Our last frost date here is February 15th. Last year, we had a very rare snowfall the week after that! (It only snows here about once a decade!) But this year, everything seems ready to go in the garden!

I manured the garden, taking advantage of the discount the local nursery offers when you buy more than ten bags at a time, and I used my own manure spreader which we bought on discount years ago. The manure greens up the grass after winter faster than any other type of fertilizer.

When I was purchasing the manure, I also picked up two one-gallon agapanthus plants on sale to replace two that had died in my garden.

I redeemed 2200 Swagbucks for a $25 Amazon gift card.

I gave one son a haircut.

I accomplished one of my organizing goals this week. I wiped out and organized my bathroom medicine cabinet (mostly while I was curling my hair!) The other was my desk, where I sent a number of things to the recycling bin. I find paperwork organization to be tedious and frustrating, but by doing a bit each day, I managed to get through it.

I watched “A Very British Romance with Lucy Worsley” on PBS. It was a fascinating piece that went over the history of the novel, how romantic ideas affected changes in artwork, courtship, and more. I highly recommend it!

I designed invitations for my daughter’s upcoming birthday party using a vintage image that I downloaded years ago and Photoshop. I printed them four up on cardstock on our printer, and we put them in envelopes that we had on hand. My daughter handed them out to her friends at church on Sunday.

We enjoyed lemonade from the Meyer lemons in our garden. I also cut green onions from the garden multiple times for several recipes.

What did you do to save money this past week?

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  1. The weather yesterday was beautiful! I was able to spend the afternoon working in an area of our yard where we have a chokecherry tree, a currant bush and lots of raspberry bushes. It was like a jungle. The bushes had completely gotten out of control last year and were in great need of pruning. Having everything cleaned up will make it easier to harvest the fruits, and hopefully make the plants healthier. We love raspberries.
    I switched from name-brand to store-brand on a couple of items, and we like the store brand items just fine. It was a savings of around $4.00 on the two things (sausage and tea.) I actually got them because WalMart substituted them in my grocery pickup order.

  2. -I wonder what these pretty white flowers are with the yellow centers? The lemon tree is the definition of abundance, I think!
    -Both the electicity and municipal utilities (which includes the cost of heating with natural gas) bills came in well under what I had budgeted. I am especially pleased with the electricity bill, because the rate has gone up 15% over a year ago, but my bill was $7.00 less, due to much lower usage.
    -My budget for food this month was $100 Cdn ($80 US), including a $10 loyalty point gift card, which is $25 less than my normal budget. Spending so far is $68.00 Cdn. I think I have what I need to go to the next pension payment on the 26th, which is when I start the March budget. A lot of this was possible due to cooking a turkey that I bought at Canadian Thanksgiving in the fall.
    -I went to the local library to print out an expense form for a meeting I attended by phone. I filled it in while I was there, and had it scanned, and sent it off, so it will be in time for payment at the end of the month. A friend who is the librarian had left me the carcasses of several birds in the library kitchen’s freezer, which she had been gifted by a farmer friend. This is for making stock. I was worried about how long it had been in their freezers, but the USDA website says that from a safety point of view, they will keep indefinitely once frozen, and may only suffer from a taste point of view. So, I am going to begin making stock. I also stopped at the library’s free book table which includes books that have been donated to them, but which are too old for them to add to their collections. I found three books which I wanted to read, which will save me the cost of a drive to the library in the next town over. (I prefer the books there to the ones in the library in my own town, though it is a lovely library here too.) I was glad to have the change of scene after a lot of time indoors at home this month.

    1. Often at this time of the year, Canada Safeway or Co-op has similar primroses (for indoor use here) very reasonably priced. There are perennial species of primroses that overwinter here but not this kind (at least not in the west)

  3. I SO love the lemons in your garden!!!
    *I did several hydrotherapy treatments on my teen daughter when she started to feel a sore throat. It worked, and she was well to play in the community orchestra concert!
    *I accepted a free rose at the concert.?
    *I figured and then filed our own taxes. The small refund we receive back will be used for our daughter’s music lessons.
    *I made all of our own bread and cooked all of our meals. I do this all the time, but don’t usually mention it. I think it is good every now and then to stop and give ourselves credit for our daily habits!

    Writing from Chattanooga, Tennessee!

    Susan M.

  4. The quantity of lemons on your Meyer lemon tree is amazing, Brandy. I have been tending to my potted tree that I bought last spring. Here in NC I brought it indoors for the winter. I am encouraged by new growth this week, but so far no blooms or lemons. I have yet to taste a Meyer lemon and refuse to buy them. The first one I taste I want to be one I grow. I figure this is a good incentive to take good care of the one I purchased.
    Frugal accomplishments here last week are as follows:
    – When we moved into our house over a year ago we had the wire shelving in the pantry replaced with wooden shelves. The holes in the walls from the wire shelving were filled, but never painted. We had priced a can of paint in the color we needed and found it to be rather expensive especially for a pantry. We did move one partial can of paint from our previous house which was the same color. My husband went to work painting in there this weekend. He had just enough paint to finish the job and now that partial can won’t be hanging around the house any longer.
    – With all of the food moved out of the pantry I spent time using up things that were getting older. Made a loaf of pumpkin bread and no knead bread. Also a pot of split pea soup. While I was at it I sorted through the freezer and used up some of the older items. I had a few pieces of watermelon that I put in our water glasses to sip on while we worked. They did a good job of infusing the water with a nice, sweet flavor which made me think of summertime. Also used a half pkg. of Italian sausage that my sister-in-law was going to throw away. I was able to use up some garlic and pasta sauce that needed to be used up and the ends of two different boxes of pasta to make a tasty dinner for us.
    – Our last frost date here isn’t until April 15. While waiting I have been cutting back my ornamental grasses, deadheading pansies and trimming the old growth off of the chives and oregano in my herb garden.
    – Read two books that I borrowed from our community book swap.
    – While my husband painted the pantry I tackled another job that I’ve been procrastinating on since we moved here. The bathroom tile had some spots of grout in areas where it didn’t belong. I went over the entire floor and shower surround scraping them off and then followed that up with a hands and knees scrubbing of the floor. I used the pine branch/orange peel/vinegar cleaner that I had made before Christmas. Of course while I was down there I noticed the baseboards could use a proper scrub so I took care of that too. It was such a good feeling when it was done.

    1. My potted one and younger ones are small, but the potted one has a few lemons on it. Good luck with yours! Mine are flowering now 🙂

  5. Wow! look at all those lemons. Is this an exceptional harvest or is that normal? I’ve been home(North) from our winter house(South) for a few days. And it definitely feels Like Spring is on it’s way.

    Will you do a blog about Winter and her fiancé ? How they met, when they intend to marry?

    1. This is the second or third year that I’ve had harvest like this. I have two trees this size loaded like this. I have six trees total, but the others are small and have a combined six lemons on them.

      I am not planning a blog post on my daughter. They met at school and they are getting married at the end of the semester in April; they will both have completed their sophomore year then. We met him over the phone via video chat months ago and then in person at Christmas. He is a very nice young man.

      1. Wow! Congratulations! Somehow I miss the good news about the upcoming marriage!!! I have no idea how I missed that… lol

      2. I must have missed that she was engaged. Congratulations to your daughter and her fiancée and all of your family. How exciting.

        1. It is a very intimate wedding with no reception. All I have to plan is what to wear! She’s busy with a very heavy course load and a job. She wants to keep things simple and she’s getting married the day after finals.

          1. Good for her! This makes my heart so happy! My daughter was married by her bishop in Hawaii (she was stationed there in the Navy and the park where she was married was free) and she bought a $30 dress. Everyone who attended was in the navy and local and wore what they already had. A friend took pictures with their phone. There was a reception about a month later in Salt Lake and I, and the groom’s family members who lived in Salt Lake, went to that. None of us could afford to fly to Hawaii….lol It was at the party room at one of the housing developments the groom’s sister lived in. Every one chipped in for the food. My oldest son was married at the Courthouse in one of the counties in Alabama and he had a borrowed suit. The only thing that was purchased was the license….lol. We just don’t spend much on weddings and prefer to save the money for necessities.

  6. Wow– that is a lot of lemons! And those primroses are gorgeous.
    Everything is still buried under snow here, but I am busy planning my garden.
    I baked sandwich bread and made a big batch of chicken stock from a carcass I’d saved.
    I made a new cover for a stained cushion. I used clearance fabric from JoAnn’s.
    I am working on organizing various areas in the house. This week I cleaned and organized my desk drawer and the two drawers in the kitchen where I keep utensils. I also went through my closet and pulled out everything I never wear – usually because it doesn’t fit or isn’t flattering. I kept aside a few things that I want to wear more but had just forgotten about. Everything else I will donate.
    This house was completed in 2011, but we never put hardware on the cabinets. I used a $120 Amazon gift card I received for participating in a market research study to buy doorknobs and drawer pulls for the kitchen, both bathrooms, and the mud room. It really adds to the look of these rooms. (I still have a little money left over.)
    My husband and I got a bunch of books from the library and have been enjoying them.

  7. That is one loaded lemon tree! Amazing!

    My mom helped my daughter hem a pair of pants purchased at a thrift store for $1. It also helped her learn a new skill. They were in very good shape, just too long. It doesn’t seem like a big deal–just hemming some pants, but I’ve found that the more kids do these kinds of things when they are young, the easier it is for them to continue them when they are older. It is not overwhelming, or mysterious….just easy, and they know they can do it!
    I made all the food for a birthday party for my autistic adult son. What he wanted the most was chocolate cake and hamburgers. Easy enough! I added deviled eggs and potato salad, and a veggie tray. Several of his siblings were able to drop in at times during the afternoon, and he had a good time. I had my husband get whatever Valentine candy that was on clearance to put on the cake, and it ended up being little candy bars. They looked nice on there. There is a picture of the cake on my blog: http://beckyathome.com. It was very simple to decorate, and was well-received. In our family, the more chocolate the better!
    We got a large debris bin full of trimmings and prunings this week. There is so much more to clip and trim, but I’m happy I made some progress. This time of year, my goal is to fill it each week. Since they haul away one bin per week, included in the price of our garbage service, I love it when I utilize that service. We mowed the lawn for the first time this season and some of the early bulbs are starting to bloom, giving me lots of pleasure.
    I’m using up lots of home-canned and frozen foods, as well as using up odds and ends from the pantry. There are always a few things that get shoved to the back, aren’t the favorite, etc., and I purposefully targeted some of those this past week in meals. I’ve been out of my favorite gluten-free flour for a few weeks, and it has forced me to use up some of the good, but not my favorite ones. Now, I have some again, but it was a good way to rotate some items in the pantry.

  8. The photo of your lemon tree makes my mouth water. I love Meyer lemons. I made some salt-preserved lemons a few weeks ago and they are curing in the fridge. I made an extra jar to give to a friend, who was thrilled.

    I sent out valentines to my family using cards I already had on hand. It only cost me a stamp. For Valentine’s Day dinner, I made a nice meal for my husband and I, and we exchanged cards and chocolate. Then I had a weird reaction – not anaphylactic – to the shellfish we ate. I treated this using homeopathic remedies I had on hand, which worked amazingly well. I felt “off” all weekend, but that was the extent of it, thankfully.

    For Christmas, I wrapped up a leftover piece of fabric I had from making my husband a shirt the previous year. It was fabric he really liked. I added a homemade tag that said “Handmade Item of your Choice” and that was one of his presents. He chose a vest. There was enough fabric to make the vest front panels, and I used fabric in my stash to make the back and the lining. I only had to buy a pattern. The vest turned out great, and he loves it. I had never made a vest before, so it was fun to learn something new.

    Other frugal accomplishments of the past few weeks:
    – Called our internet provider to find out a cheaper plan since our prices went up after the 2 year intro period. There are two cheaper options my husband and I are contemplating.
    – Used grocery delivery when I wasn’t feeling well. While not strictly the cheapest option, it is a lifesaver when you are sick. I was craving fresh produce and we had eaten what I had shopped for the previous week.
    – Stocked up on emergency supplies using a store coupon.
    – Ate from freezer, pantry, and fridge. Made several batches of soup for the freezer. Shared bone broth with my mom. She shared some food with me too.
    – Read discarded magazines from work, and donated them afterwards to our library.
    – Walked outside for exercise when it wasn’t raining, worked out at the gym when it was, and enjoyed the sauna at the gym several times.
    – Hemmed pants for my mom. A coworker asked me to mend a pair of pants for her, which I will do tomorrow.
    – Read newspapers my mom shared with me, and enjoyed books from the library.
    – Started growing sprouts using equipment I already had, just had to buy seeds. I am craving very fresh food, and the sprouts are an easy option.
    – Read blogs online, watched streaming tv, youtube videos and DVDs we already own.

    Looking forward to reading everyone’s posts!

  9. I’m going to try this again. I wrote a bunch then touched my screen and all disappeared. *laughing* It has taken me about 15 minutes to calm down enough to put this back up.
    Jan. and Feb. have been “low cost” months food-wise for me. I have only bought milk, bread and other thing I run out of each week.
    I cancelled my Prime book subscription since I haven’t been reading. I have been listening to books so I can do other things at the same time. This will save me almost 10 dollars a month.
    The reason I thought of the books-thing is it is Monday and I was thinking your blog would be up soon. Someone here (or many someones) mentioned they cancelled things like this that they weren’t using any longer. Thank you to whoever it was.
    My daughter, Windee, bought me supper 4 times.
    Jake brought me gifts of banana nut bread twice.
    I was given free fabric a few months ago. It is all heavy fabric and I kept wondering what I could make with it. I am now thinking pillows or pillow covers would be really nice. Thanks for the idea!
    I sew for a living and sell on Etsy. I’ve let my Etsy store get down to just a few items and have been trying to think of smaller things I could make to sell. Pillows may be a good idea.
    I have only used my car to pick up the grandkids from school.
    My electric and gas bill were both lower this month. It was a nice surprise to see the big difference a small adjustment made.
    Congrats to Winter and her young man.
    Thanks to you, Brandy, for all you do to encourge us.

    1. Small changes really do make a difference in the electric bill. Back in September, I started looking at my usage every day on the power company website. I had just been laid off from a job and was not sure if I wanted to return to work. I started tracking my usage and making little changes like unplugging things that were not being used. Also, just really paying attention to turning off lights. I was able to get the next bill down to $79. Typical bills had been no lower than $130. Now every month since has been under $100.

          1. I’m planning it in an upcoming post, which is why I didn’t announce it yet. Someone saw on my other account and mentioned it here, but I wasn’t ready to announce it here yet until the appropriate post.

  10. On yet another gray and dreary day here, the picture of your beautiful lemon tree was a sight for sore eyes. Thank you for posting it!

  11. *I used leftover paint to paint the door to my downstairs pantry and also the shelf above my washer. The space feels cleaner now.
    *My husband helped hanging blackout curtains at our local ice skating rink and for his service, we were given two tickets to the ice show.
    *I finished a piece of art that I will enter into a local museum show. I also got a good start on another one. I had materials on hand for both pieces.
    *I cooked Indian food this week using ingredients that were already in my pantry.
    *Used the library for books and movies.
    *I, too, watched “A Very British Romance with Lucy Worsley” while knitting on my Fair Isle sweater. It was interesting and well done.
    *I trimmed my bangs to keep from getting a full haircut for a few more weeks
    *I made Valentine sugar cookies for my husband (they are his favorite!). We exchanged cards and he bought me chocolates. I also made enough cookies to give to my mother and some of my neighbors.
    *My neighbor gave me another bag of acrylic yarn to use in projects. I will sort through what I can use, then pass it on to others who can use it.

  12. 1. We used Papa John’s reward points to get a free cheese stick for lunch.
    2. Enjoyed a free meal out with my in laws (they spoil us when we visit)
    3. Borrowed a ton of books from the library that I had on my list after listening to the What Should I Read Next? Podcast with Anne Bogel. I highly recommend it! It’s nice to hear about a variety of books from fellow book lovers and I always get at least one great book idea per show.
    4. Used Hilton reward points to pay for our hotel for a one night stay. We only had to pay an overage of $18.
    5. At the hotel, we made sure to take advantage of the 24 hour coffee/tea bar (so delicious), got free ice and filtered water for our bottles at the filing station, and filled up at the breakfast bar before leaving. I was amazed by the variety at the breakfast area!

  13. The beautiful flowers and those lemons are a welcome reminder that Spring will, eventually, make its way north – but not for another 6 weeks or so for us. Our May long weekend – usually the one before the US Memorial Day weekend is our official start of gardening season – you can tidy up the garden beforehand but I doubt that anyone would plant much before then unless it was an unusually warm Spring – with no frost predicted.

    I spent my grocery money last week on long term stockpile items – canned and boxed mostly. There were some gaps that I wanted to fill. The only meat that I bought was a pork tenderloin that was 50% off so I cooked it that night. Otherwise, I bought some milk and fresh veg only and I intend to stay out of the grocery store until the end of this week. I am working my way through the contents of the freezer and unless I see some real bargains, don’t intend to buy anymore meat until about mid April. I’m trying to be vigilant about rotating stock and using up items nearing expiry first – although I know that canned goods stay fine for ages afterwards.

    I am also being more diligent about how I store things. I use my ziplock bags only for freezer items now and stick to glass containers for fridge storage – and I am noticing the difference in how long things like plastic wrap and foil are now lasting.

    I found some Christmas cards reduced from $12 to $2 per box so bought two – I also found a pair of beautiful grey wool gloves reduced by 75% so they have gone into my gift box. I hadn’t intended buying either of these items but couldn’t pass up a bargain like that.

    I am now officially on the payroll at work rather than just casual so that will make it easier to sort taxes etc. I also worked my way through some of the shredding that I have piled up – but I am still procrastinating over the piles of other paperwork to try and get through.

    I only bought coffee once last week and ate out just once. This was for brunch with two friends that I hadn’t seen in ages so it was part of my allowance and I don’t begrudge it as it was great to catch up. Two of us braved some chilly temps to walk over to the St. Lawrence Market afterwards – I had a $5 GC that I’d earned a few months ago by taking one of their surveys so I used that towards some delicious but very expensive cheese that I love – a Dutch Gouda with mushrooms & chestnuts! With the GC it only cost me $2,28 and I will savour every mouthful. 🙂

    I did 7 loads of laundry last week but only put one (towels) into the dryer – everything else was hung up on my clothes wrack or on hangers on the shower rail so that saved about $9 in dryer costs! That $25 wrack I bought about 3 years ago has paid for itself many times over!

    Borrowed another book from the library – I had noticed that I’d missed one of Donna Leon’s “Inspector Brunetti” series and I always enjoy her books. Started watching “The Stranger” on Netflix and i am also enjoying that so I was easily entertained this week. I am also watching Lucy Worsley’s “Romance” series – I always enjoy her programs as I find social history so interesting. A lot of her specials are available on YouTube. Another person’s programs that people may enjoy are those by Neal Oliver – he is a Scottish Archeologist who has done a lot of programs and many of them are on YouTube. I also have a few of his books which I find really interesting.

    As always, I look forward to reading about everyone’s week – and I hope that those in the southern US and the UK haven’t been too badly affected by the terrible storms that hit them this past weekend. Take care everyone.

  14. Goodness, your lemons are amazing! I’m with you on paperwork. Though I do think I have more than most, with multiple small streams of income (& all that entails), it is definitely one of the more challenging things to keep up with. I harvested parsley, swiss chard, & onions from the garden. My husband harvested turnips. I made your taco soup, one of my favorites. I worked on items to add to my shop, and on ones that we sold. The butterfly bushes and plum trees were pruned. I worked on cutting up a huge winter squash, and plan to freeze what I didn’t prepare this week. http://abelabodycare.blogspot.com/2020/02/february-critters-frugal-accomplishments.html

  15. Living frugally in Portland, OR:

    *My mom gifted all of her kids and grandkids quilts last year. We use our quilts so heavily that some of the ties were starting to come out, so I spent a couple evenings with her retying the quilts with embroidery thread instead of slippery yarn. It was fun spending quiet time with her!

    *I made a special Valentine’s dinner at home for our family. For dessert I made chocolate pie with a leftover pie crust that I had froze and pudding and whip cream, already on hand. I also made chocolate covered strawberries with sale berries and melting chocolate on hand.

    *I rode the bus and rode my bike to work rather than drove.

    *My husband accepted a new job offer, It is the same base pay as his former job, but he will receive a bonus for being bilingual and the out-of-pocket costs for our health insurance will be hundreds of dollars cheaper a month, so it should result in a pay bump for us. Plus, the retirement plan is much better. Since he’s worked from home the last two years, we are trying to proactively keep “work” costs low. He’s committed to bringing lunch from home and riding the light rail (monthly pass is paid by his place of work). We are going through his work wardrobe this weekend to see if he has any needs (and figure out cheap ways to fill those needs) before he starts.

    *I received some melatonin from a Buy Nothing neighbor. We had run out and my oldest uses it to regulate his sleep (he has autism). It is so great to save on those little expenses once in a while.

    *I am taking a couple of writing courses via The Great Courses free trial period. I only have a few days left to finish them — the downside of free trial periods! They have been excellent so far.

  16. That’s a lot of lemons on your tree!! Makes me impatient for umber when our fruit trees will be producing!!

    I got a $24 Visa card as a rebate for some small appliances I bought at Kohl’s. I got $62.31 into my bank account from Rakuten (Ebates).
    A friend was working a side job for a shop that makes edible arrangements and gifts as their quality control over the strawberries. They have very strict guidelines as far a size of berry, ripeness and shape. So the number of nice berries that are rejected is fairly high! After work the day before Valentine’s Day, they offered her the “discard” strawberries to take home. She called me that night and offered me half of them because she had more than she could do anything with. I, of course, accepted! The next morning she brought over a strawberry “flat” (the kind that holds a dozen clamshell containers of berries, but instead was filled with 3 Kroger bags full to overflowing with berries! I estimate there were at least 1-1/2 flats worth of berries, probably more. I had all the ingredients, supplies and tools to get started right away and using my steam canner which heats up so much faster than my water bath canner, I had 1 bag processed into 26 jars of jam! I used some fancy half pint and pint jars I had so they will make nice looking gifts! https://pin.it/yiq75lvfoc6fbm. I gave 1 jar right away to my friend who had gifted the berries to me! Oh, the house smells so good!
    I also tested out and adapted a new recipe for Stovetop Stuffing Mix to use up some extra loaves of bread I was given. Here’s what my pantry will now have added to it! Notice that the lid on the one jar of dried bread cubes that I vacuum sealed has a used lid from a canning jar processed in 1999! That’s what I love about my Foodsaver- I can use already used canning jar lids over and over to vacuum seal dry things in mason jars! https://pin.it/ekfbschrg3dy27 and https://pin.it/2ppxglzkpcmvo5.

    I also was given some French bread that I found an easy recipe to make a dinner from: Spaghetti stuffed garlic bread https://pin.it/wnrnc6n3cwys5q. The only thing I did to make it easier (I love easy and cheap ways to do things!! Lol.) was that I made the spaghetti in my Instant Pot using this recipe to fill garlic bread: https://pin.it/jbtdisatqxpkuk. This IP recipe made enough to fill 2 large loaves of French bread. Here’s how mine turned out: https://pin.it/w5muctqrartwl3

    I found a queen size fitted sheet (Olaf from Frozen movie) that had a big tear in the middle so I decided to recycle it! It’s 100% cotton. So I found this free pattern online for 2 sizes of Heat Therapy Rice Bags and so I started making some! Here’s the pattern which also has printable links for hang tags to use for giving them as gifts. As I said, I used 100% cotton because of heating them up in microwave. https://pin.it/p4xt4czudmhptw. Here is a photo of my first 2 : https://pin.it/bckminadexbbqv. I’m going to make a bunch of these as well as other sizes and styles to give as gifts! Nice to start filling our gift dresser again!
    It’s fun to be “Using It Up” and recycling/upcycling food and other materials!
    Hope everyone else is enjoying the creativity that comes from being prudent/frugal!!

    1. Is there a specific button on your Instant Pot that can be used for water bath canning of jam? I have a generic one but it may do the same thing. I hope so. I am still learning to use it. Thanks for your help. I love reading about all the things you accomplish. It makes me tired!

    2. Hello Pat! I just saved a couple of your pins. I mentioned in my comment that I had received three bags of white rice. When I went to put them in a tin I found some basmati rice that I had bought a couple of years ago and hadn’t used much of. We found it to have a pretty strong flavor and only were using when cooking something with Asian flavors. SOOOO – I pulled it out and when I clean the rooms of doom and unbury my fabric stash I am going to make the rice bags! I have very cold feet and hands and sometimes at night when watching TV the rest of me is warm but they are cold. I can make these and then have them ready. And for gifts as well! Thank you for the many inspirations! Mary

      1. SCO Mary- I have got to say I was pretty amazed at how long that rice bag stayed toasty! After just heating for 1 minute in the microwave, carrying it upstairs and putting in my bed next to my feet AFTER I changed into jammies, it kept my toes warm for well over 20 minutes!! I’m now a believer!!

      2. Mary, if you don’t want to wait to make the rice bags, just use some clean, cotton tube socks. I put about 6-7 cups in each sock and tie the end closed by knotting it. Just be careful to not overheat in the microwave because burnt rice smells as bad as burnt popcorn. Start at 90 seconds or so and go longer if need be.

  17. I hope my lemon tree will do that well in a few years. It is starting to pick up speed now and we are certainly enjoying harvesting much more than its former production of 8 lemons per harvest! I think your tree is lovely, with all that bright yellow.

    It rained and rained this Sunday, and although a nap called, I instead did my taxes then did some organizing of my files. That’s a big item off of my list. I use Turbotax, and since we don’t have a mortgage, we always end up just using the standard deduction, so my filing is free.
    Saturday was a very pretty day, so I hung out several loads of laundry. I love sheets dried in the fresh air.
    I mailed off the form for Lifeline, which, if we are accepted, will allow us to get almost $10 off of our monthly internet bill. It can only be used for either phone or internet, and only one discount per household, but if we get it, it will save us $117.00 per year. Our phone company had put that information on a flyer in our bill. Requirements include receiving certain forms of government assistance, such as SSI or SNAP, or have a very low income, or certain tribal circumstances.
    I belonged to a local food co-op, and unfortunately, after decades of being open, they made a bad business decision to open another store, which failed, draining their funds. They ended up selling to a new co-op. Members of the old co-op were offered half-off the price of membership to the new one, $50 instead of $100, and then got a $20 coupon on top of that. Members get special deals and other perks, so I signed up two weeks ago for $50, then this week used my $20 coupon and walked out with a decent part of my weekly groceries for $5.30.
    The farmer from whom I purchase much of my pork sells greens from her garden. She didn’t have enough of what I asked for, so she gave me a big bag of mixed organic chard, napa cabbage and bok choy for $3, picked only about 3 hours earlier in the cool rain.
    Going out for Valentine’s Day isn’t really much of an option for my disabled husband, so I bought 2 steaks on sale and we had a very nice meal at home.
    I signed up for a research survey that will pay me $50 if I can complete it. I’m certainly going to try!

  18. I have been sick for over a month. Finally went to the doctor today and got on an antibiotic for an ear infection. Frugal fail: took family to a local gas station and bought food and drink there. I was too tired to cook. My grandson said, “Why don’t you just cook at home?” He was right. I should of cooked.
    On the positive side, I am losing weight. It is slowly coming off. And even though I have been ill. I actually feel better than before my surgery in September. And, I have been doing most of our cooking at home.
    Paid bills on time so as not to incur an extra charge. Making payments on hospital bill.

      1. Ann,
        Thank-you. I hope you are doing good as well. I saw a beautiful picture of a blue bird on a branch of pink flowers in a GRIT magazine. It made me think of you and the pictures that you take.

  19. Lemons!!!!! So beautiful and a delight to see when we have freezing temps and snow on the ground. Our last frost date is usually around Mothers Day

    To save money this week I cut my own hair. Created valentines with Walgreens balance rewards and Macys star bucks leftover from Christmas. Made my husband a birthday cheesecake with sale cream cheese. Our water heater began to leak, but we caught it and turned off the water valve before it flooded the basement. We took showers at the health club where my kids work while the hot water was down. Fortunately, the water heater still had a few months of warranty left, so we were able to replace it for less than $150.00. Having to pay something also extended the warranty for another twelve years. We called Home Depot to schedule installation, but cancelled it after they quoted $976.00 to hook up four connections. For less than $50 in parts and supplies my husband and son did it themselves.

    Congratulations to Winter on her upcoming marriage. Two of my nieces are also getting married this year. Love is in the air!

  20. Oh that lemon tree! Beautiful! I live in Iowa, so no chance of growing one — love seeing yours, though! This week I found three sweet pots in my garage and filled them with $3 African violets from the grocery store, instead of buying cut flowers. They’ll bloom longer than any cut flowers I would have brought home. Then I researched (and wrote a post) on how to keep African violets blooming.

  21. I love the lemon tree and spring flowers are the best. We are still over a month away here in Colorado before my spring flowers bloom. I did plant some pepper and tomato seeds in containers and put in windows hoping to get starts for my planting. My husband has gotten use to every window sills full of young plants I love the idea of growing flowers and vegetables from start to finish I’m trying to use up what I have at home for all meals and spend less money on food that we already have. If I can learn to stock up on sale items that would save money. We’re going to get more snow this week so it feels like the snow will never melt. I hope you all have a wonderful week

  22. Brandy,
    I so appreciate the lemon tree photo. Bright and cherry midwinter.

    Found a dime this week. Bought enough fabric on sale to make my daughter a pair of pajama pants for her upcoming birthday and for pajama pants for the family for next Christmas. I’m on a mission to avoid last minute projects so should be able to finish these in the alloted time! Mended a bathrobe that had a small tear that kept catching. Washed all the bedding and blankets so they are ready for guests. I’m on a mission to keep the house at my level of clean and tidy in case of power outages. Still working our way through the freezer and eating all our food. No waste there. Washed bags and such as usual.

    Shopped at the city store where prices are lower and selection is greater. I expect to not shop for a couple months…except for milk and fresh foods. It was scary to spend so much but, with the cost of food and necessary items rising so fast, it is a better return on our money than putting it in the bank. With that shopping trip, my emergency fund remains at 30% of my goal. I am set to hunker down at home for quite some time should I need to do that again.

    Cancer treatment is over and the recovery stage has begun. I am beyond grateful for the continued support of this community as I struggled through this journey in isolation. It has been such a godsend. Finally off isolation with reservations. Thank you and please don’t be concerned if I don’t comment each week now.

    Brandy, I have read your blog since the beginning and thank you for it, but hadn’t commented consistently since I set that goal for myself a couple years ago when our finances plummeted. I just cannot believe Winter is old enough to marry. Where does the time go?

    1. Trish, your cancer treatment is over! I rejoice. I will continue to keep you and yours in my prayers as the healing of body and spirit begins. You have had such a challenging several years, your grace has been a source of inspiration.
      Sending you love.

      1. Patricia,

        That is one of the sweetest comments ever. I thank you for your prayers and support. Encouragement is such a necessary part of life. A gift you have!


      1. Thank you Tammy. I’m truly glad you didn’t end up with cancer. Glad you are recovering from your medical ordeal, losing weight and getting healthy. Way up go!


  23. Those lemons! Fabulous.
    We watched Guys and Dolls for our family movie night for free from Hoopla at the library [I am loving this free service – ask yours to subscribe! Four free borrows/month and it has loads of audiobooks, movies, graphic novels and ebooks – this is different from the regular online borrowing through overdrive/libby that my library offers]
    I learned the ‘toll-free’ way into Manhattan from my house! It’s new for me and a little challenging but I think I’ve got it now 🙂 The costs associated with such visits have made it hard to go in of late and this will help greatly.
    For our Valentine’s Day celebration we visited the Metropolitan Museum of Art – my membership allows me to bring a guest for free, and we bought a student rate ticket for our youngest daughter who joined us – the savings on tolls paid for her ticket 🙂
    I’m listening to a lovely non-fiction book from the library [The Order of Time]
    I used marked down cans of tomatoes to make enchilada sauce as well as pasta sauce that will both be used in meals this week
    I made stock from bones and we’ll have soup this week as well as using it for other recipes.
    I used some ‘slow shipping’ credits from amazon to purchase a kindle book I haven’t been able to access at the library in any form
    I checked the ‘lost money’ website for my state and got $36 back from something unexplained – I do check this site at least once a year and haven’t had anything there in ages so it’s a mystery
    I did enough research to figure out how maintain and divide a small potted plant I have been nurturing since I got it for a few dollars at Christmas – it will become a lovely area of ground cover in my shade garden
    Thanks for the inspiration as always everyone

  24. Wow, your lemon tree looks lovely! I bought lentils for 45 cents a lb bag and made lentil tacos. I like the fact that lentils cook quickly. . I cooked up yet another one of my pumpkins and roasted the seeds I think I am down to 25 pumpkins. I just took my lunch to work every day, as usual, played piano at church ( there were only 14 there on Sunday, we seemed to have a lot of sickness at the moment), sloshed through my very wet yard in my thrift store rainboots I had purchased for $3 a while back, worked, and visited with my children and other relatives, either in person, email, or by phone. I went to SAMS with my youngest and purchased enough food to last a while. He was very appreciative. He is in his last semester, hopefully, of undergraduate studies. I made peanut noodles. They were delicious. Really, I am just grateful to be alive and that all my kids are holding steady at this moment.

  25. I didn’t do much due to being sick. Couple weeks ago they thought I had the 24 hr bug…turns out it was the 14 day bug. Amish neighbor girl ended up dehydrated and in Urgent care over it also. SO I guess I could say because I drank million of gallons of tea and water I save the cost of the Urgent care?
    We didn’t go visit Daddy at the nursing home or Hubby’s parents due to me being sick so gas money saved and them not given the bug. Didn’t go to store as I had all the stuff we needed to get by. Hubby did pick up yeast when he was at a bulk store after checking with me that is was a good price. He saved over $1 to $1.50 over what I usually get it for.

    The Lemon tree looked wonderful. Even Hubby noticed it on my laptop as he was walking by and backed up to see it better. Gray and dreary and cold here in our section of Ohio.

    Tomorrow I am going to “babysit” Son 2 as he is having nose surgery and can’t be alone for a couple days due to pain meds. He asked what he should buy at the store for us to eat. I told him just deal to get enough to get him through as he is not going to eat like he thinks he will (been there and had that surgery). I know him so I know what he would buy either would get shoved in a freezer or passed to his sister due to him not eating it.

    Best wishes to Winter and her future husband. They grow up so fast and make their own decisions so soon. I hope they can work out finishing their education. Did that one , have several friends that did too. Not easy on the financial side but Winter has the wisdom of making it from you and yours

    Blessed be

    1. Our urgent care MD recommend Drip Drop ORS Electrolyte powder. Very similar effect to an IV bag. Amazon has a great price for the powder. Anytime we get sick or we have very hot weather I make sure we stay hydrated with this. Great to keep in your preparedness storage. My son had Heat exhaustion twice this past summer. Soon as he started drink this was not bothered again.

  26. Ah, your primrose picture made me so happy. Many years ago when I did a lot of travel for both work and pleasure I went to Paris in March. It was the first time I had seen primroses – they were everywhere! It seemed that every shop, every museum, even balconies of apartments had tubs of primroses. The cut flower of choice was tulips and I’d brought a big plastic tumbler to use in anticipation of having fresh flowers. I bought a bunch of red tulips which made my room so lovely. Good thing – I managed to catch the flu and was in bed for two days – subsisting on soup from the Chinese restaurant on the corner and tea brought up by the hotel staff.

    I stumbled across the excess produce shelves at my local non-chain grocery store (I guess two stores doesn’t count as a chain -lol). For $10.00 I brought home: an ‘orange’ cauliflower, a bag of limes, a bag with four bunches of Italian parsley, a bag of spring onions, a bag with two bunches of baby spinach – organic, a bag of four ‘slicing’ tomatoes, a bag containing a LOT of roma tomatoes, a bag of celery. a bag that contained an eggplant and two cucumbers. They put the produce in bags – sometimes a mixed lot of fruit or a bag with tomatoes/jalapenos/cilantro/onion. I am so pleased as I have really been craving fresh produce and unless I find it on deep discount I just don’t buy it. So I am making meal plans around the produce and am going to make some salsa.

    I baked a Boar’s Head turkey breast that I purchased after the holidays. It was 3.5 pounds and had been – wait for it – $35.00! I got it for $14.00! While above my price point for most meats I snatched it up. I made it yesterday and we had turkey. stuffing (box bought on sale after the holidays), gravy and potatoes. I sliced up one of the big tomatoes – it was delicious. I kept one larger piece and sliced the rest for sandwiches.

    A cousin-in-law grows a huge organic garden every year. We do a lot of sharing of equipment and have given him a lot of stuff when we stopped farming – fencing, etc. He is so gracious in giving us produce – fresh during the summer. He grows garlic from starts he brought back from the family farm in Italy. It really is the most amazing garlic – flavorful without a tinge of bitterness. He gave us a huge bag of garlic, a huge bag of yellow onions and ta-da – 36 eggs from his chickens! The eggs are amazing – deep yellow yolks and taste, well, like an egg should! I have to wash them as they are in the carton just like the chicken laid them!

    I had to go to Walmart for Dawn dish detergent (really is the only one I like to use) and found some amazing post Valentines day sales (no candy thought – wiped out! at 10:00 a.m.). I did find a huge bunch of flowers for $5.00 to fill in with the roses that my SO bought for my birthday on the 13th. They were bought cheaply – yeah! but had no filler, etc. Can’t even say how much they make me happy when I walk by the dining room table. We’ve had a lot of snow -almost every week and more grey days than usual for S. Colorado so haven’t been able to be out as much. I am grateful for the snow though – the snow pack is above average so the reservoirs will be full of spring run-off and the farmers are already planning a lot of crops since the ditches will be full. I found long sleeve T-shirts for $2.00 each – I bought 3 and really nice sweatshirts for $5.00 each. These are things I don’t usually find when thrift store shopping as I imagine most people are like me and wear those items until they become literally rags!

    Cooking at home, including baking. I really don’t like to bake (I know – I’ve said it before…) but SO likes a sweet with coffee in the evening. I bought a half gallon of organic buttermilk after the holidays and found a wonderful recipe for a buttermilk coffee cake. It is sweet but not too much so. The second one I made I took out some blueberries I’d frozen last year and put them in. There weren’t many but they did make a nice addition. The recipe is so easy and one I can adjust to seasons. I am freezing the rest of the buttermilk in two cup measures for future baking. I usually don’t buy buttermilk, using instead the vinegar to milk method but I have to say having ‘real’ buttermilk makes a big difference. I’ve also made a lot of banana bread – the store I mentioned above had bags of bananas on their $1.00 shelf – I weighed them and each bag had 5-6 pounds in them! I bought two and froze most. Some we ate fresh as they really weren’t that bad – no worse than if they’d sat on our counter for a few days as usually happens!

    Okay everyone – Brandy and all the lovely people who comment have inspired me to do deep organizing. The kitchen is pretty much done – one cabinet above the fridge left but as that requires a ladder and a ‘spotter’ I’ll leave that until we are ready to do the plant ledge in the living room. I am going to tackle the rooms of doom. The guest room and the library/office have become dumping grounds since we came back last fall. I literally shudder when I open the doors because it feels overwhelming. I’ve made a start by cleaning the walk in closet, the small closet and the coat closet (located in the library/office). I was ruthless with my clothes – kept only a few dressier or work clothes that I can wear to multiple types of events and donated two bags already. We cleaned the big bathroom ‘pantry’ and went through all the meds, first aid box, supplements, etc. We are pretty set for at least six months on that stuff although we did go through a lot of first aid stuff over the summer and into the fall.

    Finally, whew! We each get $80.00 per quarter from our Medicare supplement insurance. I can get my three month supply of multivitamins, my calcium through there. I am making a year long plan so I can prepare for seasons. This year they are doing it through Walmart and there is a really large variety of items that we can get – including sunblock – including good facial sunblocks, bug spray, first aid supplies, toothpaste/brushes and things like grab bars for the tub, heating pads, etc. This means that we can take the money from the budget that we normally buy and buy the essential oils and supplements that they don’t cover. Living on a farm 15 miles from town means that we also keep a good supply of first aid items. They’ve come in handy for us so many times – for us and our dogs/cats.

    And now I need to ask what readers think of this situation. We have long time friends who have really hit hard financial times while waiting for the husband’s Vietnam War disability to come through. He served in the jungle and had numerous health issues. He’s been approved but there is a wait for some reason. The wife showed up one day last week and brought items they had received from the US commodity program. They were items they won’t eat and would literally throw out – we don’t give them cash – when their son gives them money they go to Kentucky Fried Chicken and they are all quite picky eaters as well. She had the big block of Velveeta like cheese, three bags of white rice, a bag of brown rice, a bag of instant milk, a box of cereal and a box of cream of wheat. All items we can and will use. We said “thank-you” and I gave her four pounds of our frozen ground beef. We buy a 1/4 of beef a year and a lot ends up as hamburger. I know that the commodity program is strict about not giving anything away but the thought of it just being thrown out, or kept until unusable, just does me in. I asked if she thought of donating to the food bank and she said that she doesn’t want anyone to know that they get the program. So if there are things we don’t use but they will throw away I will take them to the food bank and to our local community colleges student food bank. I just feel, well, weird, about receiving the items. BTW – they are all really top quality, non-gmo, made in the US items so I am pleased that our farmers are gaining benefit and the food is of good quality.

    One note – the food requires ‘cooking’ – not instant, other than peanut butter. Even the Malt-o-meal cream of wheat isn’t instant type. I have felt for a long time that the growing gap between people who know how to cook – even basics and those who don’t is growing. I also wonder if food tastes haven’t been impacted by all the fast food and semi-fast food (Olive Garden, Ruby Tuesday, Applebees, etc.). All the fat, sodium and ‘flavor enhancers”.

    Okay enough for now – felt like the last issue with our friends is one I could ‘discuss’ here as I can’t anywhere else. Thank you for “listening”.


    1. Hi Mary
      I understand why you might feel a bit weird about receiving those items but I don’t think you need to – you and your friends are being pragmatic and sensible. You give them beef in return which they are grateful for and if you didn’t accept those items they would be thrown away which is a terrible waste. You are doing your bit to save the planet. Giving the items you won’t use to another food programme is good sense too, everyone benefits. Hope your friends disability payment comes in soon.

      1. Hi Mary, I sense you feel compromised by accepting this food, but you should not. There are two options here: either you can utilize the items so graciously given or the food will be discarded. I’m guessing that like the SNAP program they are trying to guard against selling of food or benefits. You and your friends have each received a blessing.

    2. Mary, I think you are so right about the gap between people who know how to cook and those who don’t! I read a report that in New York City there are apartments being sold that have no kitchens! On purpose! They say so many people just go out to eat all their meals that they don’t want traditional kitchens. And it reduces insurance rates because there is less chance of fires in the buildings.

    3. Mary, take the food if you’ll use it. You arent breaking any rules accepting it. Your neighbor may be, but not you.

  27. Paperwork is my nemesis also. I’d rather do almost anything beside filing and sorting.

    Kind of a boring week around our house. The weather was bad 2 days so we stayed home(school was canceled one day and hubby couldn’twork for 2 ), and my one home health client was in the hospital 3 days so that’s going to hurt the next paycheck.

    Rented a Redbox movie twice using a code both times.

    Mended one pair of pants

    Returned a couple library books I wouldn’t get to before their due date, saving any late fees

    Due to ice and extreme cold, the door handle on my husband’s truck broke. Thankfully, he has the skills to fix something like that, saving a bit over a professional.

    Valentine’s day was low key….I bought chocolate for husband and 2 kids, then husband picked up Popeyes chicken for dinner Friday night. ANY night I don’t have to cook is a great night, lol.

    Not so frugal: we switched dog foods because it was $5 cheaper a bag, but it makes our Anatolian itchy, so I switched back to the old food.

  28. Elizabeth M. What a great food budget — I used to be able to get by on $100 per month but now it is more like $200 per month and still it feels like a pinch.

    I have been outside taking bird photos but when my fingers or camera get too cold I come back in and do a few more chores. I have watched three free films on Kanopy, a service our public library subscribes to which is free for us. One, Testament, was about a Jewish researcher who investigates suspected Nazi war criminals. In the course of his research he finds that his mother wasn’t Jewish — it raises interesting questions of having one’s faith tested by hidden knowledge, how much truth one should disclose oneself or when it is kinder not to disclose anything, etc. etc. One, “Mr. Kaplan” was about the unexpected twists and turns of an old Jewish man who attempts to capture a suspected Nazi and take him to Israel — full of unexpected twists and turns and humorous moments, and finally the Fig Tree, a sad film about a Jewish Ethiopian family who tries to migrate to Israel, a sad film but very interesting..

    A neighbour told me about a sighting of a Hawk Owl so I live in hope he may stop by (the bird that is) for a photo. That is a rare bird here.

    I asked for a donation of 12 mini-flashlights for the ladies’ club upcoming convention and gladly received said donation.

    1. Thanks! My food budget is mostly possible because of stocking up through summer and fall at great prices to get me through winter, and most months buying my groceries for the month at the Co-op’s 10% off day, if the sale prices are good that week. The pressure is on, though, and I am thinking I will increase the budget soon. I’d like a few more items that are not essential. Maple syrup on my oatmeal was awfully good the last few weeks, using a Christmas treat I hadn’t got around to using yet. I am glad to know I can keep the costs down when I need to, though.

      1. Elizabeth M.

        I often shop at Co-op’s 10 for $10 warehouse sale which seems to happen every two weeks or so. Also, I have seen good deals on maple syrup.

  29. A week and a half ago my husband went to the ER with chest pains. Thankfully it was not his heart, but gallstones. He ended up staying one night in the hospital and then had his gall bladder removed last week. Our co-pays were not frugal at all, but we are thankful for our insurance and all that it covered. And because we are frugal, we were able to max out our FSA and pay the rest in full (receiving a 10% discount). We have spent a lot of time at home since then, which has also been frugal.
    *Meals made were quesadillas, grilled chicken with baked potatoes and peas, sauteed shrimp with tossed salad and leftover potatoes, pork fajitas with corn, baked chicken thighs with baked potatoes and green beans, pan-seared salmon with macaroni, grilled chicken breasts with garlic rice, scrambled eggs with turkey bacon, fried eggs with sausage and toast.
    *Sent a birthday card and a thinking of you card from my stash.
    *Stocked up on blsl chicken breasts at $1.59/lb, reduced sirloin steaks at $2/pack and 4 lb sugar at $1.79.
    *I found a vacation rental through VRBO and emailed the owner/agent with a question. In their response to me, they mentioned that if I went through their personal site it would be cheaper. I checked it out and saved over $300!
    *Used a basket I already had to hold gifts that I was taking to a friend from our Sunday school class who had surgery.

  30. I.love how your bordered your flowers with the green onions. Very pretty and so useful!
    Off and on its still winter here. I keep myself busy crocheting and doing some needlepoint at night. Through the day I’ve been cleaning and organizing too. I find that I can get things done when I get busy a little bit at a time…eventually I will get it accomplished.
    Here are the ways I saved last week:

    1. Vickie,
      I was noticing that they looked like green onions when I posted the photo! That would be pretty! I have seen it done with traditional onions in a formal kitchen garden and it is beautiful. But, those are actually daffodils that haven’t bloomed yet!

        1. I do not. I chose types for zones 8 and 9. They have smaller flowers but they come back every year here. There is no way I could dig up that many every year! There are over 1000!

  31. My heat is still turned off. I appreciate the lower electric bill for the winter but the weather makes me sad. We had an extended burn ban last year, and since that lifted it has done nothing but rain. I need to pretty much burn my entire back yard. Some of my savings may need to be paid out for yardwork. Those wild blackberry bushes will be taking over the yard soon. I’ve stopped buying groceries for the most part and am trying to eat down our freezers. I found Jimmy Dean breakfast sausage marked at a dollar and stocked up on 20 . Biscuits and gravy are requested when my son’s friends gather here. That made for a really cheap investment. I bought bacon and Oreos with the Kroger 5 X’s coupon. The Oreos will be used for a church meeting. My memory problems cause me a great deal of anxiety. I don’t want to forget anything sugar cookie might need on her cruise medical wise. I actually drew out a person and started at the top of the head and down to its toes identifying any medications she might need. I think we’ve got it covered . I certainly don’t want to pay inflated prices for anything over the counter. While in town , I stopped at a local Goodwill store. I found a passport holder and a pair of white capris. It was half price which suited my budget. I am returning a travel bag I purchased at Amazon. It is cheap smelling plastic and absolutely horrible. I wandered into several stores and of course the prices shocked me. I did a double take in the baby department at Ross and found a bag that turned out to be a bag for a breastfeeding professional woman to carry her breast pump to work. It was a Dr Brown’s bag and only $10.00. I bought monogrammed initials on clearance at Hobby Lobby. My bag looks lovely and I am proud of being creative. For $12.00 it can be used on many more trips. ( I specifically wanted a bag to discreetly carry our many prescription drugs ). My money saving attempts continue to frustrate me. I’m missing several items that I am positive are in the house. With sugar cookies helping skills ,there’s no telling where said items are. I’m trying hard to locate things and not rebuy them. This struggle is real. Everyday has become an egg hunt. Those Meyer Lemons always make me smile. I hope everyone is smiling and that life is kind.

  32. Brandy,
    What an incredible amount of lemons! I live in Florida and have never seen so many fruit on one tree!
    My little potted lemon has 2 lemons only, but they’re quite large. I can’t rememebr if it’s a meyer, but I think not.
    Any secrets for the amazing bounty your trees give you?

    We had to have windows taken out so that the rotted wood around them could be repaired. Neither Gary nor I is handy enough so we had our contractor do it. I did clean, sand, and paint the window interiors, though, saving money on a painter. We are also restoring other windows and doing most of that work ourselves (not the installation).

    We had a lot of rain here and my water containers are replenished so that we can use that water for washing clothes. We always hang our clothes to dry. I save shower water for ornamental plants and catch dishwater in a tub and use it for plants as well. Even if it’s rained, and we have fresh rainwater, we like reusing the gray water and use biodegradable soaps.

    Thank you to the person who mentioned making cold-brewed coffee and doing a second soak, I’ve done it twice ans it’s really good because I don’t like my iced coffee strong and almost always add water to it. This way, it’s nice and watery already.
    A Sprouts grocery store is near where I go for therapy on my shoulder and they have bulk spices so that you can take your existing glass spice containers, get them tare-weighed and then fill them with organic (or non-organic) spices. This is great for several reasons: I’m not buying glass jars over and over, and I can get small amounts of the spices that I know go bad quickly (here in the humidity, dill almost always goes off). Lucky’s Market that we frequented and really liked had this same system, but unfortunately they closed. My family wants to support organic growers but prefers to avoid Whole Foods/Amazon, so it’s nice to have an alternative.

    Thank you, Brandy for taking your time to write this blog.

  33. I love the picture of the lemon tree! How awesome is that tree?
    I keep thinking I’ll get around to commenting and another week has flown by.
    January was a very low spend month. February is when I ordered from Walmart with free delivery. I ordered stock-up items on things we were running out of. Groceries were from aldi and Meijer.
    I did buy some beef roast that was on sale for 3.99 lb. I had to call my son, the Kroger meat manager, and ask if that was a good price. He assured me that it was. I’ve been waiting for 2.99 lb, and waiting and waiting. Am I the last one to know that the price of beef is so high? Eeeesch…In any case, I cut the fat off and made five small bags of stew meat for the freezer. I also bought one steak for my husband for the same price. I may keep it for our anniversary in April.
    I refilled and diluted the dish soap and laundry soap.
    We had several wrinkly apples so I made a crisp. The topping came from the tub I keep in the freezer.
    Frozen bananas were made into banana choc. chip muffins. I made a double batch and froze quite a few. I have no willpower if it’s sitting out!
    I diluted my almond milk every time I had cereal.
    My Zenni glasses came in and I love them! I’ve never had a problem with them. Glasses and sunglasses clips were 40.00. You can’t beat that anywhere!
    I somehow broke the zipper pull on my winter coat and my winter boots. I tried to find zipper pulls on eBay. If you put zipper pulls in the search you get zippers. I tried it every way I could think of. So I used paper clips. It works for now. The coat is on it’s last winter anyway. The boots may go another year or two so I’ll worry about it later. I did finally buy a clip from hobby lobby but it’s too pretty to use. (I know….)
    On another blog, Patsy mentioned she saved egg shells for her garden. So, that’s what I’ve started doing. Since eggs are my main protein, I’ve almost got a full pint jar after just a couple of weeks. It takes no time for them to dry.
    I’ve heard from all three of my children and face-timed with my daughter, SIL and their son. Priceless!
    And finally, I decided that THIS was the year to get our health records in order. I’ve been talking about it for years. I got the files from the bedroom to the living room. There they sit, mocking me. This week, my assignment is to get the files in two piles, one for me and one for my husband. Little bites! After that, I’ll come up with a plan for the next step. Maybe, I hope.
    Have a peaceful, joyful week!

  34. Here’s how we saved money last week:

    * Made all meals at home, and utilized leftovers in the freezer for lunches.

    * Cooked a meatloaf I had made using half beef, half turkey. The turkey is cheaper than the beef, so this reduces the price on what is one of our more expensive meals.

    * Bought mostly sale items when we went for our mid month fill in grocery shop. strawberries, asparagus, pineapples, and apples were on sale for good prices, so we bought some of each. We left the store having paid $41 for the rest of the month’s food, leaving $50 in the food budget that we can save.

    * Ordered our cats’ dry food from Chewy using their autoship feature. This saves $8 off the regular in store price for the 11 lb bag, which should last us 4 months.

    * Used more free on campus resources for job applications and interview practice.

    * Figured out that our air purifier was causing the super dry air in our apartment. I’m frustrated that we have to leave it off for now, but everyone in the apartment was miserable with it on because the air was so dry.

    * We unfortunately had to use our less efficient baseboard heating during a cold snap last week (our heat pump heater stops being able to effectively heat at around 0F and below), but I left the blinds open to let the sun’s heat in, which helped keep the apartment warm during the day, at least, without using the heater.

    * I baked bread in the same oven that I baked the meatloaf in to save on electricity for heating the oven.

    It felt like last week disappeared in a blur. I can’t wait for spring break in a couple weeks, so that I can relax and get some projects around the house done.

  35. Too bad you’re not closer- I could supply you with all the manure you could use FREE! When we moved, I got a gelding and a mini horse. i grew up with horses, and have always wanted to get one as an adult. The mini is his pasture buddy, as horses are herd animals and need a friend. I have filled the garden area with manure, have several bags for my sister in law, and am now hauling it up to the pasture to compost for future use. It rained here for several days, so they spent more time in the barn than usual, and horses poop a LOT. On the upside of the rain, I have over 600 gallons of rain water from the roof in barrels for the garden this summer, and the stock tank is full.

    We ate down the pantry and freezer before moving, so I have been working on restocking our short term supply. Meijers had had a 10 for 10 sale 2 weeks in a row, so I have been able to stock up on pasta, sauce, canned beans, and some canned veggies. I stopped by the local Kroger to pick up milk on my way home from work on day, and found several packages of 90/10 beef marked down for less than the “sale” price on 80/20. I bought all 7 packages they had, and froze them.

    We have been using the wood stove a lot, which keeps the house warm enough we only have to turn the propane on for a bit in the morning. I started some seeds indoors for early planting. With the increase in garden space, I’m going to try a larger garden, succession planting, and a ix of early, mid, and late varieties.

    Cangratulations to Winter and her fiance! our wedding was immediate family only, we served cake and punch, and his sister did the pictures. Our 29th anniversary will be in September- which proves that we’re just as married as people who spend thousands.

  36. This must be the week for husbands to go to the ER with chest pain. My husband is older than I am, 71 now, and he was having some classic symptoms so I practically frog marched him to the ER, with him protesting all the way. They did some tests and said they thought it was just terrible heart burn (which he never has). I asked if they had done the cardiac enzyme test, which will tell if you recently had a heart attack or are having one right now. The nurse said no. I insisted that we were not leaving until I spoke to the physician in charge. He finally relented, after I said I would pay for the test out of pocket if the insurance company did not approve it. Well, the test came back negative and I apologized for the fuss but said I would do it all over again under the same circumstances. He looked at me and said, “You know, men who go to the emergency room with their wives have a better survival rate exactly for the same doggedness you just displayed. Good for you.” At which point my husband groaned and said, “You just gave her a license to fuss.” Well, the insurance covered it but even if they had not, it would have been worth the sense of relief I felt.

    Anyway, here is how I saved money this week, aside from the usual stuff like hanging up wet laundry indoors (since it is 30 below outside!), reusing plastic bags, saving cold water in the shower to use to flush our toilet, and so on.
    1. The greens we get this time of year are terrible and expensive, so I have been growing sprouts to use in sandwiches and salads.
    2. I am still watching the neighbor’s chickens, so we are getting about two to three dozen eggs a week, and have for over a month now. She said to do what I wanted with them, so we are keeping what we will eat and I have given several dozen to a friend as a birthday gift, and sold others for $2 a dozen. When it is this cold, it is a pain to make sure their water is still liquid, feed them and try to spread more straw around to cover the latest poop-fest they have had, but it is worth it. I thought chickens slow down laying in the winter, but they have an artificial lighting system so the hens are happy to keep laying. The owner is going to be gone for another six weeks.
    3. As if I don’t have enough eggs, a friend gave me two dozen duck eggs! She said she had about eight more dozen at home so please take them. I kept a dozen for baking and sold the other dozen for $5.
    4. A friend was having an “indoor garage sale,” where people went into her heated garage to see the stuff she had for sale. I asked her if she would sell some of the excess yarn I have (some of which was given to me by a non-knitter whose mother had died but it was in colors I don’t like), in exchange for splitting the profit. I ended up with $44, as she wanted eggs instead of money! So, starting this week I will be taking eggs to her, until I have given her five dozen total.
    5. We have purchased very few groceries this month, mostly because we are eating eggs whenever we can. Lots of French toast, egg casseroles, homemade pasta (more eggs used!), and so on. I have made some loaves of egg rich breads and put them in the freezer for the future. Took deviled eggs to a potluck and made egg salad sandwiches for lunch over and over…Made dog biscuits by the dozens, using not only excess eggs but some of the pumpkins pulp I processed from our garden at harvest time. I may be sick of them, but I am very, very thankful to have been given such bounty and am trying to use and sell them in ways that really contribute to a lower food bill.

    Your lemon tree picture filled me with envy!

    1. Mable, congratulations on being proactive with your husband’s experience in the ER! It pays to do everything possible in a situation like that. I hope your husband is continuing to do well. My grandfather died of a massive heart attack after having what he thought was heartburn for some time. Of course then the medical people didn’t know as much as they do now, but there may be a tendency to gloss over symptoms. I applaud your efforts!

  37. I love reading all the money-saving tips. Here are my frugal accomplishments for last week:
    -In an effort to use up all of our perishable foods before we go on vacation at the end of the month, I challenged myself to a no spend pantry challenge. Basically, use everything in the fridge so it won’t go to waste and don’t buy anything that we won’t use up before we leave.
    -I made a turkey to free up some space in my freezer using the recipe found on this site. Brandy, I have been using your turkey recipe now for about 7 or 8 years or so. That recipe was actually how I stumbled on this blog. We had just moved to a home with an electric oven and every time I used my recipe, the turkey would be dry. So I consulted google and found this one. As usual, my turkey was juicy and totally fell apart.
    -I got a bag of clothing for my toddler from a local Facebook group. Included were many Disney themed t shirts and outfits that will come in handy on our trip to Florida next week. I took a number of outfits and passed the rest on to another family.
    -My husband and I watched a movie on Netflix using the free subscription we got from our mobile carrier.
    -Our county library system has a number of museum passes available to borrow. We were able to borrow the pass a local children’s garden. To save on parking, we used public transportation. We took advantage of a “kids ride free on weekends” and Military pay ½ price. The whole outing cost $6 for our family of 7.
    -My husband my husband took 3 of the kids to Monster Jam using tickets we got from Vet Tix. https://www.vettix.org/ref/823862 VetTix is an organization that provides donated tickets for concerts, sporting events, performing arts, educational and family activities to currently serving Military, Veterans and families of troops KIA. There is also a sister site for currently serving and retired law enforcement officers, firefighters, EMTs and 911 Dispatchers called 1st Tix. https://www.1sttix.org/ref/823862 We did have to pay a small fee to transfer the tickets to our name, and for parking. We spent about $20, but the tickets alone would have cost several hundred.
    -I had a fun evening with the remaining kids watching a movie on Amazon using the Prime membership we got for renewing our internet. I used a coupon to get take out as a treat.

  38. I love reading the responses every week, even when we haven’t had a very frugal week.

    * I harvested tangerines, lemons, tomatoes and collards from the yard.
    * line drying x3
    * Composted lots of coffee grounds and kitchen scraps as usual
    * Collected gray water for use in the garden
    * Kid made his school project volcano model with materials pulled from our recycling bin — we did buy Modge Podge at Michael’s
    * Checked out three ebooks from the library (Related: I just finished a print copy of an old 1970s back-to-the-land memoir called *Hovel in the Hills* by Elizabeth West. They were extremely cash poor but lived well through ingenious engineering, creative re-use and growing their own food.)
    * Listened to a new-to-me free podcast called Millionaires Unveiled; they interview Millionaire Next Door types to see how they grew their wealth.
    * Took my 9yo son to our local university to be screened for a possible MRI study. He was paid $25 for his initial participation. If he is accepted into the control group, he will get a second (larger) payment and I will get $25 as well.
    * Our bathroom faucet was leaking and after taking it apart and cleaning everything and replacing the cartridge it was *still* leaking, so then I replaced the whole assembly with a new faucet, but then it was *still* leaking from underneath–even with the water turned off!–so I finally called our plumber Eddie. He said I did a good job installing the faucet (yay me!) but we still needed new “angle stops.” He replaced them and at long last the faucet isn’t leaking all night every night! I’m not sure I saved us any money but I learned a *ton* and I will be able to use that knowledge in the future.

  39. Hello everyone, thanks for the post and the comments. This week I did some mending and fixing. I found some lounge chairs on the side of the road.
    They are very nice but the bar hits the back of the head, so I made a pillow for them with things I had on hand. A patio chair broke and I’m replacing the seat by sanding down redwood fence wood since it’s $1,56 for a long piece.
    I cooked all the root veggies in various ways to be ready for the week. I made a couple of main dish items ahead. I made breakfast burritos and stretched the ingredients by adding shredded potato. Hopefully that helps keep the kids full too. I used leftover oatmeal in muffins. It works well. I did all this in one batch so that I save money on heating the oven and save time by doing it multiple times this week.
    I did find 50% off discount to state park for people with life altering disabilities. It will save us $100 this summer on our camping trip, so I’m filling out the application. I hope that helps someone reading.
    Brandy, I recently moved to the same zone as you and have all rocks in my yard. We did dig and put in pipes for watering, but I think I’m inspired to plant fruit trees now, instead of shade only. I would love to know which trees do the best for you in this hot, dry neck of the woods! My family members haven’t had good luck and I hope to choose the right trees to make our home more useful and beautiful as we put down roots here.

    1. When I bought my fruit trees, the cashier at the nursery asked if I had jackhammered holes for them yet.

      She was not joking.

      The ground here is hard like concrete, the “soil” is white and highly alkaline. In order for your trees to grow, they need good dirt. You need to replace the dirt not only below the tree, but also as wide as you would like the tree to be. Otherwise, the tree will be bound to the size of the hole you have dug, just as if you have planted it in a small pot, and it will not grow larger. I have seen this happen over and over here. If you are in the desert somewhere, look at this especially. Even if you are in a tropical zone 9, you should add good loamy soil in with your tree, as well as fertilizer while planting it.

      In a zone 9, there are two main things to make sure your fruit trees will fruit. The first is to make sure you trees receive enough chilling hours to bear fruit. This means choosing low chill varieties that need 400 or fewer chilling hours. The second is to make sure that your trees are self-fertile, if you only plant one, or that that you plant a pollinator that pollinates that particular tree, if not. Most of the trees that I grow are self-fertile trees.

      I wrote about choosing fruit trees here: http://theprudenthomemaker.com/choosing-fruit-trees-for-your-garden/ You can find that under the Garden tab at the top in case you are looking to refer back to it in the future.

      I grow semi-dwarf trees. My trees grow ten to fifteen feet tall. Semi-dwarf trees produce faster than standard-sized trees by a few years, the fruit is easier to reach, and you can plant five semi-dwarf trees in the space of one full-sized tree. I have a .24 acre lot with 32 trees on it. Technically, I could plant more, if I wanted to redesign my garden.

      I have planned my trees so that they are ripe at different times. I have, for example, two types of apricots and two types of peaches. Because they have different chilling hour requirements, they ripen at different times. The apricots are ready about a month apart, and the peaches are ripe in May and July.

      If you want a good shade tree that also fruits, figs are fast-growing. There are several choices in kind on which to plant. I grow Mission figs. Not only are they easy to tell when to pick (they turn black; some other figs stay green and are tough to know when they are ready) but they are unique in that they bear fruit two times a year.

      Also, if you plan a pergola for shade, you can always grow grapes over it! They love a full sun exposure!

  40. Jen, I love Hovel in the Hills. I saw it on one of the British blogs I follow. I don’t know if anyone else is like me (or if I’m just weird), but I keep a book in my nightstand for nights when I have trouble falling asleep. The same book gets read over and over and over. (Reading different novels would distract me from sleeping). Anyway, Hovel is one of 2-3 books that I read this way. I’ve probably read it 6 or 8 times, a page or two at a time. I have not admitted publicly to this before, but there you have it. A most fascinating account of life on a North Wales moor. I love how they make do and mend.

    1. Oh how wonderful!! I love reading books about families that try to DIY it in the wilderness, and memoirs of happy childhoods. Two of my “re-reads” in this genre are Little Heathens by Mildred Armstrong Kalish, about her childhood on her grandparents’ Iowa farm during the Great Depression, and Onions in the Stew by Betty MacDonald, about a blended family setting up household on Vashon Island in Washington state after WWII. Anyway glad to meet a kindred spirit who enjoys Hovel in the Hills.

  41. Hello my friends, Last week I really did have some creative things planned, but . . . Our washing machine quit agitating. It just sat with a full load of water and clothes. Then it protested loudly when my husband made it drain out the water and spin out the clothes. So, I spent two different days loading up dirty clothes, driving to town, washing and drying, and driving home again. This is not really a good time for us financially, and we really could not afford to buy a new washer. My husband took the old washer apart and with the help of YouTube videos, figured out what was wrong. He researched parts online and found it would cost $180 for parts. He worked on that machine about three years ago. We decided the old machine wasn’t worth putting more money into. I looked on Craigslist and didn’t find anything that great. Also, we live so far from most of the sellers that buying gas to go look at anything anyone is selling is a factor, especially if we use our older gas-guzzling pickup to haul anything. I thought maybe I could just wash out our clothes every night and hang them and maybe my husband could help me wring out towels and sheets, at least for a while. My husband said “Absolutely not” to that idea. Having the washing machine break down when we have limited finances shouldn’t be that traumatic of a happening for me, but with the other things going on, it felt worse than it should, I suppose. One night when I especially couldn’t sleep I came downstairs and sat and read Psalms and talked to God about the things bothering me. The washing machine seemed to be the next thing chronologically. It occurred to me that instead of putting money into a used washer/dryer set, which was what I was finding for sale, we should shop for a new washer and just keep using our old dryer, even though it is making a lot of unusual noises. Really, who cares if the washer and dryer are a matched pair. I really hadn’t considered a new one because of the cost. But I decided to look at new washers online at the stores we have fairly close by, and discovered that a couple were having 40% off sales this past weekend. I found one washer I thought we could afford, if we really pinched pennies on some other things. The next day, while looking that site up to show my husband, I found a couple of outlet stores in the city. Their online prices were even better. The merchandise had slight damage. I found a washer that was even lower priced that had a few small scratches on it. We ended up buying that washer because it has the larger tub. We had to drive into the city, but we took that opportunity to buy groceries at a discount store and bought gas at a reduced rate. We kind of messed up though; we should have brought gas cans to fill up. The other thing I did this week was paint a little at my son’s house. His renters left a really damaged and dirty house. He is trying to finish his last months of school. I did make bread and cook from scratch mostly. The alfalfa seed mix that I started in soil in a salad tub for a “greenhouse” on my kitchen window sill grew beautifully. It is three to four inches high and ready to cut and eat. I am planning to try to make baked falafels and pocket bread to eat it with. I The lettuce I planted in the other tub is still alive, but has not grown much. I am saving other plastic cartons to start plants in. I am still hoping to get to sewing projects. It’s encouraging to me to read everyone’s posts and see their ideas. The lemon tree is gorgeous. I love the photos. Congratulations to Winter. I wish her the best. I got married when I was 18. We are still happily married. We decided to not fuss at each other and stop expecting things from each other like we were entitled or something and accept what each did or contributed as a gift. I do wish my husband and I had parked ourselves at a college until we both got degrees when we first got married like Winter and her fiance are doing. Best Wishes, Elizabeth

    1. Elizabeth,

      I am happy that you have a new washer!

      I have never owned a matching washer and dryer. Right now, they are both the same color (white) but they haven’t always been! We have always bought them separately when one has gone out and we could not repair it (we have done many repairs, too).

      Falafels sound delicious! I haven’t made them in a while. Perhaps I will make them this week.

  42. Wow Brandy, what an amazing lemon tree!

    We are in the last month of summer in NZ and enjoying lots of fresh beans, tomatoes, courgettes (zucchini), strawberries, plums and more from our garden. Soon we will be blessed with a deluge of apples, pears, peaches, grapes, feijoas, walnuts and more as well. God is good.

    We have over 600 sunflowers of about 12 different types which are always a highlight. We have lots of dahlias, roses and other flowers – little wildflowers amongst them too. Our agapanthus has been here a long time and seems to like it where it is even though it’s quite shady – I really like them too.

    Have a great week everyone.

  43. Our winter has been milder than usual and our utility bill is reflecting that! We are on the budget plan so we pay the same amount each month but in May they reassess our monthly payment and I am hoping it will go down for the next year. Right now we have a credit which is very unusual for this time of year.
    I received a monetary gift for Christmas and knew that I wanted to get new curtains and rods for our living and dining rooms with it. I was able to find curtains on clearance and the curtain rods at very good prices. I was also able to get a couple of throw pillows at 75% off-$5 each.
    We found a new grocery store that often has really great deals on meat. We receive a flyer every week and are able to make our grocery list from it.

  44. Those lemons-what a beautiful touch of Spring!
    Cutting open tubes and getting the last bits out is my new favorite thing! Toothpaste,lotion, makeup it is amazing how much is left when it is “empty”.
    Hubby and I celebrated Valentine’s Day by dining out on the 13th with a gift card we received as a gift. Less crowds & OOP $10.00 for a tip. I combined CVS extrabucks, 30% off coupon & manufacturers coupon to purchase 2 months of vitamins for half of what 1 month would normally cost. Took advantage of BOGO grocery sales on pork tenderloin & boneless chops.
    Brandy thank you so much for this blog! It is a place of kindness, inventiveness & frugality that inspires me to do better. I look forward to your posts and the replies every week.

  45. The lemon trees are gorgeous! That is one fruit I wish we could grow in our climate… We had a low-key but lovely week and worked on frugal living to move toward our goals.
    *Found out we could buy the big bag of bunny shredded bedding in the back of the farm store with the feed products which is only 1/4th of the cost of buying the same thing in the front part of the store. I was grateful for the cashier pointing this out!
    *Continued my quest of purchasing as few trashbags as possible by using another pet food bag this week.
    *Got a load of books through the new inter-library loan program at our tiny local library. I got books on homemaking, organizing, hospitality, gluten-free cooking, building and growing in greenhouses, and finances. I feel like I have found a whole new way of doing research 🙂
    *Came in a bit under budget in groceries last week and got a notification from the auto insurance that it has been lowered a few more dollars this month.
    *More on my blog! https://www.cozyhomemaking.com/frugal-fun-homemaking-for-february-9-15-2020/

      1. Cara, the bunny bedding we’ve been buying is shredded aspen as our bunny book says this is safe for bunnies to eat and has no dust. I think we got it first from Chewy but then found it at our local big farm store. My daughter enjoys her bunny very much!

  46. It seems that posting here comes in fits and starts, while we continue the daily work of plodding along in a frugal manner.

    There haven’t been many good sales here lately, but we’ve been cleaning out freezers and the pantry with diligence and making yummy, creative meals even when the grocery budget doesn’t seem to go very far. Brandy, how much is your monthly grocery budget currently? I’m finding it hard to get ours under $600/month lately. I miss your posts on grocery shopping (but I know you’re busy!).

    We plan to use part of our tax refund to restock food storage, but plan to use just a small amount each week to take more advantage of deals, instead of doing one huge shopping trip.

    We tried out Dollar Tree for grocery items. We liked the tortillas (12 count) while the American cheese was a total fail.

    I haven’t spent much time on my reselling business, but I was able to use some profit to do some shopping with my mom for needed items (thrifting and discount store shopping) as well as buy fabric at Joann for two new dresses for myself.

    I’ve been busily working on a crocheted sweater for my youngest. My 7th child has requested one as well. Both of them as well as two more of our children have birthdays next month.

    1. Sarah, last year I spent $325 a month. I’m not sure if I’ll do the same or more this year. Some of that will depend on how well the garden does.

  47. Brandy, I have a question on how you store your lemon pepper mix. I zested lemons yesterday and let the zest dry on the counter. Will I be able to just store this lemon pepper in a sealed container in my cupboards or should I freeze it? When I dry herbs from the garden I just keep them in the spice cupboard so it’s easy access when cooking. I would like to do the same with the lemon pepper. Do you ever zest your oranges for drying? If so what do you use it for.

    1. I just dry it on the counter and when it is dry I store it in a glass jar with my other herbs. I dry my herbs the same way.

      I don’t have orange trees; they did not make it after too many cold winters. I have mandarin trees, but they are potted and barely growing, despite fertilizing them. They will be limited in growth because of the pots.

  48. Your Meyer lemon tree is fantastic! We are going to Phoenix at the end of the month and my husband’s cousin has an orange tree in the front yard. Can’t wait!
    I renewed my driver’s license this week and got the Star. If you don’t know about Star driver’s licenses, go to your state’s DMV site. You will need a Star license to board an aircraft after Oct. 1. If your proof of identity is your birth certificate, and you have changed your name since then, you will need to also bring your marriage certificate or legal proof of name change. (I found this out the hard way the first time I went).
    I was out of town this week and stopped at two small town thrift stores. The good news is that I really wasn’t in the mood to shop and got out of the first one without spending anything. The other good news was that I found Johnson Bros. Blue Willow bread and butter plates at the second store and bought 6 for .29 each to use as plant saucers. (I have a lot of blue and white plates on display in same room). I regret not buying a Fenton white and clear glass basket for $2.99, but I’ll get over it.
    I picked up loss leaders at two grocery stores, including butter for $1.99 lb. and 81% ground beef for $2.19 lb. Since I bought 10 lbs. two weeks ago for $2.29 (still a good price) I only bought 7 lbs. this week. Using cereal bags for freezer wrap.
    My son, who was a bit of a late bloomer, called Wednesday, said he was doing grownup stuff and wanted me to explain something financial. No saving for me, but it was…priceless.

  49. Hi Brandy,

    I’ve always wondered how you amended your soil. Is it Manure?

    That’s the most expensive thing I need to do in my garden and I haven’t found a very frugal answer. I don’t have enough material to compost. The most frugal way I found was to get a dump truck full of compost and drive it myself, But I ended up having to hire someone to shovel, so that was kind of a bust. I have heavy clay soil and even after the dump truck full, two years later it was back to the clay like it was before. Needing a pick ax! I aspire to grow more food, be very frugal because if need and sustainable, but prepping the soil is what stumps me.

    1. I had to buy new soil (it’s half reject sand and half humus). I have also added manure. But it sinks, and new soil has to be added. It’s cheaper if I buy it in bulk and shovel it in myself. It’s hard work, but good work.

  50. Wow, those lemons, Brandy! Give new meaning to the term “dripping with fruit”!

    My frugal week:
    – I made lots of White Cheddar Popcorn (http://approachingfood.com/preservative-free-white-cheddar-popcorn/) for my husband, as it’s a healthy low-calorie but flavourful snack (and so inexpensive!)
    – I bought 50 cents worth of Valentine’s themed candy, and then had a mum friend over for a baking/baby play date. We baked red velvet cupcakes with cream cheese frosting, and topped them with the candy. Aside from the candy, I had everything else in my pantry. It was fun for both us mums and our babes, and our husbands were happy to have homemade cupcakes for Valentine’s Day! I served my Skor Brownies and some homemade iced tea as a snack. I also cut out some large hearts from red craft paper that I had, and the toddlers ‘drew’ on them to make Valentine’s for their fathers. My husband loooooved his first Valentine from his daughter!
    – I made microwave lemon bars using some lemons I got cheaply in my flash food box last week.
    – I spent $10 on the flash food app, and got a box full of produce, a package of ham for my husband, and a package of hummus for me.
    – I made a berry and pear galette, using inexpensive pears from the flash food produce box, and a homemade pie crust (this is a galette recipe http://approachingfood.com/vegan-peach-galette/, and customizable to any fruit). I used homemade breadcrumbs in the bottom of the crust to sop up any extra fruit juices. My sister came over on Family Day (a provincial Canadian holiday), and we went for a walk in the cold and took my daughter to a playground, and then came back home to hot tea and fresh fruit galette. A no-cost family day outing!
    – I redeemed $20 in loyalty points at No Frills, to lower my overall grocery bill.
    – I made lasagna soup, using lentils instead of hamburger, and adding in a red pepper from my discounted produce box. Both my husband and daughter ate it, so I was pleased!
    – I made a bean salad, and used the vinaigrette leftover in the bowl (once the salad was eaten) to as salad dressing for a green salad.
    – I redeemed Swagbucks for a $5 gc to Amazon, and took a survey for a $5 Amazon gc as well.
    – I sprouted mung beans for fried rice for the first time, and they turned out really well. I accidentally added too much spice to the fried rice and my spice-averse hubby couldn’t eat it, but I ate it for several meals and was still able to give a container to my sister.
    – I made Brandy’s lemon poppyseed muffins and topped them with leftover cream cheese icing, for my husband to bring in to a department meeting. I’ve always found that homemade treats make meetings run much more smoothly!

    Looking forward to learning from everyone, as always!

  51. My husband is job hunting, which makes me watch the budget even more. It is an anxious time.
    We continue working on our fixer upper house. I listed on Facebook marketplace a glass shower door that we removed. It was free, I just wanted someone to get some use out of it, and it saves us the fees at the dump. Someone came and picked that up today. I have been able to get rid of many large items this way, which has saved us a lot in dump fees.
    I got a dress shirt for my husband through my Buy-Nothing group.
    I stretched 1 pound of ground beef for 4 meals, two were spaghetti, and 2 were shepherds pic (made with part ground beef and part lentils).
    I made a pair of pajama pants for myself, using an old pair as a pattern, and an old sheet for fabric. They turned out pretty well. I altered a tshirt to fit my husband better, and 2 shirts of my own.
    My friend gave me a bag each of oranges and lemons.

  52. Hi Brandy! I LOVED the lemon tree picture. It helps cheer me up until spring is here. Congratulations to Winter on her engagement!
    This week’s money saving:
    *I poured leftover boiling hot water (from steaming vegetables) down my bathroom sink drains. This helps to get rid of built up gunk in the pipes like toothpaste, etc
    *I filled out the feedback survey from my King Soopers (Kroger affiliate) receipt for 50 fuel points (equal to 5 cents off/gallon). It adds up and only takes a couple of minutes each time.
    *Dried laundry on our two racks in the laundry room. This saves me electricity, adds moisture to the air, and reduces wear and tear on my clothes (just look at the lint trap after you dry a load!)
    *Used notecards from my mother’s stash for several birthday wishes.
    *Read free books on my Kindle from the Overdrive app at my library.
    *I saved the leftover salty water from cooking pasta in a quart mason jar in the fridge. I lift out the pasta after it’s done with a spider spoon or metal tongs, then let the water cool down. I just hate to send it all down the drain each time. It works great and next time I cook pasta (or rice), I empty the jar into the pan and add more water since some of it is absorbed by the pasta.
    *Walked on the treadmill for an hour while I watched Wartime Farm on YouTube. This is a free treadmill that my husband and I found on the street in our neighborhood coming home from church one day. We backed up, loaded it into our van, and within an hour he had it working like new. It now sits in our basement family room in front of the TV. We have a ROKU so we can watch YouTube on the big TV.
    *In the evenings I like to knit or crochet tiny preemie hats for the NICU at the local hospital. They are quick to work up, and there are tons of patterns for these if you Google it.
    *Used my RecycleBank points to order a free magazine subscription (Texas Monthly) for a friend in Austin, and a free Backpacker subscription for my son. It doesn’t take very long (maybe 30-45 minutes!) to earn enough points on that site to get the free magazines.
    *Made a huge batch of Brandy’s zucchini/potato pancakes and froze some for later. So delicious!! I have probably 35 quart ziploc bags of shredded zucchini in my freezer. My neighbor gives me her huge zucchini every summer, which I slice lengthwise, scoop out the big seeds/innards for my chickens, then shred the rest. I fill each quart bag with 2 cups of zucchini, lay these flat on a cookie sheet until frozen, then stack them like books in a container in my freezer. When I defrost them, there’s a lot of liquid that comes out. I use a strainer and catch the liquid to either use in the recipe (if I’m making chocolate chip zucchini bread) or save in a mason jar for cooking rice or pasta.
    I have to say one of my favorite things each week is reading this blog and all the wonderful comments! I get such good ideas from everyone, and it’s nice to know I’m not the only tightwad around. Blessings for a great week to everyone.

  53. I made 3 batches of your Cranberry Granola. So yummy! And I was able to use honey that I was gifted by my brother.
    I just discovered The Dollar General Penny items. This weekend I found a 5′ x 7 1/2′ area rug for 1 penny as well as two rolls of Reynold’s Heavy Duty foil for 1 penny each.
    I continue to be vigilant about our electricity usage and have had 5 straight months of bills ranging from $79-$90. We had never had a bill under $130 prior to just paying attention and making small usage changes like turning off lights, only running full loads of laundry and unplugging items not being used.
    My husband I ate out at Chick-fil-a using a gift card I had gotten as a thank you.
    We also did some meal prepping and put 11 lunch preps in our freezer to take for work lunches.
    I picked up several paperbacks to read, some quilting magazines and fabric scraps off of my weekly quilt guild’s trash to treasure table.
    I made DIY best press spray for ironing, DIY daily shower cleaner and DIY spray disinfectant cleaner.
    I wish I could grow fruits and vegetables like you, Brandy! Soon, I will sow some lettuce seeds and plant some onions in my raised beds.
    Have a great week!

  54. It was another good, frugal week. I continued to sell items on facebook marketplace, Mercari, and have several things I need to list.
    I took the kids to a Lego building program at the library. They had fun and one of my sons won a door prize. He got a package of lego-shaped erasers.
    I bought short-dated Nestle chocolate chips at the .99 store, then made two batches of cookies before freezing the rest of the chocolate chips. Some of the cookies we took to a playdate to share.
    I took clothes that hadn’t sold to a consignment store, made $44, then took what they didn’t buy to another consignment store, where I made $14. Fortunately, neither were out of the way.
    I’m putting together go-Texan day outfits for my kids from thrifted boots, hats, and western shirts, wearing jeans they already own. I resold a pair of boots I bought at Goodwill, which sell fast this time of year in my area.
    We’ve enjoyed the loss leaders from several different grocery stores.
    With leftover February budget money, I’m stocking up on some bottled water, aquarium fish antibiotics, and more bleach. My understanding is that the fish types are the same as what humans take? I still need to do more research on this.
    The weather has been mild and I haven’t run the heater or AC.
    I made a lot of French toast using old bread.
    To try this week: I read that you can freeze grilled cheese sandwiches, then thaw and reheat. I sometimes freeze cheese sandwiches, so I may try this for easy lunches.

  55. Spring has sprung here too, Brandy! The weather is perfect!

    My accomplishments this week.

    • Used free tea and toiletries, washed ziplocks and foil and used ½ dryer sheets and ran only full loads the in washer and dishwasher during off peak times.
    • Ate in 5 times, including steak, baked potato, cauliflower and broccoli; honey Dijon chicken cutlets with stuffing leftover from Thanksgiving and green beans; African chicken curry soup served over rice, both from the freezer; Ziti, tomato and Italian sausage casserole with green salad; and a frozen pizza. We continue to eat from the freezer and pantry as much as possible. We were out of town the other 2 days.
    • Used Uber when we went out of town instead of renting a car, probably saving us at least 70%. Used my Ibotta app for that and got 75c/ride back.
    • Worked 13 ¾ contract hours. My contract work is going to be sporadic this year. Was glad to get some hours this week.
    • We met with our financial planner. She gave us lots of good advice and action items to work on to ensure we are going to have the most we can at retirement.
    • Dehydrated a bunch of celery. I’m experimenting with this.
    • Sent my sister a birthday card I had in my stash.
    • Got Get Upside and other Ibotta rebates.
    • Made Valentine’s cards for my husband and 2 grandkids instead of buying them. I have some heart shaped doilies that I glued onto some pink construction paper. For my husband’s I found a nice “love” sentiment online and used it. To mail my grandkids’ I used stamps that I had steamed off some envelopes last week. I also included some stickers of animals, space stuff and flags I had gotten free from charity solicitations.
    • They brought bagels in at work one morning, so free breakfast. Brought my lunch in from home all week also.
    • Hubby and I consciously spent less at our trivia league night.
    • Got 2 dozen eggs for 12c / dozen and 4 Red Baron pizzas on sale for $1.99 each. These are great for nights when we are both just too tired to cook.
    • Found an app for my phone that pays me a few cents for every game I play. I can do this while watching TV, so easy money. I’m saving all my app money earned (Ibotta, Get Upside, this gaming app, etc.) and will use it for Christmas presents.

    Have a great rest of the week!

  56. Brandy–would you explain the Mormon tradition about marriage ceremonies. My daughter was maid of honor for her Mormon girlfriend when she got married, and only the wedding party went to the actual ceremony in a small church near here. They did have a reception-like party at her home church (or whatever they are called by Mormons) but it was kind of like a church supper/reception although I don’t honestly know who paid for it.

    If you have any time could you explain WHY the ceremony itself is so private? I have read a little about the Latter Day Saints but don’t know the reason for some of the practices. In return, if anyone has any questions about the American Baptist Convention practices, I will explain as much as I am able!

    1. Sure, Marcia!

      Every wedding can be different in the way that it is celebrated, just like in many faiths, but there are a few things in common:

      A temple ceremony is conducted in the temple. This is a small, sacred, private ceremony. There are no photos taken inside the temple after the temple is dedicated (photos are often taken before the dedication ceremony; there are some in the link I put below). Only those who have previously made temple covenants (received their endowment) and hold a current temple recommend (which is given after an interview stating that you still believe the tenants of our faith and live according to the covenants made in the endowment) may enter into the temple. The endowment is received as an adult, so for example, at a temple ceremony (called a temple sealing) there will be no children in attendance. The temple is a sacred place to us. I am including a link here for your with a super short video about temple sealings: //www.youtube.com/watch?v=gA6aTiMDYho

      Until very recently, a marriage outside the temple was uncommon for most members of our faith unless they lived outside the United States. For instance, in France, you have to be married first at the town hall, no matter what faith you belong to. All religious ceremonies were conducted afterwards, essentially making two ceremonies. In the U.S., that requirement doesn’t exist, so most people just chose a temple marriage. However, members of our faith can now choose to have a ceremony outside the temple first, and then go to the temple to be sealed for time and all eternity afterwards. This would make it possible for family members who are of other faiths to attend a ceremony. As my parents are not of my faith, this is an option that I would have chosen if it had been an option twenty years ago.

      Many temple sealings take place in the morning. Afterwards, there is often a wedding luncheon for those who attended the temple and any other close family members, usually hosted by the groom’s family. I did not know this when I got married. I was so touched when my sister-in-law invited us to a family potluck afterwards! This can be casual (like mine was) or more fancy, as the family chooses.

      A reception is usually held in the evening, usually hosted by the bride’s family. It can be held anywhere the family wishes, but it is often held at the church building of the bride’s family. There is no charge to have the reception held at the building, and tables and chairs (and often tablecloths) can be used without charge as well, making it a great option for many families. (There is also no charge to be married at the temple, for both the venue and the officiant). Many families just choose to have dessert served at the reception, and often the entire congregation is invited to attend. I have heard from a few friends who live on the East Coast that they have seen dinner served more often in the east and everyone dresses more formally than those in the west. I think that’s probably representative of attitudes of dressing and formality in the U.S. in general.

      Thanks for asking, Marcia!

  57. Frugal well wishes to everyone. Beautiful spring flowers Brandy-
    This week..
    -With the days getting longer, the lights are on less.
    -Made and froze for the future; banana bread, apple bread, shredded beef, spagetti sauce, and peanut butter cookies.
    -Started to make fabric wrapped coil baskets for a craft fair in the future.
    -Shoveled our snow-no need to hire someone.
    -Lowered the house temperature and are using less propane.
    -Have stocked up pantry-noticed that all the flour I bought for .89/5 lbs. in October is almost gone, and I thought I bought so much, Next year more.
    -Gave myself a manicure using a new spring like color. (It’s been on now for 9 days-so glad it worked}
    Stay frugal everyone…

  58. Where did I miss that Winter is getting married???? What wonderful news! She is going to make a wonderful, frugal wife because she has learned from the best! Congratulations to all!

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