Frugal Accomplishments

How We Saved Money the Third Week of March

I am thankful for my pantry, freezers, fridge, and garden right now. I did not need to do any grocery shopping. There are things I would like to have that I do not and items that I am low on/out of that were on my shopping list, but I will make do without them.

We signed up for the free Zoom app for the children so they could have their youth activities with others virtually.

My husband worked on a project. He watched YouTube videos to learn more about what he needs to do.

He did some repairs at home. We have a number of supplies for home repair projects on hand that we just haven’t had time to do. I hope we’ll be able to do more in the coming weeks.

My husband changed out the lightbulbs in one bedroom to LEDs that we were given. We are making plans to further change all of our bulbs to LEDs this year, as the price has reduced to something more affordable. We have already changed them out in several places in the house.

I worked in the garden mowing the lawn, moving new soil, and preparing the garden for more planting.

It rained, which allowed me to skip watering the garden several days. I also collected shower warm-up water and used it to water potted fruit trees.

I decided that rather than replacing my dead apple tree (last year’s replacement tree was destroyed by borers, as was the tree before that that gave us apples for years) with another apple tree, I would plant a tiny mandarin tree that I have been growing in a pot for a year. (It’s the same size as my 3-year-old). I didn’t have to spend any money on a new tree, and it can get a lot larger in the ground. I purchased the tree on clearance for $7 when I bought it. This will give us more fruit in the winter (besides lemons) and also help keep us in budget as grocery prices continue to rise, as we eat a lot of mandarins and clementines. Though it is covered in flowers this year, I will knock off any fruit that sets to allow it to put forth more effort into growing branches that can give me a larger harvest in years to come. It should be a few years before I harvest from the tree, but the sooner it gets a chance to put its energy into growing bigger, the sooner I’ll have a larger harvest.

I’d still like an apple tree in the future (if I can figure out how to fit one in!), but right now, I won’t be planting one.

I transplanted the parsley seedlings that were in the bottom of the pot with the mandarin tree into shady spots in the garden. Once it gets hot, parsley will burn here in the sun. It grows beautifully in the shade. I use it fresh and I also grow enough to dry to use in cooking throughout the year.

I sowed seeds in the garden for Armenian cucumbers, Swiss chard, and lettuce. All of these were all open-pollinated seeds that I had collected from my own garden. I am sowing more than normal; I planted Swiss chard every six inches instead of every twelve to eighteen so that I can cut it more often for our table. I am sure many of us will feel the economic impact of this for some time to come, and as we don’t know how long we may need to stay home, more fresh food is always a help.

I noticed that the mulberry tree that the birds planted in my yard as a seed a few years ago (that I have been growing in a pot) has set fruit. It is three years old and has never fruited before as it was young. While mulberries are tiny here due to the heat, full of seeds, and don’t have a lot of taste–they are ripe in April. They’re the first tree fruit that is ripe, and that is a valuable thing to have. I can mix them with frozen peaches from the freezer for smoothies. I transplanted a second seedling into the corner of the yard, and it looks like it will also bear fruit this year. These seeds likely came from my neighbor’s tree across the street; her tree was planted by birds as well and she let it grow where it started.

I harvested lettuce, green onions, beet greens, snow peas, asparagus, Swiss chard, and lemons from the garden. I cut beet greens and green onions every day for our use.

I gave six of my children haircuts using clippers and scissors.

My husband canceled a service for work, saving $140 a month. He won’t need it for a while.

I made whole-wheat biscuits, which we had with homemade jam and also used for sandwiches; smoothies with grape juice canned from our grapes and peaches frozen from our trees; oatmeal; whole-wheat pumpkin bread (twice, the second time using half squash half home-canned applesauce; bean and rice burritos; taco soup with leftovers beans and rice; lemonade from our lemons; roasted pork with broccoli and lemon pasta; whole-wheat French bread; a frittata with asparagus, green onions, and beet greens from the garden; pasta salad with broccoli, green onions and snow peas from the garden, canned olives, and homemade Italian dressing; roasted cranberry chicken thighs with broccoli; chicken noodle soup with leftover chicken and broth from the roasted cranberry chicken, green onions, beet greens, and lemon juice from the garden along with carrots and celery from the refrigerator; a custard tart using lemon juice from my lemons; and minestrone soup with green onions and beets greens from the garden.

I printed free coloring pages for the children to color and paint.

Because we already homeschooled, and my husband usually works from home, our week was almost normal in many ways. I know it isn’t for many of you. If you’re wondering how I get things done while homeschooling, here is a post I did a while back on my schedule.

If you’re needing ideas for recipes and menus, please check out the menus and recipes on this site for budget and pantry-friendly meals.

If you’re new to my site and are currently wondering how you’re going to make things work with the little bit of money you have left in the bank and the little bit of food you have left in the pantry at this time, start here–and welcome!

What did you do to save money last week?

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138 Comments

  1. What beautiful and uplifting photos. Thank you for sharing.

    While many things are shut down here (Seattle area), my office is still open (physical therapy), and I continue to go to work. At least for now, we are still considered “essential medical”. Early on, I managed to get a limited supply of Home Depot-type N95 masks, so I am wearing one at work. My husband has been working from home for several weeks. Our governor has put restrictions in place, but we are still allowed to go outside to exercise and get groceries and other essential items. You can still get fresh produce, but some stores no longer have staples like beans, rice, and flour on their shelves. We are pretty well stocked, even in our small condo, and I am very thankful for that.

    Needless to say, I cooked all meals from home To add a little levity, I have started making a small sign with the featured dinner menu for the day. I had a container of bean/meat/veg mixture in the freezer, which I stretched to make two pans of enchiladas. I also used the last of the enchilada sauce I made last summer. Other meals have included lots of fresh vegetables. My mint, oregano and thyme are starting to come back this year, so soon I will have those herbs to use.

    Other frugal accomplishments:
    – In February, anticipating possible disruptions, I stocked up on sprouting seeds. So I constantly have a batch growing.
    – As soon as it warms up a bit, I will start some lettuce in pots on my patio.
    – Worked on a sewing project using supplies I already had.
    – Sat out on my patio on one sunny day.
    – Walked outside for exercise. The weather was especially nice, but it is supposed to rain this week.
    – Checked out an ebook from the library (our libraries are closed).
    – Did puzzles from the newspaper that I had saved.
    – Enjoyed the daffodils, tulips and grape muscari on my patio.
    – Watched youtube and streaming shows.

    One of our local hospitals started a One Million Masks project, where people could volunteer to sew masks for health care workers using supplies provided by the hospital. I tried to sign up, but the volunteer slots were already taken. I searched online, and there are other medical facilities throughout the country, asking people who sew to make cloth masks from their own fabric stash and then donate them. I can’t find the link now, but if you sew and have time on your hands, you might see if this is needed in your local community.

    Stay safe everyone, and have a good week.

    1. Tina, I’ve been sewing all weekend. I still have more to make. I’m making them for a grocery store clerk I know as well. I shared about the need on my Facebook page. Definitely check your local hospitals everyone!

    2. At least one of our local hospitals is NOT accepting the hand-made masks. Their reasoning is “Depending on the use of the mask and material used to make the masks, there is a risk for pathogens to be absorbed and concentrated in the material used. These pathogens (virus or bacterial) could pose a risk to our employees’ skin or respiratory tract when inhaled, as the amount of the pathogens become more concentrated.”

      1. Our local nurses are asking for them, so it may not be the hospitals, but they are looking at wearing bandanas otherwise.

        1. If the masks are made for purposes that will involve harsh washing/disinfecting of them for re-use, cloth ties, such as bias tape, are better than elastic, which might break down when cleaned repeatedly.

          1. Found on the JoAnn’s site–when you return the masks to them, they will ship them off and sterilize before distributing to medical personnel/facilities that have requested masks.

    3. Brandy there are so few people who see God’s world as beautifully as you do. Thank you for the opportunity to glimpse how you choose to live such a full and caring life. I teach Kindergarten and have two wonderful adult daughters, a terrific son-in-law, and a very special husband of 32 years. I cherish my family and friends, home-making, education, and gardening. We live in North Bend WA in the valley of the Cascade Mountains, hearing and viewing the Snoqualmie River in our backyard. Transplanted from Missouri, we have come to adore our home here. We have planted apple trees, blueberry bushes, pear trees and potted plants. We nurture the native fauna, pick wild huckleberries and garden extensively rain or shine….mostly rain with sun-breaks. You share peace with everyone Brandy, it is your gift. Thank you for sharing.

  2. The photo of the bird is amazing!! Thank you, as always, for sharing your photos every week.

    I also very much appreciated your comments about working with what you have in your pantry, rather than filling in the holes there might be. When we are in the habit of building and maintaining a well-stocked pantry, it can be difficult to step back and give other people a chance to get what they need too, but it is so necessary these days. And fewer trips to the store mean less contact, and less transmission for everyone. I am hopeful about your mandarin tree. If it has a fraction of the success of your lemon trees, you won’t have any shortage of fruit to come. I think apple trees must be very stressed by hot weather.

    Meals were simple here, using pasta and pasta sauce, rice and egg scrambles, Italian sausage and potatoes. I baked oatmeal bars and blueberry muffins to use as quick breakfasts and snacks. I’ve been making good use of the frozen food gifted to me to clear the bottom of other people’s freezers. I even included the last of a box of spring salad greens as cooked greens in a rice and egg scramble.

    Some time each dayis being devoted to deep cleaning. A lot of dust and dirt seems to accumulate through the winter. The cats are shedding too, which we will only count as a happy sign that spring is on its way. I’m aiming to reduce allergies as much as possible, so my immune system doesn’t have to over work for no reason.

    1. I had grapefruit, lime, and tangerine trees before. All were killed by frost. So I’m taking a chance again but I want to see if they can do well.

    2. I think you are correct about the heat and apples. One of my disappointments in moving to South Carolina is that there are NO apple orchards here. All our “local” apples come from the North Carolina mountains.

      1. You may want to check with local nurseries about uncommon apple varieties that may possibly grow in your area. I live the desert and we have three varieties- Anna, Golden Dorsett and Ein Shemer- that were developed to grow and thrive in hot climates. Some years the harvest is pretty big and friends bring bags of apples to share. I am always amazed at how apples and other plants can be bred to thrive in so many climates.

        1. I grew Golden Dorsett before. Both Anna and Golden Dorsett are sauce apples. They ripen in June and are prone to burning on the tree while still green. It was fine for sauce but we weren’t huge fans of it for fresh eating, as it is very mealy. I have other fruits ripe in June, so it makes more sense for me to grow something that will be ripe in February. Our local nursery no longer sells Golden Dorsett (they do have Anna) so I tried a Fuji, which is also low chill. The borers destroyed it last year. It seemed like a good time for a change.

          1. See if you can find a variety called Pettingill. It gives me a nice crop here in Los Angeles and it might make it in Las Vegas. It did take quite a long time to fruit regularly though.

            1. I had a dozen apple trees before. They were supposed to be good, low-chill options. They never even flowered. After 10 years of waiting, I ripped them all out except for the Dorsett Golden, which produced well. Then that one died. So I changed up the garden and now I am growing other things. I think in future years we’ll be a lot happier with more food on our table, so I think it will all work out well.

  3. Your photos are amazing! Thank you for the joy they give me.
    We are not in “stay at home” here…yet, but we have chosen to stay in anyway.
    The kids have been on Spring Break this last week so we saved the gas money it would have taken to get them to school. One child goes to school in the town next to us so it is a substantial saving for us.
    We heard yesterday that they will be out of school for another 2 weeks…perhaps for the rest of the year. The school is setting up Internet school today.
    My daughter cut her own hair from shoulder-length to short…short on the sides and back. Her beautition is not an esential worker…so no haircuts. Windee, my daughter, bought hair clippers and also cut her daughter’s hair.
    I am still looking for some basic items for my pantry. We are okay at the moment, but will be out of flour this week. Toilet paper will be gone in a couple of weeks.
    A little note to everyone. Stay safe out there. I may not know you personally, but I care for you. We are all “struggling” with this tragedy. Together we can help each other cope.
    Thank you, Brandy, for all you do. The beauty and caring you share means more than you may know.

    1. Becky, it’s so lovely of you to say that. Times like these can bring out the best in some people and the worst in others. May we shine God’s light into the world.

  4. Brandy, thank you for being here for us with your blog! I started following you a long time ago and what Ive learned over the years has put me in a much better position to be in right now. A few weeks ago I went and stocked up on beans and canned goods “just in case” My husband is still working but we dont know for how long. Yesterday I stopped delivering groceries. As much as we need the money, Its not worth the risk to my family. I have been working on moving my credit card debt and all but 1 of my balances are on 0% interest. Ill be making the minimum payments. Hopefully this ends before we run out of money. The news was saying to increase ventilation, so we’ve shut off the air and opened windows. This should lower the electric bill too.

  5. I love the photo of the little bird!
    This was a much better week than last week for us as far as savings go.
    *Our chickens are laying more eggs than we can eat, so we sold an 18-pack of eggs and also traded more eggs for bread and bagels with someone who had an excess of those things.
    *There was a sale on the brand of dog food we feed our dogs ($8 off the large bag) and so we bought a bag each of puppy and regular dog food.
    *I mended a shirt that had a tear on the seam of the sleeve.
    *I signed our puppy up for the local low-cost spay program. When she turns 6 months old, I can have her spayed for $75.
    *I’d planned outdoor work for Saturday, but the weather didn’t cooperate, so I worked organizing my shed. I found clothes my daughter had stored during the later part of her pregnancy. The clothes will fit her now, so she has plenty of shirts and won’t need to buy any for a while. I also found several toys and books I’d picked up for the grandbabies at yard sales and put away for when they were a little older. They are enjoying playing with new-to-them things. My shed has gotten cluttered and kind of messy. I think that keeping things organized is a great way to save money as it makes it easier to use what you have.
    *I made homemade spreadable butter. http://thebudgetinggranny.com/homemade-spreadable-butter/ and I also tried a new potato soup recipe that was very easy and my family loved. It was supposed to be part of my new one meatless dinner a week meal plan, but my husband decided that it needed a bit of bacon. But it was almost meatless! I made cornbread to go with it.

    1. I made a recipe called better butter, looks like the same recipe. Honey liked the liquid margarine but I can’t find it. I always have butter so tried it and he was happy with this.

  6. Things are in flux, aren’t they? At least you, Brandy, are getting rain. I just checked and Lake Mead is the highest it’s been in years at around 1,098 feet. I’m sure that’s reassuring. Your garden pictures continue to provide joy and inspiration; thank you for those.

    As a single, living alone retired woman less than 30 miles from the Atlantic coast and a daughter about 50 miles from the Pacific Ocean, my life is different from a lot of other commenters. I’m not worried about a job (although I did spend the last 3.5 years of my career working from home and loving it), I have a SS check that covers my monthly expenses, including my mortgage and health insurance, and I have money in both bank IRAs and the stock market. The latter is not in good shape but I’ve lived through this before and have taken a wait and see attitude on those funds since it’s a smaller portion of my savings and they are conservatively invested. I’m saying this to let people know that my expenses and worries are different from others and thus so are my spending decisions.

    That said, I decided to support several local restaurants and food trucks last week and will be doing so again this week. All the festivals and events for which I had put aside my monthly “fun” money for the last couple months have been cancelled or postponed so I used that money to get “Low Country Boil” (shrimp, sausage, potatoes and small cobs of corn cooked with Old Bay seasoning and a side of the best coleslaw), a pecan bar and a lemon bar, a hot dog with sauerkraut (since, for some reason, I never buy hot dogs for home) and a rolled ice cream sundae with peanut butter cups, whipped cream, etc. (the ice cream is rolled into flat sheets to concoct some really awesome desserts). I also way over tipped to help support the employees still on staff. I want these places to be around when this mess is over and I want their employees to remain solvent.

    I organized my pantry and found a couple holes in my supplies. They were items I wanted, as opposed to actually needed, and I bought them at Walmart when I went in for the 2nd (and final) dose of my lifetime pneumonia vaccine. I had originally gone in at the beginning of March on the anniversary of the first shot but they said it was better to wait for a few weeks and to come back at the end of the month. When I went in on Friday and told them I did not feel comfortable waiting another 7-10 days, they laughed and said “can’t imagine why!” I actually got the last dose they had on hand that day. The good news is that the grocery section was pretty well stocked with a few holes here and there, they were stocking, and they apparently had toilet paper since someone had it in their cart. They also had bread, dairy products, meat, etc. The items I bought were well stocked so I did not feel any guilt in buying them. FYI, my daughter now totally gets the concept of my pantry and I think she wishes she were closer to be able to raid it!

    I used gift cards to pay for part of the flower and vegetable plants that I purchased at Home Depot. I used pots and soil I already had to plant two tomatoes, catnip, and celery plants as well as spinach seeds. The tomatoes will not withstand our summer heat so I bought one bigger than I normally would to attempt to get the tomatoes before it gets really hot. I’m experimenting with different types of spinach this spring so I can decide which I like best to plant for the fall. I also planted sunpatiens which can stand shade or sun and did well in our extreme heat last summer as long as they were watered and some ivy in my front planter boxes. I still need to plant the two azaleas I bought and will do so this week. Other plants that I want will need to wait until the farmer’s markets are open (schedule for the 1st weekend of April and hopefully they do since the farmers need to sell their produce) to buy more plants from them or from local nurseries for those items the farmers don’t have.

    I entertained myself by listening to audio books on Scribd (so happy I bought that yearly subscription) and replays of the Washington Capitals games during the 2018 post-season when they won the Stanley Cup via TuneIn radio, I watched news shows on Klowdtv and entertainment shows online on Pluto TV, which is free but does have commercials. It’s worth checking out if you don’t want to pay for TV, as is YouTube for some shows. I also did a few jigsaw puzzles on jigidi.com, another free service.

    Our weather has been wonderful – warm, breezy some days, and enough rain but not too much. I haven’t had the heat on for the last two weeks and the daily electric usage shows it.

    Except for picking up take out food, this week will be a stay at home week with some more organizing, serious cleaning, trying out new recipes, gardening and working on my quilting class project (the classes have been suspended until further notice). I’m also making and send some cards to children I know who are also cooped up at home because I have yet to meet a child that does not like to get mail. One of them sent me a picture today and it made me smile so much. I know he will love getting one in return!

  7. That hummingbird photo is so gorgeous.
    We had rain and snow here all last week, so seeing your flower pictures was really uplifting. We are supposed to have nice weather this week, and I hope to start prepping garden beds.
    We are eating from our pantry. I’m trying to put off going to the store as long as possible in order to let the stores restock and things get more back to ‘normal.’ My husband is retired and I work from home all the time, so not much has changed for us. But we do see more people in our neighborhood on our daily walks, so have enjoyed visiting with neighbors from opposite sides of the street.
    I baked sandwich bread and made a batch of homemade yogurt. I cooked a big batch of pumpkin waffles and froze 8 for future breakfasts.
    Hand sanitizer is not to be found in any stores around here. We wanted to keep it in our vehicles for when we did go out. The World Health Organization has a recipe online that uses 1 part aloe vera gel to 3 parts 70% rubbing alcohol. We couldn’t find rubbing alcohol anywhere. But we did have, way back in a cabinet, a bottle of Everclear someone gave us years ago. We would never drink the stuff, but turns out you can make hand sanitizer with it. So we are set now. You can also use overproof rum – it has to be something that is at least 70% alcohol.
    My husband and I sat down and figured out where we could add two more garden beds in our yard. This will double my outdoor garden capacity. Our garden did well last year and I’m determined to grow even more this year. I have a big compost pile and a bale of peat moss I can use to build up the soil. In our climate we can’t grow beans (other than green beans) or corn, and winter squash is always a gamble, but we can grow a lot of other things. The greenhouse also helps extend the season and allows me to grow tomatoes.
    I finished and filed our taxes. Glad to have that chore out of the way.

    1. Cindi.
      Not to worry about the hand sanitizer because it isn’t so effective anyway. I’ve been reading that warm water and regular soap (NOT antibacterial soap because this is a virus, not a bacterium) are the most effective killers of this virus. Apparently the soap strips a fatty outside layer of virus and the water washes the disassembled parts away.
      https://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2020/03/23/best-hand-soap-for-frequent-hand-washing.aspx

      I found that article very interesting and informative, and most of us have soap on hand (and soap bars are better for the environment, too).

      1. We only wanted the hand sanitizer to keep in our vehicles, so that we could use it before going into a store and when we leave. At home and when possible, regular soap and water are preferable.

      2. Bleach is also seen as an option to clean hard surfaces. Kitchen and bathroom counters, door handles, gates, locks, objects brought from the street, soles of shoes, etc. Disinfect raw foods, Disinfect raw foods, such as fruits, salads, other vegetables. Wash the item to remove the heavy dirt, use 1 tablespoon, to 1 liter of drinking water, leave in total immersion for 10 minutes and rinse well, 2-3 times. This is the care, only use if it says on the packaging that it is also for food.
        https://traditionalcookingschool.com/food-preparation/recipes/techniques-tutorials/a-handy-guide-for-washing-produce/
        https://www.canr.msu.edu/news/covid-19-disinfecting-with-bleach
        Again, is important: to clean food, only use if it says on the packaging that it is also for food. The Traditional article says otherwise, but I was taught to use only the product that says on the packaging that can be used in food.
        I find in any supermarket, in the laundry section. It’s a huge savings from other food disinfectants

  8. Brandy — i just want to say thank you. i’ve been following your blog for over a year and so look forward to reading your posts. It feels like a conversation with a friend. I don’t add much in the way of comments as my savings strategies pale in comparison to so many others.

    During this especially trying time, you have an entire education package, in the way of blog posts, that so many need. Thank you for caring and so freely sharing.

    1. Karen, don’t feel like you have nothing to comment on. Your saving strategies might help someone who is just starting out on this frugal journey.

  9. That hummingbird picture is amazing, Brandy, as are all your photos! You had mentioned using zoom; I’ve found that a lot of people are putting free classes online through IG or zoom. I’ve found children’s music classes for free on IG and fitness classes for free via zoom; it’s so nice to see people pulling together!

    My frugal week:
    – I made Chocolate-Covered Peanut Butter Easter Eggs, using basic pantry staples (http://approachingfood.com/preservative-free-peanut-butter-easter-eggs/). If you have peanut butter, icing sugar, and chocolate chips, you can make this recipe. And if you have vanilla extract, butter, and oil to add in, even better! I plan on making these and Brandy’s chocolate rabbits for my family, instead of going out shopping for Easter chocolates this year.
    – I made a disinfectant spray from bleach and water
    – I made homemade play dough with my daughter. It’s an old recipe from a parenting book my mum used when I was a child, and it only calls for salt, flour, and water. I added in food colouring. It’s non-toxic, and keeps well in the fridge. I made a coverall for my daughter from a garbage bag with holes cut out for the head and arms.
    – I used the Amazon gc I earned writing a book review, to buy kinetic sand for my daughter. I looked into making my own, and this was almost as cheap, as I couldn’t find small amounts of craft sand.
    – I made pesto couscous salad, rosemary focaccia, buns, lemon poppyseed muffins (using discounted lemons from a previous week’s flash food app), flourless chocolate chip cookies (uses egg whites), a double-batch of cornbread (uses egg yolks), and a batch of molasses stickybuns.
    – I glued an earring back together. Good as new!
    – Our dishwasher stopped working but I ordered a part online for $20 and my husband was able to get the dishwasher working again. This made me so happy! My husband fully expects to be laid off shortly due to industries losing business, even in the tech sector, so a new dishwasher wasn’t in our budget.
    – I made a batch of laundry detergent.
    – I’ve been skyping with my parents and sisters, so that my daughter can stay in contact with them, while still social distancing. It is much appreciated and a great spirit booster for everyone! Seeing my 17 month old having a virtual dance party with my 77 year old dad always makes me happy!
    Looking forward to learning from everyone, as always!

      1. Hi Anna! I found that a number of organizations are doing IGTV/IG Live Stories. So for example, a local children’s music organization is doing a free class every weekday that I can show to my daughter at any time the same day that it is posted (a ‘story’ will stay for 24 hrs). I think a lot of smaller businesses are developing ways to keep their clientele, by engaging them online, so that they will either return once the pandemic is over, or so that they can transition the clients to a paid online model. I’m enjoying the free programming for my daughter! I’m not a huge fan of screen time for little ones, but at least this music class is interactive. Let me know if you have any questions!

  10. What a wonderful post and some beautiful photos to help distract us from all the craziness.

    I have been at home since last Tuesday aside from a walk on Saturday morning and a trip to my local supermarket – it was all very orderly, only so many at a time allowed in, limits on certain items and then X’s taped to the floor where we were to line up – well apart – to go through the check out. They had plenty of meat, bread & dairy and a decent supply of fresh fruit & veg but the frozen foods section was decimated and the other aisles were depleted. But I really only wanted a bit of dairy and some fresh fruit & veg so I was in and out in no time. I used some Loyalty points to cover some of the cost so very little money spent last week – NOTHING is really open anyway and I eat out as a social situation not just for the food so no reason for take-away.

    My pantry, fridge and very small freezer space are full so truthfully, I could probably stay inside for two months if I had to. I had thought about going into the office for a couple of hours tomorrow morning but I’ve now been told not to – we will use Zoom for a staff meeting and get our developer to do any website updates as I can’t do these from home (they didn’t get me set up on time).

    I too have been cleaning – but since I just have a small apt. I’m trying to pace myself. My friend in Kingston was telling me that they normally are allowed 1 free bag of garbage for pick up each week and then you buy tags if you need to put out more – they have just been told that they can have 4 bags free for the next few weeks – local govt. really wants everyone to stay inside and keep busy with that Spring cleaning! 🙂

    A number of friends have expressed a similar concern – we are cooking up a storm – but with no one coming over it means we are eating more than normal and will now be gaining weight! I do take meals to an elderly neighbour and people in my small apt. building have been very good about checking on each other. So far I have refrained from baking…

    I will get out for a – lonely – walk tomorrow afternoon as the sun is to come out and it will be about 6C – 40F so that should help my mood. I am now limiting my viewing of all the updates as it is just never ending. I have to say that I am very pleased with the Canadian response from all 3 levels of Govt. – municipal. provincial and federal. They are clearly all working together – the roll out of restrictions and economic incentives has been orderly and they always defer to the medical authorities so I think they have done a good job. My only complaint is with all those people who decided to go on their March break holiday and are now arriving back as the vast majority of our cases can be traced back to those who travelled. I do think that some could have used a bit better judgement given that we had at least a two month lead up. Anyone who now crosses the border must go into a 14 day quarantine and I sincerely hope they are following instructions as for them this mans NO leaving their homes for any reason at any time!

    I have been checking on people from church and everyone is well but anxious as many are elderly – although I should say that they are mostly a very energetic elderly so its the limiting of social activities that is harder than anything else. One friend has a niece who lives in Sweden and the nice, her husband and 2 children are all down with it – but seem to be able to manage from home so that is a relief.

    I hope that all the regular readers are well and not too badly impacted and that we can support each other on this wonderful website.

  11. We moved from a climate almost identical to yours (some hard frost in winter, about the same rainfall and over 100 much of the summer). We grew citrus mostly successfully. I’m sure you’ve heard of this, but I thought I’d mention it. We ran an extension cord out to the tree and put an old indoor lamp at the base of the tree. It gives enough heat to keep the tree from freezing. Also if you water right before frost is predicted, that can help. LED bulbs done work well for this because they don’t give off the heat that a standard bulb does.
    Your garden is gorgeous!! I think of you often when I’m out in my garden

  12. Hello,
    We are in Colorado. We are not totally shut down but told to limit our trips out. We are decently stocked up. My husband is working from home. It is a strange time. But, I am glad for the skills I have learned from this website. Here are some frugal accomplishments:
    – Cooked meals at home were: chicken soup that lasted a couple of days, lentil soup, spaghetti, tacos….
    – We have been walking everyday outside for exercise.
    – Picked up some free lunches at the school district to stretch what we have on hand.
    – Signed up for some free seeds and free Sirius Subscription. The links for these are on my blog: https://lizsfrugalfamilyfun.com/
    – Signed up for a free trial of audible so that I could get two free books for my children to listen to.
    – Sign up for a free 4 week trial of Adventures in Odyssey. My kids love this series.
    – Reading lots of books.
    – Put the kids on a schedule (ages 9 and 14) to help them stay focused.
    – I have been doing surveys and tasks on Swagbucks and other sites for cash since I am home.
    – That’s about all I can think of!
    Blessings and keep safe everyone!
    Liz

  13. Good luck with your mandarin tree and closer planting in your garden. You make remarkable use of you yard space. We have mostly saved money but not being able to spend it on what we usually do! I live in California so we are under “shelter in place” order and almost everything is closed including hair salons and dog groomers which were 2 appointments I had coming up.

    Although I had built up a pantry and supplies in case of an earthquake or other emergency disruption I am finding where I feel we don’t have enough back up or their are gaps. As a result I’ve ordered extra dog food and supplies and buying more first aid and illness supplies.

    Although we are retired and thus have a stable income, I am very concerned about the millions of people in this country and the world who have lost income. Thanks for offering the resources you do to help them.

  14. Your garden photos are beautiful, and the sweet hummingbird is darling. It is sad to lose a fruit tree. We realized yesterday that the fire ants killed one of our plum trees. I’ve got a bucket of compost tea brewing, so we can try a new concoction of the tea, molasses and orange oil on the ant mounds. I hope it works. It’s been a pretty normal week here too. We’ve continued to get orders in, which is such a blessing. Hummus, yogurt and lemon balm tea were made, in addition to all our dinners. Yesterday, I cut up a huge winter squash. Half was baked, and I canned the other half today. I learned about uses for purple dead nettle and forsythia, both of which are available here now. I gathered some of the forsythia flowers, and have them drying. Onions and potatoes are sprouting in the garden. I’ve enjoyed some of the music that is being shared online. Stay well, everyone. https://abelabodycare.blogspot.com/2020/03/the-first-spring-days-frugal.html

    1. Laurie, we use to have fire ants in our yard. We got rid of them without using anything on them. Ants are territorial so you need 2 people for this job and to work quickly. My husband and i get a shovel of the ant mound dirt which includes ants and switch them. The ants will fight to the death to protect the mounds which will usually eliminate both mounds. But, act quickly when moving the dirt so you do n9t get bitten. My husband and i have done this for over 20 years and have never been bitten.

      1. I love this! Truly organic, too! Almost makes me wish I had fire ants so I could try it out. (OK, I don’t wish that at all).

    2. Laurie, could you share what you used the purple dead nettle and forsythia for? Our forsythia is all leaves now, it the nettle is a card in my summer garden.

  15. Beautiful picture of the bird, Brandy! Amazing!

    We did go to the store this weekend, but I now feel I have everything I need to be isolated for a good while if need be. My heart and prayers go out to all the people in the service industry who are being hurt financially with all of this.

    My accomplishments this week:

    • Used free tea and toiletries, washed ziplocks and foil and used ½ dryer sheets and ran only full loads the in washer and dishwasher during off peak times.
    • Ate in 7 times. We had rosemary, garlic & lemon chicken I cooked in the Instant Pot with rice and grey squash; Chicken, tomato and squash fettucine, made with some of the chicken leftover from the night before and tomatoes and squash I got from the produce rescue; corned beef, cabbage, carrots and potatoes; Chicken and rice soup made from the rest of the leftover Instant Pot Chicken, broth and rice with homemade biscuits; homemade hamburger and rice a roni casserole; shrimp scampi; and steak, baked potato, spaghetti squash and salad.
    • Hubby worked from home all week, saving gas money. We also ate leftovers out of the freezer for lunches. I always save my leftovers in single serving containers for this purpose.
    • I dehydrated the carrots and 2 cucumbers I got last week from the produce rescue. Also cut up and froze the watermelon, canned 8 pints of dill pickle slices and 6 pints of dill pickle relish.
    • Hung 2 of 3 loads of laundry.
    • Made muffins using the grey squash I had shredded last week. I used the liquid from the squash to mix my dry milk up and used that also.
    • Since we didn’t go anywhere, I didn’t use any makeup and wore old clothes.
    • I have a collection of teacups and teapots. As a fun thing to do while we are isolated, I have been drinking tea out of a different teacup each day and then posting a picture of the cup on Facebook.
    • I am NOT a seamstress, but I do have a sewing box with a small amount of fabric from projects I’ve done. Decided to take down the box and see what materials I have. I had enough quilted fabric and lace to make 3 tea cozies, which I did. I will give these as gifts to sister and nieces.

    Keeping you all in my prayers.

  16. How things change in just a week! The Ohio Primary election that we were scheduled to work at last Tuesday got postponed at 11 PM Monday night due to health concerns. While we looked forward to receiving election pay in a couple weeks, we are grateful that our governor has been proactive regarding our health!
    Since we have adequate supplies here at home, we have stayed out of the stores so that others who don’t have the stocked pantry we do can get what they need!

    I made some lasagna and froze them into 4 foil Dollar Tree pans for dinners in the future. I did the same with a South of the Border casserole that is like layered chicken enchiladas. For that one, I used leftover turkey in the fridge, homemade salsa (also in fridge); I made the milk needed for recipe using some of my non-instant powdered milk from my food storage (to save our jugs milk in fridge for drinking). I baked up one for dinner and packaged and froze 3 others for easy meals for later!
    Then I made 18 carrot/raisin muffins using my DIY muffin mix. We are truly blessed by the variety of the ingredients we have here at home.
    One of my younger friends needed brown sugar and couldn’t find any sugar of any kind at her nearby stores, so I offered to make her some using my sugar and molasses. I haven’t bought brown sugar in 5 years because I’m using up a gallon of molasses that I had in my food storage! Lol! She insisted on giving us an apple pie that she and her daughter made! They love making pies! I can’t make a pie crust to save my life! Good reminder that we all have something we can share/give!

    We filled our car with gas for $1.47/gallon! This was without any discounts!! That is unbelievable, but we don’t see gas anywhere in our area for over $1.85!

    We have a budget level pay for our natural gas for heating house,water and clothes dryer so that in the winter the amount we pay doesn’t spike! It makes it easy to budget because it’s the same amount every month- since Aug last year until July 2020, it is $96. (Remember- we are in Ohio where it gets cold, in a 5200 square foot 130 year old house! We have a tankless hot water heater and replaced two of our 3 gas furnaces about 3 years ago.) This month, our bill came and it was only $77 because that’s all that was left of our balance including current charges! I suspect next month may be even less!! Yay!!

    Our electric bill also went down considerably! I budget $175 and it’s been less than that for a while. (We have 3 electric meters- a holdover from when the house was divided into 3 separate apartments.) This month the total bill was $100.44!! Truly amazing!!

    I found the veggie seed packets I bought in January so I will be able to start direct-seeding my raised beds this next week.
    We were able to pick up the 2 new “Started Pullets” we ordered from a hatchery to add to our layers. They will start laying with the next 4 weeks! We are glad that, after the long winter of molting and darkness, they are ramping up their egg production!

    Our aprium tree has begun to flower and the peach trees are maybe a week behind it with their flowering! The nectarine has budded out as have the cherries, pears and apples! We are hoping to have a nice harvest this year!

    We may not be out on a farm or homestead with acreage, but on our little “farm” here in the ‘hood, in very urban neighborhood, we are happy to grow/raise more than we would have expected! One of those “Bloom where you’re Planted” moments (quite literally! LOL!)

    We held our own family worship service on Sunday with our Sacrament (communion)- Hubs, Son, me + 3 other single seniors from our congregation who live nearby. It was a truly tender experience! The frugal part is that before they came over, I made a bag up for each of them with a frozen lasagna, peanut butter and homemade strawberry jam, deli turkey that I got on sale to make more pinwheels, sliced cheese, loaf of bread, baguette, and sandwich buns. And some vacuum sealed pint jars with pecan pie snack mix. My pantry didn’t even notice the difference but the looks in their eyes, I will never forget! How blessed we are to have enough to share!!

    1. It is absolutely amazing to me that gas can be that price somewhere! It was $2.49 here last week and my husband was shocked, as a few months ago it was $3.49.

  17. We have a very few overwintering hummingbirds here, but more birds usually start showing back up in March, so I am watching the feeders for our returnees. How great that you got a shot of one sitting still for a rare minute!

    I am working from home, as is my whole office (only 7 people) and there are some limitations — I don’t have a printer, for instance, and one with a scanner would be even better. The one I had finally died this past winter. I expect to go to the office one day a week to pick up prints that I can send to the office printer from home, plus go through mail, etc. Some people I know get no pay for a while. At least we aren’t at that point yet. I will save a lot on gas — I normally drive over 100 miles every day for work.

    I took the bull by the horns this last few days and replaced the wax ring on a toilet and re-hung a door that my husband knocked off the hinges entirely with his motorized scooter. He’s damaged quite a few corners and doors with that thing, but he damaged them with his un-motorized wheelchair, too, so I can’t say the scooter is worse to have around the house.

    I’ve started decluttering some areas in earnest.

    I was able to buy what I needed at the grocery store, and got meat from my local farmer, who thoughtfully carried the package to my trunk and loaded it into the cooler for me, picking up the payment from the cooler where I had left it. Most people at the stores left distance, but some walked right up by me. I’m not so worried about myself, but my husband is very high risk for serious complications should he get it.

    While I was shopping I saw someone stocking up on toilet paper. She had three giant packages — there were no less than 60 rolls in her cart, and very little food. I suppose she and the man I saw carrying out about 40 rolls worth could have very large families, but what’s more likely is that people are still over-stocking, to the detriment of others who find shelves empty when they go. Some stores have signs begging customers to quit over-stocking and just take what they need for a week or two. Many of our local stores now limit how many of certain items a person may check out. I’m so glad I read this blog and had already seen to it that we had some foods and items in place just in case. I actually was preparing for hurricane season, but this applies, too.

    I juiced the last of our lemons — my tree isn’t producing like Brandy’s, yet, but I have hopes for later — and froze most of it. I didn’t get enough to last us till next harvest, but I hope to finally reach that point.

    Our loquat tree is producing a moderate crop. If we can beat the squirrels and birds to them, that is. We usually just eat them fresh from the tree, but sometimes I make jelly from some of them. The fig tree is leafing out nicely and the blueberry bushes have some blooms and tiny berries.

    Here’s hoping this period of sheltering is short and the viral run is diminished and fades away quickly!

  18. Have you looked at Nagami Kumquats? They are small bushes which fruit in the winter, need a hot summer (they like 100+) but can tolerate down to -10 degrees. Each plant produces 100s of fruits. They have sweet skin and a tart center, become sweeter after the first frost and make wonderful jam. Very hardy. My great grandmother grew them in Texas as they are both heat and frost tolerant, don’t get blown over and are very nutritious. They even give you iron, b vitamins and folate as well as vitamin c.

    I’m a nurse and longtime reader. I’ve been part of hospital preparations for Covid19 and in my area we are in the calm before the storm phase where fewer people are being hospitalized due to elective surgeries being canceled and not yet having the influx of cases from the virus yet.

    I have been starting seeds under a grow light in my basement for flowers and food for my garden and am now starting more seeds and hardening off seedlings. I’m hoping to have carnations, cosmos, zinnias, dahlias, bee balm, bells of Ireland, eucalyptus, snapdragons and sunflowers. It’s my first year growing cut flowers other than roses so I’ve been doing a lot of reading.

    We homeschool 2 of our 3 children so only one is out of school (he has level 3 nonverbal autism and is in a special needs program normally). I have been helping out my public and private schooling coworkers learn how to find resources and teach their children. There are suddenly a large number of people discovering that it’s actually a lot of work and uniquely rewarding.

  19. We are in Virginia and they just announced that schools will be closed for the remainder of the school year. I work for the schools, so this is a strange feeling for us with lots of uncertainty. We are still waiting for direction about what all this means.
    In the meantime, I have pulled my 4 year old out of daycare permanently and this saves us 460 a month! We are looking forward to that savings for the time being.
    This weeks I made everything from scratch. Literally everything! Out of necessity of course. Tortillas, bread, rolls, oatmeal breakfast bars….you name it, I feel like I made it. We are also adjusting to homeschooling and I am thankful to have the opportunity to teach my children, even if just a little. We cant afford for me to stay home otherwise, so I am trying to make the best of this situation.
    Thankfully our pantry is well stocked, thanks to reading this blog for the last 10 years 🙂

    1. Hi Bobbi. I am also Bobbi from Virginia! I live in Chesterfield County near Richmond. I just heard about the schools closing for the rest of the year. Take care!

  20. I’m going to be honest, I came here this afternoon strictly for some inspiration. Oh what joy this post does!

    Crossed everything off my to do list from 2019. It feels wonderful. I started a new list of things that need done in the coming weeks. I made sure to add things for rainy cold days too.
    With 6 bones from chicken thighs, I made a quart and a half of broth, also used leftovers in quesadillas for lunch now that we are both working from home.
    Mailed my parents a care package. We opted to quarantine from each other – just to be on the safe side. I added second hand dvds and some goodies from my pantry. Recently a magazine had a long article on a particular subject of interest of my mothers. I printed the whole article (instead of buying the magazine which besides that article would not have been of use to her) and added that in the package as well. I’ve been trying to help my dad with his brain games by sitting on the phone with him, while remoted into his computer so I can watch or play a little to with him.
    I started another care package of memory game cards (printed off my computer) and a few more dvds and I will bake a little something to add to it.

    Downloaded a book onto my kindle app (a book recommended here) using credits from Amazon for “slow shipping”. I had enough the book was free.

    I find myself doing fine until about 3pm every day – then I start to feel down. I’m finding listening to music is helping that a little.

    I recycled some potting soil and added some organic fertilizer to it to plant salad greens and spinach. I can plants peas as soon as the rain stops.

    Wishing everyone calm week(s) ahead.

  21. Firstly, I am very grateful to Brandy and all of the other folks who post on the blog each week! I so look forward to and especially during these uncertain times. We are well all things considered. One of the mom’s of my son’s classmate gave us a huge bag of huge lemons. They aren’t that juicy, but we’re looking into figuring out how to not let the rind go to waste. Zest maybe? Vitamin C power? My son has been able to pick up breakfast and lunch from school each day….cereal, milk, fruit, sandwich, carrots, muffins. This has been quite the blessing! Then, last week, they extended to all family members in the household regardless of age. So we picked up enough for the week for my son, husband, mother in law and I. Today they even gave out boxes of girl scout cookies. They will do this next week as well but not the week after, as it is the school’s spring break. My husband has been working diligently on the vegetable garden in the yard. We had a small harvest last year. We are looking forward to seeing what happens this year. I have been working from home due to self quarantine (son exposed at school); we are 8 days in. My job is looking into remote working for the foreseeable future. My husband got cut to two days per week now. We are hoping he will still be able to keep his health insurance. The rest of our family is under my policy. We took inventory of what we had when this all started a few weeks ago. We have been buying shelf stable food when it has been available. We are pretty well stocked for the next couple of months. Stay safe everyone!!!!!!

    1. If you put the lemons in your microwave for 20-30 seconds, it is supposed to “loosen up” (for lack of a better phrase) the juice. I have not tried this but if you search online, there are a number of sites that give this as a tip. Good luck.

  22. Thank you for the beautiful and restful photos of your garden!
    Last week was really busy for us. I spend most of the week going through many of the 50 suggestions of projects to work on with extra time, because we were putting our house on the market. My house is very clean now and looks and feels great! We had five showings on Saturday and had 3 offers on the house. We signed a final contract yesterday and I feel very blessed to have been able to sell the house to buyers who will love the house as we have. We had to be out of our home for a couple of hours and didn’t have a place to go–no libraries, movie theaters, etc. are open. We spend the time at our neighbor’s across the street talking and .knitting.
    This week I plan to do more reading, walking, and working on projects that aren’t as physically demanding as painting, packing and deep cleaning!
    We ate from our pantry, with one stop at the store, and have supplies for quite a while yet. I plan on baking tomorrow and taking some goodies to share with neighbors.
    We did a lot of recent decluttering too, but ironically, many of the donation centers have now closed, so there is no place to drop things off!
    We also had some minor earthquakes which left me trembling…. but we are healthy, safe, and have what we need.
    Please be well and safe.

  23. Hi to all.
    We had a last min appt 4 hrs away that was suppose to happen today but was moved to last Thurs. we made it but forgot several things for the trip. We got to see our daughter in same trip so that was fun.
    We ate in all week except for one meal on trip had to order it and eat in the car:(Another night to support a local pizza place we love, we picked up a large pizza. The pizza fed us for several meals.
    My husband had a dr appt that was changed to a phone call but because of hard time understanding, our dr met us outside his building. I was able to talk to him also, about my pinched nerve. I’m finally sleeping better!
    We had an expensive shopping trip to Walmart but felt we needed more food. I’m praying that we do not need to do that again.
    We received a big check from our old mortgage company so that will go to the principal with our new mortgage company.
    Our daughter had car problems on Saturday… car is being towed to dealership today 🙁
    We are still getting lots of tomatoes and celery from our garden. So I have been eating lots of tomato sandwiches and celery & peanut butter. 🙂
    I continue to walk our dogs for exercise. Our libraries closed last week until ?
    I have been texting my sibs and mom more to stay in touch and sending funny things. Thank goodness for technology!
    That is all I can think of. I hope all have a good week.

  24. Sweet sugar cookie gets cabin fever quite fast. I have pulled out a host of activities to occupy her time. New board games, knitting kit, a crocheting kit , and several new movies. The Washington post had several articles on sour dough starters and a link to multiple virtual tours of museums. We have several home repair projects we would like to do but the rain is hindering those. Any much needed yard work can only be done during the few dry spells. We made a large stuffed green pepper casserole that lasted three days. The last time the economy collapsed , it had severe and lasting consequences for me. Hindsight is a beautiful thing . During our lasting struggles, I realized I should have taken extreme measures immediately. This time we are much better prepared. The one are I hadn’t thought of was how my now young adults would cope. Two have had school closed. Both have lost their jobs. One is moving home. There are issues over car insurance and cell phone bills. All of these issues have been paused and reduced. All non essentials are canceled. Credit cards suspended. I delivered TP to two families from my stockpile. My terminal mother requested 50 cans of beans. I’m happy for all of the many soup recipes that Brandy has. I am meal planning with everything we have in stock. My intent is to stretch it as far as we can. I’ve explained that the meat and potatoe meals are being replaced with soups, casseroles, pastas and sandwichs. We have plenty but feeding 5 adults is more than I expected. If I’m overreacting , that’s fine . My lessons learned 10 years ago were brutal. This time we are prepared due to the great inspiration that Brandys original story provided me so many years ago. I hope everyone is well and making do the best they can.

    1. Lilliana,
      We use Ting for cellphones. It’s pay-as you-use, so there’s incentive to curb addictive behavior. You can use your unlocked phone and th customer service is great. I only have a cellphone in case of emergencies, and my basic bill is about $7 per month.

    2. Lilliana… you are correct in how you are acting. Better safe than sorry. In 2008 I had a daughter and a friend putting food on the table because Hubby complained about my pantry… He learned quickly.

  25. The 13yo was at my mother in laws when schools decided to shut down here until April 3rd. We told her she could stay through this week for sure, saving gas to go up there and back.

    Rented a movie at Redbox 1x using a .75 off code

    My mom sent over frozen biscuits, sausage pattys, instant oatmeal packets, and a 1/2 gallon of milk. I didn’t need the milk so I just passed it on to someone else.

    Restaurants here went to drive through or carry out only, so in an effort to help out a bit, we got takeout one evening. Less than $20 and we got a ton of food, both of us had enough for meals the next day(I ate on mine a total of 3 times)

    Working on reading the library books on my desk, nothing is due before April 4 because of the libraries being shut down, so I’m trying to get everything read and able to be returned when they open

    Hubby fixed a couple small house issues this weekend. He also changed the oil in his truck and replaced the water pump in it himself this week, saving quite a bit over taking it to a mechanic.

    Since hubby is still working, I’m making sure everything gets paid on time even though every place seems to be offering deferments. I dont want to rack up late charges or out of control bills that will make it even harder to pay.

  26. Brandy, I thought of you today while I was at the grocery store. I saw 20 lb bags of #2 grade red potatoes for $2.88 each. What a bargain-they look really good. Plenty to get us through the pandemic and share with anyone nearby who wants some. DH and I are both keeping well so far. DD is finishing up her uni semester online-we sent her a little extra $ yesterday as she said the grocery store nearby was cleaned out of meat and so she went to a butcher. She will be applying for EI online as her uni job laid everyone off for now. DH and I finished out income taxes this morning and do owe some but… We also just received our car insurance bill in the mail which was less than we expected. Crazy times for all of us-stay safe and well everyone.

    1. Brandy, it sounds like your garden is giving you a nice harvest already. Snow peas and asparagus are so very good straight from the garden. We have a fresh covering of snow this morning, but it melted by suppertime. I think I can start planting the snow peas next week so hopefully we will have a warmer day so my husband can till our raised garden beds. I too am trying to think how I can plant more. I have been reading “We Had Everything But Money”, which is a book with stories about how families got through the depression and helped others. A common comment is that they turned their whole backyards into gardens for food.

      Our state (Wisconsin) is starting a “Safer at Home” order tomorrow, which is the same as Shelter in Place, but is supposed to have a more positive ring? We have been at home for almost two weeks now and my husband is working from home. My 15 yo has cabin fever already. Our winter lingers in March and into April sometimes so while the weather doesn’t help, he just misses going here and there and seeing his friends. We homeschool, but he is so used to getting out with a few outside classes and hanging out with friends. My 18 yo is bored as the college gave him two weeks of spring break and then they go online. I reminded the boys that we have so much to be thankful for. We could be in a 3rd world country or a refugee already experiencing many challenges and issues with food availability and healthcare and that seems to put it into perspective quickly.

      I finally finished cleaning out all of my kitchen cabinets so I can move on to the pantry this week. I am trying to do some deep cleaning in the house as it’s hard to squeeze deep cleaning in once our lawn and gardens need tending. I have extra spring clean-up in my perennial gardens this spring as winter arrived early last October and I did not have my fall clean up done. Other than that, I am busy in the kitchen and have decided to make cookies more often as every time I bake cookies, I just feel cozy and content.

      I think it is so nice of you to make masks, Brandy. Yes, if you are facing wearing a scarf or a bandanna, a sewn mask would be preferable. With all you do, I’m not sure how you fit that in too, but it is such an inspiration for all of us to do some thing to help others in this uncertain time.

  27. My husband is laid off and I am actually happy about it. I was so worried he would get sick. I think we should be alright. We are cooking exclusively at home. Not going anywhere but the drive through at the pharmacy. We went to our local store last week and hope to not have to go to the store for awhile. I’ve been talking to my grandchildren on the phone. We did pick up some fruit trees and are planting them today. I ordered seeds and home to have a nice big garden this year. Tired of the news. I haven’t read any news today. We have been enjoying the outdoors on our land. It is in the upper 40’s and lower 50’s today. I planned on cooking beans 2 to 3 times a week. But I have been cooking a bean dish almost every day for at least one meal. It really is amazing how many different ways there are to cook beans with different spices. The slow cooker has been cooking Great Northern beans with carrots and onion and caraway seed with garlic all day. It smells so good. I found the recipe online. Later I add sausage and cabbage. The recipe calls for turkey sausage but I am going to use Kielbasa because that is what I have. Yum! I want to make Falafel this week. We ate chili, Black bean burgers, egg salad, Grilled cheese, Ravioli and green peas, oatmeal, cereal, scrambled eggs and some fruit.

    1. Hi Tammy,

      Your meals sound delicious! Too bad about your husband’s job but he really should be isolating at home so it is a relief.
      I have a falafel mix that I will try. Stay safe! Ann

      1. Hi Ann,
        Thank-you. I like having my husband home. We are under a stay at home mandate starting tonight. I cried last night because my granddaughter’s birthday is tomorrow. But we dropped off a present at the door and watched her open it through a window today. These are crazy times! I pray that we all stay healthy.
        Tammy

  28. I see so few hummingbirds that I didn’t even recognize the guest in your photo! When I saw the name, though, I recognized the bill.
    We have been in somewhat self-isolation for a week already, so our state now having two weeks mandated sequestering won’t affect us much. We have supplies stocked up, partly because I always keep us stocked up. The hardest part is to make sure our special-needs son doesn’t feel disrupted too much, in food or routine. The library reopening will be a day of great celebration!
    We postponed buying a new-to-us vehicle because the car fund was in our now less valuable stocks. We had a large repair done on our current vehicle instead, to last a year or more, as we won’t be driving long distances for a while anyway.
    We started doing a beginner’s Tai Chi routine from YouTube once a day for five minutes. Small things matter, we tell ourselves.
    I am starting to pull out postcards to mail to friends to liven up their deliveries, (Mari and Jenifer mentioned doing that above). No one has ever told me that I should quit mailing cards to them.
    Hoping to take advantage of one of the two days of sunshine in the next two weeks’ forecast to hang laundry outside. We are almost done with below-freezing weather at night.
    Regarding wearing masks or bandannas, even if they aren’t completely virus-proof, they do serve as a reminder to not touch your face, and perhaps remind other people to keep a distance away.

  29. I cancelled two subscriptions saving $25/mo. We inventoried our freezers and pantry. Not necessarily immediate money savings, but in the long run it will help us to not buy duplicates. We’ve also turned down our heat on cold days to 63 instead of 66.

  30. Here in Ohio mulberries do grow to a large size so we can eat them pretty easily. If yours are small they do make a really good jelly. You could also juice them and use the juice with lemons for a flavored lemonade.

    1. The heat makes them quite tiny here. I have made jelly with them before; I still have some! We just don’t eat it as much, but we are starting to make some again. I like it in smoothies, though, with other fruits.

  31. I have a little hydroponic garden that produces a lot of salads for my husband and me- the replacement pods are too expensive but I found peat inserts that could be bought in bulk for a fraction of the price. Those and a single packet of mixed lettuce seeds keep us in greens regularly. I also re-purposed a galvanized horse trough into a planter and chives, parsley, cilantro and others are coming up nicely from seed. And the tiny wild type tomatoes- very sweet- have reseeded themselves each year around the trough. I figure anything that can survive in the desert heat and produce fruit can stay.

    We’ve been reading up the books we already have on hand, thrift shop finds or books passed along by friends. My husband has downloaded a few e-books from the library- thank goodness that service is still available.

  32. I do enjoy your flowers, Brandy. Thank you for sharing your beautiful photos. This week has been a quiet one as we hunker down here at home. I am thankful for jobs for my family, electricity, internet, projects to beautify our house and a calm president. I’m taking the suggestion of your readers and purposefully saying what I thankful for each and everyday. Might I just say that getting to know this community has been so valuable, but is even more so now. Thank you Brandy and my dear virtual friends.

    This week we doubled down on waste making sure that all the food was used so none would be tossed. The expired table has been put on hold, so I’ve been using whatever I’ve stashed away.

    Frugally:

    *mended a shirt for my husband
    *made beef jerky and squirreled away two packages of extra dried for future hiking trips.
    *walked/snowshoed for free
    *Found an online free exercise routine to use for strengthening. I’m still so weak and realize it will take a very long time to get strong again. But I will!
    *finished another online book and continue to watch shows for free through the library. I also listen to a book on tape through the Libby app. Our library has closed, but removed the digital borrowing limits.
    *cut the dogs’ food back a little when I realized they were looking a bit plump.
    *put away the electric heater and am only lighting a fire for the chilly mornings. I’m always looking to save on electric costs.
    *now that the cardboard has Sat long enough to kill any viruses, I’m tearing up the saved boxes from the storage shed. We use old newspaper, cardboard and toilet paper tubes stuffed with dryer lint to start fires here.
    *am sewing outdoor pillows for our deck chairs from supplies I bought on deep discount in February. I’ll make each pillow for under 10$ and they cost upwards of 70$ each.
    *I have to wipe down all the things I touch in the house daily and am almost out of disinfectant wipes. I decided not to have my husband hunt for them and to switch to making my own using paper towels. I’d use cloth, but I really need to be sure that this virus doesn’t linger and infect me. Praying Psalm 91 with the family nightly and taking all the precautions we can.

    Everyday I am feeling a bit better. I keep thinking that I’ll wake and have my bounding energy back, but it appears to be a slow process. I’m really thankful that my hair is growing back thick and full. It’s a comical sight right now as it stands on end. Keeps us chuckling during these difficult days. Blessings to all.

    1. I hope you get your energy back. I am a ten year cancer survivor and never got all my energy back. However I am 66 years old and still hanging in there after ten years. My best wishes to you on your post cancer journey

      1. Thank you, Nancy. I’m mentally prepared if it doesn’t return full strength, but praying it does. Praying you get an energy boost as well. Trish

      1. Patricia,

        I expect the summer will be a real help when I can get outdoors more. Keep yourself safe and sound during these days.
        Trish

  33. Great pictures, Brandy! I love the hummingbird!
    I switched my Costco membership to Auto Renew to receive a $20 Costco gift card.
    We cooked and ate all but one meal at home. We went through the McDonald’s drive-thru after DH had a medical procedure…he hadn’t eaten for 13-14 hours and his blood sugar took a dive. Incidentally, we’ve been eating better than usual.
    I bought bone-in chicken breasts for .99 lb. and 3 packages of top sirloin for $3.99 lb. I gave one package to a friend.
    I had the meat man run one package of sirloin through the tenderizer twice for cube steaks. I cut the meat into smaller portions and froze. I skinned and de-boned the chicken breasts and froze them individually. I watched a You Tube to see how it is done and discovered the way I was doing it was “right.” Mine are a mess when I finish, and so were theirs, LOL. But they are much faster than I am. (Now I remember why I don’t do this).
    I made chicken stock with the the breast skin and meaty bones.
    I made bread crumbs with leftover dry bread.
    In the garden…my beets bombed last year, but at least one went to seed and is giving me free plants this year. I looked it up online and discovered beets transplant easily. We sprayed the dwarf fruit trees with dormant oil, although they are probably too young to produce this year. The strawberries are putting out new leaves like crazy and I’m expecting a bumper crop again!
    I have 3 pansies that re-seeded themselves and can be moved to fill the holes in the pansies that edge the pink climbing rose bed. More free plants!
    I spent the weekend using leftover paint to paint a secretary/chest that was mine when I was growing up. It was cheap furniture, but solid maple (typical in the 1950s)…not worth refinishing, though. This has been on my to-do list for about 3 months, so I had already bought new pulls. I have a partial roll of wallpaper to line the drawers.
    I’ve saved the best for last–I ordered from Canada a 90-day supply of the generic version of the drug I take for my messed-up digestive system. The generic has been approved for sale in the US since 2017, but no one here stocks it. I am getting a 90-day supply for $98.50 including shipping. My co-pay on the brand-name Rx is $255 every 90 days. This will save me $626 per year and, for even greater savings, it will keep me out of the donut hole this year. My gastro guy (a Canadian!) was really impressed I found this and asked for all of the info. I found two pharmacies by just typing in the drug name at pharmacychecker dot com. In case you are worried about me, this drug is sourced from India, not China!
    I understand there are several cases of the coronavirus in the county where Winter plans to be married. (Also in the neighboring county, where my son lives). Is this going to affect the date of the wedding? Best wishes to her and her young man.

    1. They have closed the temple there Maxine as of last night. They have a marriage license and can get married civilly, and have their temple sealing at a later date. We figured this was coming.

      1. My daughter works at David’s Bridal. They shut down until at least the end of March and had to call 150 people to reschedule alterations appointments. A number of people said no problem, they had to reschedule their weddings anyway. One of her friends from grade school and his fiancee are now getting married at the end of August, rather than in mid-April.

        1. It’s been the talk of my photography groups. Unfortunately, they will lose their housing if they are not married. They had originally planned August, but under our earlier encouragement had moved it to April. We’ll miss them, but this is the right thing at this time.

    2. Maxine,
      Not to rain on your parade but India has a complete lock-down for 21 days and there is some concern about drugs made in India for the U.S. market not being available.

      Also, I feel sad that you have to shop for drugs from Canada to get a decent price. When all of the covid problem is finally over, you should all be
      lobbying for reasonably priced drugs. Ann

      1. Ann, I was notified of this when I ordered. Almost 100% of generic drugs are sourced from India or China, and I for one would prefer India! (And that was before the coronavirus). The US can’t negotiate drug pricing because of Medicare/Medicaid rules. (One of those things that probably seemed like a good idea at the time but is strangling us now). If Trump is re-elected, I expect this (and other healthcare problems) to change during his second term.

  34. Forgot to mention–my daughter and I made bath bombs for my gift-a-month in March. Unfortunately, they all flopped (literally!). So, I’ll be trying again, this time with a little less moisture. We can use the flops for bath salts, but gifts they will not be!

  35. Hi everyone,

    I hope everyone is doing well! I’m in the unfortunate position of trying to find a job in this economic crisis (I have been looking since the new year, so that I can leave my graduate school program). A few companies have informed me of a hiring freeze, which is unfortunate. One other company has a guaranteed budget, but would require me to move across the country. It’s tough- I’m also worried that even if I get a job offer, it may get rescinded.

    Here’s how we saved money this week:

    * Read a few books from the library and played games on our conputers/consoles for entertainment.

    * Made all meals at home, including pizza, turkey and sweet potato chili, cornish pasties, fried rice (using mung beans sprouted from my food storage), and a few loaves of bread.

    * Ran out of a few items but made do without them, rather than make another trip to the store.

    * My SO has been off work for the week (the factory has been closed since Thursday), so no gas money spent (but also no income, which is unfortunate).

    * Organized some of the toiletries we have and found some products that we can use up.

    * Did some deep cleaning and laundry with my extra time.

    Have a healthy and well week.

  36. I have to admit, I have been very lazy the last year being frugal. We had our house on the market from July to December and moved in January. Then I went on two trips. My father in law was put on hospice and mother in law broke her neck so I went to help her for 2 weeks. So, I am just settling back into normal routine.

    My husband is still working as if now, but is only able to go in 2.5 days. He cannot bring his work home, so is trying to do some training at home on the other days. After he finishes that we will have to start using sick days and vacation days. Thankfully we have an emergency fund as well.

    I went to the store at the beginning of the virus scare and got frozen chicken, some pork loin chops, roast, and ground beef. I also got some deli sliced turkey and ham. I stocked green beans, broth, frozen and fresh vegetables. I am working through the fresh vegetables first. My pantry is not as stocked since we moved in January and I have spent 6 weeks away from home after that, but I do have things to eat for a few weeks. I am getting my grandson for 8 weeks this Thursday. So I am going to run out tomorrow and make sure to get things he will eat. We have been eating low carb, and I am not sure he will eat a lot if it. He is 3. My daughter and her husband are in the Seattle area working at hospitals there. They closed his daycare so she was going to have to send him to a new one and just doesnt want to risk him getting the virus.

    I have basically been very cautious to use leftovers and fresh food and stretch it as far as I can. I bought a rotisserie chicken at Walmart the day I shopped and picked off the meat, then boiled the bones for broth and froze that. I made a chicken and cauliflower rice soup later with it. I have been making chaffles, oh my, good! one egg and 1/2 cup cheese in the waffle maker makes 2 chaffles. I tried sugar free syrup on it and it was good. I am going to try adding cooked sausage to it.

    I cut my husbands hair with clippers.
    I had lettuce that was wilting. I cut the root end off and put in a pot outside. It is already growing new leaves. I took the leaves I had cut from the root and out in a butter container if water and they crisped back up. I have another thing if lettuce I will use to plant from also.. I bought a ginger root to plant. I also took seeds from tri colored peppers and planted in Keurig cups in the coffee grounds. I have them in the window to see if they will grow.

    I unpacked all my sewing room. I am making masks for my daughter tomorrow. Then I am going to start on quilts using my dads shirts.

    I have a bunch of crafts and movies planned to do with my grandson. And we can walk around the block. I am going to save seeds from vegetables to plant with him. I have a strawberry plastic container and 2 liter bottle to make greenhouses.

    I am using Duolingo to learn French.
    I have a stack of books from thrift stores to read.
    I picked up workout DVDs from the thrift store for $1 each.
    I have crochet thread and am learning to crochet dishcloth.
    I am organizing embroidery files on the computer

    I have an embroidery business, but have it on hiatus right now with everything going on in our life.

    1. Bama, how nice of you to take care of your grandson during this time. I will keep your daughter and her family in my prayers. My oldest son works at a Seattle hospital too, but just has to go in a few days a week as he is in IT. I am so grateful for our healthcare workers. I pray that they will get the proper safety equipment that they need soon.

    2. It’s so nice that you can take care of your grandson. Here in the Seattle area, the schools are closed but are required to provide free daycare for children of first responders and medical professionals. That’s a great service, but I still worry that the virus will spread through the daycares. It’s wonderful that you are able to take that worry away and get the bonus of time with your grandson!

  37. I know many of you are facing quarantine for the first time. We’ve been at it for over 4 weeks now. We have managed to keep on track for school and work by going virtual in most aspects. Eating from the pantry and meal planning has worked for us too. I’ve found a few new recipes to keep things from going bad. I’ve broke out the sewing machine and made a few masks out of clothing destined for the bin. I made sweet potato bread, banana pancakes, banana chocolate chip muffins, and others to use up stuff but also for snacks to avoid the temptation to run to the store.
    Good luck and stay safe!

  38. -I accepted another half bushels of last fall’s apples. I’ll make sauce as soon as my kitchen is operational again.
    -We were able to finish repairing the van and get it aligned. The shop gave us a coupon for $20 off.
    -I was able to go grocery shopping, but I think it will be the last time for the next month or so. Lots of things were still sold out, but most basics (food-wise) were still available. The things that were gone were mostly convenience foods! Cookies, chips, ice cream, lunch meat, bread, pasta and sauce, macaroni and cheese, and frozen meals were gone. I guess lots of people at home who don’t usually eat at home account for that. The only thing I’m running low on that I haven’t been able to find is yeast. I haven’t checked the Mennonite store. They aren’t open right now, but are accepting call in orders.
    -We celebrated two birthdays. One son turned 2 and another turned 10. We had an enjoyable time at home.
    -After being unable to find toilet paper (my huge purchase from November was almost gone) I found that the restaurant supply store would sell me a limit of 12 rolls.
    -Restarted my sour dough starter. Who needs yeast lol
    -Continued our kitchen remodel. Today (3/24) the countertops and sink/faucet will go in! Then we will finish up the doors for the lower cabinets and odds and ends.
    -Made plans for our garden and some chickens. We planned to buy a bus and convert it to an RV this spring but we’ve put that on hold. We’ll save most of the money we planned to spend and invest a little into making our 5 acres more productive.

  39. I love your blog, I plan to read your schedule post, because I am not sure how to get things done, I just started writing, and learning to make money slowly on the internet, we cannot shop for a week, but when we do since we can and I have neglected it, we will be building our dry ingredients in our pantry, I cannot buy food storage buckets yet because we do not have any money to spend, we spent it all. We cannot grocery shop for 4 more day, so making meals three times a day for 4 of us is getting tricky. I am going to check out your menus for tasty soups without meat.
    I have been praying about God showing us how to use what we have and this is how it went so far and i hope we can learn to grow our own food, we started the compost bucket but have not had alot to add to it.

    https://realandrawahidingplace.wordpress.com/2020/03/20/lately-i-have-been-thinking/

    1. Masquerade Jack,
      Your blog is wonderful! I love that it’s very real, not sugar coated. I look forward to reading more of it! Thanks for sharing it!

  40. We are hunkered down like everybody else, adjusting to the new normal, that changes daily, it seems!

    Thankfully, we had received our tax refund and had begun to stock things back up about 3 weeks before the virus scare happened. My husband just continued to go from store to store filling in the remaining gaps and was able to get all we needed. He’s also been shopping for a couple of other family members who should not be out and about at this time. Now, we are not shopping anymore, but instead using the pantry, freezers and home-preserved items. We will venture out again in a few days for fresh items, if we need to, or if immune-compromised family members need things.

    We are still able to work, as the kids we care for still need care. We’ve added homeschooling my nephew during the times we watch him. His parents homeschool him when I’m not there with him. Because he’s special needs, I’m able to do do some of the fun things, like crafts, that my daughter has grown out of. My husband has found a few simple science experiments and he’s helped him do those. We are reading a couple of books, and looking up videos on U-Tube on things that come up in the books that interest him, such as Africa’s Secretary bird (fascinating bird, by the way!). Our autistic niece has joined in with several of these activities, while we work with her, and especially loves the crafts. It’s been quite a bit of work to get these extra pieces of life organized, and keep our daughter’s schooling up, but we are committed that a new routine will be established for these kids. They thrive under routine, but resists changes….so it’s making the change that is the hard part. We are definitely not taking spring break off this year, since we’ve just got this new plan in place.

    I ordered a Biology Curriculum for my daughter. She is supposed to do it next year, but with all this time on her hands, she’s going to start it now. She will probably want to socialize a lot when this is over:)

    We worked for hours in the garden this past weekend. It was awesome that my brother-in-law could come over and help with the tilling. The big tiller is too much for me to handle, and my husband can’t do it anymore, either, because of his hip issues. Pictures are on my blog: http://beckyathome.com
    We got cabbage, broccoli, snow peas, lettuce, boc choi, Swiss chard, little onion starts, carrots and beets going over the past couple of work sessions. Those are the early items I wanted to plant, and it feels really, really good that the weather cooperated and we got them all in. This is early for us to be able to till around here, and our brief window of opportunity has now passed, as it is raining again.

    My daughter entered enough codes into the phone from the Safeway Monopoly game to win a $25 gift card for us. Go, Patsy!! People were not in a mood to play the game, they were stocking up, so we received huge handfuls of the little tickets one day as we shopped, and when she added those to what she had entered before, I was amazed and happy. We are saving this for later, since we have enough right now.

    One of my daughters works at a coffee shop/crepe shop. They are on take-out only. Our state is now on “stay-at-home” orders. All baristas have now been let go, except her and one other. She will work M-Th and the other one F-Sun. Others have been retained to cook the crepes. The hours of the restaurant have been drastically shortened. We will see how this pans out for her. She’d really like to keep the little house she rents with a room mate, but we shall see. We are trying to think about where we will put her if we need to find a space. To that end, my husband picked up a free twin bed frame that someone was giving away to put in the shop, just in case. We hope we don’t need it, but……They are going to pay April’s rent and hope for the best:).

    I’m pretty sure my husband won’t be getting surgery on April 20 anymore. His is considered elective. But, hopefully, he will get it when things begin to get better, so he’s still working hard to keep the weight down. It’s hard when the pool, his one place to exercise, has been closed. we are going to try to find some small weights around here so he can at least wave those around a bit—

    We are not wasting even tiny bits of food.
    We are disinfecting like crazy.
    And, we are praying without ceasing for all of those we know and love who are affected by this, which is pretty much everyone.

  41. Thank you for the lovely photos. Brandy. As many have mentioned, the one of the hummingbird is especially heart-warming. I’ll be s/he has lots of flowers to sip from in your garden.

    I don’t get the panic about toilet paper. This isn’t such an intestinal distress causing virus so???

    Anyway, we always bulk buy, so have plenty of everything, except fresh vegetables (which is why I’m ramping up my food-forest and vegetable beds. I did take a foraging class years ago and know what “weeds” are edible in the neighborhood and my yard. We don’t eat cucumbers but pellitory grows here in the winter, and we have it around and in the raised beds, so I’ve been adding it to salad. Purslane is very nutritious, but I have no luck growing it from seed or transplanting it, so I try to forage it from places in the swale where I know there’s been no poison applied. We’re strict vegetarians, so fresh vegetables are particularly important to us.

    I bought a mini-trampoline on Craig’s List several months ago and have been motivated to do some workouts on it. I also plan to start meditating.
    The acupuncture school near me offers free weekly Tai-Chi classes, but they are closed, and I forgot to take a video out of the library and now they’re closed. I really think if there can be drive-up food, there should be drive up books!

    My partner’s company offered permanent leave for eligible employees, and we decided he should try for it. We’ll find out in a couple of days if he’ll get it. It will be an income reduction, for sure, but it would also mean not having to deal with a company he hates, in a stressful occupation.

    I’m grateful for being a bit of a prepper, and grateful that you take time to offer this community on here, Brandy. Thank you for your work, and thank you for making the masks.

  42. I just wanted to add that anyone looking for toilet paper – if you have access to Whole Foods Market on Amazon, they have a good supply chain and restock every night, and I have been able to buy TP the last 2 days, when nobody else had it (I live in the DFW area of Texas and everyone has been sold out for 2 weeks now). I placed my order between 6-8 AM and had it delivered by 10. They were sold out online usually shortly after 8. Maybe not available to everyone depending on your area, and certainly not the most frugal option, but it is an option. I’ve also been able to find more staples there that other shops have been sold out of – laundry supplies, meat, etc.

    My city is now under a stay-at-home order, so I am now working from home. My husband’s job is considered essential (industrial manufacturing) so he’s still going in. We’re down to 1 car currently – he was in an accident and his car is in the repair shop – so me being at home does make things easier. I don’t need to go anywhere during the day so he just takes my car. We were pretty well stocked up before all of this happened (like probably many of you, we maintain well-stocked pantry/freezers), but did pick up a few things to fill in gaps in our supplies. Most of the stores here are limiting purchases of things like TP, meat, and cleaning products to 1 only. This is such an odd reality – all non-essential retail is closed, no libraries or museums, and restaurants are takeout only. I wonder how long this will last. I plan to do some outdoor walks nearby so I can get some fresh air. We are supposed to be in the high 80s and possibly even 90s for most of this week.

    I hope everyone stays safe and well. Thank you, Brandy, for continuing to keep this blog and site running for all of us. As someone else said, it really feels like a conversation among friends!

  43. Your photos are beautiful, as always. I am so thankful for the knowledge that I have gained over the last couple years from you and your readers who comment. Around 2 years ago, a little voice in my head started nagging me to prepare my home and family for emergencies. I was feeling a little like a crazy person, but now I am so grateful that I listened and built up my pantry well. Those who do not have a well stocked pantry here are clearing the grocery shelves. It’s very difficult to get any basic food unless you go to the store first thing in the morning and stand in line to get in. I will be able to share with my mom and some friends who can’t go to the grocery store these days.
    -Things are up in the air for us… we are getting our house ready to put on the market for May 1. It looks like that will be postponed, since we are on a stay at home order and will not be able to have companies out to do repair or maintenance. Houses are still selling in a few days here, so we are not worried. We are just moving because we would like a different house and neighborhood. We will probably end up renting and see if the house prices go down a bit before we buy.
    – Cashed in Swagbucks that have been sitting in my account for a long time and got a $25.00 Walmart gift card. I’m using that to order extra supplies for my pets. I tried to order seeds through Walmart, but they are totally sold out of every kind of vegetable seed. We will check our local feed stores once our stay at home order has lifted.
    -Grateful that the Boeing factory has closed for 2 weeks here so that my husband can work from home. I just closed my eBay store until this whole thing is over with so that I don’t have to go to the post office every day.
    -I’m loving homeschooling! My son has had a lot of challenges at school. He has a hard time focusing and is easily distracted. Sometimes he just needs extra help, which is not available at school. So, I end up re-teaching everything from school anyway. I’m following the common core curriculum and using this time to review concepts that he has not totally mastered in math. I would love to continue with homeschooling, but he is an only child with no kids nearby his age so he really needs the social aspect of going to school.
    -I went through my pantry and made a master list of all the meals I can easily make with what I have. Then, a list of the things that I can make or bake that take a little more time and effort. Now, I just have to get motivated to get baking!
    Wishing everyone well, stay safe and healthy, and don’t forget to check on your friends and family!

    1. Susanmarie, If the mail is continuing, you can order seeds online through Territorial Seed Company. They have many varieties, especially for the PNW. They are based out of Oregon and are a bit delayed in shipping due to the large order volume coming in, but they still have seed to ship.

      If you need additional practice of math tables, xtramath.org is free to use. Themathworksheetsite.com has a free section as well as a free trial where you can print anything you need. If you need a longer time, they even offer a one-month subscription for $5.

      Should you decide that homeschooling is the environment where your son learns best, remember that isolation is not homeschooling. Most homeschool families participate in homeschool groups, weekly group classes, sports, field trips, library visits, and other activities. They too are going without their normal activities at this time and not seeing their friends.

      I personally do not do as much outside the home as many other homeschoolers, because of the size and age ranges in my family. Activities during a baby’s two daily naptimes and going places with a nursing baby and the rest of my family where I need to nurse (and for me, that’s been every hour because of my small milk supply) are difficult, and with a large family, they are also cost-prohibitive. I looked into the activities that our homeschool group did and I was not very interested in them, but my friends in Oregon and Maryland do AMAZING things that cost little to nothing. There’s just a lot more available in their area that’s actually educational (our group was more entertainment-based, but we don’t have historical sites to visit, much in the way of museums, and it’s too hot to hike half the year). So, for me, being home more works. But that’s not the regular homeschool situation, so just keep that in mind.

      1. mathdrills.com is a free site with both printable drill sheets and online flashcards you can use to practice math fluency. http://www.getepic.com has some great ebooks for kids. I know it is free for educators and with everything going on, they may be offering free to parents right now. Teachers Pay Teachers has a ton of free resources. You do have to pay for some, which I never do because there is so much free stuff on there. Readingtheory.org is also free for educators and maybe for parents as well. These are some resources that I am using to assign to my students for remote learning that you can possibly use for homeschooling. There are a lot of websites now that you usually have to pay for that are offering free support, you just have to search for them.

        1. Myra,
          Thanks for the great informstion. Right now we are going to continue on in the text books and workbooks from my son’s classes, but I will also try use other resources!

      2. Brandy,
        Thank you for the information about the Territorial Seed Company!
        Also, thank you for your input on the social aspects of homeschooling. I know that our local community center offers classes in science for homeschoolers in which they can do experiments and projects that may be difficukt to do at home. A local art center also offers classes during the day for homeschoolers. So, I know that my area probably has lots to offer, but I do worry if he will be able to make friends through those groups. He is in 8th grade right now with a very small group of close friends, and he is not very outgoing. It’s a lot to think about, but I am already seeing improvement in his math and english.

    2. Susanmarie,
      I also wanted to chime in that like Brandy said, homeschooling is not like isolation! I have two of my four boys home and my 18 yo is graduated and goes to a local college, but my 15 yo is still homeschooled. They are both going a bit crazy after just 2 weeks. My 15 yo usually worked a few 2 hour lunch shifts at our local village Taqueria per week as well as being involved in sports, a few in-person classes that I drive him to, and then hanging out with friends. This isolation is hard for them. My favorite thing about homeschooling has been that we set our family calendar, our sons did less homework, and each child could go at their own pace, especially for math. I also love that when they do take outside classes that we get to pick the teacher. Enjoy this time!

      1. Karen,
        I do worry that my son won’t get enough social interaction bcause he has a very small group of friends. and has chosen to participate in only one extracurricular acticvity. School is very tiring and stressful for him, maybe he would want to participate in more activities if we took away the stress of school. I appreciate hearing about your experience! Thanks!

  44. I just participated in a Zoom meeting with a church committee. My church operates 2 thrift stores with 11 paid employees. The proceeds are used to fund grants to many different non-profit groups that serve the community such as free health care, a food pantry, children’s sports and educational organizations, cultural organizations, the library, etc. All the goods sold in the stores are donated. The stores have been closed 1 week due to county public health order, so there is no income. Since the employees work for a religious organization, they are not covered by unemployment insurance.

    We spent a lot of time brainstorming what we could do to provide these employees with some income while there is no work for them and no new income coming in. The church has also been unable to have any services in person due to public health issues, although every day lent or Sunday services are livestreamed online. We had to look at all the moneys on hand and try to decide what we could do to help these employees. We are able to pay them a portion of their usual earnings until the end of April. We are not sure what we can do after that, but who knows how long they won’t have work.

    I know I am very fortunate as a retiree with social security and pension income. I don’t look at the balance in my IRA because why face the hundreds of thousands of dollars that are no longer there and it will change tomorrow and in one month and in six months. But having an emergency fund that will keep us for quite a long time is very different than what the employees of the thrift stores are facing.

    I feel I need to be as thrifty as I can be so I may be able to offer more financial assistance to those who aren’t as fortunate.

  45. Brandy,
    Thank you for being there for all of us during this most difficult time. I greatly appreciate it!!
    I am in Washington State which is currently in stay at home mode with nothing open except medical, food and pharmacy and other essential services. I may not have a job in a few weeks and who knows if my husband will have his either. It is a very uncertain time for sure.
    I am using every tip and trick that you have taught us over the years. I believe one of our neighbors did an emergency move due to the current situation and left a huge free pile. I was able to get a nice patio table and umbrella which we really needed and will come in quite handy this summer since we will probably be spending that time at home.
    We have a couple Olive Garden gift cards that were given to us as gifts and right now they are having a special where if you purchase an entree you get another one for free so I think now is a good time to use those as we will get twice as much for our money. We can call and they will deliver to our car so no exposure. That will extend the food we have in storage.
    Some food items are impossible to get here- there are lots of empty shelves in all grocery stores. One of the items I needed was flour but I have been unable to find any. I was not willing to risk my health by going to store after store. Today, a co-worker told me she was able to purchase a 25 lb bag and will share some with me.
    My daughter is a teacher and all our schools are closed for the rest of this school year. Before we had the stay at home lock down put in place, she was delivering groceries to her grandparents- leaving the items on the front porch- so no contact. She also delivered puzzles and books to the assisted living facility. I am very proud of her for using her time to help others. She is now busy homeschooling her first grader.
    I am so happy that over the last few years, Brandy you had inspired me to add more edibles to my garden. Those berries will come in very handy this summer.
    I hope we will all continue to encourage and inspire each other as we make our way through this difficult time.

  46. Hi Brandy,

    Your photo of the male hummingbird (I think that’s what it is!) is gorgeous. Too bad he didn’t turn into the light so his gorget would be iridescent but, hey, it’s still a lovely photo.

    I am indexing the photos (online) for our book. We are going ahead with the layout and design (rather than my going ahead and having to learn a new software program). I have the photos on several different memory sticks so I am consolidating them. Now we are going to be in a rush to get the layout done online by our printer. We will still have to raise funds to print but having the book all laid out will be a great step forward. So I’m hurrying to tie up loose ends.

    I’m thinking of you all and send you my prayers. Don’t despair — we are worried about the million Canadians who have just been repatriated and come home. Hopefully, they will just stay home during the self-isolation period of 14 days and then stay home during the self-isolation after that.On the other hand, exactly what good does it do me to worry? I am now in day 12 of self-isolation (due to having received a direct hit from a sneeze in a cab) Fingers crossed. I am planning my garden….

    I have been encouraging a friend to look on the bright side, to see something positive everyday. Better than worrying. We may have very limited incomes but we do have them. Also, our government is enabling people who lose their incomes to receive payments; the horrific property tax increase announced just a couple of months ago has been abandoned, no-one will have their electricity cut off, and other payments suspended or delayed.

    It is phenomenal how much work is now getting done online.

    1. Oops — there’s a typo in my comment. I knew it’s a male hummingbird but I thought it might be a ruby-throated. On looking at it though I think it might not be.

      1. No Ruby-throated ones here. I think it might be a male Costa’s, but I’ve not had time to confirm it.

  47. We had a good snowstorm yesterday and are supposed to get more later today. The weaqther is in the 30’s, so it won’t last very long. We are self-secluding. I’m trying to contact one person a day who I do not normally contacr. My husband works half time but lately has been working more as the church struggles to find new ways of being relevant. I pastor a small church on an island. north of the Alaska mainland. I decided to stay home because of the virus and the uncertainty of flights. I was there in February after the school burned. They wre about to open one site for school when schools were shutdown until May. I wonder if they will resume this year? I now have been home for a week. I have enough medical issues that I may not go out even after 2 weeks.
    We have about 37 cases in the state, mostly from travel. The border with Canada is closed, so we are more of an island.
    Our house is not designed for starting plants. We have some seed but will need more for summer. I’m seriously thinking of buying a dehydrator.
    Does anyone know about shallots? Our community garden plot has a few, but I don’t know anything about them except that they are related to onions. We don’t know if there is a difference between ornamental and edible.
    I’m feeling that we will need to utilize everything possible this year. We do hav3e a well-stocked pantry, but we are low on rice (my husband assumed we had more) and vegetables. We have many options though. We have a lot of canned soup for lunches so that also provides vegetables. We still have potatoes from our large crop last year. Stay well and in touch. It is so much easier to deal with being shut-in when we can “talk”, Thanks Brandy for keeping this blog going! Blessings everyone!

    1. I grow shallots in the UK Alaska Gram. We love shallots as they are a bit less intense in flavour, a bit sweeter than normal onions. They store just as well-we are still eating some of ours harvested in the autumn. Hope you and yours stay safe.

  48. My husband and I stayed home except for a trip to Lowes for supplies to start container gardening. My husband is a teacher and all schools are closed until at least 4/13. He is doing online teaching so he continues to be busy every day. I am a nurse at an outpatient surgery center that is orthopedics only. We have been doing very few urgent cases–people still continue to break bones and those surgeries can’t wait. All elective surgeries have been post-poned. I am working part-time so my hours have not been affected at this point.

    We have been doing projects around the house. Cleaning out closets, donating items. We worked outside in the yard both days over the weekend pulling weeds, spreading pine straw and planting container garden. I have two large table height raised beds that I planed lettuce in a couple of weeks ago. I added onions this weekend around the lettuce sprouts. I also used various containers that I had on hand and 5 gallon buckets to plant napa cabbage, tomatoes and pepper plants that I got on our trip to Lowes. I plan on adding as many containers as possible on our very large deck. Our yard is sloped and is not easy for me to try a gardening.

    I am made several batches of Brandy’s granola recipe adding a few extra items I have on hand (pumpkin seeds, walnuts or pecans, dried apricots). I am grateful that we tend to keep extra stock on hand and have plenty for several weeks. I did buy a few things including bread flour and yeast in case I need to make bread. I am making all of our meals at home and take lunch to work as usual.

    I am spending some time working in my sewing room and continue to try and finish UFOs. I did make a few cloth masks this week.

    I am praying that our nation gets through this crisis quickly and I am grateful for my family’s health. Stay safe everyone!

  49. Brandy thank you so much for your blog & this amazing community of frugal friends! Everything that I have learned has truly been life changing, it is especially evident during the current times we are living through. My husband is a teacher at a vocational school so he is home, fortunately with pay. I am working more than ever as we are managing our physician practices with changes happening day by day. Currently, I am having to evaluate which employees to furlough as less patients are being seen in offices. It is gut wrenching and I hate having to do it. My son’s college has resumed online. I am so thankful my daughter left NYC when she did as the spread of the virus there is increasing.
    As for saving money, no one is driving except for me since I am going to work & since I am already out I am the family member who picks up prescriptions, groceries for the rest of us. I do porch delivery for our extended family who conveniently we all live in the same town. We are well stocked on food and are able to eat from pantry & freezer so minimal money spent just planning on fruits & vegs when we run out.
    My husband was able to repair our furnace with a part we were able to pick up. He called the shop, paid over the phone & they put it outside the door for me to grab when I arrived. No contact at all & it saved us a lot of money. Since we are still going into the 30’s at night I’m so happy he was able to repair it.
    If I may make 1 request: if you are still needing to go to a physician office please do not bring someone with you unless absolutely necessary! If you need a driver please have them stay in the car, if you need assistance getting in please call the office & someone can come out to help you. I am seeing people bringing their spouse/child/friend along because “they’re bored” or “now we get to do things together” Please just no.

  50. Hoping the US stimulus checks will be a much needed boost for Americans. My husband is American so I think he will receive one too.

  51. I have not commented for some time as I went back to work full time last year. I have been reading every week, and now that I have been temporarily laid off I have much more time. Thank you so much for keeping this blog going every week. I look forward to your posts and all the comments here. Your pictures are always so lovely!
    I have been focusing on making some birthday and Christmas gifts while at home during this time. It keeps me busy and I enjoy being creative.
    Thanks to everyone for your positive comments.

  52. Thank you to Juls for the article on shallots. So happy to know the whole plant is edible. I forsee using them as onions, one thing I use a lot but con’t grow because they don’t do well here in northern Alaska. This community of people enriches all of us. Even what seems routine may be an idea another person needs to know. Brandy, as always, thanks to you also. My older son ordered a surplus of “walking” onions, so we will try them this year.
    Juls, I appreciate your blogs and click on your blog for addtional information.
    This is a simple idea, but we ae short on vegetables right now. We had some leftover green beans that needed to be used, but did not really fit with anything else. We opened 2 cans of soup and added them. This will be our lunch for today and tomorrow. The vegetables are good for us and we aren’t wasting Thanks everyone!

  53. Hi Brandy,
    Do you remember what colour the hummingbird’s gorget was?
    It is incredible to think that within a week or so, the first of the mountain bluebirds will show up — if the snow goes.

    We have decided to go ahead with the layout and design of the book. Our grant would be just enough, we hope, to do that.
    At least this way we do not have to learn InDesign. I would have liked to learn it at our local smaller university but I am glad not to have the pressure and obviously the course has been cancelled. .
    I have to work flat out to get the chapters polished and the loose ends (a few footnotes here and there). When I last was in the archives, I had hoped to photocopy a large history of one of our First Nations but as you may remember the closing of the archives happened the same day and so I could not do that. What am I grateful for? First, that I had the archives almost entirely to myself — no phone calls or emails, No close contact with anyone. Second, that an emeritus history professor offered (out of the blue) to lend me any of his history books that I need for our book (he will drop them on my porch), It is a gracious and kind offer since all of the universities and libraries and archives are closed.

    Today at lunch, I had spaghetti and meatballs. I am eating my big meal at lunch time these days. It was simple but delicious.

  54. Brandy, You may already know this by this time, but Joann’s Fabric stores are providing pre-cut mask materials and asking for volunteers to pick them up, finish them at home, and then return them to the store. They are then shipped for sterilization and distribution. If you search google for “Joanns fabric masks” you will see several links with more information.

  55. Brandy, thank you for your blog…it has given my family and I (as well as many others, no doubt) so much useful information over the years. I appreciate the time and effort that you put into it. It’s such a valuable resource.
    Last week we checked out WarTime Farm (YouTube) based on your recommendation, and are LOVING it. We can hardly wait to watch the next episode after we’ve finished the last.
    I do have a question, but I respect that you already put a significant amount of time and energy into this information, so if it’s not possible that’s perfectly fine… would you be willing to share an overall rundown of what you plant/when you plant it/how often you re-plant or sow seeds throughout the year? When I read your blog posts, you are always planting or sowing something, and I can’t quite get the hang of what you do, or how often. I keep a big, traditional, tilled-up garden plot which often fails more than it succeeds…I notice in your pictures that you don’t seems to do it that way, which leads me to figure that you inter-plant with your trees/shrubs/flowers… would you be able to pass along some tips for that if possible?
    Like I said, if this isn’t something that’s do-able then no worries… I still thank you for all of your information. Blessings!

    1. Lettuce seeds should be planted every three weeks for a continuous harvest. I plant a few in one place, then in another. I don’t have long traditional rows. I don’t want eeverything ripe at once so I keep planting. I also keep planting if something doesn’t come up, or it comes up and then gets eaten (the pill bugs eat a LOT of my seedlings, which is a major reason I have to plant extra). I have a garden calendar under the garden tab above, but I will be updating it, as I no longer have plum, apple, or cherry trees.

      I definitely interplant. I have everything on drip irrigation so there is water every six inches.

      The rule here for almost every single plant is morning sun and afternoon shade, as our sun is so hot and intense that it burns plants. So some shade is helpful for many things.

      We don’t have lots of rain, so there is no point in having hills in the garden here, as flooding is not really a problem. I plant more like the French intensive style of gardening, but not exactly. I am planting one thing after another, though. So when the peas are done (because they’re a cool-season crop) I’ll pull them out and plant a warm-season plant there, like beans, squash, or cucumbers.

  56. Well, it has been an adjustment being stuck at home. Unfortunately, our library is now closed, but at least the books we’ve already checked out won’t accrue overdue fines. We also had to cancel the camping trip we’d planned for spring break, but the fees were refunded. I tried to get one son’s Soccer Shots fees refunded, as they’ve postponed the beginning, and likely won’t start at all. They would only credit my account. Still haven’t contacted anyone about another son’s baseball fees, same situation. I am in charge of registration for our neighborhood swim team, and we’re delaying registration until things clear up. So, that frees up some money in the March budget that we’d planned to spend. Being at home more means I’ve cooked more, cleaned more, and spent less money on some things, more on others. Whereas I usually buy marked down milk for $1/gallon or so at Kroger, I paid $2.48 at Walmart, where I also bought a lot of foods to have at home that I probably wouldn’t otherwise have bought. I bought a Roku, so we can now watch several channels on the tv. Our antennae doesn’t always get great reception when it’s cloudy, and I’m not willing to pay for subscriptions to amazon, Netflix, etc. It was over $20 (one time fee), but we are enjoying it so far.
    I requested a free sample of laundry detergent.
    We bought a laser printer since we’re now printing more from home, with school and work restricted. We went through 2 inexpensive ink jet printers before I finally bought a laser printer. Hopefully this will be more economical.
    Our property taxes went up, so we will contest them as usual.
    We are temporarily down to one vehicle, but will be in the market to buy a new van when the virus situation resolves.
    I’m thankful for the flexibility to be able to teach my kids at home, great weather over the past week or two, and a backyard.

    1. Leigh Ann, give Pluto.tv a try, too. It is free and does not require registration I am currently binging on various crime shows (Cold Case Files, The New Detectives, etc.) but they have movies (including the James Bond channel, lol!), multiple news stations, and channels for various interests (kids, sports, science, British tv, etc.). I stream it on my laptop. Anyone in your family that has a laptop, phone, tablet, etc., can watch whatever they want.

  57. It’s pretty frugal staying at home! I have been planting seeds and enjoying watching them sprout. I put them outside with heavy clear plastic over them on sunny days. My husband set up 2 more water barrels. We are reusing 12″ square pavers in another area of the garden. My mother kept my berry cuttings while we moved 3 times this year. I now have them planted in the ground, but she recently told me that some starts of them had taken hold in her garden and did I want them. I DO!. Free berry plants, yes please. I have moved some houseplants around. Some were getting too much/too little sun. They look happier now. I have a pile of mending to do today after ruthlessly clearing my closet yesterday. I was honest with myself about how I feel when I wear certain things. Several are being donated (that pile is in the back of my car, being added to each day, and waiting for thrift stores to open).
    My husband is working on his second puzzle in 2 weeks. I have listened to classical music on the radio each evening, and worked on knitting my cardigan.
    Thank you all for this community. It is very heartening.

  58. I have been having bad leg and foot cramps for the past several months. They are especially bad when I lay down. Saw my family physician. After blood work was done she prescribed both magnesium and potassium for me. Two weeks ago I saw a orthopaedic surgeon about pain in my legs and knees. He took x-rays and said that I am “bone on bone” in both knees and that I need knee joint replacement in both knees! Not what I wanted to hear! However, I have to wait on the surgery because of all of the virus problems going on at this time. I have tried taking: pickle juice, mustard, apple cider vinegar, Thera Works spray, etc. to try and help with these cramps. Would appreciate any suggestions that you readers might have to try for some relief. Thanks very much. Penny S.

    1. Penny: I always find my chiropractor’s observations very helpful with just about any kinds of health issues, as he has seen so much, in addition to his schooling, (which is as extensive as a medical doctor’s, just without the surgery practice and less drug education!). An experienced chiropractor might have some insight into leg-foot pain, as those muscles and nerves are all interconnected. Greatest sympathies on the knee diagnosis! Small things, like Dr. Scholl’s cushions, do make some differences.

    2. Penny:
      I have noticed my joint pain/leg pain reduces when I eliminate gluten from my diet.
      I also make teas with oregano leaves, and/ or rosemary leaves (just boil them in water). I drink this through out the day and it helps with inflammation.
      Hope you have some relief soon.
      Patricia/Fl

  59. I have had improvement in both leg cramps and joint pain with CBD oil (cannabidiol) after having problems for years. If it is legal in your area you could give it a try. There is no “getting high” with this product. You put a small amount under your tongue. Do your own research but for me I started with a low dose and slowly increased it until the pain diminished. Some people have immediate results but for me it took a number of weeks to get there. All my pain is not gone but it is much diminished and definitely improved my quality of life. I even sleep better. This product was recommended to me by my sister-in-law (in her 80s). It’s worth looking into.

    1. Thank you Patricia. I don’t know if it is legal here in Tennessee but I am going to find out! I need some relief. Penny S.

  60. Hi Penny,
    It doesn’t seem to me that the cramps would be a result of needing a knee replacement. I’d think that you’d be having more joint pain if the knee were the problem. I’d suggest seeing a neuro-muscular therapist, if you can find one. Additionally, I’d do a lot of research before letting someone cut out my knee joint and replace it with something that will eventually fail. I did a search for alternatives to knee replacement and a there’s a lot of information out there. Here are 2 links.
    https://www.howardluksmd.com/sports-medicine/knee-replacement-surgery-alternatives/
    https://khn.org/news/up-to-a-third-of-knee-replacements-pack-pain-and-regret/

    Good luck!

  61. Penny, I also have found significant relief in going gluten free. I had a terrible problem with my knee 15 years ago and my do other said that I would nd in a knee replacement in 10 years. Well it has no swelling 15 years later and it is so worth giving it a good long try, as in 6 months or so.

  62. Penny,

    Did you actually take the magnesium and potassium your gp prescribed? It is impressive she ested you for those. I am assuming you tried those and they didn’t work but if you didn’t try them, do try the,! Magnesium in the right dose works wonders for leg cramps1. Many North Americans are deficient in magnesium! 50% of Americans are deficient in magnesium and if there isn’t enough magnesium Vitamin D doesn’t get absorbed! If your knees are bone on bone there are other injections you can try from a doctor — injections into your knee. I don’t remember the name of the stuff, it is expensive!

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