I covered my seedlings in the garden with glass jars to help them to grow faster. This will also protect them from the frosts that are supposed to arrive this week.

I harvested Meyer lemons, pomegranates, pumpkins, butternut squash, and lemon verbena from the garden. Almost all of my pumpkins are still green. I would love to hear if anyone has successfully cooked unripe pumpkins and used them in baked goods (I have three in the oven currently). I picked 17 large pumpkins. I left them in the garden as long as I could (until frost was expected and the vines were mostly dead).

I redeemed Swagbucks for $50 worth of gift cards for Amazon.

I rolled up towels and put them in front of the front doors to block the drafts that come in during the winter to keep the house warmer.

Someone I know in a local garden group is moving and will be using her house as a rental property. She wanted to get rid of three high-maintenance (and expensive) trees and offered them for free months ago to someone willing to come dig them up. I had been wanting these exact trees, and new ones would have been a total of $800 plus tax to purchase. We agreed to have me come when it was cold and the trees had the most likely chance of surviving being transplanted. I two hours digging up her trees. Hopefully, they will make the transition! Two trees are in the pots above and another I planted in another pot I have.

I said yes to taking leftover food home after a party (and then someone came by my house afterwards with even more leftovers and asked me to take them), yes to food that my neighbor no longer wanted, and yes to grapefruit from someone’s tree. My son brought home more leftovers from another party.

What did you do to save money last week?


To the reader who sent me a Christmas card earlier this month: Thank you so much!

I appreciate your support of my website! As an Amazon affiliate, I earn from qualifying purchases made through my links. This means that I earn a small percentage from ANY items you place in your cart and purchase within 24 hours after going to Amazon from one of my links (i.e., it doesn’t have to be an item I have linked here).  If you’re going to be making a purchase from Amazon this week, I thank you for using my links to support this site.

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  1. Brandy, what wonderful blessings this week!

    *reserved more books from the library
    *picked up a baking kit from library for an upcoming free class
    *made a return to Kohls (from Amazon- my daughter bought a game I bought her for Christmas 😬) used $5 promo plus $10 Kohls cash while there so not wasted and not tempted to order enough online for free shipping
    *redeemed 2 free items (1 full size, 1 not) from Bath & Body Works- no purchase necessary
    *dropped our water/sewer/trash bill at the Dropbox to save postage
    📍Grocery Store: marked down taco layer dip for date night, sale: carrots, blueberries, frozen pizza, and cheez its
    📍Buy Nothing Group: a life sized Candyland game 🍭

    Take care everyone!

  2. It seems like berry time the past few weeks! This week, in addition to a flat (8 sixteen ounce cartons) of blueberries I bought at Meijers for 99 cents/carton , they also ran a 3 day sale on blackberries for 99 cents/carton. So I bought 24 cartons (2 flats) and turned them into 28 jars of blackberry jam- https://pin.it/43KAamg in a matter of 90 minutes!!

    My daughter texted me from her grocery store when she saw Miracle Whip on clearance for 97 cents/quart ! I know it’s possible to make mayonnaise or salad dressing, but MW is an indulgence that we really love so I have been fortunate to usually keep a good supply rotating on my basement shelf! But it was diminishing, so the timing was great! She picked up the number I wanted as well as some for her sister whose little girl has called it “Amazing Whip” since she was 5! Lol!

    Then my friend who works at a Krogers texted me that they had put whole berry cranberry sauce on clearance for 50 cents a can. So I went over and bought 10 cans since I had just used my last one the week before!

    So my pantry has been growing and replenishing!! I have family members, good friends and wonderful online friends that have been thoughtful to share bargains that they find that they think I might want for our food storage! ❤️ I hope that I return the favor by passing the sale info on to others!! It gives a feeling of “we’re all in this together” and a connection between us, whether in person or virtual !

    A daughter of mine who is getting married the end of this month stopped over to see if I could help her mend a few things! I loved spending an hour with her as we worked together and it made me feel good to know that instead of throwing away these 4 garments that she had confidence that we could repair them instead!

    Our business has been keeping busy for my daughter and I. This past week, she quilted 3 more client quilts while I quilted up 3 more at the same time: https://pin.it/3XUv8h2 and it’s Minkee back: https://pin.it/6aiSeNv, the second one: https://pin.it/1aSAw5c and it’s Minkee back : https://pin.it/56Uxk3Q and the third client quilt: https://pin.it/2sIk3mV with a close up of quilting: https://pin.it/6CvYLBR. So we are grateful that we are able to keep having work in this economy.

    I found some more free quilting pantographs that I downloaded (8) for our quilting machines so my daughter and I each downloaded them so we both have them at our respective homes (we live an hour’s drive from each other)! Typically pantographs cost between $13.50 and $16.50 each plus shipping cost if you don’t want to self-print. So the savings was at least $108 for each of us!

    I have been trying to rotate my pantry items, like cake mixes, so I took a box of carrot cake mix and added some leftover baby carrots from fridge that I grated up plus a few leftover pineapple slices I blended up (also from fridge) and some chopped pecans. I made a simple buttercream frosting. Hubs loved it and we have had it as a dessert all week!

    I have our dinner cooking in crockpot- Slow cooker Ham and potato soup- https://pin.it/Scz0nA1. From my fridge: I took a 2-1/2 pound boneless deli ham that I bought for $2 on FlashFood, celery and carrot sticks leftover from our Thanksgiving. An onion from the bag my DIL gave me. Two 10 cent clearance cans of chicken broth and 2-1/2 pounds of potatoes I got in the 99 cents/5 pound bag sale! I had 3 more quart size ziplocs of diced ham after I put what I needed into crockpot (so at least 3 more large meals from that $2 ham). So if I figure 50 cents (1/4 of $2 ham) + 50 cents for potatoes + 20 cents for chicken broth, I’ve got about $1.20 invested in a soup that will give us 10 servings!

    I had leftover broccoli stems from a broccoli salad I made for a Church dinner and I realized that I could chop those up in food processor (that I used earlier to dice up the ham) and Voila! I now have 2 quart bags of chopped broccoli that I blanched and put into the freezer! When I make something like broccoli, chicken and rice, it won’t matter if there aren’t florets in the dish! It will still have broccoli!! No waste!! https://pin.it/4PQBJQI

    Hubs was asked by a friend if he could cut out 7 wooden stars as part of a project she was doing with some grade school girls at Church. She told him she would pay him for his time and the wood. He was able to donate both his time and the wood that had been leftover from one of his projects! https://pin.it/3MmILTx. It’s a good feeling to be able to share talents and goods!

    Our youngest son- 31 (with Asperger’s), had paid time off with his bank job that needed to be used or lost before the end of December, so, on his own, he booked a flight to NYC and got a ticket to see Phantom of the Opera on Broadway! He booked a hotel room on his own too! He flew into LaGuardia, his hotel was in the Bronx and his return flight on Saturday was at 5 AM out of the Newark, NJ airport, changing planes at Chicago O’Hare!
    This mom, I’ll admit, was terrified of his being all alone there but didn’t say that to him. His hotel room was really sketchy and not at all what was shown on it’s website.
    But he booked a 4 hour tour to the Statue of Liberty, taking Ubers to get back and forth from hotel. He loved the play.He knows it well. He had borrowed the music for it from our public library when he was in high school and was learning to play the piano on his own – one measure at a time over and over again before going on to next measure. 😱 He plays reasonably well now.

    He was safe and got back to Columbus with new adventures to share! And I sighed a breath of relief!

    Chickens are slowed down on egg production but we are still getting 2 dozen a week from our 8 hens! That’s a blessing.

    Our gas and electric bills are higher because it’s been so cold, but they are both under the amount I have budgeted, so we are okay.

    Hope everyone in winter climates are stay warm and dry and that for those in those warmer climates, you’re getting enough rain to grow another season of crops!

    Gardenpat in Ohio

    1. I’m glad your son made it safely.
      I have heard when chickens slow down in winter to feed warm, not hot oatmeal and they begin laying again. It’s worth a try.

  3. I just checked my daily journal to see when I picked my ‘fairytale pumpkin’ squash. It was September 11th. They were green and some were quite immature. I placed them on a table in front of the window in a cool porch and kept an eye on them, turning over from time to time. I have begun to cook them. They have matured nicely since September and are so sweet that I halved the sugar in a custard recipe and we are eating it as a veg without butter or syrup. Keep an eye out for mold or any spots and cook the spotty ones right away. I have grated immature squash and used as zucchini in cakes. The sunlight will cure them and harden the shells. Hope you have success. That is a whole lot of of good healthy food in 17 pumpkins!

  4. How wonderful to get free trees, to add to the structure of your garden. and with such savings. Last week, a pot of small sweet potatoes was boiled for the critters. Suet was made for the birds, and golden paste for the pups. I finished up the toothpaste tube I had cut open, which lasted more than two weeks. Lettuce and mixed winter greens were harvested for salads, and our small potatoes were steamed. I redeemed Swagbucks for a $25 gift card, which I’ll be using for a gift, and received $6 in digital Amazon credits, for allowing slower shipping. Most of our house is a bit quirky, and we need a larger than usual threshold for the new sewing room. My husband brought two pieces of lumber we already had on hand in the house to dry, but the first one cracked, and the other warped. He mentioned he had been looking for a threshold when customers came by his shop. It turns out one of the men had a piece of dried white oak that he gave my husband, because at some point, he had given him a piece of metal, so his good deed came back to him at the perfect time. Soapmaking oils were melted on the woodstove, to save propane. A piece of my juicer was beginning to stick, so I followed hubby’s advice to spray with a vinegar solution, followed by a soapy solution, and it moves perfectly smoothly now. http://abelabodycare.blogspot.com/2022/12/good-deeds.html

  5. -A friend is moving and offered so many things for free. I had to make 2 trips to her house, bringing home 2 compost tumblers, 4 tomato cages, 7 LARGE terra cotta pots, organic garden sprays, wood, clothes pins, Christmas lights, outdoor chairs, and more. Some will go to our youngest who is moving into her first apartment. Some I’ve already listed on Buy Nothing. It was so generous of her.
    -Our Community garden volunteers holiday potluck was this weekend. I made roasted Butternut Squash Panzella, which used free sourdough bread and home grown butternut squash. It was a tasty and very low cost dish. Our table won the quiz and we each received a jar of Meyer Lemon marmalade. I brought home a slice of cheesecake for my husband, and when another lady saw I didn’t mind leftovers, she asked me to take home the berry pie she had brought. My husband enjoyed it all.
    -I picked up the freebie at Safeway on Wednesday (hot dogs). Also used rain check to pick up a previous freebie ( 1 pound of peanuts).
    -I unraveled a knitted wool scarf that I have had for 20 years and knitted it into a new style, which gave me a lot of joy. I do this every couple of years.
    -I ordered Christmas gifts for my sister’s family (10 people) from Target and used the free shipping to have them sent directly to my sister back east. I have a limit of $25 and I ordered several food items that the whole family can enjoy together.
    -We have no central heat right now (rats got under the house and chewed throught the HVAC ducts while we were away) and the price to have our ducting replaced is absolutely staggering. We’ve had 2 quotes so far. It is 54 degrees in the house and has been for the last 10 days. I am feeling defeated. The other stressor is that our youngest is living with us temporarily and ALL of her household contents came with her. We live in a very small house that now looks like a hoarder’s house and the chaos has really gotten to me. Today I tidied in the garden, which I can still move around in. It also warmed me up. We are so glad to be a temporary spot for her, I keep reminding myself of that.
    -Blessings and peace to you all. And Brandy, I am so happy for you about the trees!

    1. I love the scarf reknitting! What a wonderful, perfectly frugal idea!

      I hope you can get the heating fixed and find a solution for your daughter’s things. Those both sound very stressful.

    2. Kara, You are not alone in this season! Our refrigerator is making a horrific noise when the fan comes on. My grandson says it’s a dinosaur roaring. Our hot water heater went out. Our shower drain is broken and we’ve had to resort to having just one bathroom for showers. My daughter and her 3 year old son have moved in and I feel like maid of all work, as well as daycare at present. It’s exhausting and wearying. But I’ll remind you (and myself at the same time: This is just a season! We’ll all get through it. I’ll certainly pray for you to get a great quote that you can afford for the ductwork.

        1. It helps me to look outward when I’m in a tough spot. I am just so thankful for this community. Sharing our struggles and receiving encouragement is priceless to me.

      1. That all sounds very stressful too. I have been thinking of you this week. I trust that things will improve for you as well.

    3. I don’t know if this idea might be a temporary fixup for your duct work or not, but you might be able to use duct tape to patch the holes until you can have the system repaired or replaced. I mention it because long ago and far away we lived in a remote area where we couldn’t buy ductwork for the new house we were building. A builder my husband knew gave him some sections of metal ductwork and loaned him some power clippers to cut the metal with. My husband used some of the sections as is and cut and built sections out of the leftover pieces to make what he needed. I also think he used a considerable quantity of duct tape because he didn’t have a way to bend the metal properly. Also, more recently my son had a situation where his renters left an external access hatch to the crawl space under his manufactured home open, and raccoons got in and tore up the non-metal duct work. He was able to buy pieces of ductwork and splice it into the parts of his that were still intact. As I remember it, both projects consumed a considerable amount of time, but were not that technically difficult to do. You might be able to rent any tools you need to do the job. I just hate to see you and your family living in the cold . . ..

      1. I had thought of some such rig-up myself. We are absolutely thrilled that we got a bid from a reputable company for less than half the price of the first bid. And, they will come and do it this Saturday, since we’ve been without heat for 2 weeks. I am SO thankful.

    4. Kara, I am so sorry to hear about your heating problem! You can perhaps try to make the temperature more bearable by reducing humidity. This is what we did back when we lived in Estonia. There are all kind of devices to do that but we used simple containers with a ”block” of something that ”sucked” the humidity and turned it into blue liquid in the container. I hope you’ll find a solution soon, cold can be so discouraging!

    5. Our daughter moved back home a year ago too. We are also thankful that we could do that for her. She came with a young dog (husky – and we have 2 danes!) and a small frig . She eats vegan and needed more frig space than ours has available. It’s both wonderful to have her here and very stressful at times. We also dog sit whenever she has a wedding to shoot. It just feels soooo cramped sometimes!

    6. for now, depending on the duct work holes, perhaps sheet metal attached with JB weld over the holes will do untill it can be repaired. If JB weld can hold a badly gashed car radiator together on a cross country drive (Don’t ask,lol) I would give it a try.

  6. Brandy, for some reason your blog logo on my home page switched from a bee to a letter T. And now it opens like a file folder. I couldn’t access it for a couple of days and someone else had no problem. I deleted it and reloaded and that’s when the bee and format changed. In any case, I’m glad your website didn’t crash, which was what I was beginning to think!

    I don’t have much extra to report, aside from the normal things.
    * Repaired a torn shower liner loop with duct tape, a la Amy D.
    * Kept thermostat at 62° and 55° at night.
    * Used a $6 off $60 at the market.
    * Used up orts and ends in the fridge. Not wasting anything!!
    * Made 3 baked zitis and froze 2. Fast food!
    * Shipped a gift in a large flat rate box for $22.xx, saving over $10 by using USPS box and creative packing!
    * Beautified by finally setting up my winter village. Its a white plaster made by California Creations. I painted them back in the mid 80s. My husband adores it and wants me to do more. Unfortunately, the only pieces available are now on eBay for more money than we can afford!! I have 12 pieces and several small pieces like a skating rink, sleigh ride, outhouse, etc.

    Prices in my Area this week..
    Gas- $2.84 per gallon ***Milk was 2 gals/$6 at the dairy*** Eggs were a whopping $4.46 doz. at Aldi. We passed!
    A blessed week to everyone!!

    1. My website was down but I didn’t notice my bee was gone because it still shows up on my side. I am glad you told me. I am going to have to go figure out how to fix it!

  7. Good luck with your new trees, Brandy!

    I finished my Christmas shopping today, on time and on budget! We are celebrating the holiday with my son and daughter-in-law in eastern Idaho next week, so I had to git-er-done. Now all I have to do is wrap the presents. I bought a bag of bows at the dollar store but otherwise I’m using supplies I already have.

    We accepted an invitation to Christmas dinner at the home of friends.

    I cooked double and froze a ready meal. Actually, I’ve done this 4 times in two weeks. I had to reorganize the freezer drawer and discovered I’m 10 meals ahead. My goal is 7. Now I have to eat some of the older ones to make room, but with the holidays, they will be a blessing.

    This week was filled with frugal fails! We received a letter from the Internal Revenue Service demanding $15,000 in back taxes, interest and penalties. I checked our forms and saw that we had reported the income and paid taxes on it. We took it to an accountant and he spotted the problem–the amount was entered on the wrong line. He amended the return for us for $125 and handled all of the IRS paperwork. However, moving the income to a different line changed the way it was taxed and we owed $5,500! Well, it’s better than $15,000! (But it’s still a big blow).

    Then I got my bank statement and found they were clearing checks through the wrong account. They discovered my new checks (which I got from them) had the wrong account number printed on them! They reversed everything, and it didn’t cost anything, but it took a whole day and was a huge headache! And they are reprinting the checks. Believe me, I will be checking the account number…twice! Note: My credit provides a free box of checks per year for seniors.

    They say things happen in threes. I was clearing snow off our truck and discovered the windshield had cracked! We do have insurance, but there is a $250 deductible to have it replaced.

    PS I have been unable to access this blog for 5 days. I get a message “Domain not accessible.” Today I got an email that Brandy had posted this article. I clicked on the link and came here. But when I click on my shortcut, I still get “Domain not accessible.” Is anyone else having the same problem? Any ideas?

    1. My blog was down for a few hours. If you’re still having issues, try refreshing it or worst case, delete your bookmark, type in the URL, and make a new bookmark.

    2. Brandy, regarding your green pumpkins, I remember a chapter in one of the Little House books in which Ma makes a pie using green pumpkin slices, like apples, and Pa thought it was apple pie!

  8. Unless the pumpkins are very immature, I have had all of my green pumpkins color up if I wipe them down with a 1 part bleach to 1 part water mixture to kill diseases and then leave them in a cool area to finish ripening.

  9. I do not know about anyone else but I have been having trouble reaching Brandys blog. I get a “Important message” page tag and the note in the middle of the page says the domain is not available at the moment. and the message is from cloud access dot net
    I arrived here thru one of Brandys facebook links.

    1. Just refresh the page again. It was down but several people told me it works again after refreshing.

  10. I just read on another favorite blog about a recipe from The Long Winter – Little House book for green pumpkin pie. I have made mock apple pie with zucchini (it tasted exactly like apple pie) and I expect it would work with any squash. I believe green pumpkins are more like summer squash in the green stage so should work great! Everything I have made from One Hundred Dollars a Month turns out yummy,. Here is the link to Mavis’s recipe.


    1. Thanks Gina! I prefer regular pumpkin pie myself and am not a fan of apple pie, but I can see how that would work! I think I will make these first three pumpkins into pumpkin bread, as everyone in my family will eat that, and only three of us (myself included) will eat pumpkin pie, and I do not need that temptation!

      1. Brandy, i also dehydrate my pumpkins. I steam chunks of pumpkin to soften, then puree them, then spread on my dehydrator sheets about 2 cups per tray. When completely dry and cool, i grind it into a powder. This rehydrates in just a moment or two, 1 cup water to 1 cup powder. I use it all year long in baked goods, pancakes, or pumpkin mousse. I fit 2 huge pumpkins into two jars, so very little shelf space needed.

  11. I recently learned that the newest Aldi store in my area has lower prices on some, but not all items. This is allegedly due to being a couple miles from a Lidl store, 2 blocks from WalMart, across the street from Publix and one block from Food Lion. Butter that is $2.99 at most locations this week is $1.99 at this store. Bread is 45 cents less, pineapples were $1.19 when the other locations had them for $1.69 and so on. This might change in the future after they build a bigger customer base but for now I’ll go the extra 4.8 miles round trip, especially if I have other places to go in that area. This is all to say don’t presume every store in a chain in your area has the same prices.

  12. How lovely about the free trees and free food! Community is such a wonderful thing!

    My frugal week:
    – I made my Shortcut Eggplant Bharta aka eggplant curry (http://approachingfood.com/shortcut-eggplant-bharta/)using discounted Eggplant from last week’s flashfood box.
    – I redeemed SB for $10 to my paypal account, and redeemed $30 loyalty points for groceries.
    – I baked cinnamon sugar aggression cookies (http://approachingfood.com/cinnamon-sugar-aggression-cookies/) add to my yearly cookie tins I give to friends, as well as malteser bark, and chocolate covered oreos topped with a homemade sprinkle mix (homemade sprinkle mix is as easy as buying different sprinkles from a bulk store and mixing together, and significantly cheaper). I also made pecans meltaways but used walnuts as that’s what i had at home. I start making candy weeks in advance as it will keep, then bake the cookies closer to the date I hand out the tins. I look for deals on the ingredients all year long, to keep costs down.
    – I made copycat KFC bowls, using what I had at home (potatoes, frozen corn, homemade gravy, pan-fried breaded chicken using homemade breadcrumbs). I forgot to add grated cheese, as I’ve never actually eaten one of these bowls, but my husband was happy with it.
    – I found a deal to get family portraits for Christmas. $25 for a session plus one digital photo, which is all I need (the studio is banking on us buying expensive packages, once we see the photos, which is why the session is so inexpensive). The portrait will not be ready for Christmas photos, which is fine, as I’d rather have the deal, plus I did my own Christmas photo card shoot for my kids using what I had at home, plus a $2 jingle bell headband for one daughter, and a Christmas shirt for another daughter (which has been worn for multiple events already).
    – I made Sweet Potato Pear soup (http://approachingfood.com/autumnal-urges-and-sweet-potato-pear-soup/) using produce purchased on sale, and served it with homemade Japanese milk buns (made using powdered milk from my storage). I gifted half a dozen of the dinner buns as well, which are always well-received.
    – I made cream cheese truffles (cheaper than cream-based truffles) but used chocolate chips instead of more expensive bar chocolate, and used the red melting chocolate I had at home as dipping chocolate, instead of the more expensive bar chocolate the recipe called for.
    – I hosted two of my daughters friends for a gingerbread man decorating party, and sent them home with the finished cookies, as well as one of my candy/cookie tins for their parents. The only costs for the party were the cookie ingredients from my pantry, plus a dollar store tablecloth, and a package of Christmas sprinkles also from the dollar store. Literally a $5 party.
    – I cut open my toothpaste tube, and got a week’s more use out of it.
    – I made sauerkraut as well as creamy sundried tomato and potato gnocchi soup, and canned both, along with the leftover sweet potato pear soup. So handy having ready-made soup for quick lunches!

    Looking forward to learning from everyone else, as always!

  13. Frugal Thoughts:

    I mailed my Xmas Packages using PirateShip online. If you have not heard about this online postal service. Check it out. The calculator on the website allows you to fool around with mailing weight and package options. I put just enough walnuts in the gift bags to sneak under a pay level plus I used padded mailers instead of boxes because it is cheaper. I print the labels at home and then just drop packages in a bin at the UPS store. Done! Hopefully not a frugal fail with the jars of walnut butter. I did shrinkwrap and pad but who knows if they’ll break in transit. It will be a learning curve.

    I had to buy a COVID test. I didn’t have time to get my insurance to cover it. I joined the Riteaid membership, bought the giant bottles of Alleve BOGO 50%. This gave me cash bucks so the test was only 3 dollars. Sometimes I take into consideration my hourly wage when pressed for time. The $3.00 was worth it.

    I used my HSA debit card to pay for a first visit at a Chiro. Less than stellar frugal but my neck and shoulders are killing me. Nothing in Christmas is fun if I don’t feel well and I am in finals week with with my students. I can make everyone miserable 🙂 The first visit is OOP $65. Then my insurance will pay all but 10%. The HSA money is taken out tax free . Switching to an HSA PPO has saved me literally $1,000 a month this year. I can kick myself for not switching to it 20 years ago.

    I found some very high end work pants on Poshmark ( I like to look professional at work.) These pants literally run $200 a piece. I bought everything for about 60% – my 70% off. All in good condition. Honestly the only trouble I have had with Poshmark is sometimes the clothes have a “musty” or “attic” smell. I use Dryell instead of dry cleaning them. I put white vinegar in my clothing steamer. I have also sprinkled baking soda, let it sit and then hairdryered it out ( this was for a faux fur collar.) After one wearing I feel like I am good to go. The only piece I could never fix was a 100% cheaper polyester. My bad.

    Don’t want to highjack the post but if any of you have working knowledge of the following Costco hack let me know. I have my mom’s log in account. She is a member. “She” can purchase a shop card, mail it to me, and then I can shop at Costco up to the amount of the card. Worth it? Anybody fail at it? There are just two of us at home and I don’t really need a lot of bulk but it would be interesting to see what they have.

    1. I appreciate the info about Pirate Ship! I have some things I would like to list to sell online and have been wondering how to calculate shipping.

    2. I’ve done the Costco hack! But you can only do that a certain number of times a year (maybe 3?). But also, if you have a gc, you should be able to buy more than on the gift card. You go to customer service with your gc, get an official day pass (free) to use with your gc. If you have a $100 gc, you could spend any amount you want, but the gc has to be used first. Hope that helps!

    3. Just today I heard President Biden has authorized 4 more free covid tests per household…you can order them now thru the same website as before or just google free government covid tests to find the website

    4. I know prices can be more expensive online with Canadian Costco orders. My daughter who lives in another city (Toronto) uses my Costco number . It is her name, address and payment on the online order and she frequently orders larger items like toilet paper. They deliver it . She lives in the downtown apartment.

    5. Mary Ann,

      My husband had to buy a Covid test at Walmart after the pharmacy had closed, so he couldn’t use his insurance card. However, the insurance company had a form that he filled out and sent along with the receipt for the test and was able to get reimbursed. Hope that can work for you, too.

  14. What a great week you had, Brandy! Things are going well here too. I really enjoy the Christmas season. *We set up our Christmas tree and put the lights on, then our granddaughters, 4 and 2 (and their sweet mama) came over and put on the ornaments and unpacked my nativity collection. They had so much fun doing it, and I had so much fun watching them! I did put up our little village low enough for the little girls to rearrange. They are very careful and so excited! Money can’t buy that kind of fun! Everything we decorated with, we already owned. I had some Christmas cookies ready for them for after. * We attended a lovely Christmas dinner at church. It was such a pleasant evening. The decor was beautiful, the food yummy. The fellowship was priceless after our isolation the last few years. I so appreciate all the people who worked on such a nice evening. I finished all the shopping and wrapped everything! Got the two packages in the mail going to the kids who aren’t coming home for Christmas, in plenty of time to only pay for it to ship sloooooowwwww. (Still expensive, but it’s part of the Christmas budget). * I helped my son by making him a sack lunch for his shifts at work, to help him save money. He was appreciative. It’s an easy way for me to help him while he is going to school. * I was taken out to lunch by a friend as a Christmas present. It was so nice. * My daughter loaned us a dvd of a Christmas movie she thought we’d like but isn’t on streaming. * Since I’m done with all the presents and donation items, I’ve been a little out of sorts not having anything specific to knit or crochet. I can’t sit without working on something, so I grabbed a cone of crochet cotton from my stash and have just been making (and making and making) dishcloths. I’m up to ten from this one cone so far with plenty yarn left! This is a very thrifty way to make dishcloths. I’ll just put these in my gift closet for hostess gifts, birthday presents or maybe save them for next Christmas. * I’ve been enjoying watching Christmas movies on tv or dvds that we have. I also like watching the Christmas episodes of shows we’ve watched over the years (like The Waltons, The Office, etc). I look up which episodes are Christmas on the internet. * A few years ago, I gathered all the Christmas books and keep them all together…they range from board books, to kids books to novels. I enjoy reading them in December. * I’ve started to slowly prep the house for our Christmas visitors. With arthritis and fibromyalgia, it works best if I do a little each day. My husband and son will help with the heavy tasks. I’m looking forward to having a couple more of my kids home for a bit. * My fourth daughter is graduating from college with her Bachelor’s this week!!! We are so proud of her. She isn’t “walking” til spring so it seems a little anticlimactic. I decided when she is home to have a little “surprise party” for her while she is home. I invited a few people over for cake and will add some balloons and crepe paper in school colors. Hopefully, she will feel special and know how pleased we are for her. Half of her college experience was during covid restrictions, which makes this even more special. *I’m enjoying my sweet, yearly advent study of reading one chapter of Luke every day in December. There are 24 chapters, so it works out perfectly. *I hope everyone has a lovely week!

  15. Wow! 17 pumpkins. That is great! I’ve never cooked unripe pumpkin, so I don’t know what to do. We have kept our house a couple of degrees cooler. We need to get propane. We heat and cook with it. So, we have to get some even at the prices they are now. My husband made potato soup tonight and it was so good! We made kofta , with burger instead of lamb, and homemade hummus yesterday. And other things all week at home, except one evening we ate at a friends restaurant and shared a meal and a couple appetizers. I made Indian eggplant lentil soup one day. We ate it several days. I have used the internet for recipes and entertainment. I learned how to use my sewing machine from my mom this week. I am very happy to get to learn how to sew and to spend some quality time with my mom. We are going to fix some of my husband’s jeans this week and maybe get started on a small quilt. We are being careful to eat what we have and if we buy something it will be loss leaders or some sale items. I didn’t shop for anything but food this week. Oh yes and toilet paper. We found a sale with 50 cents for a pack of 4 rolls. We bought a little bit. We should of bought more but we weren’t sure how it was so we didn’t. We gave boxes of oranges as Christmas gifts this week. Everyone was so happy to get them! It made me smile.

    1. Boxes of oranges is such a nice gift! It brings back memories of my mother who used to put an orange
      in my stocking at Christmas. It was a treasured treat in her family during the Depression when she was a child!

      1. Hi Ann,
        My parents always got oranges in their stockings as well. So my sister and I did too! Then my boys and niece as well. I think that is why every one of them had a big smile on their face when they got the oranges! It made me so happy to be able to make them all smile like that! Oranges make me happy too. So many good memories of my grandparents and Christmas.

  16. -Please don’t forget Dec 15 deadline for January 2023 coverage if you are interested in health insurance via marketplace.gov.
    -A frugal semi-fail: picked up some really cute really expensive Christmas cards off a free rack at fave thrift store. Like $5 for each card retail. A few weeks later I go to use them and surprise surprise they have a slot to add a gift card. They are so cute I’m probably using them anyway.
    -One ounce US postage increases from 60 cents to 63 cents. Think date is January 22. Buy those forever stamps now.
    -Wanted to go to jewelry making class 45 miles away at library on Dec 12. Was already scheduled to be that direction to celebrate Christmas with friends on Dec 13. Asked and friends were more than willing to change celebration to 12 so I was able to combine trips.
    -I hate all things related to cooking and grocery buying. My family celebrates Christmas with “bring your own steak” dinner. I especially hate buying meat. Made a deal with nephew that if he would buy/marinate my steak I would pay for mine plus those for his family. So he and my credit card are going to the local Piggly Wiggly that has in house butchers. Win for me in that I don’t have to go to grocery and win for him that steaks for his family are free to them.
    -Good friend hates cooking more than me. Back in summer at thrift store I paid $1 for cookbook for her from the small rural community where he husband was raised. Gave it to her this afternoon with note that I knew she would never make a single recipe out of it but that her husband might recognize names of some of ladies that contributed recipes. She called and said he’s been looking at it for hours recognizing several friends of his long deceased mother. He enjoyed it so much he wants me to be on lookout for another he can give childhood friend. So a great gift for only $1.

    1. Thanks for the heads up in the postage increase. I just checked and it is January 22. I recently ordered stamps to be delivered to me and that was definitely worth the $1.50 service fee. It’s a flat fee no matter how many books you buy. There are also a lot more designs available online than in my local branch, which is always busy and has a line of customers.

  17. How to cook a green pumpkin on Foragerchef.com looks interesting. She talks about some of the Little House on the Prairie books where they use a green pumpkin to make a pie.

  18. Love the pictures, Brandy, as always! Thank you for them.
    *It was an ordinary week for frugality. Baking and cooking all at home, careful use of heating, staying out of shops, library usage, and so on. Christmas decorating is done, and gifts are awaiting either gift bags or wrapping in recyclable paper.
    *Our daughter is a classical singer (that’s Mozart, not Rolling Stones!) and is home currently for the holidays as well a vocal concert gig, which is on our anniversary. So that’ll be our big night out!
    *We’re starting to plan for next year, using broad strokes. Canadians were warned to expect the same % food inflation again we had this year. Which is a pretty scary warning really. I hope that’s wrong, but we will have to plan accordingly on how to best manage our budget. My heart goes out to those coping with inflated heating bills along with high food costs and housing costs.
    *A reminder to be aware of scams this time of year. I’ve noticed an uptick of appeals for money transfers on social media. (Generally a brand new group member with a word for word sad story on different frugal groups, but with very different names.) Remember, anybody can claim anything on social media, and they do like to pull on those heartstrings.

    *Wishing serenity for the next week!

        1. I read it in a an article quite recently, but I read news from a lot of sources and I am not sure which one I read it in.

  19. Brandy, you’ve read the “Laura” books, haven’t you?
    In the beginning of THE LONG WINTER, Ma slices and peels an unripe pumpkin as if it were an apple, and uses it in pie. In fact, Pa thinks it IS an apple pie. I’d certainly try this! I don’t think Laura Ingalls Wilder would have suggested it, otherwise…

    (Let us know what happens.)

    1. I have, many times. Such a good series! I don’t care for apple pie nor does the rest of my family, but they do like pumpkin bread!

    2. This is just what I scrolled down to comment myself! I adore apple pie and apple crumble and apple cake and apple turnovers and… well, you get the idea. So I’m a little bit sceptical that I would be unable to tell the difference, but I’d sure like to find out.

  20. Brandy- I have not tried cooking unripe pumpkins but I have had a green pumpkin ripen indoors. It was then cooked as usual

  21. Love the gift of trees that you received. As Amy Dacyzyn used to preach, “You have to put the word out (about what you want)”. My frugals of late….
    * We keep taking old, broken computers, printers and keyboards to Staples for recycling. Every time we do we get a coupon for $5.00 to spend at their store. Each time we use it to buy a ream of printer paper which costs $6. (Our cost is now $1. ) We don’t use a lot of paper and since we are no spring chickens, we figure we now have enough paper to last until we cross that rainbow bridge.
    * I have been doing a lot of clothes purging and in the past have always brought the goods to the local charity shop, but I hear that a lot isn’t sold and just goes into the landfill anyway. I’m trying to remedy this so we brought a large bag of my husbands clothes to his son, in another state, when we went to visit. I packed up my clothes and am sending them to Thred Up, not so much for the money earned, but they are in great shape and I just want them in the hands of people who will wear them as I don’t personally know of any one who needs clothes, and don’t know of any shelters who will take them.
    * If one can afford to occasionally eat out then December is the month to buy gift cards to your favorite restaurants as they are often discounted 20-30 %. We recently used up the gift cards we bought last year and have bought for next year at our three favorite chains. Also, nice Christmas gifts.
    * Although we did not change our Medicare Plan during the reenrollment period, our plan added an OTC benefit of $55.00 per quarter for each of us. It starts on the first of Jan. and we have been figuring out what items we will now get for free. This includes toothpaste and several other things we use.

    1. I felt very blessed to see her post offering the two trees a few months back! I was very surprised when she asked me a couple of weeks ago if I also wanted the third three. I was delighted!

      Good to know about the gift cards!

    2. I’m late to comment so I’m not sure you’ll see this, Anne. But I’m happy you posted about Staples recycling, because I wasn’t familiar with it, but do have a small assortment of electronics that I’m no longer using that I should definitely think about recycling. Can you use the store $5 coupon during that same trip? That seems like a great deal. I’m still working my way through reams of paper I “bought” (likely free after rebates) from Staples easily 5-10 years ago, maybe more. Mostly I reuse junk mail letters that have a blank side for printing temporary things like recipes, so I don’t use a lot of the good paper. I’m sure I would have no trouble finding something else useful there to buy for very little out of pocket. Someone paying me $5 to declutter a little…sign me up!

  22. Hello! I am really focusing on not wasting food & so I did an inventory of pantry & freezers, now I have a good list of the holes I need to fill. and what needs to be used up. I am coming up with creative combinations but my husband does not mind. I tried something new to me: I had some peppers, tomatoes & onions left after the crockpot sausage and peppers were eaten. I boiled it along with beef broth, blended with immersion blender and added leftover from the freezer corn & ground beef. Added 1/4 cup of acine di pepe and a really good soup was born! Since this worked I took the leftover cabbage, celery & tomato juicy mix from simmering halupki
    (rolled stuffed cabbage) and did the same boiling & blending. I froze this for a future soup. Honestly, in the past both things would have ended up in the garbage so I was proud of myself. My husband had a dental appointment and came home with a toothbrush, floss & paste. I sold another item on Mercari & listed 2 more items. I shipped it using bubble wrap, paper & a box we had so it cost me nothing. I put a book I want read on hold at the library. Wrote out my Christmas cards and used up the last one, I get my cards randomly at yard sales, thrift stores, free piles, etc. I haven’t purchased “new” ones in years and now I’m wondering if it’s a sign-since my stash is gone maybe it is the last year to send? I love burning scented candles but they are expensive and lately causing allergy type problems. I saw a mini crockpot for $3.99 at Goodwill so I bought that and a pumpkin spice blend at the Dollar Tree. We have been filling with water & the spice blend and putting this on in the evening and it scents the downstairs nicely.

  23. Returned home from traveling with one carry on suitcase in Europe for several weeks; it worked out perfectly traveling lite. Budapest is turning their lights off all commercial buildings, along with Germany early, during a set time at night. Thermostats are turned down to a set temperature, too. Another observation in Hungary was that young people (teens) were out and about ( some carrying ice skates) talking and laughing, without cell phones!
    Thrifty actions this week: using falling leaves (they are still falling) as compost, reading Mary Hunt’s online library book, Better, Cheaper, Faster, baking Christmas cookies (freezing) with grandchildren with grocery items bought on sale, in advance.
    Great score on the trees and what a pumpkin harvest!

    1. For Nancy et al: in 1973 I was a student in southern France during the oil crisis, and all the lights in the city of Nice were turned off from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. No movie theater lights, no traffic lights for vehicles!

  24. I always love your photos of flowers but that first one of the clouds – beautiful! You can really see all of the colors of the sky reflected in them.
    *It was a very low-key week on the mountain as some combination of our family was sick with the flu the whole time. Not fun! But, it did make me even more grateful for our stockpile of food even though we did not feel like eating anything other than fruit. I do not regularly buy frozen juice concentrate but had some on hand and was glad for it as, some days, that was about all we consumed. Having some things on hand that are not necessarily part of the regular rotation of meals is useful. *I suppose you could say we saved money as we did not attend a couple of events we normally would have, saving on gas. We watched a LOT of Christmas movies and rested and ventured out to take care of animals and get some fresh air. Very glad to be back on our feet and on to other things. *Toward the end of the week, we were able to go out and power wash the chicken house we were given a couple of weeks ago. It needs a little repair and my husband found all he think he needs to fix it in our stash. We also have the wood stain we plan to use to preserve it a bit better so should be no cost other than effort to get it ready for my boys’ raising-Silkie chickens-plan in the spring. *I also felt up to wrapping a few gifts with paper and ribbon saved from previous celebrations or uses.
    *Wishing everyone a happy and healthy week!

  25. I had green pumpkins earlier this fall too. I did a search and found a recipe for Croatian Green Pumpkin Soup that I enjoyed. You can also make a Green Pumpkin Curry with them.

  26. Good morning on a chilly (well 44 degrees F) morning here in Phoenix, expecting to get into the mid 30’s this week. On the frugal front, it was difficult due to dental surgery for my husband and the need to buy cold soft food (yogurt, cottage cheese, pudding, applesauce)…all items that normally we don’t stock. But he has improved greatly and our diet is back almost to normal. Our biggest frugal joy right now is watching tv for free. We gave up cable and satellite years ago. Lately we have watched a lot of You Tube channels and at age 66, I am now fascinated by World War II. As a child growing up, I found the black and white films incredibly boring…but now, all the documentaries and shows are really well done and explain what happened and why. My husband was a Vietnam helicopter pilot and has found quite a few films on that topic as well. Wishing everyone a good week ahead.

  27. I spent a lot of time this week sewing and working on gifts. I made a dress from flannel that was on sale. It is buffalo check with red snowflakes, so I can wear it for Christmas and on into early winter. I finished two gifts and did some mending. I bought groceries but don’t feel I got any great deals. I used a gas discount to get 12 cents off a gallon. I earned $50 from a survey, which was spent on a gift for my husband. We’re still eating a lot from our pantry and mostly staying home, which always saves money.

  28. My children are part of a classical children’s choir and have had several performances this month. They are all free to the public so we’ve been able to enjoy the beautiful sounds of Christmas all month! They still have a few concerts left and they are enjoying the experience. As we drive home at night we’ve gone through different neighborhoods to see people’s Christmas lights. Beautiful!

    I’ve found several children’s books at the local thrift store that I will put in their stockings.

    I dehydrated local apples I got from a fundraiser for the children’s justice center. They turned out amazing!! I called them “apple jerky” and my kids thought that was fun so we’re more willing to try them!

    I combined errands as I pick up my kids from school and spend the “waiting time” catching up on reading the Bible and listening to podcasts and audiobooks instead of scrolling through social media (always a hard thing for me to not get sucked in!) and I’ve noticed my attitude is better.

    Here’s wishing all of you a very merry Christmas!

  29. I was asked as a side job to make 200 pumpkin muffins. All I needed to buy was paper linings and trays to put them in. I cooked 2 more pumpkins. The money is going towards an extra mortgage payment. I lowered the heat since the oven was on all day.
    Hubby took an online class for work. At they end they asked you to fill out a survey to win an Amazon gift card. He won.
    My youngest took advantage of all of the cooked pumpkin and made dog treats. She froze them and will give them out at Christmas. She has been baking lots of cookies with supplies that I already had. They are delicious.
    We are dog sitting for my sister for a few days. She gave me a bathroom basket that she won. My youngest took a few items from it to give as a Christmas gift. They rest went into my gift closet. She brought a few treats for each of my kids too.
    We are having an 80th birthday party for my dad in January. I volunteered to do a slide show of him through the years. It will cost me nothing except my time. I know he will love it.
    I have been dropping off Christmas cards to local friends and family as I am near them. My daughter has done a few too as she is near her boyfriend’s house.
    I made a huge pot of minestrone soup and fresh bread. It was so good. I froze several containers of soup too. I brought one to the elderly lady I help. She has to watch her salt like me so it was perfect. She was so happy. I gave her some cookies too. Now she wants to bake cookies one day.

  30. How exciting that you got the trees you wanted. We went to a a Christmas on Main Street event where all the activities were free, horse carriage rides, wagon rides, train rides, ice skating, Christmas movies, live Christmas music, they had picture taking stations set up. The only thing we spent money on was some kettle corn from a food truck and the gas to the town. We have celebrated a few birthdays and went to some Christmas get togethers with friends.

  31. Garden Pat, did you ever see the commercial that Miracle Whip made in the town of Mayo a few years ago? Kraft actually painted over “Mayo” on the town’s water tower and painted “Miracle Whip” on it instead. Most of the people in the commercial (including the mayor) were actual Mayo townspeople. They had a blast doing the commercial and of course, Kraft put “Mayo” back up on the water tower when it was over. Mayo is a teensy town not far from where I live, and the commercial was a lot of fun for them to do.

    Brandy, what a great opportunity on the free trees! I hope they make it. What kind are they, if you don’t mind my asking?

    I used the Christmas fabric I found on a clearance sale to make a very large gift bag for a small grandchild’s long gift (a long stuffed animal that I made).

    I accepted the offer of a free lunch from a family member.

    I bought a large jug of maple syrup, reducing my per ounce cost a good bit. I often use maple syrup as an alternative to sugar in cooking, not just on pancakes.

    I ordered a gift from a New England-based company while they were having free shipping and a sale.

    I’m getting out the LED lights for Christmas decorating outdoors. I have had these for years. They work for a very long time and cost very little to have on.

    I reused an old plastic haircutting drape as protection for a messy small paint job. The drape came with the clippers I use for my husband’s hair.

    I checked two books out of the library instead of buying them. I had bought a child a book at a bookstore, and the temptation to buy a book for myself while there was strong, but I chose the library instead.

    Our weather is still a little warmer than normal, so I still have the furnace off. Colder weather should be coming next week, but my electric usage should still be very reasonable this month, since I’ve not had any heat running in three weeks at the very least.

    1. The two in the picture are called Japanese blueberry trees. The other tree is a Little Gem Magnolia (a small magnolia). I have looked at these at the nursery almost every time I go but they are very expensive and can be prone to sunburn here.

        1. I have an enormous magnolia in my yard – more than 15 feet around. I would cut it down if I were allowed. I have being beaned with those pods from 100 feet up.

      1. I’ve never heard of Japanese blueberry trees (must look them up now), but Little Gem is a popular Magnolia around here. I hope they all make it!

    2. Jo- I love the story you told about the people in Mayo!! I remember a commercial years ago where someone started to make a sandwich and discovered they were out of Miracle Whip and had to immediately run to the store to get some. The store had already closed and the person could see the MW through the store window and just kept tapping on it as they said “Open, open, open”!! It could have been us this winter if this wonderful clearance hadn’t happened! Lol!!

      Gardenpat in Ohio

  32. That is wonderful about the trees – I hope they do really well for you, Brandy!

    My husband, son, and I met up with a friend for the final meeting of a chapter of a non-profit I’ve been running the past 4+ years. When we arrived, we learned our friend/my co-leader had kindly already paid the facility entry fee for us. No one else in the group showed up, so it was a very quiet closeout and we had a nice time together. I haven’t spent a lot of money over the years, but have spent some as we help out beginners with supplies and gear; at this stage it’s more a savings for each of us co-leaders having the time and energy back for other priorities.

    My son registered for his first classes at college, and we were reminded to check with Financial Aid about a scholarship for all graduating seniors of the county. We figured we’d pick up a form and submit it for fall, since graduations for schools happen in summer. Upon hearing he was a homeschooler who graduated this month, the Financial Aid folks bent over backwards to make phone calls to see if there was an option to apply one for him for spring term. They got the person who runs everything, who said funds were still available and was more than happy to work with the different date – she simply split it to 2023 Spring and Fall instead of next Fall and the 2024 Spring! This created a $250 credit on his account, so the lesser amount paid for registration covered his books and then some, as we learned that two professsors purposely wrapped e-textbook rentals into the tuition via lab fees, so there was nothing more to purchase. We had saved enough so far for his entire AAS tuition to be cash and he was gifted a large portion from my parents, which would cover more and his books. We are grateful as this stretches it even further, and the FA folks gave us resources to try for some other scholarships to stretch it even more. After receiving his student ID, he very excitedly borrowed a bunch of books from the college library at no cost (in previous years I used to go pay for a county resident card there).

    Now that our pantry and freezer are set back up again post-move, we are able to start meal planning dinners again and I can slow down on the grocery shopping again finally. This week alone was a BIG savings, as all who have had to eat on the road for a while and then restock a kitchen know! Woohoo!

    Combined errands with dropping library books and picking up holds – one of the holds I requested was Mary Hunt’s The Everyday Cheapskate. I try to re-read it every few years for reminders and inspiration and definitely need that going into 2023! While there I also borrowed some back issues of Eating Well that mentioned slow cooker meals and other “stock up” type ideas. I no longer subscribe to many magazines (and so many, sadly, have shut down print issues as well); it’s fun to flip through what the library can get and get that inspiration as well.

    We had sushi bowls for dinner and, silly as this may sound, I was very excited there was leftover cucumber – my husband combined it with the last of the lettuce in our current Aerogarden crop and took it for lunch today.

    Speaking of reminders, inspiration, and encouragement: thank you again, Brandy, for sharing your ideas over the years and for hosting what has become a truly amazing community in the comments. Thank you all for the insights, tips, and love shared here. As one who doesn’t comment every week, but always pops by to read the posts and responses, it is easy to be a “lurker” and not share gratitude often enough, so I’m trying to remember to do so! <3

  33. Hope you are all doing well. I worked three days last week. Took breakfast all three days and lunch 2 days. Used a gift card for the day I didn’t take lunch.
    My DIL spent two nights with us last week. They live about 100 miles away, and she had appointments and meetings in our town on two days last week.
    I made pesto chicken using chicken from the freezer asnd pesto I made last summer. Also made roasted sweet potatoes to go with it. It was yummy.
    My DH made a batch of spaghetti sauce using the rest of our home-grown tomatoes from the garden that were starting to go soft. It is amazing we still had ones good enough in December.
    I made focaccia bread pizza. We put up our tree and decorated it with decorations we already had. We used decorations we have had for years. We also put up our nativity scenes all around the living room.
    I made a pot of potato corn chowder. Used potatoes, onions, and corn from the garden. It was yummy. Made muffins to go with it.
    I made a batch of brownies, using homemade brownie mix. Doing quality control testing of the brownie mix I’m giving my sister.
    Had a potluck at church after the service.

  34. Mainly passive savings this week: weather was mild enough to not require heat, stayed home a lot, etc. We did go to a free “Life in Bethlehem” event at a local church, which was great free entertainment (and educational and formative for the soul). Also did more baking than usual (thanks to staying home).

    Cheap/free date with husband this week will be going to the gym together, then stopping by the Chick Fil A across the street for a free chicken sandwich (no purchase required). This particular location does a 12 Days of Christmas promotion every year where they give something away each day for the 12 days leading up to Christmas.

  35. Hot water heater went out late last week. We searched and searched for a plumber who would come to our rural area to do the work without luck. Even the local plumbing services don’t work within the county! In desperation I called the local auto parts/hardware store in town and got the name of a handyman/contractor who came out on Saturday and fixed the problem. I was boiling water on the stove but so glad I didn’t have to keep that up more than 48 hours. Refrigerator was vacuumed well underneath and, in the back, and quieted off for a day but went right back to being obnoxiously loud when the fan comes on. I’ll call appliance repair folks next week to see about that. We continue to be a one shower family, but I’ve settled for using the garden tub in our bathroom. I don’t care to use it as it feels wasteful but at least I can shower in teh privacy of my own room and not feel I’m tying up the other bathroom. I used a mix of leftover cooked pasta I’d frozen to make a casserole dish. It was fine for the one meal. Cooked a chicken that proved to be super tough. I stripped off what I could from the bones and will make a casserole with it and then I’ll boil the frame to see if I can remove more meat. We attended a free Christmas program that our church hosts annually. They go all out with a huge sleigh and a Santa Claus plus snow in the lobby as well as multiples of trees and hot cocoa stations etc. The play itself is well written and moving. What’s more it’s all free (well I think you have to donate for the cocoa but other than that…). It was a lovely interlude in what felt like a grueling week. Have accepted fact that I simply am NOT going to get Christmas shopping done for even the grands. I do plan to shop for the 3-year old as it’s the first year he’s aware of Christmas and I want him to experience the fun of it. But he lives here so…For the rest we’ll give cash to the families and let them do what they feel is best for each household.
    Like all we are using ALL the food. Have just pulled all the odds and ends of bread from the freezer. I want to make a Breakfast casserole for supper one night this week. Grated Broccoli stems to use in slaw. The idea was good but need to research a dressing that suits the dish better than what we had. In past, I have dumped in casseroles or spaghetti sauce or even soup to add nutrition. Made refried bean quesadillas for lunch. Went into discount grocery to pick up whole chickens. Prices up on some items lower on others. I got whole chickens for $1.58 pound. Picked up tomatoes for $1 off the reduced price produce rack. There were four in the package, 2 huge, over 1 pound each and 2 regular size. Grapes for about 75c/a pound. Shocked at iceberg lettuce $4.99 plus 10% at checkout making it $5.48 head. I settled for a 75c box of organic mix lettuces from discount produce rack.

  36. ***I noticed on my last grocery store receipt an offer to complete a survey. In the past, I’ve never bothered taking store surveys. But this one offered a 5% off anything on my next store visit. Well, times have changed and the 5% reward had me jumping in to take the survey. Since the reward will be applied the next time I shop, I kept out of the stores this week. The sales weren’t anything I needed and I had enough groceries.

    **I made marmalade for the first time. There are two orange trees and one grapefruit on the property. I was told the residents could harvest at will but no one else is using the fruit. I’m quite pleased with the results. I’ve frozen five one-cup containers and have a 6th container in the refrigerator to use. I only added 3 cups of sugar and ended up with 6 cups of marmalade. It’s like nearly free food! It’s a beautful rosy red since the grapefruit I used was a red grapefruit.

    ***There’s also one persimmon tree and, again, no one else is harvesting. My first harvest netted a half full ice cube tray of pulp. My research on line said to blend the fruit and then freeze the pulp in ice cube trays. Then use the cubes in smoothies. Later in the week, I harvested and cleaned enough fruit to fill the ice cube tray full. I make smoothies almost daily so this added fruit will be used up quickly.

    ***I also started to invest in my own edible landscaping. I’ve ordered two fruit trees from an online company a friend recommended. My fig tree arrived this week and is now in a large container. I have a persimmon on order. I’m working on plans to build a trellis along the 30 foot cement block wall in my back yard and to train the fruit to grow on the trellis. By my estimate, I have room for 4, maybe 5, semi-dwarf trees. I have a friend who has fruit trees who will give me planting advice. He’ll also help me build the trellis as well as a few raised bed planters.

    ***So much of what I do to save money involves the good choices I make week to week. Hanging my laundry to dry on the indoor racks. Cooking all my meals at home and not going out for coffees. Grooming my dog myself rather then send her to a groomer. Staying home and enjoying my home rather then mindlessly going out to shop as entertainment. Watching over the air TV rather then cable or satellite.

    1. You can fit a lot of semi-dwarf trees in a small area! This is how I have so many–mine are semi-dwarf.

  37. Brandy, pumpkins will continue to ripen even after picked. When I took my kindergarten classes to the pumpkin patch every year I would have the children pick a green pumpkin to take back to the class. We would estimate how many days it would take for it to turn orange. We did a bunch of other math, reading, writing activities with that one pumpkin every year but the best part was cooking with it once it turned orange…pumpkins seeds, pumpkin muffins, pumpkin pancakes, pumpkin cookies…yum! and then we took whatever was left and threw it into the school garden and watch it decompose. Maybe you can find a cool-ish area to store yours until they begin to ripen a little more before using them.

  38. Our water heater suddenly stopped heating this week. It´s on our distict heating unit, so no electricity involved. Because of supply chain issues, it seemed we couldn’t get a new water heater for the next 3 months or more! It’s really old, and we thought about getting a new one several years ago. It has been a good deal to wait however, as it has worked fine for 6 years since we first thought about replacing it! But three months without hot water, and right before Christmas was a bit stressful. We called my FIL, and he was so kind to come by the same day. He flushed the water-heating spiral a couple of times and it started working again! What a relief! And no money out of pocket! We are going to order a new water heater now though, as it feels too risky to wait any longer. We have been looking online and compared prices. In our experience it is cheaper to buy it ourselves than through the plumber who is going to install it – they always put a profit on top of the price. It’s illegal to install the water heater ourselves, so we have to get a plumber to fix it. We might try to pay an hourly wage instead of getting a total price in advance, as we have good experiences with this – the plumber doesn’t hurry, does a better job, and doesn’t have to put an extra profit on top in order to make up for unexpected circumstances. On the other hand, we will not be certain how much to pay, and it can end up getting more expensive.

    I taught my son to make Froebel stars from paper – it’s a braided 16-pointed star used as a traditional danish Christmas decoration (it’s originally from Germany). It is easy to find videos on how to make it, but I have made so many as a child and a young girl, that I still know how to do it by heart. My son made 3 stars from some beautiful paper we bought last year. The paper strips were very wide – so the stars were unusually big, big enough to use for instance as a small door decoration. He is going to keep one himself, but decided to give the other two as presents. At school they have a secret Christmas friend, that they give a present every week in December, so he has given one of the stars to his friend. The other star, he will use as a gift for some friends we are visiting just before Christmas. It is such a nice and personal gift at hardly any cost!

    We made quince jam and homemade Vaseline for Christmas presents.

    I put all the outside flower pots by the house wall and wrapped them in bubble wrap and fiber cloth in order to protect them from the worst frosts. This usually works fine, and I hardly loose any plants during the winter. I just have to water them a few times.

    Good luck with your pumpkins Brandy, what a lot of good food!

    1. Respectfully, as the wife of a plumber, you get what you pay for, if your plumber is honest. Yes, they mark up the equipment they sell, because they get it at cost, and that’s part of the business. No matter where you buy your water heater, it will be marked up (Home Depot, Lowes…they don’t sell it to you at their cost). Buying it from a reputable plumber means that you will have loyalty if anything goes wrong. My hubs will jump when a customer calls with a problem but asks new customers who call to have equipment fixed, “Have we worked for you before?” because if they didn’t install it, he will instruct you to call the person who did. Good luck to you! Sometimes adulting is just rough.

  39. Tonight there is a freeze warning so decided to pull the string and invested in some net lights (on sale at big lots). These will do double duty as holiday lights, but since they aren’t led, will be warm enough to put on my Meyer lemon bush style tree to stave off frost. I’ve been overwhelmed by all the rain we got this week. I can’t even recall the last time it rained all day. I’m talking decades, yet we had that several times this week. It really put me in curl up with a good book mode, so have lots to do now.

    Waiting to hear if I will get a real Christmas tree from buy nothing. It’s from an area who put them up for blocks in their yard. I’ve always wanted to do this, so fingers crossed.

    After seeing the crazy prices for butter at Costco, went to Trader Joe’s where they are still the best everyday price in town. They only recently went from 2.99 to 3.99 a lb. Trying to finalize my holiday baking list, but I keep thinking I’m forgetting something and I don’t have anything savory yet. I need to light a fire under me because it all needs to be shipped before Christmas.

  40. -Diced chicken in the freezer from a roasted Costco chicken was made into chicken gnocchi soup. The gnocchi was made homemade from leftover mashed potatoes. And I still had some heavy cream from Thanksgiving, I thinned this out with milk and water to make half and half and it was used in the soup. We ate two meals and I gifted some to a friend as this is her favorite soup.
    -I ordered checks thru Costco. Thank you to whoever suggested it. I saved over 50% by switching companies. I paid $18.50 for 200 checks instead of $45.00 from previous company.
    -I put up the tree and decorated for Christmas. I used all my own things. I love decorating the tree, we have all kinds of ornaments. As I hang them I think about who gave them to us, or where we bought them on vacation, or the ones grandkids have made for me (this gives me an opportunity to stop and pray for each one). I only spent $3.50 for a set of battery operated lights that I use with my ceramic houses as one set was not working. They are on a timer and come on at dark. The ceramic houses were all gifts over the years from a friend. She made all of them and I cherish them. They have a place of honor on my break front desk shelves.
    -Baked a large Hubbard squash and cooked some apples that were in the refrigerator from our fall picking. Made squash apple soup. Had some, shared some, and froze some.
    -Continue working on Christmas presents. Bowl coozies, and I made vanilla in the instapot for gifts from vanilla beans from Costco. Vanilla beans are a seasonal item and very reasonable.
    -Found bacon wrapped pork chops in the clearance meat bin, 2 to a package, large and thick for $3/package. There were 2 in the bin. They are so large I wrapped them individually. One will make a meal.
    -I continue to use jars of canned food. I had to haul empty jars out twice this month already to my shed. And I’m noticing holes on the shelves.

    Have a great week!

    1. While I absolutely LOVE the posts about how you save money (there is always something to inspire me) I would love a post about your daily life. How are your daughter, son in law and granddaughter? What are your oldest kid’s plans for college? Do you and your husband still do at home date nights? What is happening with the real estate business? Lots of questions! Thank you so much for all you do on this blog, it is such an encouragement to me and always gives me new ideas on how to save money and be a better steward of what I have!

      1. My eldest is my daughter. She’s working full-time in a job in her field after having graduated with her bachelor’s degree in April. My second eldest is in college in his junior year.

        Yes, we do still do at-home date nights.

        Real estate has come crashing down, as the Feds said they would make it do it March. They just raised interest rates for the 7th time this year and more rate increases are planned for next year. This has made it very difficult for most people to be able to afford to purchase a home. My husband is studying to get his insurance adjuster’s license, because it could be 10 years before the real estate market recovers.

  41. I thought I had posted but perhaps slipped up so here goes again.
    My best bargain of the week was canned Dole’s pineapple at $1.49 per can. usually these days a good
    sale price is $2 so this was a great bargain. I still have a case of it in my pantry so I’ll rotate the new cans in and use the old case first.

    For entertainment, I’ve been watching Victorian farmers on YouTube. now I’m watching Wartime Farm. One of the
    episodes (I think Part 2) talks about the fuel shortage (in this case paraffin used in cooking ranges). They started a stew on the stove, got it to boiling, then put the covered pot in a “hay box”, a box insulated with hay on the bottom and hay over the pot and a lid on the top of the box. The stew kept cooking for a long time but not on the fuel-consuming stove.
    An interesting way of cooking…inspiration?

    I bought nut free chocolate chips on sale and may make the Eagle brand fudge using sweetened condensed milk.
    It doesn’t use any butter or margarine, nor sugar so it saves money and some calories. I tried it a couple of years ago and it is good and also easy.

    It is again turning frigid as of the weekend. I had a flood (operator caused) but fortunately it leaked into the unfinished part of the basement so no ceilings were damaged. Everything (two by fours etc, studs) is drying out nicely.
    I felt really depressed about it but a few friends mentioned they’d had similar problems so I didn’t feel alone.

  42. The tv show Alaska the last frontier showed more than once cooking green pumpkins for meals. I asked some of our family that lived there when in military and they said they did the same. They will ripen some if you put them in a cool place with the stem down. Wash with water with a small amount of bleach to help keep the rot from happening… including the stem. Amish will do this also.

  43. I love all your photos.

    We went to a church Christmas festival. My children won four prizes (free entry), went on rides, we watched a show and listened to carollers. My children were happy to put two of the prizes onto the gift cupboard shelf to use as presents for two cousins early next year.

    We made and decoated gingerbread man cookies, cooked pasta, soup, stew, fried rice, toasted sandwiches and boiled eggs. I put some soup and stew into the freezer. Tomatoes are almost ready to harvest. It looks like we are going to get an abundance. I will make and feeeze bolognaise sauce with some of them. Mangos are also almost ready to harvest and as usual there will be a large amount so we will freeze some to use throughout the year in smoothies etc plus give lots away to family and friends.

    My job contract ended, which would have resulted in an 18% pay cut but I have secured another job as this same level of pay until the end of February.

    Next week I plan to make some soft and chewy almond macaroons for eating on Christmas day. We will also make the Buche de Noel, gingerbread houses and pavlova.

    I finished all Christmas gift shopping and wrapping some time ago. I will keep a look out for after Christmas sales on jewelry/jewellery as I have decided this will make a nice gift for many people for next Christmas and/or for their birthday during the year. Plus it is nice and small to store and I won’t have to wrap it as I will use small gift bags I already have on hand. I purchased a bracelet advent calendar for my daughter for next Christmas, it was $40 marked down to $5. I would have purchased more but it was the last one. I also bought a brand new ping pong table tennis set at the second hand shop for $1, which will be for my children next Christmas. I was having a two month present shopping break, but just randomly came across these items.

    Have a great week.

  44. This is my third attempt to post. I’m not sure what happened.
    My best bargain was actually Dole’s canned pineapple tidbits for $1.49 per can. I bought 15 cans to stock up the pantry.
    I have a case of 6 in the pantry which I should use and then rotate in the new cans. I am contemplating making Eagle brand fudge. The recipe just basically calls for Eagle brand sweetened condensed milk and chocolate. No need for4 cups of sugar or a lot of butter or margarine so somewhat easier on the budget and calories than other recipes.

    In the past two and a half weeks, we have delivered and mailed and had two pickups for 300 books. All but 3 books have been distributed. It is time for us to put up our feet. The books are in 4 local stores; we’ve had to restock the stores once. We may sell out by Christmas. It is now on several peoples or groups’ websites.

    I received the gift of several calendars that our printer made as a Christmas gift for me at no charge. So far I’ve given 3 away. Another three were mailed today for $41 in postage (including a $10 fuel surcharge). Total cost of 15 gift calendars is $0 (plus the $41 postage). So far for
    7 presents for my immediate family I’ve spent: $9 (HBC traditional mitts on sale for $9 reduced from $20 for the niece who loves Hudson Bay stripes), $6 for 6 stationery blank note cards with my photos on them, free copy of our book (one of my complimentary copies), 3 free calendars (postage $41), two children’s books $20 (free delivery) totalling $76.00 for 8 gifts. Plus all of my friends get the zero cost calendars (10 friends and book volunteers). So $76 for 18 gifts. Not bad. Our printer had a new machine they wanted to try out so asked for some of my bird, wildflower and mountain photos and made 15 calendars for me (a Christmas gift for me). So far everyone loves my calendar!

    I watched Victorian farming series on YouTube and now am working on Wartime Farming. One interesting idea to save fuel (paraffin for a range oven) was a hay box. This was a wood box that had hay inside on the bottom and up the sides. A stew was started on the oven but when it reached a rolling boil the covered pot was put in the box with hay on top and a lid on top of that. The stew kept cooking for several hours after that in this insulated without using any fuel. inspiring!

    I am thinking of getting a portable induction cooktop (single) with a timer. This is so that I could have a safety feature
    of the timer. This way if I black out or otherwise can’t take a pot off the stove it will automatically shut off. My oven has a timer and automatic shut off feature but not the stovetop. If I can ever afford a new oven/stove, I’ll get an induction stovetop with automatic timer shutoffs for each “burner”. They are now making them. In the meantime a little portable one should do the trick while saving electricity. I felt really depressed as I had a flood (due to operator error on my part). Fortunately the part of the basement that the water dripped into was not finished so no ceiling was wrecked. Two days later all the studs 2x4s are totally dried out. I am still washing and drying the sopping wet towels that I used in desperation to soak up all the flood waters. So I think a portable cooktop with an automatic timer that shuts it off would be a good safety feature.

  45. I pulled pie pumpkins out of the garden before a frost about two months ago. They were green as could be, but after a month or so in a sunny window, they are all 100% orange which was surprising! I read if they are starting to turn green, they’ll be fine. Good luck!

  46. I’m late to the comments, but I seem to recall in one of the Little House on the Prairie books that Ma made pie out of green pumpkin and Pa thought it was apple pie.

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