I harvested lemons, carrots, and a pomegranate from the garden.

We continued our work in the garden, removing the bad dirt, taking it to the dump, and sifting the roots and rocks from the good dirt that I am keeping from our old planter areas. The piles are getting smaller, but I am also aware that we have lots more to dig and haul out of here when we rent the excavator again.

Close to the dump is a metal supply company that sells ornamental pieces. We checked it out after a trip to the dump to find pieces for the arbor that I am designing and my husband will be welding. I found several pieces that will work; we took photos of them and found out the prices on each. We had previously priced similar items on several websites, so we had an idea of what they would cost. As they are very heavy, we wanted to buy them locally to save on shipping costs. To our surprise, the pieces were 40-50% less expensive than the prices for similar items that we had checked out online.

I bought myself a dress online on clearance. They only had it left in one size, and it happened to be my size! I chose the slowest shipping speed to have the lowest shipping costs. I received an email that due to Covid restrictions, shipping would be delayed by a few days. Despite that, the dress came within four days!

I went to Target to purchase some needed socks for my three youngest children. They were having a 30% off clothing sale. I had my teenaged son with me, so I had him pick out his favorite t-shirts for his upcoming January birthday. I’ve found it best to let my older children pick out their favorite clothes as I wouldn’t pick what they would, and I think most people would rather have a gift they love than one that was just a surprise (I know I would!) They’ve told me they feel the same so that works for us! The shirts were $4.20 each on sale. I still have money left in the budget to purchase some other things on his list and he gets 5 more shirts to wear. I have been saving my Target Circle rewards to use in December, so I was able to take an additional $6.85 off my purchase. They also had a deal to take 10% off your entire purchase, which was a coupon to add in on the app.

What did you do to save money this past week?

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  1. This week was a bit spendy with Christmas present purchasing and a day trip to Savannah house-hunting. Overall, I did well with Christmas presents and only have a few more gift certificates and stocking stuffers to pick up.
    Started the Christmas cookie baking (12 different types! I am insane) as I will deliver some to colleagues, friends, and students this week and the remainder will be sent to my husband and his troops.
    I think we found a house! It is the first house I didn’t see a single thing I would “need” to change and it only needs new windows (over a few years). Yard is small, but there is a big park 3 doors down and its on an alley we could run the puppy in. Cross our fingers we don’t get outbid.

  2. All that lovely produce! We have snow outside our window currently and are sitting around 0 degrees, so I appreciate the memory of warmth and sunshine 🙂

    I used credit card rewards to buy Christmas gifts and much-needed clothing and winter church shoes for my daughter and me.

    We moved to a more rural area last month, which means we’re a lot farther away from the grocery store. To save on gas and to keep me from needing to go to the store more than once or twice a month, I signed up for Misfits Markets, which delivers “misfit” produce straight to your door that the grocery stores won’t take due to size, shape, or overabundance. (If you sign up through a referral link, you can get 50% off your first box through the 15th…I’ll drop mine below just in case anyone is curious.) So far, it’s been successful! I’ve only gone to the grocery store (an hour away) once this month, with plans to go just one more time.

    My youngest just turned one, which means I no longer have to buy formula for him, which will save us around $100 a month.


    1. Torrie: I started getting Misfits about 1 month ago. I love it! We live ‘out in the boonies’ too & found it so helpful to get organic produce delivered 🙂

    2. Torrie thanks for the referral link. I’ve been on the fence with this idea for a year now. I was about to do it a few weeks ago and then changed my mind. I’m taking your post as a sign to actually do it.

  3. I paid all of my bills on time. This saves so much money over the years. Some of my late charges are 10% of the total bill. That is a hunk of money on your electric bill.
    I cancelled my cable. You can’t get any reception where I live without cable. I’ve been considering turning them off for a year or more. What threw me over the edge was they decided to up their bill again. My grandson is 13 and he is showing me how to use a “firestick” with my TV. This, he says, will make it all okay.
    All o f my Christmas has been bought. All of it on sale. I am finishing a quilt for a daughter. I have a second quilt started for another daughter, but it may not be quite finished in time. This is okay because she has to work Christmas day. Both quilts are made from fabric that I had left from other projects. That makes them almost free.
    Christmas food will be what we have here. I’m not buying food this month (well…milk, bread and the like isn’t counted).
    We have stayed home all week. I have only used the car a few times to pick ZE up from school and one night I picked SE up from work. There was a manhunt for a murderer in the county and SE was afraid to walk home in the dark.
    We had a bit of snow here yesterday so it is beginning to feel like Christmas.
    Bless all of you. Stay safe.

  4. I love seeing pictures of all your produce. It’s grey and dreary here at the moment. Our Christmas shopping is all done and I am working on the baking and chocolate making. I have all of the ingredients so there is no extra expense there. It will be a very quiet Christmas for us since we are in a red zone with quite a few restrictions. I am hoping that I will only need to go out once more for last minute grocery items. Come January, when the weather can be nasty, I am hoping to go shopping every other week only. It saves money, gas and time. I have been taking advantage of our local buy nothing group to pick up needed and useful things and to pass along things that we don’t need any longer. It’s been lovely to meet new neighbours at a distance and know that things are moving along to folks who can use them.

    I hope everyone stays safe this week.

  5. When I walked to the grocery store to buy cat food, I decided I would be able to carry home a 5lb box of mandarin oranges as well. I hasn’t thought I’d be able to get them before Christmas because the other times I will be at the grocery store, I will have too much else to carry home with me, and I don’t want to make a special trip for them. They were $5.98, which is a dollar more than last year, but still the least expensive fresh fruit available. Every one I peel gives me a burst of scent I associate with Christmas, which is a bonus. This week, 5 lb boxes are $4.88, so I guess it would have been better to wait, but there is no knowing. I just need to make sure to save one of the oranges for Christmas morning, since my Mom always put one in the bottom of our Christmas stockings. I’ll see if I can find a chocolate Santa at the pharmacy when I am there to get prescriptions. (The pharmacy usually has the best chocolate available in town, though the current pharmacist has some strange ideas about what are health essentials. He has brought books in, which is a very good thing, but there is less chocolate… ) With a mandarin orange, a bit of chocolate and a book, I’ll have Christmas “essentials”.

    I am out of potatoes, but have made pancakes, frybread for tacos, and half a batch of biscuits, as well as pasta and rice.

    We have new restrictions in the province, but there is very little impact on me, because I was already limiting where I went and how often. The books I had ordered from Indigo.ca have arrived, and I have been to the post office to pick them up. I have lots of other projects in mind. Also, I’ve unsubscribed to quite a few YouTube channels, and found some new shows that are more positive and in line with my interests these days, so this has meant lots of entertainment on long winter evenings. (It is dark at 4:30 now.) For the next two weeks, I will also be avoiding the news where I can. A break is something I really need.

    I had a phone call from my 91-year-old aunt who was very worried about me because of the news reports on Co-vid levels in my province. Though in assisted living in a hard-hit province herself, her home has not had any cases at all. This is good luck on their part though, because early on people were sneaking out after the security guard had left for the day!

    I was planning to put off my pre-Christmas grocery shopping until next week, but the Christmas flyer is out now, and I want to keep time in the stores right before Christmas to a minimum, so I will do some shopping this week. Turkeys and ham are on sale in the flyer, but I’ll be happy with any reasonably priced meat to roast, as long as it is small enough for me to carry home!

    It is wonderful to see a vaccine being shipped, though I imagine it will be many months before one makes it to me personally. I hope everyone here stays safe until we get the chance to have it. Have a wonderful time as we get ready for the holidays.

  6. This week I was forced to put new tires on my personal vehicle. My tires were only 1 year old and in horrible condition. On the way to get tires , I used a coupon to get my oil changed. My service man redirected me to a different tire center. My tires were $100.00 less than the competitor for the same tire. I was surprised to receive a $70.00 rebate coupon. I promptly submitted it. I’m so happy that I asked if he had a referral. My budget for the year is gone. I’m going to need to pull savings for the last two weeks of this year. I knew it was close but with the children’s return home from Covid closures , I’m surprised it wasn’t more. My electric bill has finally dropped. I love the cooler weather. That should save me about $100.00 a month . Now off to the vet. Cocker spaniel continues to have ear infections and itch. Hoping my bill is less than $100.00 .

  7. What great deals at Target and awesome foresight/engineering on the arbor.

    I drink hot tea throughout the day and usually have a large stash of tea – that wonderful pile has dwindled. Now I am taking 2 brewed bags and making the third cup with them.
    I made a batch of hair scrunchies from materials on hand for small gifts for family and customers. It made a nice relaxing afternoon.
    Speaking with my awesome mom on the phone the other day – burger buns came up. She mentioned she’s been forgoing those and using polenta or mashed sweet potato instead. I love this idea as a way to eat better and these are pantry staples.
    We are getting 3 snow events this week, which I don’t mind since working from home. I’ve been using a knit hat in the house when I start to feel chilled. It really helps me not want to touch the thermostat.
    Since the utility companies, all raised their rates I will stop using the dryer unless it is one of that life is getting ahead of my weeks. I placed the drying rack near an intake vent to add moisture to the house for our sinus’s sake.

    Hoping everyone stays safe and has a calm week!

    1. Could you buy stronger tea bags which then can make multiple cups of tea. My Dilmah tea bags make three to four mugs of tea x

  8. I used the 30% off sale as well to get my son a camoflauge hoodie he had been wanting and a 30% off coupon at Mardel to find a toy that my daughter has really wanted. Other than that, it’s mostly been finishing off the Christmas lists and getting orders placed before it’s too late. One thing I did a few weeks ago was to plan out an entire month’s worth of meals, including breakfasts, lunches, and dinners. For breakfast and lunches I chose 7 different meals and repeated them every week. For dinners I chose categories for each day and plugged in meals based on those categories (soups, casseroles, vegetarian, etc.) It made it a lot easier to plan and purchase and stay within a budget – plus, whenever the kids ask what’s for dinner I now just point to the calendar on the refrigerator! I have had a few friends come down with Covid and they mention a lot of fatigue and brain fog – having a meal plan ready in advance helps me to prepare just in case it hits our house as well. I also purchased a few extra bags of chicken nuggets and frozen meatballs for my kids to make if for some reason both my husband and I got sick.

  9. We had a fairly decent frugal week last week.
    I cooked two pot roasts last weekend – one for sandwiches and the other in a traditional beef stew manner and we gobbled up both of them including all leftovers. I also made a large pot of chili that was enjoyed. Other meals included scrambled eggs with spinach, biscuits and gravy, roasted chicken thighs with peach salsa & bbq sauce, & more sauteed spinach with onions, garlic and lemon (a family favorite).
    As COVid numbers continue to rise, I am back to doing a bit more shopping in bulk to make sure we are stocked up for a bit and I can limit trips to the grocery store. Kroger had a digital coupon this week with 18 eggs for $0.99 limit three – I purchased my allotted 3 and with our discount only paid $0.89/18 eggs. I also purchased milk, melting chocolate, 8 lbs of navel oranges, butter @ $1.79/lb, 5 lbs of ground beef at $2.99/lb, pecans, and buttermilk.
    I made a large batch of meatballs for the freezer. These make for simple meals as we move through the holiday season and are a yummy appetizer to serve through the holiday. 5 lbs of beef yielded over 200 meatballs. I also made all of our Christmas cookie dough this weekend – 9 different kinds plus fudge, buckeyes and cornflake wreaths. I usually make many more cookies as we give these as gifts to family, friends, neighbors, teachers etc. but this year we are not able to see many folks so the number of cookies needed has decreased. We still have plenty to enjoy at home and give to several people that are on our gift list. I made up a batch of Russian Tea mix which gives us a warm drink to enjoy on cold days and also will be gifted in jars to some friends/family.
    I have done an assessment of our garden and I believe we may be mostly done for this year. We still have some mustard greens that are producing and the parsley, celery and rosemary are doing wonderfully. My carrots & cabbage may be ready later in the season but they seem stunted in their growth. I may purchase a bit of fertilizer if I can make it to the farm supply store to see if that helps. I am already gathering seeds and making plans for Spring.
    Temperatures have been fairly warm here – in the 60’s mostly so we have had the HVAC turned off for several days this past week. Even with all of the cooking I did the week of Thanksgiving & having to run the heater our bill still dropped almost $10 so I expect this will lower it even more.
    My son will have to have another tooth extracted tomorrow – poor little guy. Cleft lip doesn’t make for fun at the dentist once teeth begin to come in. I will be making a large pot of chicken noodle soup today and a batch of homemade pudding to nurse him along tomorrow afternoon. Grateful for insurance that covers these type of events.
    Hope everyone stays safe!

    1. I’m sorry about the tooth extraction. One of our daughters had 11 teeth in total pulled (3 baby teeth, 4 permanent teeth and 4 wisdom teeth). 7 of them were done at one time. It was very rough going. She has an incredibly small mouth. But it has worked out in the long run. The other daughter had more teeth than that pulled, as well as 2 teeth “moved” from where they originally were coming in in the wrong place. It seems incredible that they can do this, but they really did leave those teeth in her mouth and moved them SOOOO slowly past 2 other teeth and into the correct spot.
      Needless to say, I commiserate with anyone who has dental challenges with their little ones.

      1. Kara thank you so much for sharing. It really blessed me to hear your story as it feels never ending sometimes and you wonder if you are making the right decisions and how it will turn out in the end. I’m grateful for the encouragement 😊

        1. We had a really long road and it was scary at times, wondering if we were doing the best. Oldest daughter had 5 years of grueling speech therapy before she ever got braces on the first time, and the extractions and more braces followed.
          She is 25 now and in this last year thanked us for doing all that we did. She had interacted with someone professionally who had speech difficulty and she realized that it could have been her. And she saw how it made life difficult for that person in their job. When she thanked us, I got tears in my eyes. It was hard for us. And for her. And yet so worth it. I’m glad that it could be an encouragement to you!

      2. My family seems to have hereditary problems with teeth. My children escaped them, but at least 5 or 6 nieces, grand-nieces and nephews have had to have extractions and other procedures usually before age 6–one nephew had 12 crowns on baby teeth in order to keep them in the right place until his adult teeth came in. A niece had her four top front teeth pulled early and waited quite a while for the adult ones to come in, and has braces on those now–she’s 10 now. We have a wonderful children’s hospital in Buffalo and they do these all under general anesthesia to cause as little trauma to the kids as possible. I think my sister took 3 of her grandkids to the hospital on the same day. It is simply heredity, not a problem with their brushing or anything like that. But it’s strange!

        1. It does run in families because we inherit our jaw structure from our parents. Sometimes mostly from one, sometimes mostly from the other, and sometimes it’s a mixed bag. My sister and I were mixed bags. My dad’s family had pretty good teeth, and we–especially my sister–inherited his jaw structure. However, my mom (and her whole family) had teeth every which way. My top teeth are straight, but I have a lot of room between my bottom teeth in front. My parents were of the Greatest Generation and this group did not straighten teeth as long as you could eat. My son, who was adopted, had buck teeth, and we had them straightened (my parents never would have). I’m pleased to tell you he is 42 years old and still wears his retainer! (My daughter, also adopted, and having different birth parents, has PERFECT teeth. They are not only straight, but they are strong…she does not have any fillings at age 44).

  10. Good Morning Everyone! All things considered, we had a good week. We accepted 7 days of breakfasts and lunches from my son’s school. We had been holding off for several weeks in order to use up what we had. I continued wrapping christmas presents using paper and ribbon that I have on hand. I now know for sure how many things I have bought over the year and stashed away. Too much! I will need to keep a running list for next year. Although my best friend and I said we should give the kids (hers and mine) an experience instead of stuff! I enjoyed several library books this week, including one air fryer cookbook. I was glad that I was able to get it from the library. The book was okay, but I would have been disappointed if I had bought it. I also picked up the new Joanna Fluke book for my mom, thinking she could take it with her to her first infusion appointment this week for her Lymphoma. One of our neighbors was giving away a plastic 10 drawer rolling storage unit. We accepted. It is in like new condition. I will wipe it down and put in my son’s room to store toys and nerf bullets and odds and ends. The only room I have left in our house to organize and purge is our guestroom/homeoffice/craft room. Then the entire house will be done! But after Christmas, when we put the Christmas stuff away, I will go through all the organized bins to double check what we have and get rid of any stuff that we don’t. It has been such a good feeling doing this. I ordered several things on line last week with free shipping, including some groceries. A couple of things were more expensive that we would pay at the store, but it wasn’t worth risk going into these stores. We are still waiting for the part to come in for our washing machine, sans we have been without for over a week. We are trying to hold off going to the laundry mat. As a family, we made our Christmas menu. We will use what we have on hand, only buying a few fresh vegetables. Today we will deliver some holiday cheer to the families of my son’s friends. Every year we have a cookie decorating party for the kids and parents. With the pandemic (and the strict shelter in place this month in Silicon Valley), this was not possible…even an outdoor event in the backyard. So the last time I went to Trader Joe’s, I picked up a cookie decorating kit for each family and a box of hot chocolate and a box of gingerbread men cookies that sit on the rim of the mug! I tied the boxes together with ribbon I already had, making a tower. We will deliver these along with a present for each child. I had bought a three pack of Lego action hero sets at Costco and Lifesaver Books (I loved getting these when I was a kid!) at Target. I wrapped one for each child. We will deliver these along with the cookie kits. It was fun to do and I am glad that it was in our budget to do it. These families have been such a blessing to us! One thing we have started doing, is talking everyday about how lucky and blessed our family is. In our area, more and more businesses are shutting down for good and large employers are moving out of state. While 2020 will go down in the record books as the year of the pandemic, 2020 is a year of positivity and blessings (including getting out of debt, spending more time together, having two years of mortgage payments saved, etc.) for our family!

    1. Peggy,

      I keep a running list of ideas for Christmas and one for birthdays for the year on my phone. If someone mentions something they want, I add it to the list (I used to do this in a paper notebook that I kept in my desk). When I buy something from the list, I put a checkmark next to it. Then I know what to look for when I’m out, and I also know what gifts to look for when it’s time to wrap them! I can keep track of how many gifts each child is receiving as well, which helps for Christmas morning.

        1. May I suggest a hiding place? In plain view! When my kids were younger, I kept an apple box on a shelf in the garage, next to the camping equipment. Most of the time, it was empty…but before Christmas and birthdays, it was the hiding place. Because it was always there, in the same place, no little snoops ever thought to look it. I use the same idea for a little bit of cash that I keep around the house. I use an empty food container in the pantry at the back of similar (full) containers. I got this idea from my mother, who operated with cash and kept her grocery money in an 0ld chili powder can with pry-off lid (like Colman’s mustard tins). She kept it on the rack with her other spices. Their house was broken into twice after I was grown and nobody ever found any money!

          1. Maxine, I found your comments about the chili powder can hysterically funny. I actually keep cash in a Coleman’s mustard tin on the kitchen shelf and have told my adult children repeatedly to check the mustard tin if anything happens to me.

            1. When my mother died, the only thing my sister wanted was the chili powder can. I wanted it, too! But a couple of years earlier, when my mom sold her house, she threw away the can!! When I asked her about it, she said, “I threw that old thing away! Schilling’s hasn’t made cans like that for years! Any thief would know I was hiding money in it!” Yeah, but how many thieves would take the time to go through your spice rack??

        2. Mable, when my son was in fifth grade he made me a chart with one column “Things” and the other “Where Mom Put Them” for when I confiscated their stuff for a time. When it was time to give it back, I couldn’t remember where I put it! LOL. He is 22 and married now and I still have that chart. AND, I am still finding their things I hid years ago. We had nine snoopy kids and I had to find good hiding places…I guess they were really good! 😂😂😂

  11. I just discovered that the Dollar Tree sells cereal past the ideal season for selling it. I was able to buy Pumpkin Spice Cheerios, the family size box, for $1. It is good until August 2021.

  12. Hi Brandy and everyone
    Great that you were able to get discounts on clothing for you and several children.
    It is getting colder and darker earlier here so I whizz round the house at dusk and close the curtains to keep the heat in. I compared our electricity consumption with this time last year and we have used less over the last few months this year. Very pleased with this.
    We received 2 free 2021 calenders with lovely pictures and a friend who is moving gave me a bag of books and 2 lovely wintery jigsaws.
    I sold 1 item on eBay.
    We made our Christmas cake.
    We are eating down the freezers, picking parsnips and kale from the garden and using our homegrown stored potatoes, shallots, onions, garlic and apples.
    I put together some easy little presents for friends and my hairdresser. I bought milk and dark organic chocolate on a deal, wrapped one of each in pretty craft paper I already had and attached a Christmas ornament to the front. The ornaments were bought in a sale.
    Whenever we have a local or general election I work as a Presiding Officer at the polling station. I received a letter offering me this job one day next May ( election for Police Commissioner) which I accepted. A few more pounds coming next year – hurrah!
    The Christmas TV schedules are out, when I have time to look properly I’ll post some suggestions for readers not in the UK but for now there are a couple of nice programmes for children coming on the BBC. There’s an adaptation of a story about the scarecrow Worzel Gummidge called Worzel Gummidge and Saucy Nancy ( she is the figurehead from the prow of a ship) and previous Worzel Gummidge programmes are being repeated if you haven’t seen them. There’s also an animation of Zog and the Flying Doctors. Zog is a friendly dragon created by Julia Donaldson who wrote The Gruffalo.
    Stay safe everyone.

  13. Great shopping for you all around, especially the ornamental garden pieces. It sounds as though a lot of readers here are staying on or under budget with holiday shopping. I didn’t know what to do and we decided to send checks this year. The children and nephews and niece are grown and I think they will appreciate a little extra money. It will only be my husband and I for Christmas. We are not entertaining and not going anywhere. I bought a spiral ham—it will be festive and at $1.29 a pound, we’ll get many meals for the money. I am keeping on with the frugal steps I started. I prepare all meals at home. I hang the laundry to dry. Still cutting and coloring my own hair. The only gas we use is when my husband works and occasional medical appointments and grocery shopping. I am praying for the end of this pandemic. Hoping my younger daughter who works in a hospital emergency department gets the vaccine soon and that all medical workers get some relief.

  14. Been baking mini loaves of pumpkin bread to add to treat baskets I’ll deliver to people I know who might be feeling alone this holiday. Best investment I ever made for kitchen was my Wilton 18 loaf pan! I used a coupon at JoAnns for 50% off and so it was only around $10! 18 loaves at a time !! Makes it so easy!! I gifted the same pans to each of my daughters over the year, whenever I would have a 40 or 50% off coupon! They are baking up a storm with theirs this week too!!

    On the quilting front, Quilt #103 and #104 have been finished and picked up by clients. The first is the final one from the batch of 9 that used simple fabric Christmas panels and then creatively added to them to make them special! https://pin.it/kOXE09k. Quilt #104 was a baby quilt that a friend made upon learning she was going to be a grandma and that DIL only wanted baby gifts for Christmas!! Since my friend works in a quilt shop, she picked out cute fabrics from a new line that just came out. https://pin.it/6wtdioG. I had it quilted in about 20 minutes. Then, I decided to sort through some of my fabric stash that has been given to me over the years that was still in storage totes. As I found this panel with dogs (which was meant to make 2 pillows), rather than toss it, I decided to look at it the way my 9 quilt client had looked at her Christmas panels! I found some quilt blocks that had never been joined to make a quilt and so I added them to the mix. For a first attempt, I think I like this! https://pin.it/3AKs3DH

    Hubs finished building the work center for a client’s two young boys, built from hardwood to withstand rough and tumble kiddos: https://pin.it/36WGinE , https://pin.it/1TaYklV ! Clients were thrilled and we added their final payment into our savings after paying 20% to our business and 10% tithing. The rest will go towards the mortgage payoff in January!

    Then, the excitement of our week! The 5 energy efficient replacement windows that we ordered in the beginning of October arrived about 10 days ago in dismal cold wet weather. We honestly didn’t know I’d we would be able to take the old ones out and install these before Spring! But there was a predicted break in our weather coming on Thursday (dry with temps up to 53!!) so we made our plan! We called our SIL who retired at 35 from Silicon Valley and now lives in a home on 13 acres about an hour from us. He was happy to come and our youngest son was home until he had to leave for work at noon. The 5 windows are for my sewing room (3 in front and 2 in back) so I needed to move my cutting station and other things so they would have easy access. The plan was to take 1 window out and install replacement before going on to next one. Since it was Thursday, I needed to babysit 3 grandkids across town all day it’s their zoom school classes so that daughter could be in-person at her job. Not only did 3 front windows get installed : https://pin.it/5H88Yu1, https://pin.it/1GlC0wX, https://pin.it/2GrwXq2, https://pin.it/6sThKsm, but Friday was an even warmer day- 55F and SIL offered to come down again from 9- 3 and they got the 2 back windows installed!! https://pin.it/6sPsanr. And Saturday morning, the rain and wind came and we were warm and toasty in the sewing room with no drafts coming through! By buying the windows and installing them ourselves, we literally saved several thousand dollars!! The windows took 6 weeks to manufacture because our 125 year old house doesn’t have “standard” sizes but they fit perfectly and will save us on heating/cooling costs starting right away!! We’ve already decided that as soon as HomeDepot sends us another email or offer in the mail for either 24 months interest free or a percentage off, we will order the next 5 for the parlour and dining room! 19 windows done, just 24 more to go!

    On Saturday, I went to Meijers early in the morning (7 AM) and bought 10 five pound bags of Gold Medal flour for $1.09 each. It wasn’t the 99 cent price they have once a year, but they discontinued that sale this year and I don’t know if it will come back! This is enough to bring my loud storage to a year so I won’t need to buy any again well past winter! That was the only grocery purchase this week!

    We’ve had turkey enchiladas this week, IP potato soup, homemade pizza and other things using just what we have at home. We are still enjoying fresh tomatoes as they ripen in the house after picking them a month ago before the first freeze! Fortunately, they are still staggered in their ripening time!
    Chickens are still giving us over 2 dozen eggs a week so we don’t have to worry about running out of eggs over the winter. I renewed our chicken permit for the next 4 years. Since there have been no complaints from neighbors, they don’t need to make an inspection since we haven’t made any structural changes to their coop since we were inspected 4 years ago.
    We certainly have much to be grateful for! As the end of the year approaches, I am optimistic that it will be a better year than the one we are leaving behind! Stay safe and healthy!
    Gardenpat in Ohiol

  15. I cooked chicken bones into stock and froze a gallon of chicken stock in 1-pint jars.
    I cooked a pumpkin from my garden and made a loaf of pumpkin bread and a batch of pumpkin dog biscuits.
    My husband changed the oil in my car.
    I gave myself a facial at home.
    A friend who works at a local boutique hotel gifted us with two brand new bathrobes – really luxurious, thick velour. They sell for $100 each at the hotel. Our friend said that people buy the robes to use during their stay, then just leave them behind. She has outfitted her whole family with them and asked if we wanted some. The stories she tells of the wastefulness of people astound me. She and her husband make extra money selling some of the items people just leave behind – new boots, sports equipment, all kinds of things.
    I made some Christmas cards and wrapped some gifts, using materials I had on hand.
    I have been watching YouTube videos from Under the Median. They have lots of money-saving advice that I find useful and inspiring.

    1. Hi Cindi! I love to cook, but for some reason making stock is one of those things I hate doing. I save all my carcasses (roast them first) and vegetable peels, etc. My SIL is in culinary school and recently learned to make stock. He took all my carcasses from the freezer and all of my odds and ends and makes the stock! I get some and they get some! It’s a WIN for me. I did learn a great tip from someone I know…add lemongrass, ginger and a bit of chili powder to the stock and the flavor is amazing!

  16. You’re early today, Brandy! So nice to see the pictures of such beautiful fruit! (Extra nice because it is snowing here!). These were my frugal accomplishments for the week–
    * I bought a book on eBay for less than half the price in the store. The shipping was free! If I purchase a book, I ALWAYS buy it used…usually from bookfinder dot com, but this time eBay was the best deal. Yes, I give used books for gifts, and I usually can’t tell them from new (you can trust the descriptions). 
    * I trimmed DD’s bangs.
    * I cooked an $8 chuck roast and ate it for  4 meals (12 servings in all)–the original pot roast, a meat pie (two meals) and shredded beef tacos.
    * I made a big pan of lasagna and froze it to take to my son’s house at Christmas. He loves lasagna and I rarely make it due to the cost, calories and the sheer amount of work. But I had all of the ingredients except the ricotta and some of them needed using ASAP. 

  17. We do the same thing regarding gift shopping. Yesterday I had my daughter choose a knit cap for one of her Christmas gifts. She’d mentioned wanting one, but I would much rather have her pick it out herself and know that it’s exactly what she wants.
    I’ve been saving money by:
    -Using the app at my grocery store. Canned veggies were 49 cents on sale.
    -Using up all the leftovers for lunches.
    -I canned beef stew to have on hand for quick dinners.
    -I’m going to try making lentil tacos. My family has not had lentils before. But they love tacos!
    -I finished the photo calendar we make each year for gifts. Even with a coupon code, it was a little more expensive that I would have liked. I may look at other options for gifts next Christmas.
    -I have most of our gifts wrapped. I used up wrapping paper and tags I had on hand.
    -We accepted a large bag of clothing in my grandson’s size. It was perfect timing as his jeans are wearing out in the knees.
    -And not exactly a frugal thing, but my daughter got married last week! I guess it is frugal because they were married at the courthouse. 🙂

    1. Congratulations on your new son-in-law!

      I suggest halving the meat with lentils for your tacos the first time.

  18. A big Amen to letting the teens have a large say in their clothes. Unless you have girls who are dressing wildly inappropriately, they need this freedom to explore who they are.

    My sons were teens in the late ’80s and early ’90s and, of course, they coveted the really cool t-shirts that were $25 and more, when Penney’s shirts were $6. I wasn’t going to scratch that itch for them, but they might get one of the highly desired ones for their birthday or Christmas. It’s a balancing act, especially if the kids are in a public school. You want them to feel good about themselves among their peers, but you want, more importantly, to teach them good values.

    It’s a real tricky time for them, as they are often a walking pile of hormones.

    1. I just had that discussion last night with a daughter, actually! Pick what you like, but within reason when it comes to dressing modestly. I told her no; micro mini low-cut sundresses won’t work. I’ve had that discussion with my sons as well, too.

      1. With your son, hopefully it wasn’t about wearing micro mini low cut sundresses, LOL! (But I know exactly what you meant! This was important to me, too).

      2. My step mother had a daughter who had a lovely figure and wanted to display it; if she could have worn a bikini in school she would have. Talks did nothing to convince her how trashy she looked. Well, one day she wanted to bring a boy over for dinner. Shortly before he was to arrive, my step-mother walked into the kitchen wearing one of my step sister’s outfits (they were both about the same size) and my step sister was horrified. She started stammering how inappropriate her mom looked, how the boy would think she was a slut, that she was embarrassed to be seen with her. After she finished, my step-mother simply said, “That is exactly how I feel when I see you wear this dress.” Then she changed…my step-sister did start to dress more modestly after that. She didn’t start dressing like an Amish lady, but she certainly lowered the hemlines and raised the necklines of her clothing. (My parents never had that problem with me because I was always trying to blend into the wall, and even if I had wanted to I was lacking in the gorgeous figure department.)

  19. Last week I bought the last few things for Christmas dinner – will only go back to the store for a few fresh items just before Christmas. I used $30 worth of loyalty points to pay for most of these items. All Christmas cards are now mailed – cards were bought on sale last year and I’ve been slowly stocking up on stamps since Sept. so it wasn’t much of a hit.

    Continuing to work from home so only used two transit fares last week. In fact this week I’m on a 3 day training course from home via Zoom that my employer is paying for – part two will be in the New Year.

    Cooked all meals from scratch – didn’t buy so much as a cup of coffee last week. There was a really good deal on turkey breasts (about a 50% discount) so I bought two and cooked one already as it takes up less space in my freezer compartment. I had 3 meals already – put 3 more meals into the freezer and then added the bones to a pack of turkey wings to make a big pot of soup which will be for this week’s lunches. Haven’t done much baking so far but I do have plans for this weekend – all supplies needed are in the pantry.

    Did two large loads of laundry and hung them both to dry so no dryer expense.

    Entertained myself with books from the library, TV Hallmark movies and Netflix. I also had a wonderful 2 hour Zoom visit with friends whom I would normally see on a weekly basis but since Covid struck I have only seen one of them – once! While we email and phone it was lovely to actually see some faces!

    I did a lot of research this past weekend on the 1918 Flu as my minister wants to include it in one of our historical vignettes which are often included in the weekly Youtube sermons. Honestly – you could have changed the dates and used much of the material today – not much has changed as to – What people complained about – What public health recommended – how insidious it was etc. My minister was delighted with one quote from public health about churches being open – the head of public health (who was a regular church goer) admonished people that they didn’t have to be in a building in order to worship the Lord! However, they did allow some services to continue – Catholics could open Sunday mornings and Protestants could have a Sunday evening service! Apparently there were also fuel shortages due to the war so the awful cold also helped to discourage people from going out to meet others!

    Vaccines have shipped – our first doses arrived this morning (it was actually quite emotional watching it) so I just hope people can hang in there for these next few months. Stay safe & well.

  20. I continue to do all the regular things to not spend more money than necessary. I am making a list of all the things I can do at home to de-stress. In the summer I de-stress by taking the kids to the playground. That is not possible in the winter and my stress levels climb too high. And I am so thankful for this group. It gets hard hearing how “little” people spend on gifts and it is 15 times more than us. And then I remember my kids are always very happy with their gifts and that is what matters. And our kids will group up with skills how to live on a smaller income, which is a skill everyone should know!

    1. Renee, I feel frustrated when I read gift lists on websites and magazines/catalogs that show stocking stuffers that are EACH more than what I spend for all of my children’s gifts combined. It’s nice to have others who are like-minded here! My children are still very excited for Christmas!

      More sobering, though, is the reminder of how rich I am. This morning I read a story about how the pandemic shutdowns are affecting child brides across the world, where children are sold for a bag of rice to feed their younger sisters even though the girls are only 10 years old themselves. My daughters have plenty to eat, plenty to wear, a warm home, and gifts besides. It’s a poignant reminder that someone would be grateful to have all that I have.

      1. Brandy – amen to your comment. My kids are excited and grateful for whatever they get. And we cut our spending amount in 1/2 this year. That is sooooooooo sad about the girls being sold for a bag of rice. That is just heart and soul breaking. Definitely something to put in my prayers.

      2. I read that article too! My family also lives very, very simply compared to most, even in our rural area but we are truly blessed. Like you we have a warm home, plenty of warm clothing, plenty of food and more than enough toys. It is so important that we teach our children those are the most important things. Honestly it takes so little to make my kids so happy! Often they ask for special food “treats” rather than things anyways.

    2. I love your comment about kids needing this skill set! I completely agree. We have taught and taught this to our kids. To have them living debt free and with a healthy savings and good jobs is so important. The kids comment constantly about how friends/acquaintences/work friends are struggling with debt and use the credit cards so freely. But there are also so many people struggling because of not being prepared/expensive health issues/loss of jobs and not knowing how to live frugally. My son is going to get a library card this week so he can start reading some books he wants. His friend told him to just buy them, but my son said he would rather support the library and save himself some money. It’s a heartbreaking time and I’m so thankful that we have enough and that we can share some of our abundance when needed. It truly is a great blessing.

    3. Renee, I hope you see this. I grew up in a family with 10 children and my parents on a small, 80-acre family farm. My parents faced extreme financial difficulties for much of their life. I had a wonderful childhood. I think that many of our family’s greatest qualities came from our financial difficulty that we worked together and watched out for each other.

      Our family learned many things that have blessed our entire lives. (We are now in our 60s and 70s.). Most importantly, we have cared for each other our entire lives—more than anyone we know. We learned lots of skills. Mom’s garden was an acre. She preserved food like crazy, and we ate something that she preserved at almost every meal. She was a phenomenal seamstress. (I’m doing lots of sewing for gifts right now. I’m so glad that I learned from her.). Our old farm equipment was always breaking down—my brothers and my youngest sister who was really the “last farmhand” have extremely good problem solving and fixing skills

      I think our family’s greatest quality was watching out for and helping each other. My oldest brother was 14 when my youngest brother was born. When I was five, Dad got a job that he carpooled and commuted three hours a day. He was gone 12 hours a day when he didn’t work overtime. He often had lots of overtime and he worked rotating shifts. When my youngest brother was born, Mom nearly died and spent a year in bed. (I was so young that I didn’t realize all of that.). Every day when Dad left for work, he didn’t know if Mom would be alive when he got home. My oldest brother said that he knew that he and my 13-year old brother had to really step up. My oldest brother told my other brother that he would run the farm and asked the 13-year old to “run the house.” He milked 25 head of cows before school and at night. It was frequently 40 degrees below zero in the winter. He plowed, planted, hauled hay, hoed sugar beets. The next year when he was 15, he worked for a neighbor beginning with milking cows at 5:00 a.m. and hauling hay, etc. 6 days a week and milking every other Sunday. He’d get paid once a month. He’d bring that $300 check home and hand it to Mom. Mom rarely cried so I think that’s why this stood out to me so much. She’d cry and then go to the bank and cash it and give him back $5. I asked him a few years ago if he resented it. He said “absolutely not.” He said “I was 15 years old and responsible for feeding 12 people.”

      I remember as a young girl standing with my brothers in the sugar beet field. The rows were ½ mile long. We’d hoe down and back. It seemed so daunting. The field had to be hoed several times during the summer. We hauled hay together. But we also played together. We had an acre between the house and barn where we played softball, etc. Our pioneer barn had beams and rope swings where we played countless hours of tags with the neighbor kids and cousins.

      Through my adult, married life, I would have collapsed without my siblings’ support and help. We had a child who was vaccine-injured and our life was brutal for many years. Then we learned we had toxic mold in our house and everything had to be thrown away and the house abandoned. (There was an exclusion in the insurance and they didn’t pay anything.). Many other things, but they are always there for me. After I was married, one brother changed our alternator at the side of the road. So many things that I can’t begin to mention.

      As adults we’ve talked about it. How did our parents instill in us this instinct to watch over and help each other? I think that the early difficult financial times that we faced shaped us into better people. I’m grateful for that. My siblings have been there for me in so many ways throughout my life.

      1. Judy, this was a very emotional and inspiring piece to read. Thank you for sharing your childhood with us. Your parents raised good kind people.

        1. Judy, what an amazing childhood you had and to see the blessings from it is inspiring! I really enjoyed reading this and read it to my husband as well! It sounds like you have amazing siblings, too!
          I wonder if you could share how this impacted raising your children, and your life outlook now, though that shine s through in what you wrote.

          My savings this week centered on buying reduced produce and meat and shopping at the homeschool used book store. I found two gifts for grandkids for just a few dollars and I took some books in for credit,too. Used coupons and got ibuprofen for a few dollars. My DIL asked for an oil diffuser and I had one that my sister had given me that she hadn’t used, I paired that with some oils had I ordered half price. I have sent out a few Christmas cards that were from last year and cut off the backs. I also used as ham bone to make broth, will make soup with it, and used some to make a pot of pinto beans, yum!

          I am running the heat at 62 all day and wearing my down vest around the house.

          I worked on cleaning up the garden and found a yellow pepper, some grape tomatoes and plants that I use medicinally, still growing. I am cutting dandelions and chard for sautéing greens for breakfast.

          We have had several car repairs and one happy thing was a tire had a nail in it, and it was under warranty!

          Thank you all for posting, what an encouragement you are in this long COVID winter!

        2. Thank you. Renee’s post hit a cord with me. Those difficult financial times that my parents faced with many children actually shaped our lives for the better. I just wanted to encourage others who have similar financial difficulties. I think that it actually made us more compassionate and caring for each other and other people.

      2. Judy,
        I got misty-eyed reading this — it is so inspiring! It brings back memories of my mother, who, although she did not have many siblings, went through hard times on an 80 acre farm during the Depression. Yet she was one of the most positive and resilient people I have known. How fortunate you are to have such wonderful siblings! Ann

  21. Happy to hear about your deals for your children’s clothes, and the ornamental metal for your garden. I’m looking forward to seeing the design elements you and your husband come up with. Much of last week’s cooking used things I had either canned, frozen, or was otherwise stored, such as eggs and sweet potatoes. I ground corn for cornbread. I had already ground wheat recently, and used some of that. I’m keeping the buttermilk going, and enjoying using it in baked goods. I found an enamel pitcher at an antique mall, for warm up water, which frees up my ugly, plastic pitcher for soapmaking exclusively. I also found some vintage pillowcases there, 3 of them hand embroidered, with some staining, for $2 for all. I expect I’ll be able to get the stains out, but we won’t mind some discoloration if not. I used some of our celery in a Waldorf salad, after Becky mentioned it. The workshop is coming along. The first two windows, the little porch roof, and the stringers for the floor were put in. http://abelabodycare.blogspot.com/2020/12/frost-flowers-frugal-accomplishments.html

  22. My daughter was shopping for some Angel Tree gifts that her office had chosen to provide, and stumbled onto that clothing deal at Target. She was thrilled to be able to buy much more than she had originally thought she could get with the budget given her by her office.

    One of my bosses bought several boxes of Satsumas at a school fundraiser, and brought a whole big box of them to work. I have, with permission, taken a couple dozen of them home. They are so good! I’ve shared them with my kids and their families.

    I also have a Misfits Market subscription. For those who don’t know this particular produce service, their produce is organic, so their prices will not beat conventional produce, but average out quite well when compared to stores that sell organic produce routinely, at least compared to the ones in my area. I customize my box so I won’t get a shipment of things I shouldn’t or won’t eat.

    I started decorating the house, and streamed a free version of “White Christmas” while I was at it.

    I made a very nice soup out of broth made from the turkey carcass and some vegetables. No meat was added or needed. The rest of the broth is frozen in 2-cup packages.

    Our two bosses are so thankful that our business hung in there, using a small paycheck protection loan and a lot of hard work and hustle on our parts, that they are giving us the entire week between Christmas and New Year’s Day off, with pay, and without having to use our vacation time. Since we already had Christmas Eve and Christmas as paid holidays, it means we have from 12/23, 5p.m. to 01/04, 8 a.m. off work. In this time of struggling businesses and layoffs, I am very, very grateful for this job.

  23. Been baking mini loaves of pumpkin bread to add to treat baskets I’ll deliver to people I know who might be feeling alone this holiday. Best investment I ever made for kitchen was my Wilton 18 loaf pan! I used a coupon at JoAnns for 50% off and so it was only around $10! 18 loaves at a time !! Makes it so easy!! I gifted the same pans to each of my daughters over the year, whenever I would have a 40 or 50% off coupon! They are baking up a storm with theirs this week too!! On the quilting front, Quilt #103 and #104 have been finished and picked up by clients. The first is the final one from the batch of 9 that used simple fabric Christmas panels and then creatively added to them to make them special! https://pin.it/kOXE09k. Quilt #104 was a baby quilt that a friend made upon learning she was going to be a grandma and that DIL only wanted baby gifts for Christmas!! Since my friend works in a quilt shop, she picked out cute fabrics from a new line that just came out. https://pin.it/6wtdioG. I had it quilted in about 20 minutes. Then, I decided to sort through some of my fabric stash that has been given to me over the years that was still in storage totes. As I found this panel with dogs (which was meant to make 2 pillows), rather than toss it, I decided to look at it the way my 9 quilt client had looked at her Christmas panels! I found some quilt blocks that had never been joined to make a quilt and so I added them to the mix. For a first attempt, I think I like this! https://pin.it/3AKs3DH Hubs finished building the work center for a client’s two young boys, built from hardwood to withstand rough and tumble kiddos: https://pin.it/36WGinE , https://pin.it/1TaYklV ! Clients were thrilled and we added their final payment into our savings after paying 20% to our business and 10% tithing. The rest will go towards the mortgage payoff in January! Then, the excitement of our week! The 5 energy efficient replacement windows that we ordered in the beginning of October arrived about 10 days ago in dismal cold wet weather. We honestly didn’t know I’d we would be able to take the old ones out and install these before Spring! But there was a predicted break in our weather coming on Thursday (dry with temps up to 53!!) so we made our plan! We called our SIL who retired at 35 from Silicon Valley and now lives in a home on 13 acres about an hour from us. He was happy to come and our youngest son was home until he had to leave for work at noon. The 5 windows are for my sewing room (3 in front and 2 in back) so I needed to move my cutting station and other things so they would have easy access. The plan was to take 1 window out and install replacement before going on to next one. Since it was Thursday, I needed to babysit 3 grandkids across town all day it’s their zoom school classes so that daughter could be in-person at her job. Not only did 3 front windows get installed : https://pin.it/5H88Yu1, https://pin.it/1GlC0wX, https://pin.it/2GrwXq2, https://pin.it/6sThKsm, but Friday was an even warmer day- 55F and SIL offered to come down again from 9- 3 and they got the 2 back windows installed!! https://pin.it/6sPsanr. And Saturday morning, the rain and wind came and we were warm and toasty in the sewing room with no drafts coming through! By buying the windows and installing them ourselves, we literally saved several thousand dollars!! The windows took 6 weeks to manufacture because our 125 year old house doesn’t have “standard” sizes but they fit perfectly and will save us on heating/cooling costs starting right away!! We’ve already decided that as soon as HomeDepot sends us another email or offer in the mail for either 24 months interest free or a percentage off, we will order the next 5 for the parlour and dining room! 19 windows done, just 24 more to go! On Saturday, I went to Meijers early in the morning (7 AM) and bought 10 five pound bags of Gold Medal flour for $1.09 each. It wasn’t the 99 cent price they have once a year, but they discontinued that sale this year and I don’t know if it will come back! This is enough to bring my loud storage to a year so I won’t need to buy any again well past winter! That was the only grocery purchase this week! We’ve had turkey enchiladas this week, IP potato soup, homemade pizza and other things using just what we have at home. We are still enjoying fresh tomatoes as they ripen in the house after picking them a month ago before the first freeze! Fortunately, they are still staggered in their ripening time! Chickens are still giving us over 2 dozen eggs a week so we don’t have to worry about running out of eggs over the winter. I renewed our chicken permit for the next 4 years. Since there have been no complaints from neighbors, they don’t need to make an inspection since we haven’t made any structural changes to their coop since we were inspected 4 years ago. We certainly have much to be grateful for! As the end of the year approaches, I am optimistic that it will be a better year than the one we are leaving behind! Stay safe and healthy! Gardenpat in Ohiol HandmadeinOldeTowne.com

  24. Hubby spent part of the day raking the stones up out of the grass from when he plowed snow. He didn’t realize he had the plow down that close to the stones.
    Our Dvd broke so Hubby wanted a new one, and then decided to get a small second tv because he hogs the tv at night.
    We fixed the basement door that was leaking under the threshold with caulking we already had.
    I have made cookie dough on one day and baked the next day to keep from having to shut the oven off and restart it. Doing 36 dozen of each varieties. Have 3 done and 2 more to go and then buckeyes.
    Just keep going with the baking LOL
    Blessed be everyone

      1. I have done 36 dozen of 5 varieties and 28 dozen buckeyes. It’s our Christmas gifts tobourvkids,grandkids,and great grandkids. I then did 4 dozen of each for the BTW our son is an officer in.

  25. We have stayed at home, and stayed at home! Gas savings are enormous.
    Free fruit has been put out in the neighborhood a few more times, which I have picked up. I’ve started to take a bag with me when I go for a walk!
    Our car needs a new timing belt (fairly expensive). We asked if there was a discount for paying cash, and there is. We are thankful.
    We have had rain twice, which is such a great blessing. I have enjoyed not having to water my garden. And it all looks so happy and green outside. The water barrels are full, and we have had to draw water off of them to keep them from overflowing. This water goes on our trees, for an extra deep water.
    I have been determined to keep up with some cleaning jobs that I don’t like. They are less awful if I do them more regularly. I did 2 of them yesterday-cleaning the oven by hand (no self-clean feature) and cleaning the shower walls. I used vinegar made from apple cores plus baking soda on the oven. I sprayed the shower walls with blue Dawn and vinegar and water and let it sit for a while. Both turned out well.
    I have finished a run of special orders in my shop which leaves me time to catch up on house jobs. It feels satisfying to have had so many orders. It has made a difference to us and we recognize the blessing.
    Best to everyone!

  26. My, I love reading your blog, Brandy. Could you consider writing more than your weekly post? I know you’re busy, but your goal and buying comments are especially helpful. (I could do with a new recipe or two, as well.)

    We were in Michigan to stay with my mom for a month…then two weeks we hadn’t planned on, including Thanksgiving, because of Covid restrictions and two unplanned trips to the shop for our truck. Ouch. The second happened as we were heading home, pulling our fifth-wheel…the brakes suddenly gave out on the truck! Fortunately, we were able to limp back to the shop and put our fifth-wheel back in The Mama’s barnyard. A thousand dollars later, we got to head back to Colorado.
    Three days after we got home, we left again — for a vacation in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. Husband bought a resort package (saved nearly $400!) for me last year as a surprise birthday present, and we purchased plane tickets months ago, when things seemed to be easing up. Despite some misgivings, it’s been great — the Mexicans are taking more precautions in some ways than people are in the States. (Ever have your temperature taken, and walk through a pad of disinfectant, just to go in the grocery store?) We bought groceries, and I have been spacing them out, planning to take home the absolute minimum of food. I did get some for gifts for our kids…and we have been eating out every second day or so for one meal. This is our normal pattern, and actually works very well.
    Things here are very quiet, though. There are some Mexican tourists, but only a handful of the usual Americans and Canadians. The city’s wonderful Virgin of Guadalupe festival was cancelled, though the cathedral is all decorated up. The streets and malecon look a little busy — but we have seen them much more crowded than this. The Mexicans depend on tourism to keep them going; this is going to be a very lean year for many. This makes us tip more generously, but we look at our own budget and have held back on buying more souvenirs and such because of it. In spite of some very good prices on travel packages, we’ve done the same — how do we know we can actually use them when the time comes? I think we will take a risk and get at least one…but somehow I feel more comfortable waiting a bit.

    We head back home (again) in two days — to snow. I’d better go for a swim, just to reassure myself that warm places like this will still be here! Feliz Navidad to fellow frugalers.

    1. Cindy, when I am able to do so, I do write more. I have some posts I hope to get in during the first few months next year, but it depends on what I can accomplish here. I am homeschooling five children currently (six in January), and we are in the middle of a major garden remodel that has leaves us exhausted each day. Between that and cooking, laundry, and cleaning for 9 of us, I have to stay up late and get up very early in order to write for the blog and edit photographs for my clients. I do what I can!

  27. *This past week has been crazy and not as frugal as we would normally have here. My youngest has been dealing with health issues the past 6 weeks – missing school, failing grades and lots of pain. We’ve been in weekly contact/appointments with our doctor. This past Tuesday I had to take her to the ER – $308. But she was out of pain and we think we figured out what was causing the additional pain issues. She is back at school today and we’re hoping this will be the week she doesn’t need to come home sick. I was able to get a doctor’s note from our doctor and one from the doctor at the ER to excuse her from junior high gym class which raised her F to a C. I have spoken multiple times to her principal and emailed teachers to keep them apprised of the situation. I usually don’t do well at that kind of communication because we’re pretty private people. But the school asked me to keep them more aware so they can also track and keep record and offer additional help.

    *I did get a pizza one night for dinner – because I was just done and exhausted. But I did use coupons and we had plenty of leftovers for lunch the next few days. The rest of our meals were made at home except for one date night which was paid for with gift cards and we earned extra points because it was a triple point item. That will earn us free meals down the road. I love Cafe Rio! We had our kids home for dinner one night and I made a big batch of homemade spaghetti and sauce, rolls, watermelon and a cake. Dinner was very much enjoyed. We also were able to watch our daughter open all her baby gifts she had received from her online shower. I posted the pictures on the event page for others to see. Those little socks and ruffles just melt my soon to be grandma heart. We were all sniffing the Johnson baby shampoo and smiling.

    *One city near to us has a FREE drive through Christmas light show. They add new items each year and pipe Christmas music over a loudspeaker. We love to go each year. My 20 year old son suggested we sing carols all the way up and back. We had such fun laughing and singing off key. We took our dogs in the car with us. Came home and watched Santa Claus 2 with our Christmas lights on and by our tree.

    *I got most of the wrapping done using everything that was in my supplies. We had a neighbor gift us 5 blankets from Kohls. I gave 3 to my kids that live here at home. My husband and I don’t want the other two – not our type of thing. But we wrapped them both up to give to our oldest 2 children. We know they will use them and love them. I don’t need to buy any more candy/treats. I’ve been stockpiling all this year and checking out Dollar Tree for stocking items. My one daughter is a CNA and was trying what to give to her residents and we came up with a few thrifty ideas that she’s excited to do. She decided to make a treat and write each resident a note about what she loves about them. We have all the supplies on hand and she knows each one’s dietary restrictions. She’s very thoughtful that way and loves her “people”. She will style and curl the women’s hair and she holds their hands as they walk down the hall to their rooms. If someone is sad she sits with them and sings songs or plays the piano for them. She loves her job. She tells them how much she loves them. Simple things that mean so much and don’t cost a thing but time.

    *My dogs were groomed – not frugal but oh they look cute with their Christmas neckerchiefs and bows. We took pictures of them to send to our kids not living here.

    *I’ve been reading library books and exercising at home. Combined errands and tried to stay home and avoid the stores. We watched our Christmas movies and Blue Bloods for entertainment. We got snow and I can’t really be outside because I tend to slip easily at times. But I saw a news report about an elderly woman who walked her 10,000 steps in her apartment to stay fit. I walk back and forth in my kitchen or up and down the hall. I also use the Leslie Sansone Walk at Home series to get my 10,000 steps. I need to start doing some yoga. Just haven’t been as motivated for that yet.

    *I got down to my pantry every few days and check my pantry. I re-arrange and notice any holes of things I’m running low on. I put those on a list and/or watch for a sale to stock up. My husband went down and went through our spaghetti noodles and brought up the ones that were close to or just over the due date to be used up. We stocked our container in our kitchen with that pasta so we can use it up soon. The kids love my homemade spaghetti sauce so we will have that during these winter months. I was also able to get several items for free between Ibotta and Kroger Cash Back.

    *Thank you Brandy for your wonderful and inspiring post! This is something I look forward to each week.

      1. Thank you Cindy – she is sweet but she says she’s the lucky one. At 19 years of age, she loves her job and her people. They are so loving to her.

  28. Our past week was not frugal! After seven years in this 7o year old house, we replaced our main floor windows. Some of the windows were original, single pane! In Fairbanks extreme weather, they were very miserable, especially since only 3 of 8 opened for ventilation. Several of them were rotten. My husband has no ability or interest in carpentry, so we went with high quality windows. We were blessed that although some sills were rotten, it did not extend beyond the sill. So far, it is noticeably less drafty in our house. This was not an easy expenditure, but we hope to see fuel savings in the future. (We won’t see them this month as it involved times with windows out for 1/2 hour in 0 degree weather. I was happy to see 0 degrees as it wasn’t colder!)
    Cook’s hams were on sale this week for $1.29/lb. My son picked up one when he shopped, so we will have that for Christmas. Hopefully. my husband will be able to get another for the freezer this Tuesday which is Senior Day. It will be a welcome change later in the winter! Our prices are higher this year, so we buy a lot of chicken and pork when it is on sale. Since we had such a large potato crop this fall, we have used a lot for meals, grateful to have them for little cost.
    My husband announced his plans to retire from his current church ministry at the end of March. March will be accrued vacation time so he will really be done at the end of February. I don’t know whether I will eventually be able to return to my village ministry. I’m not ready to retire, although I am slowed by a bad knee. I will need a replacement but fear I will not be able to get back into our house afterwards. In the summer, I can use the front door with much better steps and hopefully our hospital will have fewer covid patients.
    We have a very basic Christmas. We quit putting a Christmas tree up years ago when time and space were an issue. Since it is just my grown son at home with us, and our local shopping is a bit limited, we decided not to do presents but to buy what we need for ourselves. Our other son and his wife only want cash, although their income is much higher than ours. One of the grandchildren was very unappreciative one year, so we find gift certificates are easier and more appreciative. At one time, they had many grandparents from our DIL’s side so this is more appreciated. While I miss some of the traditional thingls, on the other hand, Christmas is centered on church for us. Ir is less stressful and we have little extended family, all who are half the country away. I will donate over 125 warm hand-knitted hats to various organizations for those who are in need. This brings me joy!
    All of you have helped me cope with little people contact these months and to prepare for limited income in retirement. Thank you and Brandy for maintaining this blog! May you all have blessed holidays in your own way!

  29. I feel that the last few weeks have been the same for me: a little grocery shopping, meals at home, books from the library, and working on knitting and crocheting projects, either for myself or to give away. I’ve been watching the series “Lark Rise to Candleford” which I recall was a favorite of former reader Marivienne. I borrowed the first season from the library and now I am hooked!
    I have noticed that grocery prices have gone up 10-30% on some items. We try to eat whole food, plant-based, so many of the basic things we eat haven’t gone up as much, but the spices and condiments have. I am grateful that we have a decent pantry.
    I’ll be making biscotti and with a few herbal tea bags, will be giving that to siblings and close friends. We are giving our children money, as they are older and struggling. I go back and forth on that, but as has been discussed above, giving a gift (thing) that isn’t really what someone wants perhaps isn’t the best choice. I did send out Christmas cards this year. With so many people isolating, I hope getting a card in the mail is a cheerful thing.
    I am enjoying Christmas lights, Christmas music and seeking for peace. That’s Christmas enough for me.
    May you have blessings of peace in your home as well. Thank you for being part of this community.

    1. I love the Lark Rise to Candleford series. It’s so interesting to watch. And I love the Marivene comment. I still miss her posts.

      1. I still miss Marivene and her posts as well. Recently as I was weeding my garden, I thought of her and her good advice to take it a bucket at the time.

  30. Well this morning we got the water heater replaced-the venting pipes were no longer up to code so those were replaced too. Anyway I guess that is mine and hubs present to each other!! On a more positive note hubs got an email last week to expect an Xmas bonus from work this coming Friday and his brother emailed him to say they are getting some govt farm relief $ for the family farm they co-own in the US-perhaps combined they will cover most of the water heater. DD is enroute home today for a few days so I will be making a turkey dinner tomorrow to celebrate a bit early. We are looking forward to her visit.

  31. Are Athanasia and Margaret from Approaching Food still posting? I have always enjoyed their comments. Thank you, Brandy for creating this blog and helping us see the moments of beauty in our busy lives.

    1. I tried leaving an email on Margaret from Approaching Food’s blog but it didn’t seem to take and she doesn’t seem to be posting. I just hope she is OK. Her husband’s family is in South America and I know that things are very bad there with Covid so I’m hoping it’s not that. If she’s still reading I hope she at least posts so we know she is ok.
      I’ve just realized that Athanasian hasn’t posted in a while either…

      1. I think Athanasia is still following when she is able. She wrote a very kind but brief response to something I wrote a few months ago.

    2. Thanks so much for asking after me, Susan! I had to stop commenting for several months as I was quite ill with a difficult first trimester, but this week I finally was able to comment again! I did read every post and comment during that time, and learned a lot from Brandy and the wonderful community she has built here. Thanks again for thinking of me!

      1. So thankful you are okay! Have been watching nderong and worrying myself. Checked your blog and saw you hadn’t posted there either. Congratulations on your coming blessing! I will be praying for the health and safety of you and the baby, along with your family.

    3. Margaret is blogging again,she has an easy 3 ingredient peppermint fudge recipe on her blog.She has happy news that she is pregnant again but was too sick in the first trimester to blog.

  32. Last week I bought 7 hams at .85lb for the freezer. I always get the smallest ones. For the first time in 10 years my husband’s company gave us a ham for Christmas. We cooked it and ate it one night, then used the leftovers to make a huge pan of scalloped potatoes that we are still eating. This week hams are still on sale, so I will get 5 more so we have a ham each month.
    All of the presents are purchased and ready to be wrapped this week. I am usually scrambling to finish the week of Christmas. I am glad to stay out of the stores. I will stop to buy my kid’s favorite cereals and candy bars when I buy milk. I have also been able to get birthday gifts for my 3 December birthdays. My daughter saw the burgandy tulle skirt on your Amazon link and asked for that for her birthday! I hope to purchase it on payday. I don’t use Facebook, but my son listed two items and they sold within 24 hours. I made 70.00 on items that had been gifted to me that I no longer use. I also paid my son for putting up the posting and fielding questions. I have a lot of items to sort through and I will sell as many as possible. This will be a great way to boost our savings. If I can’t sell them I will donate them. I have a lot of extras in my house and they cause me stress. Nice to see them going out the door.
    Months ago I shared how our home and auto policies went down drastically. As I was going over our earnings this year, we have made quite a bit less. Having that single change makes it possible for me to cover our expenses with less earnings. Such a blessing.
    I picked up food from the school this week. It was a huge help to have lunches and most of breakfast covered daily. I have had very little spending on groceries this month. I am getting ready to decorate for the holidays using our 20 year old tree. We need a new one (needles are starting to drop) but we keep fluffing it out and it still looks good. I’ll see how many more years I can keep it going. Will start baking this weekend so that I can actually enjoy the holidays and my family.

    1. My daughter has the tulle skirt in gray! It’s really pretty and it comes in so many colors!

  33. I didn’t buy any groceries last week. We were blessed with a couple giving us all of their pantry and freezer items upon their move to another state so that has cut down on my grocery costs quite a bit (although a lot of the food just didn’t taste fresh…it’s amazing how fast I’m used to going through food with eight children! No time to get stale or to taste like a person’s house smells). I was able to line dry my clothes several days last week as it was beautiful during the days! I made scratch food for us including cinnamon rolls for us and for a neighbor whose husband just passed from covid. I bought Christmas presents but so far have stuck to my budget! It’s so hard when my older children make lists and as teenagers, I find they are so much fun to buy for! Toys are overwhelming but I enjoy buying cologne, handkerchiefs, books, shoes, etc, according to their individual style. My parents came over last night and I was able to feed them taco soup from our lunch that my MIL sent. Just added some beef broth I had canned, more leftover taco meat, and Rigel tomatoes. Two meals! I also made a pecan pie and an apple pie from ingredients (some free or harvested) I had on hand to serve. My parents surprised me with a “cow check” for my cow’s calf that my dad sold. He gifted me with a cow when I was in my early twenties and I make a profit off of the calf every year! This was awesome here at Christmas!

    Brandy, I wanted to ask…you’ve mentioned getting bikes before and putting “good” tires on them. Can you share with me what type of tires you get? I’m so tired of buying bikes only to have tires go flat within days, literally! Thanks in advance!

    1. Monica,

      We only buy cruisers, as they have a wide tire width. This is for adult-sized bikes, so my teens ride these. Then we buy solid tires. They are about $50 a tire, but you never have flats again! You need the wide tire width for the solids to fit. I buy used bikes at garage sales and then we replace the tires with solids.

  34. This has been a busy week for all, it seems.
    I went to the office just two days for work. Took breakfast and lunch both days.
    I did 10 hours of continuing education online. It’s a single price for however many hours you take, but it seems to take me at least 1 1/2 times as long to get through a class, including a test after each one. So while I got credit for 10 hours, I probably spent 15. Oh well. At least I got to do the CPE in my pajamas.
    Had the white chicken chili and muffins for lunch both days I went to work.
    Pulled some beef stew and Mexican chicken from the freezer to make easy weeknight meals.
    Got some groceries on really good sales. Gold Medal flour 99¢ – limit 1, cheese $4.99 for 2 pounds, pasta 49¢ – limit two, diced tomatoes – 49¢ – limit 2 and eggs 59¢ a dozen – limit 3. For the pasta I got the boxes on tiny cut spaghetti. Those are the noodle we like in our soup, plus our home made rice-a-roni copycat.
    Made 16 pizza pockets for lunches. 8 sausage and olive, and 8 pepperoni, sausage and olive.
    English cucumbers were 38¢ each at our Winco. I got five of them. I like them on sandwiches, salads or dipped in hummus.
    I chopped 4 onions to use in various cooking this week, and placed in a large jar in the refrigerator.
    My DH mad hamburger stroganoff for dinner one evening, while I was trying to get more studying done.
    Made a batch of peppermint bark. Really good, really easy, and not too expensive.
    Visited with my mom at her facility for an hour. Just talked and remembered Christmases past. Also helped her finish decorating her apartment.
    Made homemade chow mein for lunches this week.
    Got a Christmas present for our future daughter-in-law. She and our son are spending Christmas Eve with us. Didn’t know what to get her, so looked at her wedding wish list and got a couple of things from that. At least I know it is something she will want.
    Got to work this morning, and there was a check waiting for me. A Christmas bonus. Did not expect that, as I have not worked full time this year, and like many small businesses, ours is down. An extra donation will be made to the food bank with some of this.
    Blessings to all for a safe and fruitful week.

  35. The last few weeks have been more spending than saving attempting to finish Christmas shopping.

    Here’s a few things

    The boy texted me one night from work asking if I wanted 60 burger patties. Their use by date was the day before and he didn’t want to throw them out. Um, yes. I did send one pack of 15 to hubby’s boss. He got us a deer again this year and his family prefers hamburger.

    My mom sent over shampoo, apple juice, snacks, and AAA batteries.

    Not sure how it happened but ended up with multiple like items open in the refrigerator. There was 2 open creamers, with one unopened, 2 open jars of mayonnaise, 2 end blocks of Velveeta 🤦‍♀️, 2 sour creams….I made sure to incorporate in recipes to use the last bits before new ones were opened (the last of them finished today…the last of the mayo was a perfect amount for my tuna sandwich, and the last bit of Velveeta is in the broccoli for tonight’s dinner. )

    Still plugging away at my son’s blanket. Since it requires sitting, I’m catching up on NCIS through CBS all access.

    Our Japanese Stroll gardens are lit up with lights for Christmas, so a couple weekends ago, my 13 yo, her best friend, and I went. It was $15 for all 3 of us, and it takes about an hour. We also purchased hot chocolates at McDonald’s beforehand, instead of the pricier food truck to save some money. It was a fun night and those 2 are hilarious together so I always laugh a lot.

  36. I baked fruit cakes last week. I know the fruit is expensive but I made three cakes. One for me and two to share. I feel that is pretty good value for what I spent on the fruit. I had never baked one until last year and it was so good that I decided to bake again this year.
    We have a plan in place for our family day, thankful we can still gather in my state. We decided to order take out chicken from a local grocery and I will prepare all the sides.
    I discovered that my youngest will be here for Christmas Day and I suspect that my son might also come. I’m going to use the Tenderloins and Back strap from the venison as our main course and will make side dishes to go with.
    I stretched our grocery budget this month to cover three holiday meals and feel I’ve done very well in planning those out. I did not spend extra money.
    Our Christmas is pretty much done for shopping. We have very simple Christmases and always have.
    I plan to do a pantry/freezer challenge in January. I do this every year. I will buy things, some produce and dairy, but mostly stocking pantry of outages and building up cleaning and paper stocks but the bulk of our foodstuffs will be what we have on hand come January 1. This allows me to build up a year’s supply of personal/cleaning supplies and gives me incentive to use up those odds and ends that I might not be using because they were impulse buys of some sort. It also fires my creative meal planning juices.

    1. will you share how you prepare the tenderloin and backstrap. I have our first deer in the freezer so I need to learn what to do with it

  37. Brandy, yours is the first thing I read in the morning. I reread your post and all the comments each day. It is such an inspiration!
    I hang up my washed clothes on a drying rack in the living room now that there is snow outside. It is so arid here, they are dry overnight. I do have a HE washer that spins them quite thoroughly.
    I cook all of our meals at home. Yesterday we had a casserole of sausage, chicken, broccoli, carrots in a béchamel sauce topped with leftover mashed potatoes. It was delicious. I had previously frozen 10 pounds of cooked chicken breasts, so I used some of those.
    We have been walking in the house for exercise; down the hall and circling through the kitchen and living room to get steps.

    1. Hello Everyone!
      It sounds like many home projects are happening. We were excited to finally have rain this week! I’ve been watering the garden as consistently as possible, but the rain saves time and money.

      I purchased two shank hams B1G1Free. We baked one tonight served with acorn squash and salad from our garden. The acorn squash was delicious! I’m planting more next year for sure. The remaining ham will become quiche, split pea soup, topping for baked potatoes and breakfast ham with eggs. 😋

      We replaced our worn out flannel sheets with new ones. I’m considering making cleaning cloths from. Any other ideas out there for old flannel sheets?

      I’ve been wrapping gifts using leftover paper, ribbon, tags and recycled gift bags and boxes. I made a batch of peppermint bark and peanut brittle using ingredients on hand. I packaged and delivered these treats to friends we won’t be seeing for awhile. Sunday night brought lock downs back to our county.

      I decided to take a week off from work to spend time with my family. It’s not a thrifty choice, but I’d rather be fully present during their school break. They’re burnt out from distance learning and final exams and projects. I purchased some new family games to play so we can avoid screens.

      I don’t know how you juggle everything Brandy! I’m overwhelmed at times, being pulled in so many directions. My blog posts take 2.5-3 hours to produce. Therefore, I write when I can. I’m looking forward to seeing your arbor upon completion!

        1. Thanks for the ideas! I certainly have enough fabric despite worn spots for cleaning cloths, handkerchiefs and a nightgown. 👍🏼

      1. Julie, as well as handkerchiefs I have made little pads for cleansing my face/ removing make up. The flannel is soft against the skin and I put them through the wash in a little mesh bag. Saving the planet by not using disposables and when they can’t be used anymore I will put them on the compost heap to rot down.

      2. I used old flannel sheets to sew covers for my swiffer. Then I can dry or wet mop with them. I have wood floors, 3 dogs, 2 cats and a yard full of sand so I sweep and mop daily. The covers make that easy and affordable.

      3. You could use them as filler for stuffed toys, and extra layer in a quilt, several layers as the inside of hot pads, make tubes and fill with rice for draft dodgers, cut in strips for mop heads …..

      4. I’ve used them to make pajama pants. If they’re in decent shape, you could always make pillow cases. We seem to need loads of pillow cases, but maybe it’s just because we tend to sleep with two pillows each!

  38. What beautiful lemons in that photo! It’s marvelous to me that they’re from your trees. So special!

    This was a good week. We put up our live tree, which wasn’t exactly frugal at $45 for a 6′ tree but beloved. We had my mother-in-law come to decorate it with us, as we’re bubbling with her and my mom and not seeing anyone else. We’ve been doing more Christmas gatherings with the moms, just in case it snows or someone gets sick, but also because it’s joyous, free, and helps us all. I’ve been trying to play the piano more for carols. We have a lovely old advent pyramid from when I was little, and the boys love to see the nativity go round and round.

    I took stock of all the presents I’ve bought this year, (made sure I could find them!), and got them ready for wrapping. Simple things, and many that we already had, but it’s nice to keep the fun simple. Thank heaven the kids like tooth brushes in their stockings! And I agree with other folks here – it is truly wonderful to have someplace I know where people do not spend ludicrous amounts of money on each item in a stocking. I appreciate you all!

    We ate arugula, swiss chard, parsley, lettuce (btw – Felco’s “Deluxe Winter Lettuce mix” is winning lots of appreciation from my new 5-year-old salad convert) from the unheated greenhouse. We’ll wait to sow more until mid January, inside to bring outside. I’ve never done that before, so I’m scouring all the Eliot Coleman books to find what I can learn. Brandy, when I slosh through our brown mud in the yard, I think of you digging your calcite and hope it’s going well.

    I read a lovely old Christmas book for free from Project Gutenberg – “The Old Peabody Pew” (http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/1902) A sweet story with salt–of-the-earth, thrifty Maine ladies. I simmered leftover orange peels and a cinnamon stick on the stove for the scent.

    I mended some kids’ trousers right away. I’m determined to not add to my mending pile, even if I can’t put much of a dent in it.

    I’m keeping a list of what I’d like from thrift stores, once we can go. It’s tempting to want to order some things, but I’m hoping we can wait it out until after Christmas, when my husband will do a thrift store run for me. So many things aren’t worth it to me to buy new, but they’d be handy.

    Wishing you all a really good week. Thanks for all your wisdom.

    1. Right now we cannot work! The wind has been too high to work outside! I can hear it whipping outside right now. My husband went out yesterday to water it down, as the dirt was blowing. Wednesday should be good, though.

      1. Oh rats! I’m sorry it’s too windy but glad you can water your soil and keep it. Isn’t it funny when one actually wants to do jobs like that digging and can’t?

  39. -Meals this week-pizza; leftover pheasant, gravy, and mashed potatoes; grilled steak, baked potatoes, and salad (49 degrees here on Wednesday-we grilled outside!!); leftover steak and hash browns; pheasant nuggets and hash browns; Mac and cheese with smoked sausage; and tomato soup with tortellini and grilled cheese.
    -Made gluten free pumpkin muffins. After I put the dough in the muffin pan (I make large muffins), I added a Tablespoon of cranberry sauce leftover from Thanksgiving on top. It cooked up and around the sauce making it almost as a filling with a peek of the sauce at the top of the muffin. Made them extra moist and yummy!!
    -I made homemade apple cider vinegar with apple peels from our apples. I added orange oil to it from cleaning in the kitchen. Works and smells wonderful!!
    -We worked an event through our church-Farm to Table Food Distribution. Many need help right now! This is not income based and through the Federal Government. We loaded over 600 cars with boxes of food. We were also given one when we were done-It had potatoes, carrots, onions, smoked sausage, all beef hotdogs, yogurt, sour cream, cheddar cheese, apples, and oranges.
    -Made some tags from leftover card stock, stickers, and ribbon. Now just need to get presents wrapped!
    -Made cut out sugar cookies, both regular and gluten free with the grandkids. We also frosted them and used sprinkles (bought 90% off after Christmas last year).
    -Butter was $1.79/#. Bought my limit of 4#. Have 16# in the freezer but it keeps well and that’s the lowest I have seen it for quite a long time.
    -My grand daughter had broken both clamps on her snow pants. I had two that were a bit smaller than the existing ones (removed from something I threw away-I always remove buttons, zippers, and closures to reuse). I was able to remove the broken ones and use these to repair them so she could use them.
    -Wrapped Christmas gifts with paper, ribbons, and tape bought at 90% off last year after Christmas. We are ready for the holiday.
    Have a great week!!

    1. Julie,
      I do that too – removing zippers, buttons, clamps and such. Those items have been great – especially when time or money is short.

  40. This last week was very quiet around here. We stayed home for the most part and concentrated on projects around here.
    I finished up another sewing project with thing I had on hand. It feels so good to have completed so many projects during these past few months of Covid. Thankfully, I had done a trip to JoAnn’s a few months ago and picked up enough elastic of various widths to finish the things I was making. Some of the things I’ve made lately are: a Star Wars print fleece baby bunting, a tiger print fleece pullover, and numerous fleece hats from scraps. We paired the hats with gloves from the Dollar Store to make small gifts for several children in our lives. The price was $1 for each gift, since I used leftover fleece from other projects, but they look awesome and will keep them warm. I was super happy to be able to come up with a gift for each one at a price I could afford. The Star Wars fleece was some my husband picked up at a yard sale a couple of years ago for only $2 for a huge, several-yard length. There is lots of fabric left, and I’m sure Jake will get something from it eventually, as he love Star Wars. The bunting is for my grandson. Rob thought he could use a Star Wars outfit, even though he’s only 5 months old:). We were able to keep our Christmas costs down significantly from other years by utilizing so many supplies we had already and using our extra time to turn them into gifts. Rob’s made several things out in the shop, as well. Another gift we are giving this year is a box of pancake mix from the Dollar Store, paired with a home-canned jar of berry pancake syrup. Since the syrup is very time-consuming to make, and really good, it’s the real gift. The pancake mix is just to add some bulk to the gift. We will also gift some of our other canned goods to a few people who really like home-canned things and don’t can. We have to be very creative, as we love to give gifts, but simply can’t afford to spend very much.
    I didn’t do a menu plan this week. Instead, I got very startled when a cascade of little ziplock baggies fell from my freezer over the fridge in the kitchen right onto my feet and I decided we would eat out of there all week.
    We took lots of walks. The weather is getting challenging, though. Today, for instance, we quickly walked during a spot of sun, but were very happy to be home when the huge, black clouds dropped a torrential rain shower and hail all over our area. I did a small amount of yard work, mostly clipping branches into smaller bits to fill the yard debris bin. I’m almost done dealing with the branches from the peach tree we cut down a few weeks ago. I think next week’s bin will hold what’s left.
    Pictures of my week are on my blog: http://beckyathome.com

  41. After a difficult first trimester (I’m pregnant! Yay!) where I stayed in bed the majority of the time, I’m finally back to blogging and posting comments here. I’ve been reading all the posts and comments, but just wasn’t up to commenting myself. But it was lovely to read and learn from everyone (and with all the time resting, I was able to re-read some of Brandy’s old posts as well)!

    Some of my frugal accomplishments for the past three and a half months:
    – I made 3-Ingredient Peppermint White Chocolate Fudge (http://approachingfood.com/three-ingredient-peppermint-white-chocolate-fudge/), for a family meal, and to put in cookie tins. I used candy canes that I was gifted and had saved from last Christmas. This is a last-minute dessert that can be made from pantry items, so it’s handy for last minute gifts from the kitchen.
    – Signed up for a flu shot reminder through Shoppers Drug Mart and got 500 loyalty points (aka $5 worth), and got the free flu shot.
    – I picked celery, rosemary, and green onions in December from my balcony garden. I saved ground cherry seeds to use next year.
    – Using the flash food app, I spent under $20 and got a package of pork chops, a package of peameal bacon, a package of chicken legs, a family size package of ready-made fettucine alfredo, and a 6-pack of raspberry almond tarts.
    – I told a family friend about the Gutenberg website, which has free ebooks and audiobooks of classic novels, and she was able to listen to some classic children’s books for free, no app needed.
    – Redeemed air miles for $30 worth of groceries
    – I ordered a $20 click and collect order at ikea.com, and when I went to pick it up, was told that I could also pick up a free Christmas tree, which are normally sold for $25.
    – To celebrate my daughter’s 2nd birthday, I spent $20 total (at wish.com) on her birthday outfit, balloons, and balloon arch tape. I made a fancy golden and confetti balloon arch for a fraction of the cost pre-made (and it was easy!), added in a golden #2 balloon, dressed her up in her regular jeans but with a fancy 2nd birthday t-shirt, and did a home photoshoot. We got amazing photos (I edited them using some lighting presets in the free lightroom app) and it looks like we spent way more than we did. Plus, the balloon arch tape is reusable!
    – I canned cranberry jam when berries were on sale for Canadian Thanksgiving, and also canned gardiniera as well.
    – I made several batches of ginger cookies to help with nausea and dropped of a bunch at my old workplace (socially distant), to network.
    – I made a batch of yoghurt and turned some into Greek yoghurt, keeping the high protein whey to use in smoothies. I often stir in homemade cranberry sauce with my yoghurt to sweeten it.
    – I redeemed SB for a $20 Amazon gc, which I will use towards Christmas gifts.
    – $5 pinecone research to PayPal
    – I had my mother use her seniors discount to buy items at pharmacy for me.
    – I applied for the Support for Learners grant from the Ontario government for my daughter, and also helped some family friends apply for their 4 children.
    – I took advantage of several freebies from Walmart’s online photocentre and got 3 postcard magnets, 5 Christmas postcard sized cards, and 15 pictures for free. My mother passes by the store on her way home from work, so I had her pick them up.
    – I made Not Your Momma’s Cheesy Mushroom Pea Casserole (http://approachingfood.com/not-your-mommas-cheesy-mushroom-pea-casserole/) several times, using homemade bread crumbs. My daughter and I both love it and it’s easy to make.
    – I cut my husband’s hair, as well as my father’s hair, several times.

    Looking forward to learning from everyone else as usual!

    1. Congratulations on your pregnancy!

      My girls just made fudge on Sunday, but I never thought to make it with white chocolate and peppermint! That sounds perfect!

      Your birthday photos sound lovely.

      Glad to see you commenting again!

    2. Congratulations, Margaret. Was also wondering if you were ok so I am very happy to hear your good news. Best wishes for an easy remainder of your pregnancy.

    3. So glad you are back and with such good news! I have tried to comment on your blog a couple of times and to ask how you were doing but your “logos” for Facebook – Twitter etc. that appear on the side of the screen block my ability to check off your privacy requirement box so I can never manage it.
      For someone who should be taking it easy you sound as though you are busier than ever!
      So nice to know you are doing well and that you are as frugal as ever.

  42. Packed my daughter’s Christmas gifts using cardboard boxes and bubble wrap I’ve been storing in the basement. Sent through UPS, which was not significantly more expensive than the post office. Even if it was I would not have used the postal service since in my experience it has become completely unreliable. Since we are not hosting our large family Christmas night gathering we have a savings on the food, beverages and gifts we usually purchase.No travelling to visit over Christmas either so we will save on gas as well. Shopping loss leaders and fresh produce only at the grocery store as our freezer and pantry are well stocked. Not many savings but no significant expenditures either. Wishing everyone a safe, healthy, frugal week!

    1. Melissa, you can arrange for UPS to pick up your packages at your home or office. There is (or used to be) a weekly fee for this (you could send as many packages as you wanted for the one fee), but if you work outside the home, your employer may already pay for this service. You mentioned that you don’t trust the post office. We’ve had very good luck with Priority Mail, and they will also pick up your packages.

  43. I bought 4 more pork loins for $35. It turns out to less than $.99lb. I cut up one pork loin, and we had all sorts of pork dishes throughout the week. I made pork hamburgers. They didnt taste too bad, but I have to come up with something different to spice them up with. The taco soup lasted much longer than I had hoped. So I wont be making that again for awhile!!! The dummy light on my car lit up at 15% telling me it was time for an oil change, so I made an appt and brought it in the next day. The manager at pep boys said “you know you have another 1000 miles on this oil change, don’t you?” and he explained that even thouh honda says its time to schedule an appointment, I could wait. So, I made an appointment for next week when I cant work due to no school, and I went and made 3 deliveries that day!!! There was no real “food shopping”. I spent less than $10 on grapes, bread, wraps and sugar free coffee creamer. I used my walgreens cash at walgreens to buy some things that we needed.

    1. Penzey’s has Italian sausage seasoning which works very well with plain ground pork, if your family likes sausage. I use it occasionally when plain ground pork is inexpensive, and the bulk is easy to use in lasagna–I use beef and sausage together.

  44. We are regularly taking long walks on the weekend since is is getting dark so early. Weekdays we take shorter walks and stay more active inside. We brought a family fish dinner home (a rare treat) after our walk on Sunday afternoon and watched a Christmas movie later in the evening. I made my first soup with leftovers and even though I put in a little too much rice everyone loved it. It was even better the second night. I made a peach cobbler one night with peaches I canned last year. I cooked the ham that was half price and we ate on it a couple meals and sandwiches and froze the rest for ham salad and ham biscuits. My son sliced the ham with my electric knife for the first time and did a wonderful job.

    A fraudulent charge appeared on our bank account for an app in another country. Many people were affected. I had to go to two banks to get my card replaced immediately as they were running out of cards. I think this was partly a bank merger problem.

    We got a dental bill that looked like screen shots instead of a bill. After getting claims from our dental insurance that the dentist office finished filing in October, 2020, for some things that were from Sept, 2019 (for my husband) to reconcile it I understand why the office cashier was always confused about anything we owed. I plan on writing a letter to the owner. She put a lot of money into this new dental office which is pretty much a one stop shop with the exception of dental surgery. Her dental employees are wonderful and she really put a lot thought so that they have all they need with up to date technology. The building is energy efficient, beautiful, and light with windows in each exam room. I had read the newsletters anticipating their opening. They are in another town but it is actually easier to drive there than to our previous dentist (who seems about ready to retire). I would hate to feel the need to change without letting her know about a problem that she can fix easily with the right program and proper training of office employees. I will stay if claims are filed promptly and payments are credited to the right family member so that we don’t have to do the work. I don’t see how she can make money if these changes are not made.

    Have fun doing the finishing touches on decorating, wrapping, seeing light displays, and cooking for the holiday!

  45. It was another good, frugal week.
    I found some good things at Goodwill Outlet, which I was able to bundle into lots and resell locally.
    I took the kids to a pizza and movie night at a local church. It was free, and they had a great time.
    We also went to a playground we hadn’t visited in a long time, not too far away.
    I’ve started to wrap presents using old wrapping paper bough 90% off in years past. Gift bags just aren’t the same for the little ones.
    I haven’t run the heat or AC much at all.
    I reorganized the kids’ toys to get ready for Christmas.
    I filled up the van with gas from Costco, using a cash card I bought with my aunt. We’re not members, but I could still get the cheap gas prices.
    Bought several .43 loaves of French and Italian bread at Walmart; I make this into garlic break, French bread pizza, and sometimes French toast.
    We enjoyed listening to free Christmas music.
    I signed up to bring napkins and plates for kids’ school Christmas parties, which I bought on clearance last year.
    I ordered a free photo from Walgreens, but still need to pick it up.
    $5 or less dinners were: crockpot chicken, mac and cheese with ham, ham and split pea soup, bean burritos, and beef nachos.
    Grocery store loss leaders were $2/# cheese, $1.79/# butter, and mandarin oranges.
    Have a nice week!

    1. Great idea getting gas from Costco without the membership fee. How can one get a card? Is it a gift card?

  46. I had dreadful news about a friend so am coping with that. Some of you have asked
    if I still stay in contact with the person who threw everything out. (It’s not the same friend as the one who is ill). I was hesitant to answer but the answer is yes — even though I find it hard to forget, I realize life is short so I do keep in touch with her. I never told her the extent or value (both monetary and sentimental of what she threw out). The same applies to the friend with the bad news. She is a “wilfully independent woman” (in this case, a euphemism for a difficult person) but with this latest news I am glad I’ve overlooked several things. I’m not a saint and find it hard sometimes but life is short…

    It is one step forward and two steps back. Although we are receiving a fairly large grant, we had to have the printer re quote as it is much longer than the original quote was based on. We are cutting corners — now it will only be in black and white and not colour but since most of the historic photos are in black and white anyway, (except for a few hand-coloured photos), that is not too great a sacrifice. It is long but we don’t want to cut anything because most of it is previously unpublished.

    We won’t ask people for donations because of how dire the covid situation is — donations should only be for urgent covid needs at the moment. So I am wracking my brain as to how to make up the deficiency. Having come this far, we really would like to finish it.

    I had a telephone consultation with my new specialist, a referral from my ER trip.

    I haven’t been out and am now limiting asking for friends to go grocery shopping. I still have Christmas parcels to get mailed but don’t know how that’s going to happen. I ran out of stamps so am just finishing my cards by email.

    CBC has episodes of Call the Midwife on its gem website so I’ve been watching free episodes of that. I watched part of the Bocelli Christmas concert that was/is posted on You Tube. I am about to resume with chores and about the book.

    I am fortunate to have heat, food and electricity. On Dec. 20th, the Christmas bird count is being held . I hope to be able to sit outside for most of the day and watch the birds. It’s free, too.

    As of this morning, I am not feeling well but hope it’s just allergies. I postponed my furnace servicing but will change the filters on both furnaces myself to help with allergies. Fortunately, I have a couple of extra furnace filters.

    1. Sorry about your friend – and I think that you have a great attitude – although I find it hard to rise above with difficult people. The one friend that I have in my bubble is like that – in fact at the start of lockdown in March we hadn’t spoken in about a year and a half. But she heard me speaking to someone in the Fall one morning and opened her door to join in. I knew she was lonely and very anxious so I decided to just let it go and chat. I still limit contact a bit (I’m lucky that my job and some courses mean that I have some good excuses for not being able to chat some days). But I remind myself that she can’t help herself and that she also has some good qualities – it’s enough.
      Have you tried local historical groups for contributions? Does the history also apply to Indigenous peoples? Perhaps there might be some funding available from that source? It’s sometimes surprising as to the various groups that may be interested. Good luck

      1. Hi Margie,

        It isn’t easy to rise above with difficult people, that’s for sure. Maybe the person in your bubble will change when she realizes how much it’s meant to her that you kept up contact.

        Yes, the book does apply to Indigenous people – the fairly substantial grant we received was partly on that basis. I don’t think there’s anything else we can tap from that.

        The problem with tapping local historical groups is that most of them are really suffering. The government cut or cancelled their grants in the fall of 2019 before covid even struck so can’t explore that avenue either. The non-profits that would normally be a possibility are, understandably, diverting their grants to urgent covid needs.
        I think something will turn up. It may be a combination of cutting a part of the book, a further donation received from a mysterious source (mysterious to us at the moment), and perhaps borrowing some money.

        Our printer’s design and layout person asked, “Can’t you edit the book”? That doesn’t really work because she’s already laid out half the book and she would have to lay out the book all over again so how would that save money? It would be double charging us effectively – going backwards. Thanks for your suggestions though — your positivity is heartwarming anyway!

        P.S. I myself limit contact with difficult people without their realizing that I’m doing that.

          1. Hi Marybeth,
            Thanks for your suggestion. Yes, we have been asking for pre-orders – and received about $4,000 ––
            in pledges so we don’t have to return anyone’s money if we don’t raise enough to print the book. Everyone who sends a pre-order knows it’s on a tentative basis and that we will collect only once we know we are printing the book. It’s a good way to proceed, not just enough. We are donating 300 copies to schools, libraries, interpretive centres, and archives so we can’t count on the profits from sales of the book. We’re looking for a sponsor for those copies. I think the book will happen but timing is uncertain. Thanks again, Merry Christmas, Ann

  47. Thrifty activity this past week involved the grandchildren, as we baked cookies to freeze for the Christmas Season & completed making Christmas crackers for Christmas dinner. Another activity this past week was reviewing our annual budget and preparing for the upcoming year projections.

  48. Brandy, this is my first time commenting but I look forward to reading your blog every week. Here in Ireland I am greatly heartened to read that others sharing on this blog have not succumbed to consumerism. Currently there is a huge push by retailers to make this the best Christmas ever in order to supposedly overcome the year we have endured. However, little thought is afforded to the actual meaning of Christmas, which I believe is very sad. As a married woman in my 30s with elderly parents I know that flashy presents will not impress anyone in my family. We plan to celebrate as always with my elderly parents over a shared basic family meal followed by good conversation and please God much laughter. Additionally, I want to thank you and your readers for your honesty and helpful advice which you impart each and every week as this affords me great confidence to maintain a simple frugal lifestyle. I know that my frugal ways do not typically match the consumerism driven lifestyle of my friends so it is really lovely to know there are similar mindsets out there. My lovely husband also looks forward to all the tips and tricks that we learn and we are greatly encouraged to incorporate this knowledge into our daily lives so that we may strive towards our goals without stress. Finally, Brandy I want to say that I really admire your resilience and faith which sustained you and your family when your income was slashed during the recession. Others would have crumbled and yet you flourished. I regularly read your articles on 40 cents meals and present buying to encourage myself . You are extremely thoughtful, creative and genuine. Thank you for all that you do as it impacts so many in such a positive manner. Kind Regards, Julia

    1. So glad to have you commenting Julia! I also love reading that your husband enjoys the posts and comments as well!

    2. Julia welcome welcome
      I loved everything you wrote and agree, the people here are the nicest,kindest, smartest people I have ever encountered
      The fact that it is an atmosphere of support and sharing just makes it even better if it’s possible.
      I have learned more here than in any place in my life
      Last it feels wonderful to read from other people about their lives and see how much we share in common like Christmas not being about expensive presents

  49. We had a quiet week at home. Did the usual grocery pick up, playing games, reading books and watching shows. Wrapped gifts using paper, tape and tags from last year. Made some new tags with paper, fabric and ModgePodge that I already had. Utilized some of the things I bought for our daughter’s wedding reception centerpieces in our decorating. Fun to have something “new” and getting more mileage out of those decorations. Meals included: fajitas, lasagna, baked potato bar, instant pot burrito bowls…then used leftovers to make baked burritos the next night. The lasagna also fed us a couple meals. Love leftovers! We’ve been enjoying oatmeal and cream of wheat for breakfast in this cold weather. We feel grateful to be tucked up and warm in the cold weather and that we are all still healthy. We know so many now who are suffering physically, emotionally and economically. We are participating in a food drive for a local food bank this week, setting up a drop site on our front step. There is so much food insecurity right now. I took what we budgeted for the drive and shopped for the best deals so we could donate as much as we could. We painted one of our kid’s old bedrooms and redecorated with things from around the house. Our daughter, who is coming home for Christmas, will hopefully be pleasantly surprised it doesn’t look like a 12-year old’s room anymore. (She is 25). I hope everyone has a peaceful and pleasant week this week. I love reading everyone’s posts!!

  50. Flannel sheets are so useful! I have used whole ones to back quilts I make. I also cut out 5″ squares with pinking shears, layer two squares together and quilt them with a few lines of machine stitching and use these to take off my makeup instead of disposable cotton pads. Flannel makes great dusting rags. You can take the best section of the sheet and make pillow cases from it. I also cut a bunch into the size of paper towels and keep them in a basket on the counter to use instead of paper towels. They wash up quite well.

  51. We celebrated Christmas this past weekend with our adult children. I have each make a wish list on Amazon and just ordered almost everything from Amazon instead of having to go out to shop. I am glad I had ordered early as I ordered a table runner from Walmart and velvet ribbon off Etsy and both are sitting who-knows- where. I have natural branches I have had sitting in my laundry sink where I can water them daily that I was going to make swags out of with the velvet ribbon. I guess I will have the items for next year.
    * I have watched Virgin River, the Crown, and Cobra Kai on Netflix. While I decorated and have cleaned I stream Michael Buble, Nora Jones, and Lauren Daigle Christmas through Echo.
    * I made a large pan of lasagna plus the smaller square pan. We began this tradition the year my son was born Dec 22nd and I came home on Dec 24th. I made a soup/stew with some frozen cubed beef, canned tomatoes, mixed vegetables, and Rotel tomatoes, and a partial bag I had left of diced hash brown potatoes.
    * My husband shot a doe so we filled our freezer with venison. I organized it in preparation of getting the meat. Hopefully we will get another deer this winter. He had the tenderloin/backstrap tenderize into cubed steaks and cubed tips. I made fried steak and it was the most tender and delicious steak I have ever had. He had mild sausage made and it is ok, but needs more seasoning. His uncle has it processed with cheese and pineapple so I think I am going to mix some up with a little pineapple and cheddar cubes and see how it turns out.
    * We are in a new house. I took what I have and have decorated. A lot is in different places so it is like new to me. I have 5 trees, plus a wood tree my son made, and vintage ceramic tree. I love to have the lights on the trees and enjoy the quiet. Here are some photos: Dining room https://www.instagram.com/p/CI1T7ZOHkck/?igshid=16lg8tkc9atoj
    kitchen https://www.instagram.com/p/CI1UHwdn25A/?igshid=o1uyn0ro1zvn
    kitchen nook https://www.instagram.com/p/CI1UiPznu-Q/?igshid=18gzpq8sg6il0
    back porch and patio https://www.instagram.com/p/CI1Ul7znN3n/?igshid=w2sbl6bdmkd8
    family room https://www.instagram.com/p/CI1Us1qHnuY/?igshid=1537hv2dqwr2o
    guest room #1 https://www.instagram.com/p/CI1gOboH_Um/?igshid=r3cfcfv5zzw7
    guest room #2 https://www.instagram.com/p/CI1hEFCHTPq/?igshid=11a0aph2t9xu2
    *I am going to miss our traditional candlelight service Christmas Eve.
    I will have to find some You Tube videos of services to enjoy.

    1. What a lovely home. I especially like that back porch area – and the quilt on the guest room #1 bed is gorgeous.

    2. Bama Holly: What a beautiful new house you have! So fabulous to enjoy that for Christmas! Love the quilt!

    3. Hi Holly,

      I was going to say which room I liked best but in the end I love them all! What a beautiful home you have!
      You could make a few ice lanterns for outside — I use a square ice cream tub and put a round cylinder container in the middle. Then freeze water in the square tub. Once the water is frozen, take out the cylindrical shaped container and put an led light in the hole.
      And then place outside. As long as you can find a votive led that can be used outside you’re away to the races.
      Merry Christmas!

  52. Great idea getting gas from Costco without the membership fee. How can one get a card? Is it a gift card?

  53. There were lots of things I did to keep on ‘keeping on’ during lock down over our winter. I found reading the bible tremendously helpful because I could rest in God’s resilience, not my own. I found learning a new hobby or skill helpful because it kept my mind occupied with a new activity (I began learning how to video edit via youtube and also how to sing from an out-of-work opera singer). And finally some days I found myself saying ‘I am not OK’ and gently close my bedroom door on the world for a while. Others I know would say ‘I am not OK’ and call a friend. All of these things helped me when we were in lockdown in Australia.
    In terms of frugal wins this week, we are having a wet summer so the water is going on my garden, and to my low gravity fed toilet. Lovely water that I get for free from the sky. I picked up 15 litres of milk while dumpster diving. 6 litres went to a student studying medicine that I know, and 4 litres will go to my parents. I will make cheese and yoghurt and use the milk in my coffee with the remainder.
    Frugal fails this week include continuing to spend too much money going out with friends and celebrating the return to a more normal life, plus the more typical Christmas celebrations. I’m trying to suggest cheaper celebration options such as picnics, BBQs and home catch ups. But I don’t always succeed.

  54. Thanks to a couple of good sales at Freddie’s this week, bags of the petite frozen vegetables I usually buy were on sale $1.29 per package. Red grapes were 0.96 per pound. I stocked up on vegetables when they were on sale before, but I ran out some time ago, so this time, I bought a few more. It would be nice to grow vegetables to freeze. Maybe another year. We have watched a few videos on YouTube our grandchildren recommended. They also like to listen to Your Story Hour stories every day. My husband tutors one child in math every day, and I work with her in English sometimes, so we talk to her and her sister frequently on Zoom. I finally started working on a few Christmas presents for them. I asked our children what they would think about not doing presents for the adults this year, and they were agreeable. Only the one working in health care is employed. Our ten-year-old granddaughter wrote on her Christmas list that she would like “a lot of fake flowers from The Dollar Tree,” so she can make arrangements. She says, “It gives me joy.” I bought several kinds of flowers I thought looked slightly more realistic and a few smaller vases from Goodwill. I’m going to get some foam, tape, wire, and wire cutters. I would like to find some plastic drawers for her “floral supplies.” Maybe I could make a set from cardboard and cover them with wallpaper. In the past I have gotten discontinued wallpaper sample books and used the pages to cover things. This granddaughter has a decorating app she like to play with, and she wants to be a florist or a decorator when she grows up. She likes to “decorate” the house with things she makes. Last year she saved toilet paper tubes for months and made Christmas ornaments. She also had me teach her how to crochet, so she perched on my lap while I helped her crochet. She hasn’t gotten past a dishcloth so far. She is also good at drawing, so while I was a Goodwill I saw a small easel that will work with art supplies for an art set. Her sister wants books. Maybe I could make some boxes to create some boxed sets. She tries to not ask for much, so her Christmas list is not very informative; therefore, she is harder to buy for. She is sewing scrunchies for her cousin for Christmas. I think she might like a sewing basket. I have a couple of doilies stamped for embroidery. I would like to find an old-fashioned metal embroidery hoop. With some embroidery floss and a cookie tin, I could make a gift out of those. I haven’t been able to find an embroidery hoop so far. I think she may also like scrapbook things. I don’t scrapbook, so I don’t know what to get for a beginner. I know they both want to learn to make soap–and not just the melt and pour stuff either. I did take a soap making class and learned how to handle lye and don’t think they are old enough to handle lye. I don’t know how this will work out. It was so much easier when they were into dolls.

    1. Your granddaughter sounds like me as a child.

      I collect the old metal embroidery hoops; I like them SO much better than the modern wooden ones with the screws. That said, I think she would like embroidery. I learned to embroider on stamped patterns and it was a great way to learn!

    2. Elizabeth- Your granddaughters sound just delightful! I used to love creating play kits for my girls. Flower arranging sounds so fun. You might introduce her to corsages. They would be special for Mother’s Day or birthdays. Once my daughter got an apron and some order tickets for a gift. She played restaurant for years! A sewing basket sounds awesome too.The ideas you have will make so many hours of fun. My girls are grown and I often tell them gifts were so much easier when they were little.

      Thank you for this comment. Just takes me back and lots of sweet memories.

    3. What wonderful gift ideas for your granddaughters – so thoughtful – I’m sure they will both be delighted.
      For the reader – would she perhaps like a set of bookplates so that she can personalize her favourite books? Amazon has them for children as well as adults. As a reader I also enjoy books about books – maybe something on bookbinding – it would depend upon her age of course.

  55. Brandy I am so glad your garden renovations are going well and you were able to find metal at much reduced prices 🙂 . So nice you could pick more lovely produce from your gardens and get clothing for your children on sales too.

    Our savings last week added up to $185.40.

    In the kitchen –
    – Cooked three loaves of bread in the bread making machine saving $7.77 over buying them locally.
    – Cooked all meals and bread from scratch.

    Internet listings –
    – Listed 10 items on a free listing promotion on eBay saving $16.50 on usual listing fees charged.

    Finances –
    – Banked more money into our 6 month emergency living expenses account bringing us to 59.64% of the way to our goal.
    – Banked more money into our home maintenance fund bringing us to 49.57% of the way to our goal.

    Purchases –
    – Put in a large $260.90 order for groceries to top up a number of items we were low on or used and saved $55.50 or 21.27% by combining weekly specials on items we needed and using $10 off rewards dollars on our rewards card.

    In the gardens –
    – Picked, blanched and froze 14 bunches of organic silverbeet from our gardens saving $84 over buying it in the stores and added 9 double meal portions of vegetables to our freezer for the two of us.

    Have a fantastic week ahead everyone :).


  56. I am watching the snow coming my way over the mountain this morning. It has started as ice so I am very thankful I have nowhere to be today. Usually my granddaughter comes over so I can supervise her online schooling, but her mother does not have to go in to work due to the weather/roads. This opens up a few extra hours to do some frugal things like crochet a baby blanket. I did the usual frugal things this past week: batched errands, meal planned using what I have, turned off lights, used the fireplace on the colder mornings. I did have sticker shock when I went to the grocery store. I only spent $25 on things we needed (fresh fruit/veg) and a couple of things on sale for the pantry restock, but when I saw the Kroger brand 4# sugar “on sale” for $2.29 and flour “on sale” for $2.50/5# I got really discouraged. I noticed in today’s flyer the sugar is “on sale” for $1.99 for 4#. For the past few years it went on sale for $.99/4#. I do have some in food storage from last time it went on sale (around Easter, I think it was.). I am challenging myself to see how long I can make what I have last. We don’t use much normally, but this is baking season plus I need it for canning. I will check around at the Amish store to see what their price is on flour. It may be worth a trip out to see them. Hopefully things will get better before canning season. I already decided to make a snack mix of popcorn and candy bits to give out to the neighbors. I have all the ingredients in the pantry. It is getting harder and harder to find frugal finds around here at the grocery stores. I hope things get more in balance in the near future. I am very thankful for this blog as it gives me encouragement when I do get discouraged. I see the snow has almost arrived so it is time to get me a cup of cinnamon tea and watch it fall. I wish everyone a happy, healthy, frugal week!

    1. Marley, do you have a place where you can buy sugar in a 25-pound bag? EVen my grocery store carries it that way, but it’s about half the price at Sams’s Club.

      1. Now that you mention it I have seen 25# bags of sugar at my local Kroger but they usually only have 2 bags at a time on the shelf so the space is usually empty when I am there. I will definitely check into the possibility. Because it is a smaller store and I have been going there since we moved here 27 years ago, I feel very comfortable talking to the employees about getting some if the price is right. The nearest membership stores are an hour away and we are not members. Thanks for the idea, Brandy.

        1. I hope it works out for you! I know when I am canning I can go through 25 pounds in a few days.

  57. Well done on your Target shop savings and you arbour metal pieces.

    Our week has been wet, with lots of needed rain. This week:
    -i finished my 3 week market research project, earning $300 for a one hour zoom interview, four 15 minutes tasks and one 30 minute task
    -caught up with a friend today to wish her a merry Christmas. She gifted me two books for my children and a large pack of homemade sweets (truffles, fudge etc). They are delicious
    -caught up with another set of friends who are very broke at the moment and not happy about it. They told me all about their money struggles and how the bank wouldn’t give them a loan to pay off their credit card and car debts. It’s not nice to see friends struggling. I think we need to give children financial education. Teach them to not spend more than they earn, be resourceful, home cook meals, shop at op shops, buy local, learn to repair and maintain your things, save, buy things within your means etc. But in this consumer mindset world I think these principles sometimes go out the window. Many friends want what they want (regardless of price) when they want it. I’m not perfect and can always improve but we try
    -i’m looking forward to celebrating Christmas with all my family this year at my house. We all haven’t been together for many years so I’m feeling blessed. Our COVID restrictions are minimal
    -off too see The Nutcracker ballet with my daughter this weekend and we are looking forward to it. I got back section seats
    -the weather is extremely humid and hot, however, all this rain has cooled it slightly
    -my Dancing Lady orchids are in full glorious bloom
    -wishing you all a very Merry Christmas 🌲.

  58. The pomegranates look so amazing!
    I am really impressed with your budgeting skills, Brandy. Would you think of writing some more about it in the future? How do you set the budget for bday gifts and such? I am getting better at navigating this but would love some further guidance. Where did you learn your skills? I admire how you go about this.
    Our accomplishments were more about keeping the spirits up, but it was all for free:
    – I managed to go out with the kids for about 3 hours everyday. We had zero days with sun this past month. We are trapped under a lock of fog and rain. Being out in nature helps us see all the beauty that continues to amaze us. We find something marvelous daily and that comes up in my kids prayers a lot. This also keeps us healthy in body and in mind.
    -We have been trying to express more gratitude in our regular days. We tend to remark on things that are not going well, now we make the effort to notice more great things.
    – I am Polish and this year I am making a traditional Polish Christmas again. We eat 12 dishes on the 24th, which showcase how God has provided for us these past 12 months. Every dish is made with things from the forest, garden or orchard. We don’t eat meat that day. The only things I had to purchase was flour and eggs for dumplings, but that was in my summer budget when my mom made the dumplings for me to freeze. So the whole meal is for free.Pretty awsome reminder how well we have been taken care of this year, despite the difficulties. I thought I’d share this.
    Big hugs to all of you.

    1. Kinga – I love reading about all the different Christmas traditions from all around the world. I hope that you will tell us a bit more about the 12 dishes when you have the time.

    2. Kinga,
      That is a beautiful tradition and a wonderful acknowledgement of needs being met. Thanks for this reminder of gratitude.
      Merry Christmas!

  59. My husband started his job! He likes it too. That makes me happy. I have been keeping busy cleaning and cooking. I have one light on in the house, at the table. Instead of buying expensive laundry detergent, I buy the cheap stuff. If something needs extra oomph, I use a bit of bleach. We watched movies from the library. Called family on our cell phone. It doesn’t cost extra. We ate breakfast for dinner. We have been enjoying our chicken eggs for snacks as well as meals. I am working on using what I have in the fridge, so not to waste food or dollars. If I make soup and don’t think we will eat it all, I freeze some in empty cottage cheese or sour cream containers for later use. It is so nice to have a single or double serving when we don’t feel like doing a lot of cooking. I soak dishes in water to get off hard food, it makes it easier to remove the cooked food and uses less soap. Afterwards, I may load them in the dishwasher or just wash the pans with a bit of soap. I am so glad to have a dishwasher now. I use small amounts of shampoo and have started washing my hair less often. My hair looks a lot better for that. I wash it when it needs it or when I can’t stand it anymore. I love showers and take short ones daily. I tried using a bit of coconut oil in my hair with some essential oil for a deep conditioner. It works great! It is a lot cheaper. I found that I can use Garnier’s color safe shampoo and it works great! I have used Tresemme also. These are so much cheaper than some of the other shampoos I have used in the past. Because I don’t wash it a lot. It not only looks better but I don’t have to color it as often. Last time I went to my hairdresser, she asked me what I have been doing, then told me I should keep doing whatever I am doing because my hair looks much healthier. I also think that the fact that I am eating healthier has helped both my hair and skin. Drinking lots of water makes my skin look better too. I’ve tried coloring my hair myself, but I have very long hair and I have really made myself look terrible before. I have also ruined my hair. I would rather grow out my hair than color it myself. But I think I am not ready for that yet. I would rather budget everywhere else to have the treat of coloring my hair.
    We have been eating beans often as well as vegetables. I noticed that eating vegetables in the evening for a snack is a better choice if I want my numbers to be good in the morning. Black bean soup is great! So is spinach with garlic and olive oil.
    Have a great week Brandy and everyone!

    1. Hi Tammy,
      Eating spinach and other leafy greens will help you hair because of the folate in them. Beans are a good source of folate.When my hair starts turning white, I up the amount of folate-containing foods I’m eating and my hair turns brown again. Also, i’ve been reading about the correlation between covid and a deficiency in vitamin D. There is a strong connection because people of colour are usually deficient in Vitamin D and have higher rates of covid, people who are overweight are also deficient and are more prone to covid. I’m glad to hear your husband is liking his new job!


      1. Ann,
        It is good to know about the folate! I am working on losing weight. It is not easy for me. Thanks for telling me about Vitamin D as well. I hope you are feeling better!

  60. Kinga, I really enjoy reading the posts from you and others who live in different countries. On a frugal note this week despite needing to replace the water heater, DH got a year end bonus that will pay for more than half of it.

  61. I don’t have much to report this week, but I just wanted to say how much I truly enjoy and appreciate this blog. Brandy, thank you for running it, giving us your ideas and suggestions. Also, thank you for hosting this wonderful comments section where we can all share with other like-minded folks. I so enjoy reading everyone’s accomplishments (and yes, the fails!) and gleaning ideas and suggestions and encouragement each week. I get so much enjoyment out of this blog and the comments that are shared here, so thank you all.

    Frugal things for me this week were just watching our spending, eating almost all meals at home, and taking lunches/snacks to work. We closely monitored our grocery, pantry, and overall household supply lists to make sure we are well-stocked on everything we need. I have been watching the sale ads and shopping at Aldi as much as possible. Our coin dumping jar at home was about to overflow, so we decided to dump it and roll the coins (saving the fee of a coinstar machine – our bank will not take loose coin deposits). I ended up depositing close to $60 in rolled coins into the bank! We figure we’re also helping with the national coin shortage by doing this. (Haha.) I used reward points from a retailer to purchase a small stocking stuffer gift for my husband for $0 out of pocket. It is cooler here now, so we have been turning the heat on some, but it does not run often. I can usually open the windows in the afternoons. Both of those make for nice savings on the electricity. Random, but I contacted the manufacturer of my vacuum cleaner as it had stopped charging. I knew the problem was the power cord, but the company insisted it wasn’t and ended up sending me (at no cost) 3 or 4 different parts to try – none of which fixed the issue. I contacted them again and they sent out a new vacuum! Once I received it, I tried the new charge cord and sure enough – problem solved and the old one works just fine. Haha. I contacted them to ask if I should return it, and they advised me to just keep it. So, now I have an extra brand new vacuum as a backup, I guess (but only 1 working power cord). None of this cost me anything, and I was grateful that it was under warranty and they were willing to replace it.

    That’s all I have. I hope everyone here is staying safe, warm, and healthy, and that you all have a nice week leading up to Christmas!

  62. Next week, I am thinking of writing about my favourite Christmas and what made it extra special? What made it a Christmas to remember. Maybe others would like to join me?

    This week I suggested to my ladies’ club that we each talk for about 5 minutes on someone who showed extraordinary resilience in his or her life — it was really interesting to hear the stories and very revealing!


    1. Hi Ann, I think you would be that person of extraordinary resilience. May you have a very blessed Christmas and New Year.

  63. Hi Brandy,

    I am a long time reader, but have never commented. I have been so inspired by your ambition and your blog over the years, thank you! I was wondering if you are making gifts for your children right now and what those are, or what other collected items you will be giving them? I have not seen you mention anything about this, and I also find this to be helpful for ideas on low cost giving.

    1. Hi Dana,

      I have not made gifts this year for a couple of reasons. One, as they get older, the things they want are not as easy to make. Two, I am spending every spare moment shoveling dirt in the garden this year. Our winter is very mild and short; spring comes in just a few weeks. The garden project is progressing, but it is a huge project and it is taking every spare moment of my time.

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