I transplanted lettuce and mache seedlings in the garden where they had self-seeded so that they could grow larger.

I decided to not purchase any seeds for the year and will use what I have purchased in the past as well as what I have collected. I may change my mind on that (or need to for the fall) but for now, I am going to resist buying any more seeds.

I sowed seeds that I had from last year for snow peas and spinach. Spinach seeds don’t have a long storage life (usually only a year), but I figured I would try anyway. If they don’t grow, I’ll plant something else there.

I mended a hole in a sweater. This was a hand-me-down sweater that belonged to my eldest. My other daughters don’t want it, so it is mine now.

I read four e-books from the library on my phone using the free Libby app: The Forest of Vanishing StarsMad About You, Who’s That Girl?, and Don’t You Forget About Me.

What did you do to save money last week?

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  1. This has been a quiet week! Committed to using what we already have in our pantry.

    I took the 16 boxes of candy canes I bought for 25 cents/ box of 18 canes and unwrapped each one (that was a more tedious job for Hubs and I) and then I crushed them up using my electric mini-chopper. Instead of 16 boxes on my shelf, I now have one 1/2 gallon vacuum sealed jar and a partial Parmesan cheese jar that I recycled. https://pin.it/1qRxg50.

    Blackberries went on sale again- 99 cents/ 6 Oz carton so my daughter and I both bought some, so her 12 year old daughter could make jam for their house over here at Grandma’s! I’m having a lovely time with her!

    A friend that I have shared sale info with before (like GFS having 10 pound bags of BLSL chicken breast for $14.99 – $1.50/pound) called me Saturday night to say that she found chopped walnuts on sale for $1.99/pound. She said she got enough for herself and her catering (cupcakes and baked goods) business and wondered if I would like some! I asked her to get 15 since there were shopping carts filled with lots of them! I am pleased and now we have added 1 more person to our “eyes and ears” network who alert the rest of us and pick up “orders” for each other! I am really excited about this “networking “!!

    Our youngest son called me Saturday to ask where he would find chopped ham in the store because he picked out 2 recipes from the cookbooks he downloaded at our house last weekend and had made a grocery list! Cue the Angel chorus!! 🎉🎉🎉🎉🎉. I looked at his list and told him that he could come over and I could fill his list for those two recipes from my freezer and pantry this time to get him started! He came over and had bought at Target (rather than thrift store or FB Marketplace) a single Patty grill. He picked up a 10 pack of 10 Pattie’s and buns at the store and didn’t want to be by himself the first time he used it. Lol! So he grilled up all 10, had 2 for lunch and used a couple ziploc bags from a brand new box he brought with him to bag the rest up to put in his new fridge! I then had him measure and cook 8 ounces of dry noodles in the instant pot. They were needed for one of the recipes he was going to make. It took all my strength not to just have him watch while I cooked noodles up but I felt like he would learn more doing it himself! And he is totally comfortable using the IP and there are 2 available to him at his place. We ate some lunch, watched an old episode of Leverage and then he went home to make his recipes! This sounds like a little thing but it is monumental! He’s becoming more independent and self reliant!

    Another friend called today and asked where we buy our chicken feed. They have chickens also. In fact when we bought our most recent hens, we picked up some for them too so we would have enough volume to get a discount on each of them. Her husband is out of town in a smaller rural area where they used to live and has an Amish store where he used to buy 80 pound bags of chicken feed for a much cheaper price. It’s about 2-1/2 hours away but her husband is there already for the next 2 days and he drove his truck! This will be a great savings for us and again, we are grateful for a community of friends who are willing to “network” and share their frugal discoveries with us! It really does remind us of that unity that comes knowing we are “all in this together”!!

    We took out our Required Minimum Distribution from our IRA and used a portion of it to directly pay our tithing to our Church, using a Qualified Charitable Distribution so that the tithing portion will not be added into our income for 2024.

    So not tons going on here, just the normal day-to-day frugal things!

    Hope everyone is safe and secure with all these weather calamities and economic turmoils!

    Gardenpat in Ohio

      1. Lynn- Hubs already sprinkled some on a scoop of plain vanilla ice cream he had tonight. I’ll use it to top frosting and brownies, in cake batter and fudge and basically anywhere a little taste of peppermint would be enjoyed!

        Gardenpat in Ohio

    1. Gardenpat, I totally get that monumental moment with your son and it brought tears to my eyes
      The little things are not so little
      Thank you so much for sharing

    2. I love reading your comments each week. This classic (62 yr old) lady has learned a lot from both you & this blog!

    3. Gardenpat, your son is making great strides! It’s always heartwarming to see our kids grow into life, even more so when they are challenged in some area. I celebrate every time he makes another stride! 🥰 Three of our younger ones are doing Dave Ramsey and one and his wife just paid off all their school loans so they are now debt free! Cue the debt free scream! All the sacrifices they made have paid off and they are onto step three and a lifetime of smart financial decisions. Love your network of shoppers! My sister and I do this. Not a very big network, but we have our eyes peeled. I think that it is true that what we do for others out of a kind heart comes back to us tenfold! God bless you and your family!

      1. Laura S- What an awesome accomplishment for your son and DIL!!! A well deserved Debt-Free Scream!!!🎉🎉🎉🎉. I gain so much wisdom and good ideas and encouragement from you and Brandy and the other commenters! Warms my heart!

        Gardenpat in Ohio

  2. I haven’t commented in a few months but feel I should contribute since I like reading the post and comments. This covers highlights for the first 2 weeks of January.

    I’m saving a lot of money because I’m currently stuck at home. I have very, very poor eyesight and started wearing contact lense when I was 13 in 1967 and no one had ever heard of them. I currently have gas permeable lenses which change the shape of your cornea because, unlike soft lenses, they don’t let enough oxygen reach your eyes. I need to have cataract surgery done but before the surgeon can do the eye measurements, I need to stop wearing my contacts for 4 weeks. This started on Sunday, 1/9. I do have glasses but they are not strong enough for driving so unless I have a ride somewhere, I’m at home. I’m jokingly calling this the Time of No Conract Lenses (TONCL). Without contacts, my up close eyesight (6 inches or less away) is very good so I’m using this time to cross-stitch. In the first week, I’ve finished 2 projects I had previously started. The cataract surgery should also correct my vision so I don’t need corrective lenses (no guarantees and fingers crossed). It will be nice to see in the morning and hopefully have better night vision but I’m going to miss that up close vision. I’ll just use magnifying lenses.

    I made a swag for my front door using fabric lilacs, white sweet peas, red roses and red ribbon I already owned. This has been on the to do list for years and I really like the result. I can’t use my spring wreath on a round willow base because birds try to nest in it and the cats go crazy when they see them in the window.

    I dehydrated sweet onions and got one pint. I have more to do this week. I used some of the 5 dozen San Marzano tomatoes I picked before our Christmas freeze to stretch the last of the tomato sauce to make ravioli. I also used the remaining portion in a pint of canned ground beef. It may not look pretty with the fat in the jar – my daughter absolutely refused to take any – but not having to cook it first made all the effort in canning it worthwhile. I’ll be using more of the tomatoes that have ripened and the last of my home grown lettuce to make BLTs this week. There are still 22 tomatoes that aren’t fully ripened and some small ones that likely never will. I’ll put the latter in either the compost pile or, depending on how they taste, add them to a pot of chili when I make it next week.

    Before TOCNL, I stocked up on all toiletries and cleaning supplies for 2023. There seem to be very few sales on these items and I’m tired of chasing them and having stuff out of stock. This also keeps me out of Walmart for the year unless I want more canning jars, which were totally sold out. I was surprised by how EMPTY this super center store was on a sunny Friday afternoon. I did not have to wait in line at all.

    I also stocked up on groceries except for pasta sauce which was out. I picked that up yesterday when my daughter and I went out to lunch and stopped at Aldi. We considered this outing her breaking me free from my “house arrest”. She’ll take me out again in another 2-3 weeks when I need milk and some fresh produce. She and her husband also used the email BOGO coupons we both received at Nothing Bundt Cakes and they dropped mine off.

    I bought a binder to organize my finances for 2023 to track all expenses and write out each month’s budget. I’m using envelopes I already own to keep each month’s receipts. I also bought a binder, sheet protectors and erasable markers to set up a house cleaning/maintenance schedule. It’s based on the Flylady’s methods but modified to fit my house size and life stage/style. This binder includes a page for teaching how long each toiletry and cleaning product lasts. I THINK i know but this will give me solid data for planning next year.

    I ordered seeds from Scheeper’s, which have already arrived. In addition to vegetables, I bought milkweed and the butterfly collection. There is a semi-wild area at the back of my yard and I want to spread some of them there to encourage both butterflies and bees for pollination. If this succeeds, it will also give me cutting flowers. I also bought mache seeds to try that out and a couple new types of spinach to see if they are more successful.

    My cats had their annual vet appointments with the mobile vet who does house calls. None of the cats like going in the carriers or the car and one of them is terrified of doing so. There is a home visit fee but since it’s spread across all 3 cats and his other charges are less, it’s no more expensive than going to a vet at an office building. I paid by check and saved the 3% charge they add for processing credit card payments.

    One cat was found to have a thyroid condition and now requires a daily medication. The vet recommended a local, independent pharmacy 25 miles away. My daughter works near this location so she picked up the medicine and dropped it off, saving me gas and time or a shipping charge. On a side note, this place has an old fashioned soda counter and my daughter would like to know why every town doesn’t have one of those. 😆😆

    The 15 year old cat has some tartar build up and needs his first ever cleaning, which is dental surgery. We’ll do this after my eye surgery but in the meantime I’ve gotten them greenies, a product that helps control tartar buildup. It’s a lot cheaper than the dental cleanings and the cats LOVE them so I ordered 3 containers from Chewy to get the large size.

    I’m currently listening to the early Elvis Cole/Joe Pike novels by Robert Crais using Scribd. I have read most of the recent ones and have a library hold on the latest book. I’ve also listened to several books using Hoopla and have decided there is one popular mystery author I’m going to drop because he has too many plot line holes and stupid actions by supposedly smart characters and I hate having my intelligence and common sense insulted.

    Sorry this is so long but no one has ever accused me of brevity. 🤣🤣

    1. Mari, you’ve sure sparked my curiosity about which author you’ve given up….how about a hint lol!?

      1. Initials JP. Final straw incident in recent book is when an undercover character who was previously the chief of detectives for DC metro police is contacted by her husband in public, says their real names and those of her stepchildren with him and uses her personal credit card, not the one for her undercover persona, to purchase something to wear to a party as part of her assignment. She was shocked they figured out who she was. Just way too many things like that in his books lately.

  3. I needed to pick up prescriptions. I did this on a Tuesday, when seniors get 20% off any non-prescription items, as long as they aren’t on sale. I was able to get several months of ibuprofen for arthritis relief, and a bottle of cold medicine. There weren’t many bottles of either on the shelf, but enough for my needs. I haven’t had the flu or a cold in years, but wanted to be prepared with so much going around. I needed a couple of other things, and saved $11.

    I had asked the pharmacist to get a renewal for 90 days of meds, but the doctor only prescribed 30 days. The doctor’s office tell me he wants to see patients every 30 days before giving them a renewal. This doesn’t add any value to my health care, so I am preparing what I will say to him when I see him in February.

    I’ve been taking a two-week online course, which is to encourage different ways of looking at life. It has some short readings and exercises to practice, and then a discussion forum. It is good to get a positive spin on things, and the forum breaks up some of the social isolation in winter. It is fun to think about something other than what I normally think of, anyway.

    My grocery budget is where it was last week. I’ll make one more trip before my next round of pension starts on the 25th. That will leave me $50 under what I budgeted for a five-week month. (We’re paid early before Christmas.) February being four weeks between pension month pays, I’ll lower the budget.

    My electricity budget came in $4 less than last month, and $45 less than the same month last year. I was really pleased. We are getting a provincial rebate of $50 each month for a few months, and that $45 less was before the rebate. The reduction comes from moving to the fixed rate and from lower usage. Comments on our local Facebook tell me people are having very, very high electricity and energy bills. Many people with larger houses and/or rural homes have bills that are more than twice what mine are.

    I cut a channel subscription in my Prime account, and asked them to do that right away and refund the balance. That will save about $9.

    Best wishes to everyone. Hope you are all staying warm, dry and safe.

    1. Perhaps the doctor will allow an online meeting if they continue to insist on an appointment?

      My electric bills are coming in way less, too. I am happy to see it.

      1. The doctor’s office thought I might be able to do phone appointments (we did these during the pandemic). I’ll still need to figure out how to get around having to go to the pharmacy every 30 days instead of every 90. I imagine they’ll deliver, at a cost. It already costs $20 more a quarter for the dispensing fee co-pay getting the prescriptions every 30 days instead of every 90.

        I’m impressed your electricity bill is down a lot. A lot of people in your household have to make an effort to make that happen!

        1. I truly think the LED lights have made a much larger difference to the bill than we estimated. This is the time of year that we use the lights the most.

            1. Elizabeth M.

              I have LED lights on all the lights I use frequently. It makes a huge difference! The actual electricity I used this past month was about $12. Having tied in the rate at 6 cents per kilowatt hour greatly helps but my usage is really low. The administration fees and charges were a lot more.

        2. CVS delivers without charging us. I usually give a tip which requires having some small bills handy. Most delivery people have been very nice with the exception of the last guy who was irritated that he had to wait a minute when he showed up for me to hobble to the door with my walker because I was at a critical non-interruptable point at helping my 99-year-old mom get ready to get out of bed. I have been postponing my refills hoping he gets a new job before my next delivery. Usually we end up with a different courier each month.

    2. I get all my medicines mailed to me, 90 day supply, and pay nothing. My doctor sees me every 6 months and writes a prescription for 6 months until the next visit. I’m retired so I have Medicare and supplemental with AARP. Since I have been retired, I haven’t paid anything for tests, specialists, medicine, or support items such as arm bands and canes, and procedures. My supplemental insurance costs a little more but in costing it out I am saving quite a bit. I have a friend that has different insurance but has a co-pay for doctor visits and procedures. In the long run I pay far less for my medical care.

    3. I am currently dealing with my new doctors refusel to give me more than 28 days of my panic medication. My previous prescriber retired dang him (I loved this doc, he got me thru a lot of hard life traumas and listened to my feedback so we could figure out what combo of meds works best for my brain). It’s ridiculous because I have a 23 year record of taking the med as prescribed. I am trying out conversations to present to my new doc too. I wish you luck!

    4. I suppose it depends on the medication, but several years back I switched my primary doctor because the one I was going to would only prescribe a 6-month refill of my thyroid medication I’ve taken for years. I felt it was just a gimmick to bill for an unnecessary office visit when all they would do was renew the same dosage for another 6 months. I haven’t regretted that decision. I would be very upset with having to do an appointment every 30 days!

      1. lizajane

        Actually, what is not unreasonable is to have the thyroid blood tests periodically to make sure your thyroid hasn’t kicked in. This happened to me and I was having angina because my thyroid levels had gone high. My dosage had to be changed. My pharmacist recently told me I needed to have the levels tested as they hadn’t been tested for a couple of years so I did have it tested. Just for other readers who may have thyroid problems, I thought I’d mention this – the doctor was being prudent, it wasn’t a gimmick. I’ve had about 4 changes in dosages over the years. You’re lucky lizajane that you haven’t needed dosage changes…

    5. Happily, the pharmacist re-submitted the request for a 90 day prescription along with an explanation that I had just had a physical, and the person in the doctor’s office took it to the doctor with an explanation of why it wasn’t needed (long-term use at same dose, me having to walk to appointments, etc.), and there is now a 90 day prescription on file for me at the pharmacy. The pharmacist is going to refund me the extra I spent on a 30 day dispensing fee.

      I’m in Canada (Alberta). All doctor visits are 100% paid for by free provincial health insurance. I pay a 30% co-pay on prescriptions through a provincial senior’s Blue Cross program, but there’s an extra dispensing fee each time they fill a prescription.

  4. We’ve been working on saving money a lot more with inflation taking such a bite out of everything.

    We’ve dried several loads of clothing outside and on our drying rack.

    We made three batches of muffins. One blueberry and two pumpkin.

    We made a pork shoulder last night for dinner. We’ll get three dinners out of it at least.

    We’ve been using the library a lot more. My husband and I signed up for a hoopla account Between the two of us we get ten titles a month. We are listening to audiobooks this way which is cheaper than other streaming services. We use it for homeschool too which saves us money on curriculum. We still get regular books which my husband picks up when he’s running errands.

    We are working on not wasting food. This has been a real problem in our household. But we are doing better. I wanted to get Chick-fil-A today but looked into the fridge instead. We assembled a meal using leftovers and eggs. Tonight’s dinner will be another assemblage. It feels good to use things up.

    I hope everyone has a great week!

    1. Do you also use the Libby app through the library? You can rent more books and audiobooks that way. I use both and sometimes hoopla may have something Libby doesn’t

  5. Reading everyone’s money-saving efforts here really helps keep me motivated, so thank you to Brandy and to everyone who posts! *I stopped by Jo-ann’s to purchase some interfacing for a blouse I am making and also bought two remnants – one 2 yards and one 1-yard piece – that were 75% off. The 2-yard piece is linen I have been eying for a while, but the regular price was $23 a yard. So my patience paid off! * We picked up the ¼ beef we ordered. When we got it home I canned all the stew meat as well as a large roast (6 pints of beef for quick meals.) I also made 5 quarts of chili (a favorite quick dinner) and 2 ½ dozen meatballs and a meatloaf. * I baked French bread and a batch of English muffins. * Bags of lemons were on sale, so I bought a bag and zested and juiced the 7 lemons it contained. I froze the juice in ice cube trays and dried the zest. I made a jar of lemon-pepper seasoning with some of the dried zest – so good and something I wouldn’t have thought to do if Brandy hadn’t mentioned doing it.* A couple of months ago I canned cranberries with sugar and water to make juice. We’re enjoying the juice now and I used the cranberries I drained off to make cranberry bread. *I mended several items of clothing, and I sewed a blouse from one of the remnants I got at Jo-ann’s. * My husband changed the oil in my car and replaced a latch that had broken on our dog’s leash.

  6. The rare morning fog is lifting and I can now see the Rocky Mountains from my home. We have had an exceptionally mild January which continues. We had a super busy weekend with lots of visitors-2 of them overnight. We made sure to send them off with plenty of food for the next couple days of their ski trip. They are braver( and younger) than I and plan some winter camping in free places with a tent that pops up off a rack on their pickup truck. They also have a heater for it. Oh to be 22 and 23 again-lol.

    This morning I am making ham and split pea soup from a ham bone DH had saved in the freezer. Did not sleep great last night so having a lazy jammie day while attending to a few tasks at home. Also will be speaking with a Mum about her need for part time childcare by phone. A friend dropped off a very tasty lasagna and some homemade Xmas baking as she knew I had been ill-it was greatly appreciated. Another friend came for a visit and tea and brought me a bouquet of flowers so I have been spoiled.
    Most frugal finds this week were at the discount produce store.
    14 lb case of mini mandarin oranges-$2.00
    Fresh pineapple-$1
    Fresh cranberries. 33 cents per bag-used them in oatmeal muffins this weekend
    Grapes .99/lb
    Individual Oikos yogurt by the case. 20 cents per container .
    Bananas .49/lb
    2 lb bag of carrots free for spending $30 at one of the 2 stores
    Cabbage .59/lb
    There were many more great prices which I have forgotten now. My DH also received $75 in gift cards to a mall as an Xmas gift from work. Since we didn’t really need anything I decided to spend that at the grocery store-rather pricey Safeway but it was free to us. Wishing everyone a frugal week.

    1. Since you mentioned the Rocky Mountains, I wonder if you’re anywhere near me and I might ask what discount store you visited? Great bargains! I’m in Colorado Springs.

  7. Hello, frugal friends from southwest Virginia! It has been a fairly successful frugal week for us. Mr. Fix It bought some pipe insulation and installed it around our water pipes. He used his military discount to purchase the insulation. I used a .20$ off per gallon on gas to fill my car. Our local Kroger has a grand reopening last week. I received a free chocolate peanut butter bar and a coupon for a free almond dip (value $6) which I used on that trip. It was a tasty treat but at $6 a small container I will not be buying it again. I also was given a $5 gift card to use at the store. They had marked down lemons and tomatoes for .99 a bag of 5 each. That was .20/lemon or tomato. Their pasta was on sale for the new sale price of buy 6 for .79 a box. I bought the 6 boxes of various pasta which brings my pasta count up to what we will use for a year plus a few extra to share in the future. They had canned tomatoes and tomato sauce on sale for the new sale price of .79/can. I bought 48 cans so that is enough for the year as well. Growing tomatoes is a hit or miss thing for me. Some years I get enough to can some salsa and tomatoes. Some years it is just enough to eat fresh. I scanned all receipts into Fetch. I dried my sheets on the bed and only ran the dryer for one load. I hung the rest around the house as the weather was not cooperative for outside drying. I am hoping to use the dryer for only 1 load/week. I often have to run 2-3 loads per week. I batched my errands to save time and gas. I read e-books from the library (Thanks, Brandy, for the recommendations.) and made all meals at home. I needed more velcro for my doll clothes project so used a 50% off coupon from Joann Fabrics. I made 2 more handkerchiefs from scrap muslin I had in my stash and embroidered them to make them pretty. I am cooking with small appliances as much as I can to help reduce our electric bill. I am using the oven only when I bake bread, which is every other week. I bake other things with the bread. I think that’s about it for the past week. Wishing everyone blessings and successful frugal endeavors.

    1. I like the idea of only using the oven every other week. Not sure i could do every other week but i can certainly cut back! Thanks for the idea!

    2. Not sure if your Kroger is the same, but ours has the pasta sale “Buy 6 or more” for $0.79. That way, you can buy more than 6 at a time for the sale price.

  8. Hello Everyone,

    With several power outages due to storms, this week was challenging. Unfortunately, our back up solar battery ran out of juice after 10 hours and we had no way to recharge with cloudy and rainy skies. We bought ice to pack the freezer and fridge, but since the outage was over several days I didn’t want to risk food poisoning and tossed perishables. It’s not worth it to any of us! I also found it challenging to prepare meals by LED lantern light. I keep most meat frozen and didn’t want to unsafely defrost it on the countertop. We did pick up some reasonably priced take out. This also made me aware of how having home canned soups and stews would have been very handy in this situation. I will have to work on that for my pantry. Thankfully the power is back on and the last of the storm is passing today.

    I did find that the lack of power made us slow down. It was really nice to put a puzzle together at night. We all got tired earlier in the evening since it was dark. That made me mindful of how artificial light and TV stimulation can alter sleep.

    I picked up some library books and have been listening to an audiobook on Hoopla. I picked more oranges from our tree. They’re tastier than the store! Costco has bags of frozen chicken breast on sale this week at $2/lb. and picked one up.

    Have a blessed week!

    1. I bought freeze dried ‘meals’ for just this reason. I figured if the power was out for extended time then all I would have to do was boil some water and add it to the freeze dried meal. They are very basic. Beans and rice, and some sort of soup. It’s mylar packaged and has a shelf life of 15 years. I wanted a once-and-done thing, not something I had to keep rotating.

    2. Not sure if it was an option given all the outages, but if you can, use dry ice instead of regular. 1) it’s much colder so keeps things like ice cream actually frozen 2) it evaporates vs melts, leaving no wet mess. It saved my food when my refrigerator died and took over a week to get a new one.

      1. We used both! 😆 I didn’t initially know about dry ice, and we bought some but figured it out a bit too late. Lots of learning opportunities from the recent storms for sure!

  9. My Frugal Accomplishments:

    *used orange peels to make vinegar cleaner
    *soaked banana peel in water, then used to water my indoor plants
    *used up or froze leftovers
    *added old lettuce, banana peel, and lint to my compost tumbler
    *saved Kohls cash and stacked with 30% off to get a throw blanket for 59 cents oop. When I went in store for free pickup I also returned an Amazon package and my daughter used the $5 given when you make a return to buy a clearance sweater (ended up costing $5 oop)
    *used a $10 off coupon plus 5% discount to order laundry soap and trash bags from Amazon
    *my mom gifted me 4 beautiful curtains, some candles, and a large peace lily

    📍Grocery Store: large boxes of cheese it duos ($1), 20% off chicken breast, blackberries ($1), hot sauce ($1), canned mandarin oranges ($1.35)
    📍Buy Nothing Group: soap mold and base, various spray paints, 2 planters

    Take Care 😊

    1. Just an FYI you can use the $5 Kohl’s cash on items under 5 dollars. Last time I made a return I got a bath towel that was on sale for $4.50 for free.

  10. Quiet week here, thankfully. The older I get, the more I appreciate quiet weeks. *My son loves Aloha BBQ Chicken pizza. To celebrate finishing his first week of nursing school, I made one instead of ordering one. He thought it was very kind. And it was tasty! *I utilized some cooked black beans in my freezer and made black refried beans. I used a bit of the frozen onion and pepper mix as flavoring and we had them as burritos. Delicious and inexpensive. *Our washing machine broke (it’s been making noise awhile). We have the repair insurance through our utility company and they will come out. In two weeks. sigh. But we can limp along til then with hand washing and going to the laundry mat. I told my son to not change clothes so much for awhile! We still may need a new washer, but I’m proud of us for trying to fix it first, even with it being so inconvenient. There is money in savings for if/when we need to do that. * There was a fraud alert on my husbands debit card. Thankfully the credit union notified us right away and his debit card was cancelled. * Finished two more hat and scarf sets with donated yarn. I’m almost done with the two huge tubs of donated yarn I had. It’s taken me a couple years to get through it. * Reading library books and watching shows for fun and relaxation. Really enjoying All Creatures Great and Small on PBS. Grateful for their free app so I can watch the next day. * My brother and his wife live about an hour away and asked if they could visit at lunchtime. They are older and driving at night is getting tricky. They stopped at Aldi and bought a take and bake pizza and brought some salad with them. It was a nice visit. Kind of them to bring the meal. * Hope everyone has a happy, peaceful and thrifty week!

  11. Those flowers are beautiful.
    I checked out the Scrappy cookbook from the library. I am finding it interesting.
    I worked three days. Brought breakfast all three days, and lunch two of the days. Went to lunch with my sister on the third day.
    My DH replaced the nozzle on our kitchen sink. So glad he could do it.
    We had leftovers for dinner a few evenings. This was from the ham made the previous Sunday. The ham bone and some “ham bits” are in the freezer for making split pea soup later this week. More ham bits are in the freezer for making either another kind of soup or fried rice.
    We finished the homemade bread, and my DH likes to have really soft squishy bread if it’s not homemade. Found a loaf on sale for 40¢. Also got two chicken tenders for $1.50, as they were close to closing the deli at the time. They were good sized ones too.
    Used some Safeway coupons for free food instead of gas rewards. Received a free dozen eggs, 2 free boxes of pasta, and two coupons for $4.00 off produce. With those coupons, I got a bunch of celery, an English cucumber and two heads (4 1/2 pounds total) of cauliflower for a total of $1.63. I was really pleased.
    At Safeway, I also bought two big packages (a total of 6.75 pounds) of 93% lean hamburger for $3.99/pound. At the dollar store, got a Sunday newspaper, two pounds of pink Himalayan salt, and a box of lasagna noodles for $5.00. Safeway this week also had a special on cream cheese for $1.49 each, if you bought four. More than I used to pay, but I use it on bagels and making a cracker spread we really like.
    I made two loaves of herb bread. Made brown rice in the rice cooker, and had some for breakfast, and then the next day used it to make fried rice, using some of the free eggs and cheap celery, as well as carrots and peas from the freezer.
    Hope everyone has a good week.

  12. Hi everyone.
    I brought blackberries for 99 cent, also brought cabbage for 19 cent and chicken breast for 1.99 pound. So I am trying to find bargains. Getting free duck eggs from my co worker usually 6 a week helps a lot. Paying all bills on time getting some overtime. Reading little house on prairie again. Hope everyone is doing good. Thanks for all you do keeping this blog going.

  13. I also did not buy any seeds for this spring. I’m using what I have on hand and will write down and compile a list of anything I realize I need more of as the season progresses.
    This week I started my peppers, tomatoes, herbs, patio cucumbers (for the greenhouse) and tomatillos from seed. Trying to grow all of the transplants this year instead of paying the outrageous prices for seedlings as we get closer to planting.
    As far as grocery spending, we kept it to a minimum and only bought necessities. Also, I did not give into any impulse purchases for home decor and am learning to be content with what I have. We were blessed with a bunch of leftover food from a catering event at work, so I enjoyed a week off from cooking. We had chicken enchiladas, tenderloin, salad, and chicken fried steak that fed my husband and I supper every night.
    This week I’m pulling a lot from the freezer and pantry.
    Harvested fresh lettuce from the garden last night for a salad; there’s such a taste difference between fresh homegrown lettuce and store bought. I assume it’s due to the freshness of the homegrown.
    As I’m on a no spend month, I ran out of my preferred facewash, but I’ve been making do with the backups. I’m actually quiet enjoying one bottle of face wash and I don’t know why I quit using it; it removes makeup well.
    I hope you all have a blessed week! Thank you Brandy for this weekly post!

  14. Thankful for the comments and ideas posted here each week. Brandy, your IG has been fun to see the glistening rain!
    Speaking of rain…
    I think we might have licked the deluge of the ceiling dilemma! After additional measures, my husband patched the roof (our brand new roof) again with some flashing/sealant/determination. He was rather dismayed the morning after a big rain when our counters were all soaked until I showed him how he had overflowed the water filters (they sit in the same area). We had a good laugh. And he was less dismayed.
    Our sleep schedule is way off and doesn’t make for very great living. 😛 I’m decidedly working on that this week and hope that the others in my household will follow suit.
    Learned a new card game with some neighbors and had beginners luck! Laughter and good company make a day brighter.
    Stalked the stores for some good sales. Since they were incredibly hard to come by, I made conversation with the cashiers and offered them my sympathy instead to make my limited transactions feel upbeat and positive. I do feel for the grocery clerks. They are getting some tongue lashings right now, poor things.
    I was able to keep some of my food supplies in order by replacing them. I’ve had an intentional method of trying to keep the home shelves full and not doing the usual Winter eat-down idea. Though, I can’t always replace food with the exact item used up, I intend to keep my shelves maintained of supplies. I may not be able to keep up with plan but will try as long as I am able. I remember a long-ago post from Brandy that mentioned not feeling bad about the food you are using up. Good advice, especially now!
    Started to feel the doldrums from gray skies. Jumped on my daughters bed, had a dance party, made smoothies and walked briskly outside. Lifted the gray away.
    Noticed something wrong with my car. Fixed it for $12.
    Didn’t get projects done this weekend but am so, so grateful there will be another day to work on them.
    Needed some bedding for chickens and my husband found one bale tucked away in our shed.
    Re-styled some areas of my home by just rearranging the placement of things. I do this often for form and function. This keeps things fresh for my creative soul!
    Found a book off my “want list (the want list is always long when it comes to books 😀 )” for $2. This is a cheaper option for someone like me who can never, ever turn one back to the library on time. I have accepted my shortcomings and appreciate thrifted books as an alternative. Plus, our home library is a boon to my sanity. All of our family and visitors peruse it too!
    Stayed the course on some financial endeavors.
    Cursed my headache but blessed my pillow. Cheap medicine and therapy. But a total time waster. You win some and you lose some.
    Had more wonderful visits with human beings, in person. Being present makes a difference for so many. And a difference it makes to my kindness level and compassion.
    Gearing up for crazy gardening and will enjoy todays rainy hibernation before the season changes.
    Enjoyed the cooking and cleaning and last week. I might feel differently this week. hahaha. I will, however, always feel grateful for the cooking and cleaning. I don’t take it for granted.
    Lastly, cheers to all you chicken owners! Huzzah!

    1. I love that the library e-books return themselves! And I don’t have to spend money on gas to get to the library.

    2. Our library system did away with late fees entirely. Originally I was worried that people would have no incentive to return their books in a timely manner and wait list times would increase. Thankfully I have seen no evidence of that and people seem to return books in a timely manner.

    3. Connie – I don’t know if you have access to fallen leaves in Autumn but they are a great source for chicken bedding. We rake up as much as we can when we can (when it’s dry) and bag them up for future use. Free material and the chickens break them down and add their manure which makes great compost. Just a thought. 🙂

      1. Yes! We have a lot of tree litter, come fall. We add most of it directly to our compost and garden beds. We’re in such a low rainfall area that it didn’t occur to me to have some extra as bedding for the chickens. It’s due to the recent, unusual rainy season that we needed material to sop up the puddles. Animals can handle a cold environment just fine. But the wet causes trouble for them. I’ll remember to lay aside s few bags of leaves for this possibility next year. Thank you for that idea.

        As for the library comments…I’m cracking up at the idea that I could potentially keep my eyes open while reading past 9. Ha! I mean, I’m up past 9. But that’s not my best comprehension hour. 😀

        1. I don’t last long past nine, usually! But sometimes, if the book is really good, I will stay up and read later. I always end up paying for it the next day, though.

  15. Brandy, I’m not planning to buy any seeds this year, either…but, like you, I might change my mind! (The Burpee catalog just arrived, LOL).

    Most of my accomplishments last week were in the kitchen. I’ve been very mindful of cooking ahead and not wasting anything. I only spent $36 this week for groceries. We went out to lunch one day but otherwise spent $0 last week.

    I cooked double one night and froze a ready meal. Just to keep things moving, we ate a ready meal I froze about 6 weeks ago.

    I got a big head of lettuce for $1.99 (most I’ve ever paid for lettuce). I washed and dried the leaves and stored them in a plastic bag in the fridge. I used about half the head to make a big salad for dinner Sunday with enough left for two more meals. I left out anything that might go slimy such as cucumbers and tomatoes, which I can add before serving or even omit.

    Besides the salad, I made a pork roast (with enough leftovers for 1-2 more meals) and thawed twice-baked potatoes left from Christmas. I’ve made big pots of soup every weekend for the last 4-5 weeks and eaten it for lunches. Between soup and leftovers, our lunches (always a problem here) have improved dramatically. I’m trying to make enough food so that I only have to cook one thing a day. Less cooking and we are eating better.

    I read two books from the library last week, including A Year Without the Grocery Store. This would be very helpful for anyone establishing food storage. However, I keep a very deep pantry, not what I’d call food storage (no wheat or large quantities of powdered milk, salt, etc.) Also, she never really discusses meat, except dried (?), and never once mentioned freezing anything. It was interesting, but not really useful for my situation.

    We watched the first two episodes of Series 3 of All Creatures Great and Small on PBS Passport. We get Passport free with our $60 donation to Idaho Public Television.

    I cashed in savings certificates early and re-bought them at a higher interest rate. I had to forfeit about $120 in interest, but the higher interest will more than make up for it. We were only getting 1/2 of one percent interest, and the new certificates pay 4.25% and 4.50%.

    I also overpaid our quarterly tax payments so that we will get a refund. This will allow us to use up to $5,000 of the refund to buy I-series treasury bonds, which currently pay 6.82% for this quarter. I learned about this from a comment on this blog. You can learn more at treasurydirect.gov and irs.gov.

    Frugal Fail–I backed into a truck parked across the street. Aaargh! First accident since 2005. No damage to the truck (it was a beater with a lot of body damage) but I will probably be getting a new hatchback on my 2018 Honda Pilot. I have a $500 deductible.

  16. Hi Brandy and everyone
    Your photos are gorgeous as ever, so romantic and dreamy.
    It is my birthday in a couple of weeks and I asked my husband for a new long raincoat because our rain is getting ever more intense. We bought it early in the January sales for a good price.
    Inexpensive meals this week were squash, spinach and bean curry, stuffed Pork hello mushrooms and cheese and spinach frittata. I froze the leftover curry for another day. Puddings have been different stewed fruits from the freezer.
    We picked leeks, parsnips and carrots from the garden.
    A friend passed on to me a new pack of knee highs that she won’t wear.
    We bought a bigger dog crate for our puppy off Facebook Marketplace at half the cost of a new one. We waited and searched until something came up at the right price.
    We bought paint at a 20% discount and received a voucher for 20% off the next purchase and now have a loyalty card which will give us 10% thereafter. Paint is so expensive! We try to use what we already have but we’re nearly out now.
    I had an early in the day doctor’s appointment for ” fasting” bloods so no breakfast beforehand. I wanted to go straight on to grocery shop to save car fuel going home and out again. I took a thermos of hot tea with me and used a coupon for a free bakery item at the supermarket and ate my breakfast in the car.
    I needed a new bobble hat, woollen gloves and a pegbag. I could have made a pegbag but really prefer a waterproof wipedown one so it doesn’t matter if it gets wet outside. I found a new one in the charity shop for £2 and I can’t make it for that price. By happy chance I also found a lovely colourful new M & S bobblehat and new woollen gloves there too. As I was driving home I realised how much I am relishing searching and finding items we need at reduced prices and I counted my blessings. We have all we need.
    Stay safe everyone.

  17. Received 100 Starbuck points and a $10 Amazon gift card from Verizon for our service anniversary

    I was cleaning out my wallet and found an Urban Air gift card. My teen said she was too old, so I offered it to a friend with a younger son. When she showed up to get it, she gave me $25 gift card to AMC theater. Her son has ADHD and autism, so sitting through a movie isn’t really his thing. My teen goes occasionally to the movies with friends, so she was happy to get it.

    I saved two stamps by filling out our property assessment online and paid a labwork bill online.

    Mended another pair of pants

    Dropped some magazines I was done with off at the neighborhood laundromat for someone else to enjoy

    My book club book was available through Kindle Unlimited

  18. The middle of January already! Hello, all!

    Unseasonably warm weather here on the prairie. The nights are cold, but the days are mild. I saw somebody working in their front garden bed this morning.
    My week was a little more productive, as I caught up on all my basic cleaning. Now it’s time to get back to the deep cleaning and donating. I know I’ll feel so much better when I do. It’s inevitable.
    *Cleaned out and reorganized my pantry.
    *Cleaned out and reorganized my freezer.
    *Added low stock to shopping lists.
    *Made about a dozen birthday cards to add to my stash and to donate. I was on a creative streak and loved how they turned out!
    *Made a big pot of beans with a meaty ham bone that will net us quite a few meals.
    *Made a big pile of buckwheat pancakes and froze some for later.
    *Turned 3 large overripe bananas into 2 loaves of banana walnut bread.

    Prices in my corner of the world…Eggs $2.79 dozen with a new limit of 2 dozen. Gas is $2.79 gal. Milk is 2 gals for $6.

    Brandy, I haven’t heard a peep about whether you guys got any rain or about Lake Mead , the Colorado River etc. Has the California deluge helped you at all?

  19. Brandy, such beautiful flowers. I can’t wait for spring! Right now it is all snow. Which is beautiful in it’s own way.
    -Money spent on groceries this week was $16 for a gallon of milk, carrots, celery, bananas, and a bag of tortilla chips.
    -Creative uses for leftovers-roast beef and gravy was turned into beef stroganoff and it was served over noodles. 2 meals of roast beef and gravy were also frozen for later meals. We got 6 meals off the roast I cooked plus there was a shoulder blade bone for the dog.
    -I used 7 jars this week. My total is now 25 working towards 40.
    -I was gifted 5# of onions 🧅 from a friend leaving to go south for 3 months. I have mine from the garden in storage so I chopped them up and froze them. These onions are from the store and will not store well. I froze them in a single layer on a parchment lined cookie sheet. Broke them into squares and then they went into a silicone ziplock bag.
    -I finished 3 embroidered dishtowels to go into my present drawer.
    -I made a loaf of applesauce bread. I got the recipe from Jessica at Three Rivers Homestead. I have a lot of canned applesauce and this used most of the jar. It turned out great!! I made it for my husband to take to his men’s morning bible study. When it is his turn, I always make something homemade. My hubby said the guys always look forward to his week as they know it is always homemade, usually warm, and so good. Most of the guys just pick up doughnuts or rolls.
    -Our grand daughter had a swim meet in the neighboring state-South Dakota. It was Saturday and Sunday. It was a 3 1/2 hour drive. We got up early Saturday to get there and not have to have 2 nights in a hotel. We booked one night through an app and saved money on that night. I made egg McMuffins and wrapped them in parchment for breakfast on the road. Also we packed food for lunches on Saturday and Sunday to eat at the venue instead of purchasing expensive food there. We ate breakfast at the hotel on Sunday. We had one meal out Saturday night. We ordered one entree and an extra dinner salad. There was plenty to feed both of us and no leftovers. We drove all the way home Sunday afternoon getting home in the evening. I opened a jar of home canned soup for supper. Heat and eat. The meet did not have an entrance fee so we got to see our grand daughter swim, took pictures, and visited in between her races. Fun and frugal weekend.

    Have a great week!

  20. Oops, I forgot to post my reads. Just as well because I wanted to apologize for an author error I made, probably confusing someone or two. I’m currently listening to Black Echo by Michael Connelly in my craft room CD player. NOT David Baldacci!!
    It’s the first book in the Harry Bosch series, according to what I’ve read on Book Series in Order.
    On my nightstand – The Bloomsbury Girls by Natalie Jenner.
    With my Bible study – I haven’t decided. …
    By my reading chair – The Panic Zone by Rick Mofina.
    Watching -Death in Paradise and Miss Scarlet and the Duke, both on PBS.

  21. Hello! My husband and I went to breakfast using a gift card to a local restaurant, we only paid the tip & $1.26 out of pocket. We went a bit later in the morning and the portions were so large that we did not eat lunch that day. I combined CVS coupons to purchase 2 needed items saving 40% on both. The next day another coupon from CVS was sent to me, it seems that using the coupons often triggers additional ones. I had to attend a work event after hours with what was supposed to be light appetizers which is usually cheese & crackers and veggies. Instead it was snacks from this restaurants extensive appetizer menu: sliders, buffalo chicken bites, mac & cheese, sesame cauliflower, penne in alfredo, basalmic mozzarella balls, pepper shooters, pickles, and veggies. I ended up eating this for my dinner and when we were leaving the waitress handed me a takeout container filled with food! This ended up providing dinner for my husband and we moved the dinner planned for that night to the next. Did a small grocery run costing $45.00, $15 of it was cold medicine for my husband. The rest of it was produce, eggs and a loaf of bread. I picked up a kalanchoe plant on clearance for 50 cents on the same trip. I do not have one of these and I’m happy to add it to my collection of plants so cheaply. Indoor plants are a hobby of mine and I have never paid over $10 for a plant. Most have been free from cuttings or deeply discounted. I buy pots at yard sales & estate sales too. While I know it can get expensive, it is a frugal hobby for me. I tried a new recipe for butternut squash soup but left out the heavy cream at the end. The soup turned out delicious and healthier without the added dairy, cheaper too. Looking forward to everyone’s posts as I love reading all the ideas & accomplishments. It feels nice to be among like minded people.

  22. Sounds like a very fruitful week you had.
    Bulked up leftover soup with a little diced carrot and a quarter cup of diced tomato that needed used.
    Mended a goose down winter coat I bought for 75 cents. I used small crochet flowers (flat dimension) as a clump of patches on the sleeve that had a tear.
    I bought salad kits at a deep discount. One had an orange dressing that was so good, I immediately went searching for a homemade recipe to use in the future.
    Downloaded podcasts to listen to while driving. I download at home so not to use cellular or my low data plan.
    Hope everyone has a calm & productive week!

  23. First, thank you to everyone for the kind sympathy in the loss of my Momma on last week’s post. Grief is the price for loving someone.

    We are still working on eating up tidbits and using any leftovers. Our refrigerator is looking bare, but it is good to know we are being less wasteful. I would say we have spent less than $50 this month, which is a big difference.

    I did treat myself and my daughter to the movies today to see A Man Called Otto. I loved the book, and the movie was excellent.

  24. Gorgeous photos, Brandy! And glad you got some rain today (as seen on your IG)!

    My frugal week:
    – made a batch of black bean and sweet potato soup. Canned the leftover after we ate dinner, for future easy lunches/dinners.
    – redeemed PineCone Research Rewards for a $5 gc to Starbucks
    – fixed a doll of my daughter’s by sewing the rips.
    – made a cheesy, creamy pasta sauce using powdered milk, along with a stock cube, parmesan cheese, frozen onions, garlic, and a quick roux. Mixed with small shell pasta, very kid friendly but also very tasty and frugal!
    – glue a foam armrest back on my husband’s work chair. I’ll look into replacements arms, but for now, this works!
    – I’ve been baking using one less egg than called for. For example, a brownie recipe called for 3 eggs, but I used two, or a recipe called for two eggs and a yolk and I skipped the yolk. Didn’t make enough of a difference for me to notice, and I just added a smidgen more liquid to compensate. Just stretches eggs that much further, and I truly don’t notice the difference.
    – redeemed loyalty points for two free ice cream cones for my kids
    – redeemed air miles for $20 worth of groceries, during a redeem 95 get 25 points offer.
    – saved $14 using coupons during my weekly grocery shop, on top of sales. And got a free iced tea.
    – made tuna cakes for dinner, using homemade breadcrumbs. I served them with homemade ‘chips’, basically oven-baked fries, but using a wavy cutter. Super-easy, very inexpensive, and super-tasty!
    – I decanted a small bit of lotion from a big bottle into a smaller container, and cut open a hand cream to make sure to use it all up.
    – I baked a batch of dinner rolls when we ran out of sliced bread, and served it with a batch of soup. I’ve definitely been making a lot more soups lately, as they’re easy, plus frugal and filling as Brandy says. And I love to serve it with homemade bread, to elevate it a little. This soup was called sopa de estrellita, and used up leftover star shaped pasta from my pantry.

    Looking forward to learning from everyone else as always!

    1. Margaret, thank you for mentioning your black bean and sweet potato soup. I have a recipe where those 2 ingredients are part of a longer list for a peanut soup, but not a pared down soup using mainly those 2 items. I have both in my pantry and just checked out some recipes and they sound really good. This will give us another soup option. Thanks for the idea!

  25. *I get seeds from the town seed library, and also seeds and starts from the community garden where I volunteer. I grow what I can get from these 2 places (both free) and I don’t buy any. It does take some discipline since there are so many tempting catalogs.
    *We received a bag of oranges from Buy Nothing group, and a bag of Meyer lemons (for marmalade) from my parents tree. I picked up the freebie at Safeway on Wednesday (loaf of bread) and got rain check for cheese at $3/pound.
    *I helped my mother clean out some cupboards and I brought home 4 candlesticks (for advent 2023), large container of coconut oil (husband will use when making granola), bath salts, dried beans and salt. She was thrilled to have the help and I was glad for the items. I also took a bag of things to donate for her. Her energy is low and getting out to donate just doesn’t get done. Though it means I have extra stuff in my car for the trip, it really helps her out. My mother also gave me a J Crew dress which I will list on ebay, and if it doesn’t sell there I will take it to consignment store at my appointment in February.
    *I received at $50 check for a tip that I had submitted to a magazine.
    *I listened to 2 audiobooks from the library.

  26. Happy Monday!

    I had some frugal success despite an emergency dental procedure.

    I had to drive 50 mins for the first available appt. I was there an hour and a half early. ( I have been aching all weekend and didn’t want to miss the appt. due to rain/ traffic.)I thought I would kill the time by perusing the clothing sales. I didn’t, though. I don’t need any clothes. Credit for not putting myself in temptations way. I had a nice salad buffet and read instead.

    What I thought was going to be a root canal touch up was more serious. The tooth was cracked. The option was to try and save the tooth with a 50% failure (and possibily have to pull it anyway) or go ahead and pull the tooth. I opted for the latter not wanting o throw good money after bad. ( after all I had already pad for a root canal on it.) I saved $150 in the procedure and a probable $1300 more. I was thankful for my dental insurance that paid $1,00.) In two months I will look at options for the pulled tooth.

    Driving home I thought I would stock up on soft foods and soups at the store. Instead, I just bought the ibruprofen. I have a Vitamix for healthier shakes with frozen fruit in the freezer and I made an Anderson House soup mix I bought on big sale. So easy with my instapot .

    I adjusted my lesson plan for tomorrow. We will watch Lincoln in Us history and Around the World in 80 Days in world geo. I am not suppose to talk much tomorrow. I could take a day off but I am running out of sick days and that could become costly and $300 dollars docked a day.

    I am going to leave the instapot warming for hubby and hit the bed.

    1. Mary Ann, is that Anderson’s pea soup? I’m originally from Cali and I used to see their signs on the 5 all the time!! I never actually saw the restaurant though. Weren’t there 2? One in Buellton sp? and one farther north, nearer the 152? Gosh, that was a looong time ago!

      1. No. It is not the same company. It is Anderson House. It is simple soup mixes. I just think they are fresh and the spices are well matched. Since I am not a natural cook it was an easy way to batch cook bean meals and get new ideas.

      2. Debby, you’re right! There is one in Buellton (near Solvang) that is still open. There used to be one down south in Carlsbad, near where my dad lived. It closed a while back along with the location in Mammoth Mountain (ski resort in central CA). We used to go there after skiing when I was young…nothing tasted better than their pea soup after a long day on the snow (makes you hungrier than swimming IMO). Sorry both of those places are gone because so many memories were made there for me. Good news is Buellton/Santa Ynez location is still open for a fun road trip destination from time to time! And, of course, you can buy their pea soup canned in grocery stores. The price has gone up but it still is a favorite treat on occasion. Thank you for bringing up half-forgotten happy memories!

  27. It shows incredible restraint not to order seeds, especially for someone who loves gardening! I finally figured out a way to bake bread more easily – I often struggle with timing – if I do it in the morning it’s not cooled off enough for lunch. So I started to prep the dough in the evenings while making dinner – I mix it in our bread machine and then form it into loaves which I bake while I’m cleaning up in the kitchen. It’s cooled off by bedtime and then I can wrap it up for the next day.

    1. Thank you! I have a stack of gardening catalogs here. I haven’t thrown them out yet, but I also haven’t looked at them. Thankfully, there hasn’t been time. I have been working in the garden so much and in the house that I don’t have time to even look at them.

  28. Living frugally from Portland:

    -My son and I participated in his school’s cleanup for MLK Day this morning. They fed us breakfast!
    -Whenever I crave something fresh and green in the house, I cut rosemary off of my giant bush. It is free, adds green and smells nice. And it’s the only thing not dead in my garden right now!
    -Part of our back fence fell last week during a wind storm (we’ve had a windy winter here!) I was devastated because I was afraid the fence crushed and killed all my raspberries and my wall of roses, but after further investigation, I think they will both survive!
    -I bought four new with tags J Crew clothing items off of ThreadUp for $70 (two dresses, jeans and a denim shirt). I usually don’t spend so much on clothes, but one of those items would easily retail for $70 and I really think I will wear all of these things for years. ThreadUp isn’t the cheapest way to get clothes, but I’m rarely disappointed. Plus the site saves me gas and time going to retail or thrift stores. I also put things in my “shopping cart” then make myself come back to it later to avoid impulse purchases.
    -I froze a bunch of Christmas goodies when they overwhelmed us over the holidays and put some chocolate away as well. I’m slowly bringing them out for dessert now.
    -I’ve been tucking away some dinner in tupperware each night for the next day’s lunch as I serve the rest up for dinner. Saves me time making a separate lunch early each morning, stretching our food budget. I don’t know why it took me so many years to start doing this!
    -Sat down with my son who is going away to college next year to discuss financial expectations (what he will need to pay for versus what we will cover) and help him understand how much the scholarship he received will actually cover (spoiler: we’re grateful for it but it won’t cover a lot!). I’m hopeful it will avoid any financial emergencies on his part and overall keep our relationship strong.

    Wishing everyone well as we all work hard to not let inflation impact our financial goals!

  29. My mother-in-law doesn’t use her canning supplies anymore and sent them all home with us. These included a few boxes of unopened jars and lids. So grateful for these!

    I was charged for some items that did not arrive in our grocery delivery and was able to correct the charges online. The refund arrived within 30 min.

    Our child in college relies on public transit but I like for her to have an emergency back-up option. I purchased an uber gift card for her, using a credit card that will give me some $ back.

    Same child cancelled her meal plan for spring because she realized she can prepare better meals at a lower cost in her dorm kitchen. When time permits, she also uses apps like TooGoodToGo to pickup leftover food from restaurants and cafes. Her favorite find so far was 4 dozen bagels for about $8. The real challenge was hauling them back to her dorm! Even after sharing, she had enough in the freezer for a few weeks.

    My youngest child’s winter coat was quite short— but our winter is so brief that she continued to wear it. That coat was a hand-me-down from my oldest, first purchased 11 years ago. Funny enough, a friend offered us a jacket her youngest had just outgrown, first purchased for their oldest child about 12 years ago. We all had a laugh about that! And it reminded us how fortunate we’ve been in our community, to watch our children grow together.

  30. My most frugal was riding out the storms by staying home. Planned ahead so no trips for food/supplies, skipped visits with friends since roads were bad or washed out. Canceled a long planned trip this weekend to visit an out of town friend to save on gas even though I will lose out on my event ticket cost, I’m happy to gift it and save on the bigger expense. I also am reading a year without groceries because it was mentioned here. I too keep what I’d call a deep pantry. I’m not sure the rest is for me right now, but I enjoy learning options. Been watching the newer version of upstairs downstairs on pbs and got three books from the library. I’m very thankful not to lose power, not sure how that happened, but was a blessing.

  31. While cleaning my cabinets, I found some plastic bakery muffin containers that I think will work great for seed starting. I have seed starting trays, but I like the way these offer separation, and use less soil. I’m also using some old yogurt containers with dome plastic lids…these have worked well in the past.

    I found egg noodles on clearance last week for 64 cents a bag, normally over $2 a bag.

    Some of the meals I made were: creamy spinach pasta (a budgetbytes recipe), lentil tacos, Mediterranean hummus bowls (budgetbytes), veggie packets (crescent rolls, various vegetables I sautéed, cream cheese, parm, spices), and homemade pizza.

    My indoor lemon tree has blooms all over it. I hand pollinated it, but I’m still skeptical that it will ever produce lemons. Small ones form, but they fall off. I honestly don’t mind though, because it’s so pretty, and the smell is divine!

    Have a great week!

  32. I did buy some flower seeds last week, 4/$1 at Dollar Tree. They’re for the Garden sets in my shop. Though it’s growing slowly with the cold weather, I was able to harvest some lettuce. I chose a slower shipping time on amazon to receive $2.25 in digital credit. I harvested sweet potato leaves for a smoothie, from the indoor plant. It was looking rather puny, so I fed it with some of the worm castings I was gifted last summer. I finished watching Tales From the Green Valley on youtube, a series about life in the 1600’s. Another three quarts of apple slices were canned for pie. When I picked up sunflower seed for the birds, I noticed the bag had 10% off written on it. I questioned the cashier, and she gave me the discount, though she hadn’t at first. I’m glad I asked. We received a free 5# bag of dogfood in the mail, and have no idea why. It was from a company we’ve never ordered from before. We’ll take it! At the grocery store, I picked up spinach, cara cara oranges and lettuce, on sale for $1 off each. Laundry was dried on the clothesline. I finally remembered to watch the Call The Midwife holiday special on PBS, which was lovely. On Sunday, I canned another round of vegetable broth. While keeping an eye on the canner, I prepped the last of our apples. It was still pretty early in the day, so I went ahead and made applesauce, and canned 3 1/2 pints. http://abelabodycare.blogspot.com/2023/01/more-winter-canning-little-harvest.html

  33. 1. We have no wrapping paper for any occasion left. Stopped by Michael’s and got one of those super-sized rolls for 50 cents, in the Christmas clearance area. It is plain red so can be used for anything, not just Christmas.
    2. While at the grocery store to get milk, saw the produce markdown area was full. Came home with four bell peppers, four apples, three zukes, and three onions, for a total of $4.
    3. Found a bag of ravioli way in the back of the freezer. We’d eaten two thirds of it sometime in the past so there was not enough left for a meal. I made ravioli soup instead, using tomatoes from the garden that I had frozen back in September. In the past, I might have thrown away such a small amount.
    4. Mended a bunch of clothes. The pile was getting very high so one night I binge watched the last three episodes of the new season of All Creatures (we gave a donation of $60 so get early access to some programs) and hand mended for several hours. It is amazing what a dent you can make in a task if you just do it!
    5. Used the library a lot this week, not just for books but for puzzles (take one/leave one on the honor system).
    6. Ordered some antique pansy seeds. Ruffled edges, pastel colors…I love them. I ordered 2 packs and they accidently sent 20 packs for the 2 pack price. I called but they said to just keep them. So I now have hundreds of seeds. There is a community seed exchange every spring so I know what I will be bringing to trade!

  34. Those roses are so beautiful Brandy! This dull, grey weather has really been getting me down and these are so cheerful! We finally got a bit of sun over the weekend so that helped my mood.

    The only groceries I bought last week were 1 litre of milk, 1# of grapes, a couple of bananas and a few potatoes. A friend called to meet for a walk through High Park on Saturday since it was to be so sunny and another friend joined us. They had mentioned perhaps getting lunch at the restaurant in the park but instead I invited them back to my apt. I took stew from the freezer, used up the potatoes for mash, took a can of custard from the pantry and served that with some frozen berries for dessert and opened a bottle of wine that I had bought before Christmas. We had a lovely time and the friend who suggested the get together treated us to some wonderful hot chocolate half way through our walk and that was a nice treat without breaking the bank. And – I got in 9,000 steps!

    I did meet friends for supper at a restaurant on Friday night but this had been planned for (spent less than budgeted) and I really enjoyed the play we went to afterwards, especially as it had been paid for about a year ago. It was “Fishermens Friends” about the Cornish band who were discovered about 12 years ago – there is a film, records and lots of videos on Youtube featuring them. It was wonderful – a real “feel good” play.

    I got a lot done today – worked from home and then in the afternoon knuckled down and got some personal paperwork done that has been hanging over my head for ages – such a relief to have that sorted. I am going into the office tomorrow and I will be volunteering tomorrow night so it will be a long day – I have both my lunch and supper packed up and in the fridge already. I’m still trying to alternate between the freezer and the pantry when it comes to meals and keeping a close eye on things. I did have to send some salad greens to the compost bins – salad just doesn’t have the same appeal in January…

    I washed a few things by hand so that I didn’t have to use the laundry room and will probably get through this week as well. At $2.50 for each load of washing and the same for the dryer. this has to be budgeted for each month.

    I am enjoying both Miss Scarlet and the Duke and Season 3 of All Creatures on PBS – it makes for a lovely Sunday night.

    I hope that those of you in California get some relief from the rain – and that those in tornado alley keep safe.

  35. 1. I bought a package of egg beaters for 10.25. The package of four 16 oz cartons is supposed to equal 36 eggs. The egg beaters were cheaper than two 18 count cartons of eggs at BJs. Plus I can freeze the cartons. Two 18 count cartons of large eggs were 14.75.
    2. My neighbor let me use her BJs card to fill my car w/ gas. It was .30 less per gallon there compared to neighboring stations. I have a Sam’s card but the Sam’s here is 15 miles away.
    3. My neighbor ordered a king spread for her queen sized bed. It came w/ a set of sheets & pillowcases which she gave to me.
    4. I cashed in 25$ of change which I found in 2022 for a GC.
    5. I have a nice candle I wanted to light. No matches to be had. My next door neighbor brought over 2 match books. (I did prepare her a serving of homemade soup & 2 slices of pizza for her lunch today.)
    No storms here (southern FL) as readers describe in other locales. Not hurricaine season right now! I am glad the Brandy bloggers are safe.

  36. I haven’t had too much of a problem with my spinach seeds not germinating, but since they didn’t have great germination to begin with, I always oversow…so maybe that’s why 🙂

    I’m also trying to rein in my seed buying this year. It can get easy to get carried away with it when it’s part of your side business, but I also want to actually take home some profits this year, so best not spend it all on seeds!

    Hope some of the rain and snow we’ve been getting here in Utah goes over your way, too — I know you can use it as much as we can!

  37. Just went through our seeds and made the same decision. Oh, and while I had read that spinach seeds don’t keep well, the ones I’ve been planting are all from 2018…and so far, they have grown quite well for me each year. I got my sprouter out this week and started some alfalfa sprouts, just for fun. I’ve had the seed for a long time, and want to get it used up before I replenish. I walked for exercise, packed lunches from home, and we cooked at home as well. We read books from the library, and I also borrowed some cookbooks.

    Organic cage free brown eggs were 1.99 at Safeway a while back. They were out of stock every day my husband stopped to check. I was in the store one day and asked for a raincheck, and they gave me one. They got the eggs restocked this week, and we picked up 4 dozen. This should last a good long time since we are not heavy egg eaters. In general, we shop sales, and use rebate sites and some coupons. Our grocery budget for 2022 averaged out to $137 a month for 3 people. We eat lots of fresh foods, and we end up donating some of the ‘money maker’ foods that we don’t eat to the food pantry. This past week we stocked up on pasta, some canned soups, frozen vegetables, tofu, and plant based meats. I’m flexitarian (mostly vegetarian) but don’t usually use the plant based meats unless they are super affordable like these were.

    From Facebook Marketplace I bought a like-new queen size electric blanket with dual controls for $10. Looked up instructions and washed it, hung it out to dry, and now it’s on our bed keeping us toasty warm. Our bed is in the room furthest from our wood stove, so this is nice. We hung all our laundry out to dry, and the colder days when the jean pockets and waistbands were still wet, brought those in and put them on a rack overnight. They were dry the next morning. I used a de-fuzzer to revitalize a couple of sweaters and mended some articles of clothing.

    We attended an education summit at a local college. It was free for high school students and their parents, and we were on different tracks throughout the day. We learned about resources for skills assessment and career choice, the application/scholarship/financial packet process, and a really interesting session on trauma and the ways it manifests in the body. It helped verify that we are on track with most of the things we need to do in preparation for the college years. Our kiddo is in an early colleges program and will finish high school with an associate degree in English/Creative Writing, and a total of about 80 college credits that will transfer in toward the 4 year degree at most accredited institutions (particularly state colleges and universities).

    1. I have had a lot of trouble with spinach germination, but we are having rain, so hopefully everything will stay nice and damp and come up this year!

      1. I live in an arid part of Colorado, and store my seeds in the basement. It’s pretty cool down there and that might be helping. When I sprout them, I cloche them, and I know you do that with some seedlings as well. I hope you have good results! I was thinking that this year it would be a good experiment to let some of the plants go to seed to refresh the age of my seeds, too.

  38. Greetings, my people!
    If anyone uses Cerave, the 19 oz pump is on sale at Sam’s for 12.99.

    Went to Marshall’s and got several name brand flannel shirts for my son for $10.00 each. Also got him 2 pull over jackets for 10.00 and another one that lists for 129.00 in department stores and 99.00 on Amazon for 16.00. Feel like I won the lottery!

    Sorted and organized all my vegetable garden seeds. I feel confident that I could feed the entire state of Tennessee should it become necessary! Needless to say, I will not be making any seed purchases this season(I need to behave!).

    Made a large pot of Cuban black beans and rice. Also made a large batch of salmon croquettes, which we haven’t had in some time. Inexpensive and go a long way. Are still pretty much at zero waste in the kitchen. Still haven’t eaten out. Don’t know how much longer we can hold the line!

    Had a dress delivered by the post office. The carrier threw it in the driveway during a rain and sleet storm. Our car was in the driveway as we are always home. They simply did not want to get out and walk the 40 feet to our door. The box was soaked and falling apart. Fortunately, the dress was in a plastic bag, but it had a large hole in it, so part of it got wet, but was not ruined. I am livid and I know nothing will be done as things are so bad with our Postal Service!

    Watched Tokyo Drift this weekend! One of my weaknesses is vintage cars, race cars, etc. If I ever win the lottery, I will certainly have a few. They make my heart sing!

    Hope everyone is well. Onward, y’all, by all means!

  39. I am using my old seeds as well this year plus any seeds that I have saved. I made a list of all of our expenses and a list of things we would like to save for. We are going to work on keeping our budget. Also we hope to grow our savings by looking at other ways to make more money and being frugal with what money that does come in. I may sell asparagus this year. We have done it in the past. First, I want to save some for us for next winter and give some to family. But it is a way we can bring in some funds. It is a lot of work. But the exercise might be good for me. If I grow enough other vegetables, I may sell some as well. We will see. I hope to make some asparagus soup soon with some of what I have frozen. It just sounds good. I made a Hoppin John soup with black eyed peas. My husband and I did a fused glass project at the library. It was free and very enjoyable. We had done a project years ago for valentines when we had a bit more money. It was nice to have a date that was free! We also spent time reading and discussing books as well at the library. We like to watch Youtube and discuss it together as well. I learn a lot of things from You tube. As usual we use cloth towels and handkerchiefs. My husband has mentioned how much we have saved not buying paper products. I have been mending things and have a pile of clothes to mend. We bring our own water when going places so as not to buy a drink when we are going to town. We waited until we went home instead of eating out on several occasions. I am losing weight and not as hungry as I usually am. I am getting used to eating less and feeling better. We are trying not to wasted food. I usually freeze half of soup we make on the day I make it. That way I have a meal for another time that is just heat and serve. Also, if I freeze some we won’t get tired of eating the same thing for days. I’d forgotten to freeze our Hopping John and we did not eat it all before it got old. But it was enjoyed for several days. More days than I like really. I think my husband liked it more than me. I found a laundry detergent I like for a dollar at Dollar General. It washes clothes well and is cheap. It made us happy to find something that is cheaper to spread our budget. My husband cleaned our car instead of taking to a car wash place to have the interior cleaned. That was a huge savings. He also fixed some things around the house making me very, very happy! I know we saved tons of money not hiring things out and mending things ourselves. I know my husband is happy that I have learned to sew. I’m no expert but I am doing it! I would like to try to take in a pair of jeans that are too big now. I’ve never done it but I am going to give it a try. Perhaps, this week I will have time.
    I have resisted the urge to buy new clothes when a catalog came to my house. My husband was fine with me buying clothes, but I know we have goals that we would like to meet. I enjoy the challenge and feel good about not caving in to my desire for new things. I do best if I don’t even look at the catalog. Although, it is fun sometimes to see all the new styles and then later see if I can find some things at a thrift shop even if it is the next year. I wanted a new pair of Mary Janes but the store that I bought my last pair no longer carry them. The manager told me that people are not dressing up like they used to so they were not selling. I was disappointed because I wanted a pair of dress shoes for my sons wedding. Instead, I may just polish the pair I have and wear them. They are very comfortable, but starting to wear out. I wear my dress shoes often with my dresses when it is warm out. We got to go to the zoo with my son and grandchildren. It was nice to visit them.

  40. *Cut the dogs face hairs and found their eyes!
    * I am eating from the freezer to make room to restock some chicken and venison. Some have been not normal meals:
    1. Fried venison steaks, the last of a bag of sweet potatoes feies, and a bag of butterbeans I had frozen that were left after a meal
    2. Pork loin we had smoked. We did whole loins and i cut into 3rds for 3 meals and froze two. Cut it into pieces and made quesadillas with mozzarella, onions, and peppers, and salsa
    3. cooked a steak from our beef order that is a lean cut in the Instant pot with cream of mushroom soup, a tbsp worchershire sauce. Served it over rice. Made fried okra and green beans from my garden that I had canned and froze
    4. bacon, eggs,grits, and toast for supper
    * My husband shot a deer today. I have to can freezer venison and beef the next two weeks before new deer comes back from processor. I will share some with the local mission that runs a soup kitchen.
    * We had tornadoes this week, touching down 15 miles from me doing some damage, and one man was killed. Husband was at the office. We have motorcycle helmets in our closet shelter. I put on sneakers. I filled two pitchers with water. I took a bath and washed clothes that morning knowing we had bad weather coming. We never lose power and we did lose it for about an hour. I think they turned it off when a tornado was confirmed. I was prepared with lantern and flashlight. I found a weak area…the weather radio is plugged in and the batteries didn’t work. In the midst of it I couldn’t get the battery top off to change them. My phone was not loading local news station or any new updates on Facebook or anything. So, I didn’t know when it passed or where it was until power came back on. So, I have the weather radio with batteries, and am prepared for next event. Also, one dog came into the closet as told, the other played catch me if you can. So, I will get them on leash next event. And I need a water dish for them in closet. I have a jug of water but where would I have poured it?

    Brandy, I know you’re very busy. I also know you’re going through tough times again. Hugs and prayers! We all know you have prepared and are the queen of using what you have and making ends meet. I would love to hear more about the details of what you’re eating, how you’re feeding so many frugally.

    1. We are eating what we have on hand, and I am buying very little. I have some things planted in the garden and I am planting more.

      My husband has to pay for some additional training courses in his new field before he can try to get hired anywhere, so I am being very careful with my spending.

    2. Bama Holly (and others): Glad you overall made it through your emergency routine safely!
      Do you take your purse/cash, ID, credit cards/ into the shelter as well?
      My Dad was very firm that one should put on shoes, not just in case of walking over debris but because shoes are harder to replace quickly and well if one loses most everything in a storm. I suppose medications might also be important. Bicycle or motorcycle helmets are a good point.

    3. Holly, we had the same situation with a tornado last year. Came within 3 miles and we were in the basement hidey hole. We lost power for about 12 hrs. No cell reception, batteries didn’t work and they weren’t old! We think it was the radio. It was pitch black and we had zero idea of what was happening. We had flashlights, but those don’t help if another tornado is coming!! Like you, we went and got a new radio the next day…with a hand crank! As for the pooch, we keep an emergency leash at the top of the stairs and a crate under the stairs for him to stay in while we’re down there. In case of a worst case situation, we have a dog tag attached to the crate with our number and one with the vet info. The vet has a letter from us to treat him in case of an emergency.

      Someone else asked about a GO BAG. We keep one in the basement year round with a change of clothes. Since bad weather is obvious, we keep a bag with emergency things on the stair rail to grab and head down. I pray we never have to find out exactly how well our plan will work!

  41. At last I am feeling better and more energetic. I have only 1 last hospital visit this week.

    I have gone through the freezer and made an inventory, planned meals for the next 2 weeks and made a shopping list and plan to go to Aldi tomorrow. I hate to think what the prices will be. Hubby has agreed not to buy chocolate or cakes and I will go back to making bread and yoghurt. All meals will be home cooked using the Remoska and the steamer for veg. I done some house work to get the house straight again.

    I have brussels, parsnips and 1 last pulling of carrots in the garden and potatoes in store. The apples are now finished. I have sown my first peppers, they are on a window ledge in the sun.

    I have been getting e books from the library and knitting hubby socks with yarn gifted to me by a friend.

    I am planning hubbys next hospital visit in London using bus passes and rail card next week. It is still expensive but needs must.
    Keep safe everyone

  42. It’s January and that means those beautiful seed catalogs start rolling in – very tempting! But, as Brandy and others have said, I am hoping my purchases from last year will suffice for this year, at least for Spring and Summer. I do like to support a neighbor with a greenhouse who sells her starts very inexpensively (25-50 cents/piece usually) so I am sure I will buy a few things from her. Otherwise, it will be make do with what I have which is a regular theme around here.
    *Looking forward to the arrival of the Speed Queen washer which should be in the next week or so. I so appreciate everyone’s comments last week about their SQs. For those contemplating a purchase, I can say, so far, so good with AJ Madison, the supplier. They have sent regular e-mails about our order status and the shipping company delivering it has, as well. Good communication goes a long way in my book. Will keep you all posted.
    *We think we have fixed our dryer and hope it will last a bit longer. My husband was able to purchase a kit including a heating element, a thermal fuse and 2 switches for less than he could purchase the heating element itself – crazy! So, he bought the kit and we replaced everything and it appears to be working much better. I will be able to make a more accurate assessment when I have some towels to dry. I have been doing laundry at my parents’ house so haven’t had a chance to dry more challenging things to really test it out. Hopefully, that $26 fix will do.
    *Grocery shopping was limited to milk (for husband’s coffee) and a 99 cents/lb. ham.
    *I gratefully accepted a beautiful Peruvian alpaca blanket from my mom. She was no longer using it and knew I would appreciate it which I do. It is soft and warm and lulls me right to sleep.
    *One thing I do every week but never mention is entering any receipts I have into savings apps. I don’t make much from it as I don’t shop much but every little bit helps. I hope to cash some in soon to buy more curtain rods from Amazon.
    *We finished painting the walls in our stairwell – thank goodness! We were very grateful for our ladder with adjustable legs so it can be put on uneven surfaces. We have made make-shift scaffolding in the past for such jobs and this feels much safer. We bought it about 3 years ago for $300 and it has allowed us to do jobs we would have had to hire out otherwise. Good investments that allow more DIY is a frugal strategy we have employed many times. It also allow sus to help others who don’t have such equipment by loaning it or helping with their projects. We did have to purchase a gallon of trim paint for the skirt board as we had finally run out. It was 30% off but still more expensive than it has ever been. Good thing we need only a small amount for our remaining projects.
    *Took the boys to meet up with a friend at a local ski resort to snowboard. Going to a ski resort is not a cheap activity but our frugal solutions are to go during the week when it is less expensive and less crowded, use our own gear (always buying used or on sale and reselling what they have outgrown), and take our own food. We have great hills for sledding at home and I satisfy myself with that free activity so we can give the boys that opportunity. They can also snowboard a bit here at home but it is fun to hit the big hills sometimes. Being frugal overall allows us to enjoy some more costly things (within reason.)
    *I would be interested if anyone has successfully appealed their property tax. Ours, like most people’s I assume, has gone up. We have until May to appeal it with the county. Curious if others have had luck doing so and the steps they took. Thanks!
    *Wishing everyone a lovely week, as always. Thank you for continuing to inspire me! 🙂

    1. I have appealed my taxes twice in the past and won the appeals both time. The first step is to research comparable homes in your area (preferably on the same street.) Both times I was able to prove that my home was appraised at a higher rate than the other similar homes on my street. (This was in two different neighborhoods.) Check to see when your appraisal was done. States vary, but in my state (Colorado) my current taxes are based on home values two years ago — not current home values. You can research sales prices from the time period of the appraisal and again, see if your home is appraised in line with those prices. If you have anything negative — damage or some undesirable feature of your home — that would lower the value, you should highlight this. They may send an appraiser to verify this. For instance, in one home I had a very plain kitchen with builder-grade cabinets and Formica counters that was appraised the same as a custom home next door with marble counters and custom cabinets. I pointed this out and the appraiser came to confirm this and lowered my appraisal. It’s not enough to say you think your appraisal is too high — you have to explain your reasoning and offer some evidence to back you up. The first time I appealed I had to go to the tax office and ask to see the appraisals of other homes in my neighborhood. Last time I was able to look everything up online at the web site for the county tax office. I hope this helps!

      1. Cindi – Yes, this is helpful, thank you! Our challenge will be being the first house built in our very rural area in about 50 years, comps are hard to come by. But, you have given me some ideas and we will do our research. Thanks again so much!

    2. Mountain Mama, We appealed our property tax this year as well. Our property tax went up 13%. We thought that was bad until we were talking with some friends in another part of the county. Theirs went up 40%! We cited the current inflation, the fact the market is slowing due to inflation and interest rates, that home values were artificially inflated in the recent past, and that we are retired on a fixed income. Apparently most of the county property owners complained and the Board of Taxation is looking into reducing the taxes. Our appeal was granted and our new rate is only 5% higher than last year. Cindi gave very helpful advice as well. Best of luck!

    3. We appealed our taxes several years ago. We live in a tourist town, in town, in 600 sq. ft. house. We got nowhere. My husband was furious. He said, ‘never again’. It didn’t matter what we said, there was no give. They even overcharged us 5.00 and never paid it back. We have an unheated entrance that they tried to tell us was livable space. (A door to come into the house, the entrance way, and a door into the kitchen.) They told us our house was 700 sq. ft. but we have the paperwork that says otherwise. We feel, they squeeze the locals because the tourists get all the perks. We’re only about 2200 people that live here. I don’t mean this to sound so whiny! Good luck to you. Go armed with all the paperwork and statistics you think you may need.

      1. Thank you, Debbie! Our county certainly relies heavily on tourist income (as I imagine most mountain communities do) so we may be disadvantaged in the ways you mention, too. I am sorry you didn’t have a more positive experience but appreciate your input. 🙂

  43. We have the opposite problem than you, Brandy–we had to buy SO many seeds this year. What a fun problem to have:). We used a 15% off coupon for Territorial before Christmas for some of them. We used a gift certificate and a 10% off coupon for the rest of the Territorial seeds after Christmas and a 15% coupon code for the things we get at Pinetree. It has all arrived now. My husband got the seeds we use from the Dollar Tree and the very few items needed from the nursery supply store today. He’s been spending time this evening writing out tags for peppers. They need to be started soon as they take a long time. I’m very excited to get started in a small way with our 2023 garden. Every winter, we plan for this considerable expense and do things to bring the cost down like use 1/2 a pepper packet one year and the rest the following year, save some seeds and use the cheap seeds for the very few things that we have found work well. Some things don’t and it’s worth it to us to pay the higher price. We then reap the benefits all year long. I have a feeling that with prices rising the way they are, our seed investment will pay off even more than normal this year. My husband uses some of the seeds to plant starts for friends and relatives, too. It’s nice to bless those who are always so kind and supportive to us.

    I’ve been in the midst of cleaning out my garage. I keep my pantry food storage out there and that did not get its usual cleaning and organizing last fall, so it’s super disorganized. My habit is to do it spring and fall. Also, all of my sewing has been moved out there and many, many other items have just been dumped out there. After today’s efforts, I’m close to 1/2 way done. As I clean, I put things in order with the newest ones in the back and the older ones in front after washing the shelves. I’ve re-filled the smaller containers from my bulk bins and spices as I go. I’ve got a counter filled with items to use. If it was there a year ago, and outdated then, and no one has touched it, I am throwing it out. Rob’s cousin gives us a box of food several times a year from a gleaner’s organization she belongs to. We use as much of the food as we can, but there are occasionally very strange items that are already outdated or almost over the hill and we don’t like them, so…..out they go after a time. I give the item some thought as to how I I gratefully accept these boxes of food she can’t use, though, as there are also so many wonderful things found inside. I used up quite a few frozen, canned and odd items this week. I’m making a list of things I’m low on and will replace them when I’m done. I put a little about it on my blog: http://beckyathome.com

    I spent some time reading and watching videos about various pantries and pantry challenges. I’ve decided I don’t want to do a formal one at this time. Sometimes I feel like my life is one big pantry challenge anyway, although I have it easier than many with the huge garden I grow. Instead, I’m just going to keep targeting foods that need used, buy produce and dairy in the winter and try to keep that balance between being stocked up and not getting too much food piled up. I sure gleaned some wonderful ideas to use my home-preserved foods, though, and will keep watching and reading for more idea when I have time.

    We walked for exercise and went to the YMCA one day.

    We gave our nephew a whole day with 25 surprises for his birthday. They were small, but went on all day, and he felt very special. Some of the surprises were: Wrapping lots of small gifts individually and spacing them out all day, using packs of unopened Pokemon cards my husband found at a yard sale last summer for some of the gifts, Pez candy and a dispenser (of course all wrapped separately), buying him 1 donut at a donut shop nearby, driving to a different park to walk and let him play Pokemon Go on his phone, going through Dutch Bros. for his free birthday drink, getting him a Happy Meal for lunch, and letting him watch a movie in the afternoon, a strictly forbidden activity most days. He asked for popcorn:). I sent the cupcakes I made home with him–he was so stuffed:). It was very low cost, but he had so much fun.

    We had an event at church on Saturday and lunch was provided for my husband. I am gluten-free so brought my own sandwich, but I did have 2 huge helpings of the salad. Another night, there was another meeting and I got snacks there. My husband had a third meeting where he got dinner catered from a popular restaurant, and they only had to pay a nominal fee of $5 for it. I will say this was the busiest week at church we’ve had in years. It just worked out that way–all piled up, but I will say I was not disappointed when the 4th meeting late Sunday afternoon was just for Rob, and I happily stayed home.

    I did not shop last week, due to using so many pantry items, except for the Azure Standard order I placed and received using some money I was given for Christmas. I was offered $25 to take a survey about my Azure experience (that’s never happened in the many years I’ve been ordering) and I jumped on it. I will spent that next month. I got unexciting, but necessary things, like taco seasoning, other spices, toilet bowl cleaner, napkins, and some food items I needed. I’m grateful to have been able to order.

    My husband bought dairy, produce and a few items that were loss leaders and/or needed to make meals from some of the targeted pantry items. It’s been 12 days since we shopped at the store, and I hope to stretch it out past the usual weekly shopping trip again.

    1. Becky,
      I got the survey email for Azure as well and gratefully applied it to my February order. Quite the coupon!

  44. Yesterday I hosted a potluck lunch for my knitting friends. We had wonderful food and I made a cream of lentil soup. One friend gave me a book she had read and no longer wanted (The Dictionary of Lost Words).

    In anticipation of having 15 people in my home, I did some deeper cleaner and it feels great! I also tidied my pantry and made note of what I have, realizing I don’t need to do much shopping.

    I finished a shawl/scarf made of scrap yarn.

    I am grocery shopping less, trying to better use what we have.

    I did buy a pair of jeans for 70% off. They are saffron colored and matches many things in my closet.

    I sewed two buttons on a jacket that I have had for at least ten years and wore it. I got multiple compliments on it.

    I dropped off three boxes of items we no longer need at a thrift store.

    I am motivated to go through my house, one drawer or shelf at a time, to tidy and purge.

    I have a lot of stress in my life–outside of saving money–and find that sleeping 9 hours a night is helping me cope better with the challenges.

    I hope everyone has a wonderful week.

  45. I have been watching free movies on YouTube. I really enjoyed Triple Cross with Christopher Plummer and Yul Brenner.
    I wasn’t going to buy anything this week but Co-op has the lentils that I love so much on sale (4 for $5) so $1.25 each can reduced from $1.79. Also they have superb, seedless (or almost seedless) Navel oranges on sale for $1 per pound (compared to $2 per pound elsewhere).

    Also I’ll be buying half a pound of portobello mushrooms for $3. I am going to make a big pot of chicken soup and freeze some. I am slowly restocking my supply of pasta sauce. I have been making peach and blueberry crisps from the fruit I froze in the summer. The aim is to have room in my small freezer for the 2 kg box of blueberries in my friend’s freezer I bought more than a year ago so I can eat them during February and March.

    One of the best buys this week is a family pack of extra ground beef for $3.99 per pound at Superstore. Alas, I no longer have a Superstore shopper. Elsewhere, it is $6.99 per pound.

    One of the bookstores that is carrying our book will deliver a preordered book for us. Our volunteer became ill so couldn’t do it. I plan on ordering a couple of books – one for a gift and one that I’ve wanted for a long time. The store delivers so I won’t have to pay for a taxi or take the handibus. I hope everyone is wearing a mask again as the new variant XBB1.5 is even more contagious than others. Apparently it accounts for 75% of the cases now in the northeastern States. It is not a mild one, either.

    My new eyeglasses are in – it is a physician’s remake so will cost me nothing. I will be doing three things at the mall – going to pick up the glasses, going to the lab and getting an injection (not a vaccine). It will be one taxi fare (to and from) as I’ve grouped the tasks.

    I have been reading a wonderful book on Siena that I found in the basement. I’d forgotten I’d bought it years ago. Great about art and great on Italian/Tuscan history.

    Nothing frugal about this month as insurance comes due as well as other expenses. Necessary — prudent but not frugal.

        1. Don’t forget $1 Cdn is not worth $1 U.S. Your eggs at $29 US would be $39.10 Cdn. The eggs at Costco were less expensive at $19 Cdn which with the devalued Canadian dollar would be worth about $14.00 U.S.. That price at Costco was a really good deal even for Canada. Of course, we import a lot of food from the U.S. so that drives our prices up when converted to Canadian currency.

          1. I know it’s not equal $ for $ as well, but the average in the U.S. is $7.89 a dozen right now.

        2. My comments got out of order. Debby, thanks for recommending the Dollmaker. I watched it tonight. I remember when I read the book I wept. Felt like doing so tonight. It is an excellent movie.

  46. P.S. Thanks to Tammy and others for their best wishes on the book being almost (but not quite) sold out.

  47. Rolling along into the new year here. Still feel like I’m trying to get my feet under me after my mom’s accident breaking her collar bone right before the end of the year. She’s healing well, but cannot use that arm at all for the next two weeks. That means I’ve been taking care of the entire farm myself, including 5 horses and numerous chickens. So, not much time to spend money here!

    Frugal wins:
    1. Low fuel costs this month. Husband has his work vehicle and doesn’t really leave the house much other than for when he’s on work trips (which is frequent), so really only I’m using gas commuting to work.
    2. Husband is gone so much this month that I’m able to stay out of the grocery stores for the most part. I wasn’t going to go at all this week, but I did see Kroger has 5 pound bags of potatoes for $1.97, plus I have a coupon. This is a fantastic price in our area and we have no potatoes left, so I will be buying those. Pasta is also 79 cents, which is now the stock up price for me. Gone are the days of 49 cent pasta!
    3. Was able to get a bag of horse feed free. I opened up and emptied into my horse’s feed bin and discovered that it was very dried out. Nutritionally fine, but not as moist as it should be. I called the store and they gave me another bag for free to make up for it.
    4. Smart meter installed by the power company. We did not previously have smart meters in our area. I am fortunate that I have not seen the skyrocketing energy prices that others have, but I am looking forward to tracking our usage and seeing how we can bring it down. Should be especially easy for me when Husband is out of town for work since I almost never turn the tv on while he’s gone and am willing to turn off more lights.

    Frugal fails:
    1. Husband picked up his prescription and paid absolutely no attention to the price. It was quadruple what he normally paid because his insurance wants him to switch to a 90 day plan instead of 30 days. He paid it and left. To add insult to injury, it’s an OTC medication that we were only filling through the pharmacy because it was cheaper that way… but not when the price quadrupled (facepalm).

  48. It is January so we are in the process of eating down the freezer. I like to do this a couple of times a year to make sure that we don’t waste food and to make room for putting away the next garden’s harvest. To assist in that process I am batch cooking on the weekends as I work full time. This weekend I cooked up a small prime rib and some ribs that I had frozen from package. I used the broth from the ribs to cook some Spanish stewed beans and froze the bones from the prime rib to make a batch of beef broth at a later time. I have been using lots of frozen fruit in protein smoothies and enjoying them immensely. I froze them at the peak of the season and they taste so wonderful!
    I took advantage of the 3-day weekend to do some cleaning, organizing and decluttering around the house. I brought a chair from my keeping room into my master bedroom to create a cozy reading nook for myself and I love it. I decluttered quite a bit and got rid of lots of old papers that were not needed. I washed over a dozen loads of laundry including all of our clothes, sheets, blankets, rugs and towels. I usually do this in phases washing towels and clothes each week but this week I wanted to have afresh reset on everything.
    I cleaned out our inside fridge and the one in the garage which I find to be such a rewarding task. I rearranged some canning jars so I am more prepared for the garden harvest in the Spring and not scrambling to find things. I used the remainder of a 10 lb box of navel oranges to make 14 pints of orange marmalade. The process was long but the outcome was so worthwhile. I shared a few jars with neighbors and friends.
    I used some remaining gift cards to shave a bit of our grocery total when I went to Walmart to purchase fresh items we needed. my husband hit a deer a few weeks back and the rental car company over charged us on the deposit so I called and had them fix that. I deposited checks from my insurance company that they sent after my Chiropractic visits were submitted for coverage. I enjoyed free movies on Prime and listened to free music on Spotify to make cleaning and laundry more fun. @Brandy thank you for posting the reel about planting bulbs in mid to late January! It was just the encouragement I needed and my bulbs are going in the ground this weekend, better late than never 🙂
    Enjoy the week ahead everyone!

    1. Angie, could you post your recipe for orange marmalade, or a link? Also, what variety of oranges did you use? I luvluvluv orange marmalade! Please and thank you.

  49. I agree with Cindi’s comment above…reading this blog and the comments keep me motivated and focused more frugal living. There is book called “The Compound Effect”. It basically talks about how all of our little efforts turn into big results with time. I’ve thought alot about that lately. I’ve learned I do much better with small goals that lead to a bigger goals. I made financial goals for the new year and will chip away at them little by little. My frugal efforts this week involved learning to use my new Instant Pot. My boss and his wife gave me one for my birthday in November. I made a batch of greek yogurt in it and then added frozen raspberries and blueberries to it. Raspberries came from my garden last summer and the blueberries I bought on sale during the summer. I also made a batch of homemade granol. I love granola and yogurt! My hubby loves greek yogurt but the individual containers in the store are about $1/each. So obviously making it from scratch is going to save us a fair amount of money. I set some of the yogurt aside to use as sour cream and then used another cup of it to make cream cheese. Cream cheese in our area is through the roof. There are 3 items 4 items I no longer have to buy at the store. I also made a black bean chicken chili in the Instant Pot. It was made from all ingredients I already had and fed my husband and I for three meal. Made a load of homemade bread to go along with it. So yummy. I’ve realized it’s the little choices that are going to add up. I just have to stay focused. I have several apps on my phone that earn gift cards for scanning receipts. My husband and I both do it and we will used the gift cards for Christmas.
    Very grateful right now that we have chickens that are keeping us in eggs. Using potatoes gleaned from the field this past fall, as well apples picked in October. I also canned 7 pints of red kidney beans from the dried beans in my storage. My thought is that if I can them, they are ready to used and that’s one less thing that I need to buy at the grocery store. Everyone keep up the good work!

    1. How do you make Greek yogurt? I’m curious! My teen athlete has discovered it and it adds up fast!

      This week we kept activities to a minimum for the most part. I did chaperone the boy scout trip to go tobagonning and got to enjoy an outdoor outing.

      We have lots of random leftovers that I’ll be working with this week. I somehow came home with more bread than I purchased from the camping trip, but the bread will go bad before the scouts get together again. I made sure to send home a lot of extra ingredients with a family who needs it.

      Car is finally fixed and we only had to pay deductible from hit and run. Husband bought a light repair kit rather than spend $300 on that. He also did a minor repair on our van. It’s the first time he’s done that,
      and I’m proud of him.

      Did some outreach for some freelance writing projects. I haven’t gotten a response but I’m still making the effort.

      Working on winter sowing of seeds but it’s been warmer than usual so I’m not sure how this experiment will turn out. If anyone has any good resources for this, let me know.

      Have a great week!

      1. When you make regular yogurt, you then strain it. I use cheesecloth over a strainer over a pan.

          1. It’s pretty easy. There are several ways to make it. Pinterest has tutorials on all of them. I have made it in a crockpot before.

        1. You can collect the whey from straining the yogurt and use it in baking recipes. I often use it in place of milk in some bread recipes and it works great. If I don’t have an immediate use, I’ll freeze it for later.

      2. As Brandy said, strain the yogurt for several hours after it comes out of the instant pot. I used a large colander lined with one of my sack cloth dish towels. I have never made yogurt without the instant pot, but I know lots of people do. In one of the videos I watched, someone commented that you could used a small portion of the yogurt to make cream cheese as well. So, I tried that and it worked! I used about a cup of the strained greek yogurt, added a bit of salt, lined a smaller strainer with some cheese cloth and strained the yogurt for a few more hours in the refrigerator. It worked! I’m thinking it will be fantastic with some herbs in it on a bagel. I am also going to try using it in a cream cheese frosting this weekend. Cream cheese prices here are outrageous!

  50. I used some getting-stale-tortilla chips to make a taco/nacho casserole (kind of made up, but delicious!) I had enough chips to make a pan for dinner and one to freeze. I stretched ground beef with refried beans (I just blend up pinto beans that have been cooking in the slow cooker all day with spices and broth), canned corn, and salsa. **
    I finally broke down and bought some eggs. I took about a week to shop around and find the best “deal”. I’ll use them in baking only, no scrambled eggs. Maybe hard boiled and chopped up for salad, we’ll see. **
    We have been having rain for about 2 weeks straight, which is amazing and a little scary at the same time. We live in the desert and the earth has a hard time soaking up all the water quickly enough. Our garden is flooded. I was going to start seeding spinach and kale in the next week, but I may have to re-evaluate. I’m so thankful for the rain though. We’ve been in so much drought. I wish we were able to save some of the water, but our gutter runoff goes straight into the ground. The reservoirs are filling up though! **
    I paid some bills in full saving a percentage of the total amount rather than a payment plan. **
    I combined errands by stopping by Costco and Walmart before picking my kids up from school. I knew we weren’t going home right away so I kept perishables cold in the car until we got home.**
    I went online to cancel our free trial of a streaming service and they offered another month free instead! I put a note in my calendar on my phone the day before I need to cancel so I don’t forget. I wasn’t planning on finishing the series I was watching, but now I have another month! haha! **
    I got a sourdough starter from a friend and watched YouTube and read online on the best ways to use sourdough starter. It’s been a fun creative outlet for me! I’ve made pancakes and muffins so far. Any discard I can’t use in baking I’ll put in the garden. I love learning about new things!**
    My husband’s office has a membership to a local children’s museum that the employees can use. The museum is just down the street from my kids’ school, so we try and go once a month. We end up being the only family that uses the membership consistently! They have a little library there so my kids will pick out a book every so often to bring home. I have a pile of books to take back eventually 🙂 **

    1. It rains so little in our desert that houses here don’t have gutters. Perhaps you could get a rain barrel?

  51. I have been eyeing cell phone carriers for a while now, as I’ve been unhappy with ours. Last week my phone stopped making and taking phone calls, and the carrier’s only suggestion was to buy a new phone (with their generous discount a new one would “only” be 3 years of payments between $10-50 more a month on our bill). I chose to go with a different plan, offered by our internet provider, where they only charge for the data I use, as an encouragement to use the WiFi at home – or if I have to bump up to the unlimited plan, it’s the same price as what we pay already for my line (and the other carrier has applied discounts to get down to that rate). I reviewed the phones available and chose the second from the bottom, paid in full. Still a chunk but we knew this was coming as our phones were purchased December 2016. Even with a new case and screen protector I’m coming in less than what the big company wanted for a phone, and the case I chose on Amazon so I used a gift card received from returning our SodaStream gas cannisters.

    Making good use of the aforementioned SodaStream – trips to the convenience store for drinks have all but stopped. My husband drinks the seltzer plain; I use an organic ginger syrup but only once in the morning, then drink it plain the rest of the day. While grocery shopping, I picked up some knobs of ginger to make my own syrup next. (I will also be attempting to grow ginger this year, so hopefully even that cost will be all but gone by fall.)

    Ordered glasses and our insurance covered the bulk of the purchase, which was accounted for already.

    My son and I had dentist appointments; his was covered entirely by insurance as it was just a cleaning, mine was mostly covered and accounted for in the budget as well.

    While in the city for my dental work, stopped at Barnes & Noble – purchased a few items which I paid for using up some gift cards from last fall and a Christmas one. I thought they’d all be used but still have $30 left so there’s a future treat too.

    Received an email from Azure Standard to take a survey (apparently the first of its kind, from what they stated) – wasn’t going to do it, but decided to go for it and received a $25 code, which I applied to my February order.

    Went into the gym and cancelled my membership there – I much prefer to work out at home, so that’s what I’ve been doing, using items already invested in. That frees up the amount that can now be used by my husband for martial arts class he wants to take instead.

    My husband and son trimmed a tree at my folks’ new-to-them house and brought the wood home to season for the fire pit we will be building (with fire bricks supplied by a friend who is moving overseas and couldn’t take them).

    Printed off paperwork from our state homeschool organization about scholarships they offer, so my son can begin working on the application, compiling necessary documents, etc.

    Placing library holds online and picking up when consolidating with other errands; I have also studiously avoided the library coffee shop and the pricey temptation of treats.

    My son’s college classes start today – during grocery shopping we picked up items to take along for snacks to lessen the purchases at the campus cafe or bookstore. (We did give him money at the holidays for some snacks, as that’s a fun part of the experience, especially at 15 – but I will refrain so I don’t rack up charges and calories while waiting to drive him home.)

    Hoping everyone has a lovely week!

  52. I had some cucumbers approaching critical stage and since I don’t like them enough to eat a lot of them at once, I decided to make “cole slaw” using cucumber in the place of cabbage. It made an enjoyable slaw while saving cucumbers I was afraid I might lose. I made vegan slaw (no mayo) and added shredded carrots, celery and onion to the mix.

    I ordered some fabric for a gift for next Christmas at $3.00/yard then got an extra 20% off through Capital One Shopping rewards. It was available in the store, so I will drop in on my way home and pick it up instead of paying shipping.

    We’ve had some unusually low temperatures for our area several times in the last month, and I pulled out my nice Lands End woolen peacoat for those days. It struck me recently that my husband bought me this coat before we moved into our current house, which was in 1999. However, it is not our oldest peacoat. That honor goes to the still perfectly good, woolen actual peacoat that my husband was issued in the Navy. He served from 1972 to 1976.

    I juiced all the lemons I had picked off our tree before the hard freeze hit, rather than leave them sitting around in a bag until they dried up or rotted. I added a nice amount of juice to our freezer.

    I did some mending.

    I re-organized my craft supplies and threw out old, dried up and broken stuff, while setting aside the good stuff I won’t ever use, for a sale or donation. I winnowed down my craft supplies to about half or less than the amount I once had, and it’s stored in a more sensible fashion – paints with brushes, glues with tapes and glue gun, etc. It helps me to know what I have and avoids duplications when stored this way.

    I’m trying to eat less, as I’d gotten careless with portion sizes. That’s good for my pocketbook and my waistline!

    1. Jo, we, too, have my husband’s pea coat from his Navy days (1981-1988)! Thank your husband for his service🇺🇸

  53. We are enjoying a family vacation- not frugal but we budget this every year. We packed our own snacks for the plane. We are staying at an all inclusive resort and always take extra plastic bags so we can take sandwiches and snacks for the plane ride home. We bought some shirts in the grocery store, locally made art for our home, and avoided any trinkets. We froze extra food before we left or made sure to eat it up. We pack very light and just do some sink laundry to avoid checked bag fees and lost luggage. We did splurge on massages at a beach hut ($40) instead of the resort ($200), which was a few mile walk down the beach.
    Before we left, I made some returns, which I despise doing. I accidentally bought decaf Starbucks, which I will never drink, so I returned it. I resisted buying new flip flops or other vacation goodies. I bought toothpaste at the dollar store to travel and found some nice natural body wash there. I also returned a few items to the hardware store, which covered the cost of a propane refill and some mouse traps. We bottled some homemade hard cider.
    I sold a few items on eBay before and have more listings to go live when I’m back in town.

  54. We have had a quiet week as we try to keep spending under control. We ate at home all week except one day when we got veggie burgers at a fast food restaurant using a gift card we were gifted last year. We brought them home so we could use our own drinks. I did a wee bit of grocery shopping last week but stuck to basics. Off the clearance rack at Giant Tiger I got 9 pounds of apples for $3 and a bag of salad for .20 cents. The salad fed us for two meals and I have made applesauce out of the apples, adding inexpensive or free add ins like rhubarb and raspberries. Seven jars of applesauce will last a long while here. I also picked up a free pot of yogurt and a free bag of French fries with coupons.

    We continue to be blessed by our buy nothing group. This week I picked up an unopened bag of pita crackers, a full bottle of laundry soap, an unopened box of taco shells, two full packages of coffee pods for my husband’s Tassimo machine (also received from our buy nothing group), two specialty hot chocolate sachets, four drinkable yogurts, two unopened boxes of instant oatmeal packets, a small bag of oat flour, a new pair of Clark’s slides, a blu ray player and a lovely Christmas pedestal cake plate.

    Our magazines and books came from the library. My husband got a free week of Acorn tv so I have been able to watch the last series of Doc Martin for free.

    I hope everyone is having a lovely and productive week.

  55. I have been able to get several great food items that I was low on. I found hamburger for 2.99lb, BSCB for 1.69lb, and BSC things for 1.69 lb. I purchased about 30 lbs of each. It has been cooked and packaged into the freezer. We also found pasta at Kroger’s .79 a box; it was that price if you bought 6 at a time. Any other amount resulted in full price. I also ran out of pasta sauce and Meijer had it on sale 7 for 7.00, I bought 49 jars. It was regularly 2.29 per jar. This was the lowest price I could get. I purchased pasta sauce at .89 last year. At least I am getting sales where I can as grocery prices continue to soar. My pantry is pretty well set except I do need a case of graham crackers. I will focus on eating down our stores of food. It has been not snowy this winter (Except for the big freeze. Crazy. We have had drizzle off and on. Dark and gloomy. I have tons of seeds. Trying to get geared up for seed starting. My energy useage is down from last year but continues to cost significantly more each month. Grateful for all of my blessings.

  56. I am doing a pantry challenge /clean out the freezers to prepare for this year’s garden harvest. I am buying dairy, eggs (from a neighbour) and fresh fruit and veg. So far no really strange meals chili topped with cornbread, tortilini sausage soup, Mexican rice with Monterey chicken, corn chowder and biscuits and burgers with home made buns.
    -since I am doing this pantry challenge I’m also making all of our bread products. Bagels, hamburger buns and bread this week plus muffins and an orange bundt cake using up the wrinkled little Clementine. I usually do all our bread and buns but bagels were a new one for me. They were pretty tasty but need a few tweeks.
    -I got more than 3/4 of my mending pile done!
    -I’m using stuff from when we cleaned out my grandma’s house to craft with, making little gnome ornaments with my daughter for next Christmas.
    -using the library for books, DVDs and video games for my kids
    -stocked up on canning lids for this year’s garden by using our local Safeway on their last 15% off Tuesday. I should be set for this year and part of next.
    -sorted all my garden seeds and found the ones I need to buy. Ordered them with a free shipping code. Also trying a few new to me things and some things that I think will sell well in the spring. I purposely over plant seeds and then offer the extra plants for sale to cover my costs.
    -cut my husbands and children’s hair
    -purchased a video game for my soon to be 16 year old. Purchased at a store which had a buy so much and get $20 back in points. I save up the points and use them at Christmas.
    Thank you everyone for sharing all your frugal tips!
    For comparison eggs at Costco 5 dozen are $19, 1 lb of butter at Costco is $5 everywhere else is $7-9, a gallon of milk is $5.60 and gas is 1.30.9/L or 4.95/gallon. In Alberta Canada

    1. Your eggs are even less than what I see here. My friend told me it was $29 for 4 dozen eggs at Sam’s recently.

  57. We continued to enjoy family time this week with our daughters while they are home for winter break.

    To keep things frugal, we…

    Used craft supplies on hand to make Valentine decorations

    Potted pathos and African Violets rooted from cuttings

    Participated in a fundraiser to pay for indoor ice time so my daughter could figure skate over her college break with no cash out of pocket.

    Walked for exercise outdoors when weather allowed and at the local school’s indoor track on poor weather days. I walk with a friend or family member when possible, so much more fun with good conversation.

    Read from the stacks of books that I already own. I am currently working through The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner and Unorthdox by Deborah Feldman.

    Enjoyed ice skating at our community’s outdoor rink. We are thankful that our community provides these free, family-friendly facilities.

    Attended a local high school hockey game rather than buying tickets to a more expensive college/professional game. Visited with old friends and acquaintances who we have not seen for quite a while.

    Enjoyed an employer provided dinner with colleagues at a nice restaurant.

    Purchased this week’s groceries using a gift card from my employer. A small balance remains for a future shopping trip.

    Attended book club. We have been meeting for more than 20 years. Other than hosting once or twice a year, this is a free and enjoyable evening each month.

    Requested, received, and used Christmas gifts which will provide year round entertainment- MN and WI state park passes and an Audible membership.

    Enjoyed a free podcast (Satellite Sisters) and audiobook via Scribd (The Beekeepers Apprentice by Laurie R. King) while doing housework.

    Went by to bed at a reasonable hour, more rest=less eating out.

    Cleaned the upholstery of two arm chairs to lengthen life.

    Watched the movie “The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society” free using our Amazon Prime membership.

    Used yarn on hand to knit wash cloths for the Little Household Pantry at church.

    Accepted an offer from a friend who generously printed free wall art downloaded from Pinterest using card stock I had on hand. My younger daughter hangs these in magnetic frames in her dorm room. She and her roommate enjoy changing them out week to week.

    My older daughter is using a free online class and free practice tests to study for the CLEP Spanish test. She is hoping to score high enough to test out of 12 college credits. Fingers crossed!

    1. You mentioned reading “The Beekeeper’s Apprentice” by Laurie R King, the first book in the Mary Russell series. I strongly strongly dislike Sherlock Holmes, (who is the beekeeper), and really appreciated the creative interpretation of his stories with Mary Russell as the centerpiece. There are perhaps 17 books by now and some short stories. I really like some and admire them all for creativity and historical detail, from 1900-1925. Reading in order at least for the first few would help lay out the relationships and characters.

      1. Thanks for the tip! I did not realize this was the start of a a series. Yes, I agree, the Mary Russell character is a creative spin. I am a chemist so I naturally enjoy stories which portray talented young women in science.

      2. Heidi Louise – Thanks for the info about this series. As a beekeeper and mystery lover, the title alone is enough to excite me. I think I may have heard of it before but didn’t have it on my “to read” list. I just put it on hold at the library. And 17 books in the series! That could keep me busy for a looooong time. Thanks again! 🙂

      1. Have you ever been to Rowan Oak? My book club went a few years for field trip and it was fabulous. Curator is so knowledgeable and personable. Just wandering the grounds is free and at the time house tours were $5. Time and $ well spent.

        1. Yes, I have been to Rowan Oak-hidden gem! Our daughters attend Ole Miss. While visiting them, we hiked the (free) trail to the house. We went during Covid so unfortunately the home was not open, but we were treated to the wisteria in full bloom-quite a treat for Minnesotans! I hope to be able to tour the home on a future visit.

    2. I Clepped out of an entire semester of college allowing me graduate a semester early. I’ve always regretted that I didn’t study for it and maybe Clep out of my entire freshman year. But I was young and stupid and never even thought about studying. Plus Elvis died the day before and I was an emotional wreck.

      1. Wow, TCR, that is great! I did not realize CLEP has been around that long. AP tests are common in my neck of the woods, but I just learned about CLEP relatively recently.

  58. Too busy to track frugality this week, but I never miss reading Brandy’s post and everyone’s comments! I do have some food tips to share, though:

    1) I’ve started using “flax eggs” in baking. A 1lb bag of flax meal is about $3.50, so this is much cheaper than using actual eggs as a binder right now. All you do is mix 1tbsp flax with 2.5 tbsp water and let it sit for a few minutes and thicken. This won’t work in particularly “eggy” recipes, but is just fine in quick breads, baked oatmeal, etc.

    2) I’ve been saving the liquid from cans of chickpeas (AKA “aquafaba”) for various purposes. I’ve used it in baked oatmeal to replace some of the oil and applesauce with good results, and it’s a great binder and can replace eggs in non-eggy baked goods as well. I’ve also read that it can be whipped up to make vegan meringue, but I haven’t tried that yet. I’ll report back if I do, though!

    3) I’ve mentioned this one before, but it saved me again tonight: I only buy fruit that is canned in fruit juice, and if we don’t drink the juice along with the fruit, we save it for another day. Well this morning I needed canned pineapple, and nobody wanted to juice, so I put the juice in a mason jar in the fridge. Then tonight I realized I was out of orange juice for my barbacoa, but I subbed in the pineapple juice, and it was great!

    Have a great week!

  59. I’ve so enjoyed reading all the comments today and the wonderful tips so many have to share. Thank you all! Last week we went into the grocery store. I’m shopping more and more often at Kroger these days due to the clearance priced items I can find to add to my purchases. My grandson has a milk protein allergy. I often find milk free yogurt or sour cream so I can expand his diet. This past week it was a container of milk free cream cheese from Philadelphia cream cheese. It’s not like cream cheese exactly in texture but it does taste good. I made a simple Alfredo sauce for pasta using lactose free milk (which doesn’t bother him) and some of the cream cheese. He declared it as ‘dishus’ which is high praise from a 3-year-old, lol. I also bought two 1.5-pound packages of diced pork for under $4 a package, some cornbread muffin mixes for the pantry emergency shelf, some protein-based muffin mixes and a bag of chocolates for less than 1/3 the original price. I saved nearly $65 and walked out with a buggy full of bags filled with groceries for $160. Eggs had been moved next to the cheese. One irritable customer accused a clerk of putting them there because it was located nearer cameras since prices had gone so high. The clerk was smart. He agreed with her! That earned a hearty laugh from all the bystanders. Eggs were around $8 a dozen. I still have 2 dozen that I bought in December for $2.79 for 18. I’m stretching those eggs out! I finished a favorite old book last week and noted a listing in the back of the book of various authors who were popular in the same era and their books. I went online and read up on each author at Good Reads and one was very highly recommended. I was able to purchase one of her books for less than $10. I am a book person and happily purchase books as my splurge item, but I buy used. Went to an estate sale on Friday mostly because I’m nosy and like to see how a house is laid out and just look at things but found an album my husband was pleased to have as well as a handful of books from their bookshelves that I knew I’d enjoy. I also got a 14 x 10 aluminum baking pan with a perfectly flat bottom which also pleased me because my stainless steel 13 x 9 one has an indented rim around it so it’s impossible to turn out sheet cakes with any luck at all. With cost-of-living increases in our social security, I was able to rework our budget with an increased allowance for groceries. I noted that though I was buying the same foods and making all I could from scratch, our increases were 37% more than I’d set for January 2022. We are proceeding cautiously into this new year. I want very much to go into the grocery and stock up on quite a few things, but we’re busy as can be just now making that shopping expedition a bit more difficult to plan. We ordered weather tech floor mats for our 15-year-old Toyota Camry. We live in the country and the least bit of dampness outdoors means we pick up sandy soil on our shoes which really wears out the carpet. Since we seldom have anyone in the back seat we opted just for the passenger and driver side front seat mats. I’ve been watching for a white sale on bedding at Target but haven’t seen sales worth much of anything there thus far this year. In years past I’ve stocked up on personal care and household cleaning items at Target because they offered a gift card rebate as well as really good sales. Not this year! Over the holiday I relented over my k-cup ban since with two hard core coffee drinkers in the house there was a constant spillage of dry and wet grounds on the kitchen counters. I ordered a package of k-cups thinking they’d last a month. I was wrong. They were gone within 2 weeks! I told family that they wouldn’t be getting more. Instead I’ve ordered more k-cups and will fill them myself. Hope everyone has a terrific week!

    1. Terri – You will love your Weather Tech mats. We have them in both of our vehicles and they really make cleaning up all the mud we get into very easy. Have had them for about 6 years now and they are still going strong. The sun shields they make are great, too. Sized to fit your make of vehicle so very easy to use, keeps the interior cooler when parked on hot days and prevents fading on the dash. We have been very happy with these items and think they help to keep our vehicles in better condition than without. 🙂

  60. Hello, your roses are beautiful. Good luck to your husband with his classes and job search. Being out of work has always been stressful for us, and I can imagine that it is somewhat that way for you. Fortunately, you have plenty of food. This week I told myself I would write down what I saved money on, and I got a good start at the beginning of the week and then forgot to do it. My biggest saving is still sitting on my dining table. We received an email announcement of a funeral for a friend we’ve known for probably45 years. She was a licensed hair stylist and very graciously styled the hair of the bride and her three attendants at our daughter’s wedding years ago. My daughter had expressed concern to me about what condition her maid-of-honor’s extremely long, extremely frizzy hair might be in (she was flying in from the midwest) because she did not have money to go to a salon to have her hair done. I suggested french braiding all of the bridesmaids hair as one option. The girls liked the idea, and our friend very creatively french braided a little different style for each bridesmaid and styled the bride’s hair in an updo style that worked with the other girls’ styles. The girl with the frizzy hair that was grown out of a style was very grateful to have her hair professionally done. Another girl had long wavy hair that she had once-upon-a-time bleached herself and was now letting grow out. The bleached part was damaged looking, and several inches of dark roots were showing. She also was a college student with no money for professional hair salons. Our friend made all the girls’ hair look beautiful. I wanted to send flowers for the funeral service. I used to work in a florist shop, so I decided to try to arrange something myself. I was wondering through Safeway’s floral area looking at their flowers. They had a cart of deadish looking plants on it, and I thought I might be able to get some starts from them, so I asked the clerk who works in that department if they were throwing those away. She said yes but she would get in trouble if she marked down the price and sold them to me. She said she would show me a good buy though. She said a company made a mistake and sent them the wrong thing, so they had some bunches of flowers for $6.95 that would normally be $16 to $18 a bunch. So I ended up buying two bunches of mixed flowers in pinks and purples. Then I went to Goodwill and bought a dark pink vase for $6.95. The arrangement I was able to make I think would have cost maybe $80 to $100 back when I worked at the florist shop. I found a card to go with it out of my stash at home that I think came from The Dollar Tree. The next day was the funeral, and I thought I could go early with the flowers. The church was small, and I thought the service would be relatively informal. It turned out that the church was not in the town printed on the announcement; it was the next town closer to the beach. We were actually late instead of early. The place looked packed. We ended up not going in but rather driving back home. I was sad about it, but ended up taking the arrangement to church. I got there early. A couple of other small savings I found this week were a set of four double-pointed knitting needles and one circular knitting needle for $1.99 each at Goodwill. On the markdown stand at Fred Meyer, I found five green bell peppers for $2. I also got two smallish packages of leaf lettuce for $1.46 each. It will be enough for a large salad. Cherries from Chile were $2.99 per pound. What a treat! Last week grapes were 97 cents per pound, so I put grapes instead of the raisins I usually substitute in a broccoli cauliflower seeds and nuts salad. There is an actual recipe for this salad. I could post it if anyone wants it, but probably everyone has their own recipe. I also bought four packages of small clear glass Christmas tree ornaments for $2.60 each at JoAnn’s 80% off Christmas items sale. I have nail polish in Christmas colors that I bought for $1 each at Dollar Tree before their prices went up that I am going to swirl the ornaments into to paint them with a marblized effect. I thought the granddaughters might enjoy it as a Christmas craft. The idea came from a Christmas decorating book from the county library. Now I will have to see if the library still has the book, so I can brush up on how to do it. Thank you to everyone who shares their ideas. You are an inspiration.

  61. Because of the Northern California wind and rain we’ve been having, the power was out at our house for about 35 hours from just after midnight Saturday night to 11am-ish Monday. I’m pretty pleased with DH and my level of preparedness. Our main obstacle was being cold! So we spent most of our time under blankets. I also wish we had had a couple more battery operated lanterns. We had two lanterns, plus headlamps for each of us, a few battery operated candles, and some flashlights. I also did a trick I learned somewhere-strap a headlamp to a gallon jug of water, and it lights the whole thing up. We ate refrigerator food for lunch-bits of salami and lunch meat and cheese odds and ends with crackers. We made leftover clam chowder for dinner. I had bought a single burner camp stove that can be used indoors with butane and we cooked the soup on that. We also had sliced sourdough sandwich bread. It was wonderful having a hot meal and it certainly perked our spirits up. Luckily it was pretty user friendly, as it was our first time trying it out! Honestly, our fridge was almost bare when the power went off, as Sunday is grocery shopping day. DH elected not to shop until the next weekend, so we ate what we had on hand all week. Happily the refrigerator and chest freezer food was fine.
    Our “use it up”/”eat what we’ve got” meals included leftover taco soup; “Hobo Packets”: foil packets baked in the oven with chicken breast, carrots, potatoes, onion, bell pepper, and garlic; a ground turkey vegetable soup in the crockpot; frozen turkey meatloaf with rice, carrots, and Brussels sprouts; a Mexican style bowl-one pan recipe with leftover chicken breast, black beans, canned tomatoes, canned corn, frozen bell pepper cubes, onions, and leftover rice; and shelf stable pizza crust with whatever toppings we could scrounge up! I was happy to not spend the grocery money that week but ended up buying a couple more battery powered lanterns, another headlamp, 68 (!!) batteries, and a stovetop whistling tea kettle. So, money gone anyway, haha. But now we have these things for next time. And I actually feel pretty empowered about my capabilities, and my husband’s, if and when something similar happens. DH’s friend from high school lives maybe 5 minutes away from us and his power was out for 3 days. And my sister in law was without power for probably 40 hours, but her well is on an electric pump, so she was also without running water.
    So compared with others, we were kind of sitting pretty!
    I hope everyone here in the US is doing well with the weather.

    1. You may also want to consider owning a kerosene lantern or two. I have used those in power outages many times as a child (including when we had a major earthquake and had no power for days). We rarely get them here, but I have lanterns just in case.

      1. Brandy, we have kerosene lanterns as well! I have gotten some from garage sales and then there were a couple in my in-laws home we cleared out. My husband and I occasionally use them for a “pioneer” evening. I used to do this with the kids when they were young…no electric used (other than if we were using heat at the time). The kids still talk about it and it was fun to spend that time together without electronic distraction.

    2. I LOVE the headlamp on the water jug idea! I will try to remember that in a future emergency. Thanks!

  62. Christina in Co, I am in Calgary so not close to you. I think the two stores I visited are local to Alberta but do have super bargains. It is a drive but worth stocking up on fresh produce.

  63. Natasha, I just shopped at South Calgary Costco on Tstina Land. Gas was only 133.9 per litre compared to 134.9 in my neighbourhood. Butter was 5.29 each. Did not check milk and eggs as I did not need them. I saw 30 large eggs the other day at Safeway for $9.49. 3 lbs of bananas still $1.99 at Costco.

  64. It has been a fairly quiet week around here. We did have our 41st Anniversary and had hamburgers, French fries and salad at home. My husband wants to do a meal out to celebrate so we will do a lunch out at a local restaurant that is very reasonable, we will pay less than $25. I don’t enjoy eating out like he does, but will do it as he wants to treat me.
    I have been sticking to my health hopes for the month. I have been drinking detox teas(free), a lemonade detox(cheap), walking and exercising daily at home, doing detox foot soaks( just bought more epsom salts at cvs with coupons) and doing a sugar fast.
    I made several pumpkin banana smoothies using up the last of the cooked pumpkin in the fridge with free bananas and yogurt, and kale from the garden. The freezing temperatures over Christmas really damaged the kale, but it is starting to come back. I even had chickweed and dandelion to throw in. My DIL just gave me two regular pumpkins that I will cook up this weekend.
    There have been some good books lately from the library that I have enjoyed. One was, “The London House.” They carry Mother Earth News and I always glean something from them for my garden or herbal preparations.
    I continue to build my compost with some from my daughter and her family, as well as our own. Early crops will be sown before we know it, I can’t wait. My husband for my 2020 birthday made a video of my garden through the year. It had videos shots from soil prep to planting and harvesting. It was set to a song we loved back when we were dating byPaul Stuckey. He interviewed the grands, had shots of them helping me and my kids as well. We watched it while we babysat our close grandkids last night at the request of my granddaughter who is starting her own garden this spring. It is my most favorite gift ever and my husband captured beautifully how the gardens are my happy place!,
    I hope you all have a lovely week and thank you for sharing whether they are big steps or little, we all learn from each other!

    1. Jean- Was the Paul Stuckey song- Inch by inch, row by row- perhaps?? We are big fans of P, P & M and saw them perform this in a live concert when we lived in CA! Even as they aged, their voices stayed on pitch! Thanks for the memory!!
      We also saw John Denver in an outdoor concert live when we lived in the mountains in Southern CA. He sang another favorite garden song- Homegrown Tomatoes. Here’s a link to YouTube video of it: https://youtu.be/mFwvQ1027VI.

      Gardenpat in Ohio

      1. Yes!!!! That is the very one, Gardenpat!! It is a sweet, beautiful song! I think what struck me was my hubby included a song from our dating days that has become an even greater joy across the decades, my love of gardening! I am so glad you know the song as well!

  65. Hello all frugal friends.
    I want to thank the person that mentioned Trader Joe’s as a source for cheaper egg prices. I was near one this weekend and the cage free brown eggs for $3.29 a dozen. I picked up 3 dozen. I’m in the suburban Minneapolis area.
    Recently connected to a Facebook buy nothing group. I’ve received a few things. It’s my favorite new treasure hunt.
    Have a great week everyone.

  66. After a brutal cold snap in December, our January has been warmer than average, saving on our heating use. We have been eating most of our meals at home. Meals made were roasted red pepper coques, vegan tortilla soup, large salads with marinated small white beans for some staying power, roasted veg bowls, veggie quesadillas, mushroom bourguignon on mashed potatoes for my husband. Made banana softserve for dessert one night. I met friends at Panera for lunch and am disappointed in their extremely limited vegan offerings. I hate to pay full price for a salad only to have chicken and cheese removed with no discount. I went with the splurge of an everything bagel (white flour splurge) and brought my own peanut butter. I felt funny but not THAT odd because they could do more on their end, specifically pricing items w/o animal products and add $ to add them in. I was surprised at how expensive that restaurant has become.

    I’ve spent a little extra on groceries to make a few new recipes and looking forward to trying them out. I bought a bag of fava beans and am soaking them before testing a recipe to add a little avocado oil and then a lot of seasonings – garlic powder, cajun seasoning, black pepper, etc., and toss in the air fryer. I’m starting with half the bag bc I don’t want a lot laying around – I’ll eat it (if good) and don’t want to rush through it.

    This month we’ve been enjoying Rick Steves’ Festival of Europe, a series of Zoom presentations – free; just sign up. Each night is a different country or part of a country. They’re all available free on his website 48 hours after they’re presented. Interesting and fun to dream about going to many of these countries. I grew up a few years in Italy and still hold my deep love for that country, so he’s trying to talk me into going somewhere else on vacation. Our last few overseas trips were to Italy, and I have cherished every one of those vacations.

    We just bought tickets to visit my brother and his wife in Florida, and I’m looking forward to that. Not frugal but he just had surgery and his wife is contemplating attending a family wedding, so if I’m there, that allows her to go. He and I get along so well, and it will be good to see him. It’s been too long. I miss him terribly. He is still living with stage 4 pancreatic cancer.

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