Most of the week we were delayed on working in the garden due to weather, but we are grateful for the rain and the little bit of snow that fell. The mountains around us were covered with snow to the bases, which was beautiful.

Paperwhite in the white garden

I sifted our previously purchased garden bed soil to remove rocks and roots, and moved it to our newly expanded garden beds. Another great thing about sifting it has been the chance to remove any grubs that were in the soil. Normally, I just smash these when I find them, but I realized a few months back that these would be great to use to feed the birds. As I find them, I put them out on a little plastic tray from which they cannot escape and put in near where I am digging. A single mockingbird has appeared each day throughout our project looking for food, and he daringly flies near me to retrieve the grubs, which he carries to the wall to eat. It’s been a lot of fun feeding him throughout the winter.

My husband ran more pipes in the garden and built the new valve connections for our drip irrigation in the garden. It has cost me $500 per box before to have these rebuilt the last time by someone when they broke, and the last few years, we have had to have both boxes rebuilt twice (and they’ve broken in other years past as well). Fixing these boxes so often is one of the expenses that we hope to save in the redesign of the garden. While the parts are expensive, we’ve made these in a way that they can be more easily repaired when one breaks (because parts do wear out), and also in which they are less likely to break, as one of the parts, in particular, was prone to cracking and breaking, causing massive, expensive overnight leaks in the garden that killed trees and cost me an extra $125 in water from just a few hours of leaking each time. The new design does not use this part.

At the nursery, we found someone who could help us to understand how to properly the underground drip irrigation that we will be installing under two places in the grass. The other employees were not familiar with the system and did not know all the details. My husband had been reading about the product online (it’s called Netafim) and had some questions about the proper way to install it. This will help us to water two circular areas of grass around the trampoline and the merry-go-round, which will prevent overspray of the sprinklers onto the trampoline, the merry-go-round, and what will now be the surrounding garden beds. It will use less water than regular sprinklers. We will keep one small area of grass that will be watered with sprinklers (by the swings) that the children can play in on a hot summer evening.

I ordered some more seeds for the garden from Eden Brothers on Monday. I had to check several items to see whether or not I had seeds for these items already (and I did have some) before ordering. I used a coupon code to save 15% off that was valid one day only (I’m on the mailing list, so I received an email). I had been seriously contemplating ordering some more garden seeds through this company for several weeks, so the 15% off was nice. My seeds arrived on Saturday, which was really nice, as so many companies are delayed up to a month in shipping right now.

We celebrated my son’s birthday with a simple birthday party at home. I made pavlovas for dessert per his request.

I made a triple batch of homemade laundry soap.

One of art projects for the week

My gas bill came considerably lower than last year. Between the mild winter and less cooking with the school meals that we have been eating, I have not used the gas as much.

We picked up some new books at the library. On the way back, I stopped at the store to buy some lettuce and 4 avocados. The avocados were on sale using a coupon on the app to make them $0.29 each. Since I had to drive by the store on my way back, it was worth it to stop in for the loss leader sale.

What did you do to save money last week?

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  1. Hubs had remembered something about prescription drug coverage (besides our Medicare part D supplement) that was part of an optional insurance we carry for home health coverage beyond our Medicare and supplements. He checked a couple weeks ago and found that if we submitted receipts, we might be reimbursed for drug co-pays that we made. Imagine our surprise when we received a check for $370 this week!!
    We picked up the next 5 replacement windows that we ordered a few weeks ago and saved the $90 delivery charge! Now we just need to find a day that isn’t freezing out to start installing them in dining room and parlour! That will save us a lot in heating costs and buying and installing them ourselves also saves literally thousands! So grateful Hubs is handy and, after replacing 19 of our windows before these, he’s pretty quick about getting them in correctly!
    We have just become empty nesters! Our youngest son. (31) just moved out. He has Asperger’s and he had been “stuck” as far as making changes and progressing. His sister, who is 3 years older, invited him to rent a room from them to become more “ on his own”. They decided on their own! We are pleased because this is a step forward for him! He has been quite chatty and excited as he started preparing for the move. He asked me about donating clothes to Goodwill so I found one that is still accepting donations. I reminded him that clothes should be in good repair, no tears or stains and that he would need to run each piece through the washer and dryer before bagging them up! He did all that on his own and got 10 big bags full of clothes to donate ready. He and his dad also got 2 boxes of old electronics that they both had accumulated and took those to the electronics recycling place! Saturday (moving day) came and so did some friends and family and we actually only needed to make one trip across town! As boxes were put into basement outside of his room and bed frame was set up, he started to quietly panic a bit. I could tell as he sat there looking worried. Hubs set up headboard and mattress and box spring onto frame and he and son stayed in room while I went into other part of basement and chatted with daughters and friends. Son and Hubs rearranged and placed a couple furnishings and it looked more like a set-up bedroom should. That was all it took and he went back to the rest of the boxes and got everything unpacked and in place. He stayed over at our house Sat and Sunday, but Monday took the rest of his things- laptop, flannel sheets, toiletries, etc. over and it’s now official! Many of our other children have used their older siblings as a “transitional” move away from home as the step before getting their own place and it’s worked well. I’m hopeful it will for him too!
    We got several inches of snow over the weekend and are so grateful that we have good furnaces and a warm house! When they were predicting this snowstorm coming , I thought about what we might need to get from the grocery store but realized that we didn’t need anything! That was so nice especially as people flocked to the store to stock up before the storm! Definitely cheaper to have a well stocked pantry than to impulse buy in a panic!
    I finished quilting #113 – for a client and posted it along with #112- Then I dug out a UFO that had been waiting for almost 5 years to be quilted up. So now I just need to bind it and it will go in my gift cupboard. That made 114 quilts quilted up in the past 17 months since we bought our longarm machine. Definitely a good investment! #115 was loaded on the machine and The quilting is finished and ready for binding by tonight!

    I’ve stayed out of the stores this week and been working on using things from my freezer first as well as shelves. I made a ham, cheese, broccoli and potato dish for dinner that was totally “food storage”- ham cubes, broccoli from the freezer, boxes of shredded potatoes and sauce (when their sale price was 35 cents each after sale and ibotta).
    Our sweet chickens are still giving us 2 dozen eggs/week so baking is so inexpensive! Plus baking is helping to keep the house warm and smelling delicious!! Made Apple Cranberry Walnut muffins that used up the rest of the jar of apple chunks I brought up for the morning glory muffins a few days ago! Since I was too lazy to go down to the basement fridge to bring up a new container of sour cream, I instead used the last of a carton of plain yogurt I had in the fridge in the kitchen! Muffin-making is definitely one way we “use it up” with our food leftovers! And nobody complains!! Lol!!!

    I made absolutely decadent Raspberry Coconut Magic Bars- Everything in the recipe was from our pantry!! Is it any wonder that Hubs gets a big smile on his face when we are at a Level 2 Snow Emergency for our county and are advised to stay off the roads! Our food storage has definitely evolved from the Wheat/legumes, honey, dry milk and salt days in those early years after we got married!! Lol! So many varieties of baking chips, jams, meats, fruits/veg. Let the snow come!! The “19” in COVID-19p stands for 19 pounds we may gain staying at home!! Lol!
    Stay safe and well, Brandy and all!

    Gardenpat in Ohio

    1. Gardenpat: So happy to hear and all best wishes to your son and the people who love him!
      Our only son also has Asperger’s. We have learned, mostly, to accept that he thus does things to his own timetable. Yet that doesn’t mean it is easy, and as for any child, no matter how old, milestones must be celebrated!

      1. Heidi Louise- Today was my morning to go to that daughter’s house to babysit 4 year old and then put him on preschool bus at 12:30 while other 2 kiddos were at in-person school.
        Instead there was even more snow yesterday and overnight and in person school was cancelled- Snow Day. The roads were horrible and so daughter called me at about 5:30 AM to tell me not to try to dig out and come. She said she would ask our son if she could hire him to babysit all 3 all day or else she would take a day off from work. His choice, no pressure. He told me later that he didn’t want her to miss a day of work, so he is babysitting them!
        He called me to ask what to give them for breakfast- they each have something different (of course 🤪). He FaceTimed with me so I could walk him through making a microwave scrambled egg (the 6 year old would love to tell him to cook it for 5 minutes in MW! 😱😱). Then the youngest woke up and via FaceTime I told him how to change a diaper! He figured out on his own how to turn on their stovetop to make Mac and cheese for lunch (they have electronic child lock on it). Then he called a few minutes ago to have me walk him through changing a poopy diaper! Has gone well, he even rinsed dishes and loaded them into dishwasher so daughter won’t come home to a sink of dirty dishes! Our son-in-law gets home from work in 2-1/2 hours and I think this son has got everything under control!! 🎉🎉🎉 This has been a landmark day!!

        1. Gardenpat,

          I really enjoyed reading about your son’s triumphant babysitting day. Figuring out the electronic child lock is especially impressive!
          I’ll bet he was tired when it was over! Ann

        2. Gardenpa: Thank you for writing out the story of his day! How wonderful! They are most fortunate to have their uncle living with them, and vice versa!

    2. Gardenpat,
      That was an awesome day all the way around! It’s obvious that your son is much loved and appreciated!
      I’ve printed out the decadent magic bar recipe. I have to buy graham crackers but have everything else. Thank you!

  2. You’re making incredible progress on your garden. I was in mine today, hoping to dig a hole to put some vegetable scraps into the ground, but the ground is all frozen. I’m hopeful that it will be thawed enough in the next day or two. We planned next year’s garden crops, and I have that posted on my blog, if anyone is interested. We’re being more practical in this coming year. I keep trying some plants that just don’t do well in our climate, but decided that this year, I would focus on successful things, in hopes of a stronger harvest.

    We had a good week overall – my husband got some free and very low cost items (and even some moneymakers!) through Ibotta, along with picking up the really well priced sale items. He got whole chickens for .59 a pound, and jars of pasta sauce for 19 cents! We’ve been enjoying fresh grapes and oranges, along with a variety of fresh vegetables he picked up on sale. We are limiting trips to the store, and he goes right before closing when the stores are mostly empty, because there are a lot of people here who refuse to wear masks.

    I’m reading a book from the library, and listening to an audiobook from the library. I’ve been using free apps to learn Japanese, too. I sold an item on Marketplace, and bagged up 8 bags of donations for Goodwill, which made some more open space (yay!). The donations are waiting in the shed until we have a trip to town – we haven’t been to ‘the city’ for a long time!

    I baked some whole grain bread this week and we did a fair amount of scratch cooking. We saved orange zest from some of the oranges we’ve eaten, too. We keep it in the freezer and add it to recipes. We plan our menu for the week around the produce we get on sale, as well as the items in our pantry and freezer. It’s a very economical way to eat. We both enjoy cooking, and I think we’ve improved out nutrition as well.

    A quick thank you to those who have visited my little blog and offered encouragement and ideas. It’s truly helpful. I don’t have many readers (and that’s okay), and I appreciate you making the time!

    My walking shoes were completely worn out, but I am not ready to go shopping in the stores. I went through ‘the shoe shelf’, and found a pair my daughter doesn’t wear. We are the same size, so I asked if I could wear them, and then when the time comes, we’ll get shoes for whoever needs them. Everyone agreed this would work, so I have perfectly good shoes without going out or spending (these were actually some given to us by a friend whose child outgrew them in a blink!).

    1. That is how I have planned the new garden, too: grow more of what works for me in our climate. I will be trying one new thing that I have heard good things about here (peanuts) and I will attempt zucchini while I still have seeds, but if it still never flowers for me, I may have to quit trying that one. I didn’t get any from my attempts last year, though my plants grew. I will add more bone meal in hopes of flowers this year.

      1. One of the things I love about gardening is I can always try new things. Though I have learned there are some things that just won’t grow here — I tried sweet potatoes four years in a row before I gave up, and we don’t have a long enough growing season for some varieties of beans. Last year I grew turnips for the first time and we discovered that we really like them, so I’ll be planting them again. My dad used to grow peanuts and we loved them.

  3. Very cool that the new boxes won’t have the old part that breaks!

    This was my week–
    * One of the ongoing issues I have with cooking for 2-3 is leftover ingredients. I combined half a can of tomato sauce with half a can of tomatoes and used them in a recipe that calls for a can of tomatoes. It worked fine and used up two little dabs in the fridge!

    * I bought a $5 rotisserie chicken at Costco about 10 days ago and finished it last week. Altogether, we ate it for 4 meals and I froze enough chicken stew for another meal. I also froze some stock in a peanut butter jar. This was probably the best broth I’ve ever made.

    * I bought about 3 lbs. of boneless top sirloin for my go-to price of $3.99 lb. This was my entire meat purchase for the week. I asked the meatcutter to run it through the tenderizer (twice) for cube steaks (no charge). I cut each steak into serving portions, wrapped them individually and froze. Buying meat in bulk and freezing it in smaller packages is one of the ways I save the most on groceries (giving up meat would probably save more, but we’re not ready for that…yet).

    * I made another potholder out of fabric scraps and stuffed it with an old mattress pad (thank you, Nancy) for $0.

    * I reordered the pricey drug I buy as a generic from the manufacturer in India. The name brand is over $800 for 3 months and my insurance co-pay is $255. The generic, approved in the US since 2017 but not sold here (go figure), is $105 for 100 days. I picked up another generic Rx at the drugstore and paid $5.74 for 90 days…which was a good deal. Then I switched to my new insurance company’s mail order pharmacy, and my future cost for this drug will be $0. I only take the two drugs. I am discovering that my insurance company’s drugstore prices are high. In some cases, Good Rx or SingleCare is cheaper. (If I get Martin Sheen with SingleCare, sign me up!!). Even if you have insurance, it pays to shop around. 

    * I ordered some seeds from burpee dot com, including a bush variety of Early Girl tomatoes. (I have very limited growing space and a short growing season).  I used Honey to save $2.13 on my order. 

    1. Maxine, I am so glad you mentioned this. We switched to a different insurance carrier this year and I got sticker shock when I filled two of the three prescriptions I take. One, the new company doesn’t cover at all. It was $64 with the Kroger Rx card, but I found that with GoodRx is is only $24, which is less than the co-pay with my former insurance. The other drug had a $125 copay, but with GoodRx it is $100. I will check at overseas pharmacies. My husband has one in India that he has used before.

      1. Don’t be concerned about buying drugs from India through reputable sources. Almost all prescription meds sold in the US (name brand and otherwise) are manufactured overseas. (We don’t make drugs anymore). The main countries are China (I won’t knowingly buy from there), India and Turkey. I have been ordering through, which is located in Florida but came up with I checked the Canadian sites online. If not listed on the website, affordablerxmeds can tell you the country of manufacture (yes, they have a phone!!). This company gets excellent reviews, but if you read anything about a “scam,” take it with a grain of salt. You will notice it comes from third-party websites (nobody like the Better Business Bureau) who seem to be competitors. If you read if carefully, and pay attention to sentence structure, etc., you will likely decide that it was written by someone for whom English is not their first language (if you get what I mean, ).

        Gardenpat also mentions Rx drugs this week and the need to be really alert. When I had Blue Cross, I didn’t worry much about lower prices, but after switching to Humana, I need to be alert. Humana’s drugstore prices seem higher (making it worthwhile to check Good Rx, etc.), but their mail order pharmacy has a lot of $0 co-pays. This has all been a revelation to me!

    2. Maybe something to try–>Our growing season is short, and the weather a little too cool, but we did get some tomatoes in late summer when we tried Stupice. I had always planted Early Girl, too. We planted them both one year as bedding plants. It seems to me that the plants were the same size, but the Stupice performed quite a bit better for us.

      1. When I lived in Seattle WA, I would grow Early Cascade from Territorial Seeds. The tomatoe was what I considered a ‘small’ slicing tomatoe. It did well in my short season. It was also the perfect size to slice in half and dehydrate.

  4. My mom sent over snack size puddings, popcorn, and kitchen utensils she didn’t want/use.

    Made chicken stock using 3 chicken carcasses. I froze 6 cups of stock, then used the rest in soup that night(chicken and rice)

    We’ve decided to get rid of the satellite TV service and switch to Hulu Live. It costs right at half of what we are paying now. First we have to watch everything on the DVR so we did several shows on Sunday.

    I also decided if I don’t read at least one book a month from Kindle Unlimited and listen to at least 6 audio books from Audible this year, I’m going to cancel them. That’s $20 a month I’m wasting.

    I’ve also stopped adding movies to my Netflix dvd shipment queue. As soon as I make it through the ones on there, I’ll also be canceling it.

    I received a rebate from Menards I sent off a few weeks ago. It’s for almost $32 so it’ll come in handy for more building materials.

    I washed and saved several jars from food stuff we used this week to reuse later.

    Turned the heat off a couple days last week. The weather can be 20-30 degrees difference in just one day’s time, so not sure if it evens anything costs out, but I hate sweating in the house.

    Stayed home as much as possible outside of work, school stuff, and errands.

    Watched a parent meeting online for high school next year instead of going in person (not afraid of the virus, just lazy and didn’t want to go anywhere after dinner, lol)

    1. April, I borrow e-books from my library to read on my kindle for free, they have a nice selection. Sometimes there is a waitlist, but I don’t mind waiting for free books. You might check your local library to see if it is an option for you.

  5. I just did the same old stuff, walked in my neighborhood, cooked at home, etc. I did stop at grocery store on way to see my youngest sons and I bought for the month, chicken legs, fresh turnip greens, sweet potatoes, carrots, eggs, cheese, sandwich meat, and a carton of locally grown catfish. I just bake the catfish, with a splash of hot sauce, garlic, salt, pepper, in a cast iron skillet, I plan on buying a rutabaga, one of my fav vegetables, later in the month…maybe. Otherwise, I hope I don’t have to go to the store unless one of my sons requests I bring something on my way there. I just go to work, get gas, go home, and do socially distanced visits to my two youngest, with delivery on porch, driveway, and wave to them and stand back about 12 to 20 feet to talk a bit. I have been making one of them, who is not a picky eater, a lot of homecooked meals involving beans and other leftovers. Yes, it is different but we adjust and don’t worry about it. At least I can see these two and we are all above ground and well. I talk by phone to my eldest son a couple of minutes daily, right before my phone goes out of service on the drive home. I am leaving work, usually, when he is going to work. I also talk to my daughter and grandchild, frequently, when she is able to, with her busy schedule. 100 years ago we would not have had the technology to do this, so I am so happy I can do this. I am happy all my kids have a roof over their heads, water, electricity, food, etc. including the one living in a camper. I am happy I have a job, health insurance, a roof over my head, food, running water, and clothes and just count my blessings. So many have lost so much this year, that I feel like I cannot complain about inconveniences. It have been 15 months since I have seen my grandchild, and that is okay. She sees me on Facetime and she talks to me. That is a blessing. I hope all of y’all have a good and safe week.

      1. I was thinking the same thing about the rutabaga, LOL! So much wisdom in Cindy’s post today. I even read part of it to my husband, although he didn’t have a clue what I was talking about, LOL. (He got the part about being above ground).

  6. A very sad week here. One of my cats had to be put to sleep. I will miss him terribly, since he was a very laid back and affectionate guy, who spent a lot of his time with me. I have another cat who is also affectionate, so that will help me get used to this. The vet’s office very kindly gave me a very generous senior’s discount of the parts of his care this week that reflect their labor, and made the cat’s illness less serious a financial burden. I was concerned about how I would get the cat to the vet, since my car isn’t working, but the woman who drives the local taxi was happy to take us over to the vet’s office a couple of times, and the vet himself dropped the cat off for a night at home when he was on his way home after work.
    I went out to shovel snow, and when doing that found that the outside section of chimney from the furnace exhaust had blown off completely during the windstorm last week and landed in a bush. I called the furnace people right away. They are in the next town over, 35 miles away, but happened to have someone working near my town and he came over right away to have a look at it. That saved me paying for mileage for that trip. The whole exhaust flue from one end to the other needed to be replaced, because it was badly corroded. He also re-taped the section in the basement with tin tape which would hold up to the heat of the flue while waiting for the new parts. The flue was replaced this morning.
    I started to complete my tax return preparation. It can be finalized and sent in here in Canada on February 22. It normally takes about 8 days to get a refund, so I hope that is the case this year. Is it ironic that a carbon tax rebate I am owed a refund on will pay the cost of replacing the exhaust flue for a natural gas furnace?
    I am spending a very modest amount on groceries for the coming month. I got good deals on chicken by picking up a big pack of drumsticks that was half the cost of the other packages the same size, for no reason that I could see. The store had a large selection of frozen vegetables, which they haven’t had in a long time, including julienned peppers which were $1.50 less than fresh whole peppers, that I then julienne and freeze, to include in rice and egg dishes. I got buns on sale that I thought were medium-sized, but turned out to be jumbo sized, and could be cut in half and served as two servings. I also got a lb of cheddar which was $3.75 less than the original price ($8.75) in a Wednesday special which will continue for a few weeks.
    My house insurance premium has gone down by $10 a month. When I called to ask about it, I also discussed lowering the car insurance because of the reduced mileage I am driving through Co-vid, not to mention car troubles. I am not sure how much it will go down yet, but certainly a few dollars a month.
    I’m hoping to have a quieter, less difficult week this week. I hope you all are having the same.

    1. Elizabeth M.

      So sorry to hear about your cat. I am relieved to hear about your exhaust pipe — I am having a hard time visualizing it all but was really worried when I heard what you said the first time around about it and your taping the pipe. Yes it’s definitely ironic that your carbon tax rebate will pay for the repairs to your natural gas furnace. I tried to get the big package of chicken but see my post for what happened. I’m assuming we don’t have to apply for the carbon tax rebate…

      1. Thanks. When you do your income tax, you just have to check “yes,” that you want to accept the carbon tax rebate.

    2. So very sorry about the loss of your cat! I lost my special cat whom I had had for 19 years one year ago now, and I confess I do still miss him. Glad you have another kitty to help you during this time. We got ourselves a new kitten two weeks after losing my old cat. The new kitten is certainly not the same, and has chosen my daughter as his favorite person, but he is still funny and sweet and has brought joy and some healing to my 💔.

  7. My husband cut my hair this week. I bought hair cutting scissors last year, but this week I got some of the crocodile clips that make sectioning off the hair easier. It was very nice. I have a short-ish wavy bob and I still coach him through the cut. This saves $55 (the cheapest cut around here!).
    The wind blew our glass top patio table over (a craigslist find) and so we replaced the top with wood that we already had. It looks really nice.
    I bought enough good quality row cover for the length of my 2 raised beds, and used old row cover sewn on the ends to make it long enough to reach from the top of the end hoops down to the ground. This will make it so much easier to keep my kale/broccoli/cabbage etc free of aphids and caterpillars.
    I needed blood work done and waited until I had another appointment at the hospital to do it. One trip and 2 jobs done!
    My daughter-in-law asked me to make drawstring bags for organizing her hospital bag for when the baby comes. I found enough fabric that she liked that I already had. It’s such a happy project to work on!
    I sewed 2 special orders this week and sold one item on ebay. I gave away the sink and vanity that we took out of the bathroom that had some updates done last week. It was the last major area that needed work in our fixer upper. There is still painting inside and out to be done, which we will do ourselves over time. I also gave away the box that the new sink and vanity came it. I could have broken it down and put it in the recycling, but I love to get another use out of things, even if its by someone else.
    I have set some goals on a free app called Strides. They are not big goals, since I strive for balance in my life to keep my autoimmune disease under control. But it does provide me with a good reminder of the things that I want to be intentional about, and lets me see how I’ve been doing on them.
    A happy week to all!

  8. I like the elephants! Isn’t it nice when you can find knowledgeable people to help with the subject that you need!
    This week was quiet – which is needed.
    The weather was warmest at 25 degrees this week. To help with the seasonal/low-grade Covid depression I bundled up and dug out some wild garlic that has been persistent to stay in my front garden bed. Surprisingly the ground wasn’t frozen for the top 10″.
    I used the dyer a little more and saw the electric bill go up again (it had dipped last month). Reminder to stay focused.
    I baked a little this week, each time making half the cookie recipe and making the cookies a little smaller. Left the oven door open afterwards to warm up the house.
    I accepted more items to sell on eBay (and it was agreed I would keep half the profits).
    Rounded out small leftovers with some seasoned black beans and ended up with a lunch serving of beans and rice (yum!)
    Watched 2 movies The Namesake and Effie Gray, both were good and had beautiful scenery of India and Venice (and good storylines). They are available on Netflix.
    Today for an extra cardio boost, I shoveled ours and the neighbor’s driveway (their health is declining and they had previously plowed our driveway years before). It was great to be able to give back and be outside (thankfully before the sleet came!)
    Hope everyone has a fabulous week!

  9. The elephants and dinosaur parade photos made me smile. I often give the grubs to the chickens, if I find some while weeding. We purchased cypress flooring for our workshop porch for just under $100, and pine flooring for the inside for $80. The pine will cover more than we need for this project. My husband found these on fb Marketplace and craigslist. A sweet potato pie was made with leftovers I purposely baked for this. I continue to pull garden produce from the freezer, which included pestp and 6c of winter squash for a squash and caramelized onion galette. Some canned and stored produce went into vegetable soup. Library books were picked up, and I’m enjoying a free Kindle book called The Keeper of Lost Things. One friend gifted me several organic pears, and another gave me strawberry jam. I shared sweet potatoes with both.

  10. This week we ate the last of the apples from a bushel we purchased from a local orchard back in October. We only had to compost one apple from the whole bushel. These were Cameo apples, a new variety for us and I was so impressed with how well they kept in our garage refrigerator. We will definitely buy this variety again – very sweet and crisp.
    I made sandwich bread and yogurt and cooked a large batch of chickpeas and froze them for future use. I also made a batch of granola.
    We skied one day, using our discounted tickets we purchased pre-season, packing our lunch and parking in the free lot. Other than that we stayed home, which saves lots of money in itself.
    I did some mending and decluttered some areas of my house.

  11. I love the photo of the dinosaur parade?
    I didn’t do a full weeks worth of grocery shopping, but just picked up a few fresh veggies to supplement what we already had.
    Thanks for Brandy’s suggestion to look on Etsy for kitchen and bathroom hardware. We aren’t getting new cabinets in our kitchen and bathrooms but I did buy new hardware to freshen the look of them.
    I found seeds at one store where I happened to be shopping so I picked up a few packages, since my seed stash is still in storage. Other stores haven’t had any seeds at al.
    A friend made too much butternut squash soup, so she gave me a quart of it.
    I got an offer in the mail to take a Covid-19 test, fill out some paperwork, and get a $30 gift card, so I am signing up.
    I had sudden inspiration for an art project that I am working on. I used the materials I have on hand to complete it, so no spending time or money at the store.
    I’ve started knitting a wool hat that I will donate on completion. The yarn came from my stash. I’m still working on a cardigan for me (just starting the sleeves) from yarn a friend gave me she no longer wanted.
    And like just about everyone in this community, I am reading books from the library, watching borrowed movies and shopping less.
    I am still visiting my aunt who has been in the hospital for 11 days. I go by each day (2 miles from my home) and am also spending a couple of nights a week with my mother, taking dinner, and staying over night. That’s not frugal, but a joyous service.
    Wishing all good things to you!

  12. It has been a week for our family. Our COVid tests came back negative thank God but we have been wrestling with some type of sinus infection and head cold symptoms. I ended up on an antibiotic but the rest seem to have recovered. I pulled a pork sirloin roast and a half of a ham last week. We ate meals from those two roasts all week except for Thursday evening when we ordered tacos & empanadas from a local, family-owned Mexican restaurant. I have been budgeting for this and as long as funds allow we will try to support the local shops as much as we can during this difficult time. I mae a lrge pot of clam chowder on Saturday that we have been enjoying but most of this past weekend all I could manage was rest.
    I enjoyed Downton Abby for free on Amazon Prime when I wasn’t napping. I have not purchased any seeds for the coming Spring garden as I have enough seeds on hand to plant with. I will be purchasing some seedlings once they become available including tomatoes, a variety of peppers, and some snow peas/sugar snap peas. I am trying to focus more this year that grown well for us here and purchase any items that don’t from local farmers/farmers markets. I want to keep with a frugal mindset but want to be cautious that I am making the best use of income and time costs as well. We have enjoyed all the tomatoes that we were able to put away and eat fresh as well as a great variety of peppers & peas. These items cost us very little cost to plant & minimal effort to care for. They also yielded a great deal of produce – so much so that we are still enjoying their fruits almost a year later.
    It is quite cold here today so I will be cooking up a big pot of vegetable beef soup. We continue to work to eat down the freezers and I am happy to report that I can see the bottom of the chest freezer! We still have plenty to eat but it is wonderful to know that we are eating what we have bought to minimize waste and maximize savings. I have learned a great deal reading this blog and gleaning ideas from all of you and through trial & error of what recipes our family likes best, what freezes well for us & what we tend to use up without issue. These are the foods I will focus on stocking my freezer & pantry with in the future.
    Our electric/gas bill and water bill both dropped $5 each last month. There is a small bill we have been paying on that will be paid off completely by March which will put $100/month back into our monthly budget. These funds will then go to the next bill until it is paid off then to the next and the next and so on. Slow and steady wins the race!

    Blessings to all! Stay well and safe!

  13. -Brandy I admire all the hard work to make your new gardens. I am grateful I have black rich soil and no watering restrictions!
    -Meals this week-fried chicken, mashed potatoes, gravy and oven roasted squash; macaroni and cheese, hotdogs, and the rest of the green beans; link sausage and lefse; Reuben soup; hamburger veggie skillet; Chinese takeout; and popcorn.
    -I had a $100 visa gift card from my employer for Christmas. I spent $50 at Christopher and Banks. They are going out of business and I had reward points. I got 2 skirts, a vest, and a scarf. I will use one skirt, the vest, and scarf for my Easter outfit. I spent the other $50 at Home Goods. I got a set of bathroom mats for $20, a long cushioned kitchen rug for $20, and a wire mesh handheld colander for $5. With tax $50. I was down to one set of bathroom rugs-I just threw out a set that were ripped, and the rubber backing was cracked and coming off in pieces, same with the kitchen sink rug. And the handle of my mesh colander just broke off. So no out of pocket for things I needed. 😀
    -I have several more visa gift cards to use for home supplies as I need them. I ask friends and family if they are going to get gift cards to get visa ones. They cost a bit more for activation. But I won’t get a gift card that will be wasted by someone going out of business. This has happened to me several times and it is such a waste. And I can spend the Visa cards anywhere. Especially right now-when I was in the mall at Christopher and Banks I noted the mall was only 1/2 full of stores. Many retail businesses have closed since Christmas. If you have specific gift cards for stores you may want to use them as soon as possible.
    -again I used the white rice from the Chinese takeout to make rice pudding. I used the soy sauce packets ( made 1/4 c) from the same takeout in the hamburger veggie skillet.
    -used 4 frozen bananas from the freezer and made a loaf of banana bread.
    -I keep dried eggs in the fridge to use in baking. These work great and save on my fresh eggs (I don’t have chickens).
    -Made valentines for my grandkids. Now need to make some candy and package for each of them.
    Can’t believe it is February already!! Have a great week!

  14. I love the photos of the dinosaur adventure and the clay animals. Looks like so much fun and learning hand in hand.
    We have about a foot of snow so far, not a common occurrence in NYC. My husband is off but I am working (no snow days when you WFH). I am finding it hard to concentrate with a winter wonderland outside my window.
    I have cooked all meals at home. This morning I made breakfast burritos which I had never tried before (or even eaten). They were pretty thrifty with burritos at 60 cents for 12 (sale and coupon), a dozen medium eggs $1.19, shredded cheese $1.99 (used 1/2 bag), green pepper 50 cents, a couple of onions and sausage from the freezer I had cooked for a Christmas casserole that I never made. The burritos were so plump I could barely close them so I will use 1/3 or 1/2 the sausage next time since that was the most expensive part. Now breakfast for the next week or so is ready. I have a pot of split pea soup on the stove with a ham bone from the freezer. It will be a warming and welcome dinner tonight with appearances later in the week as well.
    I started some scallions and lettuce seeds. My desk lamp is doubling as a grow light so I hope I have success. My windowsill cilantro and basil are still providing fresh herbs in the kitchen.
    I hope everyone has a safe week and I look forward to reading all the posts and hearing about commenters and their families. I like to include intentions in my prayers when I hear of challenges, especially health issues. I have been lucky to have people praying for me when I needed it.

  15. Hi Brandy and everyone
    I love the Heffalumps and the mini Jurassic Park in your garden!
    We picked leeks, cabbage, carrots and parsnips and I used homegrown raspberries from the freezer to make a lower fat, lower sugar raspberry and almond cake.
    My husband sowed broad beans and sweet peas in the greenhouse.
    A small pot of iris reticulata I planted in the autumn are flowering so I’ve brought them into the house.
    I sold an item on eBay and bought myself a new but reduced price cross stitch kit on eBay. It was advertised as a printed canvas but it is actually a counted cross stitch and quite complicated. I decided to keep it and give my brain a workout! I need some handwork to do in lockdown.
    I sewed some fabric postcards ready for birthday cards in the next few months.
    We bought dog food at a 25% discount and used our loyalty card for a further 2% off.
    I decluttered some more and took three bags to the fabric recycling bank.
    We have needed a new bathroom cabinet for a year but with all the lockdowns I haven’t come across one in the charity shops. Lidl had a flat pack for £25 so we bought one and my husband put it together. He didn’t like the way the door hinged so adapted and improved it using spare bits from his workshop.
    There was money left in our account at the end of the month which has been moved into savings. Lockdown has some advantages.
    Stay safe everyone.

  16. I know you are happy to see some rain! I see that in your new boxes you have removed the breakable parts but included the unusual addition of dinosaurs. I hope the dinosaurs do a good job for you in your new system. 🙂

    This past week, I used my husband’s discarded walker basket that didn’t work well for him, by hanging it on hooks, which I already had, on the inside of a closet door. I now have more storage on that door. I find the inside of closet doors to be very useful for storing small things. My pantry door has three racks of spices and a rack of food colorings, extracts, and other small things hanging on it.

    I cleaned out another closet where we had stored some framed art. We will re-use the art eventually — it’s down temporarily to make room for some other things for my husband’s needs — so I want to keep it, but it takes up floor space and risks getting broken. I drilled screws into some of the 1 x 4 shelf supports and hung the art on the longest closet walls. It’s safer there and frees up some space.

    I bought a small, nicely marbled chuck roast on sale and cut the ends off to make chuck steaks, which I grilled on my grill pan. A butcher showed us that could be done, a few years ago.

    I cooked the rest of the roast with vegetables in a Dutch oven, and while I was cooking it, roasted cut up beets and a pan of kielbasa sausage. I set my microwave timer for the shorter cooking food, and the stove timer for the longer cooking food, so I don’t forget what needs to come out, when.

    I somehow had two half bags of cranberries in the refrigerator, so I made cranberry sauce.

    My husband used liquid organic fertilizer on his seedling tomatoes indoors, and I used the rest of the jug he’d mixed on my lettuce, carrots and spinach outside.

    We had lots of sun on Saturday, so I hung out most of the laundry.

    I’m switching to Medicare as of today, and it won’t pay near as much for my medication that I take once every two months, nor will the manufacturer assist me with my co-pay (I only paid $5 of the co-pay; the manufacturer covered the rest with my old insurance) once I start Medicare. I was given numbers of foundations to help with my co-pay, but I had to actually be on Medicare before they will even consider my application. So, I managed to squeeze in an order for one last dose on my old insurance in January, a dose which I won’t need to take until March. I insisted that it be sent to me in January, so there could be no issue with payment because of it arriving in February, after I’ve started on Medicare. Since this medication is over $22,000.00 per dose, and my Medicare Part D drug plan only pays 75% of that, this is a BIG deal.

    1. My eyes bugged out at the price of your medication. That is insane! I hope you’re able to get help with the co-pay going forward.

    2. Wishing the very best of luck for you in your search for someone to help with the co-pay. It is so frustrating that there are these lag times between the manufacturer’s program ending and when foundations will consider an application for assistance. I’m glad you got one more dose lined up.

    3. $22,000-Ouch! Depending upon your income and your state, there might be some other help available. Check out Medicare Extra Help for assistance with prescription drug costs and Part D premium costs. I’m 18 months away from Medicare and, so far, my prescription drugs are very inexpensive. But my budget is very tight and I have been trying to see what health care is likely to cost me in the future on Medicare.

  17. Yes, tell Octavius (?) that we trembled in fear to see all the dinosaurs in his backyard. He must be very brave to be around them. 😀

  18. Oh, Brandy the dinosaur picture made me smile! I miss those days so much sometimes.
    Had a good week. Stayed in the grocery budget. Had a date night and got a free sub using a rewards card. Had a fun game night with two other couples via zoom…safe and free!! Meals included fajitas, pizza, chicken enchiladas, soup and spaghetti. Simple simple. I feel like I’m really in a funk…maybe it’s covid fatigue, but I’m not feeling very inspired. I need to figure out how to get our goals in front of me and try to get excited about them again. My husband ordered me a new computer using points he earned for a good performance at work. It was very kind of him.
    Since my son moved home, my husband wanted to get a new weight bench and weights. We had an old starter set, received for free many years ago, but they both outgrew it. He got the bench through the same rewards system (that he ordered my new computer from) but it didn’t come with an olympic bar or weights. Husband has spent the last month scouring facebook and craig’s list and found a couple sets that were $550. He lost the deals tho. Finally he found a set for that price on facebook marketplace. He messaged the guy and noticed they had a common friend so he mentioned it (just to mention it, not to get special treatment). The guy came back and said since they had a common friend that he would be real with my husband. He told him the same set is often at Dick’s Sporting Goods for $350. They sell out fast which is why people are willing to spend a couple hundred more to get used ones. He then told my husband that there was a set available right then at the Dick’s near us! Husband got online and ordered it that minute! He profusely thanked the nice man and we were so happy to save two hundred dollars. Our son has pretty severe mental health issues and this weight set should (hopefully) be a help to him. We feel it was a real blessing to save money on that.
    Otherwise, it is the same every…menu planning, cooking from home, not shopping, loving what we have and being grateful. Hope everything has a good week.

  19. Trish: I hope your treatment is going well, and you are getting stronger and healing every day (just in case you log on to read).
    Sending you love,

    1. Trish – sending you strength and love. I keep you in my prayers. It is hard, but you can make it through this.

      Husband is 7 months post stem cell transplant. Leukemia (AML – the worst kind) free and still 100% donor cells – MIRACLES DO HAPPEN!

      1. Trish,
        I prayers up for you too. Wendy, you are right, Miracles do happen! So happy your husband is Leukemia free!

  20. Hello, this week I’m still sorting and trying to find places for all the stuff moved from my extra room. It looks really nice, the rest of my house is a mess. I’m working on a plan to sell some items. I contacted a place that buys some of what I have. I’m no seller so didn’t want to do any online. There are a couple of places around here that buy. So even if I don’t get top prices it will be something because I was going to either trash it or give it away. My plan is to toss out trash. Sell what I can. Then maybe have a yard sale, I’m thinking a box/bag sale instead of pricing everything one at a time. Then donate what is left. There are different charities for items. One gives everything away(furniture and household goods). One takes tapes(vhs and cassette) which surprised me. Another is a maker space that takes sewing and craft supplies. Then there is another who takes building supplies. I decided not to rush and work on one at a time. I’m hoping it works, if not its back to plan A. Trash everything.😁

  21. Hello Everyone!
    Last week an atmospheric river stopped over us and we had a downpour of rain and wind. One of my mini greenhouses was smashed to pieces, but I still have another. In addition, the deluge sent an ant invasion into our kitchen and garage. We had to throw some food away that they got into. Fortunately, my husband keeps Terro in his garage stash. We set out some traps and within 2 days they’re mostly gone!! It’s not the cheapest ant bait, but it works. It saves paying for the Orkin man and reduces chemical spray usage. The wind caused a crack in my windshield. Insurance covered all but the $100 deductible for replacement.

    The weather cleared up amazingly! I went on a 5 mile hike yesterday and a 6 mile bike ride today. It felt good to get outside and breathe fresh air. No cost!

    At the store I found s manager’s special on lamb shank for $3.69/lb. It’s rarely under $5/lb. and I picked some up. We like variety, especially when we mostly eat home cooked meals. For my business, Square now offers checkout links. I created some for my website, eliminating a $7/mo. charge from a different service. Finally, I colored my hair and my husband did some yard clean up.

    I love the little toys in the dirt! 😍 Have a blessed and beautiful week everyone!

    1. Hi Julie — I love the expression “atmospheric river”. — is that a. real meteorological term or your creation? Either way, I love it!

  22. Hello everyone 🙂
    Trying to be more frugal and I know every little bit helps so I am focusing on that instead of getting down that I can’t do all the things at once. We cut out cable which honestly had been a long time coming. My husband and I had been discussing it for a few months and finally after the new year, we cut the cord literally! We now have just a few streaming services for the television and our internet is now through google fiber. This is going to save us quite a bit of money each month which is good.
    We are continuing to utilize our library for books.
    My dad stopped by and brought some plants he had to help liven up my patio (we live in apartment), and that was nice 🙂

  23. I have been reading this blog since before Ivory was born, but it’s my first time posting. Yes, I take my time with things…😀
    We ate all meals at home this week, even though I was really wanting to eat a meal that I didn’t cook this weekend.
    I found a deal on Nivea 20 ounce bottles of body wash for $1.99 at the local Mennonite store and grabbed six. The place is wonderful to find snack food for my husbands lunch, he’s a school teacher and doesn’t have much of a lunch period.
    My mother gave me a trash bag full of blue jeans in sizes to fit my 11 and 14 year old daughters, plus myself. Such a blessing!
    I decided to embrace my wavy hair instead of straightening it death. No hair dryer either. A savings in electricity, my time and patience. 😁
    Wishing everyone a blessed and frugal week!

  24. Those paperwhites are gorgeous! And how fun for your kids to get to run around the garden renos — they get to play in a giant mud pit, at least temporarily. I would have loved that as a kid!

    My frugal week was very quiet as I’m on partial bed rest, but I got a few things done:
    – For our wedding anniversary, I made homemade chocolate chip waffles, and topped them with homemade Chocolate Peanut Butter Swirl ice cream ( , macerated strawberries, and such. My husband and I enjoyed them while watching a movie on Netflix as a stay-at-home date. Much cheaper than going out to a restaurant for dessert!
    – My dr wrote a rx for a vaccine, but I checked my bloodwork records online and found that I had an antibody test done a few years ago and that was sufficient, so I ended up not having to buy the vaccine and saved myself $55
    – I got paid just over $100 in ad revenue (2nd time ever receiving ad revenue), which will be invested back in my blog.
    – I combined some online purchases with my mother to save on shipping fees, and use SB to get some money back.
    – I redeemed SB for $5USD to my paypal account.

    Looking forward to learning from everyone else, as always!

    1. Margaret—
      I spent several months on complete bed rest with our daughter—first in the hospital, and then at home. The days were long indeed, but as you already know, well worth it if it helps baby stay healthy and growing well! Prayers for you during this difficult (but exciting!) time!

  25. My son loved playing with dinosaurs and he loved playing with water and making mountains and lakes in his sandbox, so you brought back fun memories for me.

    The clay elephants are great! Kudos to the artist. Looks like a fun time.

  26. What a wonderful thing to figure out so much about your irrigation, Brandy! I’m excited for you with the chance of fewer and easier repairs, and more bang for your buck with water. It definitely stinks when you have good things growing but have to be chary of water, and I only know a tiny fraction of it! We’ve got snow swirling outside and plenty of weather water, just expensive municipal water.

    This week, we made lots of homemade bread, some bean soup and parmesan broth, overnight waffles, and ate up the freezer in general. Time to make some room and make it a bit more efficient! I had gotten a big box of 72 eggs from Sam’s a couple of weeks ago and managed to remember to bring them in during our cold spell. How sad it would have been to have them all freeze!

    This week didn’t get warmer than 15 degrees and got down to -4 at night, so it was a good test of the unheated greenhouse. Happily, only some of the bigger Swiss chard leaves got frozen. Everything else under the row covers looked ok. I sowed some more lettuce, only to have it tipped out onto the kitchen floor by a tiny, sweet helper – so we’ll be experimenting with pricking out seedlings into flats. I’ve been watching Charles Dowding’s videos on youtube and was intrigued by how he germinates tons of seeds close together in flats and then separates them out afterward with nary a fear for root shock. It seems to work for him, and it would mean that I could germinate a lot more on our few heat mats.

    I’ve been teaching voice lessons on Zoom and having fun with that. What a blessing to have an occupation that can be continued remotely! I do need to buy a working keyboard, as the piano is in the family room where all the kids play while I teach, and how I wish I could go out to thrift stores to find one! We’re being a little more cautious right now, so that’s not an option, but I’ve never appreciate thrift stores as much as I do in their absence this year.

    I’m reusing baskets around the house as holders for the toys that are out. Nothing special, just baskets that neighbors were done with. It gives a pretty touch around the house that I’m valuing a lot. Beautiful really does count – thank you, Brandy, for all the lovely reminders of that!

    Wishing you all a good and frugal week,

  27. Life has been busy and I haven’t posted in a while. I know I need the accountability so I will try to post consistently. This week’s frugal accomplishments were:
    *Meals made were bbq chicken thighs with macaroni and peas, garlic shrimp with rice, baked chicken fajitas, sage pork with rice and green beans, leftovers several nights.
    *Accepted a free lunch at work one day.
    *Went through my seeds and planned when to start some indoors and when to plant outdoors, making notes in my planner along the way.
    *Went by the Dollar Tree on the way home from an appointment and stocked up on pepper, shaving cream, bleach and baby shampoo (for our dog).  Also exchanged a propane tank at Kroger.
    *Had a bible study with friends via Zoom.
    *Mailed my sister a birthday card from my stash.
    *Walked with a friend two days and by myself other days.
    *Celebrated my daughter’s birthday at our house. Used decorations I had on hand. Baked a cake and used edible pearls that I had gotten on discount to decorate it. My husband grilled steak (bought on sale) and we had homemade french fries, green beans, homemade bread and sweet tea along with it. So much cheaper and better and safer than going out! I gifted my daughter an aloe vera start from my aloe vera plant, socks I received for Christmas that I won’t wear, a Chili’s gift card that we weren’t going to use and earrings that I purchased as a gift for Christmas that didn’t show up in time.
    *Cut my son’s hair while he was home for our daughter’s birthday dinner.
    *Redeemed a survey code for a free apple pie and received a free cappuccino when I filled up on gas.
    *Stocked up on ground turkey at $1.99/lb, bagged pretzels at $.82 each and ice cream at $1.99. Also earned $10 in rewards at Food Lion.

  28. We have had a lot of rain, typical Pacific NW winter weather. I took some rather soggy walks. But still it was nice to be outside.

    This week I continued helping my mom clean out her condo in preparation for her move at the end of February. She was looking online for a new bedframe, a very basic metal type that comes in a box. Online the price was $80 to $90. I took a quick trip to Costco, and happened to see that they had the same type of bedframe for $40! This was a great deal, and I happily picked one up for her. So we were able to cross that off the list. We also bought a gallon of paint for her new place, at 25% off.

    Took home a bookcase and some framed prints of Paris (that used to hang in my grandparents’ house) that my mom no longer wanted. I also took a couple vases, some cake decorating items, sheets and pillowcases. There was a huge pile of things to donate, and my cousin was able to come pick that all up. So thankful for her help.

    Had some other shopping deals. Our local co-op had a coupon for $10 off a $20 bath and beauty purchase. I used this on something I was going to buy anyway. A few days later, there was a coupon for a free pound of ground turkey, so I picked that up too when I was near the store. I forgot to mention this last week, but when I bought some bulk hazelnuts one day, the checker was unable to find them in the system, so I got them for free, which was nice. (I did know the price and was happy to pay for them, but the checker insisted). Used the rest of a gift card at a different grocery store.

    Did a lot of cooking. Made a large batch of green soup (using frozen swiss chard from last summer) and a big batch of tomato soup. Froze most of the soup in individual portions, and shared some with my mom too. Cooked up some tomato sauce and incorporated a bunch of refrigerator remnants. Made a bulk batch of meatballs, which I froze. Cooked pulled pork in the instant pot, and then rendered the fat for future use. Made rhubarb/berry sauce with fruit from the freezer. My husband made several batches of popcorn. My sister gave me a squeeze bottle of honey that she did not want.

    Otherwise, walked in the park and on trails. Worked out at home. Read blogs and watched streaming TV and Youtube. Did some watercolor tutorials using equipment I already had.

    We are tightening our belts for an upcoming period of unemployment, so spent some time getting ready for that.

    Have a great week, everyone!

  29. I worked an extra night this week. It was for ” covid incentive pay” which the hospital is offering, which is 20.00 an hour on top of the overtime. I dont do this often, even though I could work 7 days a week if I wanted. I just get too wore out and get nothing done at home with too much over time.
    I did have to work all weekend, and with storm here, I packed a bag Saturday night. Several hotels I called wanted to charge me for both Saturday and Sunday night just to get a room for Sunday daytime! I called one at 5 am Sunday morning who finally understood I just needed it for the daytime. Then I split it with another employee who lives almost as far away in the other direction. I figure with the split and the gas saved, I spent about 37.00 out of pocket- far less than a tow bill or the deductible on an accident. ( I live in the country, 4 twisty curvy hilly dirt road miles from the highway, and i have 64 miles of state and county blacktop to get there and it was icy snowy here). I took some instant oatmeal, homemade breakfast sandwiches, and yogurt with me. We split the oatmeal and yogurt for evening ” breakfast” before work, along with the in room coffee provided, and then I had the breakfast sandwiches for lunch that night, so I managed to spend over 36 hours away from home without eating out.
    Right now im watching it snow, and enjoying our wood heat. Nights like this make all the wood splitting and stacking in the summer with it. Lots of work up front, but its dead wood we haul out of our woods, so essentially its free heat in the winter!
    I have just started planning the garden. Our last predicted frost date is April 15, so planting doesn’t happen until the beginning of may. I snagged some seed starting pots when I saw them out, because by march they are sold out. I have also been buying more jars as I find them, along with more lids for the ones I have. I want to increase the garden size, and also plant sone fruit trees.

  30. This is my busy season at work (I am a CPA) so I worked 9 days the last two weeks. In the past I would have worked Saturdays too, but since I am retiring (kind of) in about 2 months I am avoiding coming in on Saturdays, if at all possible. My son get married on April 10, so need some time to assist in final wedding preparations.
    I brought breakfast and lunch to work each day.
    Meals served during the two weeks were: Chicken fajitas using chicken from the freezer, peppers on the mark down bin, onions still from our garden last summer and seasoning my sister made and gave me for Christmas. Home made pizza, using homemade focaccia bread, onions and peppers from the garden, a little sausage, homemade pizza sauce from the freezer, and cheese purchased on markdown. Gnocchi soup, using the rest of the sausage not used with the pizza, chicken broth from storage, the rest of the half & half leftover from the cauliflower soup the week before. A noodle dish using some 30¢ angel hair pasta, onions, broccoli and carrots from the garden, some pork roast that we got for 99¢ a pound and froze, and some soy sauce for flavoring. Tacos with meat from our friend who raises cows, lettuce and cheese we got on sale, onions from the garden, homemade salsa from the freezer, black beans from the freezer and tortillas from Costco. Potato corn chowder, with potatoes, onions and corn from the garden, chicken broth, milk that we got for $1.88 per gallon and a little bit of bacon. I added some of my homemade cream of chicken soup mix to make it a little richer, since I used 1% milk. It still wasn’t quite thick enough, so I added part of a package of instant mashed potatoes, right at the end. Made homemade herb and cheese muffins to go with it. Made a chicken bruschetta casserole dish using some BLSL chicken breast, basil we dried ourselves, mixed vegetables we made from garden produce and froze, a little mozzarella cheese, a can of diced tomatoes that really needed to be used, some garlic from last year’s garden and a box of stove top stuffing we got for 49¢ after Thanksgiving. We still have taco meat and the bruschetta for dinners, and soup and muffins for lunch. Also made a big salad.
    Made a menu plan for this week. I really only make dinner 2-3 times a week, and then we just eat leftovers. Luckily, neither DH nor I are picky eaters.
    Purchased the last of the seeds I needed on Wednesday, when the nursery gives 10% off anything that is not on sale.
    Went through a set of shelves in our hallway that had been sitting there for quite awhile. Had some waste, but now everything is easy to find and organized. All my home-dried herbs and chicken soup mix are now on those shelves and I know where everything is.
    I dried the rose petals from my MIL’s funeral flowers. I then got some fillable ornaments, and put some petals in each one. I will give one to each of my MIL’s children and grandchildren when we have a family reunion, hopefully this summer.
    Had popcorn for snacks a couple of times.
    Deals at the grocery stores included 8 pounds of pasta for $2.42 after coupons, a gallon of milk for $1.88, broccoli and cauliflower for 79¢ per pound and 24 packs of macaroni and cheese (the stuff in boxes – not name brand but tastes ok) for $2.88.
    We are still shelling our dry Italian beans from our garden last year. We spent about an hour and a half over the weekend, and got a nice bowl full.
    I guess that is about it. Hope everyone has a great and frugal week.

  31. Hello all,

    -Our biggest savings is that we refinanced our home at 1.75% using my VA loan. This alone will save several hundred each month, which we will use to make additional principle payments.

    -We have decided NOT to have a garden this year, but to let the ground have a rest. It’s been heavily gardened for a decade. We will nourish it this summer and build it up. We have plenty of vegetables still in the freezer from last year. We will still get plenty of fruit: plums, peaches, raspberries, grapes, and strawberries, along with herbs, and anything that grows back by itself such as chard. We may try to grow zuchinni and yellow squash plants in large pots on the patio and see how that goes.

    -We gave a charitable donation to two not for profit organizations some time ago, and they continue to send us five of the most beautiful greeting cards every month of so, as well as calendars and planners, stickers, and return address labels. Cards are expensive, and this is a very nice savings.

    -We sold many items that we were not using on Craigslist, and easily made just under $800 (which also went against the mortgage). I appreciate having the extra space as well.

    -I purchased a very large heavy duty fabric shower curtain for $10 and will use that as fabric to recover the throw pillows on our patio. This will be an attractive refresh/makeover for the patio. We will spend a lot of time out there this spring and summer like everyone else.

    -I found a gluten free bread recipe for the bread machine, resulting in a much better tasting loaf of bread for a fraction of the cost! I found many recipes such as gluten free flour tortillas at Mama Knows Gluten Free website.

    -I found a partial gallon of paint in the perfect color, that was hiding on a shelf in the garage. I have plans to paint a small bathroom, another refresh/makeover/update for free.

    -I cut up many of the Christmas cards we received, repurposing them into bookmarks.

    -Found a “Buy One/Get Two Free” January sale at Puritans Pride and stocked up on a few supplements that we use regularly. This will hopefully be enough to last all year.

    1. Congratulations on your refinance! I told my husband and he said, “WOW!” That’s really a terrific rate!

    2. Susan, May I ask where you found a 1.75% refi rate on a VA loan? My husband and I just looked into refinancing but could not find a VA loan fixed rate with no points this low.

      1. Hi Lisa, I’m not Susan but my husband and I refinanced our home last March at the same interest rate thru USAA. We have been very pleased with USAA for our home and auto insurance and for our mortgage. Hope this helps 🙂

  32. Mmm I love pavlovas. How cute are the clay elephants!

    This weekend we are celebrating my daughter’s birthday. For presents I got her, all brand new, a box of Lego, a pair of needed (unicorn) slippers, a remote control car, a Party Pop Teenies, a classic book and a beautiful ceramic Frozen II money box. Total cost of gifts was $33, many purchased on mega clearance.

    We will celebrate with all the family and I will cook basil pesto gnocchi and serve with a salad. Birthday cake is a layered rainbow cake. On top of the cake I will add decorations I have on hand, including a capital letter I made from their Lego blocks, being the letter her name begins with. We will play pin the tail on the donkey and I will blow up some balloons which they love to have fun with.

    Hoping you all have a wonderful week.

  33. Hi Brandy!
    I love the dinosaur pictures! It reminds me of my boys when they were little. They loved dinosaurs! Especially my oldest son. I used to read dinosaur books all the time! I remember going to visit my parents and my toddler son talked to the man behind us the entire time about dinosaurs. He was completely entertained! I remember the man telling me that he was a dinosaur expert! And he was.
    I have been busy writing for entertainment and hopefully for profit. I heard back from some Editors. I may have an essay out soon in one of the magazines. Not sure which month yet. My son wants me to finish a middle grade book I started. So that is on the agenda this month. I only have six chapters done now. So, I have a ways to go. I’m having fun! I enjoy writing.
    We have done most of our cooking at home. I am writing everything I eat and taking my blood glucose 4 times a day. I’ve lost 5 lbs in the last week and a half. I’m learning what food, exercise, and water do to my numbers. Also if I eat too much it affects me negatively. I found that I can eat things I enjoy if I only eat a little bit. However, sugar is out of my diet. And I am ok with it. I have been eating fish with veggies. Beans cooked many ways including with Indian spices, Yum! I have used the free app Lose it. I heard that Apple may come out with a watch that reads Blood glucose levels. Not sure how they accomplish that. But I am interested! I hope they come out with it soon.
    We enjoyed reading books from our little library. My husband and I actually read some books in comfortable chairs at our little library. We were the only patrons! It was so relaxing to be away from home where I have chores and relax. Getting out of the house is a treat.
    I ordered tomato seeds and got them quickly from Tomatofest. They even gave me an extra packet per order! I have been turning off lights and throwing on a sweater instead of turning up the heat. I’ve enjoyed visiting family. We are getting plenty of eggs from our chickens. I have been cleaning for exercise.

    1. Tammy, you reminded me of the first time I took one of my nephews to the museum to see the dinosaur exhibit (he was 4). We ran into a class of 8-9 year olds who were on a tour with a curator and he decided to join their group! The next thing I knew he was raising his hand to answer one of the curator’s questions (he was correct) – told everyone the name of a new dinosaur just put on display and then proceeded to ask a few questions – not the least bit intimidated by the older kids! I didn’t know whether to laugh or drag him away! 🙂

  34. – This week has been last frugal than I would have liked. daughter’s phone just suddenly stopped working for no apparent reason. A tech guru confirmed that, yep, it’s dead. I did remember somebody in one of the comments here mentioning refurbished tech, so I knew to look for that. Have ordered a new-to-her refurbished phone that, while more money than I wanted to spend this week, isn’t the $300 phone they wanted to sell us, either.
    – I attended the (virtual) AARP online career expo, which had some good information and resources, which will be available to registered attendees for a year afterward. There was too much to get through during the actual time slot, especially because I participated in a couple of chats. (I am in the process of a job search.) This was a free benefit.
    – I participated in a three-day online market research study, for which I’ll be compensated.
    – For meals this week, I mostly used the roast beef from the January Fare for All distribution. I made half of it into a roast with carrots and potatoes from the produce box, then later in the week just did the rest of it plain in the crockpot (with the rest of the beef broth from the previous crockpot roast), which was either eaten plain or made into reuben sandwiches. I kept thinking I would make either morning glory or apple muffins, to use some apples and carrots, but then also kept running out of time and energy. (I also had several medical appointments this week.)
    – My daughter and I made a fleece tie blanket to be donated through a program at church (the church provided the materials) and I dropped it off. (Still no in-person church, but the building is open for pickups/dropoffs like this.)

  35. One frugal win this week: we finally admitted my husband to a memory care unit on Jan. 11th. When Feb’s bill arrived it showed a rate increase of $200 a month. I objected (no notice) and they are honoring the rate I signed on at through May, with the increase to take effect in June. That saves me $800, so I’ll take it! It is very costly to begin with but no increases three weeks after admission!!

    That is about the only savings this month. I had to have furnace man out to replace a couple parts–He forgot to turn one valve back on so I had to call after hours but that repairman said no charge since it was their fault. I will owe for the original visit.
    My dishwasher is not getting my dishes clean and I have tried everything I can think of. I am going to have to get a repairman for that also.
    Made arrangements today with a plastic surgeon to have a tiny lesion off my left hand–it is between pre-cancerous and squamous cell, right on the edge, so it needs to come out. Because I am on blood thinners still from the last stent I had put in, it will be done in the hospital in case of bleeding, although he will talk to my cardiologist and see whether or not he can take me off blood thinners for a couple days.
    Wednesday will be our 59th wedding anniversary but I will just be phoning my husband. We can’t go out to celebrate anyhow because of Covid–well we could, but we choose not to!! I took some items to him last weekend (although I can’t see him) and included some chocolates with his magazines and toiletries. Also a nice long note to go along with it.
    I am still get used to living alone, although I have no trouble keeping myself busy. The house needs a lot of cleaning which didn’t get done while husband was still here and escaping several times a day, requiring my daughter and me to go in the car looking for him or calling 911 if he got too far away! And I have repairs to be done to the bedroom ceiling from water damage from spring rain and a leaky roof. Roof has been replaced. Needless to say, the past couple months have involved lots of spending. Thank goodness we have it saved up to spend. Homeowner’s insurance will cover part of the ceiling repairs.
    My daughter has been particularly helpful lately. She went with me to the plastic surgeon today and even cleaned off my car when we got back so I can go get blood drawn in the morning. She will go with me to the hospital for the actual minor procedure as well.
    So I’m getting along ok although it will be nice to have warm weather and covid vaccinations so I can go more places just to get out of the house sometimes. (I’m trying to get the vaccinations scheduled but no luck so far getting an appointment.

      1. Thank you. When it came down to actually making it, I was certain it was time, so it wasn’t quite as difficult as it could have been. My daughter was getting as tired as I was of chasing him down in the car or calling 911 if we couldn’t find him. I know for certain we kept him at home as long as it was safe to do so.

    1. Dear Marcia,

      I’m sorry that you have been confronted with so many problems. It is really super you were able to send your husband
      a long note. And chocolates! Best wishes for you and the upcoming procedure. Ann

    2. Such big changes for you and your family, Marcia! Hoping you are able to take care of yourself and to always have people to help and share with.

    3. If you are living alone would it not be sensible to hand wash your dishes? Perhaps food is drying on the dishes because it takes longer to fill the machine with just one person’s dishes? I’m just guessing as I’ve never used or wanted a dishwasher. I actually enjoy handling my dishes and I enjoy the smell of washing up especially when I add a little bleach to the water. Hope your troubles are soon resolved.

      1. It depends — if Marcia has a low water use ecosense dishwasher then the amount of water used is less than what is used to handwash. Plus dishwashers get dishes more sterile.

        I’m sure Marcia has tried this but changing dishwashing detergents sometimes helps.

    4. Marcia, I’m sorry about your husband.

      When my DW isn’t cleaning well, it’s usually the filter that needs cleaning. When we moved here, I told the appliance store that my #1 request was for a filter I could clean without removing all of the interior parts. Another thing to improve cleaning power is to run the hot water tap until the water is hot before turning on the DW. This is especially important during the winter when the water in the pipes is extra cold. Also, if you have lately changed detergent brands, go back to the one that worked.

      I have nothing against hand washing, especially if one enjoys it…but it does use more water.

      1. I agree with all of the above about dishwashers and add that my dishwasher stopped getting dishes clean and what I eventually found was a hard piece of food stuck in one of the water holes on the spraying arm. My spraying arm has six holes and only one was blocked but it had a massive effect on the DW performance. I was able to remove the stuck piece of food with a toothpick.

        Another time my DW stopped getting dishes clean and I discovered that there was soap build-up in the dispenser mechanism and it wasn’t opening on time. I ran the dishwasher three times empty with white vinegar in the soap dispenser and in a cup on the top shelf. This cleaned out the build-up.

        Good luck!

        1. Thanks to all about dishwasher advice. Eventually the spray arm came off entirely and my daughter came over this morning and put it back on–my arms weren’t long enough. (I’m 4 ft 10 in.) I have a load in now and will see if that fixes the problem–or if it doesn’t I will see if any of the holes are clogged with food. I did clean the filter although I had cleaned it a short time ago and it didn’t look dirty yet. I did everything I could, which isn’t much.
          I don’t enjoy washing dishes so much but I do most of the pots and pans by hand. I didn’t have a dishwasher for many years after we were married, so I do enjoy having the dishwasher do them for me! Even just cooking for one makes the same amount of pots and pans dirty–although I do try to cook once and reheat or use leftovers in a different form. I’m putting meals for one in the freezer–last week made 5 mini-meatloaves because the meatloaf mix was on sale. Yesterday made my regular pizza dough–froze 3/4 and made myself a mini pizza with the other quarter. It was good–my daughter said I wouldn’t be happy with a frozen pizza because I’m used to making my own. And I make it as low sodium as possible, and use turkey pepperoni. I’ll probably use mushrooms in the future as husband didn’t want them on his pizza!

      2. Marcia’s report that her DW isn’t cleaning well reminded me that my DW probably needed cleaning, even though it seemed to be washing fine. I filled the detergent cup with citric acid and ran a cycle without dishes. (I understand vinegar works well, too). I bought a GE because the filter is in front and easy to clean. I pulled it out, scrubbed the mesh with a toothbrush and rinsed it with a spray of water. Next I took a damp rag and wiped the bottom of the DW door (had to reach up from the inside). You would be surprised how much black gunk came off. Finally, I took a wood skewer and picked around the door hinges and got a lot more black gunk. I also found a little bone clogging a hole in the spray arm, as Libby mentioned. All this took about 5 minutes and, remember, and the DW still was cleaning well! However, I expect it to clean even better now.

        If you have a DW manufactured by Whirlpool, which includes most Kenmores, you will probably have to remove all the guts to get at the filter. This is quite a job, but there are You Tubes that show you how. When I had a Kenmore, I had to watch the You Tube EVERY SINGLE TIME, LOL.

  36. -I’m so glad your garden project is moving along, although maybe more slowly than you want. It sounds like you are making great progress.
    -A few weeks ago, I was horrified to find a large puddle of water in my camper one evening when I went out there to spend a little time. It is not normal for me to spend much time out there, so I feel it was a “God thing” for me to have felt I wanted to go out there that evening. We were able to mop up the leak and ultimately get the camper in for repairs before any permanent damage was done. We were able to bring it home Friday, and the problem seems to be fixed. It was costly, but not as costly as it would have been had we not found the damage as soon as we did. I spent hours today organizing cupboards out there. It’s a project I’ve been wanting to do for a while, and it was good to get a start on it, now that it’s back home. Now I have a large pile of cans of food I want to use up. It’s time. We don’t need quite so much in there anymore. First, we don’t live in there, that only lasted one summer between houses. Second, we don’t take as many people camping with us anymore, as they are mostly grown and gone. I do keep a full pantry in there. When we camp, we cook in the camper. So, it’s still well-stocked, just with a slightly lesser quantity. We did not get to camp much last summer, between Covid closing parks, wildfires making it not a good idea to travel, and my husband’s major surgery. This year, we mean to make up for it!
    -I finished out the month of January under grocery budget. I decided to spend the rest of it, plus what I’d saved from December on an Azure Standard order. I got quite a few herbs and spices I was low on, some cleaning supplies, and a few other things. I like to stay stocked up when I can. We got 74c ice cream, $1.97 butter, and 99c bread this week. I got other things that were on sale or not, if I needed them. It was great to get some things at low prices, but I did get involved in a discussion with 2 checkers about the fact that prices are rising. I noticed that. I’ve been using large quantities of my home-preserved food, plus a couple of other strategies, to keep my grocery bill in check.
    -We got snow, too! It didn’t last long, but it was beautiful, and in our neighborhood, we got between 2-1/2 – 3 inches. What a happy surprise. I posted pictures of the snow and the rest of the week on my blog:
    -It’s been really rainy. We’ve been trying to walk anyway, using large golfing umbrellas my husband got for $1 each at a yard sale and thrift store years ago.
    -My husband got his stitches out today from the 2 surgeries he had a week and a half ago. (Carpal tunnel and nerve surgery in the elbow). They say it looks great. I am still stuck washing all the dishes for another 1-2 weeks, though, and he won’t be lifting or pulling for a while yet. (I tease him about it, but I really don’t mind washing dishes.)

  37. Brandy I enjoy watching the progress of your garden and all the ways you are saving money by doing it yourself with your husband. My husband’s car had to go into the shop for $700 repairs but he got a discount of $187 off bill. We aren’t sure if it’s because he is a Veteran or the owner just liked him. He took our 23 year old son with him (all our grown kids that live at home have Down syndrome) and the owner gave them a tour of the shop including letting our son sit in a 1969 Chevy convertible with red interior that is being restored. The owner even turned on the newly installed engine which was a thrill for Samuel. My husband called our insurance company with a question about our home owners insurance. The insurance was increased on the value of the house and the contents and the bill was lowered by $178! Then I won a $25 gift card to a local bagel shop. I asked my son if I could give his Legos away since he hasn’t touched them in years and he said yes. I contacted a family in our neighborhood that have 7 year old twin boys who are crazy about Star Wars, most of the Legos were Star Wars, and they said yes please. We had a Lego backpack full and a Lego tote full of boxes of Legos. I sent them a picture of Samuel holding up both bags. When he arrived to do a porch pickup he insisted that I take $20 for them even though we were gifting them. I gave the money to my son who was thrilled.
    Our daughter has lost 46 lbs and nothing fits. We went to consignment shop where everything was 20% of for MLK birthday. I also found some things on the 75% off rack for her. She found 2 pairs of jeans and 5 tops for under $50.
    Our other son loves to cook and made us meatloaf one day and gf pumpkin pie another day. I help him where he needs it but he basically makes it by himself. Lots of cooking at home including pulled pork that I made in the crock pot with on sale boneless pork loin. We had pulled pork sandwiches for lunch and pork chop soup (made with left over pulled pork) and still have plenty left over for more sandwiches and rice bowls. Made a whole chicken in the crock pot for one meal and with left overs I made fajitas.
    We have had a snowy 3 days in Ohio. On the first day a neighbor shoveled my driveway and on the second day another neighbor did the same. Yesterday I shoveled it for exercise. My husband is awaiting his 3rd back surgery and is unable to any shoveling. We got the good news yesterday that his rescheduled back surgery will be Feb.22. We are very excited that he finally will get relief from the constant pain but worried too after he just recovered from a blood clot.

  38. Our winter warning gave us 3 inches of snow…. not something that should have been a warning in this area. But reality is they can’t tell exactly what is going to get dumped on us. We do know we are going to get the cold from the polar vortex this coming weekend -4 on Sunday without windchill. Our Amish neighbor had cleared the snow off our pond Monday to cut ice for his and his parents ice houses today. Hubby went over and told him what is was going to drop to so they are just keeping the pond clear (snow will make ice mushy) and hope it will freeze it a couple more inches so they get bigger blocks. No one had ice last year and it’s rough when you go through the summer trying to keep food from spoiling especially milk from the cow.

    We only spent $20 in Jan on groceries and 50 % of the stock up month. I took Jan remaining funds to buy pork butt at Save A Lot at 89 cents per pound. IT was 22 pounds. I also got other meat since we had the funds that was on sale. I’ll be cutting things down to our serving sizes. We have an empty freezer since we won’t need to make ice during the summer for our neighbor.

    I ordered plants from Burpee, using a Honey code and saved 21% and free shipping.
    Blessed Be

  39. Oh, Brandy, little boys do love mud puddles. I remember seeing mine walk out of their way to splash in one on a sidewalk. It is good that you let them have fun (while learning) and not worry about the dirt.
    *I have spent the week trying to get life back to normal. My sons scheduled their two-week vacations at the same time, all came home and have left. We celebrated the holidays because it was the first time we have all been together in forever. They all volunteer to work Christmas Day so co-workers can be with their families. What matters is that you are all together, not what the calendar says. A few weeks ago one of the money-saving items I listed was how my son repaired 5 of my reading glasses. I get the cheap ones from the dollar store the proceed to either break or lose them. My guys gave me a wholesale box of 36 (yes, I said 36) reading glasses! An appropriate gift I must say.
    *A big cost-saver that we didn’t think we could do was to clip Scooter ourselves. Bill did it until his hip got so bad that he couldn’t bend over. I started doing it, well, except for his paws, Scooter would revolt, I couldn’t handle him so Bill trimmed them. We put Scooter on top of the workbench in the garage so Bill didn’t have to bend over. Evidently, he is afraid of heights, stood paralyzed, and was trimmed him in no time! Sounds mean but it saves us $50.
    *I have spent the week inventorying the pantry. Not finished yet because I get chilled in the basement but I am making meals using up the oldest items.
    *I continued to create a master list of the prices I recorded at Costco so I can compare them as I shop. I haven’t bought much except for ground hamburger at Kroger for $1.99. I loaded up and made canned meatloaf for the first time. You use your regular meatloaf recipe, stuff the raw meat into a two-quart wide-mouth jar, and then process. Three pounds fill two-quart jars. As it cools, the meat shrinks, the grease floats to the top which can be scraped off, and then you can slide it out whole at mealtime – according to the recipe. We will be opening a jar tomorrow and seeing how it tastes.
    *I will be harvesting heavily from the garden this week and freezing some of the greens. We have a bitter cold front coming through and the temps will be dropping into the single digits for a few nights.
    *This month’s garden:

    1. Good grief. I just read my comment and am embarrassed at my multiple grammar mistakes. It appears, 36 new pairs of eye-glasses didn’t help me. Next time I will proofread.

      1. I never notice grammar mistakes. I am just amazed at your gardens! You grow so much! Love your blog, Jeannie!!!

  40. One of my goals for this year is to get back into the habit of posting here! It definitely helps me be more conscious of my spending/saving habits! Below are some of my highlights from last week:

    Purchased a great quality new-to-me desk on FB Marketplace rather than buying a new one for our office.

    Shopped a few thrift stores looking for items to resell. Fingers crossed, I found quite a few things and started listing them yesterday.

    Had a small Costco order delivered to my house. The shopper didn’t read my comments and brought a flavor of item that I didn’t want, so I contacted the service and received a refund. My daughter was thrilled as they had us keep the product and she will eat them (she’s the only one, which is why I don’t purchase that flavor).

    Amazon did not deliver a product by the estimated shipping date, so I contacted them and received a $4 credit.

    Found out that we get a free year of Discovery+ through our Verizon account! The free year of Disney+ is coming to an end, and I will cancel the subscription rather than pay for it.

    Thanks to another commenter here, I discovered Misfit Market does deliver here! I’m on my third delivery and am really liking this service (finding organic food in my new area is rather hard, and it’s a plus to not have to leave the house). 😉 I don’t remember the poster’s name, but I wanted to say Thank You (I did use your referral code also)!

  41. Brandy — You must be really proud of all the artists in the family — I love the elephants and both really brought a smile to my face.

    As for me, I was going to spend my last money for the month on a big pack of chicken thighs and put some in the freezer. This backfired as instead of getting about 20 thighs which would have carried me through the month, my gardener/friend bought the wrong package so I only got 6 (even though I had specified that it was a club pack and big). So now I will be falling back on the pantry supplies (beans) for the rest of the month.

    Someone put a poster about our forthcoming book on their twitter account so within an hour we had 45 pre-orders. We only collect the funds once the book is ready. We are making progress with the funding and I think we’ll be able to cover the deficit even though we have a ways to go. Now we just need to finish the book.

    I got a demand letter in the mail today saying I owed my alarm company $188.00 — well I phoned the collection company and it pays to phone — I said I thought I’d paid all of it. It turns out the alarm company didn’t apply my payments to my account (it’s all too complicated for me) and I only owed them $20. The collections lady will straighten it out with the alarm company and send me an accounting. This was all due last July and I’m only hearing about it now…

    The day became too complicated.

    I watched Les Miserables online on Sunday night and then Heartland (also on CBC). free entertainment.
    I need to re-negotiate the terms of my internet package with my server as the present term expires soon.

    My snow shoveller brought by some sand and gravel from the city supply (it is free and is for use on city sidewalks). It was unexpected but I’d asked him some time ago to pick some up for me when it was convenient.

    There are beautiful birds in the yard — first White-winged Crossbills, then Pine Grosbeaks I was hoping to get some grosbeak photos but
    I get tied up inside and haven’t had time to sit outside. Still it is great to catch glimpses.

    I’m hoping Tammy is ok as she hasn’t posted here which she normally does.

    1. Ann,
      Thank-you for thinking of me. I’ve been really busy. I am writing everything I eat down. It has helped my blood sugar numbers and I’ve lost a bit of weight. Congratulations on the orders for your book! That is great! I’ve been doing a bit of writing too. I enjoy it. Have a great week!

      1. Hi Tammy — I’m glad to hear you’re okay and feeling better than when your blood sugar was high.
        great news re weight loss and it sounds like writing everything you eat works. It is really easy to lose track of what we’ve eaten.
        Thanks for the congratulations re book pre-orders. I’m glad you are writing, too. it’s a great way to pass the time. I’ve had a mental block about writing a small section of our book which I overcame today. Lots of snow in the night, tomorrow and the day after. Ann

    2. Actually, my blood sugars were way too high but they are under control now. Thank God! I wasn’t feeling well, but now I am feeling much better. A change in meds and writing everything down and taking my blood sugar 4 times a day really has helped. I feel so much better!

    3. I sympathize with you about the chicken thighs. I can tell you from my experience of having family members doing most of my shopping for months – write it down no matter how small the list or how simple your instructions are. People often have things on their minds and/or are distracted and just don’t remember. You know who you are. 🙂

      1. Hi Patricia in southern Minnesota,

        My friends are doing my grocery shopping for me so I ever see them. I pay them online and they leave the shopping on the porch.
        So I email my list and comments over to them — I’m sure they are just busy, distracted people. I love your comment “You know who you are”. I don’t think my friends realize just how tight the money situation is. Well, I’ll be eating a lot of pasta, potatoes, beans etc for the next couple of weeks. I won’t starve for which I am grateful.

  42. Oh, I see that just as I was posting the above, Tammy had posted so am glad all is well!

    I should have mentioned that I ordered a few packets of veggie seeds from a Newfoundland company. I discovered that if I ordered 5 packages, shipping was $5 but if I ordered 6, the shipping would have been $15.00.

    I’m not sure if I mentioned this in a previous post but in December I wrote to a grant foundation and said we were not asking for a donation but just to update them on the most recent historical findings and to wish them well for the holidays. (We knew all their grants were going to fulfil urgent covid needs). We didn’t hear anything back at all from them. It turned out that the next day they issued a cheque for a grant for the book.
    That was on Dec 9th. In mid-January, our treasurer offered to mail two urgent personal letters for me. While at the post office, he tried to check our group’s mailbox. His key wouldn’t fit so the post office lady opened the whole bank of boxes so he could check ours. In the box next to ours (which used to be ours), was a letter which he checked. It was addressed to us and was a grant. (We are thrilled but we still have a small deficit). It was all very coincidental that a) I asked him as I contemplated asking other friends but they wouldn’t have had the key, b) that he thought to check the mail and his key wouldn’t fit and c) that he thought to check in the box next to ours (which we wouldn’t have been able to had his key worked). So it seems like divine intervention…

  43. Brandy, the pictures were wonderful. I love the detail on the elephants.

    I cut up the broccoli and vegetables and froze everything except some to eat with homemade dip. Breakfast bars, beef stew, meatloaf made with ground turkey (left out egg but was fine), and baked rice to freeze (new to me) were other things I made through the week. My son chopped walnuts and pecans and froze in quart bags for me. Saturday my husband made pizza and root beer floats for later. Very nice treat.

    I spent an afternoon cleaning jars with the ketchup. It worked amazing well except I didn’t have a jar cleaner to get to a few inside cloudy, sticky spots left. I tried getting to them other ways, but I clearly need the jar cleaner to finish it up. So I decided to wash everything in the dishwasher again and finish it up when I get one.

    We went out for a few odd items like tear drop bulbs and got extra cheese and a pkg. of 3 lbs. of turkey marked down to $5.47. We stocked up snacks at the dollar store. It didn’t snow as forecasted so there were very few people shopping.

    We took down decorations and I found 9-10 solid color ornaments from our first Christmas that needed to go. I got rid of a few more things around the house. I started going through some recipes in a tin, and found an insert with several pages of recipes that just had the powdered milk amount in the recipes that I kept to try. I organized a section of a cabinet. I am trying to be really aware of everything around me as I do my daily routine so I will notice things I am not using, need to be thrown away/replaced, or stored differently. The way I am cooking and storing food made two things that I was sure were headed to Goodwill useful again. Every little change in a room makes me smile.

    We walked one afternoon before a snow. It has snowed twice the last week which was pretty but gone before the evenings. Most people like that, but I like a good snow once in a while. It is the ice we usually get that I don’t like.

  44. Your water rates must be so high! I read on your post last week that you hope to save $1000 a year. It takes us three years for our total bill to be that much. I know that gardening is part hobby and it is nice to have the yard for the children so that is a benefit of the higher water bill.

    1. Our water bill was about $2300 last year. We reap a lot of it back in fruits (hundreds of pounds of fruit), herbs, and vegetables, and we get lots of exercise in the garden. Plus, we don’t need to drive to the park every week because we have swings, a merry-go-round, and an in-ground trampoline in the garden.

      They must have raised the rates without notifying us, however (I think they changed in July from my calculations; I have been tracking it). We used less than half the water we used last year for the month of January and our bill is $5 higher than this time last year. So, it looks like my bills might be more than last year even while using less, meaning I would have had a bill of over $3500 or more this year without making any changes.

  45. They should have to let you know if they are raising rates that much. I live in Ohio so we normally get plenty of rain for the garden. I always say we can just drop seeds on the ground and they will grow. lol We even have a 24 foot pool that we fill and clean. I try not to waste water because I know how precious it is to many people around the world. It would be nice if it was more available and affordable for everyone.

    1. All the other utility companies have in the past. I asked locally and no one else knew anything of a water rate, but using half and yet paying more than last year makes me think they must have done so. They could also have changed the amounts for the water tiers. They do not put those on their website nor on my email bill, but they used to on my paper bill. I am going to call them and see if I can get a paper bill again so that I can see the tiers.

    2. Melissa, not only do I get enough g or a garden in Ohio, I get enough in rain barrels off the roof to water the animals, water the garden when needed, and we dig trenches and put down pipe to drain water away from low areas into a drainage ditch! Granted there are only 3 of us these days, but even when the all the kids were home our water bill was rarely over 75.00/ month; these days its around 45. I cant imagine paying 200 a month for water.

      1. Bethany, my winter bill with no grass whatsoever, watering just the tiny front garden on drip irrigation and using inside water, was $65. I used half of what I used last January when my bill was $59.13. Water bills are tiered here. This summer my bills hit over $300 a month and I knew they had to have raised the rates or redone the tiers.

    3. I’ve often thought that rather than building an oil pipeline, we should be building a flexible water pipeline so that places which get inundated with water could move it to places that desperately need water! It’s a pipe dream LOL!

  46. Not a whole lot to report for last week. I received my garden seeds in the mail. I finally received my stimulus check as well. We had a break from school on Friday and Monday and a snow day as well so haven’t driven my car in 5 days -saving gas. Used instacart to get a snow shovel and avoid going to the store (impulse buying…). My mini financial goals for February are set. Spend no more than $80 on food, HBA etc. and eating out for the month; and sell a few items on Marketplace. I have never sold on there so it is time to try it out.

  47. Brandy, I almost choked when I read your water rates. I wouldn’t tell you mine but to illustrate what our admin fees are due to the factt our city needs to upgrade its infrastructure: about $25 per month actual water used and about $80 per month administration charges (admin charges have gone way up). Here we do not have kids needing showers or baths, kids clothing to launder, a lot of watering of gardens until I water the trees in a hot July and water them in in August. I have low energy and low water consumption appliances.

    1. Oh how awful about your administration fees!

      We have low-flow toilets, showerheads, and faucets, and everything is watered on drip irrigation. I have chosen low water usage appliances as well for the dishwasher and the washing machine.

      The water rates are tiered by usage. I have a suspicion that they changed the tiers but without seeing it on a paper bill I cannot confirm that. I will be calling this week to request paper bills again as they are not putting the tiers online for me to see on my e-bill.

      My parents live next door and have a much smaller yard and grow cactus (which must be watered here, as we get so little rain). Their cactus are on drip irrigation. My mom noticed an increase in her bill as well.

      1. Our family of 4 lives in the Pacific Northwest in one of the rainiest climates. Our water and sewer bill averages $277 a month for the year. Our city is expensive!

  48. I nearly cried over your water bill! I have a well so I don’t have that yearly cost. Just the fear of a failed well that will really hit hard if it ever happens. I have been budgeting very closely this year. Writing down every penny I spend. In years past I have spent the 5th week paychecks. I was able to save almost an entire paycheck minus gas, food, and medical bills. I hope I can keep this up for the remainder of the year. Our frugal fail for the week was having a deer run into my husband’s new to him truck while driving home from work. It is a 2005 and we are concerned it may be totaled. We live in whitetail deer country, so have always carried comprehensive insurance on both of our vehicles. Will have a $100 copay if the truck is not totaled. I have hit about 10 deer (after awhile the accidents all blur together!) My husband has hit about half as many as I have. That is a lot of repairs and several totaled vehicles over the last 27 years.
    I have seen a sharp increase in fresh produce prices here too. I was shocked to pay 1.99 for 8 ounces of mushrooms today, but decided that in lieu of junk food this was okay. I will have to be diligent in shopping loss leaders for fruits and vegetables over the next few months. Gave 5 haircuts to husband and sons this past week. Only traveled to town when necessary. Have only been using 3/4 of a tank of gas instead of 2 tanks per week pre-Covid. Making meals from the freezer and pantry. Made an orange juice glaze for salmon this week that is a keeper!! Just cooking a portion for husband and self as I have very texture-picky eaters. Borrowed books from the library. Planning to organize bedrooms and pick away at decluttering this week. It will be a long year of that.

    1. I am so sorry about the deer!

      Produce prices are very concerning to me. I hope we can work faster in the garden, somehow, or it will end up being too late to plant until fall. But, we can only go as fast as we can go.

  49. Yes it sure is Brandy. Our prior rate was 3.25 and so refinaning was well worth it. I am retired military and did a streamlined IRRL interest rate reduction loan. So grateful.

  50. Mockingbirds are the state bird of Texas. They are brave & fearless. I had a mockingbird dive bomb & attempt to attack my cat when she got too close to the bird’s nest. Myself, I am partial to crows. I hear them cawing outside my bedroom window each morning. Probably to call to me to put out stale bread, potato peels, etc for them to eat. They are very smart birds & experts say they have the intelligence of a 4 yr. old child. I enjoy feeding & watching my friends the crows. I bet they would eat grub worms if I had them to offer.

  51. The dinosaur photo is so sweet! I will have to look for some dinosaurs for my grandson at yardsales. He’s three and I think he would love them. Right now he’s really into cars.
    How we saved this week:
    -We cooked at home from the freezer and pantry.
    -I purchased two whole chickens for 59 cents/lb and two jars of pasta sauce for 19 cents/jar.
    -My stepmother gave us two pounds of local grass-fed ground beef. It cost $6 per pound, which is much higher than my budget allows! (See 59 cent/lb chicken above. 🙂 )
    – Not really a savings, but my husband purchased a new variety of pepper to try. This will be the only seeds we will buy. He likes to try different things in the garden each year. It can be easy to get carried away purchasing seeds! I used to plant all kinds of things, but I’ve gotten where I now just focus in on what we really like and what I have found to grow well for me.
    -Instead of buying new cabinet knobs for my laundry area, I spray-painted the ones I already had. I think they look pretty good!
    Details of our week are on my blog at
    Have a great week!

    1. My parents bought these dinosaurs at a garage sale. Then for fun, they put one out each day in the backyard in a different spot for my son to find. He did this for several days (we share a gate through our backyards, so he can just go over there) until one day he opened a cabinet and found the stash of the rest of the dinosaurs!

  52. Such fun pictures this week – it is so lovely to see little ones playing outdoors and using their imaginations!
    Last week was fairly busy – lots of office work (I do 25 hours per week), an hour’s worth of volunteer time on Zoom, 3 long walks enjoying nature, Zoom Coffee Hour for church and 2 books read. I actually find being busier at the office adds more structure to my day.

    I have also cooked everything from scratch, including a recipe for stuffed peppers that was completely keto and delicious! I don’t know why I’ve never made stuffed peppers before now – it was so easy and will definitely be made again. I did make one trip to the grocery store last Thursday as my friend and I stopped off after a long walk through High Park. Since she had the car it made sense. I bought ground meat, a large pack of chicken thighs, a pack of sausages, one pack of Havarti cheese and then veg (fresh & frozen) plus some frozen berries. This cost $85 at the No Frills store and included a week when the frozen fruit & veg were on at a reduced price. This was two heavy bags so that gives you an idea of what prices are like here in Canada. But – nothing will go to waste.

    I did go into the office for an hour early on Sunday morning but got back on the subway home within the 2hr window so I used one whole transit fare last week – I do not anticipate adding any money to my pass this month at all.

    I’m just back from a walk through the local cemetery and we saw 3 deer! They were so tame and didn’t seem to be bothered by people taking pictures at all. The cemetery backs on to a huge ravine area and I knew there was a herd back there but hadn’t seen them until today – just beautiful!

    Anne (Ellie’s Friend) – congratulations on the unexpected grant and so glad you have some pre-orders already in place. Too bad about the chicken thighs – I think I got the big pack you were talking about!

    1. Hi Margie,

      Thanks for the congrats! Our pre-order “desk” has slowed down now a bit so our treasurer is relieved.
      I’ll make this short since my broken tendon arm is hurting a lot. I wrote from 10 a.m.. yesterday to 3 a.m. this morning then slept in.
      I think I overcame my writer’s block! Yes, you got my chicken thighs! sigh — sounds like you got lots of bargains! Ann
      It snowed heavily last night but is beautiful outside with blue skies and snow everywhere.

  53. Not a very frugal morning as I had to call the auto association to come and replace our car battery-mind you it was cheaper than a couple of other quotes I got. Missed my dental apt so rescheduled for later in the month. Bought some new pillows at Costco and a few things at Walmart including frozen peas and sugar for the best price I have seen. They were also putting out marked down produce so was able to buy 3 cantaloupe for $2 and 19 lemons for $2-most of these will be juiced for the freezer. Visited DD’s Grandpa at the nursing home after a Covid lockdown-they seem to be providing very good care for him which is a huge relief. Next week will visit my Mum who lives alone-I feel like the seniors visiting service-lol. I was pleased to hear that Grandpa had his first Moderna vaccine and will get the second one on Feb 9-thank goodness. Still no idea when my Mum will be eligible-with any luck next month. First run through of our computer tax program looks like DH and I will owe quite a bit due to untaxed Covid relief benefits-ouch. Of course we were expecting it so the $ are in the bank but….

  54. Several years ago, I bought a copier/printer/scanner with a toner cartridge for my homeschooling endeavors. (I copy pages so that we can use workbooks for multiple children in our family) It only does black and white, but that is fine for the things I need to print, copy, or scan. My printer was telling me on Monday that I was low on ink and I thought that couldn’t be right, I just bought one. When I checked, I just bought one…in 2015! That cartridge lasted me six years and cost me $60. That ends up being eighty-three cents per month. I feel like that is a frugal win!

  55. Brandy and all, well done on your continued frugal success. My husband and I have continued to live a frugal lifestyle and focus heavily on savings. We are currently debating as to whether to sell our home and purchase another. There are many factors that we have to explore first such as the possibility of a penalty should we pay off our existing mortgage which would afford us some additional capital alongside our savings, the timeframe required to live off one salary in order to be mortgage free in the new property (enhanced pay off), the actual choice to purchase land and a bigger(older) home (sold as one lot) and the need for future savings in order to modernise the new property/house. Additionally, my parents are older (77 & 87)and this purchase would mean we would be living further away which for me is the biggest concern as financially I know as a team we could overcome the mortgage (I have a lovely kind unassuming selfless frugal husband). Whilst we could grow fruit/veg in abundance on this property both of us work full time jobs and husband has a business in addition so we cannot decide as to whether at 40 and 41 we are crazy to upsize. I would envisage the property land (10 acres)would be leased for grazing/planting as we do not have the time to plant a large area but there is a lovely large poly tunnel. We would love to have children and please God that ship hasn’t sailed. This is a beautiful old property that affords privacy, is quaint and full of character, represents adventure and numerous possibility but are we crazy taking on more than we need at this current time…. it would as per our calculations take 16 months of my full wages to pay it off but husband does not make as much as me so we would be living extremely frugally off his wages in that timeframe. Then we would need to invest money into the many out houses and the main house built 1790 but modernised and insulated 20 years ago (essential in Ireland). Husband would be able to do a considerable amount of work himself. I love that frugality affords options but I am risk adverse…yet something tells me take to take a chance……many prayers have been said for Divine inspiration….. I am not afraid of hard work and paying the property off but do wonder is it wrong to purchase more than needed which necessitates a loan. Deep in thought here….any and all advice welcome. We will be selling out current home regardless in the future and will generate a financial positive balance. Thank you

    1. Julia, if you think you might be having children, this would be a good time to make a move to a larger place. We had been married nearly 9 years when we had (adopted) our first child, but we were younger than you are. Financially, it’s harder to make a move after you have children, but that’s the time you need the extra space. We actually owned two homes before we had children, and bought a larger one in the year between kids.

      On the other hand, living in a much larger space than you need, and having to keep up a larger property, kind of sucks the life out of you by your 60s. Plus, it costs more. A lot more. We eventually downsized, but should have done it 5 years sooner.

      I don’t think it is terribly important to be completely debt-free, including your house, in your very early 40s. (We were debt-free EXCEPT for the house when I was about 50, and the house was paid for 8 years later). This a time when you can afford to follow your dreams and make things happen. If I were you, and still hoping for children, I’d buy the house. And, as one who fought a losing battle with infertility for too many years, I’d get cracking on that, and/or make alternative plans. I’m sure there are many people reading this who would tell you that adoption is a wonderful way to build a family. It fulfilled all of our dreams.

      1. Maxine thank you for your honesty and imparting such very personal information. You obviously are a very positive person and thank you for your advice. I feel much better about purchasing now. We all need hope and a dream. Yes adoption would certainly be a consideration. We are awaiting an appointment with the consultant regarding IVF and if that is not successful we have a lot of love to give so would definitely consider adoption very strongly. Thanks again.

  56. Julia-that is a tough decision for sure. As you say there are unknowns such as whether you will be blessed with children( which would at least temporarily lower your income) and also your parents needs as you move further away. Here in Canada you can usually port your mortgage to a new home without paying a penalty or sometimes the buyer can assume it-not sure the rules in Ireland. I guess the other thing which you have probably already considered is to try to get a sense of possible increased utility bills, commute times and a renovation budget. I am a fan of adventure too and usually trust my gut re changes so listen to yours. Also consider whether you would be equally happy staying in a smaller place and travelling around the countryside perhaps in a travel trailer instead as one option. It sounds like a lovely place with plenty of space but will likely be quite costly to renovate. Good luck with whatever you decide. Perhaps Lorna will weigh in on their purchase of a country home in Australia and the joys and challenges.

    1. Hi I. Thank you for taking the time to comment. Yes we have being crunching figures and considering utilities, taxes etc. Our commute would be marginally less for us as we both work in the same hospital. Mortgages in Ireland do not allow the flexibility afforded in Canada unfortunately. Whilst we would love to travel within our own country more we would be unable to do so because of the jobs we have which necessitates on-site attendance. We have no big affinity to our current home so we would like to move anyways. Like yourself I go with my gut which has served me well but this time I was afraid as I wouldn’t have any financial cushion. However reading Maxine and your comments has put me at ease and allowed me greater confidence.
      Thank you most sincerely.

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