The weather was beautiful by the end of the week. It felt like spring instead of winter with temperatures much warmer than normal. The warm, dry weather was perfect for working in the garden.

We’ve been enjoying a mild, warmer than usual winter here.

Here’s how we saved money last week:

We harvested lemons from the garden and made lemonade. I zested the lemons and dried the zest to make lemon pepper.

I mended a skirt.

We continued to work in the garden. We shoveled out rocks and took several trailers’ worth to the dump where we dumped for free. Our neighbors who are out walking their dogs or getting their mail have asked if we are building a pool with all of the dirt they have seen us removing.

I purchased some more citrus trees for the garden while they were on sale at the local nursery. I’ve made a few changes to the garden plan in order to incorporate more semi-dwarf citrus trees. I also picked up ten flowering cabbage plants on clearance for $0.78 each and some potting soil on sale.

We watched All Creatures Great and Small. For my American readers, you can watch each episode on for free on the Monday after it airs. Episodes are available for three weeks after airing. I also started reading the e-book from the library this week.

After some research, I found a coupon code to finally order my roses for the garden (SMTEN) from David Austin roses to take 10% off. I also ordered my roses in multiples of at least 3, which took another 10% off automatically on all but the climbing roses, which don’t have that discount.

My husband poured concrete posts for another light post in the garden.

I went to Sam’s Club to buy a couple of items. To save trips to the store, I decided to go ahead and buy the chips (crisps) that my children requested for their birthdays while I was there. Two of the three kinds were on sale, which I found out at the store. As teenagers, they all want food and clothing, and chips are a treat that rarely buy, so when they request it for Christmas or their birthdays, it’s a simple gift. I bought for three birthdays through the beginning of March, and I hope to be able to keep my shopping trips to a minimum. The pantry and freezers are full. Now I just need to work on growing more fresh food in the garden to supplement those items and I can greatly reduce my need to go shopping.

What did you do to save money this past week?

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  1. First off, thank you, Brandy and others who were so encouraging and congratulatory as we worked at paying off our mortgage last week! What a wonderful, supportive blog!!

    I started making a quilt to give my grandson who is newly stationed in Korea in the Army. His birthday is in a couple weeks and he loves Colorado Avalanche Hockey team. I couldn’t find Avalanche fabric and was still trying to find a pattern when I found this free online pattern:
    Only problem was it is sized only for a king size quilt and he can only have an extra long twin size. So I printed out the pattern and went to work calculating block size changes, quantity of each fabric needed and number of squares of each color I needed! 192 blocks. 4 fabrics. Found every one of my fabrics in my stash!! Got it done today! Just need to bind it! Quilt #109 done on Lenni. Quilt #110 being loaded now for a client.

    I was feeling peckish the other day and waited until almost 5 pm to think about dinner for the 3 of us. I’ll admit I was leaning towards delivery or takeout food! But then, I reconsidered and got out precooked bag of ground beef, some instant refried beans, home canned Rotel, DIY taco seasoning and a chipotle cheese spread I got free with sale and ibotta and some tortillas I always have on hand and voila- very tasty beef,bean and cheese burritos that were ready in 5 minutes with enough leftovers to make extra meals! They were a big hit!! How often I have been tempted and sometimes succumbed to the ease and convenience of take out when, in fact, I could “whip” something equally tasty and enjoyed out of ingredients I already have in hand! Good reminder to me! 🥴

    Use-it-up challenge. Just a little thing, but I found 1 sad wrinkled apple in the far back recesses of my fridge, so, after coring it, I whizzed it in little food chopper, skin and all, and added it to these 10 big buttermilk pancakes I made for brekkie!
    Nothing spectacular, but they were delicious and the apple is no longer dying in my fridge! 😉

    My best friend, who works at Kroger’s, texted me about a clearance on Carnation evaporated milk- When they got these cans in, they cleared the shelf with the older ones. Expiration date on clearanced milk is Nov 2021!! The clearance price was 9 cents per can!! I bought 88 cans and split them with 3 daughters so we each got 22 cans! The savings was over $213!! For something like that, I will break my grocery no spend fast!! Lol!
    Checked our Key bank checking account and the 60 days since we opened it has come and so they gave us $400 into that account!! That was a happy income!!

    We did something totally out of character on Saturday. We took daughter to Costco (we have card, she doesn’t) so she could buy 3 shelving units to use in her basement for food storage. When she and I had gone the week before, we had seen them. When we were there the first time, we saw a sectional couch with an ottoman that we sat on and loved. They had just sold the last one in stock. Just for fun, daughter took photos of it along with the descriptive tags. I showed the photos to Hubs and, just as a lark, we measured in our family room to assure ourselves that it wouldn’t fit! Surprisingly, it would fit. We read up on additional features it had that we hadn’t noticed- usb charger plug-ins in the arms and back cushions that clipped to base at the bottom and zipped individually to the back so they would stay in place without having to constantly arrange them. The price was about 1/3 or 1/2 what we had seen in other places. But the only time in almost 50 years that we bought new furniture was 15 years ago when e bought a couch and loveseat for our parlour at JC Penney Furniture Outlet, because they had some scratches, a small tear in the arm and were missing feet! Of course we still have them in the parlour. So on our Saturday trip, Costco was out of the shelves, but they had the sectionals back in stock (2 left). We actually bought one and with the help of 3 sons and that daughter, we got the boxes unloaded and set up! We spent all of Saturday evening, stretched out on the couches, just saying “Wow”! Lest any of you worry, we don’t think we will be on a buying “spree” for another 49 years! Lol! We gave one of the couches we replaced to the same daughter to put in her basement family room to replace hers that had been in the house when they bought it 2 years ago!

    Hubs went for his annual eye exam and optometrist (our daughter-in-law) told him that it was time for cataract surgery. She gave us names of the doctors she would recommend and told us to check and see that they take our insurance and then she would send them her report. So that will be coming up. Grateful that our Medicare and supplements will take care of it all! We are blessed since just 2 years ago, that would not have been the case.

    Definitely a week of humble gratitude for us. Hope everyone else is having blessings heaped upon them! Thank you, Brandy, and all your followers for all the encouragement, support and creative inspiration you always share that benefits me and my family so much!

    Gardenpat in Ohio

    1. Congratulations on your new furniture!
      Most of my furniture has been purchased second hand, but I recently bought a new sofa, replacing the one I had for 25 years. The new sofa is comfy and also a sofa sleeper, so win-win all around! I also like the hunt for finding unique pieces through resale sources that makes my home more interesting to look at than a matched set from a store.

    2. Hi Pat. I’m chiming in late to congratulate you on completing your goal of paying off your mortgage! Y’all have worked so hard. Well done! We were able to do the same a few years back and it is a good feeling!

      Also, you are amazing how you zip through quilts! That is such a great looking quilt for your grandson. I’m sure he will love it. Such a unique pattern.

    3. Bit late to the party as I didn’t comment last week but congratulations on paying off your mortgage what a huge achievement 🙂 .


    4. Gardenpat, the quilt you made for your grandson is beautiful. The colors and block you used make this quilt pop. Love the three dimension look it creates.

    5. Gardenpat, congratulations on paying off your mortgage!!!!! That is a major accomplishment. When we paid off our house years ago, we had a mortgage burning party. It felt good to take all of the canceled checks and roast hot dogs over them.

  2. I cooked the turkey breast that was in my little refrigerator freezer, and made soup, slices for sandwiches, a casserole, and turkey salad. I cooked the turkey with long carrots, frozen free figs, and potatoes, which sounds strange, but I removed the figs after baking it all together, added free apple juice I was given, sugar, vanilla, spices, etc. and combined it in blender. It ended up being an easy way to make fig sauce and I did not have to add turkey or chicken broth because the figs were full of it after being baked with the turkey. I refroze the carcass to boil down at a later date. I made hamburger soup with some of the meatloaf
    and froze the rest. I got my oil changed in backup vehicle and my tires rotated. My somewhat local sons needed food, paper towels, gatorade, cat food, cat litter, etc. and I was happy to provide from my stash. I made berry smoothies with the frozen mulberries from late last spring. I worked on organizing my tax information. I am soaking my nasty mop in the tub because it needs a good cleaning. Otherwise, I just go to work, get gas, and come home. Other than having groceries delivered, and creative ways to see my local kids an hour and a half from me, while still keeping them safe, my quiet home life has remained quiet. It is kind of odd, to put food packages on ground, wave and blow kisses, jump back, and remind them to wash their hands after handling anything I touched in case I have been exposed at work. We do the 20 feet with masks, just as extra precaution. Plus, if they were exposed at work, although they are not around near the number of people I am around, I do not want to catch “it” from them. I personally know yet another person who died, and another dear friend who was in the hospital for weeks, but has finally been released, and four other friends who are seriously ill with Covid. That is not counting acquaintances. Hope everyone has a great week and stays safe.

  3. I love the red flyer in your picture – brings back so many fun memories of childhood.

    *Received several items for free from grocery shopping and redeemed through Ibotta. They forgot to run my coupons again – $4. But they were able to do it at the register and gave me the cash back. I seem to be going at busy times for the store. They used to be the quiet hours to go and shop but everything is all topsy turvy lately. I can’t seem to find a quiet time to go – even early mornings have been busy. But I wear my mask and get in and out as quickly as possible. I found Best Foods Mayonnaise on clearance for $1.99. I had a coupon for them and got them for less. They don’t expire until July of this year.

    *I made up several freezer meals for my daughter and son in law in preparation for our new grand baby coming on TUESDAY! I can’t wait. She wants to me come down and stay with her for several days. I made homemade bread, taco soup, a Sunday Dinner casserole, cheesy potatoes, chicken salad. All things she loves to eat. I’m going to make up some food for myself to take with me so I’m not eating their groceries the whole time. They are a young couple and money is tight. Im going to buy a pizza (using coupons and points) when I get down there. I’m so excited. to meet my new granddaughter. They haven’t picked a name yet but I will love her no matter what.

    *My husband used gift cards to buy us dinner one night and lunch one day. I have been struggling mentally so I appreciated the kind gesture of not having to figure out what to feed myself. He also helped in meal prep and clean up for the other nights. He knows I’m sensitive to noise and commotion so he suggested quiet times during the day for me to have time to myself. He would go downstairs to watch a movie with our kids and let me have some quiet time upstairs to relax and journal. I list 3 things I feel I did a good job on that day and 3 things that I’m grateful for. I took a hot bath one night and used some scented lavender epsom salts and battery operated candles and meditated. We went for walks outside in the sunshine and I would sit on my deck on night and look at the stars. Also read books when my concentration was better.

    *My son and 2 daughters that live with us were all exposed to Covid by friends/work/school. My son was the only one that showed any kind of symptoms. They all tested negative for Covid. My son also tested negative for Strep. We had him quarantine in his room until his doctor’s appointment on Monday. We took him food on a dinner tray and left it outside his door and supplied gatorade and water. He’s 21 and is fine on his own. We’d chat on the phone too and I would stand in the hall and we would talk (10 feet apart). I had stocked up on all kinds of cold medicine, Tylenol and Ibuprofen and throat lozenges. We didn’t need to go to the store for anything.

    *One car wouldn’t start again so my husband is trying to figure out what that problem is so that he isn’t stranded anywhere. He discovered that Sam’s Club had cheaper car batteries that the auto repair stores. My furnace isn’t turning on in the morning unless we flip the switch on and off on the heater. Once it’s been flipped it goes right on. He’s worried about the fan overheating and causing further issues. We’ve had this heater for 20+ years. Would prefer to not have to buy a new one at this point. He’s watched YouTube videos and is down thoroughly cleaning and vacuuming out the parts. Hopefully that will help.

    *I went to the library and checked out more books. The local library had a bunch of new books because they had the new budget for the year. They don’t have as many new books in November and December because they’re at the end of their budget. It’s nice to have a big new selection to choose from now. I spent some time taking to my favorite librarian whose dog had died. We had a good chat session. I was in my car and she brought the books out to me. I’m so thankful the library is still open! We do have to make an appointment to go into the library, but if the building is not full you can just walk right in. They clean the library the last 10 minutes of every hour and every patron must exit while they clean.

    *Our supply of cleaning products is still good and I don’t need to replenish anything but toilet paper and whatever weekly dairy/produce is needed. Our freezers are still full and so is my pantry. We had taco soup, chicken/ham rolls, cheesy potatoes, steak and Orange Chicken and Rice. We are eating well. Blessings –

    *Have a wonderful week! Thank you for this amazing blog and place to share and learn 🙂


  4. Brandy, your gardening pix really make me yearn for spring!

    It’s been quite a week! A big windstorm tore through Spokane and Coeur d’Alene Wednesday and took down hundreds of trees and left widespread power outages. Although we suffered no damage and were only out of electricity for 3-1/2 hours, many in our area did not have power for days, and a few still don’t. (Note to Nancy in E. WA–hope you are all fine!).

    We snagged an appointment for the Covid vaccine, and my husband and I are getting vaccinated today! (I realize we still must take precautions, but I feel like we are finally getting out of jail!).

    Finally, happy birthday to Betty White, who was 99 on Sunday! Betty White ROCKS. She is in good health and says she is old enough to stay up as late as she wants!

    On the frugal front–
    * I used scrap fabric to make 4 more masks, gave away two and my daughter and I each kept one. They are lined with the material from an old T-shirt.
    * I sewed a wraparound apron (the kind that criss-crosses in back) from Scotty dog fabric and pattern bought 12-15 years ago. It is bound all the way around with over 6 yards of bias tape…I still don’t like stitching bias tape, but it mostly went on better than I expected.
    * I painted a skinny cabinet door to use as the backing for a hook rack I’m making for my kitchen. I used a paint sample from Lowe’s. Bonus: The color turned out to be an exact match for my dark red counter stools, so I touched up the little chips and dings.
    * I mixed up a batch of Miracle Spray cleaner. It’s the best cleaner I’ve ever used and it is dirt cheap.
    * We are enjoying a case of oranges I bought for .59 lb.
    * Meals were cooked and eaten at home, with special attention to using up leftovers.
    *I made a contribution to Idaho Public Television so we could receive a “free” subscription to PBS’ Passport streaming service. (It works out to $5 month and we usually donate to Idaho PTV, anyway). Talk about getting the most for the least! Passport not only provides access to nearly everything PBS has shown in the last 30-40 years, but we were able to install it at our vacation home (where we only have an antenna and Roku’s free programming) as well as here. I watched the first 4 episodes of All Creatures Great and Small. I think the new James and Helen are fine; Tristan grows on you; but Siegfried…let’s just say he’ll never be Robert Hardy!

    1. Maxine, Do you have a recipe for the Miracle Spray Cleaner? Does it do windows as well as hard surfaces?

      1. Susan, I don’t know about windows, but I do know NOT to use it on mirrors. It is quite soapy and the little bit of eucalyptus oil makes mirrors smeary and it is hard to remove (don’t ask, LOL). This is “da bomb” on soap scum. I got the recipe from an Aussie blog and converted the measurements, which were metric.

        Recipe makes about 1/2 gallon
        1 cup boiling water
        Additional 5-1/2 cups water
        2 tablespoons washing soda (Arm & Hammer, find in laundry aisle, usually near borax)
        1-1/3 cup white vinegar
        1/4 cup Dawn or other dish soap
        5 teaspoons eucalyptus oil (I buy it online, but you should be able to find it at pharmacies and health food stores)

        Dissolve washing soda in boiling water. Add other ingredients in any order. Stir gently after adding the Dawn. Be sure to run your finger around the inside of the measuring cup to get the last of the Dawn.

        This is just my opinion, but I don’t think the eucalyptus oil is essential for cleaning power, which might make a difference if you wanted to use it on glass. It blends with the vinegar to produce a wonderful smell and eucalyptus oil does have some disinfecting properties, so I always use it.

        1. Thank you so much for sharing this! I have been looking for something like this. The chemicals I have work but have side effects like toxic fumes, like stripping the chrome off the tub drain, just a few minor things like that.

        2. Eucalyptus oil dissolves sticky substances and grime. It is the best thing straight to remove label or tape residue. I would definitely leave it in or it may not be as effective

      2. Susan, I could not resist “butting in” here, but have you also tried using the car window wash fluid, bought in large containers for about $3. I find it works a charm on anything I have found, shower doors, windows, mirrors, & more. just spray on and I use a microfibre cloth or even a towel to dry off. sparkles & shines. ann lee s

    2. Maxine – Thanks for thinking of us. Our power is fine. We did not lose it at all. This is surprising, as most windstorms we do lose power. We always get it back quickly though, as we are on the same grid as a fire station. We think, maybe, people have finally trimmed their trees. I know we have.

  5. Silly question, maybe, Brandy, but how do you dry the lemon zest for the lemon pepper? I’d love to make some. We have a lemon pepper grinder spice that we get from Trader Joe’s that I add more peppercorns and rock salt to as it diminishes, but I’ve never tried adding more lemon. Thank you!

    1. I just zest it with a tiny microplane grater and leave it out to dry, thinly spread on a plate or on a silicone baking mat.

        1. The yellow part. Just grate it down to the white pith. I like to grate them before I use the lemons, as it is easier.

  6. My mom sent over cookies, bananas, chocolate covered peanuts, and a case of water.

    Used $15 off coupon at Petsmart. Those are nice when I have to buy both big dogs need their dog food at the same time.

    Picked up a free brownie at Chic fil a. Was a nice snack with a small lemonade

    Had enough points at Starbucks for a free iced chai.

    Was able to at least turn the heat off during the day a couple days last week. If the forecast is accurate for this week, I should be able to every day this week.

    Sold an item on Marketplace and put that $15 towards the credit card I’m working on paying off next.

    Purchased a case of Coke and hubby drank 2 if them only to discover they were flat. Returned it to Walmart the next day and got a refund.

    Returned a library book as soon as I was finished to avoid fines.

    The 14yo has a short school week , so I told her it would be cheaper for her to eat at school this week. I put $10 on her lunch account, so that gives her a bit over $3 for lunch. (She qualifies for reduced, which is around $1, so she can get the lunch and have $2 for a la carte items if she’s still hungry. Breakfast is free for everyone at her school). Now I don’t have to be in a rush to order groceries, I’d like to see what I can use up here first.

    Ordered pizza Friday night and had enough points for a free large size.

    1. You can just call Coke and they will send coupon for replacement if you don’t want to lug back to store. I live 25 minutes from store and would never think to return them on next trip which might be weeks.

  7. Brandy,
    Glad to hear your gardening work is continuing and the weather is cooperating for you.
    I stopped into a thrift store and found some great fabric buys. I purchased a couple yards of the softest cotton fabric that I will use to make a baby shower gift for .99! I also purchased about 4 yards of a nice quality black linen/poly fabric that will be perfect for making a chair slipcover or recovering my bar/counter stools. This piece of fabric cost $5. I also found a really nice blouse to wear to work for .99. These are prices that fit within my budget.
    I got both of our cars washed this weekend. They really needed it. I also cleaned the inside. The weather cooperated as it wasn’t raining.
    I watched my grandson one day and we roller skated on the driveway and played street hockey. He loved it and it was lots of free exercise for me. This was a pleasant surprise because he doesn’t get to play outdoors much in the winter here due to all the rain but that day the sun came out for a couple hours.
    A few months back my husband purchased a large bag of bird seed for $5. This has provided our grandson hours of entertainment. We made a birdfeeder out of a paper plate and paper cups as one of his school science/art projects. We filled it with bird food and hung in the tree and he loved watching all the birds discover it and was happy to see the Blue Jays. Another time we put peanut butter on pinecones and covered in birdseed and that was fun too. We still have a half bag left so lots more fun ahead. That was $5 well spent.
    On the gardening front- we had a very unfrugal event. We have a beautiful ornamental grape vine that grew over a fence we had made out of pine posts and recycled wooden slats. This winter took its toll and the posts rotted out from the ground and fell over. We knew pine would not last long but it was something we already had on hand about 5 years ago when we put it up. We purchased 2 cedar posts this weekend to re-place the pine posts. I hope this last for many many years as they were $45 each. The grape vine helps screen out our neighbors and is so lovely in the fall when the leaves turn such beautiful colors.
    I emptied out my closet and cleaned and dusted it and then painted it a very light pink color with paint I had left over from another project. I also got rid of several pairs of shoes and clothing that were all worn out. My husband and I have each have our own small closet so painting the inside of my closet pink is a little gift to me each time I open my closet as pink is my favorite color. This evening I will put everything back in the closet and will probably wonder why I waited so long to do this.
    I hope everyone has a safe, healthy week.

  8. The most exciting part of the week was having a friend invite me over to her house to look through her stash of quality wool and natural fiber yarns, and her knitting books, prior to donating them to a local non-profit. I took a small box of yarn, enough to make 6-7 hats or scarves that I will donate to the Navajo Nation. I also took two knitting books: one on finishing and another of sweater patterns. I could have taken boxes of books and more yarn, but I am trying to be reasonable about what I take and what I will use in the next 6 months or so. My friend has her own knitting business and has taught people to knit for years.
    I also finished a baby afghan to donate and started a cowl while waiting for my aunt during two doctor visits.
    I mended a pillowcase.
    I had some take out vegetarian Pho (the noodles, tofu, and veggies were all separated) and with a few more ingredients made yummy spring rolls. I made a peanut sauce for dipping them.
    I walked, did yoga, read books from the library, cooked, also watched “All Creatures Great and Small”, worked on two art pieces for exhibition, and tried to stay positive.
    I enrolled in a community education watercolor class, which is being held by Zoom. It’s a little difficult to follow along, but it’s nice to watch what other people are painting.
    Thank you Brandy, and everyone who contributes, who make this inspirational reading each week.

  9. All the plants at the nursery look so cheerful. So many things are brown here. Tis the season. I also did some mending last week, catching up on everything. But, of course, there’s already a new pile started. That’s the way of it when you wear things until they totally wear out, and you buy most of them thrifted in the first place. My husband was given a box of a dozen or so jams, 3 different local goat cheeses, and 3 bags of coffee from a place he was working at. Several things have already been shared with others. They were at or near the sell by date. I don’t love all goat cheeses, but the two I tried (mango & one that tasted a lot like onion dip) were both good. I used our fresh beets, lettuce, garlic, sweet potatoes and thyme, as well as frozen spaghetti squash, lambs quarter, winter squash and blueberries. I stopped by Harris Teeter after an appointment, and was delighted to find some Ball canning lids. I bought 6, and left several more for others. Two hair scrunchies were sewn, using some of the plant-dyed fabric. My husband bought a window for $25 on fb Marketplace, and installed it in the new workshop. 2200 Swagbucks were redeemed for a Lowe’s GC.

  10. I wonder how many of your neighbors think you are putting in a pool? It probably does look like that to those who don’t know. That’s funny!

    I always buy my dog’s kibble in 20 or so pound bags then freeze half to two-thirds of it and put the rest in a re-purposed bucket with lid. This week I pulled some of the frozen food out to replenish the empty food bucket. Once thawed, it is nice and fresh, so there’s no waste from a dog (rightfully!) refusing to eat stale or rancid food.

    I polished my black work flats again. It always amazes me how much improvement shoe polish makes. They look new again, so there’s no temptation to buy new ones.

    I gifted a family member with a jar of pear butter from a batch that I made in the early fall, using pears from our tree.

    I picked up a penny.

    I batch-cooked again this weekend, with two things in the oven, the pressure cooker going, and a pan on the stove cooking, all at once. The weather was cool outside, so I was glad to warm up the house some while I was at it.

    I de-boned a beef cut for the pressure cooker, and froze those bones to make broth, later.

    I refilled re-purposed bottles with my toilet bowl cleaner recipe — vinegar with several good squirts of a concentrated cleaner, such as Dawn Ultra or Sal Suds. I also use the mixture to scrub the handicap-accessible shower and the other bathroom’s tub. For tough spots, I scrub the area with baking soda that I buy in big, cheaper-per-ounce packages.

    I cleaned my front windows on the outside with a solution of water and a couple of drops of dish detergent. I got this from Don Aslett’s cleaning books. Then I just squeegee or wipe dry with a microfiber cloth, depending on how far I have to reach, as my squeegee is on a pole. For mirrors inside, I use water and a microfiber cloth, period, and they sparkle when I’m done. I haven’t bought glass cleaner in many years. I make most of my cleaners out of simple and cheap ingredients.

    I’m looking forward to that garden getting done, as I’m sure Brandy and her husband are, as well!

  11. Seeing this post is my favorite part of every Monday!
    I received a $40 Joann gift card for Christmas from my friend. One of my goals is to not spend my money on yarn, books or clothes this year. When I saw there was a good sale at Joann on yarn plus I had a 20% off everything (even sales stuff) I stocked up on some nice yarn! (Since it wasn’t my money). I was just so excited. I ended up with 16 skeins and that will make up probably four or five nice sized afghans for babies and/or the nursing home. I will get hours and hours of enjoyment for this. It will take me through til my birthday in March, when I hope to receive another gift card or yarn.
    My son and husband both cut their own hair.
    We mostly ate meals made at home. I stuck to the menu and grocery list.
    Had a nice zoom meet up with some friends. It was at dinner time and we each ate our dinner while visiting. Much less expensive than the old “go out to dinner” meet up. Maybe we will continue this after covid.
    Tried a new recipe from my newly-wed daughter. It was just baked sweet potatoes, then after baked, open up and fill with shredded bbq chicken, sprinkle on some mozzarella cheese and put back in over for five minutes to melt. It was super good! While baking the sweet potatoes I added some white potatoes in the oven for recipes later in the week (potato salad and loaded baked potatoes). Figured that would save some energy and money.
    Hope everyone has a peaceful and safe week!

    1. This is too funny to read- I have the same new years resolution not to buy more yarn but tomorrow I will be burning that Christmas gift card on some skeins😂 I feel you on this one, this is not going to be easy but we can make it!!!

    2. Hello Becky!

      This Monday post and it’s comments are my favorites for Monday’s also. So grateful to Brandy for bringing this (and us) all together.

      Becky-I really love to crochet. I struggle with making anything useful except for ruffled child socks (crocheted edges) and dishcloths although I would love to make items to donate to keep me busy these long Missouri evenings. Do you have favorite patterns you use for baby blankets or nursing homes? I even have a bunch of Red Heart super saver yarn to work with but need some easy but useful projects to make with it!

      Thank you.

      1. Hi Gina! Red Heart Super Saver is my go-to yarn for donation because its washable and dryable and sturdy. I usually pick a stitch I like. I make them about 36″ wide and about 45″long. I love waffle stitch for these (super warm), shell or corner to corner. I think patterns that have a lot of open spaces aren’t ideal. I just can’t sit without my hands busy. I have mobility issues so I mostly sit! Happy Hooking 😉

        1. Thank you! I’ve been crocheting a shrug this week. Well…. I’ve spent time mostly ripping out rows after I lose stitches… but I am determined! I will give a go at the blanket size you describe. My favorite stitch is a linen stitch (?) (SC, ch, SC). I love mindless crochet the most. Happy hooking to you also! Thx for the reply!

          1. Are you familiar with the website Ravelry? It is for knitters and crocheters and has many free patterns. It’s a great source to find patterns or to search for patterns using the stash that you have on hand.
            The Linus Project as a nation-wide (perhaps international organization) that takes donations of handmade blankets for kids ages 0-18. Some of the Native American reservations take donations as well. There are many places to donate your items. Check their websites for what they need, requirements of the materials used, and how to drop off.

            1. Hi Kandace
              The Linus Project runs in the UK too. Locally, quilts are made and given to children in hospitals , women’s refuges etc.

  12. I’m on my fourth week of eating from my pantry and freezers and am trying to be very creative to keep meals interesting and use what I have. We still have plenty of food on hand and so far the only thing my husband has mentioned missing is crackers, so I made some homemade Ritz, which were very good. I’ve managed to put together some really good meals. I’d like to put off shopping at the grocery store until February, but I don’t know if I can do two more weeks. We’ll see.
    I made a batch of homemade yogurt.
    The baffle on our wood stove broke and my husband was able to make a temporary repair and order the part, which he installed when it arrived.
    I stopped by the local thrift store and someone had donated a bunch of dishwasher detergent tabs. I purchased two large containers – one unopened – of Cascade Complete for $3 each. These sell for $16 each on Amazon, so I saved a bunch. They’ll probably take me through the rest of the year.

  13. I absolutely love flowering cabbages – they will be so lovely in your garden! I would not have thought of making lemon pepper, either – what a good idea to file away!

    This is a little thing – tuna is .50 a can on sale here, and it takes 2 cans to make tuna salad for us to have enough for the 3 of us, with a little left over for someone the next day. Eggs go on sale for .79-.99 a dozen. I tried adding one hard-boiled egg to one can of tuna, and it made enough tuna salad for the three of us for a meal, and we still had some left over. Tuna salad with a hard boiled egg added still tastes like tuna salad, but it will make our tuna go so much further. Wahoo!

    I colored my hair. The kit from the store costs about $3, but my hair is not very long. I have a digital scale. so the first time I use it, I use the scale and weigh out half the contents of each bottle into an old jar and just use half. I cap the remaining ingredients (in their separate bottles) tightly, and that is what I used today. I had plenty both times, and I have thick hair and a chin-length bob. It might also matter that I have red hair, and the color I’m doing is just a wee bit darker/redder than my natural color (which now includes a fair amount of gray). This works for me – but might not work if you are doing a very different color from your born-with color. I know I could just not even do this, but for 1.50, a couple of times a year, it’s a little boost for me.

    I sold some things online. We read books and got other materials from the library, and I have been listening to an audio book from the library when I go walking. I walked for exercise – two of my friends and I have the goal to each walk 1000 miles this year, and so far, we are all on track. Baked a couple loaves of bread and half a dozen buns (we needed them for this week’s menu), and I made some maki sushi. We didn’t really spend this week, other than a little for some produce and such – my husband does the shopping and uses sales, Ibotta, coupons, etc. to keep our costs low. Our pantry and freezer are in good shape, much of that due to his hard work. We have a lot of navel oranges because they were .50/lb, and they taste really wonderful. I save the zest to make cranberry orange bread, orange chicken, etc.

    If you have a moment, I re-started my blog not too long ago – visitors welcome! I have the menu posted, some goals, etc. Thanks!

    1. We love tuna and hard-boiled egg “salad” around here. In fact, my husband made up a bunch today, as we have an excess of eggs right now. He adds sweet pickles that were made last summer, and mayo. We put it on top of salads, in sandwiches or eat it on crackers. It’s nice to see that we are not the only ones who do, as I rarely hear of anyone else eating tuna that way:)

      1. My Mom would occasionally add chopped walnuts to tuna salad, for taste, nutrition, and to stretch it a little further. Pecans or other nuts should work– maybe water chestnuts?

    2. Laura, I have always included a boiled egg in tuna salad (and chicken salad) as well. I also include onion, green pepper, celery and mayo. We prefer the albacore tuna and on sale it is about $1/can here, so I want to stretch it too. In addition to the vegetables, I mash some white beans (northern or cannellini) and add those as well. (I think perhaps I read that as a suggestion here, so if someone remembers making that recommendation, thank you!) Their flavor is so mild that it doesn’t change the taste of the tuna and, along with the veggies, bulks up the tuna to make more sandwiches.

  14. Last month Instacart via email offered three $20 off minimum $35 orders at Krogers. Usually, I shop directly at and then an Instacart shopper appears two hours later and leaves the groceries on the front porch. I’ve been shopping Kroger through instead this month and the $20 off fully covers the delivery and a nice tip for the shopper. I will do my shopping at the end of the week to get the final $20 discount before it expires.
    My sister’s family had their photoshot with everyone in Buffalo Check/Mackinaw Plaid. My niece sent us a lovely little photobook. Mom’s favorite flannel duster was still available in Buffalo Check yesterday on (The last one in her size.) I thought that it’d be nice for them to have a photo of mom/grandma/greatgrandma that coordinates with the rest of the portraits although mom’s will just be taken with my phone’s camera. The dress won’t arrive for two weeks. I might take the rare selfie of me too but I’ll just wear a black top with something in the same shade of red that is already in the house.
    My younger sister and her husband in Arizona got their Covid-19 vaccinations today. I have no idea when my 97-year-old mom will get hers. Mom’s doctor will visit tomorrow and I will ask him then. My shots, according to the latest from the the state of Michigan, have been postponed from late Spring to late Summer. Sigh.

  15. Not much savings happened this past week. I purchased some home security items and need to get a few more things in that area finished up. I treated my daughter and her husband to a birthday dinner and used a gift card to cover it. I purchased what is hopefully (minus maybe milk and bread) the last groceries for the month. I tried to order seeds but the place I wanted to order from has temporarily closed it website due to high demand. Ordered heirloom seeds and a few other gardening items from another site. Many places are out, low stock or delayed shipping due to demand. Made a list of extra items around the house that I can sell, hoping that will make enough to pay for the soil I will need for the extended container garden, some paint, and landscape work when spring arrives.

  16. I don’t have much to report, but there is a little. Last week was my wonderful MIL’s funeral. My sons both came home for it.
    For the night my youngest son got home, I pulled lasagna from the freezer for dinner for my DH and son, and some chicken that I made into a chicken quesadilla for me.
    The funeral was on Tuesday. It was a lovely service, but very small due to COVID restrictions. That was okay though, as my DH spoke, and while he does a wonderful job, he gets nervous if there are a lot of people. The funeral was livestreamed, and two of my sisters, who knew my MIL well, were able to watch it. We were with the family for a couple of days. I brought home some of the roses that were delivered. I am drying the petals, and then going to make Christmas ornaments with them. Just the clear glass balls with some of the dried rose petals inside them. I will then send them to all the family members, so they will have an additional memory.
    We were pretty wiped out the rest of the week, especially emotionally. I did work on Monday, Thursday and Friday.
    Made leftover chicken nachos for dinner on Friday night, and then slept exceptionally well that night.
    Did some minor grocery shopping on Saturday. Some veggies, half and half, avocados, bulk chili powder, and a couple of other things.
    Made cauliflower soup, using our homegrown frozen cauliflower and homegrown onions as well as chicken broth and half and half. Put a scoop of my homemade cream of chicken soup mix in for added richness.
    Made a ham that we got after Christmas for 99¢ a pound.
    Made corn with thyme butter (the corn and thyme were from our gardens), as well as cauliflower with cheese sauce. This is the end of the cauliflower from the garden. We have decided to grow more, as we are through with it already. Made potato salad using potatoes and onions from the garden, homemade dill pickles (with garden ingredients), and hard boiled eggs with eggs received from former neighbors.
    Made Boboli pizza for dinner one night, loaded with veggies.
    Made a batch of focaccia bread, and am having ham sandwiches and cauliflower soup for lunch this week.
    Did some cleaning, and the boys dusted my light fixture in my dining room and replaced the bulbs (they don’t want me climbing on a stepstool, I guess).
    We had terrible wind on Wednesday. Luckily our power stayed on. Others in our general area weren’t so lucky. However, our wood fence finally gave up. We have repaired it multiple times, but over 60% of it blew over. My DH is taking it down, and we will have a new fence put in. We need to paint the house and do a couple of other things that involve large vehicles in our backyard, so will do those first, before the new fence goes in. May as well take advantage.
    Thanks for this wonderful place to come and absorb peace and beauty.

    1. I’m sorry for your loss. It sounds like you have great ideas to help everyone have good memories with the rose petal ornaments.

      I’m amazed that you grew good cauliflower. The few times I’ve tried were absolute failures!!! So, I buy them from local farm stands. I froze what I thought was a lot, and we have burned through it like you have. It’s so good:)

      1. Becky and Susan – Thank you so much. My MIL was 92 and had been suffering from dementia for the last 10 years. The last 4 years she didn’t even recognize my DH, but he still visited with her every week. That is until COVID hit. We realize that she is now at peace and in no pain.

    2. I am sorry about the loss of your mother-in-law. Having your family home and being together remembering her must have been a comfort. The Christmas decoration will be a lovely remembrance.

  17. Hello everyone!
    Had some great money-saving things!
    1. My step-mom brought over her xmas ham for “the dog”. When I looked at it I knew I could get at least 4 meals out of it, and boy did I! My favorite soup to make with leftover ham is called “Aunt Edna’s Scalloped Potato Soup “. So, so good. I can’t believe the things my step mother just pitches in the trash!!! She knows now to ask me first!
    2. My husbands’ company always throws a lavish Christmas party. Like tuxedo and ball gowns. We never go but due to Covid this year they couldn’t have the party so my husband came home from work this morning with a $150 Visa gift card! What a blessing. We really had no money for groceries this week so part of it went for that.
    3. Last week my daughter and I went to the next town over. To get there you pass through a “town” that is literally off a US highway with no stop signs or lights. But they have a very popular mom and pop grocery store. They are known for their meat counter. Since I was going through there I looked at their ad and they had Boneless, Skinless chicken breast for $1.49 a pound. So we stopped. When I got to the chicken, I noticed a sign that said if you bought a 40 LB. box it was $44. Of course, I bought the 40 pounds! I found the man who was loading it and I was shocked at how big the box was! Such a great deal. I came home and divided it all up into freezer bags. Also, while I was there found a 15 count box of Velveeta shells and cheese for $8.99. They are soon expiring but they will be fine. I like to keep mac and cheese on hand for when we need something quick.
    4. I really didn’t do much shopping during December for groceries. Prices have jumped so high and both our freezers are jammed pack and so is our pantry. I figured our budget for the year and spent $117 a week last year. With the situation last year, I don’t think that is too bad. This year I want to stay at $100 a week, which is all our food and cleaning products and hygiene. So I will just watch sales very very closely.
    5. I have found 2 new YouTube channels. One is “Dinner on a Dime”. The woman uses the food pantry and shows how she uses what she gets and I just overall love her grateful attitude. The second one is called “Mornings with Granny”. She does these scenarios where she will lay out a couple of food items and talk about what she would make if that was all she had to cook with. She calls them “What if”. It gives you a lot to think about and I love to read the comments to see what other ideas people have for using the food.
    6. I went to Kroger today and found so many good deals. I was not going to buy much unless it was super great prices. Found 3LB chubs of ground chuck for $5.97, which I also had $1.10 coupon making it $1.62 a pound. Found the bread we eat for 69 cents a loaf and had a coupon. Pretty much everything I bought was on sale and I also had a coupon! I get so excited over grocery trips like this!!!
    I pray you all have a great week!

      1. Your very welcome, Nancy! The channel “Dinner on a Dime” is from Florida as well. The Orlando area, if I am not mistaken. She has been talking alot about hurricane prepping.

  18. The excitement of the week was that an RCMP officer came to my house to do a wellness check. Someone shovelling the snow on my front sidewalk after a heavy snowfall had noticed that all of the lights in my house were off, and he hadn’t ever seen that since he moved to the village nine years ago, so he asked the police to check to see if I was okay. (I had been up for several hours in the middle of the night and had quite a few lights on, and then caught up on the sleep I missed the following day, and turned off the lights before I lay down.) The RCMP officer and I had a pleasant conversation so he could assure himself that I was not only alive but lucid, and then he went to let the neighbour know I was okay. The neighbour came over a while later and shovelled the snow from my front walk to my back door, which I normally take care of myself, so I opened the window and had a chance to thank him him for shovelling snow, and for his concern. I have always wondered whether anyone would notice if I dropped from sight, especially because I used to travel a lot for work, and would come and go quite a bit. A few of the neighbours do as well. Glad this was tested when there was no emergency.

    When I went to buy kitty litter last week, I also picked up pork loin on sale for $1.98 a lb Cdn ($1.55 US), and two lb of carrots for $1.29 Cdn ($1.01 US), both excellent prices. As others have commented before, pork loin is such a good cut of meat. It tastes great, is really versatile, and all that meat is boneless! I cut it into three sections. Two were frozen as roasts, and the other I cut into chops. This morning I spent the last of my grocery budget on 5 lb of potatoes and a large loaf of French bread. The price on carrots will continue every Tuesday till the end of March, so I will be able to stock up on these to last the winter. (There is a special every day that repeats for two to three months, and then changes to other products.) My first shop for February will likely be January 25, when I get a small check in, but these purchases mean I have plenty to go on with if the weather is too miserable or the covid numbers are too high. Weather is due to get worse after many weeks of mild winter weather, but the covid numbers are improving a lot both in the province and locally, so we’ll hope that trend continues.

    One thing that is helping with planning groceries is that this store has started to publish a preview of the next week’s flyer two days before the specials start. It helps me decide whether to buy anything extra in the current week’s sale, or to save my money so I can buy more in the next week’s specials.

    Wishing you all a week where you are able to stay safe and well, and not have too many worries.

  19. Very cute wagon! That’s wonderful you’ve had such good weather to proceed with your garden plans! It’s so satisfying for me to be making more things from scratch, for example ketchup, which was pretty easy since I have a lot of tomato paste. Tried making my daughter’s recipe for deodorant which is simply equal parts (eyeball it) of coconut oil, arrowroot powder or cornstarch, and baking soda, with a few drops of essential oil. You warm a small amount in your hand, and just apply with your fingers. It really works well. Also, I dug out my bread maker to make bread again. It is so easy and satisfying. Went through my rag bag to discover some of the hand towels in there are better than those in the house so a quick switch was made. I asked my neighbor for a referral for cleaning my rain gutters and he offered to do it himself for $150.00, which is about half the price around this area. He did a very thorough job and was pleased to get the money. It is so great to have your blog Brandy, it gives me hope and ideas to get through these challenging times. My cat is a big help too!

  20. Greetings everyone!! Hope you are all of to a great start this week!!
    We have had a good week so far and hope it continues.
    We tore out all the fall garden veggies that remained and turned over all the soil so that it can rest before spring planting. I am so excited for the Spring to come! I miss my garden, flower beds and all the birds, butterflies and bees buzzing around. We have been feeding a few squirrels in our yard. We put out peanut butter on saltine crackers and lay them on the deck railing. Not much time passes before they arrive and gobble up their snack. They are very entertaining!
    We did quite a bit of organizing and rearranging this past weekend and poor planning on my part resulted in $9.53 spent on a takeout pizza. Oof. I must do better!
    I made an apple crisp with some apples that were on their way out. We enjoyed roasted salmon with a quinoa salad and avocados, baked chicken, pinto beans, and Alfredo with fresh spinach & the remaining chicken.
    We visited my mother in law this week and instead of eating out I took all the ingredients for a spaghetti dinner and cooked while with visiting with her. We enjoyed our time with her and our homemade dinner was much better than any take out.
    My husband finished building a new workbench for the garage to store tools. He removed the old bench and gave it to a neighbor who needed it.
    I continue to work to eat down the freezer and home canned items. To that end I used another quart of fresh diced tomatoes, home canned tomato sauce, frozen ground turkey, frozen banana peppers and frozen green peppers in a large pot of tortellini soup. This was a huge hit today and it has been so cold these past few days.
    I bought very few items from the grocery store this week…only milk, cheese, eggs, tortellini and some coffee creamer. I baked up a pound cake with ingredients we had on hand for a little something sweet.
    I’m sad to say we will lose som squash that we froze during the summer. Not sure what happened but it basically became chucks of ice although it was sealed and packed well. I have heard that squash is finicky so we will live and learn freezing only what we can eat within 3 months where squash is concerned.
    We continue with all the usual money savers…full laundry and dish loads and a thermostat set to 65.
    Blessings to all!!

    1. I always cook squash before I freeze it and I’ve never had any failures, but maybe I’ve just been lucky! I cook hard squash (usually bake it), mash and freeze, and blanch soft squashes, like zucchini. I know lots of people don’t blanch zukes before freezing, but I do. It’s important to cool blanched veggies in ice water. I used most of my 2020 zucchini and tomatoes to make ratatouille, which is fully cooked and freezes beautifully. Remember, this is what I do, not necessarily what anyone else has to do. If raw zucchini freezes well for you, keep it up!

        1. Usually more than a minute, but less than two minutes (you can kind of tell when it is right). Cool immediately in a sink of ice water. Drain well before freezing.

  21. Hi Brandy,
    I read your blog often and love your website. I, too, am enjoying the new incarnation of All Creatures Great and Small. I think it is as good as the version Masterpiece Theatre did a long time ago. The books are wonderful. For those who don’t know, the book All Creatures Great and Small is the first book in a series that James Herriot wrote. I have read them time and time again, and never get tired of them.

  22. I HAVE MISSED EVERYONE! It has been a pleasure catching up on the past posts. Brandy, your hard work on your backyard makes me tired just looking at the pictures! I am temporarily back online and have undependable phone service after we lost everything following the Christmas Morning Bomber in Nashville, Tennessee blew up the AT&T building. We had our service through AT&T and lost internet, phone, and 911 service for weeks. We are still having problems finding service for this area and are limping along with a checked-out hot spot from our library. Most importantly, Bill is doing much, much better after his hip replacement surgery.

    The Worst is Over:
    Never Say the Worst is Over:

    My sons took their vacations at the same time and so at this moment, I have a house full of men! I love it! I am feeding them all of the food I saved from the summer garden and are harvesting armloads from the winter garden. They are happy too.

    Not having the internet has forced me to spend more time on other activities:
    *I have cleaned, organized, and inventoried my pantry.
    *The winter garden is still full of food but I missed putting up my December post.
    *Organized my big pile of saved seeds before I ordered new ones. I was shocked to learn that many of the seed companies are already selling out!
    *Got caught up on the mountain of mending.
    *Heated up saved beef fat, stirred in cheap birdseed, and made suet to hang in the birdfeeder.
    *Instructed my guys to not bite the chicken off of the bone but to pick the meat off and put them back in the refrigerator. I put them in my tiny crockpot overnight and I got a quart of broth from only a few bones.
    *Downloaded a free book onto my son’s Kindle and read it while he is here.
    *I buy cheap dollar store reading glasses but they break easily. My son repaired them by putting a piece of a metal staple through the hinge and then glued it. I now have 5 more pairs available to lose in the couch cushions.
    *He also soldered a severed wire and repaired a pair of headphones.
    *My husband has sold some hunting items. He realized he will never again do overnight mountain hunting so all of that equipment needs to go. He said being cold, hungry, tired, and sleeping in a drafty tent wasn’t that much fun anyway.
    *NEEDING ADVICE ABOUT COSTCO: My youngest son has a Costco membership and will be taking me shopping (for the first time ever) at a store that is about one hour away. He will be buying me a gift certificate (an idea I learned from the comments on this site) so I can shop after he leaves. I need advice from everyone as to what is the best value. What do they have good prices on? My plan is to do a big shopping since I won’t be driving in that direction often.
    Feels good to be back.

    1. Jeannie,
      First off I’m so glad to hear that your mom has beaten the covid virus! That is wonderful!
      I’m sorry to hear that you have lost your cell coverage, we don’t realize how much we depend on it until we lose it!
      I have missed reading of your ( and scooters ) adventures!
      At Costco I always buy 1-2 roasted chickens as I feel that that is their loss leader.

      1. J, Scooter would love tidbits from the roasted chickens. I don’t ever buy them because they are extremely expensive at my local Kroger. They are on my list to check now when I go shopping at Costco. Normally, I wouldn’t have even looked at them. Thanks for the suggestion.

    2. I’m not sure what I get is the cheapest. WalMart is often the lowest price for what we have available. We only have Safeway and Fred Meyer (Kroger). But for what it’s worth–At Costco I buy tomato products (diced, tomato sauce, tomato paste). I used to home can tomatoes and never bought any, but things have changed. I buy bags of frozen organic fruit to make smoothies out of. I buy nuts. Since I go periodically to Costco, I stagger the times I buy nuts like walnuts, almonds, cashews, and pistachios because they are more expensive. I buy bags of dried fruit like raisins and unsweetened mangoes. We don’t eat animal products, so I don’t mind spending more on a few other things. I have bought pinto beans and rice at WinCo. I think they tend to have more organic stuff, if that’s important to you. I think WinCo is probably cheaper for beans and grains. The cheapest beans I have found are mixed bean soup mix at WinCo for 60 some cents a pound. I buy some detergent products at Costco. The Costco’s Kirkland men’s boxer briefs are a hit with some of the men in my family. Kirkland brand white undershirt tee shirts for men are very nice, nice thick fabric. They sometimes have men’s tennis shoes for about $20 bucks a pair that are good for summer. Some of their other clothes are good, but the ladies things don’t fit me. The kids pajamas are nice, but I live near an outlet mall, so that is better for kids stuff. I have been thinking I should write a list of products and prices in a book and keep better track of costs.

      1. Elizabeth, I definitely need tomato products. I did not can enough this past summer and I have already run out of tomato sauce, canned tomatoes, and green beans. We ate all of ours fresh, which was delicious at the time, but shows me I need to plant more this year. I was horrified at the higher prices at the store last week for tomato sauce.
        I buy lots of nuts so that is a good suggestion and didn’t realize they had clothes. They are now added to my list of things to check.
        Thanks for the help.

    3. Jeannie, welcome back, and I’m so glad to know that although you were terribly inconvenienced by the bombing, you and your family weren’t hurt in any way. What a scary thing.

      My main buys at Costco are toilet paper and paper towels. The Kirkland brand paper products are good quality and very reasonably priced. I check the produce and meat and usually find good prices, and do the same for vanilla extract and other spices. I haven’t been since the pandemic hit full force, but that’s what I’ve stocked up on there, in the past.

      Good luck! And, how lovely to have all your “menfolk” at home. <3

      1. Ava, thank you for your kind words. We were not in any danger because we are 50 miles south of Nashville. The problem is that our internet is provided by AT&T and the phone company we have is using AT&T’s cell towers. Now we are searching for another carrier but the choices have been non-existent.
        As for toilet paper and paper towels, I have a mountain stacked in the basement after seeing what happened after the first lockdown in April. However, vanilla for my morning coffee is certainly a necessity for my survival and I don’t have a mountain of it in the pantry. I will be taking a look at it.
        Thank you.

          1. Sabrina, I checked the mileage. The one in Brentwood, Tennessee is 45 minutes away and the next closest is Huntsville, Alabama which is 1 hour 17 minutes from my house. Unless I am visiting my sister in Alabama, I don’t go south. Before Covid, I would go to work north toward Nashville but the lockdown completely destroyed the company so I no longer work.
            Is the one in Alabama bigger or better in any way that would make it worth my while to use it?

    4. That’s exciting about Costco! How thoughtful! I haven’t been to Costco in years, but I do remember that had good prices on oatmeal, beans, rice, things like that, bulk pantry items. Is that what you’re looking for? My mom has bought clothing items and books there too!

      1. Lisa, I am looking at everything they have. My local stores are only Kroger, Walmart, and Dollar General. The local Aldi is 40 minutes away in a different direction. I will be bulk buying and loading up on anything that is a better price than what I can get here. Prices are rising rapidly and it will continue as inflation explodes because the Federal Reserve continues to print money unchecked (as in Weimar, Germany during the ’20s).
        I can’t do much but I can grow a garden and keep a well-stocked pantry.

        1. Jeannie – the Costco Kirkland brand of coffee is also wonderful. It’s what we buy – in mass quantities – for my Church and people always compliment us on how good the coffee is.

          1. Margie, COFFEE! You are speaking my language now. I have plenty in the cabinet but you never know…might have to buy some more.

    5. Welcome back Jeannie!
      You have been missed! My teen daughter was so thrilled when you visited her blog (Cabin in the Clearing) and complimented her on her writing! She tried to thank you on her blog comments, and also on your blog, but it kept posting as if coming from ME and not from HER email address, so she finally gave up. But she kept commenting about how much she appreciated your encouraging her—so “thank you” from her! 😁

      1. Hi, I can’t find your daughters blog with searching. Would you mind posting a link 🙂 I would so welcome a bit of escapism during these times.

    6. Jennie, I have celiac and so I’m gluten and dairy free. I’ve also learned that foods grown with pesticides/herbicides give me a lot of gut pain so I eat organically. So what I buy may be very different from what you buy. Gas is almost always quite a bit cheaper there. I buy organic fresh produce and organic frozen produce. I try to eat between 7 and 9 cups of veggies a day. Fresh–sweet potatoes, carrots, Romaine or Spring mix, citrus, eggs, etc. Frozen–cauliflower rice, peas, beans, broccoli, cherries, blueberries, etc. (They are large several pound bags.). I also buy organic sausage, chicken. Canned/boxed–coconut milk, Himalayan salt, organic brown rice, baking soda (I use it in baths and to clean with.) Non-food–freezer gallon and quart ziplock bags, kitchen garbage bags, parchment paper. I always calculate the price against what I can get elsewhere, but because I have so much less pain if I eat organically, Costco is almost always cheaper than other alternatives (though like many of you, I garden like a maniac, purchase fresh produce from local gardeners and farmers who sell extra) and I preserve a ton of food for months in the summer and fall.

      1. Thank you Judy for your suggestions. I have many food allergies and there are few foods I am able to eat. It is the reason I garden like crazy too. It seems from your list, I might be able to find some of the expensive products I now purchase locally. Even though my closest store is 1 hour away, this might become a regular, monthly trip. We will be going this weekend and now I am scheduling a long time so I can look closer at what is available. I didn’t realize there was such a large selection of items available.

        1. Jeannie, I use Kirkland powdered laundry detergent from Costco–the kind that comes in the rectangular plastic bucket. The last time I bought it, the price was $14.99 for 200 loads. However, I have an HE machine, so I only use 1 – 2 tablespoons per load. One bucket lasts me YEARS. I am very satisfied with the way it cleans. Ecologically, I’m glad not to be buying plastic jugs of liquid detergent. Those buckets have tons of reuses!

          I also use Kirkland dishwasher detergent tabs.

          Their eyeglasses are at least $100 (and often more) cheaper than anyone else’s. They don’t take the VSP insurance benefit, but I still come out ahead buying at Costco WITHOUT the insurance.

          1. Thanks Maxine. I have hard water and have to use liquid detergent. If they have a liquid brand I will be very interested. Do you recommend their liquid dish detergent?

            1. Jeannie, I always use Dawn. If they have a Kirkland brand (and they probably do), I have never tried it. I have fairly hard water and the powder dissolves for me (but might not for you). I have a friend that owns a motel and swears by Kirkland liquid laundry detergent. I was at Costco yesterday and bought the 3 pack of Land o’ Lakes heavy cream spray-on whipped cream, which is also an excellent buy if you use the product.

        2. In addition to gas Costco is also the cheapest place by far to fill my propane tank for the BBQ. Like others I buy nuts, the occasional roast chicken, Kirkland old cheddar and mozarella, bread, vitamin D, Tums, coffee cream, bananas etc.

          The Mum I work for is an osteopath and was allowed to return to work this week so I am back to caring for the 19 month old triplets and their 3 year old brother 3 days a week-I call it my weight lifting workout. They showed an interest in the potty the other day while I was diaper changing so I gave them all a try-nobody went but one of them did pee on my leg-lol. Yesterday I took my Mum out to do multiple errands and on the way home she treated me to Indian takeout which was a nice treat.

    7. Hi Jeannie – this is what I buy from Costco in my area(Georgia)
      Pecans, walnuts and almonds
      Olive oil
      Spices such as garlic, pepper, kosher salt, cinnamon
      Butter…far and away the best price…$7.25/4lbs
      Half and half
      Laundry detergent…I shop the sales and typically get the Costco brand of Tide for under $10 for 164 loads
      Dawn dishwashing liquid
      Costco brand trash bags…again $10 for 200 bags
      Tortillas.. $2 for 110 tortillas
      Coffee…on sale $6.99/3 lbs
      Fresh produce…varies with sales and what is in season
      Meat…again this varies with sales. Pork tenderloin and pork loin roasts are always good prices though.
      Snack food items on occasion and on sale.
      Peanut butter
      Medicines…again with sales and store brands for Tylenol, Benadryl you can stick up for a small amount
      Bath soap
      Not an exhaustive list but I hope it is helpful 😊

      1. Angie, are you serious!!!!
        $2. for 110 tortillas! $7.25 for 4 pounds of butter! $6.99 for 3 pounds of coffee!!!!
        I am shocked! It looks like I will be going shopping in my son’s truck!
        Thank you so much.

    8. We get toilet paper at Costco. Also, the already cooked chickens for $5 are a great bargain, as we cannot usually get raw chicken for that price around here. Butter has been a low price recently, in the 4-packs. We buy garbage bags and Ziplock bags in all sizes. We also get vitamins there, ibuprofen, Tylenol, etc., as well. We often get a case of water, as we pack it along with us in our cars at all times. (Yes, I have a water bottle:) Yes, I do fill it up a lot:) But, we leave bottled water in each car, all the time and it has saved me plenty over the years with kids who think they are going to die of thirst before we get home!). Rob’s preferred deodorant is much cheaper there than elsewhere. If I needed paper plates for a party, I’d check there. Lots of hygiene and self-care items seem to be reasonable. Also large boxes of snacks if you need to pack lunches or take treats to school or church, which you don’t need right now–unless the boys and Bill are extra snacky:). Ha, ha!

      I’ve had an eye exam there once. It was fine and the glasses were reasonable. I believe I paid cash for it at the time, but have insurance for a different place now.

      We used to get pictures developed there, but hardly get any developed anywhere now-a-days, we just stay digital for the most part.

      The problem is that Costco prices tend to change sometimes, as do prices at other places. So, sometimes we get shredded cheddar, mozzarella and Mexican cheeses, boneless skinless chicken breast and thighs, and chocolate chips. Sometimes we don’t. The quality is great on everything I’ve bought there, and usually it comes in a large package, which often makes it cheaper than the regular grocery store. Unless… are buying a loss leader at the regular store, then that’s cheaper. Sometimes they have certain cold cereals for low prices, or run other specials.

      There have been some organic and natural products that are far cheaper there than elsewhere–but they come and go. Sometimes, I will go ahead and buy something, knowing it is not the absolute rock bottom price out there to save me from running all over from store to store, and that saves me money, as well.

      So, just go in there and have fun! Have some prices in mind, and don’t worry if you do everything perfectly. Just make sure you think you like whatever you buy, such as that huge bag of quinoa I’m still working my way through, because you will be eating it for a long, long time unless the boys are home:).

      A large continuer of spinach or lettuce is usually very inexpensive if you are between crops in your garden. Eggs have been inexpensive in the past, in a 5-dozen package.

      We like their products enough that we keep buying a membership. Truthfully, though, we don’t go frequently, just every month or two. Then we buy the large packages of the items we need, and we are set for a while longer.

      They have super cheap hot dogs, pizza and soda pop at the front and it’s my niece’s favorite place to eat lunch. She usually gets a trip in there about once a month from some family member or other. You can’t beat $1.50 to take her out to lunch:)

      1. Becky, I have been sharing this with Reese and he agrees with what everyone has said. He said Costco’s spinach keeps three times longer than Walmart’s and he doesn’t know why. His problem is that he is single and so many of the packages are too large for him to use before going bad. He also has limited storage since he rents only a small bedroom. He keeps most of his stuff locked in there. None of those things are considerations for me. I am feeding two big hungry men (Dustin and Bill) and I have a big basement.
        I am starting to get excited about going.

      2. Becky, quinoa tabouli is so yum served with BBQ.
        Cook 1 cup of quinoa and cool
        Add the juice 1 lemon
        1 teaspoon Lebanese 7 spice (if you can’t access this just add salt, pepper, cumin, garlic etc to suit your taste)
        1 bunch of parsley finely chopped
        4 large tomatoes finely diced
        1 large onion very finely diced
        NO olive oil needed. It keeps for days without olive oil.

        1. Jane — thanks for the tabouli recipe — I’m keen to try it!
          I have a lot of quinoa that needs using! Ann

      1. Leigh Ann, I will check the gas prices when we get there. I don’t expect it to be cheaper because this Costco store is located right beside Franklin, Tennessee, an extremely expensive place to live in the Nashville area. Their gas is always way higher than anywhere else. Even if my car is empty, I pass through that exit on the interstate. However, I will check the price because I will owe Reese a fillup for driving me…but he will be eating the food when we get home. Maybe he owes me instead?

  23. Our weather also is very mild this winter. We are not using our heat at all .The difference from my lower electric bill was useful in covering my vet bills this month. My cocker spaniel has developed an eye problem at age 6. I’m not sure if this will be easily resolved or not. My savings will cover it if it is outside my regular vet budget. All I can say is , being frugal sure is great in an emergency. We had a cruise booked for the end of the year. That money refunded for it , will be returned to savings. Sugar cookie requested a tablet for her birthday. I saw a discount\special for Amazon and used a gift card from Christmas to purchase it. $40.00 saved on an item I was buying anyway. I continue to dumpster dive and take food to a large needy family. We eat better than ever and are doing well on our gluten free journey. An unlimited supply of fruits and vegetables is nice. Our spend free year ( minus sugar cookie ) is going well. The quarantine has broke our shopping habits and we find we rarely need anything. My terminal mother requested a chicken pot pie from Cracker Barrel and I happily obliged. I had a swag bucks gift card hiding and with a few minutes search, I found it. I guess she has credit for 2 more. Hoping to make momma smile. Have a great week friends. I’m off to dive like a southern opposum tonight. A local pastor from a homeless shelter is coming with me. We hope to feed many people this week.

  24. I’m trying to get back into the habit of writing my frugal ways this week. Next Saturday there will be more on the list hopefully.

    I made a fantastic new to me meal a couple of days ago. We even had enough for leftovers!

    I found great grocery deals at Meijer.

    We found some great stuff at the curbside this week! I just wanted to let you know the refrigerator doesn’t work. We had it in the garage where it was cold so we thought it was working. It was humming right along too. Well …anyhow we brought it inside and were greatly disappointed.

    I watched a free movie on Amazon Prime called Herself. Yep, I sat on the couch and ignored the mess made by the grandchildren all week and relaxed. It was pretty good!

    That’s all for this week.

  25. We are very grateful for our blessings this past week. Our sons were both accepted into the high school of their choice. They’ve worked hard for years and they deserve it. We’re so proud and happy that their efforts paid off.

    On the frugal front, hubby has been making wonderful meals from scratch. He is definitely taking advantage of his furloughed hours by putting in some work at home.

    I gave myself a manicure and a pedicure and colored my hair at home as I usually do. This bit of pampering feels more and more of a treat the further we get into the pandemic. Hubby cut his own and our sons’ hair; he has been doing so for years.

    A friend has been sending me a daily photo of her new baby through a free app. It has become a nice thing to look forward to each day.

    My mom gifted me some pasta she bought on sale. A neighbor set out half a dozen wide-mouthed mason jars on her stoop she no longer wanted; I helped myself to one. I would have probably taken a second one had I not been walking my dog and without another free hand. It’s probably for the best, though, as I am aiming to declutter and really only needed one.

    Got lots of free exercise by walking the dog.

    Restrained myself by only making a single batch of blondies for dessert instead of a double, thereby saving calories and ingredients. 🙂

    Have a lovely week, everyone!

    1. I am so glad that your sons got into the high school of their choice. Will they be at the same high school? Where my husband grew up their were 2 all male high schools and you made your choice depending on what you were planning to do after you graduated.

  26. I am coming out of a 2020 “funk” and am trying to catch up plus get back into some things. I am glad this blog, this feature, and so many familiar names are still here! (I have read more often than commented in the past.)
    I am trying to have a no-spend January, with a few designated exceptions.
    — We have been getting free food from the school pickup program each week. We got an extra bag this week because the lady who hands them out was being generous, I guess; the person in front of me also got a free bag. My daughter was happy because this week’s selection included prepared orange chicken, and she got two servings of it.
    — Some of the food from the school we’ve either been getting a lot of (carrots and apples) or, since we got a lot of shelf-stable things in last summer’s bags, there are things that just weren’t our usual and/or haven’t been used yet. I’ve been trying to come up with ways to use them. This week, I cooked pork loins and roasted carrots and potatoes in the oven at the same time; I made rice and turned it into a meal by adding a can of garbanzo beans (from last summer’s school food pickups), plus cut-up apples and raisins and seasoned it with soy sauce; I made bratwurst with an accompanying side dish of fried apples and onions; and, since we had a can of coconut milk from last summer’s school food bags, I made a soup that I hadn’t made for a long time: Thai peanut soup, which involves sauteeing vegetables (onions, shredded carrots and the peanuts, for me) in butter, adding some flour for thickening, then adding broth and simmering for several minutes, then adding coconut milk and heating through. This also used up a carton of chicken broth and some of the coconut DH bought at Christmastime, since the shredded coconut can also be added at the end. We’ve also received a lot of packets of dried cranberries through the school, and we get little plastic cups of juice every week. I kept out one of my Christmas-time books because I found a recipe in it for a cranberry bread that also used orange juice and baked that this week to use up some cranberries and juice and to go with the soup.
    — For her birthday, I sent my niece an e-card “paid for” with AARP Rewards points (we are not yet retired, but old enough to be members)
    — I have been using a Kindle Fire that my daughter used to use. (She is now in high school and has a laptop from the school district.) I’m checking out ebooks from the library via the Libby app and reading them on the Kindle. Since I received an invitation to the Kindle reading challenge, this is also counting toward those goals; I’ll earn a $5 ebook credit from Amazon at the end.
    — My daughter received a book for Christmas about the history of horse racing, which came with a DVD. We watched the DVD (which appears to have been produced by the History Channel) for entertainment.
    — Our Minnesota Zoo reopened again with easing of some of the state’s restrictions, but before that, they were letting members only make reservations for walking the outdoor trails only. My mom gifts us a zoo membership for birthdays each year, so I took advantage of this and did one of the member walks at the zoo.
    — I did Zoom meetings for a church book group and a friends’ book group (both books were read on the Kindle via the Libby app from the library). I also took a Zoom class through the parks district on introduction to nature photography. It was a bit disappointing — it was more general photography tips (that I already knew) instead of specific tips on nature photography, but it was something to do. I preferred the previous week’s class on introduction to nature journaling, from a different instructor.

  27. I have to join in on the watching All Creatures Great and Small. Such a lovely respite from the current events. Traded my DIL (and son) lunch for trimming the back of my hair which was really bothering me. She would have done it regardless but it was a lovely visit as they are in our COVID bubble. I have only bought some new socks so far this year out of my clothing budget but am trying to find 2 new pairs of comfortable shoes having finally recovered from bunion surgery. Like most people in the US we are mostly staying home, taking walks and trying to limit trips to stores.

  28. You are all so wonderfully inspiring! One of my goals this year is to do a better job planning gifts (so that I don’t at the last minute spend whatever it takes to get a good gift!). I really enjoy gifting, and I put a lot of thought into gifts — sometimes too much, apparently! So this week I made a huge list of gifts for the year and filled in (thoughtful but frugal) ideas for most occasions. It otherwise was an expensive week, with three appliances giving out at once!

    1. That’s a great idea Karen Mary. I forward plan every year in order to keep costs down.

      At the start of each year I write out, in a note book, large lists of occassions, dates and gifts for all the family and friends we give to. I shop clearance and major sales throughout the year. I store everything in my linen cupboard and write it in my notebook so there’s no chance of missing it. I don’t go out of my way to get a gift, it needs to occur when I am running an errand as I am busy and don’t have the time (or inclination!) to commit to special shopping trips.

      We gift to approximately 25 people each Christmas and I keep the budget to around $300. I like buying good quality and long lasting gifts, like large brand new Lego sets for the children and personal gifts for the adults. This process allows me to get those items at great discount and stock it away for when the time comes. It does mean that I can not be as choosy in the specific product I want. For example if I want pink tote bags to put the womens gifts inside but only have a choice of blue or orange that is ok. Same with the Lego sets. I also take cuttings from our garden and plant them in decorative pots for a beautiful gift.

      I also buy cards and wrapping paper on clearance and have a large supply. For example, I bought 13 rolls of 8m pink wrapping paper with gold stars for 11 cents each. This paper can be used for either birthdays or Christmas. I reuse gift boxes and gift bags too. I get Christmas cards on clearance, paying under 25 cents per pack.

      Some great brand new things I recently got for this year’s giving included boxed Frozen II ceramic money boxes from $25 down to $2, $15 large boxed Zuru brand dolls for $5, a $90 Lego set for $45, boxed set of three Maxwell and William brand platters $20 down to $5, boxed Sylvanian Family sets for $3!, sets of three A4 notebooks with different decorative covers for 33 cents a pack! Those came in a range of combinations so I can give them to children and adults, male and female and $15 medium sized beautiful quality Christmas stuffed teddies that play music when you press their hand for $5. They will make a great Christmas gift for many of the children we give to.

  29. I was excited to use a $40 gift card to Joanns to purchase 16 skeins of yarn. I combined a sale with a 20% off everything coupon. This will keep me in yarn for a couple months. I’ll probably get four or five lapghans or baby afghans. I made sure to take a pic and send it to my friend who gave me the gift card. It was a very thoughtful gift.
    Both my husband and son gave themselves haircuts with our clippers.
    Did well menu planning, keeping to my shopping list and cooking at home.
    Tried a new recipe today that my newlywed daughter told me about. Baked sweet potatoes then opened up and added bbq chicken. Top with mozzarella cheese and yum! I fed three adults with just one shredded chicken breast. I make up a bunch of cooked chicken in the crockpot or instapot and then freeze for meals like this. Since the oven was going, I put some white potatoes in at the same time that I’ll use later in the week. (Twice baked potatoes).
    We are still enjoying staying home and doing projects, playing games, reading and watching shows.
    I look forward to this post every Monday! Hope everyone has a safe, healthy and wonderful week.

    1. Dried lemon zest, pepper, and salt. I don’t have any particular amounts. I just do what looks good. It’s mostly lemon but I like that it’s not mostly salt like many store-bought mixes are.

        1. Unless you like the salt, I would just leave it out or greatly reduce the amount you use. Mrs. Dash makes a salt-free version. It’s a little pricey, so you might just be better off making your own without the salt.

  30. We picked up our free dryer on Saturday. That was a real thrill! I was also gifted some yarrow plants and 2 sets of new earbuds.
    I bought crushed oyster shells at the feed store for 55¢/lb. I only needed one pound so it was a cheap stop! It’s for my collard trees.
    I received 3 pounds of free kiwis. They are so good.
    I cut my mother’s hair, which she paid me for.
    I received 2 special orders for my business, so am happily working on those. One is for a birthday gift, and uses Paris themed fabric. The other is for an apron, which I love making. I wear one every day myself, and it has saved me so much money over the years-by keeping stains off my clothes! I mended my hammock with a pair of jeans that were donated to me, it’s so sturdy now it might last a few more years! I get a lot of joy out of making something last a long time. Even the thread I used had been given to me-it was on bobbins that don’t fit my machine, but I use them where the thread spool usually goes, so they still are of use to me!

  31. We have been having an uncommonly warm & dry winter. I am enjoying the savings on heating, but I am having to water more and feel like a drought and terrible fire season is looming this year.

    I cleared out, re-planted and re-seeded a large container box of green onions. Due to my husband’s new food restrictions the green parts of green onions are all the onions he can tolerate, so always having them on hand is very helpful. We moved the container box into the tiny greenhouse my husband built for me years ago, but it really hasn’t been very cold. The basil and mint are thriving on my kitchen windowsill.

    I found an aero garden at my thrift store for $9.99, plus I had a 25% off coupon, and since I always wanted to try one out I started it with the included seed pods. The seed pods were for an “Italian Garden” so I started a pod each of cherry tomatoes, basil and oregano. The oregano didn’t sprout. The tomatoes and basil each came up with 4 sprouts in each pod. Once they get their second set of true leaves, you are supposed to snip away all but one sprout. I am terrible at thinning because I feel like anything that has worked so hard deserves a chance. So I cut up some cardboard egg cartons and filled the cups with soil with a special rooting compound and I stuck the cuttings in the cups. I put them in a little glass terrarium that one of the kids wanted several years ago. To my utter surprise the little guys sprouted roots and grew. Honestly, I think they are doing better than the ones in the aero garden. I also contacted aero garden to let them know the oregano didn’t sprout and they said they’ll send a replacement pod.

    I turned a vintage tablecloth that had a large worn area into a table runner and from the “scraps” I carefully cut around some of the hand-embroidered flowers and used fusible webbing & stitching to “appliqué” them to some plain cloth napkins.

    I filled out a giant survey for a $40 Amazon gift card. The company also sent a $5 bill with the survey.

    We took the kids on a little day trip along 17 Mile Drive down the coast. The weather was incredible, clear and 70 degrees. We saw seals, sea lions and sea birds. We packed a lunch with things we had here at home, which to be honest, was a bit of a weird assortment because I haven’t been to the store in a while. You are not supposed to stop and sunbathe, but we walked along several beautiful beaches. The Pacific is always cold, but it was soooooo cold. Everyone wore masks and socially distanced.

    My son’s 16th birthday is coming up, so I used part of the Amazon card to buy a video game he wants and some socks. He is getting a new pair of jeans because several months ago when I saw that the only jeans he will wear were deeply discounted I bought him the next size up. He also requested sushi from his favorite place. We will be ordering for lunch because the prices are cheaper than dinner.

    My daughter has received acceptances from 2 of the 4 colleges/ universities she applied to. We are waiting to hear from the other two. Now is the time to fill out the FAFSA, and start filling out scholarship applications. We homeschool through a public charter, so all the schools moving to distance learning didn’t really affect us, or so we thought. Once our local community college moved to all online classes, that removed some of the difficulties that my high schoolers have with attending in person classes. It turns out it was pretty easy to graduate my daughter early and have her go to the community college full time. She will have over 20 transferrable units before she goes off to college in the Fall. These units were much cheaper than if she took them at the university. I think this also made her a more attractive applicant to the colleges. I would highly recommend this route, particularly since many universities are discovering that they can offer many more sections of the most popular general ed type classes online than they can for in person only classes. I think online class options are here to stay.

    My daughter has started painting on used tea bags. Yes, used tea bags. She saw some article on the internet and the next thing I knew I was rinsing out tea bags and clipping them to the clothes line. She has been using watercolors to paint beautiful flowers and koi fish and all kinds of things. We leave the strings & tags on and she sends them as bookmarks to her friends. I thought that it was a silly idea, but they are very beautiful and she showed me some that are being sold on Etsy for $7-$16!

    We entered a give-away a friend was offering on her blog for a senior photo shoot and we won! The photos are awesome and it was a savings of $400.

    I got a very expensive face cleanser as a gift from a friend six months ago. I have made it last so long through using a squeeze thing for the tube and when I thought the tube was empty, cutting off the end of the tube and scraping out every little smidge. When I called the friend to ask if the company was likely to have a sale any time soon, she let me know that she is a frequent buyer who gets a large discount and a certain number of free samples every time she orders. The cleanser isn’t on sale yet, but she placed her regular order and requested that all her samples be the facial cleanser, and she gave them to me. She said she will let me know at the next big sale and I can piggyback my order with hers and get her discount on the sale price. My poor old wrinkly face is grateful.

    Our local park system has a program where if you take a certain number (7) of hikes in a year, documented by photos you get a free t-shirt. Husband took the first one of this year with the kids. Usually our weekends & evenings are too full of activities and commutes, but we are going to try a few while everyone’s schedule is lighter and the weather is nice.

    I know my posts are too long, but I love this supportive community

    Amber in SJ

    1. Amber, I enjoyed your post very much. Don’t worry about it being too long, it wasn’t ! I’m in Southern California and thought the same thing you did – the weather is so nice, in January… does it mean we’re in for more drought, heat, and fire…? We love California so much, but our state surely faces many challenges.

      What a score on the aero garden. My daughter in Texas has had great results with hers and has encouraged me to try one. If I ever find one at such a good price, I certainly will.

      1. This is a La Nina year. Hotter temperatures and a megadrought are what we’re looking at. gave their three-month predictions and this should be a dry year–one of many. I read about the drought conditions quite often. This is the year that, should Lake Mead drop just nine more feet, California, Arizona, and Nevada will have mandatory water cuts. Nevada will receive 3% less. We have had drought restrictions for 20 years. California put some in a few years ago but then eased up on them. I don’t know what cuts they are looking at, but I think it’s a higher percentage. In 2025, new allocations will be drawn up for the western states which receive their water from the Colorado River, and it will be even less because of the megadrought. The drought is one of the reasons we’re making the changes in the garden. We can grow more while using less water.

  32. –This past week, we focused on finishing up lots of little projects around the house, as my husband has an upcoming minor day surgery this week. It felt great to get so many little things done.
    –We used insurance to go to the dentist, and had no cavities. I love it when that happens.
    –We found free activities for my autistic niece that we care for 2 days per week. One was feeding geese and ducks at a park and the other was looking at trains as we drove along the tracks. She was thrilled.
    –We were given a large box and bag of food from Rob’s mom and cousin. Some was a Christmas gift that came late, and some was excess his mom was given that she could not use. Rob’s cousin belongs to a gleaners’ group and she had saved out many gluten-free items for us, as she knows that’s all I can eat, and she doesn’t particularly want or need them when she gets them in her portion. (She also included Bob’s Red Mill red lentils, and several other things that are not necessarily gluten-free only, but all are good) What a treat to have all that to work with! One thing we received was mung bean seeds, so I plan to sprout some soon.
    –I found broccoli in the garden. This fall/winter garden is producing way better than I expected. The winter has been very mild here, and I think that’s one reason, but I’ve never picked broccoli in January before, so I was super excited. I also got more winter lettuce from the greenhouse and used a bunch of our garden cabbage as well.
    –With all of that food, I didn’t need any groceries this week. I did get a free item that showed up on my Safeway Just-4-U card, and was happy to have it for free.
    –We went down to the beach for Martin Luther King’s birthday. I’ve got picture of that on my blog:

  33. I was able to pick up apples for 88¢/lb and chicken thighs for 88¢/lb at our local Smiths (Kroger) I cooked some of the thighs for Hawaiian haystacks (which is a perfect meal for all the little leftovers in the fridge!) and froze the rest. Our freezer is now full with meats and produce and butter 😂
    I dislocated my shoulder this weekend. It’s the third time in my adult years and will most likely need to have surgery. I’m starting to plan ahead with meals and snacks to make it a little easier on my kiddos. We have money set aside for our student loan payments due, but we will use some of that for the surgery, if it’s needed.
    I put the Libby app on my phone and have been able to read ebooks and listen to several audiobooks over the past month.
    My husband and I had a date night playing a trivial pursuit game we got 10 years ago for our wedding. It was funny to try and remember trivia from that “long” ago!

  34. I called my cell phone provider — I received a $200 credit when I switched, plus a refund of $43 from my old company. I
    asked the new phone company about a $40 connection fee which I had been assured would not be billed to me so I
    received a credit of the $43 because it should not have been. So I will have received $283 plus a $10 per monnth discount.

    Today I was treated to a flock of White-winged Crossbills that left the high branches of the spruce trees and arrived on the ground near me.
    I got some very nice photos of them “drinking” the snow.

    I gave 4 cans of soup and two boxes of lasagne noodles to our church’s food bank because they were bought by accident but I was allergic to an ingredient. I also gave 2 bars of soap as I have plenty.

    A friend did a favour for me and mailed two urgent letters for me at the post office. While there, he discovered by pure luck that the post office had put a letter to me in the wrong P.O. Box — so the book received a small grant in early December but we only heard about it today so we were busy writing thank you letters. It doesn’t get us out of the hole but is a great step forward.

    I have been looking at seed catalogs. I won’t buy much this year as I won’t have a community garden after last year’s disaster. I did see a vegetable called a cucamelon which sounds easy (size of a grape, looks like a watermelon, tastes like a cucumber and lime). Produces masses of fruit throughout the summer.

    On CBC online, I watched Les Miserables last night plus the two most recent Heartland episodes which are really sad. Free entertainment.

    I bought some extra lean ground beef and froze cooked hamburger and will make lasagne tomorrow also for the freezer. I’ll probably also make hamburger soup. Trying to have my freezer restocked for the month of February with meat.

    It’s back to writing, proofreading, editing the book after a holiday.

    I’m glad to get the instructions for making lemon zest because I bought a bag of lemons on sale.

    1. I love it when I learn something new here. I had never heard of a cucamelon, so I had to go do some googling!

    2. Hi Ellie’s Friend! I have grown cucamelons for a couple of years – my friend who is a farmer gets experimental in the summer and grows seedlings of all kinds of funky veggies. He gives me extras. 🙂 So….my son is literally the only person who has tried cucamelons and liked them. LOL! They are the size of a grape, and just really have an unexpected flavor. I pickle them for him, and he uses them in cocktails. They are fun to grow (the wine is as thin as a pencil lead!) and I guarantee you will find those vines ALL over your garden if you don’t stake them together.

  35. Hello Everyone!
    Frugal wins this week include the completion of my Covid Crochet Afghan! I worked on it evenings while relaxing in front of the TV for 9 months! It’s the size of a twin bed. 😆 Keeping my hands busy was a great stress reliever. I’ve begun Covid Crochet project #2!

    In addition, I finally completed my family room and kitchen valances today! 4 in total (2 sliders and 2 windows). It was an ambitious project involving scallop valances, jabots and cornice boards. I’m quite pleased with the outcome. My husband will hang them this week.

    He was a peach to step-up with dinners over the weekend as I pushed through my valance project! He made turkey stuffed cabbage leaves using our garden grown cabbage and our first pot-roast of the winter. 😋

    I started some indoor garden seeds. My leek seeds, purchased last year, haven’t germinated at all. I hope I can find some locally as the rush is on! 🤞🏻

    We’ve had unusual, spring-like weather this week and very little rain so far. My husband and I had a free date strolling Cannery Row in Monterey and antique shopping (no purchases). It was nice to get out and about to stroll, watch the bay, and enjoy the weather.

    Finally, I gave myself a pedicure and used my Bella Flash home laser purchased years ago. A little self-care brightened my week!

  36. Brandy I am so glad the weather is warmer for you and you have been able to do lots more work in the gardens and get more plants on discounts. Such a good feeling to have full pantries and freezers too.

    Our Vicky challenge added up to $103.66 in savings last week 🙂 .

    In the kitchen –
    – We made 3 loaves of bread some white and a combination of white and wholemeal flour in our bread making machine saving $10.92 over buying them locally.
    – Made all meals from scratch.
    – With $45 worth of free groceries ($25 from a previous supermarket promo and $20 rewards $) we topped up on 14 x 1kg bags of wholemeal flour (for bread making and baking), 2 x 500ml of olive oil on half price special for $2.50 ea and a carton of wet cat food.

    In the home –
    – Deep cleaned all the floors with an ammonia dishwashing detergent solution and then DH went over it again with a disinfectant solution and I am pleased to say the vinyl floors are now sparkling clean again :).

    Finances –
    – Paid an extra part payment off our mortgage to save interest paid and time on the loan.

    Purchases –
    – Taking advantage of weekly half price specials ,using a previous supermarket promo code of $25, combining $20 rewards dollars and collecting a free glass container valued at $30 we saved $85.50 on our monthly grocery shop.
    – Found a 6 pk of brioche fruit hot cross buns on markdown from $4.50 to $1.94 saving $2.56 on usual prices.
    – Using RACQ fair fuel prices to check on fuel costs we found that Metro was the cheapest in the area at $1.129 per litre and filled up 4 jerry cans of fuel we had used saving .17c a litre or $15.60 in total over what the other servos were charging.

    In the gardens –
    – Cleared out two garden beds of spent corn and broad bean plants and saved the seeds and weeded both garden beds.
    – Sprayed the property fence lines, around the buildings and paths with weed spray to get rid of weeds and grass.
    – Bought a punnet of giant capsicum seedlings and planted them in the vegetable gardens. Not sure why 3 times planting seeds didn’t work so I gave in and purchased seedlings instead.

    Have a wonderful week ahead everyone 🙂 .


  37. Hi Brandy and everyone
    I’m so glad you found a discount for the David Austin roses, what a pleasure they will be in the garden.
    This week has been different, my husband had a hernia repair done so I’ve been looking after him and doing all the dog walking as well as the usual stuff. He’s doing well.
    Before he had the op my husband used scrap timber etc to make two bird boxes which he fixed in the garden. He researched online for the correct dimensions and size of entry hole for blue tits to use them.
    I picked cabbage and Brussel sprouts from the garden. I also opened my only jar of home bottled pears ( first time I’ve bottled them) and we liked them so much we will bottle more this year. If our tree doesn’t produce well I will buy some cheaply in season to bottle.
    I made another face mask for my husband. To make it fit snugly over the nose I used some plastic coated wire I had salvaged from a bouquet of flowers we received at Christmas. I have more wire leftover for further masks.
    I found a box of lovely homegrown onions I’d forgotten about, it felt like a present. Small things!
    I had several little containers in the freezer of leftover soup so I pulled them all out and combined them for ‘new’ soup.
    There was a deal on Yorkshire teabags in Morrisons (UK) so I stocked up.
    We received a payout from our pet insurer to cover the vet bill for one of our Labradors. That’s gone back into savings.
    As my husband is sitting down alot while he recovers I’ve put the underfloor heating on in the kitchen ( we have a comfy armchair in there) and I’m ashamed to say I haven’t ever read the instructions fully because we rarely use it. I have a better understanding now and have adjusted the heating.
    Stay safe everyone.

  38. Oh how I would love to pull a wagon through a warm sunny nursery right now. That picture took the chill out of my bones.
    I cut my own hair. Then texted my friend the hairdresser and apologized (ha!) I can manage a decent shoulder-length basic cut, but I do miss what her adding layers does.
    Dates were stopping at self-serve recycling drop offs (separate locations) and having a coffee for the drive.
    Using the free version of Grammarly for my one office job – my boss noticed a difference right away. I figure every little bit helps them remember I am an asset to their business.
    Used a chicken carcass for this stew – one of my favorites
    We ate vegetarian 4 nights last week.
    Our electric bill went down – that was a pleasant surprise (the house is all-electric and usually just goes up in the winter months).
    I accepted some beautiful upholstery fabric scraps to use to make zippered pouches.
    Recycled elastic shoelaces no longer needed but in a like-new shape to make scrunchies with.

  39. This week my husband and I cut each other’s hair.
    I found organic oats and whole wheat flour at our local food coop for $.99 a pound.
    I made some anadama bread for the first time, which is essentially an old American recipe for a bread that includes some cornmeal and molasses. It turned out really well.
    I am sewing a blouse from a new pattern with material that I bought from a thrift store for $1.50. This way I can see if it fits properly before I make it up in more expensive material.
    I repotted our Christmas poinsettia, as it still looks so pretty I couldn’t bear to toss it.
    I started crocheting a wool blanket for the couch. Not hugely frugal as I got the yarn at our local yarn store (in walking distance) but it does help a small business and gives me hours of creative time.
    Much time spent reading library ebooks on my Kindle and watching some shows on Amazon Prime. We are doing a walk every day and are trying for good birdwatching places. This week we saw a black oystercatcher, which I have never seen before. One day we saw six harlequin ducks and I was told that they are rather rare to spot.

    1. I understand about wanting to keep the flowers going! Sometimes a vase is easier to take care of than a plant. Cut poinsettia “blossoms” last some weeks in a vase, as the colored petals are really just leaves. Technically, the real flowers are the little yellow bits in the center.

  40. We are getting tons of snow today. I was happy for some sunny, warmish days over the last week. I’m hoping the snow is only here for today, but it is really coming down.
    How we saved this week:
    -Planned all meals from the pantry and freezer. My daughter made enchiladas instead of one of the meals I’d planned. When she cooks anything, she makes a lot, so we had enchiladas for many meals, which made my husband happy.
    -I am plotting my budget kitchen makeover, which will begin after I finish my budget laundry room makeover.
    -We tidied our back yard. Amazing how a little tidying up and rearranging can make you feel better about a space while spending no money.
    -We had our eye exams and ordered new glasses. My old frames were in bad shape and our insurance provides frames every other year. I’m hoping to have these glasses last for a while as my glasses prescription is staying pretty much the same.
    -I needed two pieces of trim for our laundry room project. Lowe’s was out of stock, but I found trim I liked better for $2 less per piece at Home Depot.
    Details of our week are on my blog at
    Have a great week!

  41. I am starting to buy supplies for my little business.
    I sell Halloween costumes, small sewn things, quilts and vintage items from my Etsy shop.
    Most of my selling goes on in the autumn. This last year was terrible. So few of us had money to “throw away” on non-essentials. Thank goodness this business is extra $$ for me.
    I try to buy most of my fabrics and other items I need when they are on sale throughout the year.
    I just bought 20 pounds of stuffing (for pillows) and saved over $20.00. I never see this stuff on sale.
    I bought some yarn with metallic thread running through it for $1.49 a skein. These were marked at over 9 dollars each. I have no idea why they were on sale. They are the prettiest blue ever. I am making little bat costumes for babies out of them. Two skeins will make a costume. So the costume will cost about $3.00 to make plus my time. This is a huge savings for me.
    I bought myself 2 pair of jeans. They were marked over $90.00 each and I bought them for under $28.00 at Catherine’s on sale. I have needed some new clothes and with the $600.00 check I decided to buy the jeans.
    My husband and I will be getting our first Covid-19 shots this Friday. I am so tickled about it. Too many of my friends have been ill from covid. I have know 2 people that have passed. I have great hopes that these vaccines are an answer.
    A friend has worked on one of my Featherweight sewing machines. It is hard to find someone that will work on vintage machines. So my friend, Dart, taught herself to work on them and is trying to teach me to care for my own machines. She took this one home right before the pandemic hit. I will have a porch delivery in the next week. It will be good to have her home. I am considering selling one of the Featherweight machines. The price of the machines have gone up so much in the last couple of years. It is tempting to share the love of these great machines.
    I’ve read free books.
    All meals at home.
    I, also, am shocked that many seeds are already sold out. I was on a gardening site that a full 1/3 of their items were gone for the year. I wonder if it is because more of us are gardening or they were lost in the fires….
    I always think of things I should have shared after I’m done here. *smile*
    Update on my friend Karen and her brain tumors… They were going to do a biopsy today. They did an MRI first and found that the tumors have shrunk over 70%. They have put off doing anything else until they study these results. Please continue to pray for Karen to have a complete healing. I appreciate it.
    Everyone stay safe.
    Thank you.

    1. Both, I think! I ordered some seeds the other day from Outside Pride. They mailed them the next day! I think because they are lesser-known they are not selling out as quickly. They don’t sell a lot of vegetables, but they have some, along with herbs and flowers, so I ordered peanut and New Zealand Spinach seeds from them along with some lilliput zinnia seeds that I was looking to order. I had priced the zinnia seeds at another place (Eden Brothers) and Eden Brothers was already sold out of their bulk packages of the zinnia seeds. My seeds came by the end of the week. I read that other sites have shut down orders for 5 days to catch up on shipping and some are saying it will take a month before their seeds arrive! I’m glad to have what I need now.

      1. Eden Brothers is one of the places I’ve been looking.
        I’ll have to check out Outside Pride.
        Gardening is going to be more important to me this year.
        Thank you for all of your help.

        1. Eden Brothers was sold out at the beginning of the year already for lots of things. I’ve been on their site countless times since fall and things are going quickly.

  42. Hubby and I are recovering from Covid. We were hit pretty hard, so the medical visits, meds and tests are definitely not frugal! But I’m thankful neither of us were hospitalized.
    I’m retired as of the end of December, so am looking forward to doing more in my home. I’ve missed it!
    I cut hubby’s hair for the first time. He was quite impressed, and very happy with the results!
    He has been the cook for the past 3 years, but the other night I made some homemade macaroni and cheese that was a hit. It is good to be back in the kitchen again!
    I’ve enjoyed reading this blog for quite a while, and hope to be able to comment more now that I’m at home.
    Have a great week, everyone!

  43. Hello!
    Our winter temperatures have been very mild this year so I am hoping my heating costs will be slightly lower even though costs are up 15%.
    I changed out a lightbulb in my most used lamp with an energy efficient bulb.
    I have been giving and receiving on my local Buy Nothing Group; my favourite item this week was the large bag of carrots I received.
    I cut my husbands hair with clippers and my daughter cut my hair.
    I have made 2 Christmas gifts and tucked them away. I like to work on gifts year round, it is way less pressure than starting in November. I have a basket of items that I can work on while I watch tv at night.
    I have been hanging laundry, cooking and eating all meals at home, not going out equals not spending.

    Thank you for this lovely blog and all the positive comments. Have a great week everyone!

  44. I finally broke down and did my first ‘for the house’ grocery shop this month, not meant to stock pantry/freezer/cleaning supplies but to restock produce and meat for us. However, all the rest of this month’s budget has gone to restocking for the future not for immediate use and I am quite happy with that.
    My doctor suggested we get routine labs done at the health department as he felt it was cheaper. It was $19 to get bloods drawn but then I discovered that the same group that would have drawn for us also will be billing us for each test. Not sure we saved anything other than gas and time but I’ll take that.
    We had supper with the church seniors on Sunday night. The meal is not exactly free but is bought with donations from previous meals so it’s an inexpensive dinner out, even with the donation we give.
    I wanted something new for my living room. I visited two thrift stores and came home with 1 item for $10. It served as the inspiration for the rest of the decor which mostly came from my own storage.
    We are cooking almost all our meals at home these days…but tomorrow we’re picking up a sub sandwich at the shop near home and then going off to picnic. I’ll pack all the drinks/side items from home. This is a fun cheap date for us and we enjoy doing it.

  45. Thank you Brandy for all the inspiration on your yard to garden pictures and explanations! Thrifty action this week (which I am beginning to implement every week) is to cook a big pot of beans on Monday and meal plan through the week. Currently taking advantage of Florida citrus for dessert and snacks.
    Beginning to start some seeds indoor for transplanting later. I have a neighbor who grows lettuce indoors with a Micro Grow Light Garden. Does anyone else do this?
    Filled the car up with gas before a 20 cent a gallon hike happened the next day!
    Currently reading “Mastering Stocks and Broths” by Rachael Mamane & “Kitchen Garden REvival”. by Nicole Burke.

  46. I so very much enjoy hearing about your garden. I understand this is an enormous amount of work and I truly admire you for doing it. I don’t mean to be rude, but your native soil looks dreadful!
    Well, we have hard granite under our house, so if we wanted to digg it up we’d need to use dynamite…

    This week I was reminding myself that those weeks where I stay on course in the small things are eventually adding up. We ate all of the preplanned meals at home- as we always do. We used lots of the things from freezer and pantry to make the food, that ment that we didn’t have to go to the shop for two weeks (I will run errands tomorrow and get some fresh goods).
    I made some mittens with yarn from my stash.

    I made a hat for myself with some yarn I got as a gift.

    I mended a pair of red mittens which I had now for 10 years. My mom in law made them for herself in the 70’s. I love how wool just doesn’t age.

    I mended my son’s sweater which I made for him last year.

    I mended a blanket.

    I got a few second hand books for our homeschool.

    I organized and took care of our things. This always makes me feel grateful for what we have and gives me a sense that we have more than enough.

    I kept to my 2021 goal of being out in nature with my kids for minimum 3h a day. This is an amazing experience and I am really surprised at what I am learning. We only skipped two days when it was more than -20C (-4F), as it becomes uncomfortable to breathe in such weather. We still went out for 20 minutes a few times those days, just to see how cold that was. When its that cold my toddler takes his nap indoors, so I could wash his naptime clothes and clean the sheep skins he has in the vagon by beating them onto the snow.

    We got a Netflix gift card for New Years from a family member who discovered during Christmas that we don’t have a TV. My 8yo, who only watches shows for an hour a week on Saturdays was so stoked! He wanted to watch pokemons and he liked it a lot. He is watching one episode a day now and he is all into it. We found drawing tutorials on YouTube and he is drawing pokemons every moment he has time. I must say this got some fun ‘special time’ feeling to our 2 week national quarantine.

    My husband and I were disappointed at Netflix. It was draining just looking for sth to watch. We tried some documentaries but we watch those online on the national tv for free. I want to be open minded and give it a try- any recommendations of things to watch on Netflix? We will have it until February.

    I try intermittent fasting. It works so well for me! I just wanted to mention it in case if someone is considering to give it a go.

    1. Dynamite would be helpful! And yet–not really! Years ago, when you could still purchase dynamite, my brother-in-law bought some to help him dig a basement for his house here. Most houses here do not have basements.

      The ground here is so hard that he only made half the basement he was planning to (under only half the house), and the ceiling is low besides because he couldn’t dig it out any deeper. When he did explode the dynamite, the rocks filled right back in the hole, so he had to dig them all out by hand.

      We borrowed a tractor last week to see if we could dig with it. We have a backhoe attachment on it.

      It didn’t even scrape the surface. It couldn’t dig at all.

      We are returning it tomorrow.

        1. We rented an excavator twice, which seems to be stronger, and we are using a pneumatic tile scraper, because we have one, hooked up to a really strong air compressor. My husband may be borrowing a jackhammer and we will see if that will help for the edges. The backhoe can’t do the fine work. I remember at my last house that we hired two men to dig a hole to plant one tiny tree. It took them ALL DAY to dig it; one had the jackhammer and one shoveled it out.

    2. Hi Kinga – I also follow an Intermittent Fasting and I’ve found it easier than I thought it would be. Normally I fast for about 16 hours and then eat 2 meals within an 8 hour period. The longest I’ve managed so far is 20 hours but I do plan to try for longer very occasionally.

      As for Netflix – it’s a bit tricky as different countries have access to different programs. I personally like Scandinavian Noir like Iceland’s “Trapped”. I am currently watching “Queen’s Gambit” and I’m going to check out “Bridgerton” next. I think all of these would be considered for adults – not because they are X-rated but for subject matter. I also love “Grace & Frankie”. If you enjoy them there are also a lot of British reality programs like The Great British Baking Show and there is one that has contests make huge displays out of plants – which was fun. There are a lot of gardening documentaries if that might be of interest.

      I’ve also been trying to get outdoors at least every other day – today I walked for 2.5hrs with a friend down at Lake Ontario. We even found some trails that we hadn’t discovered as yet. It was only about -4C which is really mild for here in January – and there is no snow on the ground at the moment (although some is due tonight) so it has been wonderful for walking. Schools are back online here at the moment but when they managed classes in Sept./Oct./Nov, a lot of classes were held outdoors. I live across the street from a park area along the river and a lot of classes were held there.
      Stay well.

      1. Thank you for recommendations Margie! I will try Queens Gambit and Grace and Frankie and see what takes.
        I am trying the 16h this week, hopefully it will be just as easy.
        I love to try a new trail, we tried a new skiing path this week (9km- perfect fir my kiddos) just a day before the rain ruined all the winter fun. Best to you.

    3. Hello Kinga,
      I hope you see this post as I am writing it on a Monday.
      I enjoyed “The Crown” on Netflix. It is a drama about the Queen Elizabeth II. It begins before her reign. I believe there are 6 seasons available.
      The stories I include her uncle Edward VII (?) and Wallis Simpson, Princess Margaret’s love life, and the boyhood of Prince Phillip.
      Lot’s of intrigue and great if you enjoy recent history (WWII ).

      Ellie in AT

  47. Meals this week-roast pork tenderloin, roasted carrots and onions, grilled ginger pineapple; cheesy potato soup and pear and beets on lettuce salad with Asian dressing; spaghetti with meat sauce, salad, and garlic bread; nachos; wings and skins twice; and leftovers from the week.
    -Had a 3# bag of delicious apples given to me. We are not fans of this type. I cooked them up and made sauce. Combined this with half a roasted butternut squash for apple squash soup. I froze in containers. When we want soup, thaw, add a splash of half and half and seasoning and we have quick soup.
    -juiced and zested the remaining bag of oranges 4 left). Froze the juice in cubes for baking and the zest as well.
    -only items left in the produce drawer is a head of leafy green lettuce and a bag of baby carrots. I will need to go to the store for milk, produce, and a few other items. I have not done a regular shop in a long time. Just picking up a few things with milk as needed.
    -Did a big grocery shop ( have not done this since before Christmas, I would just pick up bread, milk, and whatever I needed). Wow the price of groceries, had a reality check, sure are on their way up. I spent $100 at Costco-milk, bread, half and half, case of bai water, yogurt, cheddar cheese, chicken broth, Cheerios, tortilla chips, and bacon crumbles. Grocery store another $80-cabbage, potatoes, onions, green onions, bananas, canned Chinese vegetables, skin on weiners, sandwich bags, creamer, soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, rice, cream cheese, sour cream,and egg roll wrappers. Will need to be diligent about not having food waste and to use canned and home frozen foods to keep costs down.
    -Searching for canning lids. None to be had. I am saving lids from my current home canned goods as I open jars, so I can reuse them. I have never done this before but I may need to if I am unable to find lids.
    -Local home and garden store starting to stock seeds. I bought some last week. They said more would be in this week. Will need to go back this week. Again I think seeds will also be hard to find.
    -Have a great week.

    1. I have reused lids before. They did work. I hear that the limit is three times, but of course, the official word is just once.

      Seed companies are already selling out and I read that Baker Creek stopped taking orders for five days just to get caught up on shipping–and that shipping is going to take 30 days. Buy your seeds quickly.

      1. Try Tattler lids..I have used them for a number of years and are always satisfied with the seal and longevity of it. For a canning product that can last up to 20 years the cost is low! They also come in red for use with tomato products (Staining)

        1. Blessing creek I have heard these are hard to use, and the seal rate is not as great. Can you give me more info. I can a lot of jars each year-around 500.

          1. Julie T, I have found that BEFORE placing in canner tighten the ring finger tight and then back it off about 1/8 of a turn or until barely snug and after out of the canner immediately tighten down (use a towel or an oven mitt on your hands!)
            When cool and after 24 hours release the ring, check for seal by gently grasping the edge of the jar and lift evenly, you will know if it is a bad seal lol, Then I always replace the ring but NOT fully tight-I do this no matter what lid I am using. I just opened a jar of wild blackberry jam from 2016-yummy, good and no problems. I also do not stack my jars and am very careful of how sunlight/heat affects the area that my jars are stored in. I find you must be a bit more fussy in keeping the rim of the jar clean and paying attention to headspace (prevent overflow) when preparing for canning. I have canned stock, meats, veggies, jams as well as dry good/shelf stable canning with almost no problem.

  48. Susan, I could not resist “butting in” here, but have you also tried using the car window wash fluid, bought in large containers for about $3. I find it works a charm on anything I have found, shower doors, windows, mirrors, & more. just spray on and I use a microfibre cloth or even a towel to dry off. sparkles & shines. ann lee s

  49. Paying off the mortgage is amazing! Congratulations, Gardenpat. I hope to make a similar announcement in about 7 years, give or take.
    I bought parts for my car and my son got the car running after it had sat for 4 years and 4 months in my driveway. I’m grateful he knows enough to do basic repairs to both the car and my truck. The car is far more economical to drive than his truck so he is driving it to and from work daily. We are blessed to not have a car payment at this time. In exchange I’ve done his laundry, about 3 weeks worth!
    I am slowly digging through each room in my house, fixing things, giving away things, trashing things. I am amazed at some of the stuff I have held onto for years. It blesses no one if it is sitting unused in a corner of my house.
    Thank you, Brandy, for your weekly posts, inspiration, and beautiful photos. And thank you all who share your ideas here.

  50. I drove to a fabric store 2 hours away and bought slate blue velvet fabric to make living room and kitchen curtains for $8.98 a yard. I got red toile for my dining room curtains for $3 a yard. Then got two trims to reupholster two french chairs for $.99 a yard. I still need fabric for my bedroom, but didn’t want to buy it today, so I took my pillow shams and match the color and took photos of the fabric label and I can order it and if over $50 they ship free.
    * I took my mother in law to get her vaccine yesterday. I am glad she was able to get it.
    * A friend gave me stacks of quilting magazines and books. She said she has crochet books to give me and wants to teach me to crochet at some point.
    * In cleaning out DVD I found an old Wii Sports game. We no longer have the system, and the kids said throw it away. I listed it on Marketplace for $20 and had 6 people wanting it very quickly.
    * I am pretty worried about the next month as our country goes through changes and food is scarce and prices going up. I think fuel will go up, too. I don’t drive that much, but Costco is about 20 minutes away, so I am heading out tomorrow to get my pantry to 6 months on all cleaning and some basics. I am also going to get eggs and freeze for omelets, look at hams and roast and get more chicken. My husband got another buck on Monday so we have ground venison, cube steak, cubed meat, and sausage coming. I have seed for most things, but I am going to grab some more packets at Walmart.
    *We moved in the end of August and my husband has so many projects going. We are going to terrace our vegetable garden on a hill and put a picket type fence on top of hill with an arbor and gate. It is 150 feet so a very big project. You can’t find wood and it is triple the price. We also have a 5 month old dog that just loves to eat my vegetables, leaves, and bark.. So, I asked husband if he would like to just take a smaller section and and put some metal posts and chicken wite to fence it in for now. We have a rain barrel we want to put on the rear of our external garage and the garden would be behind that, so he could use pvc pipe and run a line down to the hill to water those vegetables. I will be limited on what I can grow, but we will add and do more as we can.
    * I cut husband’s hair
    * Watched All Creatures, Cobra Kai season 3, and Home Town.
    *Celebrated my son’s birthday. He requested lasagna and cheesecake so I made both. Then we played Mexican Train Dominoes. I had bought a game controller he had on his Am*zon wish list back before Christmas.

  51. We had an eventful week with my son ending up in hospital. He has been discharged and now I am feeling very awful. When my husband is at work, my daughter has kindly and very happily taken care of food prep even though she is 6 years old. We are eating quite simply, with natural yoghurt, a broad range of sandwiches, water, cereal, crackers, cheese, boiled eggs, fruit and homemade fruit and yoghurt ice blocks. My husband made a large lasagna with vegetables which will last a few days.

    My niece’s birthday is next weekend and I don’t normally re-gift, but for Christmas I received a large box of perfume (EDP) that I just don’t like so unfortunately will not use. It is unopened and I thought it a waste to bin it, so have wrapped it up for her and I’m sure she will love it.

    On the weekend we stayed in and I did some decluttering which was great. I’ve been unsuccessfully tackling my wardrobe for sometime as I have too many clothes (lots are 10+ years old). I realised that I actually haven’t been unsuccessful as doing it frequently in small bits has resulted in an overall big decrease of clothing. I deemed it unsuccessful as I was only getting a small pile to give away each time, but wanting a very large pile. I’m happy with how it’s going as each time I go to declutter I’m more confident in getting rid of things that some months ago there was no way I would have!

    I also organised the children’s toys and took some games and art and craft activities to Grandmas house so they can use them each Friday when she looks after them while I am at work.

    1. I hope you feel better soon and that your son heals well. What a sweet daughter. Your meals sound perfect.

  52. 1/18/2021

    I picked Valencia oranges and sweet limes from our trees. I zested the oranges, then juiced them (we drank every bit of the juice with our lunch). I froze pulp in ice cube trays for use in smoothies or popsicles. Some of the rinds went down the disposal, which made the kitchen smell nice. Others went into a jar with vinegar to become spray cleaner. (When I first started doing this, my husband thought I was nuts. He’s become such a convert, he now calls, “Where’s the citrus/vinegar cleaner?” when he’s cleaning the counters or mopping a tile floor.) I picked and used Cuban oregano, which is flourishing in a pot on the back patio.

    When we moved, I left a lovely and well-established herb garden, and I miss it. I’m currently debating where to start my new one. I’ll be ordering raised beds, as this isn’t something my husband or I could build ourselves. Several local small businesses make them, so we will order from them.

    I downloaded several free Kindle books from Book Raider.

    I proofed and edited content for a friend’s company newsletter, and she paid me for my time.

    I used a Shutterfly “freebie” to create a photo book for my mother, and had it sent directly to her.

    I received the wonderful news that my godson and his wife are expecting their second child, in May. I jumped onto my favorite children’s clothing site to hit up the 75%-off sale and scored 4 baby outfits for $30 (including shipping). I will send those to my dear friend (the mother of my godson) for the baby shower, which I won’t be able to attend as they live on the other side of the country.

    We continue to declutter and downsize. We had to be a bit firm with the adult children about certain sentimental items (some of them rather large). The kids didn’t want to store the items themselves, but didn’t want us to get rid of them either. We had to emphasize that if they weren’t willing to take them, they’d be donated. And to be fair, they did take the items they didn’t want us to part with, and most of what we offered them they were actually very happy to have (especially framed art). We made contact-free deliveries to drop things off, for the ones that live within driving distance. It’s been fun receiving photos of how they’re using things in their own homes.

    I have a number of pairs of Christmas socks, given to me over the years, that I only wear around Christmas. I washed them and used them cushion delicate ornaments as I packed up the Christmas decorations. Christmas tea towels are great for cushioning and storing ornaments and decorations as well.

    Today I’ve enjoyed lots of free entertainment in the form of birdwatching. I positioned an old birdbath bowl (left by the previous owner of the house) in among the roses outside the kitchen window, and keep it full of fresh clean water. We’re experiencing high winds and in between gusts, the birds have been very active. I’ve had a flock of bluebirds (regular visitors), a large flock of very sassy goldfinches, a big bossy scrub jay (his glare over the rim of the bowl made me think of Angry Birds), some housefinches, and a couple chubby towhees, all splashing with great enthusiasm.

    Thanks to all, as always, for this peaceful, kind oasis of ideas and support.

  53. I started finishing cleaning some old canning jars my MIL gave me a few months before she fell and I could only run them through the dishwasher then. Some had rusty looking spots on the outside and cloudy looking on the inside I think from a basement leak. I soaked them in vinegar, water and baking soda which only left the rust but was time consuming for a few jars. I saw that someone cleaned the back of a frying pan with ketchup (left it on for an hour) and tried that on the rusty spots and it worked. Walmart website has a large container for 6.48. I plan to buy it and pour it into more jars at a time and reuse it afterward as long as it works.

    I am still decluttering papers, doing a small project every day, and declutter 365 for things I haven’t thought of. This week I got rid of a cracked cutting board and some birthday candle holders. My husband and son cut up some wood odds and ends from past projects from the garage and took them to the dump. My son told me the Neat Desk would help me organize some papers how I would like them stored on thumb drives, freeing up a lot of file space. I looked up how to make an oven mitt and a shoe repair shop in a nearby town. We cancelled a cheap gym membership. I have done extra cleaning. My husband had glaucoma laser surgery in one eye to keep the fluid down. When it heals the other one will be done.

    I made a breakfast casserole and cooked a whole pack of pork chops to make several meals to freeze. I reorganized part of the freezer.

    1. Linda – you may be able to clean the rust from the jars by using just vinegar and water, no baking soda. It should also help with cloudiness. Vinegar is the active ingredient in the ketchup that removes the rust and is probably cheaper than ketchup.

  54. I’m so excited to see your finished garden, Brandy! The amount of work you’re putting into guarantees a showpiece!

    My frugal week was very quiet, as I had several doctors appointments, so not much time to do money saving thing, but I got a few done nonetheless:
    – I redeemed Pinecone Research Rewards for a $5 VISA gc
    – I made my quickie stir-fry ( to use up veggies in the fridge.
    – I redeemed SB for $5 USD to my paypal account.
    – I cut my husband’s hair.
    – I baked chocolate chip muffins with my daughter to eat as snacks.
    – My husband moved into my parents home as well due to stay-at-home orders in our city (my daughter and I have been living with them for a few months due to the pandemic/a difficult pregnancy) so we’ll save on gas going back and bring him over each weekend. He’s taken over my father’s study as his office, and so far he’s been able to work from home with no issues. My daughter is so happy to have him around every day; her smiles every time she sees him are priceless!
    – We’ve gotten my mother to accept several hundred dollars a month to help out with the cost of groceries while we live here, but she won’t accept more, so overall we’re still saving on groceries.
    – I redeemed a coupon for a free box of Special K Red Berries, and my daughter loves eating the dried strawberries out of the cereal.

    Looking forward to learning from everyone else as always!

  55. We had gotten an estimate on a project for our living room over the summer. We needed 2 walls down, new flooring etc. It came to $9K. We saved up for it and wanted to start the work. There would be 8 men in and out of the house for 2 weeks to get it done. I was worried about Covid. Hubby and I talked and decided we would do the work ourselves. It will take a lot longer than 2 weeks since we are both working but Hubby has the knowledge to do it and our kids (19 and 21) are helping. The new cost for the project is $3K and 8 weeks. The new support beam is up and the walls are down. Everything has been gutted. We have been talking about getting a deck so some of the saved money may be going to that this summer.

    My youngest was cutting her own hair so I asked her for a trim. She does nice work. She learned from watching YouTube. She has been doing all of our hair including her boyfriend’s through out the pandemic.

    I went food shopping for P at Stop & Shop and there were lots of clearance items out. I got 6 8oz packages of red and green sugar crystals for cookies for 62 cents each. I got 11 packs of razors (2 per pack) for 25 cents each. Blue Christmas dog treat bundles were marked to $3.24. They were original $12.99. I got 2. English muffins were 37 cents each so I got 3 packs. 2 went into the freezer. They had a box of red lentil pasta for 77 cents so I got it for my daughter to try. She is GF. I got a 16 oz. container of fresh mozzarella balls for $2. We made pizza at home and used them. So yummy.

    My daughter was driving to her boyfriends. I asked her to stop at my girlfriend’s which is on the way. She had several boxes of pee pee pads that she offered me. I gave her 4 of the colored sugar crystals. She makes trays of cookies for everyone every Christmas. She also sells cookies on the side. They are delicious. She ended up giving my daughter a container of leftover cookies that she still had in the freezer. With Covid she didn’t see as many people so she had lots leftover. I froze half for later.

    With all of the construction in the house I didn’t cook dinner one night. We used a gift card and only had to pay $13 out of pocket. It was a nice treat.

    P and I went to the diner one day. He treated. I brought the leftovers home. My son took them to work the next day for lunch. I ate 3 times at his house last week. When I cook we eat together for lunch. I made a pot of soup and froze several servings for easy meals for him.

    I stopped at Aldi on the way home from P’s one day. I needed milk ($2.39 a gallon) and eggs (59 cents a dozen). I got 4 pork roasts with $3 off each one. The most expensive one was $3.02 after discount. I also returned 4 carts so $1 more in my pocket.

    Hubby sold a lawn vacuum for my parents. $200 in their pockets.

    I cooked another pumpkin. I have one left. My daughter made some doggie treats with some of it. The rest I froze.

    I have wanted a robotic vacuum for a few years. I always thought they were too expensive. I found a good one that was on sale for $50 off and an instant $30 rebate. I charged it on my CC that earns rewards points and I paid it off right away. My parents gave me $100 for Christmas and it was less than that so I am super happy.

    Stay healthy everyone and have a wonderful week.

    1. I have never seen eggs at that price! Wow!

      Great savings on doing the project yourself!

  56. Went to the grocery store and was astounded by the what the register said. I guess I knew the prices were more than what I have paid for things, but when it was all added up it was quite a bit. Anyway, I plan to cook all meals at home. I have to. My glucose numbers have been too high. But I thank God that My numbers have been good all day today. And I feel so much better! I walked two days in a row. I am working on getting 150 minutes of walking in a week.
    My husband likes his job! I am so happy!
    I’m torn between following a diet or buying only what is on sale and making meals from that. I usually buy what is on sale. I think I am going to do a combination of the two. I have to improve my health. So if I can shop sales and make healthy meals I will. If I need some extras that aren’t on sale, I may buy it as long as I can afford it. It is going to save our money in the health fees. I just couldn’t believe how much produce cost today.
    We hope to have a garden this year. That will save money. I already bought most seeds last year and saved seed from some things that we will plant again. I would also like to plant some flowers.

    1. I have noticed that produce prices are much higher this past year. It’s one of the many reasons we’re expanding our garden. Lettuce prices are especially disheartening, and we eat a lot of lettuce. A packet of lettuce costs the same as 1-2 heads of lettuce and has hundreds of seeds. I’m focusing on growing several things that are rather expensive at stores but are not expensive to grow, including lettuce, Swiss chard, green onions, pomegranates, almonds, grapefruit, peaches, cherries, and grapes.

      1. Yes, I am definitely growing lettuce as well as other vegetables to save money. It is smart to expand your garden. I am looking forward to when the weather gets warm enough for me to plant outside. I am losing weight! It is amazing what eating right and less can do. I also have been walking at least 30 minutes. I’m hungry all the time but I feel better not eating as much. I have more energy which makes me happier!

        I’m hoping my Swiss Chard will come back. Does Kale come back? I never pulled it. I just cut off the leaves. A deer ate one of our fruit trees. But the other are ok. I look forward to the day we can get fruit from our fruit trees. I’d like to plant more raspberries and grapes this year. Not sure if we can yet or not. At the very least, I will plant veggies. We are growing green onions on my kitchen windowsill. My husband planted them in one container and put some in water in another. I have been watering them.

        1. Tammy – some of my kale usually makes it through the Maine winter and sends out new leaves in the spring although they are not quite the same as they were in the summer. If your climate is milder than mine, the kale will certainly survive. Kale is a biennial and it will flower during its 2nd year. If you have the space, let a couple of plants flower and go to seed and you will have hundreds of seeds for next year and beyond. The seeds will remain viable for several years.

  57. Great inspiration. &nbsp:

    This week we did not make any purchases and were able to eat our of our pantry and freezer. &nbsp:

    Inspired by everyone’s posts-thanks

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