I harvested roselle hibiscus, peppermint, lemon verbena, tarragon, stevia, basil, oregano, and green tomatoes from the garden. I dried the herbs and will ripen the tomatoes inside.

I used glass jars to cover several frost-sensitive herbs. New herb plants have almost doubled in price in the last five years, so I prefer to not have to buy replacements. These should overwinter just fine if covered in our climate.

I sowed seeds in the garden for mache, arugula, spinach, radishes, and cilantro. The radishes were intercropped; I sowed radish seeds between my Swiss chard seedlings (which are planted 12 inches apart). They will be ready before the Swiss chard grows very large.

I purchased four mandarin trees at 50% off at Lowe’s. Most of their plants are priced much higher than our local nursery. Their small citrus trees are the same regular price for a 5-gallon pot but are much smaller trees. At 50% off, I was willing to try. I have decided to plant these in place of the rose trees I made earlier. Sadly, that spot was too hot for the roses, and most of them burnt to death in the summer sun. I am hoping this will be a better solution for this area that gets full sun. They cannot grow very large in the pots they are in, but I just wanted a small topiary tree there anyway. These are evergreen and if they give me a few fruits as well that will be a bonus!

With produce prices rising rapidly, I want to make sure I am maximizing the space in the garden. With no water allotted to many California farmers next year (more here) and the state in extreme and exceptional drought conditions for the third year (and little rain nor snow expected this winter), and California being the grower for 1/3 of the vegetables and 2/3 of the fruits and nuts in the U.S., prices are going to continue to rise. The more we can each grow, the better.

I purchased some flowers on sale (in the six-packs, as they are lower per flower) at the nursery. It was the end of the night, and they were throwing out some branches that they had trimmed from Christmas trees. Most of the branches they are bundling and selling this year, but since these were already in the trash (which was just branches), I asked if I could have some. They said yes. I brought them home and used them to decorate in the front yard.

I refrained from buying several beautiful things that I wanted to buy (but absolutely did not need). I had items in my cart; I closed the windows and decided not to purchase them.

I rolled up towels to use to block the draft from the front doors. The weather turned cold and windy this week. Doing this in past years has always made a huge difference in the temperature of the house during the winter.

Our first freeze came this week. I set the programmable thermostats (our house has two) to 65 degrees F (18 degrees C). The heater only ran about 10 minutes in the early mornings right before dawn at the coldest part of the day for two days. I also spoke with the children about opening their windows and closing doors going outside. Because the temperature dropped 20 degrees in a week, they have been used to having their windows open during the way and leaving doors partially open when going to take out the trash or getting something from the garage. I find that seasonal reminders are always needed once the heater or air conditioners run.

My husband changed the filters for the heating vents to help them run more efficiently. It is very dusty here in the desert and they need to be changed once a month whenever we run the central heat or air.

I experimented with changing the way I cook rice. I put it on to cook, let it boil for a couple of minutes, and then covered the pan and turned off the heat. I will be cooking my rice like this from now on to save gas.

My son had ordered himself a one-button washable suit jacket online. When it came, he liked the fit but he didn’t like that the black jacket had a brown button. We found a black button in the right size from my button jar to replace it.

What did you do to save money last week?

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174 Comments

  1. I love your winter decorating with the tree branch discards! Just like you to have the vision to take something others would throw away and create a lovely winter decoration! Well done!! Good reminder on furnace filters! We always buy ahead so we have enough for this winter and next, but I need to check with Hubs and see if he has changed them yet!

    We are loving our new-to-us 2002 minivan (#3)We have literally over a dozen people wanting to come and buy our old minivan (#2)We had it for 5-1/2 years. We paid $1000 for it then. It had 198K miles on it. We put an additional 25K miles on it. When we bought it we sold our minivan that we were replacing it with (#1), we got $500, so our net cost for minivan #2 was $500. We will sell it today for $600! We bought our new minivan (#3)for $3000 but with the sale of our minivan (#2), our OOP cost for the new one with 160K miles on it will be $2400. Our intent is to keep it for 5+ years! Not fancy, but clean, reliable and dependable! And most of all, frugal!! We will make sure it’s maintained well so that any small things that come up won’t turn into major repairs during the next 5 years! Crazy? Yup! But it works for us!!

    Our son, serving in Korea in the Army called me on my phone twice this week! I almost thought it was a scam call when I saw a strange phone number that said Korea. Then I remembered that he and his son are both serving there so I answered it! The call was clear and sounded Iike we were just calling from a block away! And the amazing thing to this former long distance operator for Ma Bell is that we talked for over 20 minutes each time at NO charge!! What an amazing time we live in!! I remember planning calls after 7 pm to get a cheaper phone rate when calling a neighboring community that was considered “long” distance! And making that call short because we paid by the minute!! 😱

    We helped build and fill food boxes at a community food pantry this morning. Our local LDS Bishop’s Storehouse donated a semi truck filled with canned/dry food to them as well. It was a wonderful feeling to see how local grocery stores (Krogers) and restaurants (Panera bread) had also donated produce and breads to them and each family box was filled with things that could actually make complete meals! It was a reminder of how grateful we should be by our abundance and how willing to share we also should be!

    Quilts#214- #218 got quilted- https://pin.it/6M8YULu, https://pin.it/wzilFOg, https://pin.it/4lZWtNg, https://pin.it/2hp7JLR, https://pin.it/2iKn7rk and https://pin.it/2qPaYcX. So the business brought in some extra money. One more quilt someone sent is going on Lenni on Tuesday (tomorrow) and will be sent back to her by Thursday!

    I was able to redeem cc rewards into $10 cash deposited into our savings account. We also got $200 for opening a checking account with the financial institution that holds our IRA account.

    Our electric bill went up this month- it’s been really cold but the $147/month is still less than the $200 I budget for. Seems like those new windows are doing their job! We pay our natural gas bill on a level pay every month and even with heating our house more, we still are running a credit on our account! We will still keep paying our level pay amount though, just in case the winter gets colder and longer than usual!

    Our monthly amount that we pay for our property tax is $247, but I saw that the actual amount needed for the escrow was $106 so I paid that instead since our January bill should reflect our Homestead exemption which will make our monthly amount go down! Our insurance agent who navigates through the Medicare supplements for us every year found Rx policies that will reduce our current monthly premiums by $23/month while still covering Hubs meds! Every $23 counts at our house! 😉

    I didn’t buy anything at the grocery stores this week. It’s a nice feeling to be able to depend on my pantry completely when there isn’t anything on sale that I need that is on a good enough sale for me to stock up!
    It’s time to prune our fruit trees so we will do that on Wednesday when our temp will be around 53 degrees F! Another unforeseen warm day to get busy outside!!
    The husband of a dear friend passed away on Friday from a bleeding stroke. He was in great health and only 64. It has reminded us how fragile and precious each day is. We are rejoicing in each day and not stressing over things that really don’t matter. I think this will make our holiday more meaningful!

    Thank you, Brandy for all your good ideas and encouragement, along with that of your readers! Every week I’m able to glean some new idea from you to enrich our lives and our home!

    Gardenpat in Ohio
    HandmadeinOldeTowne.com

    1. Gardenpat, I know what you mean about the wonders of telephone technology. When I was a little girl at my English boarding school my father was serving in Kuwait and my mother was with him. They would send a letter to our house matron to ask them to have me standing by the telephone in their office at a certain time, day etc. My parents would book a call and go to an office in Kuwait and when the US satellite was passing above in space there was a short window of time when the satellite could receive their call and beam it to England. As the satellite passed out of range the call would end. The past truly is another country!

      1. PennyP- When this same son was deployed to Kuwait and, a couple years later, to Qatar, he actually Skyped with us which was astounding to be able to see him and have him see us!! We had to buy the little camera thing to use with our computer back then but now, FB Messenger and FaceTime have made it possible without buying extra accessories for our phones or tablets!
        Just remarkable!!

        Gardenpat in Ohio
        HandmadeinOldeTowne.com

        1. Fb messenger works well for video phone calls from Qatar. A friend of mine lives there and we have used it once for a call to show one another our gardens.

    2. Gardenpat – I have a question on canning the pineapple that you do. One of our local stores is having whole pineapples for 79¢ each (Yoke’s if you read this Maxine). I know this is a great price and I will buy some to eat fresh, but do you just water bath can the pineapple? That I could do. I don’t have a pressure canner, so am limited, but since it is a fruit, I thought it could maybe be water bath canned. Thanks

      1. Nancy in Eastern Washington- Yes, pineapple is water bath canned. Here’s a link to the instructions I use: https://www.sbcanning.com/2013/03/canning-pineapple-chunks-from-fresh.html.
        Instead of a traditional water bath canner that needs several gallons of water to cover the jars completely and takes a lot of time and energy to get that water up to a rolling boil to process for the 10 minutes, I use a steam canner with a gauge that only takes 2-1/2 quarts of water in the canner itself! So less water, less energy and less time to get to processing heat!
        This is the one I use : https://pin.it/6vKOIPv. And as you can see, I’ve bought 6 of them, kept 1 and given the other 5 as gifts. It’s on Amazon and if you or anyone decides to get one, please go through Brandy’s Amazon link so she gets credit ! This canner makes me happy to can just a single jar or two if I don’t have a full batch, but it can hold 7 quarts or 8 pints in every batch!

        Gardenpat in Ohio
        HandmadeinOldeTowne.com

      2. Hi Nancy,
        Another option for canning information is Oregon State University’s Master Food Preservers hotline (800)354-7319. I called it a month or so ago about preserving Asian pears because I had never canned them before. There was information about it online, but I wanted to make mine into sauce because out backyard tree had very small pears on it, and I wanted to not peel them but to cook them slightly and run them through a Victorio strainer like the smooth kind of applesauce is made. Anyway, sorry for the aside, but I found them extremely friendly and helpful. The person I talked to first was a volunteer who positive about how to answer my question. She talked to the home extension agent employed by the university and phoned me back within hours. I presume Washington State University has home extension agents, also. The hotline in OR runs from July 15 to the first week or so in Oct.,, but the extension agents are available all year because they also coordinate other programs. Our local extension agent office has canners and food dehydrators they loan out, also. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has a wealth of information on food preservation that can be found online. I took the Master Food Preservation class and became certified some years ago and found that my ways of doing things needed updating. Oregon State did extensive testing on safety and published new guidelines for us. Perhaps things have changed now, but at that time, steamer canners were not recommended as a safe way to can. I think we in the class were all a bit surprised at what we needed to change about our practices. I know I learned a lot. For one thing I always open-kettle canned applesauce , but found I needed to process it in a water bath canner, so I always do that now. I also learned that many things that are not safe to can in a water bath canner can be frozen. Hope this give you some ideas of sources of information.

        1. Elizabeth H.- Actually steam canners originally didn’t have any gauge to know whether it was time to start the processing clock. However, that changed when a gauge was added on the lid that gives a range for it to reach (depending on altitude) before beginning the processing clock. They are now approving this type as being reliable and safe!

          Gardenpat in Ohio
          HandmadeinOldeTowne.com

        2. Once upon the time when I was a kid, we planted kale on the south side of our house almost next to our neighbor’s driveway. They did not appreciate our garden being there because their driveway ended exactly on the property line and when we dug up the lawn next to it, they could no longer step out of their car without checking for mud. Back to the kale. It was so winter hardy (Some varieties are hardy down to -10.) that we dug out the snow on top of it and were surprised to be able to harvest healthy leaves unharmed by the cold.

  2. Potted citrus trees as beautiful! I hope yours grow well and bless you with both fruit and beauty!

    This week we saved by bulk cooking a few meals, and using small amounts of leftovers to make whole new meals. We are using kale, tomatoes, zucchini, Patti pans, Swiss chard, celery, green onions, leeks, and herbs from the garden daily, with extras to share with others too. I planted more lettuce in a cooler spot.
    My daughter has been in hospital for a week, and will probably be there until Christmas. She needed more pyjamas so I sewed them for her using flannel I purchased years ago. Our van chose this week to break down. Rather than use a ride service or hire a car, I borrowed a car from my sister. Normally we would be fine to just stay at home but I needed to get to and from the hospital and my son to his annual soccer club tournament.

    Our younger sons needed more shorts, I sewed several pairs for them using oddments of fabric left over from other projects nicely pieced and seamed together. I have ample fabric in my stash but decided to use these scraps while they’re still young enough for me to get away with it, and keep the yards of fabric for other projects. We had a birthday on Sunday, our youngest daughter turned 9. She chose her birthday meal from ingredients we had in the pantry and her Dad baked a cake with her that she had fun decorating. I sewed her a new dress and her gifts were small and simple but she loved them because they were thoughtful and well suited to her personality.

    It rained on a day I had to do some laundry. I hung the clothes inside on hangers and a drying frame rather than use the dryer to save electricity. I used the oven efficiently baking 4 loaves of bread immediately followed by a double batch of oatmeal bars. We drink a lot of tea. Instead of boiling the kettle every time, we fill a thermos flask a couple times a day. We snacked on apples and popcorn washed down with tap water. These are all small things but added up they count.

  3. My husband purchased a refrigerator/ freezer off Marketplace to put in his shop. It was $60 and when we picked it up it was too big for his shop. So we put it in my garage, which has 2 upright freezers. We figured we could use it during the holidays and sell after New Years if we find it isn’t needed. I just got my quarter cow last week so my meat freezer is full. We were able to put two turkeys in the refrigerator freezer and my frozen tomatoes I will be canning later.
    ***Cut the dogs face and husband’s hair
    ***Returned a top and MIL’s lined leggings to Sam’s for a refund.
    ***I skipped doing grocery shopping deals this week, but did buy stocking candy and gingerbread house candy. This is the fourth week I haven’t shopped for regular grocery, just continue to eat out of the freezer. Husband has picked up bread and milk.
    ***I embroidered 9 towels https://www.instagram.com/p/CXM8zjItuCO/?utm_medium=copy_link and a baby quilt https://www.instagram.com/p/CXM8iontQ5q/?utm_medium=copy_link for a family friend. She got me 9 six foot stakes for blackberries so I traded her.
    ***I decorated with things I have, but did use live wreaths and garland I got from Costco. I did a video of the main area https://www.instagram.com/tv/CXPF_YopO0g/?utm_medium=copy_link.
    ***My husband got a really nice bonus. He told me to go get a better machine I can use to quilt. I have been looking at a Babylock with a large throat that you can free motion quilt on, so will go see if they have one in stock. I am also getting a small quilt stand that sits on the table to use the machine more like a long arm. It is less than 1/4 his bonus so the rest we will just saved and put on mortgage.
    ***My ceramic tree was missing the star and 4 bulbs. I ordered a set off Amazon for $8.99. It had 3 stars and 102 bulbs. I replaced mine, kept 5 bulbs in case I lose some more by next year, then made 2 sets with a star and half the extra bulbs and sold for $5 each. So, I made money!

      1. Always learning new things on your wonderful blog, Brandy (and the comments which are usually my before-bed reading each weeknight).

        I tried the rice cooking method you described and it worked great! Especially good for me as I made a last minute lunch for taking to work. I add about 1/4 cup salsa to my cooking rice for easy Spanish rice. I used your method this morning. Was able to heat the water and salt, add the rice and salsa, stir and let cook a few minutes while I tidied up. Then stirred well and turned off the burner, leaving the rice covered in the pot on the now-off burner. I took my shower and got ready for work during this off cooking time. Worked like a charm and I was able to bring Spanish rice for my lunch! Sooo good! I just need to add some beans next time and maybe guac or extra salsa for a little more nutrition. Thank you Brandy for this EXCELLENT way to save time and $$! Plus my rice didn’t cook over on the stove so it was an added bonus.

        Frugal fail last night was my husband wanted to help prepare supper when we got home from work. Sure! We can do two in the kitchen of a tiny house! Lol. Except when cutting a few potatoes for making fries in the air fryer, he PEELED the potatoes. Ugh! (Ijust wash and slice but what can you say when he was helping?) Lol. I was shocked that the peelings he threw away would have made a whole serving+ of French fries. He reminded me that HE likes them peeled. You win some and you lose some, I guess.

        I saved this week very little $$ but made homemade blueberry muffins using a simple recipe for breakfasts, grilled hotdogs for weekend lunches, crocheted using yarn I have at home, making slippers for my mom and continued a baby Afghan I had started months ago-now that I found out we are getting our first grandchild in the spring! The colors are blue and green and baby is a boy so I’m now excited to get this waffle stitch blanket finished!

        Saw a recipe for freezer lasagna using uncooked pasta. Trying that soon!

        Also, I made homemade sugar cookies and plan on adding to my stash of frozen unbaked cookies. I love having them teed up for a quick treat.

        Weather in mid MO has been very warm. Helps the heat bills but the risk for storms is huge with weather like this which can be so very scary. Lots of prayers for those effected by the tornados last week. How awful and my heart goes out to them as they rebuild their lives and learn to live without the people who lost their lives in the storms. Such devastation is heartbreaking.

        Thanks again for this wonderful blog and forum of positivity.

        1. Gina,
          Congratulations on the new grandson! I’m sure he will look wonderful in the blanket you are making. Handmade things make babies look treasured by their families. They also announce that the parents have support from family. This is an important message to get out. I once had a pediatrician comment that my daughter looked like a “little queen” because of her grandmothers’ gifts. I’m sure your family will appreciate your gift of love.

    1. Your home is beautifully decorated, Holly! Is your dog a Labradoodle? We are thinking about getting a dog and that is one breed I am considering.

      1. Just a tip – Doodles are incredibly smart and can be such a fun family dog BUT they do need grooming. Buying your own clippers and watching some youtube videos would be a HUGE $$ saver. (If it doesn’t look quite right, the dog won’t care and the hair grows back quickly) In our area of Michigan, $100 is considered “cheap” for a full groom on a Doodle and needs to be done every 8 weeks or so :0 !!!

    2. Holly, I thoroughly enjoyed your house tour. Everything looked lovely and you gave me some decorating ideas (from one southerner to another!). I saw the same nativity carousel as mine in your kitchen. And the embroidery on the towels is amazing! Merry Christmas!

  4. What lovely evergreen arrangements! I also have some free greens to make use of. I found them on the ground, as the high winds last week blew down many small branches. I have cedar clippings packed away with my Christmas decorations for the scent.
    I confirmed my healthcare marketplace choices yesterday. Deadline for filing for January 1 coverage is Wednesday; after that, the coverage start dates are later.
    I ordered holiday return address labels with Peanuts characters as a treat. We get a good number of free charitable ones, but those only have my name on them, not the whole family. The pictures on them are big enough that I can cut them off for stickers if I ever don’t need the address part.
    My father’s mail is being forwarded to me and, even though he was entered in the “deceased” do-not-mail registry at both his address and mine, the charitable solicitations keep coming. Perhaps my time spent on his mail will be made up by a few nice cards, calendars, and the like, yet I would rather the charities spent their money on mailings that might do them some good. I do not believe I am obligated to send them donations for unsolicited items.
    Watching closely for grocery sales and working on stocking up. Compared the two drug stores in town and decided to stay with the one I was more likely to shop at before, based on lower prices, better sales, better stock, and a less convoluted rewards program.
    Oiled my paper shredder with WD40. When I went for my covid booster, I found a Christmas cactus on half price clearance at WalMart. The soil was dry, though it has lots of buds, so I took a chance on it. Brought up my three past year’s amaryllis from the basement, hoping at least one will bloom.
    Met with our financial planner. Among questions to be answered yet are whether we want our retirement money guaranteed in annuity payments, or in a giant lump sum that we control.

  5. I clipped small branches from the Arizona and Clemson cypress trees in our yard and used the clippings and an old spool of craft wire to make greenery wreaths on the grapevine forms I use year after year. The wreath forms were made several years ago from grapevine trimmings. If I form the wreaths when the vines are freshly cut, they are flexible enough to use without cracking. I interweave the vine ends into the wreath, so that I don’t need to fasten the ends with wire. The ribbon for my bows this year was bought on clearance about a year and a half ago. I must replace my outdoor bows every so often, as this Florida climate makes them mold and mildew after a while.

    I hung my at-least-a-decade old LED string lights outside, and put my elderly electric candles in our upstairs windows that face the road. The candles use LED nightlight bulbs. My tree will also be lit by LED lights.

    I bought flour on sale for Christmas baking. I no longer tolerate wheat well, but I make a few standard baked goods every Christmas that the family enjoys.

    One of my bosses bought a large box of Satsumas from a school fundraiser and left them at work for us to enjoy here and take home, too. I’ve been really enjoying them.

    I am making a simple gathered skirt for a sweet little girl, using the fabric from a pretty, soft, new cotton flannel pillowcase that I had been given and had never used. I already have the thread and elastic. Oh! Thanks, Brandy, for mentioning Wawak here. I have ordered several things from them.

    I was offered, and accepted, a free, nearly new rolling ottoman with upholstered seat, which has a hidden drawer in it sized to hold 8.5 x 11 hanging file folders. I am planning an office/craft space in the house, and this will be useful.

    I am going to cut, paint and mount simple handrails for our front steps. I have a Lowe’s gift card that will help a lot in getting the supplies I need. I already have mounted some on the back steps, so I know the process. This will save at least $50 in labor, but it wouldn’t save much if we didn’t already own a saw and drill. Common handyman type tools are long-lasting and very, very frugal for those who use them.

    I hope everyone is holding up well, and my prayers go out to those in the paths of the tornadoes. I grew up in that area, and the pictures break my heart.

  6. Our week saw no unusual savings but doing small, regular things seems to make the biggest difference over the long term, it seems.
    We were invited to a holiday meal at the church of a neighbor. So, on our way home from church, we stopped there and had a lovely time with many of our neighbors. They insisted we come home with leftovers which we gratefully accepted. Those items fed us for another two days and were delicious.
    One of my favorite thrift shops sells old magazines for 10 cents each. I do not take any magazine subscriptions as they all seem to be filled primarily with advertisements these days. However, I did find a few I thought I would enjoy browsing through and I did. It was cheap entertainment and I passed them on to a neighbor after I read them. Feels good to share and frugality makes it more possible.
    I sold a few things on-line the funds of which I use to pay for one of my son’s martial arts classes.
    We continue to harvest Swiss Chard and some herbs from the garden which adds some variety to our meals.
    I walk through the woods daily with my dog and, most of the time, a child or two, which I love. Though we do not have as many outdoor chores to do this time of year, getting out and breathing the air and moving my bones does wonders for me body and soul. I collected some more nature bits to add to our advent candle arrangement which I love.
    My husband and sons went off one afternoon last week to do some “secret Christmas stuff.” I took the opportunity to clean out a storage closet and discovered some clothes I had put away that my youngest can wear now as well as a few things to sell and one pair of snow bibs we can gift to a friend. The cats kept me company and I listened to Christmas music and it was both relaxing and productive. I often feel the urge to clean out this time of year – more so than after New Year’s. Something about making room for the reason for Christmas, I think.
    I am re-reading “Christmas with Miss Read” which I own and read every year. It is a compilation, or omnibus (what a great word!) of some of her other novels. If you have not read any Miss Read books, I highly recommend them. They all center around small English villages and the colorful characters who live there. They are gentle stories that everyone can relate to – just the kind of thing I like to read, especially this time of year. I find them very calming. Of course, reading them while taking a bubble bath (one of my few luxuries) helps!
    Wishing everyone a happy week!

    1. Oh my gosh, I also enjoy the Miss Read books. I reread them every few years. If any is looking for a gentle entertaining read these are perfect!

      1. I LOVE the Thrush Green series!
        Also another series that owes much to the Miss Read books is the Mitford series. Pleasant and kind books that are feel-good !

        1. Yes! Jan Karon’s Mitford series is dear to my heart and I have read them all. Mitford is based on the little village of Blowing Rock, NC just 30 minutes from where I live. Wonderful stories!

  7. Hi Brandy and everyone
    I love the way you have decorated your garden urns. Funnily enough I also rolled up a towel to stop rain blowing under a door during a big rain storm this week. It only blows under about once a year when the wind blows strongly in a particular direction.
    We made our Christmas cake this week.
    I made a big bowl of coleslaw as my contribution to our floral club lunch. I often make this to take to events as the vegetables are cheap and I use half plain yoghurt/ mayo to keep the cost and richness down.
    We picked parsnips, Swiss Chard and cherry tomatoes from the garden/ greenhouse.
    We planted out broad beans, onions and garlic.
    I made more Christmas fabric reuseable gift bags.
    I won a £10 M & S gift card in a raffle at floral club.
    A friend told me about a cheaper place to source fresh Christmas trees, too late for this year as we’ve bought one already but I’ve noted it for next year. We’ve decorated for Christmas using decorations we’ve owned for many years, I love some of the vintage baubles I inherited from my grandparents.
    Our local Scout groups run a Christmas postal service and deliver to the surrounding areas at a cost of 30 pence per item instead of 65 pence for a second class stamp. This is a considerable saving for our local cards and we like to support their fundraiser.
    We discovered active woodworm in a big cabinet in our sitting room. My husband found a big tin of woodworm treatment liquid in his workshop. I togged up with goggles, proper mask and gloves we had on hand and applied two coats of the treatment ( with all windows open for safety etc). I think it would be wise to check/ treat this cabinet annually so I’ve made a note on next year’s calender. I don’t know how much professional treatment would cost but we’ve saved those charges.
    My car passed it’s MOT ( compulsory annual safety check in UK) with no work advised. The mechanic kindly pointed out that I had submitted it for inspection one day too early and would lose a month of cover so he held the paperwork over till the next day and I’m now good for 13 months before next inspection.
    Stay safe everyone.

  8. I didn’t have any extraordinary savings this last week (or I forgot to document them!).

    We had a family Christmas party on Friday which was catered from money from my parents’ estate. I was able to bring home many leftovers, including a large pan of scalloped potatoes, more than a dozen rolls, butter chips, and a large bag of salad greens. We enjoyed the greens for dinner one night, adding fruit and vegetables from the refrigerator. I brought the scalloped potatoes to a party we hosted two nights later and between what was eaten and sent home with guests, they were all used. At this party we shared the cost of a turkey and ham with another person. We sent leftovers home with guests, but I was able to keep the bones from both for soup.

    I attended an open rehearsal for our symphony. While I did have to pay a discounted price for a seat, it is probably 80% less than what is normally charged. I enjoyed the music immensely!

    I worked a lot last week, so that will mean my monthly supplemental paycheck will be larger than normal. My colleague kindly brought an extra sandwich one day, looking out for me so we didn’t have to stop and buy lunch anywhere and we could keep working.

    Many neighbors in my building have been very kind in dropping of small Christmas treats. I am so grateful for kindness shared!

  9. Your roselle looks amazing! I had to Google it, and found out that it can be used to make jam, tea, syrup, and a cranberry-type relish! How useful!

    My frugal week:
    – I made pizza scrolls (http://approachingfood.com/cheesy-pizza-scrolls/), and apple carrot muffins. I turned leftover pizza scrolls into croutons to top some soup with.
    – I made bacon, corn, and potato chowder, using the last of some wizened discount potatoes, a can of corn that I wanted to rotate from my pandemic stash, and half a pkg of loss-leader bacon. I served it with homemade soda bread when my sister visited, and even my soup-isnt-a-meal husband (*loving eye roll*) liked it.
    – I worked on making some candy for the Christmas tins i like to give to friends, including pastilles using red and green sprinkles I had leftover from previous years (http://approachingfood.com/easy-holiday-pastilles/). I used regular chocolate chips as opposed to special melting chocolate, so already had all necessary items in my pantry.
    – I redeemed Swagbucks for $10 to my PayPal account. I currently donate a small amount monthly to a non-profit, and I earn the money via Swagbucks. Easy way to help out, without impacting my budget.
    – I picked up a free item from Loblaws using my loyalty card. It was the laundry detergent my husband prefers, so that was handy!
    – I redeemed $10 in loyalty points for a gel nail polish for myself. I have an LED lamp, so I can give myself a holiday manicure at a fraction of the cost of a professional one. Now, to find the time to do it!
    – I cut my husband’s hair
    – I made Christmas bark for my cookie/candy tins, using chocolates bought on sale and with a coupon, and candy canes leftover from last year (http://approachingfood.com/candy-confections-white-chocolate-candy-cane-bark/)
    – my daughter and I made Christmas ornaments using construction paper. A craft, an ornament, and a keepsake, using only supplies I had in the house. We also made a paper holly wreath and I was able to show her the neighbour’s holly bush. And one more frugal Christmassy thing: we like to go on a “Christmas hunt”, where we go on walks or drives and look for Christmas lights or decorations. Keeps her occupied and engaged with her surroundings, and it’s especially fun to do on dreary days.

    Looking forward to learning from everyone else as always!

    1. I plan on planting a lot more next year. It is delicious and so useful! You can eat the leaves in a salad too, but I didn’t pick the leaves before the wind destroyed them.

    2. Margaret, I didn’t see a recipe for “bacon, corn, potato chowder” on your site so I am wondering if there is a recipe you could share? It sounds delicious.
      Jeannie@GetMeToTheCountry

  10. I love your herb and vegetable photos.
    I thought I had drowned and fried my Android phone early this weekend as coffee sloshed out of the cup into the walker tray. In the future, my mugs will be transported in a berry or soup bowl. Before I realized I had coffee in the phone, I was trying to charge it in a different location than usual and thought I had a problem with the charger or cord so I had tried several different combinations of charger and cord. 36-hours later, the phone was still flakey but I knew the phone itself was working, just that it wouldn’t much longer if I couldn’t charge it. So I ordered a replacement battery (phone was reporting battery might be problematic) and, drumroll, an external battery charger from Amazon. I thought $24 to get a working phone was a good deal until my phone dried up some more and it could get charged in the usual way. I am posting this here because phone and tablet charging ports frequently break and this workaround might work for you if your phone has a removeable battery.
    I did shorten two very reasonably priced flannel nightgowns for my 4’10” mom. One looks like a flannel dress so she can wear it when we have visitors (like the visiting doctor and his assistant today).
    Otherwise, the tornadoes in the south (and, especially the tornado-warned storm in Gary, Indiana, that was moving northeast (Guess where I live relative to Gary.) combined with a sundowning, dehydrated mom had me totally stressed out and exhausted this week. So I was not frugal with food and I just topped off the week with a $100 order from Sams Club of feel-good foods and drink and some carnations. But a week after I gave mom a needed diuretic and had tipped the balance from.water-logged to dehydrated, she finally woke up thirsty today and the doctor prescribed a smaller diuretic pill during his visit. Elderly brains don’t work well when deprived of water. Mom has swallowing difficulties and starts pocketing/chipmunking her food when she is dehydrated. On a caregiving forum somebody assumed she was near the end. I replied that she might be in a last rally and I am not a nurse but she actually had been doing quite well for herself lately. No bedsores, no other bandageable wounds, conversing more like normal mom (I have spent much of the past two years carrying both sides of the conversation and my sister had gotten frustrated with the silence while trying to talk with mom on the phone), and, last week excepted, worrying less and having to remind/nag mom much less about her drinking and eating. Even the doctor had reduced his visits from monthly to every 6-8 weeks. Subject to change in an instant, of course. That’s why on a community forum, when somebody claimed to have a receipt for about $1400 for having paid for her mom’s funeral in rebuttal to a relative of hers begging for tires for her dad to get to cancer treatment because that relative was broke after (supposedly) paying for the funeral, I posted, admitting it was off-topic, but wondering where they got a $1400 funeral. When mom was very sick last year, our governor signed an order saying families had to make arrangements for their deceased loved ones within 24 hours or the state would do it for them to clear up space in morgues. So at the time, while wondering how long somebody could live while swallowing no more than an ounce an hour and if it was time to call in hospice, I called a couple of localish funeral homes to price very simple burials. It was about $3500 for no viewing, no memorial service at the funeral home, and excluding lot, sexton fees, and a headstone. And a cremation, not seriously considered because it would be against mom’s wishes, was just $1000 less. Another person in the forum had to find cheap services for a person with no family who had lived in the home where she worked. And she had. A cremation package for $695 and a simple fineral for $1795 in a non-scary suburban neighborhood (actually, with two or three additional non-scary suburban satellite locations in the Detroit metro area) from a funeral home that had been taking care of final needs for two decades. A third person in the forum volunteered that is the place she had used for her mom but that when she dies, she expects all the bells and whistles because her daughter will soon be a mortician. So I probably have saved our family $1500 by asking the question–and have saved myself from one last-minute decision at a time when there will be many decisions to make. I also was able to ask mom this week if she wanted a new combined headstone for her and dad or if she was okay if they didn’t match. (Dad died over 45 years ago so I highly doubt a matching headstone will be available.) She does not want a new one for dad. So another decision has been made and can be filed away for use in the future, hopefully some years from now. And if anything happens to me before both of my sisters, they now know that I’d just as soon be cremated, saving the family more money and a decision at what will be a difficult time.

      1. Me, either! “The Music Man” is my favorite musical and one of my all-time favorite movies! I will watch it anytime!

        1. The Music Man was my grandfather’s favorite musical. He sang in church and for weddings and even sang with a barbershop quartet for a while. We sing “Good Night, Ladies” to the chickens when we put them up at night. It was especially cute when my kids were really little and couldn’t quite pronounce all the words. 🙂

  11. Beautiful pictures!

    This week I signed up for and picked up a gingerbread kit from Lowe’s. I also bought supplies for my annual gingerbread house party with nieces and nephews. Total cost was covered from a Walmart gift card. It’s a pretty frugal event regardless and my kids still have lots of fun as well (ages 17,19,22)!

    I worked some more to help out at my dad’s office during their busy season which also helps me with extra cash. It’s exhausting but only needed for such a short window of time so try and work all I can.

    Was gifted an adorable small rustic tree from Buy Nothing Group!

    Gratefully accepted leftovers from my mom and was treated as usual to lunch after church by my dad.

    Hope everyone is able to feel pockets of peace and an abundance of joy during this season!

  12. Thank you, Brandy, for the information about California farmers. We get quite a bit of California produce here in Ontario so we know the prices will continue to rise here as well. We will be expanding the growing area in our yard this upcoming year to accommodate more vegetables. Every little bit we grow will make a difference on our very limited income. I continue to shop sales for groceries but many things have gone up in price considerably so we will definitely be buying only basics and eating from our pantry and freezer. I have been doing surveys to collect Amazon codes and will have over $60 to spend on groceries there come the new year. We continue to be blessed by our local buy nothing group and have received many practical things these past few weeks. Car gas has really shot up in price here so I am trying to limit how many times I am out during the week and combining errands when I do go out.

    Hope everyone’s week is off to a productive and frugal start. My thought are with those affected by the tornadoes in the US.

  13. I am so happy that I purchased next year’s seeds last summer. We will need them to grow our own veggies. Fortunately we have a cherry tree. I have been replacing 20 year plus small appliances that have been on their last leg the last couple of weeks while they have been on sale. These small appliances are so energy saving which will help us with our bills since we live in Northern NY where it is very cold and snowy. Most of our bill is for heating which we try to conserve on. But every little bit helps.

  14. I’ve done the same thing to save money – just close all the window tabs and walked away from it. I hope your mandarin trees grow!

    *I bought 10# potatoes for 1.97 at my local Kroger. They had gift sets 50% off last week and I bought all the lady shaver sets. They were $5 a piece. They included 2 razors with 12 refills. I also got their gum packs for 77c. My husband only likes the Trident bubblegum. Our local store doesn’t sell multi-packs of it for some reason. I also got the Kroger ice cream on sale for $1.77. They also let me use my 45c off coupons. I stocked up on berries for my daughter and have been keeping them in glass jars. They stay fresher much longer which means I’m not tossing out moldy ones. I bought french bread for 75c and bought Twix cookies N cream candy bars on clearance for 50c/each.

    I’ve been using my instant flake potatoes in a pinch during the week. My family really likes the way I make them. I boil salted water, add in butter to the water to melt, add in the flakes to the desired thickness, then add a bit of milk, sour cream and chives. I made chicken rolls for dinner as well this week. I got the rolls for $1 and had everything else on hand.

    *I love the local library. It is such a calm place with friends that have worked there for years. I love walking in and getting some new books to read. I finished the two books by Richard Osman. My favorite character was Joyce. I’m always trying to find new things to read and love perusing the shelves of books.

    *I was able to receive an 11 x 17″ black jewelry box with dark grey lining for FREE! I will gift it to my daughter. The top cover of the box is glass and you can put photos or whatnot inside the lid. My 15 year old will love that choice to decorate with her artwork. The friend who was giving it away has a darling puppy that I was able to pet and love on which she retrieved the item for me. I love just love puppy baby dogs.

    *I stayed home to save on gas money and avoid crowds. I missed two family functions but my mental health wasn’t in a good place and I decided to send my regrets and have some quiet time at home. It was absolutely blissful for me. I read a book and listened to some Christmas music on YouTube. Then I watched a Christmas movie in absolute peace – no phone calls and no noise in the house. Just me, my weighted blanket and a my puppy curled up next to me. I had a comfort meal of peanut butter on saltines with a glass of milk. Then I had Red Vines Licorice for my dessert.

    *My husband hung up extra colored twinkle lights in our bedroom to surprise me. It’s nice to watch Christmas movies with twinkle lights.

    *We hosted a family dinner and used everything from our freezers/fridge for the meal. We had steaks, mashed potatoes, rolls, fresh veggies and fruit with a pie for dessert. We have plenty of meat leftover to use for other meals. It was nice to have everyone together and we were able to see my “new” daughter (in law)’s ring. She was wearing an imitation while the ring came in from being engraved. It is absolutely beautiful! We are so excited for their marriage in March.

    I went to CVS and found some journaling pens I had been looking for that no one else had in stock. I was able to buy them with CVS bucks and also get an Ibotta rebate. I also picked a free item of cleansing face wipes. I had been looking for necklaces with initials on them because I give new necklaces to my girls each year. The price was great! I bought 4 of them.

    My husband and I enjoyed a date night while running some errands. We used a gift card to pay for our meal. He purchased more gift cards from the restaurant because of the deal/sale they had going on. We put out a bit of money during this time for gift cards, but we get so many free meals by doing it this way because of points towards free meals.

    Have a wonderful week everyone! Be safe 🙂

    1. I am now reading the second book in “The Thursday Murder Club” series by Richard Osman and I love it! I’ve heard that it’s already been optioned for a TV series which would be wonderful!
      I think my favourite character is Elizabeth – but have to admit that I’m intrigued by Bogdan!

  15. I worked three days last week and brought breakfast and lunch all three days.
    Made peppermint bark, almond roca, and chocolate chip cookies for Christmas basket treats.
    Got a spiral sliced ham at Winco. It was marked down to $1.26/lb.
    Bought a roasted chicken at Costco, took all the meat off the bones and made broth. Will make a chicken pot pie with some of the chicken using some of the broth to make the gravy.
    Made a chicken quesadilla with some of the chicken.
    DH fried some onions and potatoes from the garden, then added some of the chicken for dinner last night.
    Got a bonus at work. It was quite unexpected, since I am not working full time. However, like my DH says, I didn’t retire when I could have, so they are rewarding me. Still nice of them though.
    Still staying in my habit of making a kind gesture or comment to someone everyday. I do within my household, but I determined to be like that outside my household too. I think the world could use more kindness, and it costs nothing to be kind. It also puts me in a more open and relaxing mood.
    Wishing everyone a frugal and fruitful week.

    1. I started doing this, too. I hope it makes a difference to the other person, but extending kindness to a stranger sure makes me feel good! We are not shopping much, but when we do I really make an effort to thank the clerk and make a personal comment. I have witnessed clerks having to put up with shameful behaviors from customers—shouting, name calling, swearing, so I try to counteract that. When I spent a prolonged time in the hospital years ago, as I was leaving the nurse said how much they liked how nice I was. That astounded me because I thought I ws pretty crabby, but she said I always said thank you and did not yell at them personally when a procedure hurt a bit, and I never threw things or swore at them. Who would do that to someone caring for them??!
      Anyway, noticing someone and saying something nice about them is like free/frugal therapy for me in these tough times!

    2. I complimented a lady who came into work today – she had a widow’s peak in her hair, which I have always liked, and I told her so. She was so surprised and said that it really made her day because she hates her hair. I won’t lie, but I do try to find something nice to say to lots of people every day, especially if they look like they might need it.

    3. This is one of the things I love about my small neighborhood (in NYC!)—such kind exchanges of words are very common. It sets a positive tone for living.

    4. I’m a bit of an extrovert and never meet a stranger. I talk to anyone and everyone. But, I am glad you mentioned kind gestures to those outside your home. I agree the world needs so much more of this and always has. I was just speaking to someone who was lamenting the pressure to give gifts to everyone they know at Christmas even though she thinks much of it goes unused. I told her essentially what you said. Maybe a better gift is the small everyday gestures and, perhaps, a kind note written at Christmas time. Those things will probably be remembered long after some gifts would be and they don’t put you into debt. 🙂

  16. We saved some money at our Kroger affiliate this past week. We bought 10 pound bag of potatoes for 1.97, boxes of Chex for 1.47, grapes for .99 a pound and some store bought pizza 3/11 for a quick meal. Next time we’ll make the pizza.

    The weather here has been unseasonably warm so the furnace hasn’t had to run as much. So glad to save money on natural gas. Yay!

    Hope everyone has a great week!

  17. Love hearing how you’re keeping your herbs going and interplanting radishes with swiss chard! Gives me ideas in my own garden for next year.
    I have 2 patio door size hotbeds going for the cold season. Arugula, spinach, kale, parsley,and lettuce I can harvest some now. My chickens got out once and ate a lot of seedlings so I had to restart some. I’m trying green onions and hope to have them like you do. I also added a few more dozen garlic plants to my rows that I couldn’t get to until after we had frost killing the current plants.
    Our 3 kiddos all got sick after Sunday last week, so we’ve been hunkered down and of course drinking lots of tea and eating garlic from my garden amongst all the other home remedies and tinctures I make. The kiddos like chopped garlic on a cracker with sour cream on top and salt and pepper.
    I placed a small Aldi Instacart order since I have sick kiddos and needed some items for a fellowship meal at church.
    With expecting our 4 child we needed to get a bigger vehicle than our RAV4 so we searched until we found a 2015 Honda Odyssey rebuilt with only 23k miles for $13,500 in Atlanta. Made a days trip out of it, sick kiddos and all. The man we bought it from paid our lunch at a Mexican restaurant which was very kind of him! Hopefully the van will last us for many years. It gets excellent gas mileage which is a great thing these days.
    We had reseeded our back lawn and multiple other places equalling about an acre over a month ago fixing many bumps and areas that needed grass etc. and after a few weeks and no green shoots, we started getting concerned it’s going to grow. The thought of reseeding in spring wasn’t a pleasant one. There’s a shortage on grass seed so it’s quite expensive. We’re thanking God for the unusually warm temperatures that have made it grow and it’s looking nice and green!
    We found a used water distiller for @ $200 locally that costs $2,300 new, and my husband got it hooked up this week even hooking it up to the fridge and putting a spout at the sink! The spout we ordered from Amazon was on sale for a few dollars off. So grateful for a handyman husband! The taste of distilled water is so good. We have a good well but it is hard water.
    He also found the beavers had dammed up our pond by the overflow so he unclogged it and fixed up a few traps to catch the culprits. Last night he shot the first one and saw at least another one. Did you know beaver meat is so moist and delicious? Especially if you smoke it. Not to mention healthy and free. And we didn’t have to hire anyone to take care of the problem.
    He’s also working on our AirBnb cabin so any work he does we don’t need to pay someone for.
    The 5 chickens gifted to us started laying now so I’m happy to be reaping from the feed we give them. I sell enough eggs to pay for the feed.
    I made some bird suet with my 6 year old that used up some less than desirable beef tallow and lard. I’m sure the birds won’t mind.
    We’ve been picking up pecans from our trees. This summer I didn’t think there were that many nuts on them so I’m being very surprised and thankful for how many we’ve gotten so far! 2 bushels and counting. Probably at least another bushel on the ground and more on the trees yet. Found a man that will crack them with a machine for $3 a 5 gallon bucket which would be great cuz it takes a long time doing it by hand. Pecans are something I rarely buy so it’s like God’s blessing on this property to us.
    We hauled several loads of chopped up leaves with our leaf vac from my husband’s office to add to our compost pile. There’s probably 10 more loads that he’ll bring home 1 load a day.
    I found some boxes of diapers on marketplace for half price new so I combined the trip with picking up some chicken feed at TSC. Did some math and bought their brand for $.05 a pound cheaper than others.
    I’m ordering chemical free/organic oranges and lemons from California and skipped the pink grapefruit as they’re $41 a box. The other fruit is about the same price as last winter.
    I contemplated ordering more fruit trees to add to our new orchard but think I’ll skip it for this year. With a baby coming in April and a few trees waiting to plant as well once the area is ready, I think it’s wiser to wait and care for what we have.
    I’d like to experiment with making cheese this winter since we are very blessed to get free milk. I made a spreading cheese this past week and it’s delicious!
    Made more kombucha and milk kefir this week. The kefir I use in smoothies almost daily. Having fresh spinach to add is great too. We’re eating largely from our freezers and canned goods this winter and it’s such a good rewarding feeling!
    We switched last month to T-Mobile from Verizon and don’t know why we didn’t do it years earlier. Costs about half as much and is much better service in our area. I look forward to spending less in that department! The customer service lacks a lot from Verizon but it’s still so worth it.
    The power went out Saturday night for about 4 hours but thanks to us having oil lamps and wood fire, we were fine. My husband made fried rice and chicken on our outdoor camp stove griddle since our stove is electric and we didn’t have the wood stove going. It helps so much when he cooks out there in the summer time! No extra heat indoors too.
    Have a blessed week everyone!

      1. Where we are, beavers can burrow into the dam, compromising the interior structural integrity. We back up to the dam of a reservoir, and they can cause erosion inside the dam, which would be very bad if/when their damage causes the dam to fail. I’ve never had beaver meat, but I do know that they can be a nuisance here. It would be much cheaper to just shoot them, but we’re in a residential area, so they’re trapped, then euthanized off-site.

  18. Brandy, I grew up with towels or an old throw rug rolled up in front of the door, and it made a huge difference and cost $0. I live in a colder climate now than I did then, and I have good weatherstripping. But if I felt a draft coming in under a door, you can bet I’d roll up a towel. Mother knew best!

    This was my week–
    * I opened a bag of brown sugar that was about a year past its “best by” date. It was a solid slab. I broke the sugar into smaller chunks and put it into a covered jar with a slice of bread. It was soft in a few hours and should stay that way as long as the bread stays in the jar (even after it goes stale). I knew this would work because it was how I was keeping the previous brown sugar alive, LOL. I have been told this will soften up stale cookies, but I’ve never had cookies last long enough to go stale, LOL.

    * I sewed a button on a pair of my daughter’s pants and hand-sewed the shoulders of one of her tops to make the boat neckline smaller.

    * I claimed $35 worth of gift cards from my husband’s Medicare Advantage plan for completing wellness activities, $60 worth for my daughter, and $55 worth for myself = $150 in GCs just for having physical exams, getting flu and Covid shots, etc., that we would have done, anyway.

    * My 45-y-o daughter is developmentally disabled. I went through every single piece of her clothing and donated a black garbage bag full to a local thrift store. This was frugal because 50% of the value will come back to me as a credit on my Idaho state income tax. I also have a stack of jeans to be donated for insulation, per last week’s post by Cindi. I threw away a few things that weren’t denim and not worth donating. I found a couple of dressy things that went missing when we moved 3 years ago. Also, she wears sports bras a lot. She had lost one bust pad of two different bras. (Where they went, I couldn’t tell you, LOL). Don’t laugh…I took the bust pad from one bra and put it in the other, so now she has one bra with pads and one without…and she is no longer asymmetrical! LOLOLOLOL

    * I made a whole boatload of delicious Navy bean and ham soup this weekend. The ham bone had been frozen since either New Year’s or Easter! We ate bean soup for one meal, I kept out enough for a couple of lunches this week and froze 2-1/2 quarts for future meals.

    1. Maxine- your mentioning the brown sugar reminded me that this week I was out of brown sugar so I made about 5 pounds using some of my granulated white sugar and a little blackstrap molasses! Takes about 45 seconds to whisk them around in my Kitchenaid mixer and voila! Interesting thing that I’ve noticed over the 7+ years I’ve been making my own- it never seems to get hard and dry! Sure is handy to know that I’ve always got more available whenever I need it too!

      Gardenpat in Ohio
      HandmadeinOldeTowne.com

      1. I just made my first brown sugar this week!(I am 72 and pretty frugal but this was a new idea to me). It worked so well! I wasn’t sure how much molasses to put in so I just did a tablespoon at a time until it looked the right color. I hadn’t measure the sugar either so it was a real experiment. I have since used some for breakfast oatmeal and it was just perfect. Thanks to all who have suggested this. It is easy and saves time and money.

  19. I think the best thing we did to save money last week is let my husband color my hair. I bought a box of Revlon for 2 dollars and 56 cents and he did my hair! He did great! I was so happy! I’ve been cooking at home for almost every meal. It saves money and I feel better than eating out. I plan our meals so I know what I am cooking from our pantry and freezer. I borrowed a book from the library. I need to sit and read it. I bought some articles of clothing from a thrift store. I was thrilled to get 5 beautiful items for less than 10 dollars! I’ve turned down our heat and use a sweater. I conditioned my hair with a bit of coconut oil and a few drops of lavender oil. It made my hair very soft. I will do it again this week.

  20. l love your free evergreen decorations. I made it back from Maui with a free negative Covid test and some very nice thrift store clothing finds. Shopped on the weekend and my best deal was several 2 lb bags of carrots for .47 each OOP. Today I received 2 very special things in the mail-a quilt a dear old friend had made me and $100 gift card for a BBQ store-we need a new BBQ so will see if this store has any in our price range. I had seen on the news a new to me wholesale and retail produce store so I visited today-even though it was about a 30 minutes drive I found it worth the time and gas. Here are some samples of prices which were very pleasing to me-Brandy I especially thought of you when I saw the prices for potatoes and clementines.

    Bunch of asparagus-$1.00
    Bag of lemons/limes(10)-$1.00
    Cantaloupe-$2.00
    Bag of 9 avocados-$2.00
    Green onions-.77
    3 Leeks- $3.00
    Clemetines-5lbs-$2.00
    Red and yellow peppers and grapes-$1.49 per lb
    Red potatoes-50 lbs for $10.00

    I think I will plan to stock up there once a month or so and also get produce for my Mum and Ellie’s friend if she wishes. Might as well make each trip worthwhile. I think my next project is a pot of cream of leek and asparagus soup.

  21. It was a great frugal week in Houston!
    I took the kids to swim at a (free) indoor county pool, where we had the place to ourselves.
    We went a church Christmas event, where we got free hot dogs, and they had lots of games and activities.
    Our church does a Christmas toy drive, and I was able to use toys I’d bought very inexpensively at garage sales and thrift stores, or duplicated gifts that had been given to my own kids for birthdays.
    The kids got to buy gifts for their siblings at Dollar Tree. Luckily, I have lots of Christmas wrapping paper bought years ago at 90% off, so it didn’t bother me as much when the kids used tons of wrapping paper to wrap each others’ gifts. I do have to ration the tape, however, as they would use tons if given the opportunity.
    I bought an EUC American Girl doll at Goodwill for $5.99. I will list it for sale, but save it for next year if it doesn’t sell. It’s quite the balancing act trying to get gifts mostly “even” between children.
    I got a price adjustment at Kroger where a digital coupon didn’t come off my card.
    $5 or less meals included: chicken tortilla soup, BLT wraps (harder and harder to find bacon <$2/#), bean burritos, homemade pizza, and spaghetti.
    I packed sandwiches for dinner one night when were out between Scouts and sports practices.
    I sold more things on Facebook Marketplace: cash in, junk out.
    I saw a listing for Barbies and Barbie stuff on a trading group I'm in. The ad said make an offer, and the seller suggested $20, which I thought was fair for all the Barbie playsets that came with the dolls and clothes. When I went to pick it up, it was even more than I expected! This will be my 3 year old daughter's big Christmas gift, as it's all in great condition.
    I grabbed an abandoned shopping cart in the Aldi parking lot and kept the quarter when I returned it.
    Our Aldi finally has their store brand of Nutella! It was gone for months, and the generic Kroger and Walmart versions were more expensive. My kids are so excited.
    Some friends with season tickets gave us tickets to Houston Texans game, and a parking pass! They weren't going to go, but it was very exciting for my kids to get to go to a professional sporting event. We ate lunch before we went, and had plenty of snacks in the car for when the game ended. Stadium food would have been so expensive.
    My oldest son found a missing library book under the bed.
    The dental hygenist discounted the flouride treatment for 3 of the kids, since it's not covered by our insurance. The cleanings will be partially covered.
    I'm able to turn in grades electronically now, which will save me a trip to campus for my online classes I teach.
    Hope everyone has a nice, frugal week!

  22. I don’t have much new to update on this week, but I had to chuckle at some of you talking about your “warm days” in the 50s. We have been in the 80s recently! Highs in the 50s would be considered a chilly winter (seasonally-appropriate!) day. Today we are in the upper 60s, but will be back in the 80s later this week. I am hoping we get some cool weather for Christmas – I would rather not have to run the air conditioner.

    We have had the windows open as much as possible, given our temperatures as of late. We visited a small town flea market and stopped in to visit a couple of old cemeteries (one of our hobbies). We cooked and ate many meals at home. We have everything for our Christmas meal and all of our gifts purchased, so I am happy and thankful. Christmas is the busiest time of year for my job, so I have been staying quite busy.

  23. Again, we didn’t go out much so that saves money. We did go to the store once, and I found a penny in the change machine. It was pretty rough, which is why it didn’t count. I took my mom and son to the store and used their receipts to get Fetch points plus $2 back from Ibotta. Since it is just my husband and I, we have been cooking less food and trying to be diligent about using leftovers up or putting them in the freezer to use later. I had to run errands for my mom today at lunch, and I brought my lunch, even though I wanted to get fast food. I have been enjoying cards sent in the mail, plus some little treats that I have received. My cousin sent me a butter ornament!

  24. You have such an artist’s eye. I love the pots with the cabbage and cyclamen, and the winter greenery. You’ve inspired me to use our extra greenery to decorate outdoors. Last week, I made up a double batch of soup, and froze several portions, to have on hand in case of illness this winter. I started on a simple, free cross stitch pattern, as a gift for our mail carrier. I had all the floss, and saw the least expensive fabric was at Hobby Lobby, so went for that, and only got that. Though I was tempted by a vintage looking enamel pitcher, I resisted. I found a frame for the cross stitch at a thrift store for .50, and also picked up several small holiday bowls, perfect for the amaryllis I will gift. The bowls were .50, except for $2 for the fanciest one. We enjoyed our collards, sweet potatoes and lettuce in meals. A book was dropped off, and books and movies were picked up at the library. I’ve been enjoying free holiday music on Pandora. While decorating, I pulled two things to put in the donation box. Laundry was mostly dried on the line. One load needed 20 mins in the dryer to finish it off. We’ve had a great broccoli crop this fall. I harvested 8 heads so far, and tried a new recipe for Broccoli Noodles with Thai Peanut Sauce, which we both enjoyed. I’ll freeze a good portion of the broccoli soon. https://abelabodycare.blogspot.com/2021/12/holiday-cheer.html

  25. Lovely evergreen arrangement! Thrifty actions this week included accepting surplus oranges, cilantro, and loofah sponges from loofah plants, from my neighbor’s yard. I also baked ( thank you ladies for heads up on Aldi butter sale a few weeks back) with grandchildren an array of cookies ( gingerbread men, sugar cut out, vanillekipferl, and linzer cookies to put into freezer for Christmas ( some for their teacher gifts).
    We made paper snow angels also for their teacher gifts with string, white paper, scissors, glue, and wooden beads for the heads. The only cost was for the small package of wooden beads on sale at JoAnn Fabric.
    Thank you for sharing about the situation in California.

  26. Brandy your Christmas arrangements are gorgeous – you are a true artist!

    Well – being sick for over a week is a great way to save money – no transit fees, no coffees, no grocery shopping! I took the online assessment for Covid and it said No – but I’ve had a few more symptoms since then so will go for a test to be sure before I go back to the office. Thank goodness I can work from home (and take breaks when too tired) and that my office mate has been great about doing the one thing that I can’t do from home (printing the church bulletin).

    Before all this hit I had made progress on the gift bags I am giving to a few friends – a bit behind schedule now but should get it all finished by week’s end. I did manage to bake some fruitcakes that I will include and after finding a good buy on carrots & onions I blanched and froze about 20 servings of carrots and shopped and froze one 3# bag of onions and then caramelized another 3# bag for the freezer. I did end up throwing out some coleslaw greens and 1/3 of a cucumber as my throat was so raw that there was no way that I could manage salad. But I did use up some eggs that were just past their expiry date by using 3 in baking and then hard boiling 2 for a quick egg salad.

    I will finish my Christmas cards tomorrow but I’ve decided not to put up my tree. I had brought things up from storage but frankly, after being sick, I’m just too tired to make the effort this year. I will buy a couple of nice poinsettias, fill a couple of crystal bowls with Christmas balls and put out the cards that have started to arrive and that will do for this year. Next year I plan to buy a pre-lit tree which will make life easier so I have already started saving for that as I set up some budget/saving envelopes for 2022.

    I will grocery shop later this week and buy some wine but I don’t really need a lot. I am doing Christmas brunch this year for just a couple of friends and I already have two types of bacon and eggs & cheese for a quiche and I’ll either do a small salad or grilled tomatoes to go along with it and then bake a coffee cake for a sweet to have with tea or coffee. They seem fine with keeping it all very low key again this year so I’m not going to drive myself crazy trying to do too much. I’ll set a nice table and just enjoy the company.

    I have some Loyalty points saved up that can be used for groceries and will shop strategically in order to accumulate more. I intend to really limit my grocery spending from January through March in order to pay off a small CC which I then intend to cancel, plus I need to get money into savings for a few things that I know I will need in this upcoming year so I am looking to have a very low spend three months! Food prices are up every time I go to a store and the news last week was that a family of 4 can expect to spend nearly $1000 more on food this year in Canada! I live on my own so I can make things stretch but it is still worrying – especially as I try to eat a lot of fruit & veg and follow a low carb diet! I am going through my cookbooks now looking for more plant based meals but when a cauliflower can cost $5 and up and a 500gr bag of frozen broccoli is now a good deal at $3 per bag (if you buy two – $3.47 if you want one) it’s not easy. We never see prices like you do in the US and all dairy costs are scheduled to go up significantly in the new year so even non meat proteins like yogurt, cheese and eggs are very expensive. Good quality eggs cost me $4.39 per dozen at the moment.

    It is great to read about all the accomplishments of your readers and it is always encouraging to read how everyone not only copes – but finds ways to help family, friends and other is their communities who are in need. We are a diverse bunch but everyone is doing their best and it is always so interesting to read about what you are all up to.

    To those impacted by those terrible tornadoes – I hope that you are all safe.

    1. Margie, the American Egg Board says eggs are good for four to six WEEKS after their sell by date, so don’t worry if you have “expired” eggs in the future.

      1. Our “fresh” eggs were 6 months past their sell by date when we lived on Guam. I learned to crack each egg individually into a separate bowl before adding an egg to anything. Only once in 3 years did I get a rotten egg. I don’t worry about egg dates here in the US.

    2. Hi Margie from Toronto.

      I’m sorry to hear that you’ve been ill and send you my best wishes for a speedy recovery.
      Ann

      1. Thank you Ann – got my Covid test result this morning and it’s negative so just a bad cold and bronchitis – which is a relief!

  27. Shopped only sale items at Safeway, including a free jar of jam. I have a Safeway very close and I only buy the loss leaders, or pick up the freebies. Their loss leaders are very good here.
    Sold several items through FB marketplace, trying to have patience with so many flaky people.
    Phoned around to price replacement laptop battery, and finally ordered on over the phone. I asked if they would give a discount for teachers, and they did! It never hurts to ask.
    I made a curtain to cover the inside of the front door, it’s the original door from 1960, with a large single pane glass window. We love the light. This curtain will help insulate the door at night. I used fabric and quilt batting that I had been given years ago. So no money spent.
    Maintenance this week was to do extra cleaning of the hardwood floors (original 1960), wash the shower curtain and my husband’s beanies and winter coat, and darn Smart Wool socks. I have extended the life of my socks by at least 5 years by darning them. I use wool darning thread so it felts in the wash, making the mended areas very durable.

  28. My girls both mentioned not putting up Christmas trees this year due to the price and buying something on clearance after the holidays. I rescued two boxed trees from the dump man. He kindly allowed me to take them and hopefully they will do nicely. I have lights etc , the girls can use. I bought sugar cookie some new winter clothing. I’m not sure where hers have disappeared to. There are challenges w her. Perhaps at some point, she tossed them out or even cut them up for Barbie clothes. Adult disabilities can be a struggle. Not finding her sizes available, I went to a large salvage store where I found the same brand items for half price. I redeemed $40.00 on Ibotta , mainly from free items. Butter, Choc. Chips and cinnamon and a few other items. I used this rebate money for a pair of shoes and a box of diapers. I’m making fudge for Christmas. I have all the ingredients and gift containers. I bought 12 container’s of marshmallow cream at the dollar tree. Sugar cookie is leaving for Christmas vacation soon. I’m hoping to rearrange my entire house while she is gone. I’m not planning on spending any money the rest of the year. I am working on my yearly budget. I still am not utilizing all the benefits available to us. I’m making a list to add to my bulletin board to remind me each time I walk by it. Wasted money is a tragedy. I’m upping my game this year.

  29. Hello, frugal friends! This week I used the thick plastic wrap from the new mattress we got to create a mini greenhouse over one of our vegetable boxes. I am hoping this will help the lettuce and spinach winter over. I am trying to regrow lettuce from store bought heads. So far, so good. I bought some avocados for .59 each, mashed them and added lemon juice then portioned them out onto a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper and froze them. Once frozen I put them in a freezer container. Now I just pull one blob out when I need one. I have enough to last for a month. I used paper and digital coupons on groceries. I got the Chex cereals for $1.47 each, 5 small containers of the sale almonds($1.47 each) and 5 packages of the $.77 gum for stocking stuffers. While at Kroger I purchased several gift cards which gave me $.90 off per gallon which I used to fill up our truck, saving over $10. I recorded my receipts with Fetch. I wrapped Christmas gifts with paper and ribbon I have in my stash. I mailed Christmas cards I bought last year after Christmas. We continue to do the usual frugal things such as wearing sweaters to keep warm, eating from the pantry and freezers mostly, and staying home. I wish everyone a blessed and happy week!

  30. Absolutely beautiful pictures Brandy! It is breathe of fresh air just to look at them! Your planting things for year round growing is inspiring. I really need to learn more of what I can grow in the winter time here. I am near Chattanooga, Tennessee, so there should be SOMETHING that I could grow—but I am no expert gardener so need to find the easiest thing possible!
    As far as saving money, I have been so very busy, but still am making all our food from scratch. This past week I made four loaves of home made oatmeal bread—two of the loaves I rolled out (think kinda like cinnamon rolls) and spread a date paste on top of it. Then sprinkled on some orange zest I had in my freezer from zesting our own oranges, along with some chopped walnuts. Then rolled it up and baked it in a regular bread pan. We call this “sweet bread,” and it is marvelous toasted! It is kinda like cinnamon rolls, only quicker since I am baking the dough in a regular bread shape instead of forming individual rolls. We ate one with fruit for a light supper, and put the remaining loaf in the freezer. I also made home made granola, which I also sweeten using dates and bananas, blended up in the blender along with some water. Dates are more expensive than using sugar, but my blood sugar does better when I use dates. Many of our other meals center around things not as expensive, such as dried beans and potatoes, so that helps offset the cost of using dates as my sweetener.
    One thing I am now looking for is a modest evening gown for my 17 year old daughter. Her violin/viola teacher today mentioned her competing in a local college concerto competition, which will come up next school year. I have attended the concerts at the college in the past, and know that if my daughter wins the competition (a possibility, as she is quite advanced) she will need to have an “evening gown” type of dress—completely floor length. She will also need it to be modest on top, as she would be up on a stage and bowing at the end of her piece, so doesn’t want to show off parts that need to remain covered! We found several dresses we both LOVE on the Latter Day Bride site, but our budget does NOT cover dresses that are $250-350!!! Does anyone have suggestions of other sites or stores where we might look? So many dresses are just very immodest, and we are not going that direction. I would appreciate any thoughts!
    Looking forward to reading what everyone has been up to! I have been so busy that I have not posted here since the end of October, but I have still read each and every week!

    ~Susan M. In Chattanooga

    1. For Dresses:
      Baltic Born. Use the code WINTERSHIP if you order today to get free shipping.
      Asos
      Show Me Your Mumu is expensive but they have some modest bridesmaid’s dresses on sale for $88.

      Grow Swiss chard and green onions.
      I recommend finding some local gardening columns (often you can read them online), planting calendars, and classes to learn more about gardening in your area. I took a bunch of classes from the local extension service when I moved here. I wanted to garden but didn’t know what I needed here. Taking those classes and reading every single bit of local advice I could find from local columns and the local nursery gave me a good foundation. Trial and error over the years has taught me even more. I’ve been gardening for 20 years now and I am still learning new things to help me to be more successful.

    2. For relatively plain dresses, check out online places that sell for orchestras, show choirs, etc. How good you have time to watch for sales!

    3. If you find a dress at the right price that you really like, it is often possible to make it more modest by sewing a piece of fabric into the upper part of the bodice area, perhaps even a piece of lace. If you absolutely don’t feel you have the skills to do this perhaps you could pay somebody if you got the dress at a really reasonable price, say at a thrift store.

    4. Susan, when our daughter was in high school I found several dresses at thrift stores. I sew so I was able to modify them. They really turned out gorgeous. So if you sew or know someone who sews that might be a good avenue.

    5. For more modest evening gowns, check out “mother of the bride” selections. Many of them are too “elderly”, but there are occasional gems! The smaller sizes are likelier to be on steep discounts. When my daughter was in high school and sang classical music, this was our strategy. Also, practice modest bowing, if she can do this while holding her instrument? —One’s right hand goes over one’s heart (above the boob, lol!) and then one bows. To the audience it looks like “heartfelt appreciation” for the applause, while that arm is over the chest covering cleavage or wardrobe uncertainty. It looks very graceful.

    6. If you think she’ll only wear it the one time, you could try an online rental service — for example, Rent the Runway has evening gowns. I’m not sure how long you must be a member, though.

      The other idea….send out a request to your FB friends, especially if you have any who go on cruises or attend high-end fundraisers, etc. Someone might be willing to loan you a dress for the night!

  31. Not much to report here, mainly just the usual stuff. Looking forward to reading everyone else’s, though!

    *We had several dark, cold days, so the heater has had to run a good bit. I programmed the thermostat to be 66 most of the time, but 68 for a few hours in the morning when we’re all getting up and getting dressed. Hopefully as we acclimate to the cold I’ll be able to turn it down a little more. We’ve had it as low as 62 in the past, but my youngest tends to wet the bed more with it that cold. He’s 7 now, though, so perhaps that won’t be an issue this year.

    *Meals: lentil minestrone soup with homemade yeast rolls, burritos (with rice, beans, and pork shoulder that was $1.99/lb), hot dogs, homemade veggie burgers, and beef stroganoff, plus we ate off of the leftovers 2 nights.

    *Did Kroger’s curbside pickup again, and was delighted to see they gave me a $10 credit for the $6.60 worth of dented canned salmon I received last week. Then I was annoyed to see that some of the potatoes I received had a greenish hue (10lb bags were $1.97 limit 5 with coupon again). So I may just go back to doing my own shopping next week.

    *Something I’m sure you all know about, but I’ll mention just in case (because I need reminders myself): I only buy fruit canned in 100% juice, then we can drink the juice instead of tossing it. Peaches (the cans we buy anyway) have pulp AND juice, which my youngest absolutely loves, but it could also be frozen in an ice cube tray and tossed into a smoothie. Or the juice from a can of pineapple or mandarin oranges can be used in a meat marinade that calls for a citrus juice — I was out of orange juice and needed something in a pinch for my pork burrito meat this week, so I opened a can of pineapple, strained the juice to use in the marinade, and let my kids snack on the chunks. We prefer fresh pineapple, but nobody complained!

    *My dad had me use his debit card to order his Christmas gifts to the kids (shoes and coats) so I could pick everything out. The best prices for 4 of the items were at Kohl’s and REI, which worked out well because I earned $20 in Kohl’s cash and some REI member dividend money.

    Wishing everyone a blessed week.

    1. Natasha- One thing that I do is can my own pineapple chunks when fresh pineapples are $1 each. I use plain water in the jars rather than a sugar/water combination and have been surprised and pleased that when the home canned jars are opened to use, the water has completely changed to a pineapple juice flavor!

      Gardenpat in Ohio
      HandmadeinOldeTowne.com

  32. The last week or two I’ve had some wins and some loses in the banking department. I finally applied and was approved for a gas station credit card, hoping to take .50 off a gallon for the first month, when my offer/approval came I found it would only be .05 off a gallon….I may call the credit card to inquire. My credit is pretty strong….anyway, buyer or lendee beware, sometimes offers aren’t as good as you hope they will be. Never the less I have maintained my Costco membership and gas there is now almost .30 centers cheaper than at my local gas station with the CC.

    My car, an 02, has had technical issues lately. I have started to slowly buy replacement parts for it online as more conventional places like Autozone no longer have the parts in stock for the vehicle. As the engine is only 5 years old ( I replaced it at that time) I want to preserve the car as long as I can. It’s finally got new hood lifts and a new tail light fixture. I’ve ordered replacement drain hoses for the ceiling on Amazon. Next on my list are new headlights and a new car stereo, the stereo I will have to buy online. I’m trying to determine if I’m crazy to try and update a 20 year old car, but I haven’t had a payment in 13 years…. my mechanic who is in his 60’s is willing to help me fix and find parts. The most recent installment of ‘This Old Jeep’ included him ordering parts for the windows off ebay. I have to laugh a little. I realize I’m some kind of special patron to their shop because most cars are new and don’t require all this squirrelly work to keep them on the road and driving. I hope that I get some kind of sign or indication to stop fixing the car at some point, because I’m such a saver of things I keep fixing things for years.

    In money saving news I recently got a quote for tree work for my yard, $1k to trim three trees, with a two month wait. I have a manual and electric pole saw and the next two weeks off with my son. I plan to work on the trees over time to save money. I was also asked if my son and I would help do drywall installation at our civic association. I would like to learn this skill for the future as this isn’t patching but full sheets of drywall. I offered to do this for free and hope to learn how to hang drywall in the process.

    Money is funny, but I keep trying. Thank you for your blog.

  33. My mom sent over a pack of sharpies, powdered milk, file labels, pickles, crackers, chips, cheese, and snack cakes.

    Redeemed points for a $25 Amazon card from Receipt Hog.

    Made a list of food needed for Christmas. I purchased some this week(and marked everything off so I wouldn’t buy again)

    Ate lunch at work

    Cleaned out my refrigerator and little freezer. Made fajitas with everything I had, including three different sizes of tortillas, lol.

    My 14yo cleaned out her backpack and should have enough of the snacks she takes to school to make it to Christmas break.

    Expensive hand lotions weren’t helping my dried out hands(the soap at my school job is brutal). I seen we had a jar of vaseline in the bathroom. It works so much better(and it’s way cheaper)

  34. I absolutely love my husband’s company. They are family owned and they really care about their employees unlike Hubby’s previous job. Hubby had his end of year review. He was given a nice raise. They then told the entire company that they are also getting a cost of living raise since prices on everything are rising. We could not believe it. We were very happy with the raise but both are wonderful. But wait there is more. Then Hubby was given a very generous Christmas bonus. We are truly blessed and plan on helping a friend that recently lost his job.
    I ate out lunch twice last week both paid by my new client. She is a sweet lady and likes to go out and socialize. The other day I helped her, I cooked lunch for both of us.
    The crock pot has been my friend this week. I used it 2 nights that I knew I would get home around dinner. One night was pork, the other was chicken. Leftovers became lunches for the men.
    A friend’s mom was just diagnosed with stage 4 cancer. She came home and is on Hospice care. Saturday I got out my large crock pot and made beef barley. I also made a double batch of pasta fagioli. I dropped off 2 containers of each, one for each house. They were very grateful. We also ate soup Saturday and Sunday for dinner. I froze a container of each for easy future meals.
    I was paid to get Gatorade, Beyond Burgers and cookie dough this week thanks to Ibotta and Fetch. I also got a free package of smoked turkey sausage from Stop N Shop. They also were clearing out orange and pineapple 2liter bottles of soda for 43 cents each. I bought 12 and I will share with my mom and daughter.
    The heat is set to 65 degrees. We lower it when no one is home. Most clothes is being hung on the clothes racks which helps put moisture back into the house. We are done with all of our shopping. I am done with all of my wrapping with help from my daughter. Hubby still has stuff to wrap. My daughter made a double batch of dog biscuits so all of the dogs in our loves are done too.
    Stay healthy everyone. Hug your loved ones.

  35. Gas ranges from $2.87 a gallon in college town to $3.30 in a small town a couple of hours south of college town. I have lost weight (10 lbs) and my jeans, which were already loose, are falling off. I bought a pair of jeans that were $10 off. They fit perfectly so that is why I bought them. I wanted to have jeans that fit for my trip. I do not take luggage with me because I have enough clothes at my daughter’s house. So I do not have to pay for luggage when I fly. It rained a lot here. I rushed outside when it stopped and wiped down my very wet car rather than using water to wash it. I am planning on making turkey and cheese sandwiches and cut up carrots to take to the airport this week Hopefully security will let them through. I hate paying for airport food. I have always thought a simple sandwich tastes so much better than anything I buy at convenience places but maybe I am fooling myself. I always do not like their bread, or their mayo, or or doesn’t taste fresh, etc. I think I just really like plain food. It has taken me until I am in my 60’s to figure this out…. Lol. I am trying to eat up my food before I go on this trip. I made beans and rice to eat this week before I leave on my trip. I did my year end IRA. My goal is to work part time (as long as I can get enough time off to fly and see my daughter and her family) until I am 70, or as long as possible, and then take social security at 70. A lot can happen in eight years but that is my goal. Goals can always be adjusted, as needed.

  36. -I got the tree up and tags made for all the drawstring bags. This week I need to finish my gifts. I have 2 pillows to put together from cross stitch pieces and a scarf to sew. I also want to get my Christmas cards addressed and sent. Then next week I will do a little bit of baking and then I can relax and enjoy the season.

    -it was an expensive week. When we got home from being gone 4 days at daughter #1 for our grandkids Christmas programs we had no running water. It was the pump, it was at least 30 years old so it did last longer than most. But it needed to be replaced. Then we got clogged pipes from the sand and disturbance in the well. My husband worked tirelessly for several days to get things cleared. We were blessed, the guy that replaced the pump said if he couldn’t get the pump pulled because it was so old, we would need to drill another well. Lots of prayers and they got the job done without having to do that.
    We had money saved in the emergency fund but now we tighten our belts so we can replace that money.

    -I made ham corn chowder from the ham bone from Thanksgiving. That provided 3 meals. Plus we had scrambled eggs with ham bits and cheese for another meal. 4 meals total from a ham bone many people ( not on this blog) throw away. I also used some frozen spaghetti sauce and made spaghetti and meatballs for another meal.

    I made a large meatloaf. We ate half and I sent the other half along with frozen from the freezer green bean casserole and sweet potatoes to friends as she had foot surgery and is not weight bearing.

    -I ordered my flour from Sunrise Mills. I got a free sourdough starter when I ordered Cyber Monday. I used a gift card I bought on Black Friday as they were 20% off. I did this last year as well. I got 3 gift cards. This will purchase my flour for the year. It pays to plan ahead.

    -I stopped at the Country Store (bulk foods) that I go to on my way home from my daughters. I stocked up on organic rolled oats as my 5 gallon bucket was almost empty.

    -I also bought a 50# bag of sugar as my 5 gallon bucket was almost empty. And I went to Smude oil and picked up a gallon of sunflower oil. I should be set for staples through the winter.

    – I continue to check books out from the library to read. This is such a cost saver.

    Have a great week!

  37. Brandy I am so glad you were able to buy half price fruit trees and hope they work well for you 🙂 . The discounted flowers seedlings you purchased will be lovely to add colour to your gardens along with all the vegetable seeds you have planted in the gardens. I am so glad your allocation for water is higher than California so you can water your gardens but has it been reduced from earlier times ?. I know when we were in drought here our water allocation went down to 80 litres per person per day which for those on only town water would have been a challenge but fortunately we run a lot of our home on rainwater here apart from the gardens which got us through and kept us under the allocated amount.

    You are so right that prices on everything is going up dramatically including here in Australia and the more we can grow ourselves the better things will be to save expenses where we can 🙂 . Thing like fuel has gone up in price 55% since last year here, red meat doubled in prices, sugar up 33% in prices, powdered full cream milk 40%, some vegetables have gone up around 150% in prices here as well as price rises in fruit. Insurances such as life and house and contents insurance are also up 18% from last year where as they used to only go up at the most 5% each year. Things are certainly getting a lot tougher out there for many including us who are on a fixed income.

    Our Vicky challenge added up to $270.55 in savings last week 🙂 .

    Purchases –
    – I saved $20 off my WW grocery shop using a promo code.
    – Saved $250.65 by buying spam, mouthwash, vitamins and coca cola on specials.
    – We have been building up our grocery stockpile by taking advantage of a 2 x points promo at Woolworths which will give us money off our grocery shops sooner with Rewards points.

    In the kitchen-
    – Cooked all meals from scratch.

    In the gardens –
    – I pruned all but 2 shrubs in the gardens surrounding the home.
    – DH has been mowing and whipper snipping constantly to keep up with the long grass as it has rained so much here.
    – Our rainwater tanks are full 🙂 .
    – On days it wasn’t raining we trench composted scraps in the vegetable gardens and weeded both them and the chook pen.
    – Whilst in the chook pen we took stock of the fact that we will have to replace some of the posts of the chook pen and do some other work in there to get it ready for chickens. We have the replacement posts already here from the demolition of the grape yard vineyard at the back of the property and more wire if we need it too.

    Hope everyone has a wonderful week ahead .

    1. Lorna, are you aware of the global urea shortage? It looks like Australia is short 80% according to the article I read this morning. Not only has nitrogen fertilizer gone up 10 times (from $100 a ton to $1000 a ton) but it looks like urea is added to diesel fuel, which could lead to trucks not being able to drive.

      We are not allocated amounts per person here for water. Water is tiered in four tiers for billing. The water district decides what days and times people can water and watering outside of the days and times can result in a fine. Water that touches the sidewalk or street (not all houses have a sidewalk here) is cause for a fine (but front yards slope towards the street; we tiered our garden to make two flat sections on purpose for this reason even though we took out the grass in front at the same time). Most people grow rocks (haha). Fake grass is encouraged here but it is very expensive, may need to be replaced after about 6 to 10 years, and retains a strong smell if you have animals use it for a toilet. Drip irrigation has been normal for over 20 years.

      I would not say our water allocation is higher than in California. I have seen a few cities in California have restrictions like that in the past but most do not have that currently, if any. In fact, there is a lot of talk about how California is not cutting much. The governor asked them to cut 15% voluntarily. They cut 3.5%. In the water cuts from Lake Mead that start in January, California does not have to take cuts. They only have to do that in 2023.

      Basically, southern Nevada (which is all one large water district) cuts a ton of water already and has for 20 years. All water that goes down the drain is reclaimed and recaptured. Only irrigation water is not, and “unused” grass will be prohibited by 2027 (median strips, entrances to housing tracts, in business parking lots of around office buildings). Grass was prohibited in front of all homes built after 2003, during the beginning of the huge building expansion here (where North Las Vegas and Henderson were the second and fourth fastest growing cities in the nation).

      Nevada uses less than our allotted amount each year from Lake Mead. In 2027, they are going to have to redraw the water allocations that were done in 1922. Twelve tribes were not allotted any water; some have since been, but there is no infrastructure (no pipelines) to get it to them. Hopefully that will be remedied.

      They are building more homes here again, which means we will use more water. There is a shortage of homes here, though. I don’t know how they will have enough water for more homes.

      There is a plan to cut an additional 500,000 acre feet of water each year for the next five years from the ricer in addition to another plan to do that same amount as well. Some don’t think it will be enough.

      Most of the water is used by farmers in California and Arizona, but a lot of people depend on the water for personal use as well.

      There is a big storm coming in tomorrow. We may get rain; California should get rain, and hopefully, the mountains will get snow. This is the season and we hope there is enough rain to replenish the groundwater supplies and snowpack. Rain was predicted last week on Thursday (70% chance) but we didn’t get any rain here.

      There are also 50 mile per hour wind gusts predicted too. I’m planning some projects indoors.

      1. Brandy thank you for explaining how your water allocations work there and it is a worry that with the building boom there that there may not be enough water. That is rather silly about the fines on water hitting footpaths and roads since they slope towards the streets. An eye opener that they stop people having grass that is unused too sort of blew me away.

        Here when we have the emergency level water restrictions people face an excessively high fine for overuse of water and they have the right to reduce water pressure to the property by about 50% to around 4.5 litres per minute instead of the standard 9 litres per minute. You have to use a lot of water before they do that though. Likewise here on the water as our country town runs on bore water and we have more homes being built so water could be an issue later.

        Yes knew about the urea shortage in Australia on processed urea for a product called AdBlue which diesel trucks use to cut emissions. Some of the latest model diesel trucks have to use it and others have a method of turning off the adblue so the trucks can run. It appears we have enough at the moment until February then after that there will be a big problem. There are other problems too as in farmers are not getting the new harvesters they have ordered and cannot get the spare belts that run them. Basically if one belt breaks you cannot operate the harvesters so there is problems afoot with labour shortages to harvest crops and harvester and truck parts that cannot be obtained so there will be a lot of equipment and vehicles unable to be used. The price rises in fertilisers are also a problem as a lot of farmers will be forced to use less of them due to the cost which means a decrease in the amount of food produced on each farm.

        For these reasons and so many others we have increased our food storage by a lot as there is so much uncertainty ahead. Trimming costs and growing more food ourselves is also huge on our agenda and we have been doing well with this also.

        1. These water rules aren’t just sometimes. They are permanent rules. The newest is the law to get rid of unused grass. Businesses have 5 years to comply.

          And as crazy as it sounds, these rules make a huge difference. I wasn’t thrilled at first when they outlawed grass in the front of new homes, but I see the wisdom in it now.

          Use Google Maps to compare Las Vegas to Los Angeles. Las Vegas is very brown.

          Desert Landscaping can be very colorful, though! The landscapers of new homes have improved a lot in what they put in front yards from what they did in 2003. Still, there is a lot more than can be done in design work that I am only seeing come from good landscape designers from Los Angeles. The L.A. Times has featured some beautiful designs that are on drip irrigation that don’t use grass at all. I’d love to see more of that done here. Part of me wants to show ideas to people here, but most people don’t want to maintain their yard, so they are happy to have very little work to do.

          Farmers are having the same problems sourcing equipment here for harvesters and tractors.

          1. Thank you Brandy for explaining that these water rules are permanent 🙂 .

            I understand that if you are in a dry area that no doubt everyone would have to water their lawns to keep them green so probably a huge amount of water is used doing that. Pretty landscaping is a better option using drip irrigation which uses far less water for front gardens.

            Sorry to hear that everyone in the States is having problems with getting equipment and spare parts for harvesters and tractors and tractor parts are also an issue here. Hopefully all of these problems will be resolved shortly but somehow I think this will take some time to sort out.

            If we prepare ahead the best we can that is all we can do on the home front. I purchased a lot of spares for machinery ahead of time so fortunately we will be right for those for some time.

          2. Even here in S. Fla where we do get rain, people are very wasteful and our water comes from aquifers which are not being replenished. In fact most of our troubles with sinkholes is due to de-watering.
            It’s not uncommon to see sprinklers here running DURING the rain or right afterwards. So wasteful. I wish the same fines for water running off the properties were imposed here. I see people running sprinklers and 25% of the water is on the sidewalk or running along the street. It pains me.
            We have no grass and no automatic watering which is inconvenient when we have to water by hand, but it forces us to pay attention. We catch rainwater in buckets and barrels and use it to water plants or do laundry. We catch water in the showere, sink and kitchen sink.Our washing-machine drains into a hose that we move around to water. In the back yard in the open spacewhere the clothesline is we put down wood shavings from a friend who’s a wood-turner. These are soft and nice to walk on and keep any weeds down. I believe it’s incumbent on everyone to conserve and protect water. It’s not an infinite resource.

      2. Brandy I am glad you said something about Urea shortage as Hubby uses it in his work truck. Def (what it is commonly called here is 35 % Urea and the rest is water. He is going to try to buy some extra.

  38. Hello Everyone!
    The weather dipped and we are again grateful for our wood stove. The logs are free and the ambiance of the warmth and fire can’t compare with a heater. My kids keep asking for fires and keep mentioning what a great investment it was. LOL!

    We have been pummeled with rain since last night from an atmospheric river. It is a downpour!!! Great news for our local farms and water supply. Fortunately, my husband’s free waterproofing (done in the summer) repair has kept water from intruding the garage so far.

    This year I skipped photo Christmas cards and bought some on clearance over the summer. I also bought stamps at Costco before the rate hike. It was more work to hand sign and address cards, but it’s also more personal. I saved quite a bit on Christmas cards by planning ahead.

    I read a news article about a recall on my car, although I never received notification by mail. I called the dealership and confirmed that my car was part of a part recall. I had it repaired this morning for free. In addition, I mentioned that an error light came on the dashboard half the time. They replaced my ignition button for free as well. It was part of an extended warranty. I’m pleased that everything was fixed for free because my car is well past the 3 year warranty.

    While waiting for my car repair, my husband and I had a long overdue breakfast date. We chose a reasonably priced restaurant instead of one closer to home to save a few bucks. We live in a touristy area where breakfast for 2 costs $60 (no joke). It was a nice treat!

    I saw an article last week on Fox News that had an inflation chart with examples of meat, milk, bread and egg prices. I was unable to find it to link for you all today. We’re trying to save on groceries with our backyard garden, baking and cooking at home. This week we harvested red Russian kale for soup, lettuce and tomatoes for salads, and used our home grown bell peppers in soft tacos. In addition I baked a pie for a friend’s birthday.

    Have a blessed and beautiful week! 🎄

  39. Great sale on the mandarins and I love your garden photos. What a wonderful project.

    This week I received an email saying if I make any purchase at a particular big box department store they will send me a $20 voucher. So I made a $2 purchase for chocolate! Happy to receive the voucher, which I will spend on a box of Lego that will be a gift for next year.

    Looking forward to celebrating Christmas next week. We are attending a Christmas festival at a local church later this week which is all free. They have a live nativity walk through, concert, rides etc.

    My children have received very well thought out gifts from three families. It is very appreciated and generous.

    My children enjoyed a swim and we all gratefully received fish and chips for lunch. I tried to contribute but they did not want me too.

    Have a great week!

  40. The past two weeks have been overwhelming in so many ways. Our local area had a super spreader event of Covid. And, they also found Omicron. As I am high risk that means we are in lockdown again. My son is elementary school aged and we had to keep him home. Luckily he can study on his own for the most part and keep up with homework. He’s also taking some tutoring online that keeps him busy.
    *We baked chocolate chip muffins as entertainment and snacks.
    *We watched a couple Netflix movies instead of going out.
    *I patched a pair of pants after watching a youtube video.
    *I caught up on some overdue work.
    *I have line dried most of the laundry.
    *We started an indoor herb garden with a kit and grow lights.
    *I entered an online Secret Santa and received a tube of L’Occitane hand lotion.
    *I’ve continued to crochet a sweater and am planning other projects.
    *I’ve come up with a few projects for my yarn stash and my fabric scraps.
    *I bought a doll house on a FB group and will use it as a gift.
    *I found some Christmas themed coffee cups in storage that I will give as a Christmas gift.
    *We had creative dinners for a few nights to use up food before it went bad.
    *I’ve decided to sign up for a free online language course.

  41. I am using supplies I already have to cross-stitch a bookmark for Christmas. I have so many extra supplies because up until now I only cross-stitched kits. I figure people on here make their own stuff so can I! I found a design on pinterest to use.

    I am focusing on us using up all the left over foods. We are also trying new in season foods. I purchase spaghetti squash, egg plant, and brussels sprouts to try. Most of the Christmas gifts we bought were purchase at the discount stores Ollies and Bargain Hunt. The kids shopped for siblings at the dollar store and are making presents with items we already own.

    We are wanting to go to a Homeschool Conference next May at the Ark Encounter. It is a 1 hour 15 minute drive from here. We would leave early morning and return late night. The conference is three days and we would have access to Ark/Creation Museum an additional four days to visit . For this experience to happen, we would be eating lunches and dinners in the car. Lunches would be sandwiches, raw veggies and fruit. Ideas for dinner? So far I have sub sandwiches, hard boil eggs, chicken in a can to go on salads.

    1. I like to also buy pretzels. We don’t usually buy them, but for a trip they work well. String cheese is another good option. We bring squeezable mayo and mustard for sandwiches, apples and an apple slicer, grapes, sliced tomatoes and sandwich fillings, sliced bread, and hard-boiled eggs. I have baked cookies and that works well too. We usually just do the same things for lunch and dinner.

      We found it nicer to stop at a park somewhere to eat while traveling rather than in the car. All trash can be thrown in the trashes there, everyone can stretch their legs a bit and play, and we can all get some fresh air. There are also bathrooms, so that helps too. You can search parks along your route using Google Maps so that you know where you will be stopping ahead of time.

    2. We like haystacks-beans heated in tomato/spaghetti sauce of some kind spooned over tortilla/corn chips and topped with shredded lettuce/greens and other shredded/cut vegetables like tomatoes, carrots, avocado, etc. Beans can be taken in a thermos. If you are going to a campground and have a fire pit you could have a wieners roast (I buy canned VegaLinks or Super Links.) with whole grain pasta salad with a lot of tomatoes and avocado in it and canned fruit. (I like to take apricots because we don’t have those very often.) Another salad I have made that is not as healthful and is really more of a dessert has a medium-sized carton of small-curd cottage cheese, a can of drained crushed pineapple, some whipped cream and then a small package of lime jello powder sprinkled into it. It’s all folded together and thoroughly chilled before serving. I have made it in a motel room and chilled it in the motel frig. Tabouli salad is nutritious and filling. You could boil water in a motel microwave and soak the bulgar wheat overnight and then add the veggies the next day. Carrot salad with shredded carrots, small pieces of cut up canned pineapple, dark raisins that have been washed and all the stem particles removed, with unsweetened, shredded coconut (I get it from Bob’s Red Mill.) sprinkled into it just before serving is very good and very nutritious. Those are some warm day foods I remember fixing for picnics or when we were traveling. I also remember making Sabbath dinner in a motel in Whitehouse, Yukon, Canada when it was anything but a warm day. We were incredibly broke, but I remember we had some broccoli that I had marinated overnight in Italian dressing in a Tupperware bowl. I really have no idea what else we had for dinner that day. Most of the times we went through Whitehorse we met lovely people who invited us to dinner. The broccoli may have been our contribution.

    3. Renee,
      The organization for which we volunteer has Brussells sprouts donated but they can’t use them and we can take them. We love them cut in half put in a bowl with (2-3TBS) olive oil and salt just to coat lightly, then placed face down on a cookie sheet at 350 degrees F for about 20 minutes, until the bottoms are slightly browned. They are delicious, and very healthful !

    4. Renee, have you considered finding a campground to stay at during your trip? A state park site would likely be around the cost of your gas driving to/from the Ark. Then you would have restrooms, electricity for cooking (you could use a slow cooker, electric skillet, instant pot, or whatever), and also an area for the kids to stretch their legs.

  42. This year I decided not to do picture Christmas cards as the expense is pretty high. Instead I printed copies of their picture and included them in cards that I already had.
    We went to our downtown parade of lights with friends. I parked for free, brought our own snacks and drinks and opted not to meet up afterwards when they decided to eat out. The parade was so much fun, they handed out candy and they saw Santa which of course the girls loved.
    I took advantage of Target’s 10% off gift cards for teacher presents.
    The Property Management company of my office building passed out cookie decorating kits and we were allowed to pickup as many as we wanted so I brought home three for a fun activity for the girls and I one evening.
    We have been watching various Christmas movies almost every night on any of the free subscriptions we have.
    One of the local grocery stores that tends to be the priciest had a $40/$75 digital coupon if you used grocery pickup. I combined it with several loss leaders along with a few other items that I needed to stock up on.
    My daughter was invited to a kids holiday party last minute where we needed to bring a $10 gender neutral present. I didn’t have anything that would work already in my gift box. I check Field Agent and they had a Walmart pickup job that reimbursed you $15 plus paid $4.50 for completing the task. I was able to get a gift and groceries for the remaining minimum pickup amount of $35 for $17!
    I was slightly burned out on couponing and selling items on FB marketplace so I took a month off. I decided to start selling this last weekend as the extra expenses are adding up and quickly made $52.
    I picked up various snacks and clothes in one daughter’s size from my Buy Nothing Group.
    My electricity bill for last month was the lowest it has ever been since we have lived in this home.
    I wrapped up mediation for my divorce and feel very content and at peace with how it worked out. Now I can move forward for a plan for myself and the girls. I am starting to make notes and plan on having either a Low Buy or No Spend Year in 2022. I am looking forward to see what progress I can make!

  43. Today I cooked a garden grown butternut squash. I also made bone broth from two rotisserie chicken carcasses. I have been able to get some nice savings over the past month. I was able to buy myself new bras from Kohl’s on black friday for 14.99 each. I got turkeys for .33 a pound and ham for .87 a pound. Saturday I ran to Bath and Body Works to try and get a new lotion that has been out of stock. I happened to be there on the one day a year that they sell full size items for 5.50!! I purchased enough to give one item to 8 family members and 4 teachers. I was so grateful. I always give the men in the family treats for Christmas. As I was running throughWalmart last week I saw deer corn being sold for $1.00 for a 40 lb bag!! As most of the guys in my family hunt, I quickly bought 10 bags for $10.00! I will put the feed in some extra buckets we have here. I was so happy to find this random good deal. (I think it must have been ordered for deer season but due to shipping delays came after rifle season ended.)
    My husband got a raise after October 31st, along with a monthly bonus. It has been wonderful. We have been able to get each child a really nice, useful Christmas gift. In addition, my parents, siblings, and I have been able to donate money, clothing, and food to a family where both family members lost jobs and wrecked their vehicle. We also are giving money, toiletries, and new clothing to a young man who is aging out of foster care (turning 18). His foster family will not allow him to stay with them until he completes high school in May. It is heartbreaking. By being frugal and intentional I can bless others now as I have been blessed by the generosity of others in past years. My heart is so full. Frugality saved my husband and I from losing our home when the construction business collapsed in 2009. It has allowed me to be a stay at home mom. By living within our means we get to experience a measure of peace that many do not have. Thanks to all of you for sharing your money saving routines as it teaches me something each week!

    1. Deanna, do you know if there is a Go Fund Me page for the young man aging out of foster care? My daughter-in-law’s mother grew up in the foster care system (in Michigan!) in the 1950s and 60s and this happened to her. I’d like to contribute.

  44. We kept close watch on what few things we bought using your site, Brandy, to shop at Amazon.
    Kept the heat down or off when it got warm a couple days. We are 3 wks farther on this tank than we were last year.
    Turn off lights, use candles or oil lamps in morning and at supper. Limit Christmas lights being on to a couple hours in morning and in evening. Our electric bill was $15 lower than normal this month.
    We have been making extra payments to the mortgage after we refinanced in Sept. As of today we have paid over 2 yrs worth in 3 months. I have taken to what ever I save in coupons, sales or get back in rebates, refunds , surveys and etc. goes on the mortgage.
    We already know we will have some high medical bills come in Jan as I have an EEG and Hubby an EMG * carpal tunnel damage*. I have that money set aside. I found by itemizing everything on the credit cards on a spread sheet we would see what we were “wasting” better and see the rhyme and reason of certain buys. By doing that we saved over $100.

    Hubby is going to pick up some extra Def (Urea mixture) for his work truck.

    I am still harvesting salad greens from the gardens under row cover (in Ohio). We doubled the row cover before the high winds came through. Hubby said a couple places came loose but since it was warm there was no damage to the plants.
    Blessed Be everyone.
    https://chefowings.blogspot.com/2021/12/mortgage-and-what-we-saved-this-past.html

    1. I love that you are getting greens under a row cover in Ohio this time of year! That is awesome!

      Also how wonderful to have paid so much extra on the mortgage! We just refinanced too about the same time and I am trying to pay extra but I certainly haven’t paid that much extra!

      Thank you for supporting my site!

    2. Juls Owings- Having paid off our mortgage early using those little “extra” bits of money that would otherwise have “evaporated”, I know that you will get that mortgage paid off so much earlier without feeling deprived!! Well done!! Wish I had put my row covers up in the garden!! Next year, for sure, we will do it!! You’ve inspired me to try harder!! That’s what I love about this blog! You and Brandy and so many other give me solid ideas of ways I can improve our gardens! Thank you!! ❤️❤️

      Gardenpat in Ohio
      HandmadeinOldeTowne.com

      1. The winds are so bad here; a lot of people were posting that their row covers blew away and their greenhouses collpased.

  45. Here in Tennessee we had a tornado Friday night, that has wiped out the power to several counties. I have lost everything in my fridge and freezer, but at least my family was safe. My job has been affected, but I still feel blessed that we were not injured and material things can be replaced.

    1. I am glad that you are safe. The news is so sad. I don’t usually cry when reading the news, but today I was crying as I read about the baby and a little girl who died.

    2. Donna,
      My prayers go out to you. I live in Florida now, but I’m from West Kentucky, so this is all really hurting my heart. My daily prayer is for comfort and aid for all who were in the paths of those terrible tornadoes, and I’m donating as well. May you find peace.

  46. I planned two fun family nights for my kids this month. I have 7 kids, 3 have significant others. So, for the 10 kids (and a couple friends) we did a gingerbread house competition one night. I bought the kits at Winco that had two little houses in each, so I only needed half the amount of kits. Plus they came with some candy, although I added. We had a great time and I served a hearty dinner to all. The next one is this week. We are doing an appetizer and bingo night. We have done the bingo for years but the appetizer idea is new. I’m doing a variety and the funds came out of my normal grocery budget. The prizes came out of my Christmas budget- most are small (candy, etc.) but there are a few gift cards wrapped with other items. They get a prize if they win, and then the prize can be stolen once by another winner if they choose. It’s a great evening and fun for all ages. Other than that, normal to-do items.

    Does anyone have a frugal suggestion on how to get rid of rats outside (UGH), we have them now, due to the chickens feed I think.

    1. I tried traps, but the only thing that worked for me is poison blocks. They have little plastic containers that hold the poison. Walmart and Home Depot both carry them.

      1. For Christmas Dinner each year we have always had beef tenderloin or standing rib roast. This year, I was pondering as to what we might substitute as prices for “any” beef cut are outrageous here! I went to Sam’s and was thrilled when I saw they were discounting “Prime” standing rib roast at $20.00 per package regardless of size! Wanted to pass that along! No sure if it is country wide. So, I bought the smallest one they had and we we will all get a minute serving compared to the past, but it will make us feel a bit special!(it was still 19.98 per pound which is just insane!—and the farmer’s are realizing nothing like that!) Also, Brandy, I wanted to ask if you ever convert old hoses to drip lines and, if so, how do you go about it?

        Your urns are gorgeous! Such an eye for beauty!

        1. Wow! The highest advertised price for prime rib where I live is $8.98 lb. Two stores here (Fred Meyer and Winco–both regional chains) have it for $5.97 lb. Not cheap, but cheapER than I expected. I live in northern Idaho and expect those prices will also be good in Oregon and Washington.

          1. How lucky are you! When I first moved here(East Tennessee), it was said that the Mountains made everything more expensive! Not sure if that still holds true, but regardless of the reason, it’s outrageous and the farmer’s do not benefit!

    2. Rats are AWFUL. We had a problem with them in our last house due to bird seed. Once rats have a reliable food source (bird seed, chicken feed), they will not leave, and they multiply at extreme rates. They are also quite intelligent. The first advice is, if possible, remove all food and keep the area clean with no seed or feed on the ground. I tried this for months at a time and even went to no-mess seed, but the rats would always return regardless. Poison is reliable, but you risk poisoning other animals as well. We did not want to put poison out because we had a lot of other wildlife around, and we also did not want dying rats crawling up underneath our pier & beam house (you can imagine how great that would smell). We set snap traps in our garage after a couple came in there. Those worked, not always 100% reliable, unpleasant to empty (I made my husband do it), and can be risky for your fingers. Electronic traps are supposed to be the most effective and safe for other wildlife/animals (they can’t fit inside). It’s a quick death for the rat and they’re easy (i.e. less gross) to empty the trap. I would try electronic or snap traps (probably cheaper) to start. Rats LOVE peanut butter so that’s a good bait to try.

        1. When we hired a professional he told us the bait of choice is Slim-Jims. He used the old-fashioned wooden traps. Poison will kill raptors or any other creature that eats the poisoned rat. I’ve seen heart-breaking pictures of hawks that have hemorrhaged internally and died because of that. I volunteer at a wildlife center and this is a big problem.

  47. We had another warm week here so we only ran the heat in the early morning. Strange! I would have liked to make a salad but I balked at $2.99 for a head of Romaine. In our weekly savings…
    * Made a Mexican rice and beans dish for my pasta dish. I also froze a couple of servings.
    * My two soups for the week were a Vegetable and a Taco. Froze some taco soup as well.
    * Made several servings of chicken stock by cooking the bones and some veggies for 24 hrs. in the crock pot. Yum!
    * Received a complete surprise gift card from a good friend for our market. I’m planning to use that for sale stocking up.
    * We gave blood and the Red Cross gave us each a $10 credit from Amazon! That was a fun bonus to accompany the warm feeling of hope that my blood will help someone.
    * Made a loaf of whole wheat bread in the bread machine.
    * Got 20¢ off per gallon of gas from fuel points.
    * Hung about half the laundry.
    * Got 10 lbs. of potatoes for $1.97
    * Got a beautiful bouquet of flowers in the market clearance section for $1.99. They’re on the mantle in my favorite vase.
    As for Cali’s drought, I read that Marin County is going to be limiting people to 55 gals. per day and there is no landscape watering or pool filling allowed. That’s pretty strict. Nthe article said that a 10 minute shower uses about half that. Many of our friends there have already re-landscaped for drought with dry creek beds, rocks, and even dwarf fruit trees and shrubs.

    Well, I hope everyone has a thrifty week!

    1. Yes, Marin County has made a per person limit. They are the strictest ones in the entire state. I read about that too. They are in danger of running out water there in a very short time. Most counties haven’t made things that strict. I almost mentioned this one to Lorna but the state as a whole hasn’t made this rule. Just the one county. A few counties near Marin county have some strict rules too.

      Here, everyone has rocks for landscaping and drip irrigation. But even cactus need water on drip irrigation here. Without it, they won’t survive.

  48. Have you ever had someone from the gas company come and do an energy audit for you? I just had someone come for the first time to our home this week, and they actually waived the $25 fee for me too (because it took them awhile to get back to me about making an appointment). Even as it was, I still would have happily paid the fee because the information I got was fabulous!

    I discovered a TON of ways we can cut down on our heating costs this winter, the majority of which are very low cost fixes. Sure, some things will cost a lot more (like the fact that we need to add more insulation to our attic and also add insulation to our floors, which don’t have any), but a lot of what he told us is very inexpensive, like buying the dollar air filters and changing those out in the heater every month, using special corner plugs on our door frames to stop air flow leaks, and insulating our heat ducts by wrapping them with foam or other things were all ideas he gave us. Anyway, it might be worth looking into! Oh, and we also were using towels at the base of our doors, but he said that it’s worth investing the $10-12 or so into a rubber door sweep for the bottom because it will be much more effective — it blocks around 90% or something.

  49. Sandra,
    I did exactly the same thing! I have one set of kids and grandkids coming in on Saturday. One of the boys is gluten free, so I have already made gf chex mix as well as regular and made puppy chow. Chex cereal so rarely goes that low. I bought 2 bags of the 10 lbs of potatoes and grapes. Grateful for the sales. NOT thrilled about the hurricane force winds we will be enduring today. I am praying for no wildfires.

    Cindy

  50. We had power outages and smoke from wildfires. We also had very high winds. Things seem better now. Power is back on. Smoke seems to have gone. Wind finally died down. I was happy to have some can goods to eat from instead of opening the fridge.

  51. We had a wonderful vacation last week, compliments of my sister and brother-in-law. Now we are home and getting back into the frugal groove:).

    We decorated for Christmas before we left, so are enjoying the decorations.

    We are keeping our niece and nephew all week while their parents stay one more week at vacation. One activity my niece does weekly is bowl with her friends. Dinner is involved, and she has her own money to pay for that. Instead of taking the whole family along, my husband took her by himself, as we had no idea of what it would cost to buy everyone dinner at the bowling alley, or the cost of bowling since the place has changed hands. He was shocked to find that his meal cost around $12 and it was very basic–burger, fries, soda. Yikes! We were super glad there was only one of him and not all of us:). He did not choose to bowl with her. He doesn’t want to badly enough to put out around the $7 it would have cost him, and it was about her and her friends, anyway, not him, although they would have welcomed his participation.

    Last evening, we took all the kids to church for a showing of the Charlie Brown Christmas movie and popcorn. On the way home, we drove around a bit and looked at Christmas lights. We have one more holiday activity planned to keep the week flowing quickly for the kids while their parents are away, and love the fact that there are so many free activities around this time of year.

    Before we left for vacation, I used up all the food in the fridge. It was quite empty so I wiped off some of the shelves. I froze a few bagels/bread items my niece will eat and bought a couple of long-dated gallons of milk. We had plenty for the first day home that way. My husband did stop by the store and grab bananas and a ham for 87c/lb and we’ve been eating that all week. We’ve had scrambled eggs with ham, ham pieces, ham and beans, and ham sandwiches. We froze some of the ham and beans for later and some of the ham slices, as well as boiled the bones and froze the extra broth after making the ham and beans. We also froze some beans, as I always try to soak extra and cook them to freeze plain for future meals.

    I did show a few vacation pictures on my blog: http://beckyathome.com. I had a lot of fun. I have to confess, I’m a homebody, so I love coming home.

  52. My frugal fail this week was homemade birdseed wreaths. I was so excited to make them for Christmas gifts and they turned out so cute but 3-4 days later they were all moldy! So much for giving them as gifts. An internet search revealed that the gelatin used in the wreaths molds quickly especially if it’s over 50 degrees. I guess we will resort to making cookies to give as gifts this year.

  53. It is snowing. I bought one package of chicken thighs for $17 and got one for free.
    Squashes were on sale so I got a butternut squash for $1.50. And two packages of mushrooms on sale.
    I’m gearing up to start using the Instant Pot blender cooker to make soup.
    When I make soup I will not put it on “keep warm for up to 2 hours” because
    that will use electricity.

    I reviewed my electrical usage with my utility company.
    I really did tie into the 5 year rates at a good time. My electrical rate is 6.59 cents per kilowatt hour
    while the floating rate is double. I had to give up the last two years of my old plan to tie in for 5 years but
    it was expedient as it happens. The gas rate is expected to really soar (especially with cold weather on the horizon).
    I negotiated my cellphone rate. I now get 200 minutes of free calls to the U.S.,
    unlimited international texting, and $8 off per month for the year while keeping my gbs which I would like to do
    in case my computer crashes.
    It pays to nicely ask the Loyalty Department. That is $96 per year saved.

    I realized that I did not get the federal carbon rebate — I am being sent the right form to fill out
    so I should receive $450 ultimately.

    I took lovely Grosbeak photos. I only wish I=there’d been a male.

    I discovered that all of the bird sunflower seeds have been made in peanut facilities so
    am not sure how I am going to avoid deathly peanut reactions. I may ask a neighbourhood
    child to do it for me (for compensation).

    I have almost finished my portion of the book.

    1. Oh My, Chicken is expensive there! Recently there was a sale for leg quarters at 39 cents a lb for a 10 lb bag. I thawed some this week. I am cooking it tomorrow. I haven’t decided what I am doing with it yet. But at 39 cents a lb. I was thrilled! However; all of our other bills have skyrocketed! I’m working on balancing everything so that we can build some savings instead of our small cushion disappearing. I was getting my oil changed today and heard the mechanic say that tires have gone up 40% this year and they are going up another 14% in January. I’ve read lots of articles about the inflation around the world. So, finding a sale on something like chicken makes me very happy!

      1. Tammy,
        Wow 39 cents per pound! great price! My $17 package was huge –– was half price at $2.50 per pound so I was happy!

  54. Hello, everyone.
    DH had to go out of town for work. The first day, he sent me a photo of his ‘meal’ at the airport. Pre-packaged turkey sandwich, diet sprite, bottled water. Price: $21.00 (I’m glad his employer pays for travel meals.)

    But I wanted to post something that I find beneficial: Our Kroger posts their upcoming ads online at midnight Eastern time, the day before the sale starts. So, I can look at the ads when I first wake up Tuesday morning to see what the sales will be on Wednesday. That helps me plan.

    Busy here trying to prepare a guest room for Christmas visitors. How did we accumulate so much stuff!?! I’ve taken 2 full car loads to the thrift store…and there’s more to go!

    BTW, I bought an instant pot … and I’m not having much success with it. The first thing we made was a chuck roast, using my sister-in-law’s recipe. It was … okay. Then I tried chicken thighs using my sister’s technique. They were much less tender than the ones I roast in the oven. And it took a long time to sauté chicken thighs in the small pot.
    I have had many people tell me how much they love their instant pot, I feel as if I’m missing something.

    1. I’ve not used it yet so I don’t know!

      On the ads—I noticed this week that Albertson’s, which is a Safeway affiliate, had the next week’s ad up the day before as well on their website.

    2. I have an instant pot. My daughter raved about hers but I didn’t like mine at first. I think it just takes some time to learn it’s ways. Every time I visit my daughter I learn a bit more. Now I’m really enjoying my instant pot!

    3. Look for a Facebook group that shares Instant Pot recipes. I love mine and use it mostly for soups, but we have also made other things in it (roast beef, chicken for tacos, and more.) It does take a few tries to get used to it, and you might find that you need to cook things longer than the recipe calls for to suit your tastes.

  55. My post did not show up in the remarks. Think I may have used the wrong name! Anyway, I just pointed out that Sam’s was featuring $20 off any size package of Standing Rib Roast even though the price per pound was outrageous($19.98!).

    Brandy, I asked if you used old water hoses for drip lines and how might that work.

    I also commented on your lovely planters and how you definitely had an eye for beauty!

    Hope this goes through!

  56. My comments did go through! Oh well! Guess all the Christmas sweets are destroying my brain cells! Think I will ask a question though. I cannot get my posts to break into paragraphs even though I set them up that way in the post. It all runs together! Any suggestions?

  57. Loved hearing about what you’re planting! We’ve had such warm weather in the past 2 weeks that I should have planted some salad greens; they would have had time to get started. Wish I liked radishes…they grow so quickly and easily. Recently I saw a recipe about butter-roasted radishes and thought that might be something to try this spring.

    We didn’t have a very frugal week, we had an activity every evening. Next year I will know to budget money for tickets to my son’s sports matches. I was grateful to start Christmas break this weekend! We’re not traveling over the holiday. It will be so nice to be home together. My husband and both kids are sick with colds right now, so we are pretty much homebound anyway. My mother told me she was sending money for us to have Christmas Eve dinner out (she specifically told me that my Christmas gift was not to have to cook or clean up). She sent enough that we will be able to stretch it to 3 meals! Otherwise we’re trying to eat out of the freezer and pantry to pare it down.

    We had two unexpected repairs to make on my daughter’s car this week — to the tune of $750. She was distracted while trying to turn off the defrost button and hit a neighbor’s trash can, which broke off the sideview mirror.
    When she went back for it, it was gone. My husband was going to try to fix it himself, but the mechanic said it can be really hard to do with the Prius (if the door panel hasn’t been popped off before, apparently). That is a $500 fix. Then she forgot to turn off the car and let it run all night, which ran down the battery until it was fully dead. A new battery was $250. My husband and I decided that she needed to help pay for the repairs to help her appreciate the responsibility of safe driving, as well as getting her attention and making her care a bit more about the cost of car ownership. She gave us $250, which we have set aside to funnel back to her at some point…she doesn’t know that.

  58. Forgot to mention — those of you who read library books can enter a giveaway devoted to library lovers!
    https://booksofmyheart.net/2021/10/01/2021-oct-nov-dec-library-love-challenge-link-up-giveaway/

    It’s legit, I participate every year. You just have to have a dedicated Goodreads page, or a blog post if you have a blog. Here’s my GR shelf: https://www.goodreads.com/review/list/8282913-dianna-savingsinseconds-blog?ref=nav_mybooks&shelf=library-love-2021

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