Polar Bear and Luminosa Pink Zinnias

A duck showed up in our garden on Sunday! She enjoyed herself eating bugs from the garden and fertilizing our lawn. She came back several more days as well. She stayed for several hours each time, which was fun for the family.

I harvested tomatoes, Swiss chard, red and green beans, green onions, a few grapes, and basil from the garden.

After evaluating several ideas, my husband and I celebrated our 20th anniversary simply by having lunch at home (leftovers!) at a table we set up in our bedroom so that we could have a quiet lunch with just the two of us. We played a few games of Sequence together after lunch and had ice cream. I think this will be our new space for at-home dates. Later, we went out for a late dinner (when the sun would be down, because of the heat) to an Italian-style cafe that has outdoor seating. While I would have loved to go to France and Italy for our 20-year anniversary, that wasn’t possible, so we chose the closest option. We even had a table full of Italians nearby, so we got to hear others speaking in Italian. (I joked to my husband that we didn’t have to even go that far if we only wanted to hear Italian–our neighbors across the street converse in Italian every day!)

I made my husband a new mask to wear using fabric I had on hand, as he didn’t like the style I had made previously that has wire around the nose. He is much happier with the new style of mask.

I altered a skirt to sew the slit to not go as high.

A couple of months ago, I was wishing I had a water/sand table for my two youngest boys (even though I know they will just dump all the sand in the water and on the ground). I even saw one on the local Facebook garage sale page for $15! I decided to go without, though–the sun and heat are harsh on plastic toys like those here and it generally destroys them until they disintegrate in a short period of time. Instead, in the spring, I set up a large zinc washtub that I already had as a water play area on the grass for the boys. Now it’s too hot to play outside in the afternoons, so when my son asked to play in some water with his toys, I set up a bath towel (folded in half) on the kitchen table and put a large stainless steel bowl filled with water on the table for him to use.

As it’s too hot to spend more than a few minutes in the garden, I can focus more on organizing. I had the children help me organize and tidy a few spots in the house. In doing so, we found the school supplies that I was certain that we had but that we couldn’t find, as well as some craft supplies that my daughter was happy to claim after reorganizing that space. I have plenty of pencils, notebooks, erasers, and glue for the upcoming school year.

My husband saved $50 by purchasing needed tools and LED lights for the garage at Harbor Freight using coupons and purchasing items on sale.

We combined this errand with picking up requested books from the library for two daughters; our library is now open (though books have to be returned outside now). To minimize our time there, we simply requested books online to pick up.

I read a WWII book, The Paris Architect, that I had purchased last fall at a garage sale.

I gave haircuts to two sons.

What did you do to save money this past week?

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  1. This week I finished the quilting on the 3rd quilt for a client and sent her photos. https://pin.it/2v1vNqt. She seems pleased and has already received the first two in the post! Our website has been having several orders coming in for flannel Softies (reusable Kleenex alternative) https://pin.it/5xYpdHg, so I’ve been sewing up and trimming edging on several more sets to build our inventory back up!

    The peaches I got on sale 77 cents/pound last week became 11 quarts of peach halves on my pantry shelf! https://pin.it/5ChMTK4.
    Meijer’s had boneless center pork tenderloin for $1.49/pound. I had Meijers rewards and coupons that took $7 off my grocery bill too! I haven’t seen that price point for about a year so I bought 4 (about 5-6 pounds each) and had the butcher slice them all into 1” chops. I remember years ago when I found out that they do that as a free service!! With 3 of the packages, I cut the chops into strips and then 1” chunks after I was home and filled 16 pint jars with pork chunks! These are a great addition to my pantry shelf. I was down to my last 6 jars before this! So now I’ve restocked my boneless chicken as well as the boneless pork! Good reminder to me that even during these crazy times, opportunities still abound to increase our pantries without going into debt!

    I did more decluttering this week and sold 2 more things that we weren’t using that added $40 to my pocket. Of that, I took $15 and bought 3 dozen Ball wide mouth pint jars from FB Marketplace! They don’t have lids or rings but I have dozens of new lids and rings in my pantry so they are a great addition!
    I harvested 5 cucumbers and another 3 quarts of green beans from our garden with more coming! https://pin.it/1eWwPAQ. We are enjoying the cucumbers for eating fresh and freezing the green beans for enjoying through the winter! The Swiss chard and kale are still producing well and I planted more potatoes for a fall crop where the lettuce had bolted! The first ones I planted two weeks ago have come up and I’m anticipating a nice little harvest from them! Our garden this year is very deliberate and we want to keep every bit under cultivation well past summer! We have some books on 4 season gardening even in our 4 season climate so we will be putting some of their ideas to use!

    Gardenpat in Ohio

    1. Hello Gardenpat! I also am seeking to do four season gardening in north central Illinois. I recently picked up some book regarding this…Eliot Coleman. When you said you canned the pork, did you can it raw? I have never canned meat and am a bit concerned about attempting this. I have a very good pressure cooker. I have canned fruits and vegetables about five years ago, but nothing since then. I just followed you on Pinterest hoping to pick up some ideas. Thanks in advance for any pointers/comments.

      1. Laura S- I used the directions in the Ball Blue Book for pressure canning my pork- I cut the raw pork chops into 1” chunks, then packed them into my pint jars leaving 1” at the top of jar. Filled each jar with hot water (again, only to 1” mark- no higher) and pushed out air bubbles. Put hot lids on and rings. Into pressure canner for 75 minutes – 11 pounds pressure for us. I have an extra shelf I bought for my Presto 23 quart canner (which btw- works great on my glass top LG stove and only cost about $80 on Amazon) so I can process 16 pints in one batch! Doing the 16 jars at one time saves me time and energy costs! My Presto canner has been working great for over 7 years of heavy use. No need to invest in the much more expensive pressure canner (All American brand) IMO.
        I’ve read Eliot Coleman’s book but I prefer Year-Round Vegetable Gardener by Niki Jabbour. Less expensive and less time/labor intensive ways which appeal to me because I’m cheap and lazy! ? The author lives in Nova Scotia so she understands winters!
        Two other gardening books I love are: Gardening when it counts by Steve Solomon (particularly timely now) and The Urban Farmer by Curtis Stone.
        These books are good for our situation- climate, space, situation. Other books may be more tailored to you! And always check online with your public library resources! I never buy a book without checking to see if my library has it and borrowing it from them first if 5hey do! It has saved me a fortune in purchases that I would have regretted! Then, if I love the book, like these 3, I will buy a copy for my bookshelf!
        And remember to use Brandy’s link for anything on Amazon!!

    2. I will have to look into those books on year-round gardening. We live in NW New Mexico. I think I could grow more than I do. I just plant once in spring and that’s it. Sometimes by the fall, I’m ready for a break though!

  2. I just walked an Etsy order to the post office.
    I dehydrated zucchini slices, I had a LOT of zucchini. I sewed a pillowcase out of fabric from a sheet that was a size I didn’t need. I bought bras in the Soma flash sale for $28 each. These are high quality and they are almost as cheap as Target ones. I made homemade kombucha and gluten free sourdough bread. https://pin.it/6T7rlN4 (I hope that works for the recipe!). I bought King Arthur flour gluten free loaf pans a while ago. They are a particular size/shape that’s best for GF loaves. They were expensive, but after using them for a few months, I have found them to be worth it. They are sturdy, made in USA, need no flour or oil before putting dough in and clearly should last a lifetime.
    We have been enjoying tomatoes from the garden. We share excess with neighbors.

  3. I love how you made your own water table! I follow a few toddler learning accounts on IG, and the BusyToddler one is my favourite. She often suggests making one’s own water/sand/rice/whatever tray/table using a storage box, and just like you, places it on a towel. I’ve done the similar with a bucket of soapy water on the kitchen floor; my toddler plays with toys in the soapy water, and I clean the floor using the splashed soapy water — winning!

    My frugal accomplishments for the week:
    – I made a Low-Sugar Healthy Berry Crumble (http://approachingfood.com/low-sugar-healthy-berry-crumble/) using some berries that I had picked locally (and for free!) last week.
    – I picked green beans from my parents’ garden to give to my daughter, and a handful of snow peas from my balcony garden for her too.
    – I received a bonus on my last day of work, which I used to replace my phone as it broke, and to give a bit of a bonus to our childcare provider on her last day. The timing of the bonus could not have been more perfect as it took the stress out of having to purchase a new smartphone. I am so appreciative of having had such a great workplace.
    – My mother had a bunch of berries in her freezer that she wanted to use up, so I made a BumbleBerry Jam (http://approachingfood.com/bumbleberry-jam/) for her, just using berries and sugar. So delicious on fresh bread!
    – I redeemed SB for $5 to my paypal account, as well as pinecone research rewards for $5 to my paypal account.
    – I read several books for free online through my library account. I also taught the 12 year old daughter of a friend how to get a free library e-card and how to access library e-books and audiobooks. I taught her over whatsapp, using screenshots. This will help her practice her reading skills over the summer while she’s out of school, and help her be less bored over the summer while she is cooped up inside with her family in their apartment due to the pandemic. Once she is more familiar with borrowing books, I will teach her about all the other programs that the library offers for free.

    Looking forward to learning from everyone else, as always!

  4. Oh I how love Zinnias! I plant so many every year. This year I was lucky enough to have them from seeds. So pretty!

    *It was a hot weather week. I’ve been picking zucchini and pea pods every day. Discovered my Roma Tomato plant had somehow moved from the drip line. So I adjusted the drip line and it looks so much better. My plants are full of tomatoes. I still have lettuce coming – it’s doing ok in the shade. I’m really surprised! Meals were Taco Salad, Pizzadillas, Hot Hawaaian Rolls made with roast beef instead of ham. I added Worchestshire sauce to the sauce and used hamburger buns that needed to be used up instead of hawaiian rolls. My kids declared them divine. We also had pizza (coupon) and a date night that we used a gift card. I made peach bread and zucchini banana bread again. I made whole wheat cinnamon applesauce pancakes and scrambled eggs for breakfasts. Lunches were leftovers or whatever was around to eat.

    *I exercised by doing yard work and Walk at Home with Leslie Sansone. I have followed her for years! YouTube is a blessing. Love being able to exercise in my home with a fan on to help cool me off.

    *Checked out books from the library for reading and returned them all because I couldn’t find a clean read. But I will keep trying.

    *My mental health has been a more difficult issue lately. I’ve been journaling daily, being grateful, giving myself plenty of grace, drinking water, taking time to enjoy the fruits of summer (love nectarines and peaches and strawberries). Exercise as well as plenty of deep stretching and meditation. Making sure that my words are positive before I speak them. Being careful if I do have a concern to only voice the concern and not get into negative speaking. Enjoying beautiful pictures and checking my Pinterest humor page to help me smile and laugh. Pet my dog and get off my bed and get ready each day. Make myself a list of to-do that is not over-whelming but also is challenging because the sense of accomplishment can give me a lift. Finding something to organize also helps. Chewing pebble ice when my anxiety is getting high seems to help. Watching my breathing and taking advantage of my kids offering me back rubs when needed. I also pray and read my scriptures daily. The Come Follow Me lessons have really helped me focus on positivity.

    *My son put on new brake pads for his truck. He paid for the supplies and came to our home to use his dads tools. I provided food and water and hugs and encouragement. He discovered another issue and it turned into an all day project in the hot heat. I put up patio umbrellas for him and pumped his brakes to help clear the line. His sibling went out and helped him for hours by fetching tools and holding things and talking to him.

    *I wrapped a wedding present using a gift we had bought on clearance. Used wrapping paper and a ribbon from my stash. I didn’t have a card so I used their wedding announcement with the picture facing out on top of the present and wrote a sweet note on the back of their announcement. I like how it looks with the present. The picture of them smiling out from the top of the present looks sweet to me.

    *I went through my fridge on Thursday and chopped, froze or baked anything we hadn’t used up that week for food. I made a chocolate cake that used up the last of some Miracle Whip for the oil portion. I made granola and put that over the last of the peaches from last week. Topped with some milk and just enjoyed the crunch and sweetness.

    *Downloaded the Ibotta app (why did I wait so long?????) Was able to use it for some items I had purchased at the store on Friday. Looking forward to using that more often when it helps my bottom line.

    Thank you for all you do to keep this site going Brandy! Love everyone’s posts and encouragement. Have a wonderful week!

    1. I appreciated your lovely and doable mental health list, and the story of how you and your family supported your son’s long, hot day working on his car.

    2. You might enjoy the Miss Read books, there are several different series. Thrush Green was the series I enjoyed the most. Also, Rebecca Shaw is another author who wrote non-violent, non-sexual books. She died about two years ago, and I was sorry to hear it because that mean no new offerings from her. Like the Miss Read books, there are two separate series to enjoy. Turnham Malpas is one of them.

      1. The Thrush Green books are wonderful. Also the At Home in Mitford series and the Aunt Dimity mysteries. All are wholesome and pleasant.

        1. And if you are looking for something less wholesome and pleasant, the David Baldacci mysteries don’t have much sex in them. A big sex scene for him would be two sentences, although his characters can spend about 6 pages cleaning their guns….

          I also enjoy the Mitford books, and it’s about time I re-read them. There are half a dozen books in the #1 Ladies Detective Agency series, but the early ones are the best. The later books seem to recycle the earlier plots…which are thin to begin with, but fun reads.

      2. Also Jan Karon’s series of books. Dorothy Evelyn Thomas and D.E. Stevenson books are clean and lovely and fun. Might be hard to find but dig around in an older library that really does treasure the old books and you’ll find them!

      3. Also about good, clean books. On Project Gutenberg (free), I love the “What Katy Did” series (http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/author/1508) and “Daddy Long Legs” by Jean Webster (http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/40426), to name a couple. I just really enjoy Project Gutenberg. I read their kids history books all the time for fun when I’m looking for an introduction to something before teaching it to my kids. Often I need to supplement, but I do appreciate authors who tell history as an interesting story. Also some of Lucy Maud Montgomery’s short stories are lovely (http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/24873). She’s the author of “Anne of Green Gables.”

    3. I like to hear how you are taking care of yourself. I live with chronic fatigue syndrome and find life hard at times. I was just making a list of self-care things myself!

    4. I too love using the Leslie Sansone program as well – although I have tried getting outside early in the morning to walk before the heat becomes unbearable.
      If you haven’t read them, the Darling Dahlia books by Susan Witting Albert might be something that you would find appropriate. I find them quite charming but still so interesting at the same time – and since they take place during the Depression – strangely relevant at the moment.

      1. Also, The Number One Ladies Detective Agency by Alexander McCall Smith, and perhaps some of his other writings.

    5. Amy,
      Fellow Leslie Sansone walker here! She’s so positive and I love the endorphins released during and after her workouts.

    6. Amy,
      I’ve been reading my Bible more lately too. And trying to spend time outdoors and count my blessings. I’ve also tried to get enough sleep. Take a shower and put makeup on. when I need a lift. I’ve also take time to not read the news and listen to beautiful music. I like to read things that are enjoyable instead. I have also asked my husband to not tell me the news sometimes. I like to read positive things. I think I also daydream about happy times. I also try to make an effort to make happy times for the people I love and myself. Lately I’ve been dreaming of vacations. But I am trying to just make my home a nice place to be. That helps a lot. When I feel really awful, I pray for help.

      1. I think you’re doing really well, Tammy! Today we finally have a beautiful sunny day and
        I am going out to watch the butterflies (maybe take a few photos). It is a good idea not to watch too much news!
        If you feel awful, pray for help but just remember it’s only a temporary thing which will pass then focus on beauty –like your grandchildren, children, flowers, birds, butterflies etc. We have been taking virtual vacations where we research about the destination then describe our trip — sometimes illustrated with photos. Lots cheaper than the real thing. Instead of thinking of our loss of freedom, focus on how lovely it is to be able to be home! Ann

        1. Thanks Ann,
          You are right. It is lovely to be home. Tonight I played the piano. It was very relaxing. I’ve been taking visual vacations too. I hope you got some beautiful butterfly pictures!

    7. Thunk! The sound of me hitting my head because I hadn’t thought to use hamburger buns to make these sandwiches before! Love that mental health list.

    8. Amy! Loved your comment. Thanks for the Walk at Home suggestion. I love youtube but I have never seen that channel. I will use some of your mental health suggestions as well.


    9. Thank you for your comments and suggestions on books. I love Brandys blog because of all the support and ideas. And Terri, I felt like thinking my head too about the rolls. I felt like it was duh revelation to me.

    10. Mental health struggles are hard. It sounds like you are doing a good job with self care. I hope things get easier for you!

  5. I am constantly amazed at how you deal with those high temps… we’re dying here at 92 or 95 degrees. And we live closer to the mountains in Colorado, with low humidity…
    my Swiss chard, in full sun in a planter, is fried, in spite of near-daily waterings. The Swiss chard planted out in the perennials, also in full sun, is fine, other than being nibbled on. Go figure.

    I went to Denver’s Friday/Saturday store, open only on weekends. It sells clearance/remainders groceries, produce that’s a little banged up, etc. Got cheddar and pepperjack cheese for $1.00 pound! That was my best buy, though a 24-pack of Donald Duck 100% fruit juice punch (large single-serve bottles) for $5.00 was good, too. I mix these into iced tea, or water them down to make them go even further. (We don’t have lemon trees for lemonade, like you do.) Also bought a bunch of books and DVDs at our local library’s sale room: $1 and $2 each. (Children’s books are 50 cents.) Our library finally opened — I’m so glad.
    Just finishing up a book manuscript, so we haven’t gone too far away from home for the past few weeks. Also, Colorado is still fussy about minimizing public exposure. I’ve been doing personal property appraisals now and then, but at a firm distance away, and we wear masks. And we don’t shake hands, like I used to!
    Thank you for writing extra articles! The weekly posts are great, but I learn even more from the extras.

  6. I sold a few things online as we redo a room to better suit our long term needs (without young ones in our home the need changed) this will allow me to purchase a few things for that room. We also harvested from the garden, swam inour pool, and baked a few things in the early morning to avoid heat. I love reading you ideas each week and get so inspired. Thank you.

  7. Happy anniversary! I hope everyone here is having a good summer.
    This was my frugal week–
    * I picked about 5 more pounds of strawberries from my garden last week. So far I have picked about 9 lb., and they are about done for the year. It wasn’t a really good year for strawberries because it rained so much. I harvested a handful of raspberries and enough beet greens for dinner one night.
    * I bought blueberries for $1.99 lb. and top sirloin steak for $3.98 lb. This has been my go-to price for sirloin for several years. I bought several packages of steak and had the meat cutter tenderize one package for cube steaks.
    * I made a batch of blueberry freezer jam (my husband’s favorite) and I’m going back for another package, for another batch before the sale prices expire Tuesday night.
    * Frontier Communications, which in my part of the world was bought out by Ziply Fiber, charged us $54.99 per month for DSL at our vacation home. (I didn’t sign up at this price, but they increased it several times). We use it for computing, streaming and the wi-fi thermostat. I called Ziply, prepared to cancel, and they signed me up for their $35 DSL only plan. It only took a few minutes, and she didn’t even try to sell me a bundle!
    * I used a $7 off coupon at Ace Hardware to purchase furnace/AC filters.
    * I made a new cover for a throw pillow with fabric left from curtains I made for the lake house. I made tassels for each corner with help from a You Tube that showed me how to hide all of the loose ends of yarn (pretty nifty!). All of the sewing I have done in the past few weeks has been with fabric and notions I already had, and I’ve spent $0.

  8. P.S. Could you show us photos of Winter’s wedding? I would love to see her dress, considering her previous outfits. They’re just lovely, and I’ll bet she did something exciting this time, too. Also, would appreciate an update on your garden — are the almond trees bearing yet?

    1. Cindy,

      Because of the virus, we did not attend her wedding. She wore a dress she already had made and they eloped at the local park with two witnesses.

      My almond trees are bearing this year.

  9. I can sympathize with the heat issues. The deep South is experiencing a heat wave right now and it’s very humid to boot. I mowed the grass late in the evening yesterday and then took a cold shower. We don’t pay for yard services. Love the water table idea. As a former preschool director, I placed a sand and water table in each preschool classroom–pure play enjoyment that also promotes all kinds of important skills! I used a lot of paper and e-coupons this morning at Kroger and received free cheese and granola bars. Found three $1 packages of yellow bell peppers, 4 in a package, which made me happy. We paid for the annual VIP fuel savings option and have saved almost $900.00 in the past year with it. Two of us commute to work. I buy most of my groceries and medications at Kroger because we don’t have a lot of options in grocery stores and I won’t shop at Walmart. Starting today, everyone was required to wear a mask as COVID cases have skyrocketed here. I read in the AARP bulletin yesterday that grocery prices went up in April more than they have in the past 46 years! I believe it. We moved my daughter home from graduate school in Florida last week. We opted to take our truck and tow a trailer back. It was a long drive and we were cramped but we saved several hundred dollars by doing so. We ate from her food stash and then gave three bags of what was left to her friend who helped us move–he doesn’t have a job right now. My daughter is looking for a job, but it is difficult with so many unemployed. We have had a lot of rain and have made efforts to save rain water in 5 gallon buckets and other large containers to use when it doesn’t rain. Also save warm-up shower water. We have cucumbers and basil from the garden, but the tomatoes are not doing well and only a few peppers have made it. Just too much rain I think. I wish we could share it with Nevada!

  10. I found one pound rolls of 80/20 hamburger marked to 3.15, I got 6 (not a great price, but nearly a $1.50 less per pound than what normal prices seem to be lately)

    Found a deal online to get a tin of tea for $1. I already canceled any future shipments to avoid higher charges.

    My mom sent over donuts, cherry danish, head of lettuce, and banana bread she wasn’t eating.

    Used up last bit of pulled pork on nachoes. Then last 4 tortillas for quesdillas for lunch for me and the 13yo.

    Made $21 on Marketplace selling 3 items.

    Kept the air conditioning off when I could.

    Returned library books that I weren’t going to be able to get to before the due date to avoid late fees.

    My husband informed me his brother and family will be here at the end of August so I need to get even busier decluttering what we don’t need.

  11. Hello everyone,
    My frugal excitement/entertainment this week was attending a community garage sale in my own community. Our MLA handed out free masks and many of the sellers had a table with hand sanitizer out front and center. A lot of people left items on their driveway or by the curb marked FREE! I purchased 3 puzzles for $1 each, 3 craft stamps for .25 cents each, free books, free Christmas items and free craft supplies. My husband picked up 2 free bikes that he will clean, repair and list for sale.
    I gifted a few items on my Buy Nothing Group and I was able to pick up a free Cuisinart Blender from another member. My daughter will be graduating from Uni this year, so we are starting to collect a few items to set up house for her.
    I redeemed SB for a $10 Amazon gift card; I will save to use towards Christmas gifts.
    I mended a pair of my husbands work pants.
    I used up a container of sour cream in a loaf cake.
    A friend mentioned that the outlet for la Vie en Rose (Canadian lingerie store) was having a 70 – 90% off sale. I was doing some errands for my Mum and went in to have a look. They had ladies underwear on for $1.60 a pair, regular price $10 – $14.00 a pair so I picked out some for my daughters for Christmas. Once you stop believing in Santa you get underwear!
    And “all the other usual (boring?) frugal things that so many of us do that add up!
    Thank you Brandy for sharing and to everyone who takes the time to comment. Have a great week ahead.

    1. It’s a bit of a joke in my family to include undies in your Christmas stocking and I always remember the year one of my nieces was about 3 – she was shocked to discover that Santa had included “underwears” in her stocking. She told everyone about it as they arrived for dinner – she really thought it was very funny.

      1. Ellie’s Friend: It was the la Vie en rose Outlet in Beacon Hill, NW Calgary. It is on the side with the Winners/ Pet Store/ Shoe Co. They had great sales on pjs, underwear and lounge wear, they had size S to XXL on most items. I had never been there before, but I would recommend – it is a great place for gifts. Very quiet store, hand sanitizer and all staff wearing masks. May be worth a phone call to see if the promotion is still on.
        Margie – we usually have a laugh as any gifts labeled from the cat are usually socks/underwear!

  12. I harvested basil and green beans from the garden. I dehydrated the basil. This is the first time I used the dehydrator. We got it for a wedding gift 14 years ago. Today I am dehydrating jalapenos that need to be used up. When it is done I am dehydrating an apple-the kids request. Our area has been 90 degrees which is hot for us. We do not have AC in our vehicle, so the new requirements of everything being done by drive-thru is difficult. I run errands like paying bills (I used to go in the lobby and now I am to go thru the drive-thru) first thing in the morning. Dentist appointments I explain I don’t have AC in my car and will be waiting outside their office building. Our tub faucet drips and it is out of my husband’s scope so I am collecting the water and using it to water flowers. Thankfully, it is a very slow drip that is less than a bucketful per day. Saturday we invited 3 friends over and we learned how to play Dungeons and Dragons. It was a fun night in.

  13. I got a refund of $277 from my insurance policy for cancelling the policy on our former house. I am planning on using that money to restock our food storage, particularly once we have a place to move into and space to put it! I am concerned that there will be food shortages, and having lost food in our freezer, I want to replenish what we have.
    * I visited our storage locker and the freezer is freezing fine now. I dropped off three bags of blueberries and I hope to freeze more this week. Corn is starting to come on the market at a good price, so I want to buy a box and freeze the kernels. My husband loves corn and it’s a good staple for us to have on hand.
    * I harvested a few tomatoes and some garlic from my garden plot. I was also able to pick a few apricots from the communal tree.
    * I found a funky vintage crystal chandelier on a local listing site and bought it. I pulled off all the prisms–there are at least 100 strands of them, and gave them a good washing. It already looks much better! The frame of the chandelier is a brassy gold, and a lot of the paint has flaked. I will give the base a good scrub then paint it a matt black. I think the finished product will be quite stunning and I have a wonderful, new space to eventually hang it.
    * I started knitting a sweater with the wool that I got for .25 at a yard sale.
    * I borrowed the book “The Dutch House” from the library and have enjoyed reading it. I am also watching two movie versions of “Much Ado About Nothing”, borrowed from the library, for my online Shakespeare study group.
    * My husband and I took our tuna sandwiches and drove up one of the canyons to have a cooler, pleasant picnic.
    * I found out last week that my part time job has funds for a few more months, so I will have more work to do. It’s fun work and pays well and I can do a lot of it at home.
    * Although we may be in temporary housing for the next few months, we are healthy, saving money, and enjoying the simplicity in our lives right now and I am grateful for what we have.

      1. Thanks! I think it will be quite stunning. I paid $100 for it, but won’t be able to find anything like it for that kind of money. And I love reusing things rather than buying new. My husband will need to rewire it, as it needs a longer cord than it currently has.

  14. I just saw that Target (which is open here in northern California) has a sale on many school supplies for 50 cents in their flyer this week. I know I will check it out. I love this site, Brandy. Kudos to you for your creativity and good nature. Happy anniversary!

  15. Your zinnias are so pretty, Brandy!
    We have been doing much of the same things for the last several weeks – my husband and I both working partly from home and partly at work in a socially distanced and deeply cleaned space. The children are working two days per week as well – also in a closed environment. I feel like we really do not have time for much else right now!
    We harvested cucumbers, blueberries and green beans from the garden, as well as the first of the tomatoes. I am so excited! It always feels like a real treat to harvest the first vegetables from the garden. We have more veggies coming and I am SO excited! I hope to put up quite a bit of tomato sauce and pickles this year.
    Here are the rest of our frugal adventures this past week:

    Have a wonderful week everyone,

  16. We’ve decided to use a public school/charter school/reimbursement program for our homeschool this coming fall. In the past, we’ve just done our own thing, paid our own money, etc. We moved states and found this program that will reimburse curriculum, supplies, and class tuition for enrolled kids. We are technically on the books at a charter school, and have to do weekly reports, but we can teach what we want, and use the curriculum we want, just can’t be reimbursed for religious curriculum or books. It will be a blessing to us and we can use the money we would have spent on school towards student loan debt payments.
    We picked up 2 lbs of strawberries for 66¢ and some Tillamook ice cream for $2.50. That’ll be our date-night treat and help with the heat during the day, this week it’ll be up to 110 degrees, this will be my first time in that kind of desert heat and I’m not acclimated!
    We spent some time at the free reservoir a few miles from our house. The water was cool and there was a slight breeze. it was a fun outing for my kids!

    1. Lisa, we find it best to stay inside as much as possible and makes trips out before dawn and after dark.

  17. I worked in the garden this week, harvesting beans, cucumbers and a lot of raspberries. I also collected grass clippings and put them on a friend’s garden for her. Our church had a pallet of leftover bread from our local food pantry that they were trying to get rid of. I brought home over $50 worth of bread, bagels, tortillas, and some miscellaneous items like apples, and we gave some to the neighbor.

  18. Brandy, your flowers are beautiful. I have garden envy when I read about all the lovely things you all are harvesting in your gardens right now. I’m hoping for a house soon where I have a sunny yard to garden. We just sold our home. It’s a difficult time to do that, but the market in our area has been sky rocketing. We knew that it was not our forever house and were able to sell high for a nice profit. We are now renting a very small townhouse and searching for our next home. I’m having to use all of my organizational skills to fit my stockpile into my new tiny kitchen and refrigerator. (I have food hidden all over the house!) Longing for a pantry and large refrigerator, but I’m thankful to have the roof over my head. There are very few rentals available in our are right now.
    Cooking ALL meals at home, as we are not going to restaurants or getting takeout due to health concerns. I’m so glad for all the tips and ideas that I get from this blog and all your readers, Brandy. It is helping me to keep my family well fed and happy.
    My son’s best friend is staying with us for a few weeks. He lives with his Great Grandmother, and it’s time to give her a break. I’m scouring the internet looking for fun at home activities for 14 year old boys to keep them off the video games. The virus rate and death rates in our county are going up again, so we will just keep staying home . They are very upset about the pools being closed this summer. We will hit the beaches at the State Parks where we can social distance, and I think I will start teaching them to cook.
    Have a great and frugal week everyone! Stay safe!

      1. They have decided they are too old for Legos right now, but I think I will dig our the Lego bins and see! You are never too old for Legos! Thanks!

        1. As a teacher and mom I have found if you give the older kids a challenge they will find the legos no longer “toys” but tools. My kids have built bridges, vehicles to use on another planet or surface, and buildings with specific purposes. By giving them a challenge I told them they were now architects or engineers.

        2. My son is almost 40… he “design’s” with legos. Every time he wants to change something in his home, he does it with legos and it gives him a visual if he would really like it.

        3. I live in Salem, Oregon and I have six grandchildren. I have been doing something magical for the last 12 summers….and it costs nothing other than scouting and a local map. I take my children to swimming holes in local creeks. I have some wonderful secret swimming holes—and there are many in your area. Look for small rivers and ask locals. We go to a swimming hole almost every day—and my grandchildren range from 16 to 7. Even a small creek is fun. This doesn’t cost anything. We have life jackets and rafts and tubes. I sometimes scout ahead—but you can also inquire and search online. If you live in the Pacific Northwest—there are incredible swimming holes all summer long in your area.

      2. I have that aged boys. It is hard to find things other than video games, especially if they’ve been introduced to those and really like them. I have been able to get my son some dog walking jobs, $5 per walk. He also volunteers weekly at a food bank distribution center (wearing a mask, gloves). Also spends 1 day, every other week with his grandpa, fixing things and sometimes golfing. He looks forward to those days.

    1. Teaching them to cook is a wonderful idea! I taught my son to cook when he was in high school and he still thanks me for it (he didn’t marry until he was 39). I can’t tell you how many girlfriends he had who were college graduates and didn’t know how to cook. Seems to me that being able to feed yourself is the #1 life skill.

      1. Maxine, you had the right idea! I will definitely teach the boys this summer! Thanks!

        1. Teaching them to cook is a wonderful plan, Susanmarie. How about teaching them some other adult survival skills? Some ideas: how to do laundry, iron a dress shirt and pants, sew a button on a dress shirt, change a car tire.
          I recall a book that addressed 100 things your young adult should know how to do prior to leaving home, but I can’t remember the exact title. Now there are likely lists online.
          Oh, guys always enjoy pizza. Perhaps they can plant a “pizza garden”. Basil and tomatoes. You can teach them how to make pizza dough and homemade pizza.

          I hope you find lots of things to keep the boys busy and entertained.

        2. Find out what they like to eat and maybe don’t get as often as they would like and teach them how to cook that.
          That’s how my girls learned how to cook real mac & cheese, calzones (aka pizza pockets), biscuits (for strawberries) and quiche.
          When my youngest was in middle school (12 ish) they had to bring in a recipe that they knew how to cook or wanted to learn to cook. My daughter brought in our recipe for quiche. The teacher told her that might be too difficult to learn. She was very proud to tell the teacher “Oh, I know how to cook it already, quiche is my job to cook at home now.”
          My oldest daughter has been teaching her boyfriend how to cook using the same method. He’s 24 and it worked on him!

      2. Amen to that..i intend to get my son to cook he is only 12 this year but that would be my intention. my hubby cooks better than me as his father did with his mom so no opposition here in my household n its useful for family life.
        p.s i got to watch from apple tv a movie called “dads” -its real cute!!! a profound thing that all of the dads on it were saying is that shift of a man’s duty in the home. women have proved they can and will do a man’s job if needed. a modern man today needs to understand that he can no longer say “ its a woman’s job” from the home to the rearing of their kids… watch the movie if u haven’t n lmk wat u think…

    2. Here are some of the things my kids around that age have enjoyed doing:
      We had a family magic show, where everyone had to come up with a magic trick and tell a joke. There were card tricks, dollar bill tricks, and magic tricks from a magic set one of the kids had. A lot of the jokes came from old editions of The magazine Boy’s Life, to give you an idea of the type of jokes.
      Perhaps the audience could be grandparents viewing virtually. I was surprised what a success this was, and practicing for the show took a lot of time.
      Some of the kids have been doing art, finding ideas online. One is really into spray paint art. He finds old things and layers on the spray paint, to create cool new graphics. He also uses canvases purchased inexpensively from Michaels in packs.
      Card games and board games have been fun- we’ve dug up a lot that we haven’t played in a long time. Also yard games such as bocce ball and croquet.
      Our family really enjoyed watching that LEGO builders show, I can’t remember the exact name, maybe Master Builders- perhaps this would spark interest in building with Legos.
      I have also heard of families doing STEM type challenges- engineering challenges such who can build the tallest structure out of cardboard or paper, or designing bridge out of popsicle sticks and testing it for weight.

        1. Hi,
          It’s so nice to read from you again. I have a request. I need some new curtains–would love pinch-pleated draperies, so I plan to make some, but I need a source for fabric that is nice but inexpensive. Any ideas? It will probably take a lot of it. My son painted my dining room and will paint my living room soon. I picked out a light blue for the dining room and kitchen and a light green for the living room. All the ceilings are going to be light blue, so we can spend the winter imagining blue skies instead of our coastal gray.

          If you have the space and the outdoors isn’t too hot and zoning isn’t too restrictive, I remember when my brothers spent months taking apart an old car that my father left for they to “work” on. They had a wonderful time. I don’t think they ever got the car running, but just took it apart.

          1. Hi

            I’m not in America so don’t know your outlets but wanted to tell you that years ago I got a huge amount of Liberty fabric as a single lot on eBay. Sometimes eBay has really good prices on the large lots. Liberty is very expensive here and I bought enough for a whole wall of curtains, 3 roman blinds and lots of cushions. As I recall it was a steal. Twelve years later they still look great.

          2. You can find many fabrics for sale on ETSY. Search “vintage Fabrics ” or “Drapery fabrics by the yard” etc. A quick search revealed hundreds of options. Many are probably more than you want to spend but there did seem to be some really nice affordable options. There were vintage draperies and custom made to order draperies on the site as well. Who knows you might be surprised and find that it is more affordable to have them made by someone who has a supply of fabric on hand. I have found many things on Etsy more affordable than even thrift stores.

    3. Susanmarie,
      I have 2 teens. Every summer we have cooking lessons. They are each responsible for one dinner each week. This includes choosing a recipe, checking the pantry and writing needed items on the shopping list. Mom has veto over recipes that are too expensive. I sit on a stool to oversee, demonstrate, or advise as needed. They set the table, serve, and clean. They get really into it! Napkins, flowers on the table, garnishes and even fancied water. It has become something we all look forward to during summer. My hope is to send them into adulthood with necessary skills.

      1. Thank you! That’s a great idea. I’ll check it out. Liberty fabric is extremely expensive here, too. Really any fabric is expensive, but Liberty is imported. I was considering buying painting drop cloths and dying them with indigo or something. I have been told that Dharma Trading Post from California, I think, is a good place to get dyes that last. If I just wanted unlined curtains, I might really do the drop cloths, but I really want some old-fashioned drapes. I’ve never made any before, so it will be a challenge. I know of a company that makes tents and awnings out of canvas and sells canvas, but I think that might be too stiff. I guess I just don’t know what I want.

  19. I love Zinnias. They are so simple and pretty.
    We washed our bedspread, the bed sheets and a quilt this week. Hung them all on the line. they smell so good and fresh.
    We picked lettuce twice, snow peas, twice, some garlic, green onions, broccoli and chard. Thinned half of the carrots. My Mom always said that was her least favorite garden chore, and I think I agree with her. I did take her some of the carrot thinnings when I dropped by.
    Weeded the garlic, onions, peppers, tomatoes and snow peas. Made a double batch of cream of chicken soup mix. I add it to my soups to improve the richness of them.
    We had leftovers for dinner from our 4th of July BBQ a couple of times. Made spaghetti aioli using garlic, green onions and snow peas from the garden. I had a few mushrooms in the fridge that needed using, and just to make it special, added a can of cho0pped artichoke hearts. that was dinner for two days and lunch for one.
    My DH repaired his rototiller. With a garden the size of ours, a rototiller is a necessity.
    Made a loaf of focaccia bread.
    Made stir fry with broccoli, onions, garlic chard carrots and snow peas from the garden. Used the bits of chicken I have been putting back when I make a meal that calls for a pound of chicken and I use 3/4 of a pound.
    Made cherry bombs – the desert, not the fireworks.
    Visited with my mother from outside her window. another gentlemen has started doing the same thing with his father. We both mentioned we were glad our parent had a ground floor apartment, so we could visit with them. I dropped off a mask that my sister made, some snow peas and carrot thinnings from the garden, and some of the cherry bombs. She didn’t really need anything, but I like to bring her a little treat each week, especially if it is from my garden.
    Spent part of a day, when I was really tired, shredding papers that had been sitting around. Boy does paper really add up.
    Took a nap one day. Boy did that feel good.
    Went to Costco and got some masks. They are in the house for when we have visitors and my DH and I each keep some in our vehicles in case we don’t have our fabric masks with us. Wearing a mask is mandatory in our state right now.
    Went to Winco and replenished my spice supply, and got what was needed to make several different kinds of pickles this year.
    Hope everyone has a good week.
    Brought breakfast, lunch and drinks to work the 4 days I was at the office.

  20. Brandy happy belated anniversary to both of you and sounds like you had a lovely Italian experience anyway and a lovely date lunch too 🙂 . Lovely to hear you were able to pick lovely produce from your gardens and your son was still able to play in water inside and your husband saved so much money on the lighting by shopping frugally.

    Our savings added up to $302.10 last week :).

    Finances –
    – Our pays went up between the two of us so we added more savings to our 3 month living expenses emergency fund bringing us to 73.68% of the way there to our goal.
    – Paid an extra part payment off our home mortgage.
    – Went to battle and rang up our bank over our mortgage interest rate and they reduced it by .13% from what it was. DH also spoke to our loans manager in our local branch about bringing the interest rate down lower again and he will get back to us via email. We negotiated on the fact we had found lower variable interest rates elsewhere and quoted what it was telling them they were not competitive :). Worth a try everyone !!.

    Internet listings –
    – Listed 22 handmade items on eBay on a free listing promotion saving $36.30 on usual listing fees.

    In the kitchen –
    – cooked all meals and bread from scratch.
    – Blanched and or sliced capsicums and snow peas into meal sized portions for the freezer.

    Pantry stocking –
    – Used $20 off I had earned in promotions to put in an online grocery order to stock up on free 12 tins of wet cat food and 6 packets of baking chocolate chips.

    In the gardens –
    – Harvested 1.3kg of snow peas and 2.5 kg of capsicums from the vegetable gardens saving $29.80 over purchasing them in the stores.

    Purchases –
    – Bought a new pair of sandals at BigW for $3 saving $7 on usual prices.
    – Put in an order to complete our pantry for items used during grocery restrictions. With using a $10 off promotion and coupling with weekly specials and using our RACQ grocery e-gift cards I saved $44 on usual prices.
    – Also used a 3000 point or $15 off promotion to use on our next grocery order.

    Firewood –
    – Cut another cubic metre of free firewood saving $150 over purchasing it in.

    Have a great week ahead everyone and take care :).


  21. Happy anniversary!!

    Not an especially frugal week for us.
    *Saturday I took my younger 2 to a zoo that was an hour away. We definitely needed some outdoor fun, and it was the coolest day in the forecast. We took water bottles to refill in their stations instead of paying $2 each bottle. Water is the only thing they allow in.
    * We had a library trip to the next town over. They have opened to browsing as long as you take proper precautions. We found a lot of good books.
    * Made chocolate pudding cake with peanut butter chips I bought for less than $1. Also made vanilla blueberry bread.
    * Got to pick the first peppers from my garden!!
    * Went to a discount clothing store and got a nice fall dress for $1.99. I also got a nice navy skirt for $15, a full size smaller than I usually need. Black & navy skirts I will splurge on and pay a little more. I got it less than my budget.
    * I worked hard on my gladioli and 2 were “resurrected” from the storm damage.
    * Hanging laundry out, and collecting extra water for my garden.
    * Gave my garden a homemade insect repellent.
    * Researched and found a way to get one of my medicines for a few $ cheaper.

    Have a great week!

  22. The biggest thing I did this week to save money was to pass on buying a new house. I’ve come across an incredible deal. A custom brick house with 11 acres of cow pastures. The adjoining farmer would buy as much of the land as I would sell him. But, even without the acreage, sugar cookie and I just don’t need that much house. In my old age, I image my small ranch house is all we need. I can afford this purchase but I simply don’t need to deal with all the issues that would come with the larger property. I really want it but being practical is only realistic at age 56. It makes me a little sad. On a happier note, dumpster diving has been quite productive. We go each day at a set hour. I figure the cost for this is $60.00 a month for the gasoline. Since we go no where else it is quite frugal. This week brought in so many lovely fruits and vegetables. Laundry soap, fabuloso, sponges, feminine hygiene products, cereals and umpteen other great items. We carefully wash , soak, clean and disinfect everything. There are a total of 17 people enjoying this bounty. We live in a rural area. The food banks are closed here. Most of these people are elderly. None collected unemployment and most are out the little part time money they earned. Sugar cookie gets great pleasure in collecting and sanitizing the produce. I might have stopped but each day she asks to go hunt. I guess we will continue to gather and help as much as we can. It certainly has reduced my grocery budget by 95%. I hope all is well as can be for everyone. A special hug for Juls.

    1. Could you have an apartment in the bigger house — I’m not sure how old sugar cookie is — but maybe for her or someone else in the future?

      Your dumpster diving makes me worry. I wonder if you could talk to your store managers and ask if you could pick up the fruits and vegetables from them directly. That way they would still be refrigerated by the time you pick them up.

    2. It’s wonderful that you are able to “rescue” all those still useable items before they hit the landfill and share them with people who can use them! Having worked in stores for many years, I have seen the enormous amount of new items that get thrown away. So, you are providing for yourself, helping others and being a good steward of our environment!!! Yay!

  23. How fun to have visits from a duck! Your attitude is admirable, for a special anniversary that you had to make the best of during this unusual time. I harvested lavender, cucumbers, zucchini, yellow and tromboncino squash, blueberries, purple pole beans and yard long beans, basil, rosemary, oregano and tomatoes. I also harvested beets, and canned them cubed and pickled for salads. Beans were also canned, and cucumbers, eggs and beans were shared with a friend. I mended three pairs of my husband’s pants. A few of our potato plants were harvested. My husband and I enjoyed a rainbow. https://abelabodycare.blogspot.com/2020/07/canning-harvest-frugal-accomplishments.html

  24. Only spent about $65 last week – would have been lower but I gave in and bought some Sushi and a couple of prepared meals from the supermarket. It has been nearly 100F with high humidity here for the past two weeks and I’d finally had enough of cooking. Earlier in the week I did cook a batch of vegetables and made a pasta salad that lasted 3 meals. Some of the pasta also made a hot meal for my elderly neighbour one night and he got one of the prepared meals later in the week. Otherwise it was cheese & crackers, fruit & cottage cheese or raw veg and hummus.

    I did receive the extra $300 Covid payment from the Govt. so put it straight onto my VISA card. I work PT so don’t qualify for the other $200.

    Went into the office a couple of times last week and remembered that I had another transit pass that I keep for friends/sister’s visit so used that and avoided adding any money to my regular pass – I should be able to get through to the end of next week without having to add any money. There is also a notice on the transit website that they are discussing giving those of us who lost out on our monthly passes a bit of a refund (we shut down on March 17th so I lost about two weeks on the March pass since I didn’t go out again until April). If they refund two week’s worth on my pass that will cover me well into August with the few times I am out these days.

    I cleared out some more space in a back closet to allow for a bit more room for my longterm food storage. I have also been doing more decluttering. I am going through all of those decorative boxes that I’ve bought from IKEA and that I’ve just added odds and ends to over the years. I’ve thrown out and shredded a ton of paperwork and added a few items to my donate bag. I repurposed a couple of boxes but at the moment there are 6 empty ones sitting on my dining table. Then I went through 6 magazine folders that contained some Martha Stewart magazines (the six holders represent the last time I downsized this collection – got the 6 down to 2). I also dropped off about 6 books and 4 DVD sets down in the lobby and they are all gone – we leave freebies there so people can just help themselves. I had also accumulated a lot of toiletries at sales so dropped those off at the church office for our “boutique” for the homeless. I had also purchased cloth masks from 3 different companies – trying to decide what I liked best – but – I actually find cloth masks too hot and difficult to breath in so I decided not to open them but just donate them – I will wear the disposables – I find them a lot lighter, especially in this heat.

    I had my first meal out on a patio yesterday – it was fun but a bit nerve wracking at first. A friend got me out the door early for a long walk while it was cool enough – we did 6,000 steps through the local cemetery which has a lot of shade trees. Neither of us had eaten so we decided to brave a trip in her car down to the lake to see if a favourite spot was open (hours are a bit restricted at the moment). It’s the first time I’ve been in a car since before lockdown. We both wore masks and had all the car windows open. They were open and we got a nice shady spot in the back with no occupied tables around us. We had a lovely view of the lake, the waitress was really friendly and all the protocols were in place (we saw them cleaning everything as diners left) so I felt fairly comfortable. There is still no indoor dining in Toronto and won’t be for another week or two so its’ strictly patios. It was wonderful to do something normal but it is strange how nervous I was about even seeing more people from the car. I don’t normally venture out on the weekends. I’m a city gal so well used to crowds – and people were behaving themselves and following all the rules – but it’s just so strange to see more than one or two people together.

    Brandy, I read in the news this morning about the LDS church asking all members to wear masks so I applaud them for that. I know that many of you live in “hot spots” so please take care everyone.

  25. Beautiful zinnias and Happy Anniversary!

    Picked my first tomatoes from my garden today. Looking forward to a tomato sandwich tomorrow.

    Was able to renew my drivers license online (they will use the same photo from last time). This saved time and gas.

    Will be debt free at the end of this month. I’m going to enjoy that as long as I can.

    Hoping everyone has a wonderful week!

  26. Love the zinnias! They are so cheerful. I didn’t keep track of my week’s frugal efforts, so going from memory.
    *We are supposed to start school on August 3 (teachers go back the last week of July) so I’ve been making masks. Not sure if we actually will start school since the cases are going way up, but just in case I want to make sure we have plenty of masks to rotate between us. Finally broke out my sewing machine after about 10 years of not using it. Needed to buy fabric — spent a fortune at Joann’s but ended up with enough to make lots of masks for our family and those who need them at the schools where we work. Happily, Ibotta had a 10% cashback for Joann’s so that will help recoup some of my cost!
    I actually went back to Joann’s tonight for something, and the ibotta is down to 5% cashback. (Ibotta referral code — jzqjyy)
    *When I got my sewing machine out, I discovered that my mom had put a few goodies in the pocket of the cover at some point. She gave me pinking shears, thread snips, and a nice pair of scissors. What a treat!
    *Bought 5 lb of butter $1.99 lb. The apples I was buying rang up more than the advertised price. I was using self-checkout so I had to wait for someone to come fix the price, but it was worth saving the $1.
    *Line dried laundry when I could.
    *We ate from the garden several times — yellow squash and tomatoes mostly. Used freezer and pantry for most meals.

  27. Happy Anniversary, Brandy! The date sounds lovely. One of our favorite dates is to set up a little table in our bedroom for ice cream and a good gab – we love to talk and catch up, and it’s nice having some peace and quiet to do so.

    *We are rolling in raspberries! It is so glorious. And the blueberries are lovely and safe from our neighborhood birds with net. Salad is Swiss chard and baby kale greens right now – the lettuce went kaput. We let the kale go to seed and then cut it back, and now we have darling baby leaves from the plants that already made it through our New England winter. Hardy! I transplanted the lettuce seedlings I’ve got and am fighting the good fight against swallowwort. Does anyone have any ideas about swallowwort? I don’t have anything against Round Up, myself, but the wretched weeds entwine themselves around my favorite plants and make it hard to spray one without the other. I enjoyed hearing about Marivene’s bucket idea where you pick a bucket of weeds each day – what a wise person.

    *We loaded up on our Aldi usual purchases today. I haven’t been to that store since February, and Shaws here is just not very economical. It was nice to be able to restock our pantry.

    *Refilled our propane so that we could cook on the grill again. To save cooling the house, I cook most things there that would need an oven. Biscuits, scones, pizza, bacon, as well as the usual things. It reminds me of the summer kitchen that my grandmother had on her farm many years ago, down the hill from the house.

    *Added peat to our sandy soil on the herb garden and some spots in flower beds so they retain water better. I hope to save on watering that way.

    *Made it to church again for the first time since February! What a huge lift that is! And to sing with a pianist (even masked, outside, and 20 feet apart) was a great joy.

    *Got our beach routine down pat, at least for now. I had to write it down – what to pack, how to unload, what to clean afterward. We love going, but it produces SO much laundry and sand, that it’s worth it to me to make a system. We’re set to use our passes every day of this week, at least for a part of the morning, so I’m glad I made a plan. The boys all have backpacks they can put spare clothes in, whatever beach toys they chose (they have to carry their own stuff), masks, snacks, and water. I just carry towels, sunscreen, and the bahy’s clothes. Much lighter than before!

    Wishing you all a wonderful week. Thanks for all your help and ideas. I hope you get some fun moments.

  28. Happy Anniversary Brandy! I picked zinnia from our yard this week to give as gifts — a welcome to the neighborhood gift and a bday gift, along with handmade cards. I find that my biggest budget busters are in the gift-giving category, so I’m working to find inexpensive, lovely options. /Users/karenmiles/Desktop/Household/IMG_3455.JPG

  29. -Meals were: country sausage, sweet potato fries, and roasted asparagus; barbecue chicken, salad, fresh cooked green beans; hamburgers, scalloped kolarabi, and canned beets; brats, German potato salad, and lettuce salad; pizza x 2
    -Picking kolarabi (last of it), peas, green beans, lettuce, kale, cabbage, cucumbers, zucchini, and 4 cherry tomatoes. Mainly small amounts for eating but they will increase in the next week or so, many blooms.
    -Made another 12 half pints from 99 cent/lb apricots. Will use some for Christmas gifts. Also canned 10 pints green beans.
    -Lots of weeding in the garden, trying to get out for at least a half hour every day.At least it has cooled down and the humidity has decreased. Only running AC for 3-4 hours in the evening.
    -Only groceries bought at the store were milk, bread, creamer, and bananas. At farm market I bought leeks x 2-$1.00 each; romaine lettuce (for lettuce wraps for lunches)-$3.00; Mushrooms-button-organic-$3.00 a container; and a container of strawberries for $4.00.
    -I have an old wagon that was my fathers’ as a boy-steel base, probably 75 years old. My dad rebuilt a wagon box to fit on the base from pressure treated wood several years ago. I finally stained it with a red stain and put 2 large pots of flowers in it in the yard.
    -Quiet week here, as it seems it has been for a while, work and back, staying home. Kind of nice not to be running here and there!! Have a great week.

  30. We ate out a couple times this week. Instead of feeling guilty about the cost I thought about it helping people like my son who delivers food to restaurants for a job. If no-one eats out he would be without a job. He was without one for awhile when we first went into lockdown. But we also cooked at home using our vegetables from the garden. I bought chicken leg quarters at 58 cents a lb. My husband cooked a wonderful chicken vegetable soup. I made banana pancakes using extra ripe bananas. Gardened for exercise. Borrowed a couple library books online for pickup. Woke up early today to watch the sunrise then baked basil tomato cheese toast for breakfast, yum! I love fresh basil from the garden as well as tomatoes and cheese, I’m a big cheese fan! Happy Anniversary Brandy! We have our tenth in a few days! I’d love to go somewhere too! But, we will most likely celebrate it at home. Traveling is not on the Agenda at this time. There is a nice French restaurant that has opened back up and I would love to go there. We might do that. If we stay home, I plan to make a special meal, maybe we will cook together. Something with strawberries sounds nice for dessert. My husband makes wonderful strawberry shortcake. I could have a little bit. Just not much. Maybe I can make a quiche for breakfast. Yum! and skip the shortcake. That is a better idea for me since I am diabetic. I don’t each dessert usually. It doesn’t make me feel well most of the time. But meat and veggies would be great! Fresh strawberries instead.
    Ducks are fun to watch! My sister had a pet duck when we were in high school. It used to make me laugh. Have a great week Brandy and everyone. I love reading your blog. I look forward to it every week.

    1. Yesterday my daughter and I drove 45 minutes and combined a variety of errands. It’s the first time we’d been on the road in months! While there, we dropped off homemade brownies outside my grandmother’s house. She’s 92, suffered a stroke 2 weeks ago, was hospitalized, and diagnosed with Covid-19. After nearly a week in the hospital she is recovering steadily at home. She likes chocolate and I wanted to brighten her day. There is also an outlet in the area. I was able to purchase a new pair of Reebok trainers for $36. I continue to exercise regularly at home. My former gym charged me July 1 and I had to dispute the unauthorized charge. This week my garden produced Swiss chard, strawberries, plums, blueberries, boysenberries, green beans, spinach, and lettuce. My garden is in between cool weather crops, which are beginning to bolt, and warm weather crops which are flowering. Sewing-wise I’m researching different mask styles with filter pockets. My kids don’t like the ones with a seam down the center. I will be making a lot of them as they’re mandatory, disposables are expensive, and we’re unsure how the next school year will re-open. Sadly, cases are spiking in my area. Finally, I’ve been organizing my kitchen. I ordered a few tracks so I can add another row of Cansolidators to the cupboard. I love how it organizes the canned food! Happy anniversary Brandy! Have a blessed and healthy week everyone!

  31. Happy Anniversary! Also, your tomato picture from last week was amazing. I love, love, love homegrown tomatoes.

    Joining in from Seattle area in Washington state.

    My work at the physical therapy office has been busy lately. People are experiencing aches and pains from working at home, so we have a fair amount of new patients. And former patients who were staying home now feel comfortable coming back in for appointments. Mask wearing is required in all indoor and public places.

    Cooked and ate at home, except for two times we got takeout (date night and one night after work when I was totally fried). Enjoyed vegetables from our CSA share, and I was able to share some. Had an outside visit with my mom and sister on my sister’s patio. Picked raspberries and blueberries from her yard. Took walks around our condo building and in a local nature area. Tried a couple online workouts.

    Made water kefir every three days, which I have done since 2011. Sometimes I get tired of doing this, but we love it and it’s worth it. Froze extra tomato paste in small portions for future use, Scrubbed the kitchen floor and cupboards, which made it look fresh and new.

    Bought a basket at Bed Bath and Beyond, with coupon, to corral our shoes, Makes the entryway look neater. Was gifted some large jars from a grocery store that used to hold spices. They still smell strongly like garlic and the other spices, so I put them out in the sun, which seems to be helping.

    A couple years ago, I bought a music appreciation course (from the Great Courses). I got sidetracked halfway through, but I have started to listen to the series again. The course is great, and I am enjoying it.

    Hope everyone has a great week!

    1. Tina,
      I bought a Great Courses class years back. I found out our library has a way for us to watch for free. Perhaps yours does too and you can watch more!

      1. We were thrilled to find the Great Courses at our library in the Kanopy database during our stay at home period! For our library, we get ten credits a month but the entire course only counts as one credit and you don’t have to finish a course within a month. It is sometimes hard to navigate to the “whole course” versus just an episode but we emailed a librarian for help. We have watched the entire Ancient Mesopotamia: Life in the Cradle of Civilization course (much more than the Babylonians), the entire The Holy Land Revealed course (you can tell the prof. is nervous in first couple of episodes, but we stuck with her and she eventually relaxes – it is archaeologically focused and we found the content fascinating), and the entire History of Ancient Egypt (the first two or three lessons were not as interesting but we really enjoyed the 40+ remaining lessons.) We are now working our way through the Islamic Golden Age course – which has covered lots of people you see briefly mentioned in history books as discovering things before the Europeans. My son was fascinated by the Do It Yourself Engineering course. Kanopy has been our best frugal find in a while!

      2. This is awesome, Brandy. Thank you for this tip. I will be using it for myself and for homeschooling my daughter!! And you can not beat FREE!

  32. Hi Brandy and everyone
    Love the photo of your zinnias. I picked some of ours, together with some calendula to bring into the house. We picked peas, plums, rocket, chives, parsley, thyme, lettuce and the last of the blackcurrants and raspberries. ( I keep thinking it’s the end of the raspberries and they keep coming!).
    My husband made up big containers of comfrey plant food this year and gifted a couple of containers to others and we received rhubarb and rainbow chard in return.
    The best deal this week has been cherries. There is a cherry farm near us and they’re selling direct to the public. I bought some first grade cherries which we have eaten fresh but the real deal was 16 pounds weight of second grade ‘ cooking’ cherries for £10! This is amazing ! I spent all day stoning, vacuum packing and freezing them and my arms were sore by the end but the thought of homemade cherry pie in the winter kept me going.
    I used a chicken carcass to make chicken and veg soup and made sweetcorn relish for the first time. I will tweak the recipe a bit next time and have written notes beside the recipe in my preserving book. I froze a lemon and a lime I didn’t have time to use up.
    The lockdown continues to ease and I was invited over by a young friend who has had her first baby. ( I stayed well away from the baby and admired him from a distance before he was put in his bedroom for a nap.) I had sent a baby quilt previously so I took over a batch of chocolate crackle cookies and a scented leaf pelargonium I grew from a cutting.
    I entered our electricity meter readings online and the calculation showed we were in credit with our monthly direct debit payments. The system then tried to raise our monthly payment but I refused this as we are in the warm/ light months of the year and will be using less electricity, not more. Fortunately there is an option for you to refuse an increase or alter your payments.
    My husband and I have been discussing costs for a vacuum sealer to make the most of our freezer space and luckily they appeared in Lidl for a good price and I’ve used it several times already. We had also been discussing costs of a leaf blower machine both for home and to use in client’s gardens , the cheapest seemed to be over £100 so when one was offered secondhand on Facebook for £35 we snapped it up and it works fine.
    I have been making more masks using fabric from my stash and it’s good timing as the government announced today that masks will be compulsory in shops etc next week. I’ve made some in plainer unpatterned fabric for my husband. Mine are flowery! I loved the idea on here last week about Christmas fabric masks.
    We have spent money this week on various things but feel we’ve had good value on things we needed.
    Thank you for the blog Brandy and the opportunity to read comments from around the world. Stay safe all.

    1. Hi

      I’m in the UK too. I bought the vacuum sealer bags from Lidl to use in my Foodsaver. They work just as well as the regular foodsaver bags.

  33. We are still recovering from my daughter’s wedding and tomorrow is her birthday. We have had some major outbreaks of Covid in Victoria, Australia. It is a long way from home but there has been some panic buying and I am looking carefully at our food stores in case it gets worse. God bless.

  34. Happy anniversary Brandy and hubby! I love your tomatoes and zinnias.

    That is so lovely about the duck coming to visit – seems she found a little oasis!

    We are in the middle of Winter here in NZ so we are contending with the cold. Minus 3.3 this morning where we live.

    We had a really good harvest from our garden and orchard over Summer and Autumn so we have plenty in the pantries, deep freeze etc which saves a lot on groceries. We’ve also got a lot of seeds to sell in our small seed business. Many more people are trying to grow some of their own food in these trying times.

    Best wishes to everyone. Stay warm or cool wherever you may be!

  35. 1. Rented two textbooks for my daughter off of Amazon for around $20 each. I wish I had that option 20 years ago…..
    2. Used a Kohl’s gift card (that they randomly sent to me) to buy my son a lego set. He said building Legos was the perfect way to spend a hot day.
    3. Cashed in our gift cards the blood bank sent to us for donating last month for pizza and wings.
    4. Drove a couple of cities over and visited two new parks. Florence, Alabama parks are amazing! One had four turtle ponds and another had a splash pad overlooking a dam.


    1. Oh wow! I grew up just a few miles from there! Small world. The Tennessee River is my old stomping grounds. It is beautiful! So, I made lentil tacos, with spinach, onion, cheese, lentils, fresh tomatoes, sour cream, and small street size flour tortillas. While I have a years supply of beans for me, I am going to stock up with enough dried beans for my son (the youngest one, because he will eat certain types of dried beans) I am still trying to figure out my food storage, based on what I actually eat. I do not store many wheat products because I do not really like it that well (with the exception of noodles and flour tortillas.) I mean, I eat it but not in the huge amount that is recommended for storage. So, while I have some flour, I have more corn meal, grits, and lots of rice. I have also bought all the “specialty items” that we eat during the holidays, so that in case there is a shortage, my family will have their favorites. I am looking at the turkey prices now and debating on whether to purchase a turkey now or not. If they go down to under 99 cents a lb, I will purchase. I am also debating on which canned vegetables to stock up on some more. I want to be able to send my four grown kids the foods they like, if they run low this year. All of them like different things so I cannot just buy canned corn and call it a day (although with the three sons, they would eat corn every meal if they could, but my daughter hates corn…….lol.)

  36. I think you would all enjoy the books of D.E. Stevenson. Many of them are out of print, but libraries often have them and kindle unlimited has many for free. They are “clean”, interesting, pleasant, well-written, take place in the UK and are just all around fabulous!

    1. I agree Sara! I love DEStevenson books. If you like her you might also enjoy Angela Thirkell – again set in England , funny , pleasant reading with nothing to offend.

  37. Happy Anniversary Brandy! We had planned to go to Europe on our 25th Anniversary…and then I found out I was pregnant! We are planning to reschedule for our 30th which is in about 1 1/2 years. Hopefully the world will be somewhat back to normal at that point.
    I love your zinnias…..my mother grew them when I was a child and I always brought my teacher a bouquet on the first day of school.
    I have had another quiet week here. My husband is resting as we used our scheduled vacation week as a staycation. He saw his doctor today and everything looks good. His work is very fast paced, physical with heavy lifting, and stressful. I am glad he has two weeks to recover instead of just one. He has to stay hydrated so I bought him a large stainless steel thermos.
    I bought chicken breasts for 1.89 lb. to freeze. I also bought shredded cheese at 12.99 for 5 lbs. and will divide up and freeze. I made 3 batches of low sugar jam. Made one batch of strawberry rhubarb jam. Canned one batch of rhubarb sauce.
    I am putting storage away after the basement flood. It’s been nice to assess what is under the stairs and what quantities I have on hand. Just enjoying time with my family. Trying to organize our things and get a schedule up and running,
    On a fun note the people who live in my childhood home had to tear down our old barn. I contacted them and they graciously gave me 4 10′ sections of the outside walls. I will be building a dining room table this fall out of them. I will leave the stain on them and pour clear epoxy over the top. We have a very narrow dining area and I can make a narrower table by building it myself. It will bring sweet memories of swinging and playing in the barn. Thank you for all the well wishes and prayers! We are feeling great peace and optimism.

  38. Hello Everyone!
    Brandy, Happy Anniversary! I am so glad you were able to have an enjoyable day even with the craziness going on in the world. I have been spending some quiet time watching Korean YouTube channels. The ladies basically video their daily routines with subtitles. I find it interesting they don’t show their faces or speak. It is interesting to see what they use to clean their homes and I have gleaned many ideas to try out. It has really helped with my anxiety to see others living in a calm manner.

    This past week we shopped the sales but they weren’t as good as the last few weeks, so I didn’t have to spend a lot of time freezing or canning anything. We went to the lake last Wednesday and even using sunblock we all ended up getting burnt. It made a few miserable nights of sleeping. I can’t think of anything else we did to save money besides the usual staying home and cooking at home. We finally got our pre approval last week to purchase a house so we will be house hunting here in the future. Hoping to save some money in what we are paying in rent.

    Have a great week!

    1. I’ve been watching some of the Korean ladies as well – they always seem to be so calm and go about their day with quiet purpose. I’ve found them to be very soothing.

      1. Margie, I don’t even remember how I came across the first video but now I get recommended different channels on my feed. The channel Cardsu is probably my favorite. I love her balcony garden. We were stationed in South Korea from 2014-2016 and it feels like watching a little piece of home.

        1. I think that I know that one but I will double- check. I volunteer helping students & newcomers to practice their English and have a lot of people from S. Korea – many of whom are wonderful cooks and bring treats every week – or rather they did before we had to shut down. Hopefully I’ll get to see them soon.

    2. My daughter suggested that I watch a YouTuber called Laziqi. She shows how she gardens in China, cooks her food, etc. It’s so soothing and calming to watch her videos!

  39. I used to grow zinnias but they haven’t done well the last few times, so I stopped. Maybe it’s time to try again. Those are so pretty.

    This past weekend had heat advisories on Saturday — the high humidity combined with the 78F heat gave us a real feel of 95F at 7:00 in the morning. The temperature climbed from there; the real feel hovered at 106F while the actual temp was at 96F until 6:30 that evening, so nothing really got done outside. Sunday was hot and humid, but not as bad as Saturday. I hung out some of the laundry on both days, just not as much as usual. I know this doesn’t sound all that bad to you desert area dwellers!

    My little garden is feeling the swampy heat, but the okra loves it and is starting to put out pods, so I was able to pick enough pods to cook some for one of our meals. We also had enough summer squash and eggplant to make a skillet full, seasoned with Italian seasoning and cooked with olive oil.

    My husband had an appointment at the VA hospital 90 miles away, but they changed it to a telephone appointment, so we didn’t have to make that drive.

    I’d been looking all over for a rocker for our back porch, when I finally remembered we have an old one tucked away in our shed. It’s somewhat tattered in the woven seating, but 95% of it is still good, so I’m putting a coat of paint on it, and it will do nicely.

    I entertained two of my young grandchildren with coloring books that cost less than a dollar. They went right to work, coloring on them, so I know they enjoyed them.

    I found a sale on cotton blend TwinXL sheets to fit my husband’s hospital style bed. Finally, a back-up set. They were just under $22.00. I find that so many inexpensive sets are microfiber, which we find too hot and too static-y.

    I cut up a farm-raised chicken that I’d bought, and saved the meaty bones for soup making, later. These birds run 5-7 pounds, so I can afford to leave a little meat on the bones to cook for the soup.

    I spent more time investigating a bill that I think we shouldn’t owe. I got the VA to review it again — we’ll see how that turns out.

    Have a safe week, everyone!

    1. I had trouble the last few years. I replanted (same seeds as before; they are several years old!) and also tried starting some in new potting soil in containers that I had purchased my tomatoes in. I then transplanted those. That has really made a difference and helped a lot this year. I’m going to have to fix some clogged drip irrigation lines and then I can plant more.

  40. Brandy : love ur photo here… wat are your camera details? wat is your editing software? i saw the other pics on facebook as well… happy anniversary❤️

    1. This was taken with a macro lens and edited in Lightroom. I shoot with a Nikon d7200.

      1. Thank You for sharing this that I only got to see now…I had been looking for new photo-shooting plus video-ing options for awhile now. I decided to upgrade my phone instead of getting a camera as its user-friendly and useful where i can use the latest app for my hearing aids. Lets see if i can learn editing on Lightroom.Lovely surprise of the new blog layout. TC.

  41. Same old working on scraping and painting here. It’s darn warm outside but fine in the house. I started making lemonade and limeade concentrates by cutting the ends off the fruits, de-seeding them, and blending them, peels and all in a Vitamix. Then I strain the mixture and use it with ice and added water so it’s as concentrated as you desire. It’s slightly bitter, but the pith is apparently to be good for you and this is a much simpler process than juicing. It’s based on this recipe:

    Happy Anniversary, Brandy!

  42. My dad died and his funeral is Thursday. Frugal still as that was his way of life. He planned and prepaid most of everything. The funeral home was willing to work with us about private family only service for the open casket since they don’t like to do that open casket (and his sister and rest of that side live over 3 hrs away) at the graveside as we switched that from full funeral to graveside due to Covid. I told my kids, grandkids and great grandkids to wear their masks and I have some extra throw away masks I will take for those that don’t have them. At this point the only one that isn’t wearing a mask is our aunt who is almost 90. She’s staying 6 ft from everyone. Funeral home has been working on a video and obit over emails and texts so we don’t have to keep running to the funeral home and everyone stays safe. They even emailed the final bill (opening and closing of grave and death date to be put on the tombstone already there).Between the funeral home and the lawyer there was a savings of $15,000 with how Dad set things up back in 1996 and he got the funeral he wanted not touching that fact my brother is just totally lost on making decisions while grieving and he is the one in charge. We told everyone to not risk their income or spend gas money to come. Dad wouldn’t want that. Most are car pooling as it is.

    Our Amish neighbors butchered for an Englisher (that what we get called) since he couldn’t get in for another 2 months to the Englisher butcher. We ended up with 5 steaks (think 2 inch this roast size). We ate one and froze the other 4…this was free as M didn’t have time to grind, cook and can the meat at 9 p,m on Saturday and they do no work on Sunday. We did offer to store them in our frig but she said they wouldn’t eat the steak and had plenty of other meat. We got sweet rolls today from her as I had drove their boy to his uncle’s to get a piece to fix the hay mower and didn’t want anything for the gas . I didn’t even use 1/4th of a gal to get there and back.

    We are looking over our finances … We have cut the budget to stretch what was suppose to last until Jan 1st to go to March 1st even if Hubby’s hauling business doesn’t break even (didn’t last month but has this month already, hopeful he will make up the loss of last month we covered from house budget).
    Blessed be Brandy and everyone else.

    1. So sorry for your loss Juls. It is especially difficult to properly mourn at this time or to be able to comfort each other as we would like. Please take care.

    2. I, too, am sorry for your loss. It is always difficult to lose one’s father but more so now due to covid

      1. Sorry for the loss of your father Juls.. It’s tough to lose our parents. .
        I pray for comfort and peace for you and yours.

    3. I am so sorry, Juhls. Twenty years later and I am still missing my dad. Blessings to you and your family.

  43. Can someone please tell me the difference between instant yeast and is it active dry yeast? Our Winco has 1 pound bags of instant yeast for $3.63. For the active dry yeast they only have the small packets. Does it matter what I get? Help!!!

    1. Buy the instant yeast in the 1-pound bag. It will save you money and it works very quickly!

      1. That is the first in a series of four Buncle books in case you didn’t know…I found them all in reprint on Amazon and bought them. Worth every penny!

    2. The instant yeast gives you a faster, bigger rise to your baked goods. I switched from active dry yeast to instant about 10 years ago and love how my dough turns out. I fill a quart canning jar (with lid) and keep yeast in the fridge. If the yeast comes in the foil lined package, I put several in the freezer until I am ready to refill my jar. I think you will be pleased with the results.

  44. Happy anniversary!!
    I must admit that when I heard about the duck I was kind of sure that the story ends with soup…ooops.

    This week was verry busy for us. My parents came from Poland to help us with the renovation of our home. I love having them here, but we all have this strange feeling that it may be a while before we will see each other again, so it is quite bitter-sweet. My dad is helping with the renovation and my mom is cooking freezer meals for me. She is making my favourite polish dishes, this way I can be cheered up if I get homesick. She is making some Christmas dishes too as in Poland we have a quite elaborate tradition with 12 dishes/courses representing the 12 months of God’s bounty for the Christmas Eve (all of them vegetarian, by the way). It will be a great blessing to already have the few ones prepated in advance.
    While the work at home is getting done with joy and song and jokes, I take the kids to the forest to get them outside and a bit out of the way. It is wonderful to have this time with them and not need to worry about dinner or lunch! This week on our walks we managed to harvest:
    – a bucket of wild raspberries, which I froze in portions.
    – a bucket of wild blueberries, which are now transformed into hundreds of frozen pierogi?
    – two big baskets of sr.John’s worth, which we dry for an anti depressant tea for the hard, norwegian winter.
    – a basket of yarrow for me to have as an infusion.
    -a basket of lavender from the garden.
    – a few baskets og wild rose petals to add to bathsalts as Christmas gifts and to distill into rose water to use for mouthwash. I also made one jar of geleé, we will see how it turned out later in the season. I only pick the petals of already pollinated flowers because soon I will go back to the bushes and pick the wild rose fruit for tea and jam.
    – The garden gave us: radishes, bok choi, romain lettuce, ruccola, raspberries, cherries, thyme, oregano, lovage, rabarbara, snap peas and basilicum.
    I would like to hear more about the frugal self care ideas.

    1. How wonderful to have your parents come to visit. I have to admit – my first reaction was “how did they get here” and then I remembered, I believe you live in Latvia – is that correct?
      And so kind and thoughtful of your mom to prepare so much food ahead of time for you. I live in a section of Toronto that was a working class Ukrainian neighbourhood and about 5 minutes drive away is the Polish district. Normally there would be street festivals for both neighbourhoods during the summer and I will miss them this year. Lots of yummy food to try! Enjoy the visit.

  45. Brandy,
    Congrats on your anniversary and I love the way you celebrated.
    What fun to have a duck come for an extended visit. I bet your children enjoyed that.
    Not a lot of frugal happenings here but I did make 3 more pints of strawberry jam. I line dried our laundry.
    My husband and I did some maintenance repair work on our grandson’s fort to make it last longer- replaced a rotting post, trimmed back tree branches and a general clean up. This fort is over 20 years old and was originally built by my father for our son and is now being used by our grandson and the neighbor boy. Lots of little boys over the years have enjoyed many hours of fun with that fort. I wish I had a photo of the fort to attach as my dad did a great job back then. He is 82 yrs old now so nice to have something he built with his own hands right in my own back yard.
    I have scheduled my first salon haircut since February for this week. I have been cutting it myself because the salons were closed so now I know I can do it, I will now just go to the salon a couple times a year and save a lot of time and money.
    I went to the local nursery to buy a couple plants to fill in some bare spots in my planters. The nursery very generously gave me 5 free impatient plants. I was thrilled with that.
    Have a fun, safe, frugal week.

  46. Brandy, I am glad that you did something special for your anniversary. I love that you now have a quieter more intimate space for date nights that came out of this and the restaurant meal with Italian being spoken is fun and lovely!

    I am currently keeping my 8 month old grandson daily since his day care shut down for a vacation. I’ll be doing this until the first part of August. It’s not something I thought I’d be doing at my age but we’re managing okay. Fortunately my dil is taking him once a week to give me a bit of a break and I so appreciate that!

    Our week went rather well. I’ve been following Amy Maron and decided to try my hand at her Gathering Fragments and it made a huge difference in our meal plan routine. I had been wanting to shake things up and this did it for me. I am always looking for frugal and creative ways to make life more interesting. I cancelled Netflix. I’d been doing a kindness for someone and this month they did a return kindness for me which was so lovely and unexpected. I fertilized plants and now have blooms everywhere. The Mandevilla that I overwintered are blooming their hearts out. The volunteer petunia has come out a deep dark velvety purple. The zinnias have started to bloom (I didn’t fertilize them). I think some of the seeds I planted two or three weeks ago have also come up. It is a poor soil area where they are but I’ve had enough flowers for a bouquet all week long so that has made me very happy and encourages me to keep doing the little things that will make a difference.

    My husband and I are trying to make more ‘us’ time. He retired this year and doesn’t really have a hobby but between pandemic and picking up pieces for others (I homeschooled my grandson for three months and now I’m babysitting the 8 month old) we tend to lose touch during the day. In evening, I am exhausted and just want to gel with YouTube (Chateau Diaries has been a lifesaver and makes me smile). So the result is that we’re taking little dates each week. A picnic one week, a meal out, an ice cream cone at the peach shed, or just sitting on the front porch watching it rain. It’s been really nice and I am deeply glad that my husband recognizes how quickly we can lose touch with one another as a couple.

  47. Happy Anniversary Brandy and hubby! May you be blessed with many more wonderful years! I have been a busy bee since we returned from our trip…met our first grandson, attended youngest son’s wedding, and third youngest son got engaged. I had six dozen organic Costco eggs in the refrigerator with a sell by date of 5/21. I know, I know. I tested them all and only one was bad. Froze them all in ice cube trays, then put in ziplock bags in the freezer for baking needs. Cleaned and air-dried the shells, then ground them in the food processor and am using them around the tomato and pepper plants. Baked a ham. We had several meals out of it, chopped some for the freezer, used some on egg sandwiches and in scrambled eggs, ground up some for two large bowls of pasta salad (one of these servings went in the freezer). Had a large container of organic cashews that were just starting to go stale so I baked them at 250 for about 40 minutes and now they are delicious, unstale, roasted cashews that will last for a long time. Did not waste any food this week…which is a big win. Cut my dryer sheets in half for the loads I use them for. Added water to a hand soap to get the last bit and then will reuse the bottle. Weeded, and weeded, and weeded. We are changing our landscaping to more grass, so I have a lot of Black-eyed Susans and portulaca. Posted on Facebook for my friends and they are going to come and dig out what I didn’t transplant. So happy they aren’t going in the yard waste bin. Cleaned off the bulbs I dug out of the area and stored in paper bags until fall. Cleaned out the seed starter trays for next year. Also took a plastic container I bought croissants in and cut the top from the bottom to grow micro greens this winter. Pollinated my tomatoes (the Romas are doing great but the beefsteak not as well) with my electric toothbrush with an old head. I also use the old heads to clean my jewelry. Picked zucchini…made a batch of chocolate zucchini bread and froze most of it. Gave a loaf to our neighbors. They watered my garden while we were gone and I have given them produce since the season started. They also give us firewood! My first kohlrabi is ready and will be giving it to my cousin who loves them…I actually planted them for her. Hubby built a fence for the side of the house where I have beans and potatoes (to keep the rabbits out) out of the wood from the old raised beds, the stripping that we used for borders and paint from our deck. He is very good at repurposing. Planted my first Swiss Chard seeds (thanks to Brandy’s posts), some more kohlrabi, spinach and lettuce. Hope all of you stay well and find joy!

  48. Rough week here. It comes down to the importance of everyone recognizing that no matter what other health issues are in play, unexpected confusion over days or weeks in an elderly person, especially combined with mysterious back pains and kidney issues, means UTI! This means you, medical people in my Dad’s town! Very frustrated with staff members who presume someone 97 is naturally confused. He is amazingly sharp for any age, or he was up until not long ago, and has a long recovery ahead of him because he wasn’t promptly checked for this simple issue.
    Covid restrictions on visitors are making it hard to get a sense of how he is doing. As his hearing is poor and he normally lip reads without realizing it, masked staff members are a challenge. “Hospital associated confusion”, which is a real term, isn’t helping.
    Now, to lighter matters: I have one purple sweet pea blooming, which means either it is ahead of the rest or the squirrels missed it. Am adding some parsley, green onions, chard, and greens to my salads from the potted pots on the back deck. I’ve only added chopped up day lily buds a few times. I didn’t find they added enough taste to the salad to sacrifice the flowers.
    In discussing books, does anyone remember reading Frances Parkinson Keyes? Thick carefully researched historical romances set in the U.S., especially South, and Europe? I haven’t seen those in ages.
    As usual, looking forward to reading through what people are writing in this week. It is sort of soothing to see seemingly routine life going on with intention and celebration, in our own unique ways. We celebrated our wedding anniversary this week with take-out pizza from the place that cuts it in the little squares, which for some reason I always find more special than v-shaped slices.

    1. Heidi, That happened to my mother, too. UTIs are really serious in the elderly. And people who are hard of hearing are at a dangerous disadvantage in a nursing home. Prayers your father will make a total recovery, Ann

    2. Sorry about your father’s experiences with allopathic medicine, Heidi Louise. If you can get some cranberry juice or blueberry juice (not sweetened), or capsules to him, it might help. I worked with holistic vet and we always had UTI patients take these. And if he’s on antibiotics, a probiotic, or lacto-fermented foods may help avoid further problems with gut dysbiosis.
      I hope he recovers quickle!

      The way older people are dismissed makes me very apprehensive about our futures.

    3. That used to happen with my dad as well – have to say that the nursing home did catch on pretty quickly whenever there was a flare up but vulnerable people really do need an advocate – and that is becoming more difficult during this pandemic. Hope things work ou.

    4. There are masks for people who read lips. My want to recommend to the nursing home for them to use. Here is an email of one place that makes them. mailto:michael@digitalhearingoutlet.com

      1. Thanks, Mary! I will look up more about those. Some of our grocery store clerks wear clear shields but I haven’t seen clear masks.

    5. Thank you Ann, Cara, and Margie! He has a goal to return to his home– he’s lived alone since Mom died twenty years ago— and although it is unclear if he will achieve that, it isn’t impossible! As he can have his own food brought in to short-term rehab, I’ll see what we can get to him in the cranberry and blueberry stuff. He loves fresh fruit, and it is fortunately the best time of year for berries and watermelon.

  49. Went to BJ’s Wholesale and stocked up on cleaning supplies etc. YES! They had them! I picked up enough cleaning, laundry soap, trash bags etc. to last me the rest of the year. A big expense now but, I won’t need to buy any of that for the rest of the year. Cleaned out the fridge and was able to make a big pot of vegetable soup that I ended up canning. I got 4 quarts. Bought some more 1/2 gallon sized Ball jars at And That. I bought all they had since they were only $2.50 each. I use them to store extra rice pasta, etc. Got some free zucchini. Had a few small tomatoes from the garden.

  50. As a preschool teacher on a very slim budget, I have used clear underbed storage boxes as water tables. They are shallow and allow multiple children around them at once. I placed them on low tables or benches or just in the grass, and they worked as well as the expensive ones.

  51. Brandy, I know you’ve mentioned this before, but it just clicked for me that you’re harvesting Swiss Chard–in mid-July when it’s 105-110! I’m curious to know if you grow it in the shade or in a spot that gets only a little bit of sun or…? I didn’t get mine planted in the spring. I’m in SLC and didn’t think it would like the summer heat, so I thought I’d plant for a fall harvest, but I’d love it if it would survive the summer! Thanks.

    1. I read the other day that it’s a cool-season vegetable, but I have not found that to be true at all! It’s in sun and it was 116 here. It slows down in winter to pretty much not grow at all (you could cover it to let it overwinter, and uncover it in spring to give it a head start). Mine bolts every year in April, growing 6 feet tall in a week and producing seeds if I let it. I plant new plants in the spring each year; they will not bolt in April if planted in March. It will grow in some shade but not as big or as well as it does in sun.

  52. My parents flew to Norway from Poland. I was dying of fear but they said that it was nearly empty at the airport and on the plane. They had their N95’s on the whole time. We figured that it was the window of opportunity for us to see each other as the restrictions eased, but I must say that I am still so worried about taking this risk. But they couldn’t be stopped.

    1. Sorry – of course, I remember now that you started commenting from Norway! I understand your concern but it sounds as though they were really responsible. Hopefully you will all be fine and you will have a wonderful time together.

  53. Happy Anniversary to you both. My youngster son found a job in his field, which we are very happy about. My daughter in law pass her nursing board and is working at a hospital. Paying off debt still along way to go. Eating from home. Getting zucchinis and green beans from the garden. Thank you for keeping this blog going and everyone comments I learn a lot.

  54. The past week my hubby made pizza dough using my grandmother’s bread machine that she gave to me long before she passed away. It makes my heart so happy that he uses it as it was rather languishing in a cabinet which made me sad to think about before. The smell of the dough rising along with herbs he infuses into it makes the whole house smell cozy and comforting. He then made pizzas in our cast iron skillets! YUM. He loves to cook and shares with our kids and family who all live within the same county. I harvested about 35 pounds of lemons. Shared with neighbors and then I hand squeezed enough lemons using the juicer we received as wedding shower gift 34 years ago (I’ve been feeling very nostalgic these days) to make a gallon of juice. Gave quarts to my daughter and sister. Another quart I’ll give to my mom. It’ll be fun to see what they use it for. Lemoncello, lemonade, cookies, blueberry lemon muffins are some of my daughter’s ideas. Finally, this week I perfected a way to make “Starbucks” bottled Frappuccino style coffees using instant coffee from the dollar store, milk, (any milk will do) and vanilla creamer. My husband loves them over a tall glass of ice as a treat. We had saved up the bottles from those Starbucks Frappuccino’s when we rarely bought them. I liked having those bottles around for vases and other uses, but NOW they are the stars of my refrigerator shelf! Decadent and very fugal. Listened to free books on Libby and just finished A Walk In the Woods by Bill Bryson. I’m a hiker so I found it entertaining and enjoyed the scenery described.

    1. “A Walk in the Woods” was made into a movie with Robert Redford, Nick Nolte, and Emma Thompson. It is roughly close to the book and certainly would show you the scenery if you are missing getting out for yourself.

      1. Thank you for the recommendation! I didn’t know it was turned into a movie. I plan to watch it soon.

  55. Happy Anniversary! It sounds like you had a nice time, even if it was different than the original plan. Our week was mellow in the savings category. Instead we had large expenses like auto insurance, taxes and veterinary costs. So glad I’d saved for them every month though!
    We mostly worked at keeping to our grocery budget by eating from the freezers and pantry.
    We are waiting for all those veggies–peppers, tomatoes, green beans and squash–to be ready to eat. We are just working to keep the gardens watered in this warm weather. We are in NW NM and from now to sometime in August is the hottest part of our year. Then we head into a beautiful fall!
    My daughter showed to how to make a delicious drink at home–a Chai tea latte. I have one in the afternoon instead of soda pop. I can make it sugar-free using Splenda.
    We installed a light fixture that we bought a long time ago. The installation involved moving the electrical box from the ceiling to the wall. Thanks to my hubby’s handyman skills, we were able to DIY it, rather than paying someone.
    I gratefully received some clothing from a friend, and also some for my husband.
    I’m still decluttering. Not as fast as before, bur our home is becoming more functional.
    Some fun garden pics are over on my blog with this week’s savings and goals post: http://thebudgetinggranny.com/savings-and-goals-journal-11/

  56. Hope it was a great, frugal week!
    Grated cheese is on sale at Randall’s (Safeway), 3#/$5, so I bought quite a bit to freeze for later. I bought other loss leaders, and will probably run back before the sale ends next week.
    My daughter mailed a letter using discounted old stamps I bought at an estate sale a year or so ago.
    I hung out laundry that dried very quickly in our heat.
    I sold a few more things on Mercari and FB marketplace. Cash in, junk out, although it’s a slow process.
    We scrounged odds and ends from the refrigerator the evening before I went to the store, instead of cooking.
    I used leftover queso from the free Taco Cabana kids meals to make macaroni and cheese.
    We packed food and snacks for an outing.
    I resisted the urge to buy school supplies that are going on sale. There’s nothing we need right now, even though I sometimes like to pick up the loss leaders this time of year.
    I mixed oyster crackers in the goldfish crackers to stretch them a little.
    Have a nice week, everyone!

  57. I love zinnias! I picked mulberries from trees at a local school. We are enjoying blueberries, raspberries, and lettuce from the garden, should have tomatoes, squash and beans in the next few days. We hosted a party last weekend with friends we have seen or worked with regularly. I borrowed extra crock pots and used real plates and silverware. I resisted overbuying food for the party and used up leftovers. There is quite a bit of lettuce left so I’m forcing everyone to eat a LOT of salad. I reused wire and t posts left at one of our rental houses to support my garden tomatoes. I bought seeds from a local garden company and was able to get free advice on some pest problems. I have worked a lot in the garden and yard getting ready for the party. I used newspaper and mulch to suppress weeds. I have been enjoying free iced coffee from Panera. I splurged on a flat of local strawberries, we ate about 1/2 of them fresh and mixed the other half with cheaper grocery store berries to make jam. We were given a ton of venison by a family member so we have been eating venison everything. I continue to buy local farm fresh eggs in bulk for a steep discount. I sold a few items on eBay and picked up a few items off FB Marketplace. I gave a friend some maternity clothes as I’m done having kids. I got cleared to start working out again after having a baby, hoping to fit into more of my pre-baby clothes with getting back to running. We used to keep our house ice cold all summer but I’ve been slowly increasing the thermostat and no one is complaining. I hate returning things but I forced myself to return an expensive stroller part that didn’t fit, unneeded baby gifts and miscellaneous home improvement parts gone wrong. I appreciate reading this, when I started I was in a very different financial position than I am today, but it is daily frugality that has allowed us to expand our businesses to where they are today.
    I also enjoyed A Walk in the Woods, made me question my dream of hiking the AT!

  58. It was a big spend week for us–today we signed a contract to have the roof replaced on the house and barn. This is the second roof since we moved here 43 years ago. The exciting part of this is that we have been saving for it, and have ALL the money in the bank. Last time we had to take a five year home improvement loan in order to pay for it. That time wasn’t too long after we moved in!
    I was pleased to hear Brandy say she found misplaced school supplies. I thought I was the only one who is constantly misplacing things and wasting time looking for them! Actually I usually do have an idea where I put things, but others rifle through things looking for other things and mess up my more or less careful organization.
    It was a medical week too–I had a toothache caused by a tiny pocket of infection around a tooth I’ve been complaining about for a year and a half. It didn’t take long to fix once it was found. My daughter has a salivary gland obstruction (which causes a big lump to form under her jaw every time she eats anything)–she was seeing her doctor this afternoon. It’s quite painful as I have had it myself. And my son in law has a slight heart rhythm problem which is sending him to a cardiologist! It can be fixed, just can’t be ignored any longer. They aren’t too happy but she did marry an older man–he’s just turned 65 a couple months ago and she is only 56. I tease her about that but it’s the cost of the health care that is most annoying to them. Everything is so expensive when you start seeing specialists.
    Otherwise, things are going pretty well here. It’s been too hot for weeding so I’m going to have to get some back up lawn care guys in to pull the weeds that got ahead of us. We need mowing help anyhow, as neither of us can start the mower any more. The neighbors have been helping us out but I don’t want to impose indefinitely.

    1. Marcia,

      It’s been 85 in the mornings around sunrise, but I find I can work for an hour if I stick to working in the shadiest spots in the garden, so at least something can get weeded. I have done that three mornings this week. It’s been 107-116 during the day here. I have been watering my potted plants right after sunset; it’s still well over 100 then, but at least I’m not in the sun, and that helps. Even if I could only do a few minutes, it would be something. My goal was one bucket of weeds a day; I managed to pull 4 1/2 the last two days, and today I planned to pull more but ended up picking peaches and cleaning up under the lemon trees in the front yard. The trash cans are full, so I suppose the rest of the weeding will have to wait until next week.

    2. Well, at least he is on Medicare now, so that should help.

      I am going to share what we did, which may not be right for everyone, but worth mentioning. We bought a Medicare Advantage HMO through Blue Cross. It is the most expensive plan they offer ($142 month each including an optional dental plan). We can afford it, and our out-of-pocket is minimal (usually nil) except for co-pays. My husband is a conspicuous consumer of medical care, and this has saved us a lot of money. I highly recommend it for people on Medicare who find themselves needing/getting a lot of medical care. We find it’s a lot easier to budget a medical premium than to pay for even 20% of a hospitalization. We chose the Blue Cross HMO because the network is every Blue Cross provider (which is virtually everybody) within a certain radius. This includes the orthotics and prosthetics company my husband uses (BC just paid over $12,000 on a new prosthetic leg).

      Marcia, congratulations for having the money saved to pay for the roof! Further congratulations for having gotten about 40 years out of your old roof!

  59. My bargains of the week:
    4 cans of Maple Leaf canned ham $5 per can (for the pantry)
    Ivory soap 10 bars for $3.48 (for the pantry)
    Compliments salted butter $2.77 per package (I’ll get 3 for the freezer)
    1 kg package Saputo Mozzarrellissima shredded cheese ($12 usual price at Safeway as compared to $15.99 usual price at Superstore)
    2 deep dish Schneider’s chicken and bacon pies usually $11.99 (but buy one get one free)
    and No frills:
    Royale velour $3.97 as opposed to at Safeway $5.99 same size, same type.

    I will have to figure out how to get someone to all 3 stores.

    with the toilet paper, the canned ham, and the Ivory soap, my emergency pantry planning is almost complete.

    We have had many thunderstorms this week. I am hoping that today’s bypasses us. My strawberry plants are now loaded with blossoms.Fingers crossed!

  60. My Itoh peonies have come into bloom. This is the first year after planting them three years ago that they have really bloomed in profusion. The garden is jammed with giant peony plants and blossoms. A small problem is that the peony plants are so big that the leaves are crowding out the usually big monarda, the favourite of the hummingbird.

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