked sausage we received as a gift so, with some crackers and other things we had on hand (including a bottle of sparkling cider I bought in May at a grocery outlet for $1.50/bottle) we had a lovely celebration for essentially no (recent) money out of pocket.
    *I popped into a local thrift shop while on that grocery trip and found a lovely sweater in a color I have been looking for for $2 and a handwoven egg-collecting basket for $1. The basket is a traditional egg collecting basket known as a “butt basket” as it has two depressions that look like…well… you get the idea. 🙂 The eggs do not roll around and potentially break in them as I find they can do in other basket shapes. I snap them up whenever I see them (I have 5 currently) as they are so useful and I have seen them in antique shops for as much as $30 a piece. On the egg subject, our hens have already noticed the almost imperceptible lengthening of days since the Winter Solstice and are laying a bit more allowing us to share some eggs with appreciative gift recipients as well as enjoy them a bit more often ourselves.
    *The weather has warmed significantly since the frigid temperatures of Christmas weekend and the bees were out and about doing their winter cleansing flights. It is always such a relief to see them after severe weather and know they are doing well. The preparation done in the Fall definitely stacks the odds in their favor for surviving Winter. Preparation pays off in all aspects of life.
    *On the library front, I am reading “Where the Sky Begins” by Rhys Bowen. I have read so much (non-fiction and historical fiction) about WWII and am amazed at all the different perspectives authors have been able to bring to life through their characters. It’s a good read.
    *Best wishes to all for a lovely week, as always!

  38. It has been quite a while since I’ve commented but have followed. Last year, we discovered my husband had throat cancer the week after Thanksgiving. Through treatment, all is well now and that hard chapter is behind us. But cancer was time-consuming and worrisome and definitely NOT a frugal activity…but we are thankful we’ve made it through. They say only a 3% chance of recurrence so we have much to be thankful for! I did read through this blog frequently this past year…and it is always a source of hope and joy and comfort to me. I look for so many of your names each week so feel like I “know” you almost.

    This year for Christmas, we kept things simple—a couple of experiences for our family to make memories with and 1-2 small gifts each. It was so much less hectic and we had a good time. We have been doing our usual things to save money—making as many meals from home as possible, washing out Ziploc bags, continuing to use isopropyl alcohol as deodorant, making salad dressings from scratch. I try hard to buy items on sale and stock up when they go on sale. I’ve been taking advantage of the grocery coupons to purchase items for my stock pile. The savings aren’t as much as is times past…but savings still so we take them. We have been making extra principle payments on our mortgage and hope to have it paid off soon! This is exciting for us! Perhaps the best thing we’ve done recently to save money is to re-do our budget….reducing several items, trying to save more, etc.

    1. Tina, I’m so glad that your husband is recovered and that his chances for recurrence are so very low! May your year ahead be blessed and pleasant!

    2. Tina – Sending lots of good vibes your way for your husband’s continued good health (and yours, as well!) 🙂

    3. Cancer of the throat & the treatment is hellish as you & your beloved husband know. When I first graduated from nursing school I worked on Oncolgy. My heart ached when I cared for those who suffered from the cancer treatments. I’m glad for you that your husband is a survivor. Hopefully he could eat & enjoy the holiday foods that he likely missed last year.

  39. What great deals on chocolate and the rest! We got hit hard with rain and more to come on Wednesday, but it’s made me so happy. With our drought, I really can’t even recall what real rain looked like anymore. This has me so excited to garden, and honestly weed! Our soil is heavy clay, so it needs a good soak, then several days to dry out, but then it’s so easy to weed. I can’t wait to tackle a new area I’d like to build new beds. Brandy, you are so good with landscape design, do you have any sources I could learn how to create a real plan? Due to the utility company accidentally cutting down all my backyard trees, and creating nothing but weeds when the sun hit, I have to start from scratch back there and it finally is feeling like we might have enough water for me to get a garden going. I’m trying to figure out what and where to put something that could block the heat to the house from that west facing yard/bedroom windows without taking up space for a garden. * My neighbor gifted me her set of Johnson brothers snowy village dishes. I’ve waited all year to put them out in my China cabinet after Christmas for winter decor. Did that today and am enjoying the view as I type this. * A couple of big expenses I’m trying to put off as both my laptop and printer died at the same time. Was able to print out some forms I need to mail at neighbors while I watched their pets when they went out of town. I’m trying not to spend, but small things like odd size lightbulbs cropped up I couldn’t find on sale. So I’m focusing on doing some decluttering and deep cleaning instead of spending. Reading from the library, and get inspired to cook some new recipes that are mostly pantry items. I’m enjoying de-holidaying the decorations and challenging myself to morph them into winter only decor to keep things festive.

    1. I always recommend Pinterest! It’s good to see what else is out there. Once you start pinning things you like, go back and notice what style you have been pinning the most. That will help you to know what style you are naturally drawn to the most. Here is my edible landscaping board and here is my board for small spaces. I would start there; Pinterest will recommend more ideas to you once you start pinning any that you like from there.

      I also follow several landscape designers on Instagram.

      This is a great time of year to plan a garden.

      I like to measure and use graph paper and a pencil for the actual garden design. Go out and measure your space and draw out your ideas. Don’t be afraid to erase and start over. I did a lot of erasing as I came up with my garden designs. Sometimes I would see a better idea and sometimes I would draw something and just not like it. Lots of fine tuning happened on paper, and even now I find myself making changes to the plantings in the garden.

      1. For actually imagining how the yard will look, I have read that garden hoses can be laid out to see where the lines of gardens will be. I’ve also read that lines can be drawn with flour, but that seems quite unfrugal right now!

    2. Hi Maria. You might already have considered this, but a pergola in front of the window can block the sun and might take less space than trees. The pergola can be attached to the wall and climbing plants like wine grapes, mine-kiwis or something flowering can cover the pergola and give shade. If the pergola is deep enough and in the right angle, this might keep the sun out, depending on how low the sun is is when it’s on the west side of the house. It can also be a nice place to sit in the shadow. I don’t know how your climate is, but if you would like the sun to come in at winter, deciduous plants can be good choice. Just an idea 🙂 Good luck with your “new” garden!

    3. I hope the utility company reimbursed you for trees so it’s not all outfit to replant. That is a considerable expense. Good luck!

    4. Maria,
      We have a west-facing kitchen and family room and bedroom. For the kitchen/deck we put up an awning. For the family room, we put polarizing window film on the top windows, and in the bedroom … really good shades. All of these were an investment, but each one lowered the temperature in the room significantly and lessened the need for air conditioning. We have control over the shades and awning so they can be up in the winter months and until noon in the summer. The lower windows in the family room also have shades, which we lower at noon.

  40. It was a relatively quiet week between Christmas and New Year.
    I continued to sort my parent’s letters. I did the sorting of the 1945 letters. I now have them all separated by date. Now I have to decide if I will copy them for my sisters, or if I will read and summarize them. There are about 400 of them over a 2 1/2 year period.
    I purchased two spiral sliced hams from Winco for 99¢ a pound. One we will eat in a week or so, and the other is inthe freezer.
    Had a digital coupon for and 18 count eggs for free from Kroger. While picking up the eggs, I found Hershey’s chocolate chips for $1.05 for a 12 ounce bag. Got 5 bags.
    Made broth with the Christmas turkey bones, then used 1/2 of it to make turkey soup, and froze 2 quarts to use for soup later.
    Made a big salad, and used some turkey and cheese to have chef salad for dinner a couple of nights.
    Made a batch of cheese spread with ingredients from home, including dried herbs from my garden. I went to Hickory Farms a few years ago, to get a cheese spread, and they were out. One of the workers there, told me how to make it at home. We have enjoyed it ever since then.
    Had a coupon for $10 off anything at a local store. Found a jar of wild huckleberry jam for $10, so it was free.
    This exercise is very helpful for me, to review what has been accomplished during the week. I don’t do as much in the winter as in the spring, summer and fall, due to very cold weather.
    I hope everyone has a wonderful 2023, and stay strong.

    1. Nancy, how fortunate you are to have those letters…very intriguing! My dad was in WWII, but he didn’t know my mom until after Korea. He was very young (way underage) in WWII. Have you ever watched “The Lost Valentine” with Betty White? One of my favorites!

  41. Happy New Year, Frugal Friends! With the new year, starts a new resolve in my to be more frugal. January goals include no meals out, a very reduced grocery budget (meaning eating down our freezer and pantry) and refocusing on being thrifty. * My husband deep cleaned his office and found a Menard’s (like Home Depot) rebate gift card that had $77 issued in 2020. He had a lot of fun thinking of things he’d been needing/wanting. He ended up with a flat long handled spade to chip ice, a new squeegee for the garage floor, and some things for his truck bed. I’m glad it didn’t have an expiration date!* On his way to the store, he dropped off three bags of donation at Goodwill. Good to get those things out of the house. * Our Christmas bows that we’ve used for years, finally have depleted. I found two bags of new bows 50% off.* Acquired $13 towards digital use for choosing delayed shipping with Amazon for Christmas. Used $4 of it to rent the old movie Operation Petticoat with Tony Curtis and Cary Grant. It was a fun and free date night. * Had my grandson’s birthday gift shipped right to him in another state with free shipping. His mama is happy to wrap for me. * Finished two hat/scarf sets with donated yarn. Started a baby blanket with the yarn bought with the Christmas gift card my husband bought me. * Reading library books for fun. *Well, those are the highlights, everyone have a lovely and productive week!

  42. Happy new year from heavenly Houston!
    I’ve been off, so I’ve saved on commuting, and been able to catch up on some small projects around the house.
    Not sure if this is frugal, but I’m taking the kids to Disney World (3 days) and Harry Potter world (1 day) at Universal Studios. They have never been. I think I can do it for $5k for the 7 of us going; I’m driving to FL, staying in a room for most of the trip that includes free park shuttle, breakfast and dinner, and trying to pinch pennies where we can. It will be a lot of fun. We received a windfall from their father’s bonus, and it’s going to max out my IRA for the year, save toward the kids’ college, pay for braces for one, and then Disney World. Most of our other vacations involve camping, which is fun, but this will be something different.
    Otherwise, I stocked up on eggs at $2.35/dozen at Randall’s, and plan to check out the Kroger clearance tomorrow. I bought a few things at Targe (70% off), including fancy chocolates to give the teachers for Valentine’s Day, but there wasn’t a lot I felt I needed. I may buy wrapping paper if I see it at 90% off, but I probably have enough for next year.
    We packed picnic lunches to enjoy at various parks and nature centers around town. Other than the gas to get there, it was free. We enjoyed a visit to the library.
    Hope everyone has a nice, frugal week!

    1. Have a wonderful time on vacation. We are planning a family trip there this fall. We watch our pennies so that we can use them where we want.

      1. The last time I went to Disneyland in California, I bought a three day pass even though we were only going to the park for two days. But the 3-day pass included free parking and early entry into the park. It was well worth the money.

        1. Thank you for the tip!
          We’re staying off-site at a Good Neighbor hotel, since I would otherwise need to get 2 rooms, and this is the cheapest option. Fortunately, they have the early entry option and free shuttle, so that will help!

      2. Have a wonderful time! I’ve found so much helpful information online for saving money and time at Disney. 🙂

    2. Leigh Ann,
      Have Fun! I love Disney World! I really like Epcot as well, mostly because I love to learn about other cultures and they have so much about other countries!

  43. What great grocery deals you were able to get! I’m grateful your son notifies you of such deals.

    We were able to get away for a few days, spending money for gas, a couple of simple meals out, and tickets to matinee movies. We also visited relatives, which was nice because we don’t see them as often as we would like to.

    I knitted, relaxed and bit, and started thinking about what needs to be purged from my home, as well as two areas in my life where I want to cultivate them by spending time on them.

    I read “Restart” by Gordon Korman.

    We still have plenty of treats to keep us for the next month or so. I am pretty good about limiting myself to a few small treats each day.

    Tomorrow I will take down my Christmas tree and decorations. I have some decorations I don’t really use so will make some donations of what I no longer want to store.

  44. Our best savings of the week was coming across spiral cut hams at Walmart for .50 per pound! I bought 4 hams for $23 total and stuck them in the freezer. Was absolutely thrilled with that deal. I will save one for Easter.
    Beyond that we have had a few large unexpected vehicle expenses come up in the last two weeks, but I’m trying hard to focus on the positive. My grandmother gifted us a gift card to Lowes for Christmas, and I have tucked it away to use for replenishing some of our seed supply for this upcoming gardening year. If I am careful, this year’s seed haul should cost us nothing out of pocket.
    My mother gifted us a target gift card, which I used to purchase a pair of pajamas for my upcoming hospital stay, as well as some much needed toiletries and supplies for after the birth of our third baby (coming this month! Eeek how time has flown!)
    We have eaten exclusively from our pantry. I used 13 dollars in Sam’s cash back to purchase a 25lb bag of rice to restock our supply. My mother spent the day with me last Sunday to help me cook many meals for our freezer to make life a little easier with the impending birth. We have chili, sloppy joe and taco meat, soups, and pre-made burritos tucked away in the freezer now.
    I also spent a good deal of time this weekend decluttering our home. We took two van loads of items to our community center (it’s really just the dump, but there is a small shack there where you can leave items for people to take). We have taken many items from there, so it was nice to leave items for others. I hope someone finds them useful. I hope everyone has a beautiful week!

  45. Your plants look lovely and all the bargains are great buys!
    After the crazy winter storm at Christmas it has been unseasonably warm with pouring rain over the past few days – very grey and gloomy but I have been out for a walk along the lake and enjoyed a visit to a local greenhouse that is open to the public and at this time of year features a display of poinsettias! It was just gorgeous and the poinsettias were in so many colours that I’ve never seen before but assume will be available within a year or two. This display is free but we did leave a donation as a thank you.
    New Year was very quiet and I have been trying to make good use of my time off – cleaning and decluttering – getting the laundry up to date – paying all the first of the month bills online and then doing some cooking for the week ahead. I used up the last few root vegetables to make a nice, thick soup – adding in all the leftover cooked veg. It made such a big pot that I’ve added 4 servings to the freezer. Today I cooked onions, mushrooms and peppers, plus I made a dozen egg cups. I also made up some tuna salad and opened a can of Spam so with salads some days and cooked veg on others, I am set for meals for this week.
    I have also inventoried the fridge/freezer, given myself $100 for fresh food for the month, along with $50 for non-food/pantry items, plus I have $10 in Loyalty points to spend plus a couple of GC so I should be fine. I’m trying to alternate between using pantry items (like the cans of tuna and Spam) and meat from the freezer so that I rotate everything properly.

    I had to switch a couple of social occasions from December to January so I simply moved the spending money forward to this month. I hope to spend less than I’ve allocated so that I’ll have extra for entertaining at the end of the month as I want to invite about a half dozen friends for brunch. I like to entertain but intend staying within my budget. I have some big ticket items on my shopping list this year (for the apt.) and I want to pay cash for everything so I need to save as much as possible from month to month. I am getting a fairly good raise starting this month so all of that will be set aside. I go through my wallet a couple of times a week and after setting aside about $4 in coin I put all the remaining loonies ($1 coins) plus half the quarters into the laundry jar. All toonies ($2 coins) go into a separate jar and finally, all nickels, dimes and half the quarters go into another jar. The mixed coins get cashed in for extra Christmas treats or baking supplies but I haven’t decided what the $2 jar will go towards as yet. I also have an envelope box to save $5, $10, $20, $50 bills – this will be Christmas money so won’t have to worry about that. All small things but I think they will all add up and keep me motivated throughout the year.
    Happy New Year everyone.

    1. Margie from T.O.

      Between now and the end of January, I’m trying to really stock up my pantry. Superstore’s, (Loblaw’s and No Frills)
      price freeze ends on January 31 so I’m trying to restock as much as possible. In particular, I am trying to get my pasta supply restocked. Classico pasta sauce has really shot up in price and I’ve been using my stash up so I only have a couple left. If I see it on sale, I’ll be restocking it. I’m starting (finally) to make my own soup.

      Happy New Year!

      1. Ann, Classico is on sale in this week’s flyer at a store from the Save-on group here in northern Alberta, so with any luck you’ll see some soon. Elizabeth M.

      2. Ann – No Frills here had the Classico sauces for $3 – but you had to buy three. I did that as I only had about 4 left. I am now partial to the Molsinaro brand of pasta – a bit more expensive but noticeably tastier so I’ll pay the extra. I have quite a bit of pasta stashed but some more spaghetti and some lasagna noodles are on my list. I have a good stock of NN canned veg – and I also buy the NN frozen veg as it is still a decent price – compared to the PC brand which I now only buy when on special! Making HM soup is something I do almost every week – it really is the best. I’m also making more “bowl meals” as it helps me use up bits and pieces of leftovers and ensures that I get my greens. Hope you find things at a decent price. Did you see the story on the CBC this morning about the pack of 5 BLSL chicken breasts for $37!!!! Loblaw is getting hammered in the media over that one!

        1. Hi Margie,
          Thanks for the information. I’m going to buy a few of the Classico’s at No Frills to tide me over. Hopefully some other store will have it for less. I am sort of stuck using No Frills No Name pasta as it doesn’t have eggs in it. I didn’t see the story about Loblaws BLSL chicken breasts for $37! wow!

  46. My first frugal thing has nothing to do with my efforts: a friend who knows I like Firehouse Subs but we seldom go (not just the taste but how much they give back to first responser agencies) inherited quite a bit of money. For my combined birthday and Christmas gift she gave me a gift card to Firehouse. My husband and I went to pick up a New Years Eve treat and discovered the card was for $250!!!! I called and told her it was excessive and she said that it was a delayed payment for all the hours in college when I tutored her in chemistry. She said since high school she has kept a list of people she would share her windfall with is she won the lottery, and although her inheritance was not that huge, she was able to pay off her house and had about $5,000 left that she was using to bless people who had blessed her in the past. What a wonderful thing to do, share her good fortune.
    My own efforts are bit more modest. I entered a local FB contest and won $15 to a small bakery. I accepted a pan of cinnamon rolls from a neighbor thanking us for watching her cat while she was gone over Christmas. (It was my husband. Being wihtin a mile of a cat makes my eyes swell shut, my allergy to them is so strong.) I mended three pair of pants for my husband and took in two dresses that have gotten to big for me (I lost 41 pounds this year. The first year my lose weight goal has worked. I wanted to lose 50, but I will take 41 and keep working on the othe 9 in 2023.) I went to the library for books and to our tool library for a set of huge pliers we needed for a garage fix. Today I went to the grocery store and spent $200 I had tucked away little by little over the past year (I do this every year) on marked down hams and turkeys, so we have a freezer full of meat now. I also found two three pound rolls of burger marked down to $1.29 a pound because today was the last day they could sell it; it is divided up and in the freezer now. I went through my seed packets to see what I have to order for the coming summer’s garden, and contacted a friend to see is she had any she wanted to trade. I managed to give her squash seeds for a packet of leeks seeds. That’s all I can think of. I wish everybody a happy new year and thank all the people who keep posting because it helps keep me on track and also gives me ideas for new ways to save or new foods to cook.

    1. Mable, What an inspiring thing your friend is doing with her inheritance! I am so glad that you shared this story. I read it off to John and we both think this is just awesome!

    2. Mable, I had to grin at your story about the gift card. In Christmas 21, I received the same gift under the same circumstances!! My friend received a small inheritance and gifted me a $250 gift card to our market. My reaction was much like yours. She responded that the person who left her the money was not related, but just a very loving and generous person. And that it would probably warm her heart to know that some of her gift had been gifted again. Enjoy!

  47. Well done on the chocolate prices. My family have all gone after the holidays. So trying to take even shorter showers and line dry all the extra bedding, hoping to get back on track with using less electricity. Eldest daughter brought her laundry home to wash as the cost of electric in her apartment is ridiculously high. Sent her back with a new thick fleece blanket, bought it with 50% off. Worked out the birthday budgets for the coming year, bought gifts at 70% discount so will still be able to give some money with the presents, I like to do that as it means they can buy what they need/want with it.
    Made a lot of meals this week using leftovers. Trying to keep pantry stocked, I find having a list of items getting low makes me check if items are on offer. Our youngest daughter wants to host Christmas 2023 so I’m looking at ways of saving the £500 needed for the ferry. Its also her 30th birthday and she would love to see us( another £500) we have to go to her as she’ll still be in the middle of lambing on the farm. Could be an expensive year as our patio also needs urgent work which we are unable to do. I’m sure with common sense, your valuable tips and prayers we’ll get through. Hope this year is happy, peaceful and healthy for you and your readers.

    1. Wow where to start? Inventoried all pantries fridges and freezers. Making a list of what holes I need to fill. Made my January budget. Dh and I both took on the garage. It was past time to organize and clean. The lights in the garage are so small there was never enough light so we bought one light with several led panels on it and no we need sunglasses lol made a pile of sale and donate. Our garage looks amazing now. So thankful for the rain in Arizona. My winter garden is a little slow in growing but we haven’t had much sunshine. Oranges and grapefruits are almost ready to pick. We usually pick over 600 pieces of fruit odd of each tree and most gets given away. Made green Chile stew and ham and bean soup that has lasted it us several days. Sourdough bagels made and in the freezer. We’ve been eating the last of the holiday desserts. And just yesterday made 6 loaves of pumpkin bread. The neighbor gave us frozen pumpkin in chunks last year and I made use of them yesterday and took her a loaf
      Lastly food continues to climb and I have decided to lower my grocery budget. I am going to be extra aware of where I spend it and what I spend it on. I worry so much for those that can’t afford food right now.

      1. Loyda, I chuckled at your sunglasses for your garage LED lights. The first time I put LEDs in our bedroom ceiling light fixture, my husband said it was like a tanning bed.

        1. I had the same reaction when the handyman in my building recently replaced my kitchen light fixture! Luckily this light has 3 options so I chose the middle one rather than the one that just about blinded the pair of us! 🙂

      2. Those LED lights come in different grades. When my husband put one called daylight in the living room, I told him it was less like daylight and more like the piercing eye of God! lol We agreed to seek out a less brightly colored light, so it was more ambient for using in our living room.

        1. Not only do LCD lights come in different colors (you want the warm for your kitchen, and don’t ask how I know) but they also come in different wattages…just like incandescent bulbs, only much less wattage. We have 4 bare bulbs in our garage and the builder put in 60 watt equivalents. My husband was all set to buy new light fixtures, but I bought four 150 watt equivalents, and as TerriC said, it’s like the piercing eye of God! (love it). But in a 3 car garage, that’s a good thing! And for the equivalent of 600 watts of incandescent light, we are using 1/10 the electricity…if that.

          1. We have the same color LEDs throughout the house. We wanted the natural daylight look and so made sure to change them to all the same color.

            When we did the math for the savings, we figured they would pay for themselves within a year.

            The bill went down so much, though, that it was more than we figured. The electric company just gave me a breakdown of power usage and it said that last month (a month where we use the lights more because it is winter) we spent a total of $5 to light the house.

  48. I picked up Christmas wrapping paper, tissue papee, and gift tags for 50¢ each. I’m all set for next year except tape.

    I started crocheting a sweater with yarn I was given years ago. I would like to give each lady in my church a little something on their birthdays. I was trying to think of something inexpensive, easy, and well-received. I think I have decided to make a batch or two of jam from berries in my freezer. Then I can bake extra bread each week when I bake for my family. A loaf of bread and a jar of jam sounds like a good gift to me and it won’t sit around taking up space!

    We celebrated NYE at home with reused decor I originally bought on clearance, snacks, and movies and games we already owned.

    1. That sounds like a wonderful gift. I know I would love to get a loaf of homemade bread and a jar of jam. I gift homemade bread to people to thank them for doing something a little extra for us.

  49. I spent a little time this weekend thinking of the goals I achieved which I set for myself last year.
    1. I maxed out my 403b at my work in preparation for retirement.
    2. I tracked all spending through Every Dollar. I printed out the summaries and posted them.I didn’t like everything I see but knowledge is power. I have a serious clothing habit. Even though I can justify it that many are consignment and work related, I really need to take notice. Restaurants are also killing me.
    3. I earned my certificate of Diamond Gemology through GIA. I can now officially grade diamonds with the 4 C’s and theoretically create appraisals. The course work was relatively easy but the in person lab was a killer. I needed a 75% and that is exactly what I got. As a high teacher, I am rarely thrilled with average but I was high fiving the whole class with my percentage. Now I am onto colored stones.

    Goals this year:
    1. Cut my clothing spending by 75%. I want to enjoy the wardrobe I built of this year. Anymore clothes will mean more laundry, more decision making every morning, and more maintenance. Also, not buying any new clothes means I need to fit into the ones I own comfortably. An automatic weight goal.
    2. Keep physically strong through cross country skiing, hiking, walking, and yoga. Target 100 mins a week. Another Target of 100 mins of movement a week. My motto is movement before I sit to watch my beloved English mysteries.
    3. Be the best teacher I have ever been. I want to go out at the top of my game.

  50. Brandy your candy bargains reminded me a couple weeks ago I was looking in Krogers Clearance section they had a bunch of Advent calenders marked down to 25 cents. I bought 12 of them. I popped all the candies out ( brand was Lindt) I forget how much the box was originally but super expensive) I took all of the candies out and put them in plastic gift bags from Dollar Tree. Each of my neighbors/friends got a gift basket from me with a bag of those candies, cookies I made and candies I made. Today I filled scripts we had that I ordered a couple days ago my husband had maxed out his deductible so everything of his was free including 3 three month scripts. While at Krogers I browsed around and found pork roast loin marked down to $5 something each, I bought two of them and will cook both day after tomorrow in my roaster oven shred put in freezer bags and that will be shredded BBQ pork sandwiches for us all year (family of 2). I also looked in the Clearance section and found 2 boxes of 20 markers marked down to $1.05. Those will be put in my gift storage tub and the next 2 children on my list of birthday kids will get those along with a coloring book. A big frugal for us is we’ve always had water and sewer line warranties in our home owners policy we switched insurance companies a couple years ago and it came free with their policy I paid extra to have a low deductible.. lo and behold in October our waterline broke, its taken the water company till last week to officially determine that it was indeed a waterline break and that we were responsible for it.. we got quotes $5000 to have it fixed and our deductible $250.00. I’m so glad I invested that extra couple dollars a month peace of mind. Not having insurance would have been a nightmare. I continue to do the normal things get free movies and books from the library restrict my times to the thrift store till I actually have a “need” for something. My sister gave me money for my birthday and so far I have resisted spending it.

    1. My kids would be absolutely thrilled to get to eat as many days of an advent calendar as they wanted. It’s so hard to just eat one tiny piece per day!

  51. Brandy well done on filling up your pots with the paper whites that had sprouted elsewhere and replanting the corn salad and lettuce seedlings elsewhere in the gardens where they can grow bigger. What great clearance items you got for such good prices and glad you have some new to you clothing as well 🙂 . With prices being so high on groceries and other items it pays us to stock up when we see all of these great clearance items at such good costs.

    In the home
    We did a deep clean of the rumpus room and swept and dusted, damp dusted and vacuumed the table down there as well as brushed off all the skirting boards. It had become a bit of a dumping ground the table so DH is putting away all his tools in the shed along with varying WD sprays, gardening tools and more. It is looking so much better.
    We got the wheat out of the trailer that was in containers that we got free from family members on a large grain and livestock property, damp dusted all the country red dirt off the storage containers we had them in and bought them into the rumpus room. Will work on making a space for them all in the walk in pantry and we packed each container with oxygen absorbers and the lovely dried bay leaves to deter weevils.

    We have been concentrating on topping up the household staples groceries and treats and needed work boots at the best prices we can and have done rather well on staples, meat, some medical and our work boots. With markdowns few and far between and getting less it is getting harder and harder to do so.

    In the kitchen
    Made 4 loaves of wholemeal white bread in the bread making machines saving $16.94 on prices we pay locally.
    Cooked all meals and bread from scratch.

    Bought 2 x 3kg prescription dry cat food on end of year sale online reduced from $78 ea to $55.56 ea saving $44.88 over what we pay locally here.
    On half price sale at WW bought coca cola 1.25 lt bottles on half price sale, on sale sarsaparilla, used a $10 off code, a rewards 10 x point promo, a 4000 reward point promo on purchase over $120. and used varying point boost promos to save $35.48 on our staples grocery shop and earn 6620 rewards points.
    In another shop at WW purchased 3 jars of mustard pickles on sale, marked down cottage cheese, collected our 2 x 2pk of rewards glasses, and used our $30 off rewards dollars and picked up the rest of the staples we couldn’t get before saving $81.50 (including glasses cost) on regular prices.
    Purchased on eBay 2 pairs of Mongrel work boots with a promo code on eBay saving $88.24 on prices we would pay locally. Nice to have a spare pair each in stock.
    At Coles we purchased on markdowns a lamb shoulder roast for $9.37 kg reduced from $12.50kg and a cream decorated mud cake reduced from $8.50 to $4.67 to save $10.96 on usual prices.
    From IGA on clearances and markdowns purchased a chocolate cream filled roll marked down from $5 – $3, a 1.8kg red wine and garlic marinated topside roast reduced from $33.48 to $21.09 or marked down from $18.60kg to $11.12kg, 2 x Qld 1kg raspberry yoghurts reduced from $10 – $3 ea, 3 x yoplait 1kg strawberry yoghurts marked down from $4.50 – $2 ea, 4 x packets of shapes reduced from $3.50 to $1 ea and they put on a seniors discount as well to save in total another $48.57 on usual prices.
    From Wayne’s World we purchased on markdowns 3 x 16pk of strepsils anaesthetic lozenges for $1 saving $ 8 a pack, 4 x 170g blocks of nestle golden rough reduced from $5 to $2 ea and a 120g pack of rollos minis saving $44 on prices elsewhere.
    – From WW purchased 4 x 1kg blocks of Hillview cheese using our 4% off e-gift card to save another $44 on usual prices.

    Hope everyone had a wonderfully frugal week also 🙂 .

    1. Sasparillla is still a thing in Australia? I haven’t heard this term since being in a museum. Fascinating!

      1. And they still have Wool Worth’s! We haven’t had them in at least 20 years if not more – I miss “Woolies”.

        1. Margie from T.O.

          I have often wondered if the Australian Woolworth’s is the same as ours was. How I miss the Woolworth’s of my childhood. I loved the Orange Twists. Someone has finally posted a recipe for these online. Alas it has egg in it so I can’t just eat them. The historic store here had beautiful wood wainscoting.

          I did a bit of research. The Woolworth’s in Australia is not related (apparently) to our Woolworth’s. The name was not trademarked so it was used in other countries but was not related to our F.W. Woolworth. Our Woolworth owned Woolco stores. I even miss Woolco – occasionally it had the most unusual high-end things. Then Woolco became Walmart.

  52. After an appointment on Friday I stopped at a nearby thrift store and found that they were having a year end clearance sale. 60% off that day, and 90% off the next. I found a few things on Friday and was grateful to get them so cheaply. Then on Saturday, New Year’s Eve, my daughter and I went back. She was looking for clothes. We got 19 items for a total of $4.90. It was a great day!

  53. We spent the Christmas season travelling to be with family, and when we got back home hosting family that came to us. Pleasant, but still tiring!
    *I like to keep a list of household stuff that will need replacing in the next year or two. This helps remind me to watch for good sales on these items through the year. January is a good month for markdowns! For example, I bought some pillowcases 75% off because the snowflake embroidered on the gray background was deemed “Christmas” !
    *Our national broadcaster (CBC) had an article warning of 2023 having a recession with job losses and inflation. We put a great deal of “slack” in our yearly financial planning to try to cover this. If the economy is better than predicted, we’ll have some mad money at year’s end. This takes some stress out of watching the bad news pile up.
    *Continuing my goal using at least a canning jar of food each day. This is a goal because I hate to see my jars of food dwindle, which is ridiculous! Setting a goal reminds me to plan to use it all.
    *Back to normal frugal. Bread baking, home cooking, own hair and nails, hanging laundry, and so forth.
    *My daughter is a classical musician whose career was truncated with the pandemic closures. Concerts and gigs were cancelled and are now trickling back. She is offered a star role in the USA, and has her work visa interview at the US consulate tomorrow. Could I ask for prayers that all goes well with this? It’s her big chance to put her career back on track, but nothing happens without that temporary work visa approval. Thank you, ladies.

    1. I will certainly say a prayer for her! We employ professional musicians in our church choir (who also sing with the COC etc) and we run a music program that showcases musicians still in school – those just starting out – and professionals so I have heard how tough it was for them during lockdown. Keeping my fingers crossed for your daughter.

      1. Thank you, Margie! My daughter sang at COC a few years ago! Yes, lockdowns were and still are incredibly hard on musicians;my daughter’s friends are all in the same boat scrambling to reboot their careers.
        But, I’m happy to report that she got her temporary work visa approved by the US consulate, which was the last hurdle for accepting the big role she was offered! Hurray! (And she says they were oh-so-nice to her at the consulate too!)

  54. Happy New Year, everyone! Wishing you all a safe, healthy, prosperous 2023!

    The last few weeks we:
    • Began using draft blockers at front, interior garage, and patio doors. I was using some old towels at the smaller doors but they don’t work very well, and had nothing for the patio slider. (Which some day I’d love to replace with a normal door as it’s such an energy waster and a security concern – saving for that!) Found a two-pack of large draft blockers and a special slider one for a good price on Amazon and chose the no-rush shipping to get $1 e-credit. Now the blockers are in and Amazon applied the credit, along with another earned, to a Kindle book I had pre-ordered months ago. Took that e-book from $4.99 to $2.99 plus tax and of course the draft blockers will “nickel and dime” the utilities down as well.
    • We put an insulation blanket on our hot water heater recently, as well as some pipe insulation on the pipes connected to it. Several pieces of pipe wrap were left over and I used half of one to make “knee protectors” on our office/craft table. It has a section with a leaf, and the metal joining piece where the table connects when the leaf isn’t in is at JUST the right height I kept whacking my kneecap quite badly several times a week when turning to get out of my chair. Several times I’ve almost splurged on desks at Staples because it was frustrating (and painful). Now there is padding on each side and I’m a happy camper – as is my knee. LOL I’ll call that a $200 savings based on the desk unit I kept eyeballing. 😉
    • For Christmas, my father sent a Lowe’s card as he’d asked what we need/want and I mentioned a hardware card is always handy with the projects we have in mind for the house. He generously sent $100, which we used to offset the price of two Craftsman resin tool sheds – getting that style meant we picked them up in my Subaru and needed no trailer rental ($30) or delivery fee ($59). It also cleared the section of our garage that the prior owner had stacked spare roof tiles, floor tiles, and paint in for repairs/touch ups, giving my husband a good 8sqft or more to put a shelving unit we already owned (vs buying something to mount to the ceiling). After the gift card we were under $800 and also ordered online so we should get cash back via Rakuten and our credit card “bucks” (which we apply right back to the card or put in savings). A larger shed we were looking at was $2,000 plus delivery; we might not need that after all. At the very least, these hold everything and have space for shelves to make them more efficient, so we can at least stretch the purchase out several years and only do it if we truly feel it’s still necessary. (I don’t think it will be, we don’t even need the weed whacker any more as we chose a xeriscaped yard and the garden will only need hand tools we already have.)
    • Borrowed books from library, most placed on hold online and then the pick up consolidated with other errands. Our last pick up, I also went to find a book that had been returned but not taken off my account. We found it on the shelves and explained to the librarian; she checked it in manually so the system knows it’s back and doesn’t try to bill me for a “lost” book. And in the vein of “it’s always free to give someone a smile” – she was so apologetic and they were so swamped with holiday returns built up; a few patrons were surly so it was my pleasure to be calm, smile, and try to be an easy person to deal with. (Especially since it wasn’t really a biggie – we did find the book and it was easy to bring to their attention!)
    • We got some rain off the last storm that came through the Southwest, grateful it went into the rain cisterns. It almost didn’t with one as the wind blew the downspout off the top port! I was able to use some excavated aggragate from leveling the cisterns to hold down the downspout – it took three tries as winds were hitting 40MPH! (Talk about weird reuse – the aggregate was sitting beside as we hadn’t quite figured out whether to throw it out or if it could be reused in the garden; now it has! haha)
    • We are doing a low-spend January – I would do No-Spend but had noticed the past two months that my husband was picking up coffee on the base during work. So we each have a cash allotment until payday for such things, but no using the card – and then his supervisors put everyone on telework for this week and he’s making his coffee here at home. (Not argueing, he can save the cash for the next pay period.)
    • Our son was eligible for his learner’s permit on 1/2 – the online test is $7 which we paid, then he paid the $20 permit fee from cash he received for Christmas.
    • We share a Kroger card with my parents and they tell us when there are $1 off/gallon points available. Filled my husband’s car with the first, I’ll fill mine with the other.
    • My father-in-law sent us Amazon gift cards for Christmas; I used part of mine to purchase Freeze Fresh and The Family Garden Plan – books I wanted, that will help with the producing and preserving of food, but I didn’t want to buy out of the budget (and our library system doesn’t have them). I also used part of it for a coffee I want to try but it’s pricey, so want to make sure it’s good before I stock it in bulk. (I’m just learning about mold issues in coffee beans so this is a great way to test it out.)
    • When my mom and stepdad moved to AZ, their packers packed the spare furnace filters – which are not the right size for the house they chose here. They do, however, fit our furnace intake – so we were gifted six filters, on top of the three our home seller left us! My husband put a new one in on New Year’s Day and I’ve set reminders for when to replace it. The house is almost 20 and has its original HVAC so everything I can do to help it run well will hopefully give us time to save for an impending replacement (and of course help our health as well).

  55. Happy New Year Brandy! To let you know that All Creatures Great And Small’s 3rd season will air this Sunday 1/8/23 at 8:59 pm to 10 pm Eastern on PBS.
    We have been enjoying really good weather this week its 63 F today after enduring 10 F at Christmas and have the whole house airing.
    Have been planning this year’s budget and tax planning for this year.
    Did not do any after Christmas shopping as we did not need anything.

  56. I had a funny experience which I know this group will appreciate. I had frozen the turkey bones after Thanksgiving. I took these out and made bone broth for turkey noodle soup. I was talking to my sister about making the bone broth and my brother-in-law hesitantly asked what I did with the bones. I said that I throw them away of course. He looked very relieved and said he thought I ground them up for the bone broth. He was feeling very sorry for my husband because he was having to eat ground up bones. We all had a good laugh about it. So, of course, I had to give him a quart of turkey bone broth for Christmas.

    1. Christine, this reminds me of a trick I played on my mother in law! I was making soup. The recipe was from a restaurant called Antlers and was in Midwest Living magazine. It’s a creamy chicken rice soup that we call Antler Soup. It would take me an hour to type out the whole 20 minutes of discussion between me and MIL, but she asked what was in it…. I then spun a yarn about deer shedding their antlers in fall and how husband and dog go looking for them in the woods while they’re still fresh. They’re cut into manageable pieces and boiled into a delicious broth. That it’s quite popular in the Midwest. She sat there just as stoic as can be as she asked all the questions that lead to the answers above. My MIL was a life long city girl, born and raised in Los Angeles. Eventually I couldn’t keep a straight face and just exploded into laughter. She laughed, as well, but said she was so relieved because she had no intention of taking one single bite lol!!!

  57. Hello and Happy New Year. Frugal accomplishments for my now household of 2 and the dog as we are now empty nesters have been the following:
    1. Stayed home during my break from work except on Christmas Day which was a visit to my sister’s house for a pot luck lunch and to a free event in the next town on New Year’s Eve.
    2. Baked 3 hams and 1 turkey, sliced and frozen for us to use throughout the year. It made a lot of meat for just the two of us.
    3. Begin our first no spend/low spend January challenge. We will not be eating out (except for our youngest son’s birthday, but it was planned in advance of us deciding to do this). We will have a budget for food and will be paying cash for our food this month. We will also have a budgeted amount for fuel for our vehicles for the month. This will force us to stop making those “quick trips” to town for “something we forgot” and will also force me to get back in the habit of having one errand day per week instead of making stops throughout the week. I’m sure we will be adding and changing as we go as we have never done this before but we are really wanting to cut back on spending more than ever to pay off some debt.

    I think that’s all for this week.

  58. Brandy those clearance prices are amazing. I haven’t found anything even close to that, sadly.

    I didn’t buy any new decorations this year at all, using just what I already have. That included unrolling lengths from a spool of ribbon I’d used in previous years to put bows on my porch lights and wreaths. I took it all down this weekend, dusting off and carefully rewinding the ribbons back onto the spool.

    I reused my decorative gift boxes and used the cloth bags I have made for wrapping the gifts I gave to others. However, I was given some gifts with wrapping paper and bows, so I saved those bows. I also save tissue paper if it isn’t totally crumpled. Slightly wrinkled tissue paper is fine to wrap things as they go in a box or bag.

    I used my thrift store sheets to cover plants when the weather turned cold for four nights. Twenty degrees Fahrenheit won’t impress many of those who live further north, but in Florida, that’s a very cold night time temperature.

    Big Christmas and New Year’s Day meals were made at home.

    I kept my outdoor Christmas lights on through the holiday, but they are all LED, so they barely affect my light bill.

    I made a cloth ribbon spool holder in my new craft room with a piece of dowel I had, decorative knob ends I already owned for the dowel, and cheap hooks. I pop one knob end off of the dowel, thread the spools on and put the knob end back on. The knobs on the end keep the dowel from sliding out of the hooks. I mounted the hooks on the inside of the closet door, like a towel rod. I also mounted a 12″ x 14″ thread spool holder to the inside of the closet door. I found it at a Goodwill store for a couple of dollars.

    I cut the hard rind off of a large chunk of smoked bacon, cut it up and microwaved it till it was crispy. I gave it to my dogs and they were delighted.

    I made sure to freeze the remains of holiday dinners before they got too old.

    I used an apple that was starting to get soft in a cooked dish, where it was going to get soft anyway.

    Happy New Year, everyone!

    1. Jo, I actually iron my tissue paper if the wrinkles are a bit much. I remembered that my mom always ironed sewing pattern pieces so they would lay flat on the fabric, and they are made of tissue.

  59. Thank you for sharing your tips and ideas. This week I used up some frozen broccoli before it got burned, and also a small amt. of fresh broccoli plus potatoes from winco (paid 49 cents for a 10 pound bag a couple of weeks ago—they said they had overpurchased!!)to make a delicious potato/broccoli soup.I had a tiny piece of cheddar from the holidays and grated it into the soup also. We had that for lunch all week.

    Making a potato/egg frittata for supper tonight. Eggs are not 6 dollars per dozen in our regular grocery store but I bought a dozen for $2.99 at Trader Joe. I heard they went up this week, but we don’t use too many eggs for just the two of us.Still! 6 bucks!!!!!???

    I have been craving some beef and I found a nice chuck roast in the “ready to sell now” bargain area of the meat counter and got 5 pounds for $6.50.I am planning to make a nice beef stew packed with lots of potatoes (!) and veggies too. We rarely eat beef and if I do I NEVER pay regular price for it. This was a lucky find.

    NO food waste.I am even more careful about using every morsel with these inflationary times.

    Needed a couple of warm sweaters, it has gotten chilly and rainy here, so I used up some credit I had at local consignment store and bought some new-to-me sweaters. This boosted my mood,too. Our family has been dealing with some illnesses and every now and then I need a little mood boost.

    Continue to exercise at home, walk, ride my bike,use youtube videos, avoiding health club memberships.

    Husband and I find most of our entertainment at home— “All Things Great and Small”. “Yellowstone” and a few other goodies on TV. Playing cards. Gardening. Dates to the library and piles of books for enjoyment, Using our hot tub. We are Having friends over for homemade soup and fresh bread supper and card games on Friday.. avoiding restaurants,noise, and germs! We drive a mile to several gorgeous parks and take long walks.

    I am currently researching on the web to see how people made it through the Great Depression..i know there is a cooking channel about it.. I like reading about other peoples resourcefulness.

    Happy New Year to you and your family. I know it is a stressful one for most, in one way or another.

    1. On YouTube there is a channel called Great Depression Cooking (with Clara), a 93-year old grandma. She died in 2013 at age 98 but her grandson continues to post videos he made with her. She tells stories while she cooks meals from her growing up years. She also has a book with her stories and recipes. I read it from the library. “Clara’s Kitchen” by Clara Cannucciari.

    2. I watched a you tube British show called Coal House Living like the Great Depression. Families went and had to live like during that time. They had to live off rations and showed what they cooked and gardened and had pigs and chickens. And there is Wartime Farm another series.

  60. January greetings to all!
    For us, aside from the spiritual aspect, Christmas was just another day. We went to church and spent it like an ordinary Sunday. Read, napped , relaxed.
    We did venture out a few days later. I love a bargain, but am averse to being nose-to-butt with so many people. I was still happy to find some good deals.
    * My best deal wasn’t even a Christmas find! It was no sugar no HFCS ketchup for $1/32 oz. The normal price is $4.32. I got 10! Hubs loves ketchup on everything and I dislike sweet ketchup.
    * I got 10 bottles of VO5 shampoo for $1 ea.
    * We got 2 free Total Wash coupons for a new car wash. That was worth $20 each. We now have 2 clean cars and it cost nothing!
    * I made 4 mini jars of chili seasoning mix when I made chili. It’s just as easy to make 5 as it is one, but saves lots of time later.
    * I gave my husband a haircut.
    * Hubs removed the oven hood and I scoured it clean. After my knee injury, I can’t get on my tiptoes anymore without pain. It was so easy to do on a big plastic tablecloth. It’s so shiny and clean all over, not just the front part.
    * We tried to get to the market on multi gas point days in November and December. We managed to get 40¢ off per gallon, filling both cars at $2.19per gallon.
    * We’re still holding on with the thermostat at 62°day and 55° night. I’m glad because I’m hearing a lot of stress over recently received utility bills. We just don’t have the extra money to pay so this is it, like it or not!

    We’re currently watching Annika DVD from the library. Another British show. We usually watch the lighter mysteries so we’re cautiously optimistic to finish it without jumping off from too much reality!!!
    At this time, I’m reading:
    On my nightstand – King and Maxwell by David Baldacci.
    In my craft room CD player – Black Echo by David Baldacci.
    With my Bible study – finishing up my Advent book.
    By my reading chair – Crooked Heart by Cristina Sumners.


    1. Is Black Echo new? I am a huge Baldacci fan and I have not heard of this one. Which series or stand alone? Thanks!

      1. Hello, Maxine!
        Black Echo is an old one, the first of the Harry Bosch series. Check out Book Series in Order and you can see all his books.
        One of my favorites is called Wish You Well. Not at all typical and it’s a standalone. Good luck!

        1. I love Wish You Well! For you non-Baldacci folks, it is a sweet story based on stories told to him by elder members of his family in rural Virginia (if I remember correctly).

        2. Debby, I LOVE Wish You Well! It is my favorite book by Baldacci. They made a movie out of it and filmed near my house. I will reread the book every few years. I heard Baldacci speak at a reading conference one year. He was very fun to listen to.

  61. I’ve never heard of mache before! It sounds very interesting, I’ll need to look into that. I feel like I often learn about something new from this blog, Brandy.

    My husband had a week off between Christmas and New Year’s, which was a very welcome break for him. We enjoyed a lot of time at home relaxing, watching movies, and taking outdoor walks. For New Year’s Eve we cooked dinner at home – steaks (from our freezer) and twice baked potatoes. We enjoyed a variety of appetizers and cheesecake for dessert (also from our freezer – a previous purchase at Trader Joe’s). I worked a few days the last week of December, but it was very slow at my office, with several staff out on vacation. It was a nice break, and I got several projects finished.

    We put up the rest of the ham from Christmas into the freezer. A full gallon freezer bag of nice slices for future sandwiches, and a meaty ham bone for a future pot of beans or soup. Grocery bargains included pork butt .99 cents/lb, boneless skinless chicken breasts for $1.47/lb, and another free dozen eggs from a grocery store reward. The eggs were regularly $4.79/dozen, so I was very happy to get them for free. I spent $23 in that one trip and got 19 lbs of pork and chicken plus the free dozen eggs. I can specifically remember last year, eggs being on sale for .29 cents/dozen at this same store! I can’t believe how much prices have increased. We found bags of Starbucks holiday-flavored (peppermint mocha & gingerbread) ground coffee 75-90% off at the same grocery store right after Christmas and bought the last 2 bags. We picked up a few items from Sam’s Club, including dish soap on sale. We stocked up on some household things like shampoo, bar soap, and deodorant. We are doing a “no buy” year for a lot of things including cosmetics (for me), shoes, hats and accessories, and clothing other than necessity items. This will likely extend beyond a year, but we’re starting with a year to see how things go. We have decided that with inflation and everything increasing (even regular bills), we will need to watch our budget much more carefully this year. We will definitely be cutting back on extraneous shopping and weekend trips, and eating out. We do not eat out very often, but we have decided to cut that back even more, and then go to less expensive places (or use a coupon). We cooked and ate almost all meals at home including the Christmas ham (which turned into several leftover meals), chicken tikka masala with saffron rice, red potato and corn chowder with garlic biscuits, shrimp and sausage gumbo (shrimp and sausage from our freezer stock) with rice, and steak sandwiches with leftover New Year’s Eve steaks (from our freezer stock). I made egg salad for lunch sandwiches with some of the free grocery store eggs.

    Fun note as several people have mentioned watching “Yellowstone” – for several weeks during November and early December, one of the “prequel” shows (maybe 1923 or the follow-up to 1883) was filming on the property next door to my office (a beautifully preserved Victorian mansion). They were using some of the interiors, and also using some of our property for their trailers and equipment. Sadly, we didn’t get to see any celebrities, but definitely not for lack of trying! We all joked that they should have sent Kevin Costner over to visit (I’m sure he wasn’t even there haha) as a goodwill gesture.

    Happy New Year, everyone!

  62. I am happy to say that after 7 straight weeks in the hospital I finally was releazed today-which gives me time to focus on the things I want to!! Lucky also that there were no OOP costs.I was also lucky like Brandy and got some marked down chocolates today-including advent calendars for. 50 cents which I will gift to the 3 year old triplets and 5 year old big brother when they come to visit on Saturday.

    1. I, so happy you are home and on the road to good health. May you be blessed with good health this year and always! Enjoy those little ones!

  63. New Year’s Eve we’d planned to have our family gather for Family Holiday. No such luck. The 3yr old in our household was sick with a viral tonsillitis that is highly contagious to other small children, and we decided to cancel the family celebration entirely. This was a tough illness. While overall he had no real symptoms, this child lost his appetite (which is a very good one) entirely, lay about and ran fevers than ranged from 101.6 to 103.5 with fever reducers. We were very fortunate that both my daughter and I had stocked up on children’s acetaminophen and ibuprofen and between us had enough to manage this illness. We can find neither on the shelves in any stores about us. Our granddaughter is now sick with a double ear infection (all of these past three weeks someone in either household has been deeply ill and it’s all bacterial or viral) and daughter in law said they couldn’t even order the acetaminophen from Amazon. We’ve all declared when we see any each of us will pick up three bottles, one for each household. His being ill has kept us home as he really spent all his time sleeping or looking pitiful.
    At the grocery, I find I am now always over $200. Not least of which is the cost of eggs. nearly $7 for 18ct is the least expensive we’ve seen. My husband loves eggs and while they are still fairly cheap as protein, wowza. I was reading of ten outages to expect in the coming year: beef, dairy (specifically cheese and butter), eggs, carbonated beverages ( the key ingredient in carbonated drinks is also a key ingredient for freezing foods and processing deli meats), rice…and I forget the others but it was a list that will affect nearly all households.
    I sat down to work on our budget for the coming year and in going over the past year discovered that I’d spent a LOT more on groceries last year than I’ve spent in years past. The average monthly expense was nearly 2/3 again as much as I really budgeted for. Considering that this past year I focused hard on thriftier meals and using ALL of every food that came into the house which effectively stopped waste in our home, and that I am making more foods from scratch than ever in my life…I find this very discouraging. We have always eaten for less than the government guidelines thrifty food plans and still managed to stock our freezer and pantry, but this past year was HARD and I worked harder than ever trying to save money in the kitchen. To find that I’d been so far off budget is a double shock to me and so I’ve determined that I’d better PLAN for it this year and acknowledge that this is the money we’ll be spending for food.
    On a happier note, I’ve just paid off the only ‘debt’ we’ve had in the past year or two and I’m glad to have that bill paid off and to call ourselves debt free once again. We’ve worked very hard to manage to be debt free at this stage in our lives and while I’d hoped we’d have an easier time of it over all, I am grateful that we can still manage to live reasonably in a day and age where prices are rising crazily and stay debt free, too!
    Best buy at the grocery was a clearance on almond milk yogurt at Kroger. Grandson has a milk protein allergy and develops a whoopy cough and runny nose if he has cow’s milk. He loves yogurt but at $1.80 or more for a 5 ounce cup for non-dairy yogurt it’s a treat. I happened to find cups marked down to 39c. Thankful because with his sore throat yogurt was one of the few things he would take a spoon or two of for days on end.

    1. Terri, I feel the same. This is why I am trying to grow even more at home, and to grow open-pollinated types so that I can collect seeds to plant without needing to buy more, as seed prices are outrageous.

    2. Terri, I’m not sure where you are, but the kids’ pain medication shortage has been ongoing here in Canada since May 2022. Our govt tries to blame parents for the shortage, but that’s a ridiculous argument, especially when childrens’ hospitals have also said they have shortfalls AND the shortage seems to be in many countries. I found a box of baby Tylenol to give as a much appreciated Christmas gift!
      But, keep in mind that a compounding pharmacist can make up a child-size dose for a sick child, if needs be. I don’t know what the final cost would be, and how it would taste, but this is good to know if the shortages continue and one has a child with high fever. (It’s not so helpful in the middle of the night.)

      1. Elle W and Terri — I’m chiming in on this, to share something I just heard on the news. Emergency Departments and Urgent Care Facilities are reporting an increase in OTC drug overdoses in children, due to parents trying to use adult-strength meds for their sick kids. I’m sure their intentions are pure, and a worried parent will do just about anything for their child. But so worrisome. The idea of using a compounding pharmacy is really appealing, and maybe they can make up a bottle of fever reducer in advance, so mom and dad can have some on hand for the middle of the night scenario. Even if it’s costly, it’s probably better than another ED visit.

        Selfishly, I am so relieved that my youngest grandchild is old enough for adult-strength meds now. But I worry about everyone else’s little ones also. Sending positive thoughts and energy to all of you.

    3. Terri C – Thank you for sharing the info about potential shortages. I had heard of some of those, but not all, and it encouraged me to do more reading and research. These are scary times and it is good to plan ahead and prepare as much as we can.

      I’m reminded of a scene from the early 1980s film “An American Werewolf in London” in which an American student comments on the prices as an English woman is purchasing groceries:
      “This stuff’s expensive.”
      “It’s outrageous. My pay can’t possibly keep up with inflation.”
      “How do you live?

    4. Terri C I too have found just what you wrote about with food prices and no stopping in sight- scary how much food has increased so fast
      I am trying to find a balance and do much more ourselves, self sufficiency is key going forward
      Thank you for sharing

  64. Thank you all for sharing. I made a small discovery for myself. I always try to store our own apples, we live in cold climate. I may not have the best sorts, but my apples tend to get bad quite soon. I always choose big and pretty ones. This year my kids filled a box with all the apples they found, in September it was, many were very small and now I found that tiny apples were very well preserved, they were very eatable! Very interesting for me.
    Another thing I wanted to share. I always use exfoliating gloves while taking shower. I have started putting little leftover soap pieces into those. Good way to use them up.

    1. Some varieties of apples are keepers, some are not. I will be trying to keep small apples to see how it works. thanks!

  65. I’ve been reading the blog and everyone’s comments for a few months now, and all of you are such an inspiration! Brandy, I love how you are frugal but create beauty wherever you go. I used your example this year and made several gifts for family members. My husband made me the tapestry slippers you blogged about a few years ago and I love them.

    I love how everyone chimes in with their frugal wins for the week. As we embark on a low-spend/no-spend year, I wanted to start chiming in so I can stay accountable. This past week, I cut my husband’s hair (this is a weekly thing we’ve been doing for years). We watched movies we already have and ate out of our pantry and made use of leftovers. We started two household projects we’ve put off for over a year: hanging wallpaper in the entry hall and hanging fabric on a wall in our guest bathroom. We’ve had the materials for years, and my husband bought a wallpaper knife to make the wallpaper job easier. But compared to the amount we usually spend, this was very frugal. My daughter rescued two ferns from a neighbor’s trash pile. They are quite brown and may be too far gone, but we wanted to try to revive them.

    Thanks for having such a welcoming community!

  66. Brandy – I commented right after this post went up yesterday but I still haven’t seen it come through. My comments on other posts seem to be fine…

    1. I believe it is up now.

      On my side, it gives me the comments in reverse order to review. When there are 60 plus comments to review, it sometimes takes me a while to read through them all, and the first ones are at the bottom of the list. I read them as I am able in between taking care of my family.

  67. Good morning from The Texas Hill Country.
    Glad to see GardenPat is back. She’s a delight to read. Sorry about your brother and other situations.
    Frugal happenings include eating more beans and trying new varieties, more vegetarian style meals, exercising with yard work and being content

    1. Vivie- Thank you! It humbles me to think I was missed!! “Being content”, you said. I think that is the key, along with a grateful heart, to not just enduring challenging times but actually thriving in spirit!! Sounds like you are mastering that! Well done!!

      Gardenpat in Ohio

    2. Vivie- Thanks! Humbling to hear I was missed. This blog is one that I really look forward to every Monday! I learn so much from Brandy and all of you commenters! So much inspiration from this and I’m so grateful!

      Gardenpat in Ohio

  68. We pressure canned a bunch of chicken and broth to free up freezer space. We were so tickled with this that we did a bunch of beef too and then my son brought home 5.5 pounds of already shredded and smoked pork so we ate half of that and canned the other half. I was amazed at how quickly that first half disappeared but we have some of the big boys home. We had soft tacos. Normally, I am able to stretch meat more than that but it was free and it was Christmas time so it was a fun treat. We also learned to pressure can pinto beans. Well, I’d like to tweak that but it is so handy to have those on the shelves that I wouldn’t mind doing more. The only hard thing is finding jars but we are constantly going through salsa and vegetables so it works out. I’m still trying to shop the bargains. Butter was $2.99 which wasn’t amazing but still a good price and even though it was a limit of one I got it. We are overrun with eggs right now so I keep waterglassing them and appreciating them. I feel bad for everyone else and having no eggs or high prices. I am concerned as the price of feed goes up so much. I asked my husband if we could find a farmer to buy the feed from. Maybe we could cut out the middleman. We did this when we used to raise pigs. My daughter had a baby and I will be flying there. I am seriously considering hard cooking some to bring with me. They would love to have them but I suppose it could be a disaster and a mess! (There is somebody posting on craigslist asking to trade 9 eggs cartons for a dozen eggs. That seems like a crazy trade but I am thinking about doing it. I wouldn’t mind sharing eggs with somebody in need!)

    1. Liz, Annabell over on Bluebirds Are Nesting in the Trees blog has a past post about stretching animal feed. She had some very good suggestions about feeding chickens. You might want to check it out.

    2. Liz, if you are flying and considering taking eggs, check with TSA first. When I have been in line, I have seen them dump any fresh foods. Wouldn’t want that to happen to you! I, like you, am fortunate in the egg department. My nephew has chickens that provide for many of us bountifully. I sooooo appreciate it!

  69. I rarely buy grown-up groceries so I have no idea if this is good price or not but just saw where Walmart has hams on clearance for 50 cents a pound

  70. Hi Brandy! As everyone noted, those were extraordinary deals you found at the store. Last week my husband had a really bad heart attack and passed away the day after Christmas. In a strange way, I was lucky he had two days in ICU since it helped me mentally adjust a bit to what might happen. Lots of friends and family have been offering help and company. I found I didn’t want a lot of company but was glad they were there if needed. I have spent the last week doing calls and paper work to alert everyone in the universe. This week also did a new budget since his social security and VA benefits stop immediately. As I look at my full freezer and pantry, I am very thankful at the storage but overwhelmed at how many pinto beans I have for just one person ;). I am doing okay. I know it will be a long process. Reading through this blog today was a reminder of life and all the kind people here. Also, Kim, at Out my window, also lost her husband on Christmas Day.

    1. Hilogene,

      Another reader wrote to me about you and Kim last week. I am so sorry for your loss. You have been in my prayers.

      I did not expect you to post so soon.

      I will keep you in my prayers.

    2. So sorry for your loss and to learn that Kim has also lost her husband. I read Kim’s blog through “Cheryl” and I often read your comments there as well.
      It seems rather shocking to me that benefits to a spouse cease immediately – you would think that there would be something like a 3 month grace period so that the other spouse has a chance
      to adjust and get their bearings.
      Please take care.

    3. Hilogene: May you have many great memories to sustain you and many people to help you as you discover new strengths. Condolences and we hope you can take good care of yourself in this new situation.

    4. Please check into receiving your late husband’s social security as well as some of his veterans benefits as a survivor. There are some available to you if you fit within their parameters but you have to be the one to look into it, I know you still have much to do and I send you my condolences,, I lost my husband 5 years ago only 3 weeks after we learned he had cancer.

    5. I am so sorry to hear of your loss, Hilogene, and will keep you in prayer. May your husband fly with the angels in paradise.

    6. I am so sorry to hear about your husband. I am glad to hear you are doing okay, but take all the time you need to take care of yourself and get used to this new season. One thing for sure, the pinto beans will keep as long as it takes to get through them.

      Elizabeth M.

    7. Hilogene, I’m so sorry about your husband’s passing. ((( Hugs to you ))) and may he rest in peace. Thinking of you.

    8. Hilogene in Az- So very sorry to hear of your husband’s passing. Know that you are in our prayers. It sounds like you are well organized even in your time of grief! Sending virtual hug and support.

      Gardenpat in Ohio

    9. Oh Hilogene, I am so sorry to read about the sudden loss of your husband and your friend’s husband as well. It happening at Christmas must have made it doubly hard. Sending prayers for peace and strength for you and Kim as you move forward in your new circumstances. Know that others are thinking of you.

    10. Hilogene,

      You are blessed to have those two days to gather yourself and your thoughts. Those two days with your husband allowed you to say what was on your heart to your husband before he left. As you may remember, my husband died in July. I’m sending you my love.

  71. I have made a New Year’s resolution to try to post more here to keep myself accountable.
    We all got covid for Christmas so I didnt leave the house and no money spent. I had an unexpected car repair at the beginning of this week that couldn’t be postponed because it was a safety issue. Thankful for my emergency fund.
    Happy New Year to all !

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