We harvested lemons and basil from the garden. We zested the lemons to make lemon pepper and used the lemons to make lemonade.

I hemmed a pair of pants for a daughter and mended a hole in a dress.

We made spritz cookies, peppermint bark, chocolate and Pretzel Christmas trees, brownies, and popped popcorn on the stove.

Albertson’s sent both my husband and me each a coupon for $5 off a $5 purchase on the app. We went together to use our coupons to buy $10 worth of free food. We used the coupons on the Alberton’s app to get cheese for $2.38 a pound (limit 4 pounds each) and eggs for $0.69 a dozen (limit 2 dozen each). I am grateful that the pantry is well stocked so that we can keep spending to mostly items that are on sale, even as there are fewer sales.

I used reusable gift boxes to wrap several Christmas gifts.

I combined shopping trips to save gas and time.

I took the time to reorganize my closet and drawers to have my winter clothing easily accessible. I also reorganized my drawers. It costs nothing but time to make it easier to find what is the right season (and currently fits). Anything in season but too small also got moved to the back of the closet.

I used jars to cover some seedlings in the garden. I’ve found that covered lettuce grows three times faster during the winter than uncovered lettuce.

I read two e-books from the library. I returned both of them right after reading them as people were waiting for them. The Libby app shows you how many people are waiting in line behind you to read the books, and both had 3 people waiting. I love that I can check out and return books without spending gas and time to go to and from the library.

We received some much-needed rain one day! It saved me the water of watering the potted plants in the garden.

I wanted some pinecones to put in a bowl for our decorations. The tree that we used to collect them from (it dropped them on the sidewalk and street nearby) died and was pulled out a few years ago. I asked my mom if she walked by any other trees. She was visiting a friend that very day who has a pine tree in her yard, and she brought home several beautiful pinecones in perfect shape that I could use. I’ll share photos in my next post of our home decorated for Christmas.

I gave my youngest son a haircut.

My eldest son came to visit for a couple of days. We took a couple of minutes to take some new photos of him while he was here. He returned home with my parents, who are going to visit my eldest daughter and her family. They took our gifts for them with them, saving us shipping costs.

What did you do to save money this past week?

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  1. Great deal on the cheese and eggs! So nice that your son was able to come home and that your parents can visit your daughter and family. DH went to Walmart on Saturday to buy some of the loss leaders-he paired this with his dental visit across the road to save time and gas. I booked flights home for DD using airline pts and airline credit that I had. DH picked up 10 free Covid test kits at the pharmacy on Fri-I was down with a cold on Saturday and used one test already to ensure I was Covid free.

    We are having a low key Xmas and keeping our home gatherings small. We will have an early 90th birthday surprise lunch at a restaurant for my Mum next week as most of us are in town for Xmas. DH received $90 in gift cards from work-plus a work bonus so we are regifting some to DD. Seasons greeting to all.

  2. That’s a lovely portrait of your son, Brandy! Thanks so much for sharing. How lovely he could come for a visit! I hope his schooling is going well. Your flower photos always make my heart smile. I appreciate them so much.

    I feel like all we’ve done in 2021 is spend money (so much so that my husband has started writing 2021 as “$0$1”! Ha!). This week we continued decorating for Christmas with items we already owned and a few that my Mom brought over that won’t work in their new space. I was trying to figure out how to decorate with the garlands we had – without buying more – and my Mom’s extras included two lovely, lush garlands! Perfect! We did a major remodel this year and I have had to rethink all my decorating as everything had a place before and now I need to find new places for things. Mom and I ended up swapping several things, which worked perfectly! We decorate for Christmas “late” and leave the decorations up until the 6th of January (Epiphany).

    We baked Christmas cookies this past weekend using supplies we had on hand – cut out gingerbread and sugar cookies, krumkaka, and Finish ribbon cookies. YUM! I want to make a few more but those are the “necessities” at our house. My parents came over and we shared space, time and baking supplies that we already owned to make cookies. Then they took some of the cookies home with them. We’ll use most of the rest to make cookie platters for our closest friends instead of giving other gifts.

    I’m sure we had other frugal things we did this past week but I’m not remembering that they are. My mind keeps going to the expenses that popped up this past week – our garage door breaking, our daughter spraining her foot and needing to be seen by the doctor, needing to purchase a dehumidifier now that we’ve remodeled and our home is much more air tight, and two AP exams that needed to be paid for. I keep hoping 2022 will be less expensive!

    Blessings to everyone as we head into the Christmas weekend and toward the New Year!

    1. There is financial assistance for AP exams. It is based on income. The school counselor is the one who helped me with that.
      I hope this might be useful to someone here!

      1. Thanks for the suggestion, Kara! Not sure we’ll qualify but I know a few people who would, so I will pass this along

        Merry Christmas!

      1. Oh my goodness, too funny! Yes, we do!

        Interestingly, my Finnish Great-Grandmother had an almost identical recipe that used dates for filling.

        Did you keep the clipping or copy out the recipe?

        Merry Christmas!

    2. Trying to see a silver lining here- AP exams are frugal! The cost of the exam is definitely less than the college prereq!

        1. Lea, we don’t qualify for the financial assistance either, but ouch! Those tests ARE expensive! My daughter has taken 2-3 of them each year in high school. Riley is right, though, it is less expensive than the equivalent college course would be. Several of my friends’ children have graduated from college early because of so many AP & dual-enrollment credits. My daughter starts college next year, and we have encouraged her to use the extra credits as space in her schedule for some electives she might want to take, or even to do a double major. I also try to see it as a blessing that my child has the ability to handle the heavy workload of an AP course. So you’re right to look for the silver lining; in the long run it’s totally worth that expense. But I certainly understand the pinch when payment comes due!

  3. We have a tradition with our preteen grandchildren who are local (there are about 17 of them) where we take them out shopping so they can pick out their own present using a set amount of money and then afterwards we go to a gas station mini-mart, UDF, that also has an ice cream counter, selling about 30 different flavors! We each have a single dip cone and it is always a fun time. UDF (United Dairy Farmers) has a loyalty program so each time we go, we scan our loyalty card. We’ve had about 4 birthdays in the past six weeks and when we took our latest grandson out, the cashier told me that we had 85 cents a gallon reward off our next gas fill-up there! As it happens, our gas tank was under 1/4 tank so our gas fill-up cost just $1.93/gallon!! Unexpected win!!

    An online, out-of-state friend sent her quilt to me to be quilted and chose our Bear, Moose and Wolf pantograph. It’s funny because we had a client almost 2 years ago ask us to buy that design for a quilt she sent us to quilt. She paid half the cost for the panto ($7.50). I figured I would never use it again. But this quilt is the 4th one I’ve used it on! Who knew? Lol! So here is Quilt #219! https://pin.it/2VUb9Ap.

    I found a free online pattern for therapeutic neck pillows that are in a dog bone shape. 4 of my 7 daughters really prefer small handmade things from me for Christmas. In the past I have made flannel softies which are like reusable Kleenex, soup cozies and wheat filled microwave heating bags. So these pillows, I think will be a hit! I made 4 within a couple hours. I had a it trash bag filled with polar fleece scraps that I had been given and was reluctant to just throw away! So all I had to buy was the stuffing. I got a 5-pound box of stuffing at JoAnn’s for 40% off, so my OOP cost for these is less than $1.50 each! They are shaped to cushion your head easily to read in bed or just to support an aching neck https://pin.it/3r7i8wv. This was a way to use some of it up and declutter while gifting at the same time!

    One of the things my granddaughter turning 11 on Christmas Day asked me specifically for is a microwaveable heating pad for around her neck or feet. I use some of my extra hard red wheat and scraps and had it made within 30 minutes! https://pin.it/1knUkIT

    I had the funeral of a dear friend’s husband to attend and serve lunch to afterwards, so I was able to make a big crockpot of chicken tortilla soup without having to go out for any ingredients. Then, 2 days later, I was able to make shepherd’s pie on a moment’s notice to take to a family whose husband was rushed to hospital. I took out (from the freezer) bags of pre-cooked ground beef and also used leftover mashed potatoes from our meatloaf dinner the night before (I always make too many mashed potatoes in my instant pot!). So another meal to gift using only ingredients from my pantry! Definitely a time and money saver that way and makes it easy to serve in a hurry!

    Redeemed another $10 in credit card rewards into our savings account.

    I made cheesy funeral potatoes with diced ham (leftover Thanksgiving ham that I had frozen for dinner this week. I used diced up fresh potatoes instead of frozen hash brown shredded potatoes. I love that I dice up fresh potatoes and parboil them in the IP on zero minutes pressure to save time! It was delicious and we had several serves left for meals later on! Same with meatloaf- I made 2 using meat from freezer and there were serves from the first one leftover plus the whole 2nd one that I packaged up and froze for another day! I got to bring the leftover chicken tortilla soup I made for the funeral home and we’ve enjoyed those leftovers for lunches/dinners since then! With just 2 of us, we don’t need to cook as often- just maybe 2-3 times a week to rotate different dishes and leftovers into our diet.

    The next few days, I’ll get some Christmas candy and cookies made.
    Another dear friend from our days in CA passed away yesterday. She had only been ill for 5 days. A real shock as she was about 5 years younger than me! All of these unexpected losses spurred Hubs and me into making an appointment with a lawyer (January 10th) to get wills made, final estate planning, etc. We’ve had the lawyer’s contact info for 5 years now but have just been too busy. We will feel so much better to have everything in writing. The funeral we attended less than a week ago, where the family all rallied together has evolved into the deceased’s mother and some of the children have retained an attorney to get what they feel should be theirs. My friend and her husband did not have wills and estate will need to go through probate. In Ohio, without a will, things revert to current legal spouse, but probate court takes time and money before assets can be distributed. We made our attorney appointment just a week before this happened!

    Hoping everyone has a joyous holiday season (while not blowing their budgets! 😉) In some ways, this Pandemic has helped us pause and redefine what things are of most value and which things don’t matter as much. For that we are grateful!

    Gardenpat in Ohio

    1. Probate is six months here. I felt a huge relief once we put everything in a trust and made our wills.

      1. The biggest final gift my parents gave us was to have everything in a trust for my sisters and me. Even though there was a will, when the second parent died, there was no need to file for probate, because everything was included in the trust, and everything could then be divided up without delay.

        1. Yes!

          My husband’s father passed away a few years ago. Most things were in the will, but some things were not, and those had to go through probate. Not having a child’s name on the accounts got messy when automatic monthly medicine subscriptions continued to send and the bank closed access to anyone, so utility and other bills could not get paid. These are things to consider as well.

    2. I redid all of my estate documents this year, putting it all into a revocable trust with a back up will for anything that doesn’t make it into the trust for some reason. I was pleasantly surprised by the cost. The will, trust, and the medical and financial powers of attorney were $1,200. That was $300 less than originally quoted because the attorney told me I was one of the most organized clients he had and since I asked questions and answered his before the documents were drawn up, they didn’t need the usual revisions.

      It doesn’t matter how much or how little you have, getting these documents prepared will save the family and heirs so much trouble after a person dies.

    3. My husband and I have a non-traditional family, so it was important for us to put our wishes in writing so that Arizona law wouldn’t have precedence over the relationships we value. We did our trust, medical and durable powers-of-attorney, advance directives, and wills 15-ish years ago. Now, my husband is steadily progressing through Alzheimer’s Disease, and we are both so relieved that we did all that paperwork years ago. Right now, he can still articulate what he wants, but that won’t always be the case. So, he is protected now and always, and his wishes will be honored. Some of the best money we ever spent! Congratulations on preparing to take those steps. You won’t regret it. 🙂

    4. What size of Instant Pot do you have? We are a growing family of six, and I am wondering if I should replace our crockpot with an Instant Pot. Thanks!

      1. Rebecca- I have a 6 quart instant pot. I love it! The boneless ham that I cooked in it for Thanksgiving was 5 pounds! I can put 4-1/2 to 5 pounds of potatoes (chopped into chunks), cover them with water and cook on high for 8 minutes for mashed potatoes!

        Gardenpat in Ohio

          1. Jane- It’s like a pressure cooker on steroids! Lol! It has multiple functions besides pressure cooking! You can sauté in it, make yogurt, use as a double boiler to melt chocolate and keep it melted as you are candy-making, cook pasta without stirring!
            I was afraid of mine and kept it in the box for almost 8 months even though I bought each of my 7 daughters their own. Two of them had an in-person and virtual (for our daughter out of state) training session to teach the rest of us how to use it. They even made 3 ring binders for each of us with recipes/notes!

            We even started a Pinterest board that we share with each other where we put instant pot recipes that we have served to our families and had positive responses. That way, we have our “Tried and True IP recipes” that the rest of know have been winners to try on our own families!
            I was so glad that the boneless ham with brown sugar/honey glaze worked so well! https://pin.it/4oDnIEZ. This means I can retire my electric roaster that would take me turning and basting my holiday ham every 30 minutes for 3-1/2 hours!! That’s SO game-changing!! ❤️❤️

            Gardenpat in Ohio

              1. Brandy- Remembering kindly that I am no tech wizard, I’ll try!

                Here is the link to our Tried and True Instant Pot Recipes: https://pin.it/5R3OOWU

                Hope this works! I’ve done the same thing now with other kinds of recipes I’ve pinned that are “Repeaters” so Hubs can easily access them!

                Gardenpat in Ohio

              2. Thank you! My neighbor gifted me her old instant pot as she got a new one and while I have used a pressure cooker, I have not used the instant pot and definitely could use some guidance. You had me very interested when you mentioned the potatoes and yogurt!

            1. Brandy- While I have a nice range/oven that could cook up most of the things I do in my instant pot (although the IP cuts time down on many things) , I think I most appreciate not having to “babysit” anything while it’s cooking- stirring so nothing sticks or burns or boils over! I can set that and go on to do other things!
              In my pot pies, I can cube up some potatoes, cover them with water in IP and set timer to zero minutes pressure. Then I make the rest of the filling and the potatoes are ready to add- not mushy or hard- perfect to be baked into the pie!

              Gardenpat in Ohio

        1. Thanks for replying, Gardenpat! I knew you would. I have been debating getting an Instant Pot since they came out, but when you said you made mashed potatoes it was a done deal. Why have I waited so long!?

          We are local to you, so I especially enjoy reading your comments each week.

          Thank you!

          P.S. I have two hams in the freezer. I will save them for the Instant Pot.

          1. Rebecca- One of the best things, imo, is that when I make mashed potatoes in my IP, I can keep them warm in there for hours if need be without them getting crusty or burning!! I am all about convenience and this instant pot convinced me!!

            You’ll have to come visit our little “urban farm” when it’s Spring and the weather is warmer and things are greener! We’re in Olde Towne East between Downtown Columbus and Bexley.

            Gardenpat in Ohio

            1. Gardenpat, we would love to visit you. My kids especially would love a garden tour. I will reach out to you privately closer to spring/summer. Can’t wait!

          2. Rebecca and Brandy,
            Wait till you see how fast you can go from dried beans to a big batch of Chilli! It takes me about 45 minutes.

      2. Rebecca — I have two Instant Pots, the brand name for an electric pressure cooker. I started out with the smallest ‘mini’. Then i found the 8 quart on an amazing sale and bought that. A friend bought the electric pressure cooker made by Crockpot and loves her unit and paid much less then I paid for my mini. Also – my library has quite a few cookbooks for these appliances.

        I love being able to use frozen chicken breasts right from the freezer and they’re done and tender in 15 minutes. I also use the steam function to cook both fresh beets and sweet potatoes.

        1. SJ,
          So do you have and use the canning setting? I see one model has that setting. My kids are little, so I don’t can much anymore but wonder if it would be easier in an Instant Pot. I just have a big enamel pot.

    5. Pat sadly we are seeing the same thing with one of our friends and her family split apart fighting over 3 homes her father had and he had a Will but they are still fighting, such a sad thing to watch. We had our Wills done 2 years ago. I read a tip on polyfill they bought cheap pillows at Walmarts and used that filling instead of buying the polyfill stuff. Anna In Ohio

    6. Gardenpat, can you explain the “zero minutes” to parboil potatoes in the IP? Having trouble wrapping my head around that, thanks!

  4. I really miss the Albertson’s that used to be close. They closed down several years ago. That is a great deal on eggs and cheese! And thank you again for the beautiful photos to enjoy.

    *I had 70c/off gallon coupon for gas. My husband and I took both cars up at the same time to fill up to take full advantage of the savings. We can’t do this all the time but it was nice to be able to fill up our tanks to the tippy top and use the coupon.

    *I got potatoes for $1.97 and 18 count eggs for 97c. I talked to my husband about the higher grocery prices several times over the last bit and we decided to try several grocery stores this week and shop the sales. We went to Winco and got blackberries for 98c, cucumbers for 50c, grapes 88c, cuties for $3.49 and tortilla chips for $1.74. We went to another grocery store for cream cheese 99c, whipping cream 99c, blueberries 18oz $2, strawberries 16 oz $2, lettuce $1.49, celery 99c. I did spend a bit more this week, but I felt good about where my money went.

    *Not on my shopping list were apple fritters. But my husband came with me and discovered they were fresh out of the oven and warm. I started laughing because he was wandering around the store looking at things and I would see him from several aisles away, happily eating his warm apple fritter. It’s the little things.

    *I spent several hours wrapping presents over 3 days time. I used my wrapping paper in storage, my old bows and re-used Amazon boxes to hold gifts. Instead of wrapping smaller gifts, I would load everything into the Amazon boxes because they are sturdy. Less presents to wrap saves me time. The boxes will be re-used again when my daughter is packing things up to move into an apartment after Christmas. I will be able to also give the boxes away to others on our city Facebook page or our Buy Nothing Facebook group. It was lovely to see how many things I had received for free from coupons, sales, or the Buy Nothing Group being wrapped up to bless my family.

    *I went to the local library and stocked up on books I had requested plus picked up a few more to read over the holiday season. Since I’m in the library quite often I know several of the ladies and it is fun to chat and catch up with people. It’s on the way to all the stores and schools which means it’s never out of my way to stop by. I love our library.

    *My husband treated me to lunch that was paid for with a gift card. I’ve been having a bit of a hard time lately with mental challenges and he likes to do small things to lift my spirits. One treat that I gave to myself was to purchase a weighted blanket with the money I’d earned from Ibotta. It is quite comforting to me and I’m glad I was able to get one. I bought another for my daughter as she as high anxiety and she loves it so much. That one was on sale and I was also able to use Ibotta gift cards.

    *I spend an entire afternoon and evening with my darling 10 month old granddaughter on Saturday. She is an absolute joy to me and we have so much fun together playing peek a boo, singing songs like the Itsy Bitsy Spider, Pony Girl, The Old Grey Mare and Tammy’s In Love plus primary songs. She has 7 teeth now and is crawling. She could walk if she wanted to but evidently doesn’t feel the need yet. That’s ok – I love to hold her. Her arms reaching out to me with her big grins are absolute heaven.

    Wishing everyone a Merry Christmas and Happy Holiday season. May it be frugal! <3

  5. Rearranging my closet for the winter season is on my to do list. Last week, I harvested lettuce, oregano and chives. Some of our broccoli was blanched and frozen, adding 17 cups for future meals. Homegrown pesto and salad were enjoyed for a dinner. I made Pasta Norma for our family gathering, using our garlic, onion, eggplant, tomatoes and herbs. At the grocery store, I was able to get asparagus for $1.59/#, and dogfood on sale for $6 off. We got rain, including just under an inch over the weekend, and were able to switch our home back to rainwater. Hallelujah! I’ve been making good progress on the cross stitch for our mail carrier. All the details are done, and I’m just working on filling in the main color. The first batch of Christmas cookies were baked, a new GF recipe to fit in with my current diet, and they were good. While the oven was hot, I roasted garlic and baked sweet potatoes for future meals. Wishing all a very happy holiday. http://abelabodycare.blogspot.com/2021/12/a-little-afternoon-trip-rain-cookies.html

  6. I didn’t post last week so this post will cover two weeks – at least as much as I can remember.

    I picked cherry tomatoes, snow peas and lettuce from my garden and garden pots. Our weather has been gorgeous (highs in the 70ies and low 80ies, lows in the 40ies/50ies, all F) so they’ve been growing nicely but it’s turning colder this week with highs only in the 50ies and 60ies. We should be back in the 70ies on Christmas. The tomatoes and lettuce are in pots so I’ll be bringing them in the house on the couple nights that are supposed to have lows in the 30ies this week. They are fairly heavy but the tomato taste and the food savings are worth it. All of this was an experiment for me this year to see if they would produce and I’m very happy with the results. The peppers, on the other hand, not so much. I still have a lot of them frozen from the summer so I’ll be content with that.

    I bought Christmas cards at Publix using a BOGO and, amazingly enough for me, sent them the next day. I stopped at the post office to buy Christmas stamps but after looking at the parking lot and the line inside, I passed. I’ll order them next year and I doubt anyone who received one cares that it has a flag stamp on it. I also bought Diet Pepsi from Food Lion. It was on sale and they had a $3 off five products coupon so my 8 six packs ended up costing $2.13 each. That’s the lowest I’ve seen it in months and while this is an indulgence and unnecessary expense, at least it was a low cost one.

    I decorated the 3.5 feet tall live Christmas tree I bought at Lowe’s after Thanksgiving for $25 and for once I’m thrilled with how it looks. I used 200 white lights and 70 ornaments. The ornaments chosen fit into one of three categories – sentimental, sparkly or they just make me smile to see them. Many ornaments fit into all three of those. I already owned all of them as well as a bunch that didn’t make the cut. I don’t think I’ll even get a full size tree again since this was one is a lot easier to handle and came in its own stand.

    I did a lot of baking this week – 2 apple cakes, two 9 x 9 pans of peanut butter fudge and 20 dozen cookies. Most of this was given out as family Christmas gifts, to my lawn guy along with a cash Christmas bonus and for desserts to accompany free dinners given out by Katie’s Krops. My 6 and 7 year old great niece and great nephew were THRILLED to get the treats since their mom has food sensitivity issues and doesn’t make sweets, the lawn guy loved that his favorite Peanut Butter Kiss cookies were included and the look of delight on the face of a 12 or 13 year old boy when he saw the tray of cookies that I made his family since they are one of the families to whom I deliver dinners made me happy I went to the extra effort. I thought I was done baking until my daughter asked if I would help her make stuff for her in-laws since they are visiting them for Christmas. She’s coming over on Tuesday to make coconut bread and apple cake. I’ll make the peanut butter fudge and no bake cookies (Crock-Pot No Bake Cookies – Crock-Pot Ladies (crockpotladies.com) today (Monday) since they need time to cool and firm. Some of the fudge will go to her 21 year old friend who has never had it. I’m not even sure how that happens, lol.

    Since most of my family is going out of town for Christmas or already lives in different places but were in town this weekend, we had a Christmas celebration brunch with myself, two sisters, five of our children, two of their husbands, and four of our children’s children at a local restaurant. We each paid for our own families and it was so easy. No one had to clean, cook and/or do clean up. More importantly, everyone was able to order something that accommodated their particular tastes and dietary needs/restrictions. We wish it could have lasted longer but it was fun and relaxing.

    I hope all who celebrate it have a glorious and blessed Christmas.

  7. This is “countdown week” for those of us who celebrate Christmas, and I am pretty well caught up. I have one gift left to buy; it’s already chosen, I just need to stop and get it. I’m making another gift which will take possibly an hour to finish, then I’m done with gifts.

    I saw turkeys went on sale again, finally, so I bought one and cooked it. We will eat ham for Christmas, so this is just for me to eat some and freeze some for later.

    While the turkey was roasting, I put some other foods in the oven to cook at the same time.

    I received a Christmas bonus at work, and applied all but the tithe portion straight to paying down debt.

    I submitted paperwork for and received a $50 rebate for my contact lens purchase last month.

    I had nearly eliminated sodas from my diet, but the number I drink had started creeping back up again. I am once again cutting back down on them. Since I drink the more expensive “healthier” sodas, this will make an impact on my food budget.

    My Meyer lemons aren’t ready yet, but I pulled, cooked and ate my first radish out of this year’s winter garden. I added it to some vegetables I was roasting, as I don’t like raw radishes.

    We are forecast to have a brief cold snap, so I have turned the heat back on this morning. It’s been chilly all day today, but the last couple of weeks have been unseasonably warm, allowing me to get by with just the occasional ceiling fan use; no A/C or heat at all.

    I line dried dried or rack dried all my laundry this past weekend.

    Best wishes to everyone this week!

  8. Last week was a busy and blessed week.

    * I gladly read two ebooks that I already owned.
    * It was such a blessing to use a Bible devotional provided by our church.
    * It was a pleasure to cook my husband’s breakfasts and send lunches with him to work.
    * It was a joy to rake leaves with my pastor’s wife for excellent fellowship. free exercise, and free Vitamin D.
    * We purchased cranberries on sale and froze them to have them to eat during the winter for extra nutrition.
    * We gladly took our vitamins to maintain our health and to avoid illness.
    * I was blessed to make natural cough syrup for a friend with ingredients I already had on hand!

  9. Merry Christmas to all! What a nice picture of your son! I’m glad he was able to come home, and it sounds like there’s going to be a nice family celebration in Idaho, too.

    This was a week of just the usual frugal stuff. All of the Christmas shopping is done and we didn’t go over budget. I got an e-mail from my Amazon Visa card reminding me that I have redeemed $95.63 in cash back points so far in 2021. Nice.

    Due to weather, we canceled our trip to spend Christmas with our son (who lives 57 miles from your kids). He always has to work Christmas and this year his wife, a heli pilot who flies air ambulance, will be out of town at work. Over the years we have traveled to be with him at least 15 times. (We’ve spent every Christmas with him except one, and he is 43). Canceling is going to save us a whole boatload of ca$h…but I’d rather spend it to be with him. I shipped their presents last week. No cheap way to do that…although Brandy found one, LOL.

    When I realized we were staying home, I quickly decorated the house, only using the big things we already had (I skipped the little fiddly stuff). I realized the best investment I ever made for Christmas decor is the fake poinsettias. They are definitely the most for the least. I paid $3 apiece for them about 8 or 9 years ago. I massed them on a plant shelf between our living room and dining room at our other house. Here, I take down my teapots and place them on top of my kitchen cabinets (which staggered and part of one big great room). Since they are not at eye level, you absolutely cannot tell they are fake. Besides the poinsettias and tree, “the stockings are hung by the chimney with care” and I placed a beautiful arrangement of my daughter’s on the hall table with a pretty scarf and ivory candles in red hobnail candleholders that were my dear MIL’s. We have also been eating off the Christmas dishes (“Winterberry” by Pfaltzgraff) since the day after Thanksgiving. I have decided that less is more. When I put everything away, I’m going to be getting rid of a lot of Christmas stuff that isn’t earning its keep.

    1. This is for Deanna in Michigan–if there is a GoFundMe for the young man you told us about last week who is aging out of foster care, please post it. I’d like to help. My daughter-in-law’s mother grew up in foster care (in Michigan!) and was in a similar bind when she turned 18. She came out of it OK and had a happy marriage with 4 children, but not without some harrowing experiences. The transition would have been vastly easier if she had any resources at the time.

      1. Maxine,
        Thank you for your thoughtfulness! This young man is a classmate of my nephew. We found out he will be living with a teacher for the remainder of the school year. I am so thankful for that. My nephew had him over for dinner Friday and afterwards he was told all the gifts under the tree were his! He was so amazed that strangers would do something like that. I will reach out and see if he is interested in doing a go fund me account. I think he may need some additional resources when he graduates in May. I’ll keep you posted.

  10. Such a cheery little flower in your first picture!
    This has been a so-so week. I am usually a bit tired and overwhelmed by this time of the year, and this year is no different. There still was plenty of frugal goings on. I bottled my homemade apple cider vinegar. I gifted a large jar to someone who had requested one. I received free persimmons. I sliced and dried most of them, but set aside some fresh ones to give to my mother for Christmas. I borrowed a mandolin to make quick work of slicing the fruit. When I returned it, my friend said she never used it and she gave it to me. I was thrilled!

    I requested a sweater shaver from Buy Nothing, and someone gave me the very brand that Good Housekeeping recommended. It was brand new, still in the package. I’ve already used it on a few things, which really improved them.

    I did errands on my e-bike.

    We’ve had lovely rain (and more forecast). We’ve collected 500 gallons in our water barrels (paid for by the city), plus we have drained over 1000 gallons from the barrels into the swales (depressions in the ground that allow rainwater to pool). I have planted along the swales, which gives those plants more water.

    I bought 2 base layer pants at Costco on sale for $12 total. My husband coaches soccer and is outside in the evenings after it is freezing.

    Happy Holidays to all!

  11. Wow, I don’t know why I was so surprised that you can make homemade lemon pepper, but now that I think of it, it’s probably just dried lemon zest with pepper, right? Amazing! (Of course, we don’t have lemon trees growing here so it probably wouldn’t save me any money to make my own, but it’s sure fun to know that it’s possible!

    We’ve started implementing the free or low-cost suggestions for sealing up air leaks and insulating our house better that we got from having a home energy audit done last week. We put corner seals on the exterior doors, turned down the max temperature on the water heaters (we have two), insulated the pipes of the water heaters, and got rubber stops for the bottoms of two of our exterior doors that have large gaps at the bottom.

    I also bought some oxygen packets so that we can finally put our long-term food storage items (rice, dry beans, oats, etc.) into 5-gallon buckets.

  12. Hello Everyone!
    This week I mended a shirt for my son by hand. There was a little hole near a strip of buttons. I watched some YouTube videos on thread tension troubleshooting for free motion quilting. I was able to figure out the problem by reviewing my sewing machine manual. All these years I have been skipping a step to thread at the very end (it’s a small place above the needle) thinking I needed a tension adjustment. Problem solved LOL!

    I filled up a half tank of gas when running errands nearby Costco gas station. It’s still $4.15/gallon. I have been making my grocery shopping list based off the ads from the local stores. I plan to pick up some loss leaders such as advertised ham for $0.99/lb. and cream cheese for $1.25 each. Both have limits of 2 items. Cream cheese has been more expensive and the store brands have been wiped out at several places. We’re planning to make a rib roast that we’ve had in the freezer since last Christmas. Surprisingly, the price per pound for rib roast is the same as last year at this time.

    We hosted a small holiday get together over the weekend. We intended to pick up some Chinese food and were really looking forward to it. On our way home from the Dollar Tree (now $1.25), we picked up a take-out menu. We were shocked at the price hike as every single item was $3-5 higher. 4 small egg rolls were listed at $9.50…gasp! We quickly changed course and steamed some Costco tamales, made Spanish rice, refried beans, and tortilla chips. We had everything on-hand except the chips. We saved quite a bit and everyone was happy with the meal. Eating out at today’s prices (even as a treat) is way too expensive and doesn’t seem like a good use of financial resources for us personally.

    My kids are enjoying their school break. Now that they’re home I’m making a loaf of dutch brown bread and a pot of butternut squash, chard and white bean soup for lunch. Everyone is feeling sluggish from the onslaught of treats at school and gifts. Last week I made homemade pizza during finals because they had half days. I used our last jar of home canned pizza sauce from our garden tomatoes. I’ll have to increase pizza sauce canning next year because it has come in very handy. I also made spinach and Canadian bacon calzones for dinner and a pan of baked ziti. The sauce for baked ziti is enough for 2 lasagna pans so I froze half for a future meal. Salads came from our garden lettuces.

    Last week brought quite a bit of rain to the coast (up to 10″ in some places) and snow in Tahoe. This is great news for our water supply! We are expecting more rain all week, too. I’m thankful that I won’t have to water my garden for the time being because it’s a big time commitment. We need to re-do our raised bed irrigation soon as it doesn’t adequately get the entire bed.

    I felt a draft near an old door that hasn’t been replaced yet. I’m investigating the device mentioned by another reader that was recommended by the energy audit. Thanks for sharing that tip! In the meantime, I rolled up a towel to stop the draft and it’s helping.

    Wishing you all a blessed Christmas and holiday season!

  13. We had a pretty good week overall. We got some good deals at dillons. We got whole chickens for 99 cents a pound, a box of cereal for 1.79, oranges for 3.99, and raspberries for 1.50 per container. These aren’t the best deals but better than the prices at the store where we usually shop. We are finding that we are having to change the way we shop by only buying what’s on sale. I’m looking forward to spring when we can get chickens and start a garden. We bought the seeds already. We’ll start many of them in February. That’s only two months away.

    My dh cut my hair. It was long and now it’s short. It’s a little shorter than I wanted but that’s ok.

    We made it through the horrible winds and storms that came through last Wednesday. We had a tornado warning and went to the basement. The power went out for several hours but fortunately we didn’t lose any food. And our house is fine. There are several families who lost their homes, farms, and livestock due to fires. We could smell the smoke here but there weren’t any fires here.

    We went to our ward Christmas party Saturday morning. There was breakfast and a program. It was nice. After the party our bishop stopped by our house and gave us a ham. It is so yummy! We’ll get at least four meals out of it.

    Hope everyone has a great week! Merry Christmas! Happy holidays!

  14. In keeping with my Norwegian grandmother’s teachings, I usually spend much of the last week of Advent cleaning house from top to bottom. It is a nice way to feel ready for the celebrations to come and to find things you forgot you had hidden away. 🙂 Since our house is still not completely finished inside, I have kept the decoration to the living room and children’s rooms. I use bits if nature from our property and sentimental things I have had for years and/or were given or passed down to me so I never have any cost for decorating. My husband is off work this week and is attacking the lengthy punch list with supplies we already have on hand. I now have knobs on my closet doors! Small things make me happy.
    I have begun my cookie baking and am glad I purchased the supplies a few months ago so nothing out of pocket now. We gift cookies to neighbors and special friends and it is a fun tradition to go for a walk with basket in hand and deliver them. If the recipient is home, it always results in a lovely visit and conversation. Sometimes, I think this is the best gift.
    My youngest son is very enamored of maps and draws them often. A while ago, I found a subscription service called Letters From Afar which are letters written by a woman named Isabelle who tells of her travels to far off places. The stories are engaging, the art beautiful and she includes hidden pictures in her drawings which my son loves to find. She also includes field notes on the location and a map. We have really enjoyed this and it has been a nice addition to our geography and world culture studies. However, I decided even the modest cost was maybe something we could do without and that I could come up with something similar myself. I contacted the company (a husband and wife team in our home state) and explained I was going to let our subscription go. She emailed me back and offered the next 3 months for 80% off. That makes each letter delivery a little over a dollar. I thought that was so kind and took her up on it with much thanks.
    One of our dear neighbors had a lingering cough which turned out to be pneumonia. She is doing well but we have made her a few meals including one of her favorites of mine – pumpkin doughnuts. We made them early on morning and surprised her in her nightgown with them. She was thrilled. I was glad I have been able to give her some food and save her the chore of cooking for her and her husband with things I am already making and have the ingredients for on hand. My children have been helping her even more than usual bringing in wood for the wood stove, her mail, etc. They are repaid with much kindness and thanks and a good lesson in loving thy neighbor.
    I have been enjoying listening to Christmas music for free on Pandora and movies on streaming services we already have or are free on our Roku television.
    My oldest son has a tendency to break zippers on his jackets. In addition to helping him practice patience :), I bought an inexpensive zipper repair kit. Seems it is time I learned that skill! It will save money in the future, I have the feeling.
    Our young cat we found in an abandoned house this summer had her spay surgery last week. She did very well and the cost was reduced 20% by our vet as she had had all of her kitten shots at their practice.
    I was able to find a few gifts for family members at our local Goodwill for $1-2 each. They will love them and I loved the treasure hunt.
    I always save gift bags and ribbons so I never buy them. I also have a huge ream of paper which was used to pack some framed art of my parents when they moved some things from my grandfather’s home to theirs. I love to use brown paper for presents and now I have enough to last me for years. I can’t imagine throwing all of that away.
    I am making bookmarks for my avid reader friends and my parents. I am particularly excited about the one I am giving my Dad. He named me as early morning is his favorite time of day. I found a wonderful quote by Gladys Taber in one of her books describing Dawn arriving on her farm and I am writing it in a (hopefully) artistic way on the bookmark. I hope it will be both practical and personal which is my favorite kind of gift.
    I am glad to see that the price of gas is beginning to come down in our area. We still combine errands and just don’t drive more than is needed.
    Since I enjoyed Kristin Hannah’s The Four Winds so much, I have checked out another of her books from the library. This one is “The Great Alone” and is about a family moving to Alaska in the 1970s. The father has recently returned from Vietnam and is attempting to heal himself and change the lives of his family by moving to the wilderness. I gather from the dust jacket that not all goes as smoothly as one would hope. Believing as I do that living close to nature is very healing, I am eager to read this story.
    Wishing everyone blessings, peace and joy this holiday season!

    1. I often ponder on how amazing it is that we can see other places, thanks to photography and the internet.

      I have done some virtual city exploration in different cities in the world using Google Map’s street view.

      I follow several people on Instagram from other countries who share photos and videos of where they live. I love hearing the birds in gardens around the world.

      I made friends last year (from an international gardening group) with a pilot in another country. He has sent me pictures of various places from the cockpit, including the top of the world and the pyramids in Egypt (often taken by another pilot in the cockpit with him). I have enjoyed sharing these with my family.

      While I can’t see everywhere, I love seeing more of the world through the eyes and lenses of other people! I often think of Laura Ingalls Wilder, just reading about elephants and bananas. What a different world view we can have today.

      1. I agree Brandy! It is so wonderful to see the world through pictures. There are so many places I’d like to go! I’m glad I get to enjoy pictures of foreign places. So many beautiful sites to see!

      2. I use an online platform called Nearpod (https://nearpod.com/) to show my students 360-degree views of the places we study. I think there is a free version — since many of you homeschool, you could probably sign up as a teacher. I’m not sure how it works with that. If you make an account, look for the VR Field Trip option. It’s amazing to be able to see things like The Great Pyramid up close!

        1. Thanks; I will check it out and see if they permit homeschool teachers to sign up. Some sites do and some do not.

    2. If you liked The Four Winds, you will LOVE The Nightingale, also by Kristen Hannah. One of the two most moving books I’ve ever read (the other is The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver).

    3. I am also a fan of Kristin Hannah and just finished The Four Winds. What a great read! “Winter Garden” is also a wonderful book. I bought it used but I’m sure a library has it. It’s a tear-jerker so keep the tissues handy!

  15. Slept at the Denver airport overnight during a very long layover. Went grocery shopping and we are eating at my daughter’s house. We went to view the free lights at Temple Square at SLC. My son in law made a delicious soup in the crockpot that we will be eating for a couple of days. We walked in the neighborhood and enjoyed the snow.

  16. As always, I enjoy seeing the photos you post!
    We canceled our 4-day staycation in NYC. It’s very disappointing but we will take a vacation when things get better here. In the meantime, it’s money we won’t be spending.
    Our car didn’t start today so a neighbor jumped it and DH is off to get a new battery.
    I didn’t grocery shop in anticipation of being away from home but we have food in the freezer and pantry so no need for shopping until I go out to get the fresh things needed for Christmas.
    We received a notice to pay additional tax calculated from 2020. Fortunately my husband has been getting a little overtime each day last week and will try for another couple of hours before everything slows down until January.
    Our holiday will be quiet: Christmas Eve dinner with my MIL and Christmas Day dinner at my sister and BIL’s. We plan to pack up the dogs and drive to Ohio after Christmas to meet family there so I have much to look forward to!
    I enjoy reading all the posts and taking good advice. I am so appreciative of people sharing their insights, their amazing attitudes (which I don’t read about anywhere else) and I love these little connections which reach across the country and around the world. It’s wonderful to find common purpose. Thank you all.

  17. Hello Brandy and everyone
    So nice to see a photo of your son, it must have been lovely to have him home for a couple of days. Reorganising clothes always feels satisfying doesn’t it.
    I attended a festive afternoon tea with my sewing group and there were so many uneaten cakes, scones etc that we were each given a container to take leftovers home. My husband ate them over a few days.
    My friend was organising the Secret Santa for the sewing group and had a sudden crisis of confidence and thought 2 people attending might not have presents so she rang to ask if I had anything I could wrap up and take as well as my own Secret Santa present. Gift box to the rescue! I have a stock of nice gifts on standby, usually bought in sales, in charity shops or homemade.
    I cooked twice and we ate five times. We picked parsnips and beetroot from the garden and I made two jars of pickled beets. My husband sowed more broad beans and peas in root trainers which he will keep in a greenhouse for now.
    I used a chicken carcass to make broth.
    We had a blocked toilet which my husband cleared using the drain snake we bought cheaply in Lidl. This has paid for itself time and again.
    A friend brought over some magazines her employer had given her and she thought I would enjoy them.
    I saved ribbon from two gifts we received. My husband received a gardening book and a bottle of sloe gin from two clients. We will probably regift the sloe gin.
    A friend has just returned from the US and brought me some lovely handcream and some pretty decorated cellophane treat bags from Walmart. I was ridiculously excited to have something from Walmart because you ladies often refer to Walmart in your comments. Small things!
    I visited a new charity shop and they had a box full of vintage Puffin children’s books. I love reading children’s books, both classics and those new to me. I bought Carbonel ( a witches black cat) and The Cricket in Times Square ( some of the US ladies might know this?). Now I know this shop displays the vintage Puffin books separately I will visit again.
    Wishing you and your family a Happy Christmas Brandy and peace and joy to all your readers.

    1. I smiled at your comment about Walmart! I feel the same way about Marks and Spencer 🙂

      The Cricket in Times Square is a good book.

    2. PennyP, your comment about Walmart made me smile….I hate shopping there because it is so big, loud, and always crowded. Your comment made me think of it as something special. 🙂

    3. Me three. When I finally get the opportunity to visit my son and his family in the USA I want to visit Walmart, Costco and Joann’s… I’ve read so much about them!
      Recently we were organizing a time for a Facebook Messenger call and my son said he would need to wait a couple of hours as they were leaving for Costco to get supplies for Thanksgiving. That sounded like the most American thing ever to this Kiwi girl!

      1. He should video call you from those places so you can see them. I don’t know what shopping in like in New Zealand, but I know that shopping in Europe was very different than shopping at the three places you just mentioned. They are all HUGE stores.

          1. Hi All, I feel just the same about all the US stores, especially your fancy pharmacies which sell so many interesting things and candies (Effie from Cambridge, UK). I was fortunate enough to travel to the US a lot in my twenties when I was a student but I haven’t been able to visit for properly for 15years since starting my family. I am off to M&S now to get some last minute bits and bobs. (I wasn’t going to go to the stores but we had good news about Omicron yesterday in the UK, as the hospitalisation rate is lower than expected, and I am hosting so I would like to pick up the things I am missing rather than do without), I will think of you all!

            1. Definitely!

              I found the best passionfruit sorbet in France at this one little shop. It was the most delicious thing I have ever had. I only ever saw it at this particular shop. I remember it fondly.

              I also remember the groceries at this shop in Geneva, Switzerland. That was a big store on the ground floor; above it was a connected department store (some of which was on the ground floor as well, with beautiful gloves and hats on the ground floor). I did my grocery shopping there on several occasions. They had the most delicious food and the entire place was set up so beautifully. I loved it so much that until just a few years ago I would dream I was in Geneva for one day only and I couldn’t find this place. It was a recurring theme through each dream was a little different. I have since learned that the store is gone, and my dreams stopped.

  18. Your son is so handsome. He is looking so grown up and less like a teenager.

    Here are my two small saves for the week.
    1. I am embarrassed to tell that new clothes are a huge weakness of mine, that I struggle with, which is exploited by my favorite stores sending me certificates for $10 off of an order. There is such a temptation to pile up an order just because you are getting a measly ten dollars off. Well, I recently got a $10 off notice and there I was looking online to see what they had. There was nothing I needed and not even anything I wanted, but I had an inspiration and started looking at the “gifts” under $15 section. They had some foodstuffs so I ended up ordering a nice size container of cashews for $8 plus tax. We’ll either give it as a gift or eat it ourselves. I’m ridiculously proud of myself.
    2. One of our bathroom towel racks has been up for about 15 years, but I apparently tugged a bit too hard and broke off one side out of the wall. I thought we might need to purchase an entire replacement, but my clever husband found that he could swap out the two sides, left and right, and get it to work again. Not only did that save us the cost of a towel rack but we don’t have to go to Lowe’s during the worst shopping week of the year.

    1. I understand about the new clothes weakness, However- it’s amazing what happens to that weakness if you leave it in the basket and give yourself time to think about it. Also- eBay sometimes has brand new stuff at half the price of the stores.

    2. I used to get the $5 off $5 or $10 off $10 coupons from Kohl’s (when I had their credit card). If I didn’t need anything but was going to be near the store, I would use them to buy socks or underwear to donate to one of the homeless shelters or similar charity. I could buy a package of 10 men’s socks for $10 to $12 and they were happy to get clean, new socks. People donate clothes a lot but not socks or under things.

  19. Hello, frugal friends! The weather here in beautiful southwest Virginia has been warmer than usual…in the mid 50s. This means our heating has not been used much. I have been using my oven more than usual so I am not sure if our bill will be any lower this round. Our last bill was $174 which includes cooking, heating and water heater along with lights, tv, etc. Our bill has never been more than $250 and that was when our geothermal unit was broken when we first moved in. The company replaced the malfunctioning unit 10 years ago (at no cost to us) and we have been happy since. We continue to try to keep the electric bill below $200.
    In other frugal adventures:
    *I reviewed the grocery ads and shopped loss leaders and bought things we needed.
    *Earned 10 cents off gas this month.
    *I grouped errands, staying home most of the week.
    *Hung one load of laundry outside.
    *Ate leftovers and cooked from the pantry and freezers.
    *Read library books.
    *Worked on sewing projects.
    *Sent birthday cards from my stash.
    *Used coupons, both paper and digital, at the grocery store. I also bought marked down items such as coffee ($3 for the large cans), bread (.49/loaf), hummus (.99), a bag of lettuce (1.49) and bananas (.39/pound)
    *I am using mint grown from my garden for my hot tea. I add cinnamon and a tiny bit of monk fruit to it. I decided I have so many teas I grew and dried I need to use them up before buying anything new. I have to drink decaf tea and the packages in the store just keep getting smaller and smaller with the price going higher and higher. A hot cup of tea is my special treat during the cold weather.
    *We use our free streaming services and church activities to entertain us.
    Wishing everyone a frugal week and Merry Christmas!

      1. That’s cool! I’m in Montgomery County just outside of Blacksburg. We are so blessed to have such beautiful mountains, aren’t we?

  20. All our holiday events/gatherings/concerts have been cancelled due to new covid outbreak.So I guess that saves money. No gas, no food to bring to potlucks,etc. My mental health is taking a beating. My card playing group won’t meet up, and my art studio, a fun free gathering each Thursday, Is closed for now. I am not all THAT social but I did look forward to this get togethers with wonderful women friends. I have one happy hour scheduled with a neighbor on Wed. Evening. We sit in her beautiful living room, with our Trader Joe wine, a few snacks, play Christmas music and catch up.We have been friends for over 35 years! We have both been vaccinated but will distance since there is so much breakthrough. I have TEN family members/friends who have gotten breakthrough Covid in the past 2 weeks. 3 of them,serious cases,2 hospitalizations, the others not so bad , but bedridden. So, we’re enjoying this week at home, just 3 of us, my grown son is staying with us right now. Today in supermarket, and every time I go, I check out the meats in the “sell NOW” bin and stock up my freezer.Got a good deal on skinless chicken thighs today. $4.00 for a 4 pound pack!! Availability and cost of meat may be an issue in 2022! We also have already purchased a 25 pound bag of dry garbanzos,at Winco, and broke it into 1 cup portions in baggies and into food storage containers. That’s a high protein and very filling legume that we enjoy so I will always have protein..at least for a while. I buy tofu on sale and break it into 2 portions and freeze it.It stir fries better after frozen! One half block feeds two of us with a lot of veggies and rice. I Could not find bone in chicken breasts the last 2 times in grocery so bought a whole chicken to make a pot of chicken and noodles this week. THEN, I had a hankering for a prime rib for Christmas! (Reading too many holiday recipes on line!!!!!). But my guys do not care for it and it is an expensive splurge, even on sale.. so I decided to just make the frugal,delicious, traditional Manicotti with Sausage gravy instead. We all love that. I am wearing free jeans , given to me by a friend. She lost weight and her old size 12’s fit me now, as I have lost 22 pounds and none of my old winter clothes fit ! But now I have 3 new pair jeans, and bought 5 new to me tops at local resale store. I am hoping to get down one more size after the holidays,so will re consign anything that is too big, then. Frugality has been a lifelong habit.I am more aware now of the need, as this pandemic and the economic fallout are still unpredictable. So glad I already have the skills and mind set to thrive! I love how your blog helps people see how they can also thrive and enjoy life while being frugal and a good steward of Mother Earth and our resources!!

    1. Madeline,

      A few ideas:

      Video chats. I don’t have an iPhone so we use Google Duo or Facebook messenger for video calls.

      Have you considered online art classes? There are a lot of free videos on YouTube. I like watercolor even though I don’t really have time for it right now. I love Anna Mason’s channel and I highly recommend it.

      E-Books from the library. Getting lost in another world/place/time is helpful.

      Dry Bar Comedy on YouTube for a good laugh.

      1. Thank you for suggestions..esp. the watercolor classes.. My art studio leader has a big screen set up in the main studio and during Covid we all went into our own home craft area, did our crafts and art together via ZOOM..chatting and visiting while we worked/played. We are going to return to that after Christmas week till Covid runs its course again.

        I do have an e library account,I LOVE to read.Sometimes my concentration has been lacking but when I CAN get lost in a good book it is a God-send!

        And reading uplifting blogs, like yours and The Frugal Girl (Kristen). And am taking care of my little family, this all helps my state of mind.I start my day with spiritual reading and a gratitude journal most days,too.

        Oh, just after I sent that comment my husband came down with COVID! He has a mild case, mostly a lot of sneezing and runny nose but we’re keeping him in the bedroom, me on the couch. I leave his food by the door,lol! He is very healthy generally so I feel we will get through this ok.. but of course we both sequestering at home for the 10 days.. not that I had anything planned anyway!! This omicron is very transmissible,evidently.We are SOOO careful and he got sick anyway.

  21. I give boxes of Russell Stover candy to each of the banks and insurance companies and other vendors that our farm does business with. Plus also take boxes of candy to the libraries in our system. Was able to get $10 boxes of candy for only $3.35 by combining BOGO free along with 30% off holiday candy weekend sale at Kroger. Great savings as I buy almost 30 boxes. Hand deliver along with Christmas cards bought on clearance.
    My family celebrates Christmas a week early so I’m headed to the city to pet sit Dec 21-27. They leave me tons of gifts cards and cash and I plan to take full advantage of curbside pickups at local Memphis restaurants, I don’t plan on making so much as a sandwich, all restaurant meals which are unavailable in rural MS. Plus my homeowners have great internet (which is also unavailable here on the farm) and all sorts of streaming packages. I plan to eat, read, play with pups, watch tv and nap for 5 straight days. It will be a terrific vacation and all I have to do is look after two sweet pups and check the mail. Only downside is pups get up at 6am and I don’t normally get up until 9. But I can get up early for a few days; there’s always afternoon naps.

  22. I love that you use both the zest AND the juice of the lemon — no food waste! And I’m glad you were able to see your son!

    My frugal week:
    – I was sent some chocolate chips as part of a survey, so I used them to make chocolate chip peanut butter cookies (http://approachingfood.com/chocolate-pb-cookies-two-ways/). I also used some mini peanut butter cups (purchased from the dollar store, and then using the checkout 51 app for a rebate)
    – I bought ground beef and blsl chicken thighs for 40% off, and froze most of it to use at a later date. I just used the chicken thighs as I would chicken breast, and made panko-breaded chicken to be used in crunchy chicken wraps (along with 50% off chipotle cheddar salad) and used leftovers in sandwiches.
    – I baked carrot and apple muffins, as well as soda bread and pizza dough.
    – I finished up my cookie tins and handed them out to friends and neighbours, wrapping them with reused ribbon and leftover labels that my mother had.
    – I gave myself a gel manicure
    – I treated myself to a holiday coffee, using a gc earned online

    I know that I did lots more, but I can’t seem to remember anything else! Looking forward to learning from everyone else, as always!

  23. You took such a good photo of your handsome son, Brandy!

    We are having a quiet Christmas here. Our tradition is to do many lights outside, as others enjoy them so much. Inside, I have just a tiny tabletop tree with wee decorations I have collected over the past 15 years. We normally buy one small item for each person in our family- a pair of socks, some candy, etc. But this year we have a grandchild and it made my husband so happy to buy toys for him. Those gifts will be tucked away for January when we will celebrate with our daughter’s little family. Our son will be visiting and so it will just be three of us and my mother. She’s in memory care but loves to open gifts so I’m picking up an assortment of things for her at the dollar store that will make her happy.

    We’ve really not spent much on the holiday this year- some new lights out front, some toys for the little one. I have some big rolls of wrapping paper from years past that I will continue to use. But we will light candles, put on some holiday music and gather around the table for a cookies and the company of each other.

    Merry Christmas to everyone here. And kind thoughts to those who have had losses and find this time of year to be hard.

  24. I love the pansy (or is it a johnny jump-up) in the first picture. I actually had pansies in my wedding. they are just about my favorite flower.
    We are going to have a quiet Christmas. Just the DH and I – so we have decided we are going to BBQ ribs, and have baked beans and potato salad. I already have the ribs and BBQ sauce, I have potatoes and onions from the garden still and have plenty of eggs and homemade pickles for the potato salad, and I am just using a can of baked beans.
    We made cauliflower soup, with home-grown cauliflower and homemade chicken broth from the freezer along with garden onions, chow mein – with cabbage, onions and carrots from the garden, along with some leftover Costco chicken, some celery that was kind of limp and a package of angel hair from the pantry, chicken pot pie, suing home made frozen mixed vegetables, some more of the Costco chicken and chicken broth, and pie crusts that I make and freeze, and homemade focaccia bread pizza.
    I was able to get a 3 lb. bag of clementines for $1.99 from Safeway, with a limit of 1, pineapple for 79¢ each – I bought 4, Butter for $1.99 a pound – got 6. That is about the limit to the shopping I have done this week.
    I made another batch of almond roca, and a batch of Chex mix. Will probably make one more of each before Christmas.
    We got about 4 inches of snow on Thursday/Friday – and on Friday afternoon, a neighbor came and plowed our driveway and in front of our mailbox. My DH tried to pay him, but he wouldn’t take it, said “Merry Christmas” – so I put together a plate of almond roca, peppermint bark, oatmeal chocolate chip cookies, and some Chex mix – and had DH take that to him and his family saying “Merry Christmas.” I really love my neighborhood.
    In keeping with my goal of improving my outlook on life – one day I told a cashier how pretty I thought her hair was. It was just in a ponytail – but it was curly and looked festive. It also brought out her eyes and her smile – and I told her that too. She turned to her supervisor and said “Can I keep her for when I’m not feeling so good about myself?” That made my day.
    I listened to Christmas music while doing all of my cooking and washing dishes.
    My DH waterproofed a pair of boots and a pair of hiking shoes. Those will be my winter shoes. It can get sloppy here.
    I hope everyone has a wonderful holiday.

  25. I haven’t commented in a long time. I do read weekly but as my busiest time is in the early week by the time I catch up I feel the week has passed me by. This week is the big ( months and months and months) report but also a request for advice ( specifically for the Australians on here).

    Anyway- incredibly fortunate to be on leave last week and this week ( doing a bit of ad hoc work from second and third jobs but nothing compared to normal).

    Savings- sister visited last weekend. It was so lovely to see her. At home we ate from freezer. We did go out to a shopping centre but I found some great sales on clothes for teenagers that were not online ( in same amount) so it balanced out. My youngest had great fun with her aunt and practised her negotiating skills ( fidget toys)! My sister took all our presents back with her ( my mother will be with her for Christmas)- they live 8 hours drive away. I don’t have the hassle/cost of posting everything nor do I need to worry about things getting there safely. My sister was massively delayed on her way home which is frugal for her as she gets a full refund ( she had taken the following day as leave anyway).

    Most of the Christmas presents this year are clothes from good brands which I have bought on very good sales ( including last weekend). I have also recently been crocheting a lot and making a lot of cowls or scarves. Initially I thought I had gone overboard but they have been presents for son ( further north than us- feels the cold), older daughter ( when it turned cold I hauled one out of the stash), daughter’s friend whom I have known since she was 3 ( now 18)- eighteenth birthday gift was small piece of silver jewellery and a handmade cowl- she raved about the cowl. My sister has been given one for Christmas, brother-in-law received one for birthday, another 3 are being given as part of Christmas presents. I did give one to youngest for school but it went missing on the first day🙁. I made a scarf for my mother as part of her Christmas gift. My present drawer of cowls is depleted so will make more🙂!

    I dropped into a supermarket for the usual ( last before Christmas) shop and found cranberries massively reduced- made 5 jars of cranberry sauce for £1.50 OOP. All I bought for this was the cranberries- I had the sugar, cherry brandy- 30 years old from a party late husband once had (before he met me)- not sure any alcohol left in it but it’s useful once a year for my cranberry sauce! I have given a jar to a dear ( works incredibly hard) friend and my MIL.

    I don’t buy Christmas gifts at Christmas. Instead if I see something ( at a good price) that I think someone I love will like I buy it and pop it into the present drawer/s. I can’t tell you how much that habit has saved me over the years. I hate that last minute panic of having nothing for someone then spending too much and I haven’t had to do that for years- somehow the magic drawers always deliver!

    On the usual savings- a Tesco express near us discounted milk to 45p for 4 pints. I bought all 12 bottles ( nobody else was interested as it caters to the young working demographic). Just finishing them. I saved more than £10. I squished them into the freezers. On another day I also found New Zealand leg of lambs discounted in a supermarket ( a whole shelf) from £34/35 to £8/9. I now have 2 in the freezer.

    This Christmas food is taken care of. After last Christmas I bought a Turkey and ham in the post- Christmas sales for tiny prices. I also have a goose from Lidl- bought with the £10 off £40 offer from a year or so ago. I have Brussels sprouts blanched ( bought on sale) and of course the cranberry sauce. Need potatoes ( not costly). I am making mince pies for dessert. I always cook an enormous amount for Christmas Day and then go on strike ( no official fresh cooking just leftovers) until about New Year’s Eve. Carcasses are used ( and re-used thanks to a comment on here) for stock for soup or for stock for rescue angel ( dog) to have with his food. He continues in perfect health.

    I have booked a shop to be delivered in a few days. I hate going to the stores just before Christmas. It is just too busy. I have bought basics and shopped an awful lot of offers. I suspect there are more restrictions coming in ( from the headlines). I was incredibly lucky to be very well prepared before March 2020 hit ( well- compared to most people). If anything does happen we will manage from my freezer (as happened in 2020).

    Another frugality that I am very proud of. My teenage son has started university. He has promptly found himself a job. Whenever we discuss money his reply is – ‘we aren’t touching your account’. We will need to touch my account a bit but not half as much as would have been the case if he had no job. I’m proud of bringing up a child with this sense of responsibility.

    Another saving. My tumble dryer has died ( not the saving). I seem to go through them really fast. Not sure why ( suspect hard water). I’m fed up replacing them. My mother recently moved into sheltered accommodation and she had a heated airdryer ( from Lakeland ) that had been used twice. It is now on its way to me. I have my son’s room to put it in( when he is not visiting). It costs pennies to run and may last longer than the tumble dryers. I have paid postage.

    Anyway- the Australian advice request- my closest friend lives in Australia. We met at the age of 18 and have been friends ever since. We went through university together. Even though we have not seen one another in person for 21 years we can pick up the phone and discuss anything. Her husband has been diagnosed with stage 4 cancer ( at age 54). This is his last Christmas. As soon as I heard I started mentally packing ( yes I know about restrictions but was preparing application). She has told me that she would prefer I visit after everything is over. I have decided that is better because if I visit now she will try to give me a good ‘ holiday’ ( not the reason for the visit) and the last thing I want is for her to be distracted/ worrying about something else at this time. The advice I need is this- what stores are there that I can place an online order on to help? I was thinking of a food hamper ( small luxuries to tempt his appetite – they are frugal people and are stable financially). Another friend has mentioned that people having chemo ( his is palliative ) get very dry skin so rich creams help ( I did go onto Australian cancer association websites but only found sunscreen). If anyone can let me know about Australian stores that can deliver ( or if anyone can think of something else that would help) please could you reply?

    1. BBC is reporting that they think everyone in the U.K. will have the new variant by the end of January, and France has blocked arrivals, so I can only imagine another lockdown could happen. It certainly has in the Netherlands! It is good to be prepared.

      I hope my Australian readers have lots of answers for you! I love this idea!

    2. Sheena, I am so sorry for your friend and her husband. I don’t know about Australian-based companies for lotion, but you can have Arbonne lotion (which is my favorite luxe brand) shipped to Australia –however, it is quite expensive. Hopefully someone will know of a local-to-Australia place you can buy from.

      Even though they are financially stable, they might appreciate a gift of money to buy what he wants to eat, or something to make her life a little easier. My mom does that sometimes. We have a good income but try not to spend money unwisely. My mom gifts me money for my birthday or Christmas and tells me to spend it on clothes, a dinner out, or something else she knows I don’t usually get for myself. It’s a treat to have that permission to splurge.

    3. Christmas greetings from New Zealand Sheena! I’m not Australian but an Australian department store that delivers gifts of many kinds is David Jones https://www.davidjones.com/. It’s not a budget store by any means but I had a look at the gifting suggestions and they did look nice. I’m sure your friends would appreciate a gift from there. It’s a great idea to order from a website in Australia – much more certainty about delivery etc. I hope your friends find peace this Christmas, and I’m sure your future visit will provide your friend with something to look forward to.

      Anne in NZ

    4. I follow a blog by an Australian woman (Annabel), it’s called, ‘Bluebirds Are Nesting On The Farm.’ It is an excellent blog. You might hop over there and ask her. I believe she could help you. You will love her!

    5. Hi Sheena
      Another good website to try is Myer which is also a big department store in Australia – I had a quick look and they have lots of sales on at the moment. Jurlique also have a lovely range of creams and skin care products that use organic ingredients. Wishing you and your friend’s husband peace this Christmas.

  26. How lovely to have a visit with your son! As always, you do so much to save money so it was great that you could get such a good deal on some items.

    I am still recovering from this terrible cold/flu bug – not Covid – I went for a PCR test last week and it was negative. I am feeling much better but still tire easily so trying to pace myself. I have finished all Christmas shopping except for one gift – which is half done and will be finished on Wednesday. I managed to buy the token food gifts that I give out at the office by shopping the weekend sales at Shoppers (for Cdn. readers, they do have some great buys on Sat. & Sun.) A friend picked up some fresh fruit & veg for me when I was sick so I actually have very little to buy for Christmas/Boxing day and beyond. Like you Brandy – and many others on this site – aside from the necessary fresh food – I now tend to buy whatever is on sale and then work that into my food planning menu. I can rotate these items with what I already have in my freezer and pantry.

    I did get a very unexpected refund from the Govt. (first time I ever qualified for a GST rebate) so I kept out $100 for some extra shopping and applied the rest to my CC – this means that I can head into the New Year ahead of the game for once! I also used another $20 in Loyalty points which always helps.

    A few of you have mentioned using a rolled up towel to block drafts but I purchased something from Amazon a few years ago – MAGZO Under Door Draft Blocker 32in Length, Beige Flower Printed Door Snake Draft Stopper Cold Weather Wind Stopper Stuck by Hook&Loop – I laughed because my Scottish grandmothers always called this item “a snake” but wasn’t sure if it was even available in Canada or the US. It is quite heavy so stays in place and really does make a difference. Amazon has a few different ones at various price points. I have had mine for at least 3 years now so the cost per use is tiny.

    My brother shot a deer last week (crossbow hunter) but he and my SIL aren’t all that fond of venison so he gives it to a fellow hunter who lives mostly on wild game and fish so nothing goes to waste. He has two more tags for this season so I’ve asked him to save me some venison from his next kill as I do rather like game meat – although it will probably be the Spring until I get to visit. Covid numbers are rising and we are once again under some restrictions and asked not to travel unless absolutely necessary. I am actually looking forward to another quiet Christmas. I am from a large family – and now an even larger blended family so Christmas has always been rather chaotic and noisy – much as I love them – I actually appreciate being able to have a much more low key and quiet time on my own or with just a friend or two.

    I am looking forward to the tour of your home and your decorations Brandy but just in case – I will say Merry Christmas to you, your family, and all your readers now. Stay safe and well everyone.

  27. I was so excited this week when our electric bill was about 40 dollars less! We bought two hams at 95
    cents a lb. at Aldi as well as cream cheese at $1.15 each. We will use one ham for sandwiches instead of deli sandwich meat. I froze one for later. My husband ended up making tarragon chicken salad with some of the chicken leg quarters I bought for 39 cents a lb. I froze bones to make bone broth later. And tonight I will make barbecued chicken unless I see another recipe I want to make in the next couple of hours. We also made chicken noodle soup using leftover noodles from spaghetti. ( We kept the sauce separate so I could use the noodles for something else if need be.). We had more noodles than sauce.
    We went out twice this week. I thought about walking out of one of the restaurants when I saw the prices had gone up tremendously. But I know the owner and didn’t want to be rude. It will be a long time before return even though the food is wonderful. I know I can cook for a fraction of the cost of eating out. Then we also took my son and grandchildren out for lunch. It was a lovely time and lunch is cheaper than dinner. So we were happy. But we are planning a picnic next time we visit. It will be an indoor picnic. I even already have a tablecloth I can use to make it fun. We get to see them on Christmas and so I think. we will do ham sandwiches and peanut butter and jelly sandwich for my granddaughter, oranges, carrots and I think I might make some cookies. My grandkids love picnics anyway and we will save a bundle! I’ve turned down our heat to save some money. I’m enjoying wearing my new- to- me clothing that I got for $1.50 each. I love it when I get compliments on my thrift store clothes. If someone asks where I got it I say “From a little boutique .” I’ve been doing that since I am certain I embarrassed someone who complimented me then asked me where I get my dresses. When I told her I got them from good will and other thrift shops. She looked mortified. I felt terrible for her. I think more than 90 percent of my clothing is from these “little boutiques.” I love to find gems! It is fun for me. Now I need to stop though, unless I change size or get rid of something or if I find a winter dress my size. I don’t have any warm winter dresses. But I don’t want to pay full price for a winter dress. Family, however; knows I get my clothes from thrift stores. I love a good deal!

    1. Tammy, I listened to a comedian two weeks ago talk about a Harvard t-shirt that he bought.
      A man walked up to him in the park and said, “Did you go to Harvard?”
      He responded, “No. I went to Goodwill!”

      I pulled an Ann Taylor sweater from my drawer to wear this morning. I think this one was from the thrift store, but I have bought Ann Taylor sweaters for $1 to $2 each at garage sales!

      1. Brandy,
        I love that joke! It really is a joke between my husband and myself that I love “little boutiques”…the name we give my thrift shops! But I also don’t want to offend anyone that just gave me a compliment. It is so nice to share my deals with someone who appreciate it! I love that you got Ann Taylor sweaters for $1 each at garage sales. I went to a garage sale this summer and found some warm clothes for a dollar as well.

    2. Tammy, it was funny to read your post because I have a different perspective on this. I teach at an innercity middle school where most of my students live well below the poverty rate. The kids often comment on my clothes, shoes, and ask where I got it. They notice everything. I always respond that it was from a yard sale, thrift shop, hand me down, etc. This way they know that those are not places to be ashamed of.

      My daughter (age 17) is very proud of her discount clothes and brags about it all the time. However, my son (age 12) gets freaked out to think that someone wore his clothes before him, so I just don’t tell him. I wash the yard sale finds and put them in his drawer, he never knows where it came from.

      1. Such a great point!

        My eldest daughter and all the girls her age at church all shopped at the closest thrift store. They said it was the best place!

      2. Dianna, that makes a lot of sense. I’m not ashamed of thrifting. I feel like I am being a good steward of what we have. I always told everyone until that one woman looked mortified when I told her. But that is a good idea to tell the children. And maybe I should rethink what I say. My little boutiques are thrift shops.

      3. I had to chuckle about the “little boutiques” vs Goodwill etc. I live in a very “status and label oriented” downtown area. We have a professional dress code at work, and I wear a lot of “designer” clothing – most of which has been purchased at garage sales! Whenever people compliment my outfit or accessory, I proudly admit that I paid $1 (or whatever) at a garage sale. Most people respond that they need to go to the sales I go to. I like quality items, but I prefer never to pay full price if I can avoid it! I say fly that thrift store/garage sale flag proudly!

  28. ***I hosted a group of friends for brunch. We just did appetizers and played Dirty Santa. I did a charcuterie board with grapes, cheese, summer sausage, and grape tomatoes shaped like a tree. I also did a corn dip and chips, and chocolate peanut clusters. I had a candle we got from our church party I was able to put in the gift exchange and regift so I didn’t have to buy a gift. Ha, I took what I won from that game and my MIL added it to my great nieces gift.
    ***All my kids came home with two girlfriends the end of the week and we did an early Christmas. My two nieces and their families of 10 came, an uncle came, MIL is here so we had 22 people, 18 sleeping in my house.
    ***I made pancakes and sausage the first morning. The 2nd I made a breakfast casserole with sausage, hash Bronson, cream cheese, cheddar, egg and milk. I also made homemade cinnamon rolls.
    ***We took the kids to a hockey game and ate pizza, and the neices arrived while we were at the game. The next night my husband and I had a wedding and office party so MIL got BBQ. Then I made 4 lasagnas for the last day when we celebrated our Christmas. That is tradition since 1997 when my son was born on Dec 22nd and we went home on the 24th. That year we had lasagna and my husband said it was the best Christmas because I wasn’t in the kitchen cooking.
    ***We give the kids an ornament every year.
    ***I have Christmas China I get out every year the day after Thanksgiving. We always ate every supper by candlelight when the kids were growing up.
    ***We used to start with the nativity wise men far from the mantle and every night move them closer after reading a section of a devotion. Christmas Eve Mary and Joseph would arrive without Jesus and we put Jesus in the Manger Christmas Day.
    ***We would turn out all the lights except the tree. I would hide a piece of candy for each kid. My husband would shine the flashlight around the room and have them moving all around searching for the candy. Eventually he would shine it right at the area if they had not found it. We called the flashlight the Star and they were mimicking searching for Jesus.
    ****I got two packages of chicken tenders ( precooked, not breaded) and froze them in 2 meal size portions each. I plan to cook both and freeze on meals worth each time I cook.
    ***I made chili the night before all our company came. I froze a pasta sauce jar that was not full. I added water to the bowl it had been in and swished up all the chili and poured that in the jar over the other chili.
    ***I had 1.5 pans of lasagna left. I cut portion squares and wrapped each in aluminum foil to freeze. got about 16 individual servings. My son is taking a few home, and one daughter took 4. The rest I will have for future meals.
    ***I sent a pan of the homemade cinnamon rolls to my daughter’s work. I was his first orthodontic assistant and my daughter now works for him.
    ***An uncle brought a small honey baked ham. I don’t like the ham with a glaze diced to use in beans because of the sugars on it. I will slice and freeze for sandwiches. I don’t even know if it has a bone, but will use the bone in beans or turnip greens if it does.
    ***We had leftover pulled pork and ribs from the BBQ my MIL bought. I froze them after kids took what they wanted.
    ***I got a Babylock quilting machine and frame with part of my husband’s bonus. He decided to buy a welder. The rest we will save/put on mortgage, we honestly haven’t been alone in a week to talk. Brandy, I was telling him how y’all made the arbors and cut and shaped and welded them. He said not to expect that, haha.
    ***My MIL went home with niece to see family down south a few weeks. EMPTY HOUSE!!!!! Whoo-hoo.

    1. I just want to add all my kids didn’t come home with two girlfriends. I died laughing when I reread that! All my kids came home, as well as two of their girlfriends.

  29. Your son is so grown-up, Brandy! Amazing how the time flies, isn’t it?
    Weather is lovely here– warm but not too warm. We have a really nice person renting our house next door for a few months and it’s so nice to have an upbeat, friendly, neighbor. We’re hoping he decides to stay on longer.
    We made crackers from nut pulp left over from the nut milk we also make. We dehydrate the crackers in the Excalibur.
    We put our tree up with lights we already had and most of our old, sentimentally significant vintage ornaments. I put free branches from the tree place in water as an arrangement and also made mini arrangements in 2 rusty urns someone gave us. I stuck the smaller branches in Oasis I’d found on bulk trash and attached a few silver glass ornaments with green pipe cleaners. They look cute.
    We’ve been playing Christmas music CDs that we’ve had a long time, plus ones we got at the thrift store this year. We took magazines to the thrift store and bought some soft-cover books. We’ll put them in the Little Free Library box when we finish reading them. We also got a couple of books from the library.
    My Christmas cactus is blooming beautifully and I’m so proud of having kept it alive for 3 years!
    We’re making a seitan un-turkey for Christmas dinner as well as colcannon, mushroom gravy, and cranberry sauce. Invitees will bring other vegetable side-dishes. We aren’t doing gifts this year, but I think I miss that and maybe next year we’ll just do stockings for each other.

    Merry Christmas to all and gratitude to you, Brandy for the work it takes to bring us together

  30. Brandy and all,
    Merry Christmas!
    I used a $5 off $5 purchase at Ace Hardware to purchase a large bag of apple wood chips. My out of pocket cost was like .35 cents. This will be a Christmas gift to my husband. He likes to smoke some of the fish he catches and likes to use apple wood in the smoker. This year with food costs being so high, I decided to make up food baskets as gifts. I knew of a family who could really use help so I made up a large grocery basket (9 people in their household). I also made up a grocery basket for my neighbor who has only worked here and there since the pandemic. For my two adult children, I made up grocery baskets and then gave each a $50 gift card to the grocery store they use. I was able to get $10 off the gift cards using my loyalty points. I figure everyone needs food and I would rather buy necessary things instead of more stuff. I used as many loss leader deals as I could find in these baskets.
    My grandson has a birthday in early January so instead of buying him a gift, I have found an animal rescue that will give him a tour and teach him a little about sick animals. My grandson is 9 yrs old and loves to learn about animals. I will provide him a donation to give the shelter to help with their on-going costs for food. I feel he will enjoy this more than anything I could buy and it will be helping a good cause at the same time.
    Our water comes from a well and unfortunately the pump decided to stop working last night. We were able to get it fixed today which was a huge blessing as having running water in our house is a great Christmas gift but I am afraid it is also a very expensive gift. We will have to work hard to replenish our emergency fund in the new year.
    Thank you Brandy and everyone else for a great year of beautiful photos and excellent advice on living a frugal yet quality life. Such an inspiration and so motivating!!

  31. Christmas is going to be a low key event. My girls have the opportunity to work some extra parties at a catering co. We are going to celebrate somewhere between their obligations. I brought home 18 lbs of Jimmy Deen sausage. Its a very happy addition to my freezer. I used Ibotta to buy a small carton of diapers. I’m delivering a few items to a friend of my sons. A couple years ago ,someone made a Christmas gift to me and my daughter. This year I was able to pay it forward. Each year ,I send money to a cousin who is raising his grandchildren. Sadly ,his wife was recently diagnosed with cancer. My insurance agent was able to get them a no cost policy to cover her medical treatment. Many aquaintences of my friend have reached out with various sources of help including filing her disability. They are getting them low cost housing and into a program for grandparents raising children. Amazon has delivered toys ,food and clothes. I have sat and cried tears of joy each time someone has contacted me and offered to help. Joy to the world rings in my ears. I am so touched at all the kindness that has been sent his way. His wife won’t live long but he will be on stable ground to raise his three young ones. There are no words to describe his joy.

  32. I earned a $10 PayPal payment from an online survey – I cashed it out to my bank then put it in my Christmas Club for next year. I won the Ugly Sweater contest at work and won six hot cocoa bombs. My husband and I are learning how to cook smaller amounts for just the two us, and either eat the leftovers ourselves or share them with our son. He enjoys taking leftovers to work for his lunch. I got a little bit of overtime at work for this paycheck, which is always nice. I ordered a copy of Dave Ramsey’s Money Makeover book off of paperbackswap. I don’t follow everything he suggests but I do like reading his thoughts and wanted my own copy. My daughter and I often share books, which makes for cheap reading and binding while discussing the books.

  33. I skipped buying Christmas theme stamps. I only had 11 cards to mail, so I just made do with the stamps I had

    The 14yo brought home granola she made in school and shared with everyone.

    I used my 7.95 audible credit for a book on my list(still had to pay the difference, but softened the blow)

    Ate lunch at work.

    Used $1.25 off a Redbox rental

    Had our December meeting/Christmas party for my book club. Was potluck and got to eat lots of food. Brought home some brownies no one else wanted. Had a gift exchange (under $10) and came home with candy, a Christmas cup, plus the gift I chose. (Which ended up being something Harry Potter, that I love)

    Used a $5 off $20 at Papa Murphys. Got a big pizza for us, salad, and a small pizza for the 14yo for under $18. Plenty of leftovers on pizza also.

    Used Starbuck points for a free drink

  34. Brandy awesome deals. Free is so good!

    -I removed buttons from 2 of my husbands shirts. Tip- I string the buttons on large safety pins to keep them together so if I sew a shirt or something that takes a few buttons, I have matching buttons. One of the shirts was plain cotton and completely thread bare so I threw it. The other shirt was a heavy canvas and was very worn in the collar and cuffs. I salved the good fabric from the back of the shirt, front panels including pockets, and the upper sleeves. I think I will make a purse or tote from this after Christmas.

    -Found butter at $1.98/lb, limit 5. Bought my limit as I will use this in baking this week. Although this will be frozen and I will take 5# from the freezer. I will make 2 platters of goodies, one for Christmas Eve and one for Christmas Day. Also will be giving some food gifts away. I also will need to make lefse and kringla. Some for us and some for gifts.

    -All my fabric bags are made and all the gifts are put in them or wrapped and under the tree.

    -The weather has been so weird. Wednesday it was 50 and we had tornados in southern Minnesota. By Friday we had snow and 70 mile an hour winds. Highs in the teens and low 20’s. So now roads are slippery and snow covered. Now we will spend more time at home. I hate driving on bad roads. We have one more Christmas program at the preschool of our youngest granddaughter this week on Tuesday. We will get groceries for the holiday week that day on the way home. Then it will be the only day we need to be out until Christmas.

    -Meals were homemade pizza made with home canned pizza sauce, home canned French onion soup and sandwiches, brats and home fries, hamburgers and scalloped potatoes, home canned bean and ham soup with cheese and crackers, and leftovers.

    Have a great week and a Merry Christmas!

  35. We spent the past week in Jamaica for our 42nd anniversary. It was not an inexpensive trip, but being frugal helped us to pay for everything up front, so we did not come home with any debt. It was a wonderful celebration and I am happy we were able to do it.
    Before we left we picked up the 1/4 beef we had purchased from a local rancher, and on the way home we stopped at Costco (something we do about 4 or 5 times a year.) So the freezer and cupboards are full and I hope to stay out of the stores during January.

  36. *Received a letter this week declaring that we’ve been approved for 100% financial aid for my daughter’s hospital stay in October! We’ve received this assistance in the past (3 of my kids have a genetic heart condition that sometimes needs medical intervention), but I was hesitant to apply this time because our financial situation has been slightly better this year and I didn’t think we’d get it. They ask for a lot of invasive information… social security numbers, tax forms, etc… and wasn’t sure that I wanted to go to all the trouble just to get rejected. I’m glad I did, though, because this is saving us thousands!

    *Our credit cards numbers (not the cards, just the numbers) were apparently stolen recently because some odd charges showed up on our account. (We use our credit card for anything that doesn’t charge a fee to do so because we earn quite a bit in cash back each month that way, and I pay it off weekly so there’s never a balance accruing interest.) We weren’t held responsible for the fraudulent charges, but this situation was sort of a frugal (though highly inconvenient) win because we didn’t want to spend ANY money until our new cards came in. We send all the cash back rewards straight to savings, so we wanted to be patient about spending to maximize that.

    *Dinners at home included burgers and hot dogs (for oldest daughter’s birthday), lemon chicken/baked potatoes/broccoli, ranch style beans, pork noodle pho-style soup, borscht, spaghetti, lasagna.

    *Gave haircuts to my 2 youngest kids.

    *Had a couple of warmer days, so didn’t have to use heat for almost 3 days.

    *And finally…2 of us (so far) have Covid, so we’re obviously staying home. In trying to find a bright side to that, we’re obviously saving a ton of money since we can’t do all the stuff we had planned this week.

    Looking forward to hearing how everyone else saved money this week.

  37. I wish I could give you some of our pinecones, Brandy! We have more than enough for all of your readers plus some. I use them to fill in planters so I don’t have to use as much potting soil. My husband was just saying that he wants to get an estimate to have 5 of our pine trees taken down. I’m not looking forward to that expense.

    We went to a couple of estate sales over the weekend and my husband found a long-handle bulb planter for $5. That will really help me to get the 300+ tulip/daffodil bulbs planted over Christmas break.

    My daughter was asked to bring a dessert to a party with friends. She found everything in our pantry for a Jello cake. She brought some of it home, it was so good!

    Earlier in the fall, Office Depot had a free battery reward — basically you get back the amount paid. We go through a lot of batteries, so I would have been buying them anyway. I used the rewards to buy cardstock for my classroom and nice pen sets for my daughter. She will be thrilled, and I only paid 65 cents after the rewards.

    This is my 2nd year working in a new building. At my old school, we did not give each other gifts — instead, we did a big feast day and everyone brought a large contribution which was considered your gift to the rest of the faculty. Well, at my new school, I asked last year and was told that gifts were not exchanged…but apparently that was faulty information or maybe just a weird Covid year. On the last day of school, 4 of the teachers gave me small gifts including Chex mix, candy, a jar of apple butter, and a $10 gift card. I felt so tacky and bah-humbug not being prepared with something to give back. I will have to plan ahead for next year! Maybe this summer I should do an extra dozen jars of strawberry jam or something like that.

    Hoping that everyone here has a Merry Christmas!!

  38. Mere Kirihimete from New Zealand. I think I have finally cracked how to post with it disappearing into the ether….. I need to use Chrome as the browser in my iPad.
    I am only apprentice level frugal but you are all so inspiring. However this coming year we will need to be very careful so we can achieve some big goals, including visiting the USA and the UK to see our children . I would love to meet my granddaughter (born March 2020) and so it is worth some very careful spending to make that happen. Let’s hope that international borders are open in time.
    To all of you in this community, thank you for the time and trouble you take to share your knowledge. I hope you all have the holiday season you are hoping for.

  39. Does anyone know how a person can become a cabinet maker, if they do not know anyone who can teach them? Are there schools anywhere that teach high quality woodworking? A frugal person I know would like to/needs to change occupations. They literally cannot afford housing on what they currently earn.

    This week I got some Tillamook ice cream on a buy one, get one free sale, at Fred Meyer (Kroger) yellow onions for 38 cents per pound and plum tomatoes for 98 cents per pound at WalMart, 60 cents off per gallon on gasoline ($2.19), six pairs of clearance stockings for $5 at Haines outlet mall, Fuji apples for 79 cents per pound, and raw cashews for $3.49+- per pound at Andy’s Market. I wore my $10 thrift store long wool coat with my $8 thrift store dress and my discount shoes to church this week. I guess I should count the dry cleaning bill for the coat in with the cost. The dress was a “commercial salvage” item, I guess, because it had tags left from when it was for sale in a regular store. I had been praying about finding a warmer dress when I found this one; I am so pleased with how warm this is, and it is washable. Unfortunately, I have “outgrown” my other coat, but this “new” one is going to work well. This past week as I was coming out of church into an icy wind, I heard someone tell another woman she should put on her coat, and she said, “I don’t have one.” I think she has gained some weight, too. She told me last week that she had bought her children new coats because they had to have coats because the ones they were wearing were just too small, and she couldn’t find anything at the thrift stores. She told me one of the stores was so dirty and smelled; one little girl said, “Let’s go, Momma,” as soon as they walked in. She found a coat that she thought might fit the other younger girl and thought the girl could just slip it on quickly to see if it fit, but the girl said, “Please Momma. I don’t want to wear that coat.” I felt squirmy, and wondered to myself if she had to put the new coats on a credit card, but I didn’t think to ask about if she was keeping warm herself. Her husband started a new job after being out of work last winter and spring because of COVID. She is no longer working because they moved, and she is homeschooling the girls this year. I know they rented a smaller apartment to save money. We have brought extra food and books and games, but I need to pay more attention and pass along more of the blessings.
    My husband’s hair is looking better since it has had a week to grow after the haircut I gave him:) I am still not very successful with my plan to start sewing. I have watched some online videos. I found a nice YouTube video by Kenneth King for Threads magazine about sewing invisible zippers (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dilNiUyuL28), and I have watched that a couple of times. I think this is the best zipper video I have seen of the ones I have watched.

    1. The local carpenter’s union should teach the person and provide a way to start working.

      Is there a way you can get a coat for this woman? If you bought a used coat and had it cleaned could you drop it off? Or maybe something from a club store like Sam’s Club? Sometimes they have coats for $40. You would have to guess her size but perhaps?

      1. Thanks for the ideas. We don’t have a Sam’s Club, but maybe the Columbia outlet store which is a quite a drive but probably worth it.

      2. Just want to reinforce Brandy’s point. My dad was Director of Apprenticeship for the Carpenter’s union (many years ago). A lot of people aren’t aware that the training and apprenticeship programs include a lot beyond what people think of. Millwright (think of carpentry with metal), mill-cab (building cabinetry) and even ship building and outfitting. You earn while you learn!

        Also – some community colleges have technical programs that include woodworking, etc. Also – push for what is available for student aid – lots for non-traditional students. Another resource is the local workforce center.

        Good luck!

    2. Many community colleges have workforce training programs. Even if they don’t offer cabinetmaking, they probably know how to get into the trade. Also, contact cabinet shops and picking their brains. This site may provide helpful info–https://www.vocationaltraininghq.com/how-to-become/cabinet-maker/#:~:text=How%20to%20Become%20a%20Cabinet%20Maker%201%20Get,have%20to%20end%20at%20being%20a%20journeyman.%20

      1. Margaret, I just wanted to say that I love your statement, “Thanks for giving me the opportunity to bless someone.”

        So often I find that people are reluctant to accept help, not realizing it is also as much of a blessing (or more) for the giver. I plan to borrow your well-worded sentiment!

  40. Just wanted to wish everyone a happy holiday season and to say thanks to all of you who post. I really value this connection with kindred spirits all over the globe. It’s reassuring to know that no matter what is going on in the world, meals are being cooked, gardens are being planted, homes are being repaired, neighbors are being kind and families are being loved and cared for. Knowing that all of this is existing somewhere helps me to keep going when things get tough.

    1. Stacey, I agree. It is so encouraging to be part of this community. Sometimes when I get discouraged or even lazy, I think about you all and it gives me a little pep in my step. Many thanks for writing and moderating, Brandy.

  41. We had our family Christmas this past weekend. We served appetizers and those meat and cheese baked sandwiches with the butter mixture on top. I had very few leftovers which was kind of the goal as I have had a very full freezer (not a bad problem to have!) and had nowhere to really stash leftovers. This year, instead of gifting cash and doing stocking stuffers for the children we gave gifts. Overall, I came out a little under our usual Christmas budget. I am already purchasing birthday and Christmas gifts for the coming year. I figure end of year and Christmas sales is the time to do it. One bonus of gifting this year was I bought as I went along and so we halved the amount we typically take out of savings which ended being a good thing as we had to remove funds to cover a car repair for our single mom daughter. Fortunately, her brother was able to purchase and install the part. We picked up a standing rib roast for Christmas dinner. Yes, they are pricey but at the very best price this time of year in our area. In fact, one man was buying several and having them cut into steaks (a HUGE savings over the winter steak prices and less than half summer pricing). Ours is strictly a splurge meal but we only do this for our Christmas dinner, never at any other time and the sales this year were exactly what they have been every year for the past ten or so years. Well under $7/pound. I may end cutting ours in half since our Christmas guest list is dwindling to just three instead of the five we planned for. I roasted a whole chicken and made five meals from it. I still have the frame to cook off as broth. I usually save several in the freezer then do a huge stock pot of broth all at once. I have been getting my notebook ready for the coming year. I keep a running budget, track credit card use, copy out recipes I think sound good, keep an inspiration list of ideas to work from each month, note special sales and ideas of combinations for wardrobe pieces, plan food storage purchases, etc. It’s a handy tool all year long but at the end of each year, I empty it, load it with fresh paper and then sort and save recipes and inspiration sheets and shred those things I don’t want to float about like financial sheets, etc. In six months, I’ll go through the old inspiration sheets and recipes I’d written down but didn’t use and will cull out more of the paperwork to shred. Aside from a fresh budget sheet with a fresh look at the year ahead (with increased costs, ugh lol), one of the first things I’ll add to the notebook is a shopping list for the year ahead and a list of the gifts I’ve already purchased telling me who an item is for, for which occasion, and where it’s hidden (so important!). I’ll also do a fresh pantry and freezer inventory. I like to start January with a pantry/freezer challenge and use things that are about to expire or which have been languishing in storage. I always feel this challenge offsets the spendy Christmas dinner and taxes and annual fees due this time of year.
    Oh btw Brandy, we found the Alpine white Strawberries at the Publix where we shop. My husband spied them and while I gasped at the price (about $5 for 8 ounces) he dropped them in the shopping cart saying “I’ve never seen these before you should try them!” lol. I thought of you and your strawberries and wondered if you knew how much “Pineberry” money you were saving, lol by growing your own.

    1. They are so good!

      Sadly, all of mine have died, and I can no longer source seeds from the same price in bulk like I did. I was only able to find seeds for the tiny red ones. I plan to try again with the red ones.

  42. I learned I could mail priority mail envelopes with tracking without leaving the house for the same price as going to the post office. You have to plan ahead and order the free envelopes a day or more ahead of time, have paper, ink in your printer, clear packing tape (if you do not have label paper). But if the service is available in your area, you can arrange for the mail carrier to knock on your front door to be handed what you are sending. Parcels can be mailed from home too but you might need some sort of a scale and a tape measure besides the boxes. I feel spoiled, and far less stranded than before I learned what usps.com offers. No wonder our local dial-a-ride won’t take seniors to the post office. But pity the homebound seniors who are not minimally computer literate or who do not have a printer.

  43. I was gifted two butternut squash, and with one, made some soup.
    I distributed neighbor gifts of homemade peach ginger or spiced plum jam and got many compliments! The fruit was free to me from friends. I need to look for one cup jars for making jam for next year.
    We have also received many lovely neighbor gifts, from cookies, to dried beans, to nuts, and dishcloths.
    We went to a church party and I was able to bring home as leftovers two half pies (pumpkin and apple), stuffing, and potatoes.
    I am using wrapping paper and odds and ends of cards from years past for wrapping and sending cards to other.
    I donated a dress for a woman who had passed away and didn’t have anything appropriate to be dressed in.
    I have enjoyed watching Christmas movies and specials on TV and especially listening to Christmas music.
    I have enjoyed rehearsing and singing in our church choir.
    Attended a free alp horn concert of seasonal music.

    I have a question for those who have ceiling fans in their home. Do you use them in the winter (reversed direction for summer) to push to air down? Does it work? My husband and I are debating on whether or not this really helps. If it doesn’t, why use the electricity? Thanks.

      1. I agree. I can’t tell the difference with the fan reversed. Maybe if the ceiling was higher.

      2. I agree with you, Brandy. When my husband reverses the fans I just feel colder. I let him do it because it makes him happy. I would rather don a sweater and keep the peace. We have very high ceilings so I suppose it helps in some way. I just do not feel it:)

    1. I use my ceiling fans year round. I, however, do NOT change the blades. I leave them the way they are set for summer. Now…I have room heaters not central heat. That may be the difference. I turn the heater on in the morning and let the it run for a little while then turn on the fan. You can feel the heat come down from the ceiling.

    2. Kandace thank-you for donating a dress for the burial.
      A friend’s daughter is a funeral director and said her funeral home would always accept donations of suits, shirts, ties and women’s clothing especially larger sizes, but any would be accepted.

  44. I just wanted to say Merry Christmas to everyone and thank Brandy for creating and caring for this beautiful site. I have learned so much from Brandy and the commenters over the years.

    I have not had to go to the grocery store this week, since I had to do a stock up last week. My work place provided lunch today and it was very much appreciated.
    Our COVID numbers in West Tennessee are back on the rise. Everyone please be careful.

  45. Brandy,
    Your pictures are just fabulous! You definitely have a gift!

    I’ve been working quite a few days/hours helping out at my dad’s business. I had a frugal win one night when I didn’t want to make dinner after work, so I opened some canned chicken and made chicken salad. My family for sure wanted to eat out. I’ve rotated more crockpot meals in so dinner is hot and ready when I get home. We’ve also had frozen pizza and I went ahead and bought a carton of iced coffee to take with me since it’s still cheaper than picking one up.

    More Frugal Accomplishments:
    * As usual, went by the library for books and craft kits.
    * My daughter and I picked up a new mug from BN Group and filled it with cocoa and such for her boss’s Christmas gift.
    * Since it’s that time of year, people are bringing food and treats into the office, so I’ve been able to save some of my lunches and snacks.

    Hope everyone has a very Merry Christmas 🎄❤️

  46. Brandy, the closeup of the pansy is just lovely – the colors remind me of some of my irises; and thank you for sharing such a beautiful photo of your handsome son.

    The past weeks have been a whirlwind with Thanksgiving, shopping, visitors, travel, 4 family members’ birthdays and decorating for Christmas. My friend who lives on acreage on the mainland has brought me many more bags of mulched leaves for our garden beds; and lots of branches from her cedar, white pine and Norway spruce trees plus pine cones to decorate with and 2 beautiful wreaths she made for our front doors from greenery on her property in exchange for baked goods. This actually was her idea as she is not a baker, I enjoy baking so it’s a win for both of us. Our Christmas trees (a Thomas Kinkade faux one in the formal living room; a live one in our family room) have been decorated with ornaments that we have had for many years plus some ornaments our two oldest grandchildren recently made. I took advantage of the Black Friday sales and free shipping offered by so many stores to finish our Christmas shopping. It is a relief to be done early, find everything that was on loved ones’ gift lists and not encounter any delays or shortages as the media was predicting.

    Good grocery deals in the past several weeks include butter at $1.89 lb (limit 6) at Aldis; 18 ct name brand large eggs for $1.99; 3 lb of Halo mandarins for $3.49 (limit 2); fresh pineapple $0.99 (no limit – bought 8 – made pineapple upside down cakes, ate fresh, canned some); mangoes $0.79 each (no limit – bought 12 – made salsa, mango chutney and ate fresh); Cheerio and Chex cereals for $0.99 a box; organic honeycrisp apples $1.49 lb – bought 25 lbs and made applesauce for 1 yr old grandson (he along with son #1 and dil visited us for several days over Thanksgiving and I taught – at her request – dil to make applesauce). BJs also has excellent buys until 12/24 on Ferrero Rocher hazelnut chocolates (48 count for $9.25 – no limit) and Lindt Lindor Truffles 19 oz bags of assorted or dark for $7.25 a bag (no limit) we purchased 12 of each to gift and to serve on Christmas Eve/Day and for our New Years’ Eve party.

    Continue to harvest basil, parsley, cilantro, rosemary, lemon verbena, mint and oregano from potted plants in sunroom; enjoying the heady scent from the blooming paperwhites from bulbs I forced weeks ago; the beautiful blooms (several pots of red and magenta) of Christmas cactus and amaryllis (pots of red, white and striped red/white). Also enjoying the 6 large (3 red; 3 white) poinsiettas (3 for $15) that DD and her family gifted us at Thanksgiving.

    For Downton Abbey fans – PBS will be airing the Downton Abbey movie that was released in cinemas in 2019 on Saturday, Christmas night from 7 to 9 pm Eastern. I have already set the DVR to record it. Friends and I saw the movie in 2019 and loved it. In the movie, the Crawley family and staff prepare for a visit from the King and Queen of England. Beautiful acting, costumes, scenery. And something to look forward to – in 2022, there will be a sequel to this movie in the cinemas!
    also on PBS, on Friday from 9 to 11 pm 20 Years of Christmas with the Tabarnacle Choir will air.

    Wishing you Brandy and your family and to all your posters/readers who celebrate a blessed Christmas.

  47. Brandy I still remember your Christmas boxes that you used over and over they were so beautiful and impressive on being zero waste. I took empty boxes this year Mac and Cheese, Cracker boxes, turned them inside out and taped them back together and used them for some of my gift giving. I have been making cookies and candies and candles for my friends and neighbors. One friend who lives out of town ask me to make her husband a fruitcake he hasn’t had a homemade one since his Grandma passed away so I made it today and will mail it in a couple days.. it says it is better to leave it sit a couple days for everything to “firm” up made my husband one for part of his Christmas gifts too. I bought Claxtons last year and they were not up to our standards anymore. I have resisted going in to the thrift stores and not spending money. I have resisted running to the grocery store for “just one thing” and making due with what we have.

  48. I wanted to watch The Walton’s Christmas movie and found it for free on Youtube. It is just so good.
    I picked up various items from My Buy Nothing group including snacks. One individual gave me several pairs of shoes in my youngest size, I mentioned if she was in the process of cleaning out her daughter’s closet we would love anything in my girls current sizes or the next size up. She gifted us a large box of great condition items. Looking at what I have on hand, I feel confident this next year I will only need to purchase 1-2 pairs of shoes for each girl next year. What a blessing!
    Now that the temperature has turn colder, I reset the pool’s filter run time to reduce the number of hours it runs. This will offset the usage when the freeze guard has to kick on.
    Ibotta gave me an amazing $11 in bonuses for only buying 12 items. I was able to pickup all 12 items for free with a little overage. I used the $11 earned to purchase my Christmas ham for $10.53! I bought it from Kroger for $0.89/lb. My parents are coming for Christmas so this will be our main meal with plenty of leftovers as there will only be five of us.
    I stayed on budget for Christmas and didn’t go overboard or make any last minute purchases like I have before. I have a menu plan and activities to do, I am looking forward to this holiday.
    I am working on a list of projects as well as fun things for the week that the girls will be with their Dad. It helps me to stay busy and social so the sadness doesn’t settle in. I borrowed the Anne of Green Gables DVD set with Megan Fellows from my sister and can’t wait to start it. I have seen it but it’s been ages!
    My mom is bringing me her original newsletter set of the Tightwad Gazette. Again, I have read it but it’s been at least ten years. I am rereading them to help put me in the right mindset of my Low Buy 2022!

    1. I love the Tightwad Gazette! I bought the entire volume at the library for $1, many years ago. I learned so much from it and it opened my eyes to thinking more carefully about my job as a manger of the home and finances.

      1. What a find! I am going to stop in to the Half Price Books store and look on FB Marketplace in hopes of scoring it one day for my own collection! I know a lot of it is outdated but I also like reminiscing on how things use to be.

  49. I received my free David Austin’s rose catalog in the mail a couple of weeks ago.
    I am looking forward to sitting with a cup of hot chocolate and leisurely looking
    at all of the beautiful roses and dreaming of my garden next spring.

    I sat outside for an hour and a half last Sunday and watched birds for the Christmas Bird Count,
    a free activity. Although the organizer was kind and said I submitted a good report, I was somewhat disappointed because a week earlier I had seen some rare birds — but as usual they were gone by the time
    of the count day. It was so cold that I retreated inside fairly quickly.

    I am proofreading part of the proof of the book.

    I am trying not to buy groceries. Superstore has frozen vegetables on sale for $1.99 per package.
    The sales price is usually 2 for $6.00 so this sales price (for members) is a good deal. I am well stocked
    with frozen vegetables now and potatoes and carrots so my soup making adventure is about to begin.

    I think I am finished with Christmas gifts. Now to just sit back and enjoy a peaceful day and be thankful for heat, food and great friends. Merry Christmas and a happy holiday to all.

  50. *I can’t believe Christmas is three days away. Gifts are bought or made and now for the baking to get underway. I have a turkey from last year that I am baking along with a ham from Aldi, whatever is left over we will share and freeze.
    *I use old Christmas cards to make tags and reuse old wrapping paper and festive boxes and bags, so no output for that. I am excited that two of my sons are really getting into gardening and wanted gardening things for their gifts!
    *We didn’t get a tree this year, we had a wedding two weeks ago and I miss it but saved by not putting one up.
    * My sister came and we made Christmas cookies and afterwards laid on the floor in the sun talking. It was a lovely way to end the visit just chatting up old memories!
    * My neighbor is purging her closets and gave me 7 bags of clothes. I got new shirts for my husband and sons, and jeans for two of my sons. My husband has a new winter wardrobe due to two friends sharing their excess. She also gave me a shoebox of matchbox cards like brand new, they are going to be given to the grandsons. I have said it before that being someone who is willing to cart off things and sort through bags is such a blessing. So many people just don’t want the hassle of carting things off and for my neighbor she is unable to lug all the heavy bags to her car.
    *I have read two books recently that I highly recommend, Away in a Manger by Rhys Brown, and We Must be Brave( a WW2) novel that was really good.
    *Marked down produce doubled in price this week, still better than buying regular but it was sticker shock. I was able to get 10 packs of hot dogs for $2, good quality ones at that, with BIGIF and marked down. My son and his two daughters are here for a month and he feeds them lots of hot dogs!I have dried apple, plums and bananas to give as gifts to the grandkids from the markdown bin.
    *My youngest brought 5 pumpkins and a bag of apples they didn’t want. I cooked the pumpkin for soup and pumpkin butter for gifts, and roasted the seeds. I made applesauce for Christmas Eve dinner. My compost will be sprouting pumpkins galore next summer . I still have 3 more to go. I will probably make more pumpkin butter.
    * This has been a year of losses, several friends have lost children and many are struggling emotionally and I want to be mindful of the blessings I have and watching to see who I can bless. This community seems to be aware of reaching out to those who are struggling and being good stewards frees up resources to help. Thank you each one of you for your thoughtful ways you share each week and Brandy for leading the charge!
    Merry Christmas!

    1. Jean, our local Walmart is giving away all of their remaining trees for free. Yours might be too,

    2. Jean: I loved the mental picture of you and your sister lying in the sun, chatting. I have never had sisters nor daughters. I love the men in my life and they treat me with love and plenty of attention but I would have loved a close female relative to hang out with and talk to sometime. You are very fortunate.

      1. I am blessed! My sister has significant mental health issues and battles daily to live, we talk on the phone daily, just mundane conversations but they matter. She is my hero for fighting to live!

        1. Jean: I was moved by your comment about your sister. I have a daughter who suffers greatly and everyday is a battle for her. I know how much the phone calls from family mean to her and how they give her the strength to continue to fight. Merry Christmas to you, your family and your courageous sister!

          1. Cheryl, thank you for your kind words! It is so tough to watch family members and friends struggle with mental health issues. It is rampant in my family and my prayers to you snd your family as you daily love and parent your daughter! Merry Christmas to you too!

  51. Brandy: Thank you for the gift of your wonderful site each year! I have learned so much and look forward to your beautiful photos and reading about your lovely family. I also look forward to each Monday to see what everyone is up to in the States and across the world! How blessed we all are to have found you! May God bless you and your family this Christmas season and throughout the year!

  52. Instant pot yogurt is wonderful! So easy and inexpensive. I also cook garbanzo beans for hummus, black beans for burgers, and refried beans. You can save chicken carcasses, and throw them in your Instant Pot for chicken stock. An Instant Pot can really be a great frugal investment.

  53. 1. I am not buying many Xmas gifts this year. My husband got a few things he needed when I visited a thrift store. He likes his new (used) shirts.
    2. My sister wanted an electric can opener for Xmas. I used my reward points at Ace Hardware plus a birthday offer & got the can opener for no out of pocket $. Then I got her some bedroom slippers using Walgreen cash rewards.
    3. I got a spiral cut ham for .85 cents a lb at Aldi. We can have this for Xmas dinner. My husband loves ham.
    4. I bought myself a new pair of black leather boots at the thrift store for 5$. The boots looked brand new. The proprietor of the store told me that a local shoe store had donated 125 pairs of new shoes/boots to sell. I bought one of the last pairs.
    5. When I was out exploring for discards I found 1/2 of a large carton of size 4 diapers. The diapers were still sealed in the plastic outer wrap. These went to my goddaughter for her 4 month old baby. Not an exciting gift but a useful one I’ll wager.
    I think you can have a nice Christmas without going into debt. My personal opinion is that many people buy too much merchandise anyway. I suspect that most of the people who read this blog are of like mind.

  54. Hi Brandy, great flower photo (as always) and a great photo of your son…my how time is flying! Frugally, I managed to get a few good Albertsons deals, along with a whole turkey, whole ham and two packages of bacon on super sale, so our freezer is up to the tippy top! My goal was to have our pantry and freezer in good shape so that we could spend less the first quarter of the year. Thankfully we got there this week. Happy Holidays to everyone!

  55. This week, work bought lunch for all of us twice – pizza and nachos!
    I’m working on saving more seeds. I did order some from Baker Creek – they sell only heirloom varieties, so I can save the seeds and they should breed true. It didn’t take long to spend $70 on seeds, but it will be worth it. We usually have at least a 3 acre garden, so they will get used.

    Made cookies and quick breads for the friends and neighbors that are local – mailed cash to the kids that are out of state. DH is working as a snow plow driver, so we don’t get to go much of anywhere in the winter.

    Merry Christmas!

    1. That sounds like quite a deal to cover three acres! What a great garden you must have! Are you also planting saved seeds?

      Territorial Seed Company also sells a large number of open-pollinated seeds (probably 85% of what they sell are OP (heirloom) seeds and I find they have larger amounts of seeds in their packets than Baker Creek. Each company has different varieties, of course, which is why I have ordered from both. I have been working on saving more seeds from my garden as well.

      To save you money on postage in the future, you can use Zelle to send money through your bank for free. You just need the other person to sign up to receive it, and they can use their email or their phone number. Your bank transfers the money directly into their bank account without a charge.

  56. Happy Holidays to all!
    I read extensively on Brandys site. First time posting. I have always wanted to learn to pressure can items. Too afraid of the process. I use a 8 qt IP and have no issues. Stove top canners scared me like crazy. Today hubby surprised me with an early Christmas gift. Who knew there is now an electric canner? He said now you can learn to can as our freezers are too full…lol. Did anyone else know there was a countertop elec canner? I sure didn’t. Apparently it’s all automatic. Maybe this old dog can learn to can. 🤗

  57. Lea, are you Catholic? We decorate late as well. Today is Christmas Eve Day and we got a free tree yesterday and free branches (already cut and bundled) from local nurseries. We will leave them up until Epiphany as well.

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