Frost came to my garden this week.

I focused my time inside the house.

My daughter made four loaves of pumpkin chocolate chip bread using pumpkins that I grew in our garden.

I purchased some Christmas gifts on sale at the grocery store in the seasonal aisle for my two youngest children.

My husband gave me a haircut.

I attended my daughter’s piano recital and church wearing a dress that I purchased on clearance in 1999, along with earrings that I made myself and a necklace that I purchased at a garage sale.

I pinned my great-grandmother’s brooch on my coat and enjoyed wearing it everywhere I went.

I put some pinecones that I had been given by a friend of my mom’s into a silverplated bowl I bought at a garage sale and used it to decorate. I have a few more pinecones left that I plan to put in another bowl in the house today.

I used a coupon code on Thred Up to order some used clothing for myself on sale that I had been eying for a bit.

I bought two pineapples on sale for $0.98 each and used them on our table runner along with some faux greens and two silver deer a reader sent me years ago to decorate the table.

What did you do this past week to save money?

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  1. I love all your frugal decorations and accessories! Everyday beauty is such a mood booster!

    My frugal week:
    – I made zucchini bread ( using zucchini from my freezer (purchased on super discount with flashfood). I skipped the chocolate chips, as I’m running low after all my Christmas baking, and the bread is delicious without the chocolate anyway.
    – I made empanadillas ( but with calzone-type filling, for lunch one day, and froze extra for quick school lunches for my daughter, as well as extra for lunches for my husband and I. An easy pantry meal, as I had everything at home.
    – I pulled toys from my gift drawer to have my daughter give to the toy drive at her school
    – I made another batch of walnut snowballs (instead of pecan, because walnuts was what I had at home) plus two more batches of chocolate covered almond toffee. When breaking up the toffee, some of the chopped almonds came off, and I saved them to add to my next batch of homemade granola. I gifted some of the almond toffee in a Christmas tin I had been given last year, and gifted most of the walnut cookies as well (the latter in a recycled food container from my mum). Delicious and very affordable gifts!
    – I really wanted to order pizza for dinner one night when my youngest was down with the nasty flu that is going around, but instead whipped up a quick soup and served it with buns. Between my husband and I not eating the same pizza (I’m vegetarian and he isn’t) plus delivery, that saved me something like $30.
    – I redeemed PineCone Research Rewards for a $10 gc to Starbucks, which I will add to my loyalty card to earn loyalty points but will only use for promotions, and therefore earn the most possible loyalty points from this free giftcard.
    – I claimed $20 back from Checkout51 (a cashback app).
    – I mixed up a double batch of taco spice.
    – Combined a sale, a manufacturer coupon, and loyalty points to buy a 12 pack of paper towels for $5.99. This will last a nice long time.
    – Combined a ride on transit to see a friend, with a quick grocery trip, managing to do it all in a 2 hour window, meaning only one fare needed.
    – Mixed up a batch of my Easiest Pizza Dough in the History of Ever ( to have on hand for an easy dinner in expectation of myself falling ill with the flu.
    – I fixed my daughter’s locket, after the clasp no longer worked. My daughter compared me to an elf fixing a toy; it was a very sweet moment, and I love teaching my kids that things can be fixed (toys/clothing/mitts sewn, jewelry fixed, shoes polished, etc.).
    – I wrapped gifts in wrapping paper given to me by my mum last year (she found it too fiddly, but I’m always happy to save money!)

    Looking forward to learning from everyone else as always!

  2. We have not been a frugal couple weeks. I have not felt well and ended up in A and E a couple of time .Waiting times were long but it all worked very well. This week I will see the consultant, I will being paying for this, we have a savings account for this because waiting times with the NHS can be over a year.

    I was glad I had ready prepared meals in the freezer as by the time we got home it was late and I was starving as I had to fast at the hospital. We have only been to the shops once but I managed to get yellow sticker pastries, fresh ravioli and fruit .

    We are still eating home grown potatoes, french beans , broad beans, carrots and apples. All Christmas food in ready, the cards have been posted, we are not bothering with decorations as it only us here.
    Have a good Christmas everyone

  3. I am 4 weeks behind but have been keeping up on the updates. Those flower(peonies) are gorgeous! I love your simple, natural touches to your decorating, Brandy! I went by the Christmas tree lot nearby and asked for branches. I put them in a bbgun pocked silver pail along with nandina and some twinkling lights by my front door. I put a small silver pail on the porch and stuffed it with branches, nandina and magnolia branches. Both turned out nicely and my sister gave me a Christmas plaid doormat and the porch entry looks really festive. We don’t have a tree and I miss it but hubby didn’t want to put out $80-100 for the small trees from Lowe’s. So our home is full of greenery and lights and I am thankful for that.
    I got sick before Thanksgiving and ended up with bronchitis, sinus infection and double ear and it is 4 weeks later and I can’t hear still. Flonase hasn’t kicked it. I was flu and Covid negative.I coached husband through cooking the Thanksgiving Turkey and several meals he wanted to get take out for, I was thankful he agreed to cook. It was a blessing to have a full pantry and freezer as I didn’t need to shop. I hope to get an extra ham and turkey this week to put in the freezer.
    Gifts have been simplified and I am almost done. I went to Kohls to get clothes for one grandson whose mom said he needed more. I returned them this morning after scouring at GW and finding three shirts for $7 versus $26. I have found lots of books for grandkids and clearances items. Every family is getting jams and sauce and fruit leather I have made. I went to a luncheon of long time friends and took lotion bars I had made! My sister came for an over night visit and wanted to know how to make ACV and so I showed her how to and sent her home with some ,showed her how to make the lotion bars as well and applesauce. All gifts have been wrapped with recycled wrap and tags made from old cards. Some how turned out really well and it feels good to know that older items can be presented beautifully! This group spurs me on to think creatively and not be embarrassed to do what is within the budget!
    Praying you all have a blessed Christmas!

    1. Thank you Jean. They are roses, actually, from my garden. These are Desdemona (the ones that look like peonies), Iceberg, and Red Drift roses, plus a mislabeled pink rose on the first picture.

    2. Jean, I’ve made my own soap for decades now, but never lotion bars. I think that’s a fabulous idea; one i may have to try! Thanks so much for the idea! I am going to start an idea list for next year.

    3. Jean – I am sorry you were ill but so inspired by all you have been able to get done. A frugal and creative outlook saves the day! Best wishes for a lovely holiday!

    4. I’ve had sicknesses where I couldn’t hear afterwards. Sometimes it takes weeks and weeks and weeks. It has driven me nuts but eventually went away. I hope you feel a lot better!

  4. I want to confess one very unfrugal thing: it has been 35 below zero or colder for night after night and it is 36 below as I write this at noon. I have layered up and tried to keep the heat low but a few days ago I gave up and jacked up the temperature to 72. Anything less and I feel cold and damp and until the temperatures moderate I am not moving it down again. I read about all the people who keep the temperature at 65 or even 60 but my husband and I are old and have savings so I decided I am choosing to spend some money this way. I was just too miserable.

    Frugal: We have not eaten out for months now and have been working on all the food we have in the freezer and pantry. I had some gold jewelery I inherited over 20 years ago, most of it needing repair. I finally gathered it up and took it to a jeweler who buys gold and turned it in for $321. Less clutter and money in the bank (or the oil tank for heat, HA!) I dropped off a huge number of plastic bags I have saved over the last year and delivered them to the food bank because they use them for Christmas food parcels and had put out a FB call for some. It was the end of the day and they said they needed to get rid of some food and would I be interested in taking a few pounds of old bananas and a bag of hot dog buns. Yes, indeed! I used the buns and bananas to make a breakfast bread pudding that fed us for a week; the extra bananas are in the freezxer for future muffins or smoothies. I dedicated two nights to getting through my mending pile so both of us now have some shirts that had been languishing in the corner for probably two months. Our neighbor had to leave town and asked us to take his garbage to the end of the drive on our pick up day. I was cramming down the bags and saw a glass gallon milk container from our local dairy. I rescued it and turned it in at our local co-op, earning $3 off my next gallon of milk. I put offf making cookies this year, due to butter prices and hoping they would drop. Before it dropped, two freinds gave us cookies as Christmas gifts, and the amounts were so generous that I am not making cookies after all since we can snack on the ones they gave us. That is about it as far as I can remember.

    1. Keeping your heat at 72 when the weather is -35 is frugal.
      I keep mine at 68 degrees and it hasn’t yet got lower than 5 degrees. Stay warm

    2. Mable, we are on the same wave length. Husband and I are also seniors and we have the heat set at 70-72 depending on how chilly we feel. We feel the same way…….we can afford it. But I do blush to report we live in Southern California and we are definitely not facing your temps.

      Also, I took gold in a few months ago. I think I got around $80. Just not feeling that sentimental over jewelry not worn in years.

    3. Mable,
      Frugality means different things to different people. You do all that you can so you have the funds to keep the heat up. You should not be calling that a frugal fail. All of our situations and needs are different. My husband has horrible arthritis and I keep the house warm through the night for him. Once he goes to work I turn it way down and layer up. Maybe in a decade I will need to have heat continuously. People who post here do things I will never be able to. But they inspire me to look at my situation and do what I can. I shop loss leaders. I bought 4 hams at .89 lb over the last 2 weeks. I do not pay full price for meat as I have a large family. I found lunchmeat on a great sale and bought 3 packages; one to eat and 2 to freeze. Food sales is probably one of my best areas of frugality. I am a tightwad. I budget every day to make sure I am not overspending. I repair clothing and shoes. I can and cook from scratch. I smiled when you rescued that bottle. Here in Michigan we get .10 for every beverage can. I have siblings who dislike returning bottles. They happily give them to me and I do the dirty work and keep the money. We are all doing our individual best. Some days I wish I could dumpster dive with Lillianna, garden like Brandy and Garden Pat, or coupon like Margaret. I love this community because people here have a mindset that matches mine. My goal is to become more financially independent every day. We are all in different phases. I feel a connection to everyone that posts here because we are trying. Most people don’t live this way. I am glad that we have each other no matter where on Earth we live or what our individual circumstances are. Merry Christmas and thank you for sharing your frugal tips. Brandy thank you for your gifts of time and talent to bring us all together.

      1. I love how you said this, Deanna! We all have different gifts but we can share and encourage ideas and spur each other on! That is the beauty of what you have created here, Brandy! In my early married years I read and reread The Tightwad Gazette and wore out my copies. This site allows us to learn new things and imagine new things every week! It is a gift! I think we all are so incredibly blessed and eagerly look forward to the new postings! Merry Christmas!

    4. Mable, enjoy the heater at a warmer temperature. I keep my heat between 58 and 62F but, I am physically able to do this and choose to cut back with a lower temperature setting. I know and expect a time to come when I will no longer be able to save in this manner so, will make changes and hopefully save in another way. We are all at different places in life with different needs but, we all need/want to be frugal and smart with the resources we have.

    5. Mable, I am like you. Being cold makes me miserable, so we prioritize being warm. (And it makes me feel that much more for the people in Ukraine right now who have no option but the be cold.)

    6. I don’t think your first point is unfrugal at all!
      Frugality is all about living within our means by doing without what is unimportant to afford the things that we value. Actions that make us miserable are not frugal as maintaining our physical and emotional wellbeing is important. Although at times we may need to take drastic steps to balance our budgets, doing things that make us miserable while having extra money in the bank is not ‘living a beautiful life on less’.

    7. Mable, Deanna said it well. Being warm is not a frugal fail. We are frugal so we can afford the things important to us! Merry Christmas!

    8. I think the thing is that it’s like Amy Dacyzyn from The Tightwad Gazette said, that we do frugal things so we can afford to pay for other not as frugal things. It gives us freedom. Some people like to spend their money on eating out and others like to go shopping for clothes, others would like to spend it on beautiful gardens and some like to travel and on and on. We have a big family which is not frugal (well it can be!) but we also host huge parties sometimes. That’s not frugal but we are happy do be able to do it. We don’t eat out. We think our food is good at home so it’s not fun for us but if somebody wants to it’s great for them. My neighbor used to buy books. I didn’t. But she was kind and would loan them to me afterwards. By the way, we keep our thermostat down pretty low but this week has been very cold (11 below and strong winds) and I found myself inching it up more than normal. Parts of the house are just downright chilly when temps dip low. I just don’t think you need to feel bad about that. If the prices go sky high we might have to all conserve but if you don’t have to and you don’t want to I don’t think you should.

      1. I love everything about this comment.

        Each of us has to decide what is important to us. What that is will change over the course of our lives depending on the season of our life.

  5. Such pretty pictures! And frost in Vegas! Wow! (We have had snow on the ground for 5 weeks so far).

    This past week has been very busy and not in a good way. We fixed our frugal fails (reported last week) and spent the rest of the week getting ready to travel to my son’s in eastern Idaho last Saturday. That morning, my daughter–who’d looked a little “owly” the day before but didn’t seem sick–woke up without a voice. She also was incredibly exhausted. We canceled the trip (hope to reschedule in two weeks) and took her to a walk-in clinic. She tested positive for influenza-A and received a Rx for Tamiflu. After 72 hours in bed, and two days of Tamiflu, she woke up this morning feeling much better and with a voice. She’s not entirely well, but she is already feeling much better. Neither my husband nor I have caught the flu…yet. We all had flu shots, so we’re hoping.

    If anyone has flu-like symptoms, see a doc immediately. Tamiflu can dramatically reduce the length of the virus, but you must start taking it within about 48 hours. Also, get a written prescription so you can take it to another pharmacy, if necessary. Most of the pharmacies in my town are out of Tamiflu and I had to look around to get it filled.

    I was glad for my stash of ready meals in the freezer. We ate several when I was busy getting ready for the trip and didn’t want to take the time to cook. Also, I had a quart of chicken soup and my daughter ate that. I’m thawing beef stew right now for tonight’s dinner!

    Merry Christmas to all who celebrate! We haven’t figured out yet how we will celebrate, but I absolutely know we will!

    One other thing–when I cleared the cookies in my laptop last week, I lost Words with Friends (online Scrabble) and I’m still trying to get it back. I regularly play with two commenters (and a sister) from here and I have no way to let them know I have not abandoned the games. Please be patient with me…and tell your sister! Thanks!

      1. I’m baaaaaack! Still have not figured out the problem, but it seems to be Chrome…which is why I can’t go directly to this page, either. I found that if I use Edge, it all works.

  6. I love the silver dish with the pinecones; that’ll be pretty to leave up even after Christmas.

    -This week I made zucchini chocolate chip muffins using up some shredded zucchini I had frozen from our garden, a single serving of apple sauce and half a lemon I had already zested.
    -I resisted the urge to buy a new Christmas outfit by shopping my closet. I found something that is red and will work perfectly.
    -This week a freeze is supposed to hit my garden; I have some row covers to put over the lettuce to extend the harvest. It will get down to 19°F so I’m hoping the row cover will be enough.
    -Taking my lunch to work each day and planning some meals using what we have on hand. I did have to buy a few groceries this week to round out a couple of necessary ingredients for some recipes. Overall, we’ve been shopping less this month than last month.
    Have a Merry Christmas all!

  7. Ohh! I love decorating with pinecones 🎄
    Frugals this week:
    *was treated to lunch out & saved half for lunch at work the next day
    *took advantage of treats and food brought in to the office (saved my packed or planned food for later)
    *made dinner even though I was so tired from work and tempted to pick something up (I know people do this all the time 😂 but I don’t usually work 5 days a week and I’m just not used to it anymore)
    *paid house payment early since have HOA fees and such coming up & paid $250 extra toward principal
    *made up another batch of all purpose cleaner
    📍Grocery Store: husband found huge packs of the bakery frosted cookies (maybe 18 in a Package?) for $2 dated January so bought 2 (I would have grabbed more to bring to Christmas events but I’m grateful he picked 2 up!)

    Hope everyone has a healthy and happy holiday ❤️

  8. The piece about your grandmother’s brooch made me smile. Simple decorations can be so beautiful. Last week, I pulled (your) black bean burgers from the freezer for a dinner, along with home fries and salad. I found several good grocery deals on Wednesday. At the first stop, we picked up our dog food for $6 off. On markdown, we found two cans of organic chickpeas for .42, bags of dried baby limas and navy beans for .57/#, and a package of cotton facial pads for .62. J found some paper goods on sale, which his Mom requested he bring to a gathering there. Getting the paper goods and the cotton pads meant we could skip the trip to Dollar Tree we’d planned. Also on sale was asparagus for $1.49/#, mandarins for $2.99/3#, and roasted almond tins 2/$5. At the next stop, I found tins of local peanuts on sale for gifts 2/$6, and marked down dried organic garbanzo beans for $1.97/#. I recently looked for them at another store, where they were $6.99/#! I bought 8# to can up for the pantry. I heard a few days ago that there may be a shortage of them, which would be a real shame, as we enjoy them in hummus and other dishes. A pot of large sweet potatoes was put on the woodstove, to boil for pies. Books were requested from the library, and picked up when in town for groceries. A local orchard marked their Christmas trees 1/2 price. All they had left were 8′ and larger, so we got an 8′ fraser fir for $44. Not cheap, but a good price for this year. We received a letter from our internet provider saying they’re lowering our bill. The bill is lowering $5/mo., at the same time they’re increasing internet speed from 100 to 300. Love my telephone co-op! Whichever holiday you’re celebrating, many wishes for a happy one.

  9. I love your description of your outfit. This is a game my mother and I often play with each other – where we got the items we are wearing and how little they cost. I really do not enjoy any shopping other than thrift and antique shops – then it’s a real treasure hunt. She has always been the best companion on these adventures and I have lifelong memories of looking for special things with her. Your outfit sounds lovely!
    *We were glad to be back to the land of the living last week after being sick the week before. I have been doing lots of holiday baking and cooking using items we raised ourselves and things purchased on sale in preparation months ago. I am glad not to have the pressure of going to the grocery store this time of year. We give small boxes of cookies to immediate neighbors and friends, using Chinese food boxes I buy from Uline, a company that sell containers and packaging supplies for businesses. The smallest order I can make is 100 boxes so they last me many years and cost less than most containers I might find at thrift stores. Over the years, I have even had people return them to me “to be filled next year.” My children decorate and personalize them for friends. It is a fun tradition I have done since I was a teen but even more fun doing so with my boys.
    *We worked on the little chicken house some neighbors gave us for free. It will become a home for some Silkie chickens which my boys are interested in raising as a project. We gave it a good cleaning with the power washer and it looks so much better. I am amazed when I think of all the things we have been given for free over the years that I think the original owners might have kept if they knew how good they would look after a thorough cleaning. We also made it more sturdy with some brackets my husband had in his stash. Next up is to stain it with stain we also have on hand. A little effort and elbow grease will make for a very useful addition to our farm.
    *Other gifts I began gathering last week were bottles of honey from our bees for some neighbors who appreciate such things and used books for a few friends. I made bookmarks to go with the book gifts using interesting papers and ribbons on hand, personalizing them as much as I could. I also included a favorite candy bar and packets of tea for one friend. All simple and inexpensive but personal to their interests and our friendship. I also made some gifts for my fellow bell choir members at church. I had some old sheet music on hand and accordion folded it, trimmed it and shaped it into stars. The only cost was a $1 roll of red and white cording (the first trimming I have bought in years.) They were so much fun to make and I hope they will enjoy them.
    *I have cut my husband’s hair for many years, cut my own hair and have always cut my boys hair. My oldest son, in particular, has very thick hair which is challenging to cut now that he wears it short. I have watched many YouTube videos for advice but decided I wanted a live lesson of sorts. So, I took him to a hair stylist and watched her use the thinning shears to learn her technique. His hair looks great and, for $12, I got a great lesson and feel confident I can do a better job myself (once I buy some thinning shears. They should pay for themselves almost immediately as has every pair of regular hair scissors I have bought.)
    *We split some wood so that we have a stash of larger pieces and smaller ones. Our home is so well-insulated that we can let the fir in the woodstove go out in the evening and the house stays warm and there are coals left in the morning to start it up again. This is most easily accomplished if we have some skinnier pieces of wood to get it going and then add the larger ones. Our wood stove is one of my favorite things in the whole world and I get a lot of joy out of just watching the fire and hanging my laundry nearby. It’s the little things! 🙂
    *As usual, all meals were eaten at home with creative (I like to think) use of leftovers. I gratefully received some more canned goods from two different neighbors who are so generous to share with us.
    *I am looking forward to celebrating the holiday season with friends and family and hope all of you will be surrounded by love and joy this week and always. 🙂

    1. Wanted to add a P.S. 🙂 I just found out about a US Federal program (Affordable Connectivity Act) that can potentially reduce the cost of internet services. There are several qualifying criteria and an on-line application process where your eligibility is determined. Thought it might be helpful information for some. Here’s the link:

  10. I wasn’t able to access the blog for the last week, though I expect was using different bookmarks instead of keying in the URL.

    Last week was hard work. There were some days with snow and cold. I hadn’t planned to do too many errands, but then I saw that this week leading up to Christmas was to be snowy and then very, very cold here in northern Alberta, so I spent several days while it was still relatively warm getting snow shoveled and doing errands on foot. The local taxi driver has left to spend a few weeks with family across the country, so I have needed to walk everywhere. The grocery store delivered food for me after I did the shopping in person. The most Christmasy treat I got was a 3-lb bag of Mandarin oranges. Like Ellie’s Friend, my mother always talked about oranges as a rare Christmas treat when she was young, and even more so when her own mother was young. The scent of a Mandarin orange when you first begin to peel it smells like Christmas to me.

    I did some decorating for Christmas. I had ordered a poinsettia and a wreath made from live cedar and balsam bows from a fundraiser for the local 4H Beef Club. They were both beautiful, though my house has turned out to be too cold for the poinsettia. As well as being very lovely, the wreath gives a wonderful whiff of Christmas tree smell whenever I come into the living room, so I am pleased with that. I have lights around the inside of the living room window, which is very cheerful when it gets dark at 4:30 pm.

    I’ve stayed away from Christmas gatherings, because there is so much illness going around, but I am hearing from relatives through phonecalls, and photos and videos coming online. My nieces send me photos of their children, and SOs, most of whom I have never met or only when the children were very, very small. They are all young adults now. In some photos I received yesterday, there were picture of my late sister’s ex, who was a big part of my family during and after their marriage. I had no idea how very tall my grand-nephews are until I saw him in a picture with them!!

    I received several tops that I ordered from ThredUP. I’m very happy with them. They made it across the border without any problem. I’ll definitely order from them again.

    I ended the pension month with extra cash. We also receive our pensions a week early at Christmas, but this week is too cold for being out spending money. I don’t even want to order anything, because the walk to the post office is too difficult if it is snowy or cold. I’ll be happy to stay home, have a nap or two, do some reading and cleaning, snuggle with the cat, and bake some Christmas cookies. The weather is supposed to improve here in Northern Alberta by Christmas day, and then be much milder from Christmas to New Year’s.

    1. Elizabeth M.

      Oh, it’s too bad the town’s taxi driver is on holidays. I can’t imagine you walking and being out and about in this weather. Merry Christmas! Ann

      1. Ann, I’m glad to be safely inside this week! I got all my errands done last week when it was warmer. Hope you have a lovely Christmas. Elizabeth M.

    2. Elizabeth – I love hearing about your mandarin orange in the stocking tradition. We, too, have the same tradition from my Dad’s side of the family who are all from Wisconsin. The tradition also includes a quarter in the toe of the stocking. My dad always told me that those two things were his favorite parts of Christmas as the oranges were like a bit of sunshine in winter and he could go to the local store and buy a treat with the quarter. He did this for my brother and me growing up and now I do it with my children. Those kinds of traditions just warm the heart and I love hearing about those sorts of things from others. Wishing you a very happy holiday!

      1. Our tradition is a new toothbrush. Some girlfriends got together the other night and we filled Christmas socks to exchange. I even put a new toothbrush in that. My mother always filled our stockings with an orange, scotch tape, crayons, and a toothbrush.

        1. Hi Betsy,
          My mom always had the same tradition of putting a toothbrush in everyone’s stocking plus oranges. She also included a bottle of glittery nail polish. One year I made up a stocking for my daughter-in-law that included nail polish. She looked at me with a horrified expression on her face and asked if I thought she had awful looking nails!
          So much for that idea!

        2. I also give a new toothbrush to my three adult sons and my only grandchild (Samuel), every Christmas. It’s the gift that keeps on giving–good dental hygiene.

      2. Mountain Mama Dawn, I enjoy reading about everyone’s traditions too! I made Christmas dinner for my father and sister when my father was in his 80s, and I asked them to tell me what their favorite part of the Christmas meal, so that I wouldn’t leave it out. I was amazed at what mattered to them. My sister wanted a hot breakfast with sausages. (Is breakfast part of Christmas dinner?) My father wanted hard sauce on his plum pudding. (I had to look up how to make hard sauce. And I had to find a plum pudding to put it on, because it was far too late to be making one.) Neither of them had any interest in whether we were having turkey. My own choice was home-made bread stuffing for the turkey, so we stuck with that tradition too. Elizabeth M.

        1. One Christmas we somehow discovered that our step-mom was planning to do away with the mashed turnip – well! The phonelines started burning up and the next thing we knew – turnip was back on the menu! We all laughed about it later – especially given the vast quantity of other foods – but that was the tradition!

      3. I had my five kids and their “others” to do stockings for. I went to dollar tree and put in the girls: hand mitt loofah, lotion, a foot pedicure set with handled foot scrubber, charcoal face mask, face hydrating mask, hair ties, gel eye mask that you get cold. For the guys I got a small bottle of ArmorAll, toe clippers, men’s body wash, car air freshener, carmex lip balm, seems like other items I can’t remember. I also got stuff to put in grandsons stocking. I did spend $96 but filled 11 stockings.

  11. Last week Kara was talking about her duct system being destroyed and the long wait to have it fixed. It reminded me of experiences we have had. We had an older car with a sunroof that leaked a lot after a piece of the mechanism broke. It was not fixable and replacement was way over $1000. The car wasn’t worth it but it ran and got good mileage. What to do. I researched different kinds of tape and we bought one that sounded like it might work and taped it all around the outside edges of the sunroof. That tape was still working when the car was junked 3 or 4 years later. That’s after hot sun baking the roof all summer and Minnesota winters. The car was never parked in a garage. The other experience we had was with a plumbing leak. Our dishwasher had a rather strange flexible plastic drain pipe that ended up with a hole in it and dripped into the basement. The plumber said it couldn’t be patched and the pipes would have to be replaced. My son went to the hardware store and found a glue that worked even when the pipe was wet and oozing water. Ten years later it’s still on there.

    My point is there are so many products out there that do amazing things from all kinds of tapes to glues that can be applied and set with ultra violet light. More products are being developed all the time. Go to a good hardware store and ask them for ideas for fixing your problem even if you’re only looking for a temporary solution. You may surprise yourself and save some money.

  12. I haven’t been in any stores and I haven’t ordered anything on line * borrowed books from library* watching public television Christmas programs * haven’t felt well so eating less from freezer and pantry.

    Happy holidays.

  13. We are doing Secret Santa at work…Ive received candy, my favorite soda, body scrub, and more.

    Won a free bakery item playing Starbucks game

    A church brought in snacks for staff. I picked up extras for everyone at home.

    I picked a good time to drop Directv. I received an email that all the packages are increasing in 2023.

    One of the managers of our department brought in a plate of cookies and muffins. My coworkers are diabetics and can’t eat any of it, so they told me to bring it home.

    I’m using wrapping paper and supplies I have on hand. No new Christmas decorations were purchased either. I usually give out a tin of treats to coworkers, but being short on time(and two of the three are diabetics), I picked up a cute Santa chef ornament at Walmart ($2.50 each)

    Frugal fails

    I missed the deadline to sell back my book for my college class. I’ll have to hold onto it until the end of spring semester. ☹️

    Papa Murphys is not as cheap as it once was. It cost $30 when I stopped and picked up dinner on Thursday night after a dentist appointment.

    I’m dreading to see how Christmas food is going to cost. I pared it down a lot but the treats are going to be pricey.

  14. Hello!

    I haven’t posted in several weeks, but have read the blog and comments. My mother fell and broke her hip, and I spent most of my time helping her. I was so thankful for my well-stocked pantry and freezer. It helped my husband who had to cook more, and I was also able to grab things as needed for my mother.

    My son’s birthday was yesterday. I used decorations we had on hand, and I purchased the one and only toy he wanted for 50% off, by keeping it in my Amazon cart for months. I was thrilled when the price dropped that much. Patience paid off! We had relatives over to celebrate. I made a few hot appetizers ahead of time, and arranged them in my electric skillet with the setting on warm, which worked great! The skillet is a very large stainless steel one….one of my absolute favorite appliances. I soaked some white appetizer plates in vinegar and water, then scrubbed stains off. I try to avoid buying paper products.

    Books I picked up at the library were “Jacqueline in Paris,” by Ann Mah, and “Ordinary Grace,” by William Kent Krueger. I really loved one of his other books, so I’m excited to read more of his work.

    I signed up each family member for our library’s winter reading program.

    I contacted a food company to let them know about an unfavorable experience I had with one of their products. They apologized (quickly) by sending me a booklet with several free item coupons for various products!

    Like many others have mentioned, I have purchased several dairy products that were bad before the expiration date. Most recently, I bought a large container of Greek yogurt that wasn’t good. Rather than toss it, I decided to use it in some baking recipes, which worked fine.

    I’m most looking forward to relaxing with my family over the holidays. I do hope to do some batch cooking of freezer meals at some point.

    Merry Christmas!

    1. Best of health to your mother. I hope she heals quickly. Ordinary Grace is my husband’s favorite book! We love William Kent Krueger!

  15. Merry Christmas to Brandy and friends here! Love all the pretty photos. A few of my kids start arriving today, so I’ve been making sure we have all the food in the pantry that we need (and want) for regular eating and celebrations. Bought 5# chub of hamburger for a better price, and separated it into pound portions.* Redeemed two $3 Amazon gift cards from swagbucks. I don’t do much with them, but a little and am grateful to have gotten those cards.* Otherwise, quiet here, getting ready for the holidays. It’s been snowing a lot and very very cold. So grateful for a warm home and a loving family. Everyone, please stay safe and Merry Christmas!

  16. I hope everyone has a wonderful, healthy and safe Christmas.
    My youngest graduated college a semester early. We are so proud of her. We are officially on Baby step 6 if you follow Dave Ramsey.
    It is a 3 paycheck month for Hubby and he got an end of year bonus. We put an extra large chunk to our mortgage.
    We had my parents and 2 of my sisters over to celebrate daughter’s graduation. We did a pork butt ($1.69 a pound) in the crockpot and had tacos. There is plenty of leftovers for a few days. I gave them all our Christmas cards in person.
    I was offered a tray of lasagna from the family of the boy I watch. They had a holiday party and don’t like leftovers. Only my son and I can eat it. I gave some to my neighbors and some to the lady I help too. I can only eat so much lasagna.
    My son was given 2 pounds of ground venison and a venison steak from a coworker. The coworker loves to hunt but his wife does not enjoy the meat. I will send him a baked good as a thank you.
    I hand delivered 12 cards to family and friends as I am out and about.
    A house near me is up for sale and they have been putting out lots of garbage. I have stopped 2 times already. I have gotten a push broom and rake for my daughter. Several baskets that I gave to a friend that was looking for some for Christmas presents. I also got a container of deck sealant, car wax, fuel injector cleaner and a few other bottles that Hubby might be able to use.
    We are keeping the heat at 65. My mom got cold when she was here so I gave her a sweater. I was sweating from running around doing everything. She said the house was hot last time she was here. It was on Thanksgiving with the oven on all day.

  17. I was trying a murder case last week that lasted Monday through Friday so other than court, I went nowhere, except to stop and get gas to and from the courthouse. Luckily my office is downstairs from the courtroom so I was able to grab my sandwich on lunch break a couple of days. Gas today is $2.61 in University town and $2.89 two hours south. We are supposed to get a record Artic blast this week. Just ate food storage last week and this week I made spaghetti from food storage. I was too tired to grocery shop on the weekend. The Artic blast has definitely caused my oldest to say he is not driving down Christmas, and my youngest is saying he is not driving up. We simply are not that prepared for this type of weather and no one wants to take a chance in their vehicles. I am glad they are using common sense and staying home. I guess I will celebrate with the middle son and ex, but middle son is autistic and the holidays overwhelm him, so I don’t know. I have a small turkey I got at Publix after Thanksgiving for 49 cents a lb, potatoes to make mashed potatoes, ingredients for spinach dip, and rolls so I will do that . May make chocolate no bake cookies like I did Thanksgiving. I just don’t know yet.

  18. Ah, the rose photos are wonderful. Earlier today I opened your blog and just looked at the photos,..later I remembered I didn’t read anything ;). I am doing the 2023 budget and am so far off of the right answer, I ended up walking away earlier in the week and hoping I would get some ideas. My husband needs quite a bit of dental work done and so that takes a large piece of the pie, along with everything else costing more. I saw Walmart still had good canned veggie prices ($0.50/ can) so I ordered and picked up a few cases so that I will have extra food for next spring. So I will go back to the budget tomorrow and see what I can figure out ;). We have a warm house, food and each other so that is what counts the most! Brandy, Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you and your family! And to all your readers, the same! Best wishes for a happy and healthy new year.

    1. Hilogene, is Mexico an option for your husband’s dental work? Our relatives live in the Phoenix area and go to Los Algodones, near Yuma, when they need dental work. Several have had implants and are very satisfied.

      1. Hilogene,

        I was going to ask the same question as Maxine. We live in Phoenix and my mother gets all of her dental work done in Mexico just across from Yuma. She has done so for 12 years now (same dentist) and has had major work done including implant and root canals. The dentist is U.S Licensed and trained but because of costs to run a practice her in the U.S. chooses to have her practice across the border. It cuts her cost to about 1/8th of having it done here locally.

    2. Lemme know if you find the answer, Hilogene. I suspect our budget for next year is already shot in the tail feathers!!

  19. Beautiful photos and a lovely post from you. Love that you enjoy wearing your grandmother’s broach. I have a Christmas tree pin from my childhood that I’ve kept and wear it in December. I still think it is beautiful.

    I stayed home a lot. We were blessed with many more snow storms. Our neighbor snowblower our driveway for me since my husband was gone. I went out with a shovel to get the areas not easily reached. Between my feet issues and his back issues we decided we felt quite good about the work we had completed. I sent him home with a 6 pack of soda that he and his wife like that they couldn’t find in the stores. I huddled under blankets and wore thick socks in the evenings. It’s been much colder in my home this year and I can’t figure out why. I spoke with another neighbor about it and she agreed. She feels it’s been much colder as well. When the sun is out, our homes warm up to the 70’s inside. But once the sun goes down the cold goes into our bones. Not sure how to deal with that situation yet.

    I went to the library several times. I’m loving the books I’m reading right now. I finished Julie Klaassen’s The Sister’s of Seaview and also Sally Goldenbaum’s A Dark and Snowy Night. I also enjoyed the latest book by Rhys Bowen Peril in Paris. I went back to the library today and picked up two holds that I will start this week. I like to keep track of the books I’ve read on Goodreads. I’ve read over 100 books this past year and almost all of them were from the library.

    I exercised at home by cleaning, shoveling snow and Leslie Sansone Walk at Home on Youtube.

    I made all meals at home – taco soup, pizza, sweet yams and veggies, baked tacos with the beans, rice and cheese leftover from a dinner out the week before. I still had enough beans & rice and made a “casserole” – beans on the bottom, rice, diced spinach leaves and leftover mexican shredded cheese. We topped it with tomatoes and avocado. The made up casserole was our favorite.

    I got my car washed for free at my dd’s work.

    I put together neighbor gifts using apples, oranges, hershey kisses and almond roca. I put them in a bread bag with a handmade notecard.

    I used my CVS discount to buy candy and makeup I needed.

    Our local gas station is being remodeled for 4 months. They opened a new one across the street. Everything in the older store was marked 50% off. I bought treats my husband wanted for Christmas but also bought all the Built Bars they had for my daughter. It’s part of her diet she needs. I know convenience stores mark things up but the price on 50% was cheaper than online and at Sam’s Club/local grocery stores. It’s a great source of protein for her since she has to eat small meals throughout the day.

    Have a wonderful week everyone.

  20. -I baked sourdough, homemade pizza and chocolate pumpkin muffins. I was given some Christmas cookies from friends. Made bean soup with ham bone and lots of different kinds of beans. Used up some overripe bananas to make protein banana pancakes. We are enjoying the last of the free apples from my families farm, we will make a batch of applesauce from the wilty ones. Shared some baked goods and small gift cards for my kids teachers. Also made rice crispie treats from clearance cereal and clearance marshmallows.
    -We had a game night with friends and family. Everyone brought delicious food. My parents treated us out for dinner another night. I shared extra soup and bread with them.
    -I’ve been continuing to run even in the cold and snow. I asked for some more winter running gear for Christmas and picked out a few things on eBay. Also bought a new planner on eBay for 1/3 the price on Amazon. Sold several items on marketplace and eBay.
    -Bought a few deals at the grocery store, including mandarins, ham, clearance limes, and canned veggies for .39c. Finally was down to the last stick of butter and had to restock at a much higher price.
    -Got a poinsettia and candy from a holiday party. Candy will go in stockings.
    -I turned in a jar of change to the bank to add a little more to our savings.

  21. I made a big pot of soup today. When we visited the grandkids we brought food and cooked instead going out. We enjoyed the library, as did our grandkids! My mom helped me sew. I repaired a pair of my husband’s jeans. I ordered a dress that may not come in. So that will save me money and I will wear a dress I already have for my son’s wedding. It may be a blessing in disguise. I wanted the dress, but I was really worried about spending the money on it. I don’t own a formal dress. But I will wear a dress I usually wear for church. I also decided to simply polish my dress shoes and maybe get inserts for them rather than buy new shoes. We ordered propane. We are waiting for it to come. Another expense. I was happy that our electricity was 7 dollars cheaper than last month. Our water was 10 dollars cheaper. But everything else seems to have gone up. We are watching everything because my husbands hours reduce drastically this time of year. Sometimes he doesn’t get hours this time of year. So we need to watch so we don’t spend more than we make. Instead of spending a lot of money on our grandchildren we are going to spend time doing minimal cost activities that they will enjoy. We just don’t have the funds to spend a lot this year. I am so happy that they love the library. It is a treat for all of us to go there. I plan on making homemade ice cream next time I see our grandchildren. We bought each child a box with an activity we can do with them. We let them choose it. I am enjoying teaching my great-nephews how to play the piano. We may go to the library and pick up some movies this week for when it is cold outside. I will make popcorn. It is rough not having the income. But the good thing is my husband helps do things around the house when he is not working. I am crocheting a scarf. I watched a YouTube video to learn how. I hope to make curtains. It has been a goal for a long time. I already have material for my kitchen that I bought years ago. I’d also like to make a quilt. I have been watching YouTube videos about it.

    1. A special wish for a lovely Christmas! the boxes sound like a great idea. Glad you can get your propane — I had read some news items about it. Your activities with your grandchildren will create memories they will cherish forever! Ann

      1. Ann,
        I hope you have a lovely Christmas as well! We ordered our propane, but it hasn’t come yet. We will have to call them again. I hope we can get it.

    2. Tammy–It sounds like you are doing a lot of creative things to make your life and your family’s lives richer. I imagine your grandchildren will especially treasure the times they have spent with you, and your skill building is going to make your home all that much nicer. Thank you for your wonderful ideas for making life beautiful with less! Elizabeth H.

    3. Tammy, the box is a great idea! And you can switch it out with different activities to do! So many possibilities! What is the old adage…necessity is the mother of invention! One of my childrens’ (now all grown) favorite activities and memories was when we would have pioneer night. This was a night of no electricity…only candles, games, fireplace (if we had one), popcorn, etc. They now know, but had no idea then, that these were nights when we had no electric service because I couldn’t afford the bill.😊

  22. I haven’t commented much lately. I won’t complain, but life has been challenging lately, so I haven’t felt up to doing some of my usual things. Even the Christmas season hasn’t been as joyful as it usually is.

    We have mostly eaten at home. My son often joins me for lunch where we eat leftovers almost every day. My daughter and her son don’t eat leftovers so she shares those with us. My husband jokingly complained that I hadn’t been cooking for him, so I have made a meal plan for this week, thinking particularly of things to use from the freezer.

    My daughter gave me her codes for the Kroger Power Up Rewards program, and I entered those. I was able to redeem the points for free Kraft mac & cheese, Pringles, and Pampers diapers.

    I finished the dishcloths for my coworkers for their Christmas presents.

    1. Alice–I just know you are telling us life is challenging, and you don’t feel all that well for a reason. I want you to know that I hear you and feel for you. I’m sorry life has been so challenging. I don’t know what would give you joy, but I can pray for you and hope you feel better very soon, and life gets less challenging. If you don’t have the energy to do much to help yourself feel better, here are some small things that have helped me: playing Christmas carols from YouTube, boiling a little vanilla in water on the stove to make the house smell good, and soaking in a bathtub of hot water. If I can get a good night’s sleep, it helps me too. When I cannot sleep I read Psalms from the Bible; I think it is very relaxing. Deep breathing helps. Lavender is a good scent for relaxing. Just some small ideas. My very best wishes to you for a lovely Christmas and a much improved New Year. Elizabeth H.

  23. Your photos are so beautiful Brandy and the way that you frugally put together your special outfit is just wonderful – I also love the story about the brooch. I have to get into my safety deposit box in the New Year – I have a few bits & pieces from my mother and my grandmother that I would like to gift to my great nieces – no point in them just gathering dust and it’s not pieces that I wear anymore.

    I have one Christmas present left to buy for a friend – and another that I will buy in the New Year for someone that I’ll see later – food is bought, aside from some veg and if cards don’t make it by Christmas then they will be there by New Year’s! I just have too much work on my plate at the moment to worry, family are sick with Covid – again – and my best friend’s mother died today so it will be a very quiet Christmas.

    I am going to take some time and work on a budget for 2023 and get myself more organized moving forward. But first – I have to report for jury duty on January 10th! What a way to start the New Year. Still, there will be a good bit of overtime on my next pay cheque and I’m getting a good raise in January so I won’t complain. My apt. is lovely and warm and there is lots of food in the pantry, fridge & freezer so I am a very lucky person. I hope that all of you who celebrate have a wonderful and very Merry Christmas and that we will all meet back here in the New Year!

  24. Brandy, a new episode of Call The Midwife – Season 12 – Holiday Special, will be airing on PBS on Christmas Day (8:59 pm to 10:30 pm Eastern). I Have set the DVR to record it and look forward to watching it… from what I recall, you enjoy watching it too.

    I’m pleased to report that all the Christmas gifts have been purchased or hand made, wrapped, shipped and delivered or under our tree and all under budget! Did not buy any new decorations or ornaments this year, was not tempted by 70% off Christmas at Jo-Anne’s, and instead enjoyed decorating with what we already have. We did buy a 6 ft live tree from the nursery (price about 40% higher than last year) and my friend who lives on 45 acres (mostly wooded) on the mainland allowed us to cut branches from their holly, cedar, spruce and white pine trees; I also gathered lots of pine cones and bittersweet from their property to decorate with. I did gift my friend 2 loaves of cranberry/orange bread and peanut butter chocolate chip cookies with walnuts as a thank you.

    We are hosting Christmas Eve dinner for a group of family/friends and most of the food shopping has been done – I will shop for organic salad greens and pick up the fish I ordered on Thurs – and then the cooking and baking will start. For those who have access to a BJ’s – the President Soft-Ripened Cheese Brie Wheel, 16 oz for $7.99 (there is also a $1.50 BJs coupon to clip which makes it a really good buy)
    is delicious – too tasty as the one I purchased last week we have been nibbling on and I will need to go to BJs tomorrow to purchase another one to serve on Christmas Eve. At the supermarket, fresh chestnuts are $6.99 lb (same as last year); pomegranates are crazy high $2.99 each.

    Wishing you Brandy, and your family, and the readers/posters here a Blessed Christmas and a healthy, peaceful and prosperous New Year 2023.

  25. Brandy, your outfit description sounds wonderful, now we must see it to believe it ;D.

    Frugal things-
    * I made falafel from scratch as always, it’s amazing what you can do with soaked/ cooked beans! Falafel+ hummus+ cucumber+ bread= great sandwich
    * I bought a bag from J. Crew for $15 and was immediately tempted to buy it in 2 other colors because it was such a fantastic price! I didn’t.
    * I’m looking for a good, warm winter coat since the one I wear is almost 2 decades old (anyone remembers B. Moss?). I did find one at J Crew that would’ve worked well but they sold out on my size. I checked Poshmark for this coat and they were asking for 2X the price!!!
    * So far 3 of our packages were stolen from our doorstep!!! Not frugal! So I keep an on my email so it doesn’t happen again.
    * I used a 20% coupon to buy a perfume from Sephora. The $8 I saved is worth the 6 months wait.
    * I bought a Larkrise to Candleford dvd set but the image quality was rather poor, so I returned it.
    * I stopped by a blog where the author recommended an affordable alternative which was a $169 pair of pants. I see more and more influenzers are doing this- buying $200 candles or sporting$3000 handbags. Is it something new or have I been living under a rock?!?!

    1. Farhana, are you on Instagram? I took a selfie in the outfit on Saturday before my daughter’s piano recital. I can post it on my Instagram stories if you’d like.

      I would love to know your from scratch falafel recipe.

    2. Your comment about wanting to buy the bag in three colors make me laugh!
      I usually do this when I find a dress I like – I’m picky and when they’re on sale, it’s so hard to say “no”.
      Good for you for resisting temptation!

      I, too, would love your falafel recipe.

  26. I did all my holiday gift baking Saturday and Sunday. Seven types of cookies and one candy: iced/decorated sugar cookies, molded brown sugar cookies, iced peppermint stripe cookies, iced/decorated Italian anise cookies, chocolate peanut butter surprise cookies, chocolate chip cookies, snickerdoodles, and cashew macadamia nut crunch candy. Everything came from the pantry. My nephew last year mailed me back all the empty tins, bless him, normally I thrift for these, but was a great help with this years batch. I also saved large tins from the last two years of cookies from Costco from a neighbor. They were extra large and really made things easier. I signed up for a business fedex account to get the shipping discount and got everything shipped today. Instead of turning up the heat to get the iced cookies to set in time for shipping I stacked them all up on baking sheets, put them in the oven, cracked open the door with the handle of a wooden spoon to keep the light on and it worked like a charm. It all set up firm enough for packing overnight. Put out rope lights I got on sale to edge the walkway out front, that’s the last of the lights to go up. I got net lights the week before, and even though I checked they were not led, they didn’t get warm. I’d put them on my meyer lemon tree in advance of frost, but ended up with sheets over it anyway. Normally here in zone 9, the old style non energy efficient lights were enough to ward off frost damage. I have an outfit I thrifted in July for a wedding I didn’t wear, so will wear it for Christmas Eve. A few years ago on a Black Friday sale I bought nail polish colors for every season. So will do my own nails with that. Been wearing my mask (I get them free at my drs office) everywhere while out, because everyone I know is sick with something.

  27. Oh I forgot to add, a friend asked me to take several items to the donation bin several months ago. I ended up keeping two outfits I now regularly wear and gifted two of the books for Christmas.

  28. *I found some cranberry sauce and turned it into some muffins.
    *I’m regifting a friend’s daughter Pokemon cookbook for Christmas. She’s 5 and obsessed! My son no longer wants to cook any dishes in it.
    *I’m having some medical tests tomorrow and getting a discount with the hospital affiliated for with work.
    *The spouse and I are forgoing Christmas gifts this year. He bought an espresso machine on sale last month and there’s nothing I want or need.
    * I made risotto with mushrooms purchased at deep discount and some other things that needed to be used up before going bad.
    *I saved the stalks of broccoli for the guinea pigs.
    *I saw tickets to Paris are on sale and I could afford to go. Instead I’m staying home.
    * I found a bottle of wine in the cabinet. It will be served at Christmas dinner.

  29. Always love to read your posts. Would you be willing to share your recipe for the chocolate chip pumpkin bread? I made one for thanksgiving using fresh pumpkin and it was very dense and almost mushy. I’d love a good recipe. Thank you!!

  30. This is not a frugal week but one with necessary expenses. I finally made it to see my ophthalmologist. He has been my eye doctor for 46 years. I was one of his first patients; today, I was his last, as he is retiring. It was about minus 30ºC outside, his office is a long distance from me. I took a cab both ways which cost me about $110. I was very lucky because the cab company let me delay my trip home and sent another cab a half hour later. Usually, on a day like today, that would have meant a 2 hour wait but a cab happened to be nearby. On my way to see the dr., I dropped off at his house a framed photograph I had taken of two swans flying in tandem, a copy of “the book”, a copy of my calendar, a thank you note. This saved my doctor and his family from having to cart everything all the way home and it was on my way.

    Years ago, I had been in at the picture framer’s when a woman returned a barnwood frame. I immediately bought it for $20 but left it at the store. Various things prevented me from returning but the framer still had my frame! The enlargement of the photo cost me $7; the glass, matting and labour cost me another $50 today. My friend picked it up for me and dropped it off just in time for me to take it. She happened to be going right past the store. That saved me some taxi fare. She saw it before it was wrapped and said it was exquisite. My dr’s daughter will take a photo of it for me so I can see the finished product.

    I hope I did not catch anything. I wore a mask and was appalled at how few people were doing so even though flu is rampant as is covid. I have one more outing on Wednesday, unfortunately also by cab and then I can hibernate again.

    It is very sad for me that this doctor is retiring. After so many years, he was/is a friend. One positive thing is that the doctor he has referred me to is much closer to me and I’ll be able to get there for much less cab fare and without going on the highway/expressway that I hate especially in winter.

    I had had problems adjusting to my new eyeglasses but had not made it in to get tested again. He re-tested and then gave me a prescription for a physician’s remake so it should cost me nothing.

    I participated in the Christmas bird count on Sunday. It was so cold that I only stayed outside a little while.
    I was amazed at how many birds I saw. Today when I came home it was dark and there were tracks in my driveway that I was unfamilar with. It turns out that they are porcupine tracks. I hope to see it tomorrow.

    I will take this chance to wish everyone a Merry Christmas, a Happy and healthy new year, and for those who don’t celebrate, a happy holiday season and new year. Like Elizabeth M., I am glad the weather here warms up from minus 30ºC to plus 6 on Christmas Eve. The best of both worlds — warmth (relatively speaking) but with snow on the ground!

      1. Yes, the tracks were/are really stunning! I had hoped to get photos but with the windchill at minus 40ºC at times it was simply too cold to go outside! Had it been daylight when I got home, I would have taken photos yesterday. When I was proofreading the book in August, I heard a man walking on the sidewalk say to his little daughter that he’d seen a porcupine in my yard. Maybe I’ll see it in a tree. I hope it doesn’t wreck my fruit trees.

  31. A special hello and season’s greetings for “I”. Been thinking of you and hope, as the English would say, that you have a HappyChristmas. Ann

  32. Hello! This week I used a 40% off coupon at CVS for an item I needed, ordered 9 photo prints from CVS & received the 10th free, I sold 2 additional items on Mercari and shipped them using recycled boxes and bubble wrap. My son is home for break from law school and some of his local friends are dropping by. One friend brought 6 donuts from a new high end coffee shop, they were a delicious treat! We used a gift card to our favorite pizza place to enjoy a night out. My boss hosted a Christmas dinner for us at a local restaurant and one of the practices I manage had a potluck lunch that they invited me to. I took a walk through the Salvation Army thrift store and found 2 gifts for my children. A $1.99 Vineyard Vines baseball hat for my son that is brand new and for my daughter a Home Interiors nativity. The nativity is ceramic and made up of bears (which is odd) but my daughter loves these old bear items from Home Interiors. My MIL used to collect these pieces, my daughter has a few of her Grammie’s and I know that she will love this. And it was only $5.99. Still doing all the regular frugal things: taking lunches to work, coffee from home, repurposing leftovers, shutting off lights, keeping the heat set low. Nothing exciting but the little bits add up.

  33. * I finally got (after waiting for it on hold for 5 months) “A Year Without the Grocery Store” from the library after seeing it mentioned here some time ago. A lot of information I already knew about long term food storage, and probably the wrong time of year to be thinking about it, but this is an area I want to work on once the holidays are over. This book is very short and to the point for anyone looking for how to practically boost their long term food storage.

    * Another book I’m reading right now is “Energy-Wise Landscape Design.” I’ve been trying to plan/execute a garden and landscape plan that maximizes food growing space, while also having many native plants that attract pollinators, but this book has been good to explain where in your yard to plant things to keep your house cool or warm (depending on seasons), or even how to plant things to create breezes in your yard during summer. For my southern “hot/humid” climate, for example, it says to plant deciduous trees on the southwestern side of the house so it will shade my house in the late afternoon in summer (saving us money by keeping the house a few degrees cooler), but then in the winter the tree will lose its leaves and allow sunlight through to help warm it. That’s just one example, but there have been other good ideas, so I highly recommend it so far for anyone thinking about these things.

    * After much discussion, we’ve decided to cancel our YMCA membership (even though I go 3x/week) and invest in some basic equipment (no machines, just dumbbells, kettlebell, etc) to workout at home. We figure we’ll also save gas money and the time away from our kids (20 minutes travel time each way), so it’s for the best. We will spend the equivalent of 2 months membership to purchase equipment.

    * My elementary schoolers are homeschooled, and we just found out that a weekly program they participate in is being discontinued in the spring. I already paid for the entire year, so I will be getting a refund for half of it, and we’ve decided not to look for anything to take its place. They’ve met a lot of good friends through this program, so we will just continue to meet with them regularly, since we’re all in the same boat.

    * Found pie pumpkins on clearance and used the pressure cooker (Instant Pot) to cook it for puree, instead of in the oven. I highly recommend this method; so quick and easy!! I followed directions at Mel’s Kitchen Cafe.

    * We’ve decided to make our kids chip in for their activities (sports, band, etc). Only our oldest has a job, but they can at least do extra chores to help. We’re currently making everyone chip in 1/3 the cost, which seems more than reasonable.

    Merry Christmas to you, Brandy, and everyone else reading! This site is truly a gift.

    1. I remember looking up A Year Without the Grocery Store when it was first mentioned here, and it wasn’t available at my library. After reading your comment, I checked again, and it’s still not available, but I thought to check on Kindle, and it’s available free for Prime members, if anyone else might be interested. The landscaping book also sounds interesting.

  34. I made a bunch of Christmas cookies this week, most to give away, but we ate our fair share too. I also made sandwich bread and sourdough bread and finished my planned Christmas gifts. I turned our Thanksgiving turkey leftovers into over 2 dozen tamales. I haven’t done this in a few years, so my husband was very pleased, as they are a favorite. I cooked up the turkey bones to have broth to use in making the tamales and canned an additional 4 pints of broth. We are working on clearing out the freezer as much as possible to make room for the ¼ cow we’re getting in early January. I organized my sewing room which should help in the coming year. I have a bag full of things to remake/upcycle. I hope you all have a lovely Hannukah/ /Solstice/Christmas.

  35. Good morning, Christmas week!
    I worked three days last week and took breakfast and lunch all three days. Included in that was 12 hours of continuing education that is required to maintain my CPA license. My firm pays for the classes, but I try to find ones that are either free or inexpensive but still worthwhile. My father taught me that frugal is when you are careful with everyone’s money. If you are only careful with your own, but extravagant with other people’s money, you are just cheap. I try to keep that in mind in all that I do.
    I had a dentist appointment. Cleaning and X-rays. It was free with my insurance. Received free toothbrush, toothpaste and dental floss.
    I had a $4.00 off any produce coupon from Safeway. They had red bell peppers for 99¢ each. I bought five and paid only 95¢.
    My DH took sis siter and me out to lunch for her birthday.
    I made Chex mis and peppermint bark for Christmas treats. Made two loaves of homemade rosemary/thyme bread. Made chicken fajitas with chicken from the freezer and onions from the garden. Used some of the red peppers that I bought earlier this week, along with green peppers I had. My sister gives me homemade fajita seasoning mix each year for my birthday.
    Roasted some butternut squash from the garden for dinner.
    Hope everyone has a wonderful and joyous Christmas

  36. My frugal win this week was gifting homemade jams at the 2 different office Holiday parties I attended. The suggested spend was $25/each and instead I wrapped up a selection of jams that I made this year. One of the parties had a swap and my jams were one of the stolen items, so I think they were a hit! And much less than the $50 I would have spent.

    I also bought something on thred Up this week, my first time. I have been looking for a blazer for sometime and finally found the right one. It needs a little tailoring, which I will take to a seamstress, as my sewing skills don’t extend that far. But even with paying for tailoring, it will be a lot less than new.

    Happy holidays, everyone!

  37. Hi Brandy and everyone
    I’ll write about frugal news another time, just popping in now to let you know about some Christmas TV programmes which some of you might like. I’ve had a quick flick through the TV guide for Christmas.
    For children a new animation of the lovely best-selling book The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse and an animation of the Julia Donaldson book The Smeds and the Smoos. An animated film called Farmageddon by the animators who made Wallace and Gromit etc.
    A Christmas special of Call the Midwife and the new series starts at the beginning of January.
    A new series of Father Brown and Death in Paradise.
    Two ballets, The Nutcracker and Coppelia which is part animation which sounds interesting.
    Carols from Kings ( an important part of our Christmas ) and Carols, Together at Christmas which has been organised by the Princess of Wales.
    We won’t necessarily be watching this much TV but I remember from comments over the year that some of you enjoy different British TV programmes. I’ve tried to remember what you all like.
    Happy Christmas and peace to you all.

  38. The roses are so lovely. Our red rose that is a transplant from the yard of my husband’s late grandmother (she died in 1974 at age 94) has been blooming right up to this week, but this weekend should put an end to that. We are predicted to have possible lows in the teens this weekend, here in Florida.

    Brandy, it’s funny that you mentioned your great-grandmother’s brooch. I recently wore a small sterling silver brooch that was my mother’s. She got it during WWII, and a part of it is a tiny plane propeller. She got that one because my dad, her husband, was off serving in the Army Air Corps in the Pacific theater during the war. It’s frugal to hang on to nice little pieces like that, but of course, I kept it for sentimental reasons, really.

    This past week has been more spend-y than usual, but that’s due to getting ready for Christmas. I had most of the gifts bought and the ordered ones are all but one arrived at the house, so that much was out of the way. I think all but two gifts were bought on sale. We decided on holiday meal plans, and I shopped for some of the food items. The frozen vegetables I already have stocked up in my freezer will go a long way to taking care of the vegetable portion, and I found a ham on sale.

    I’m using homemade gift bags and decorative reusable boxes (for the third year) to hold the gifts, so wrap, tape and bows aren’t needed.

    It is with great relief that I found out I was approved for a new drug assistance program. My old program was underfunded and they cut anyone with insurance for next year, even if the insurance doesn’t pay for the drug in question (as mine doesn’t). I applied with three new programs and persisted at following up, and just today I was admitted to a new assistance program for 2023. Since I take six doses a year of this drug and it has gone up to $28,751.79 per single dose, I was going not going to be able to pay for it myself.

    Although apples usually aren’t so great anymore at this point of the year, I found Opal apples on sale and they have been deliciously sweet and crunchy. I saved $1.49 a pound from their usual apple prices.

    I repaired a sweater in which a seam in the sleeve was trying to come loose.

    I go right by the tax collector’s satellite office on my way to work, so I pulled in at 7 a.m. and used their lock box outside to drop in my payment that’s due December 31. I know that with the holidays, I would end up forgetting it and incur a late fee if I didn’t pay the taxes now.

    I hope everyone who is facing this storm sweeping across the U.S. will stay safe and warm!

  39. Being well again meant, that I was able to go on my bike and save on public transport. I have biked to almost all my appointments the last few weeks – even if it has been either raining or below freezing. I just put on a lot of clothes or raingear. When it is cold, I have found out, that covering my mouth with a scarf makes me feel a lot better. Fortunately I live in a city, where the bike lanes are well kept during winter, snow being removed very quickly and the lanes are salted so they are not icy.

    I’ve been busy making and wrapping the last Christmas presents. I’ve made my son a small sewing kit. He’s not especially fond of sewing, but he get scout badges from time to time, and I’ve taught him how to sew them on his uniform. Getting the badges on his uniform is a big motivation! And being able to sew on a button or mend a torn hem is something I plan to teach him as well. I’ve used a nice recycled gift box with a magnet closing we got from someone as the container for the kit. Then I’ve made a needle book with his initial embroidered on the front – the first time I’ve ever sewn French knots! I used some green felt I already had. I had planned to buy some white felt for the pages, but it was over 5 USD for a small piece about 10×15 inches! So I just used the green felt. Bought thread in a few colors to put in the box and added some white and black thread and needles, pins and safety pins from my own sewing kit. He will also get a second hand audio book and a day out with the family. We will take him to a museum that he really likes and get some lunch together.

    We planned to buy our (living) Christmas tree at the hardware store this year. Last year we found out, that a tree is about 75% cheaper here than if we buy it in the street just around the corner! We need to go on our cargo bike – it’s about 2 miles from where we live. But my husband has been too busy, so we will end up buying the tree around the corner as usual. It’s always been a nice family tradition to buy it together when we pick up our son from school the last day before the holidays. Last year we were too ill to go to the hardware store, so who knows if we will ever get a cheap Christmas tree!

    We have shopped for Christmas dinner for the last few weeks – we will have my in-laws an my mother as guests. In Denmark most people have either pork-roast or duck for Christmas dinner. We bought two small pork-roasts and put them in the freezer a while ago – usually we can find a great offer on our favorite cut some time before Christmas, but not this year.
    My in-laws will bring the traditional dessert: ris ala mande (sounds french, but is danish) – rice porridge with whipped cream and almonds. This summer we gleaned and froze wild cherries for the cherry sauce that goes with it. My mother will bring caramelized potatoes, another traditional dish for Christmas. We will make the rest of the side dishes.

    Wish you all a happy Christmas!

    1. Cam, you are bringing back memories of the college semester I spent in Denmark! One of our teachers had the class to her apartment for rice pudding and tangerines. It was such a strange meal to us Americans but delicious!

      Glaedelig Jul!

  40. I think my whole week has been ongoing frugal fails leading to Christmas and the holiday week. *sigh*. Oh well, it’ll be business as usual afterwards, and there’s no debt.
    But…popping in here to wish Brandy and her family a Merry Christmas! Ditto to the rest of you, whose comments I read and enjoy each week! Peace and happiness to all!

  41. We have had one of ‘those’ seasons here in our home. The fridge roars like a dinosaur, the hot water pipe at the sink in the kitchen trickled at best, the bathroom shower drain is worn out and then the hot water heater failed to heat water. Sigh. Hot water at kitchen sink righted itself just before the water heater quit. The shower drain we’re leaving alone as we plan to replace the entire shower unit in the first part of 2023. The fridge repair man is coming tomorrow. Hot water heater got fixed after multiples of calls to various repair services none of whom service our area, including those who advertise as being county owned! It was a desperation move on my part to call the local hardware/auto parts store and ask if they knew of anyone who DID work in county. It took two days for the man to arrive but he was able to fix the heater. It was a burnt element.

    I’ve cooked almost all meals at home. Twice in two weeks we bought take out pizza. Both times we were in shopping center late on a Friday evening and we paid out of pocket money not out of account to cover the meals. They were both delicious and I’m grateful we were able to use that option. But even bread is made in our home and we save quite a bit of money just doing that.

    We shopped for groceries. At the discount store, I paid 75c for tomatoes (about four pounds), two of which were huge. 75c for a box of organic ‘weeds’ as my husband refers to the fancy lettuces (frisee, baby spinach, arugula, etc) and $1 for something else. All great buys in this day and age of high costs in so many areas. All told, I am way over budget this month, but I’ve not bought frivolously or foolishly. I haven’t done stocking up. I’ve simply stuck to my usual grocery list and items.

    We were pleased to see that come next month we will get a nice raise for our monthly retirement checks. We’ve officially closed on the house we were selling and I was happy to cancel the insurance that was about to be due. I will get a small refund from utility services that were discontinued. Most of all, I am grateful that I shall not have to push mow that yard next year! Proceeds from the house will allow us to do some work on this house (replace shower for instance) and while it will be modest work, it will be a blessing to get that done.

    The last several years have been tight and tough for us. I’ll be sitting down with my budget for the coming year and playing with it. I just want to say to Hilogene that at least my first two rounds with every proposed budget sheet brings me to the “There’s NO WAY…” point…Somehow that third or fourth time I am able to see the way…So if you hear a wail from the easterly direction it might just be me in the midst of my annual budget proposals, lol.

    Mable, we keep our daytime temperature set at about 68 or 69. My husband has a thyroid condition and is always cold. Mind you he’s also from south Florida and convinced that wearing skimpy clothes is the way to go, too…We are, however, due some very cold weather this weekend for Christmas and I expect we’ll all be snuggling into jackets and socks and slippers and robes trying to keep warm.

    1. Terri C you made laugh so hard with your wit and writing, something always breaks at my house on a holiday and when you wrote about the budget for 2023 I just about died- I am warning my husband it’s going to be a year of ” bare bones budget” the term we use when money is tight…. not sure how we all will pull it off but it always seems to get done
      Thank for your humor

  42. My son’s birthday was this week and his meal choices made it easy to be frugal. We offered to take him out to eat but he asked me to make spaghetti and meatballs instead, which I was happy to do! I purchased a frosted plain round cake in his favorite colors from the Walmart bakery for 9.99 and decorated it nicely at home with gold chocolate coins and a small pirate ship toy. He was over the moon about it and he also enjoyed eating his leftover spaghetti and meatballs for several days for lunches. His whole birthday meal for 8 people was less than $25, including dinner, cake, and ice cream, which I was so happy about!
    I was gifted a few baby items we still needed, including a seat with a tray, and a bottle warmer- very thankful for that! We pretty much have everything we need, now we are just waiting on little man to join us in January.
    Christmas has been frugal this year as well. Our extended family bought plenty of fun items for our kids, which we are grateful for, so we were able to scale back a bit. It will still be a wonderful Christmas.
    I will be hosting everyone for the Christmas Eve dinner, Christmas morning breakfast, and Christmas dinner. To reduct costs I have menu planned extensively and I believe we will be able to happily feed the whole family on a tight budget. Christmas Eve dinner will be just a spread of appetizers and treats, with games and a Christmas movie to follow. Breakfast will be homemade cinnamon rolls, fruit salad, and a breakfast casserole. Our Christmas dinner will be a rib roast with others bringing the side dishes (thankfully, because those roasts aren’t cheap!) I am looking forward to hosting everyone and spending time with family. A little bit of planning and budgeting this week has allowed me to be excited about having everyone. We were able to set aside extra grocery money by eating frugally these last two weeks- lots of breakfasts for dinner and beans and rice! No complaints from the kids with that- they could live off of pancakes for dinner if I would let them.

    Hope everyone has a great week!

  43. Brandy, your pictures are just such a delight! They always are, but I particularly enjoyed these. Those pinecones are gorgeous. Thanks for reminding me to take more pictures. Since I have the camera already, it’s free beauty.

    It was a good, frugal week. I’m decluttering, which means finding the treasures I need that were hidden behind other things. We had enough mittens, boots, sneakers, and hats already when I went through the stash.

    I listened to music we’ve owned for years and loved. We sang Christmas carols with my mom at the piano, using a book we’ve had since I was 10. I bought Christmas presents that really mattered, some special out-of-print books from AbeBooks for friends that will enjoy them.

    We’ll host out-of-town friends for brunch tomorrow, cooking simple things and using lots of what we already have.

    I taught a couple of friends to make chicken stock. They didn’t know it was so easy. I made soup for a sick friend. We made cookies for teachers. I bought a cookie press from ebay back in the fall, and we’re having a lot of fun with it now.

    I cleaned the house. It’s just amazing how much free contentment that gives! Even just a little bit cleaner. I love Flylady’s emails on banishing perfectionism, something I have to pay attention to.

    What a wonderful thing that all this busy-ness and work is for such a good reason! I hope you who are also celebrating this week are finding lots of joy.

  44. Your photos are a nice treat in winter. Thank you for always posting some beauty. We did a little Christmas decorating this week. Our granddaughters called to see if we could get a tree, but wait until they got here to decorate it. We usually wait until they get here to go pick out a tree, but they were coming on Friday this year, and they didn’t think they would get here early enough to go get a tree and decorate it before Sabbath. I had been wondering how expensive trees would be this year considering the price increases on food and other necessities. Then we went to the dentist for my husband’s appointment. I was sitting in the waiting room when an assistant came and asked me if I would like to go back where my husband was. She said they had someone in their restroom that when the person came out, they were going to ask them to leave, and they didn’t want me to get “caught in it.” I said I would be happy to move. Dentists always need some trivial topic to chat about, and this one told us how his family went and cut a tree at a Christmas tree farm near where their relatives live and paid $90 for it. My husband said later, “Now I know why he is charging me $2000 for the dental work I need done.” I think when I heard the dentist’s story, I kind of sucked in my breath and knew I wouldn’t be able to make myself pay that much for a Christmas tree. So you see how we are. I’ll admit I was a little worried, about more than just the dentist’s bill. As we talked it over my husband said he thought we could probably still get a permit for $10 to cut a tree on state forest land, and his ancient chainsaw runs again. Maybe he was just itching to cut something. “Wild” unpruned trees were the Christmas trees our children decorated with their homemade ornaments and popcorn chains every year. We always made an event out of going to cut a Christmas tree, usually in the snow. I would bring sandwiches and fruit and cookies and hot chocolate in a thermos for a sort of picnic lunch. But as it is now, we would have to drive a long way to buy a Christmas tree cutting permit and even farther to search for a tree. We weren’t sure we could even find something small to cut, if we went to that much travel and trouble. But before we did all that, we decided to try to buy a cut tree locally. As it worked out, the little grocery store near us is selling tame trees again. The one $25 tree was getting ready to leave when we pulled up. It’s new owner told us, “That one’s mine.” We told her we would keep an eye on it while she went into the store to pay for it. All of the other trees were $30. It was just about dark, but we could still see. We picked out the tallest, chubbiest one we could find. True, its height and girth are not as impressive as those of past trees, but the girls were delighted nonetheless and commented again and again how much they like real trees better than the fake one they “drag out of the garage” every year at home. On Saturday night we hosted our family Christmas gift exchange. This year we had quite a time figuring out how to do our drawing because we were not all together at Thanksgiving. As it was, our daughter and her family mailed their lists of things they would like to us in a manila envelope. Then when our sons came to our house for Thanksgiving, we wrote our lists of things we might like to receive on notebook paper like our daughter and her family did and folded ours to resemble theirs. Then we drew names and made sure we didn’t draw our own name. Then we mailed the manila envelope with the rest of the lists back to them. Our granddaughters called to see if we got the envelope. Then they called to see if we drew names and mailed the envelope. Then later they called to ask which day we had actually mailed the envelope. Finally, they called to tell us they had received the envelope, and that the mail delivery person was late getting to their house that day, and one granddaughter had walked to the mailbox to check to see if the envelope had arrived three times that day. They drew names from the lists that were left. Everybody liked how the exchange turned out. Our price limit per gift was $40 this year. We got together a week early because our SIL had time off work this weekend but not next, and everyone else could be flexible. I made a vegetarian meatloaf out of ingredients I bought last summer and baked it with sweet potatoes my son brought. My SIL made apple pies. My daughter brought granola she made and sunflower seed sprouts and pea sprouts she was given to put in salads. The granddaughters brought a new geography game their mother found on sale at Ross that we enjoyed, and the girls rummaged through the jigsaw puzzles I collected last summer and put several together on the little free table I was given last summer. I helped them with some melt-and-pour soapmaking one day. They want to learn to make soap from scratch, but maybe this is a start. I helped one girl make fudge one evening. One the uncles brought fudge supplies. I bought the soapmaking kit, and it was not on sale. But I did cut my husband’s hair, and that saves about $20 which was about the cost of the kit. Since Christmas, I did buy him a few new things at Men’s Wearhouse because my daughter stopped there on the way home and called me about a great sale. I spent $15 for three packages of underwear (a dozen pairs total) and $5 for a new dress shirt. From Macy’s I also ordered him four pairs of part wool, black dress socks and myself a fleece coat to layer under my rain jacket for another $30. I was thankful to be able to layer an additional coupon off the sale prices. We will probably go shopping in person one day for things my husband needs to try on like a new pair of dress pants to wear to church. I was given a second dress. Other than that, I think we are set. Today I stopped by Goodwill. I’ve been looking for a wool skirt that I could cut up to make a pressing ham and some other pressing aids. I can find precious little wool anything–a few ugly men’s suit coats . . .. A couple of weeks ago I did find a red 100% wool lady’s blazer, but the price was $10, and I couldn’t bring myself to pay that much. Today, it was half price, so I bought it. I gave the girls the new partly wool socks I bought at Goodwill last summer, and their mother was pleased with the thick, pink bathroom rugs. Their house has cold floors, and I thought they might like some rugs in the bathroom. Rugs are something that seem to be expensive here. Maybe I just haven’t shopped online enough for those. Anyway my daughter had bought a pink bedspread from a friend’s yard sale, and these rugs looked about the right color to me for their master bathroom off the bedroom. When I lifted the rugs up at the thrift store, I caught a faint odor of chlorine bleach which impressed me even more. They have been riding around in the trunk of my car for weeks if not months. I keep things from garage sales and thrift stores in plastic bags in the garage, etc. for a while because there is (I hate to mention it) the chance of scabies. . . and I wash them in hot water if possible or take them to the cleaners after a quarantine interval, but I hadn’t washed the rugs yet. I am happy to have the woolen jacket, and I am going to make pressing aids because I want to learn to sew better. I see Craftsy has their premium memberships at $2.49 for a year again. I have enjoyed watching some of their sewing videos. The farther I progress post COVID, the more I seem to be able to focus, so I am looking forward to learning more. Thank you to everyone or your ideas for living a nicer life and helping others without running up the credit card bills. Blessings upon you all.

  45. Thank you all for sharing.
    I made a wreath at an event and put it on my car. I enjoyed having it there.
    My kids have been using womens leather gloves as winter/snow gloves. They work well and can be purchased cheaply second-hand sometimes.
    My son (too big for Santa) got a big Lego last year. He did not get it together correctly (it had a mechanism inside). I carefully put it back to box. He has forgot it. He will get it again this year! He remembers it then, but it´ll be fun!

  46. Hello, frugal friends from the frigid Appalachian Mountains! They are predicting Saturday’s low will be 0 degrees with a high of 18. Those are unusually cold numbers for us so Mr. Fix It and I are doing what we can to prepare for possible power outages and keeping the house warm. We are recharging both solar generators on this sunny day and looking for possible air leaks around doors and windows. Our house is a log home and has excellent insulation, but I can feel a few small drafts around one or two of the outside doors. I will roll up a few towels and put them at the bottoms of the doors. In other frugal ways: Mr. Fix It changed out two electrical outlets which weren’t working. The cost was just the cost of the outlets which he bought at Lowes and used his military discount. I did not buy much at the grocery store last week. I stuck to markdowns and loss leaders. I made English muffins using leftover sourdough starter. We ate from the freezer and pantries. I found enough kale and spinach in the garden to make a small salad to serve with dinner one night. We provided dinner one night at church for the 15 homeless men we house over the holidays (2 weeks). I was able to provide their dinner of chicken chili, cornbread muffins, salad and apple pie with ice cream mostly from our pantries and freezer. I only bought lettuce and ice cream. We signed up to provide dinner on Christmas Eve as well. I will serve a variety of pancakes, ham slices from the ham I bought for .95/#, fruit and Christmas cookies. This is something I love doing every year. These people are so appreciative. Most of them have jobs but do not earn enough to pay rent, food and utilities. There is no men’s homeless shelter in our area so Social Services rotates them through different churches every week or two. In other frugal things I have been using fabric scraps to make doll clothes for gifts and to donate. We attended a free concert at church. A group called Render the Hearts performed and were excellent. It was a very fun family event. If you live in the West Virginia, Virginia, Kentucky area and hear they are in your area it is worth seeing them. Finally, we earned .40$/gallon off using loyalty points. Wishing everyone a safe, healthy, happy, merry Christmas!

  47. Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to Brandy and all my “Frugal Friends” 🙂
    The past 2 weeks have been less expensive since I have stayed home due to illness. Fortunately, I had a full freezer and pantry and only had to send Hubby out for some store brand sugar free lemon soda.
    I made beef taco soup, that used up some frozen veggies ends to help make the broth. Will freeze some of the soup to enjoy in the week between Christmas and the New Year.
    Tried a “trick” to revive a stale batard bread. I learned this from a Jaques Pepin video. Run the bread under a stream of water, wrap in aluminum foil and reheat in the oven for about 15 minutes. It worked! Of course, I reused some foil to wrap the bread. 😁. Enjoyed the bread with the soup.
    Prior to being ill, I had the car oil changed. Filled out a $15 online rebate.
    Only my hubby used the car on the weekend. Well, I went to the grocery store for the first time in 2 weeks. When I came home, noticed oil on the garage floor. The car had no leaks prior to the oil change. I went back to the garage and it turns out, they didn’t tighten the drain plug enough.
    It’s frugal to pay attention to your vehicle. If I ignored this, the engine could have seized. Ugh! I wish the oil filter were easily reached without a lift, we would change it ourselves.
    On the way home, I checked the independent grocery store for produce mark downs. Spent $2 and got 2 large onions, bag of salad, 1 large tomatoe, two pounds of potatoes. Also picked up a gallon of close dated milk for $2.50. Thanks to Terri C, I will be decanting half of this into Mason jars and freezing it for future use.
    Today is the last warm day (50 F) before temps fall below freezing in my area. I will be planting the last of my clearance price daffodil bulbs. They aren’t a bargain if I let them rot and have to throw them out. 😉
    Wishing everyone peace and blessings during this holiday season and in the year to come.

  48. Reading through comments is getting me in the Christmas spirit. I had a dream birthday with DH in San Francisco. We wandered around looking at Christmas decorations, found a concert at Grace Cathedral by accident, and visited a fortune cookie factory in Chinatown in a tiny picturesque alley. We went window shopping at the most expensive shops in the world (Gucci, Chanel, Hermes) but didn’t buy anything until we went to the consignment store right next to them. I enjoyed a free latte while I purchased a carefully thought out third-hand, high quality backpack. I have been eyeing it for years. It was 30% off plus another $25 off for liking it on Yelp. It will last me a lifetime and I will always remember my 59th bday. We also splurged on a special Ancient Egypt exhibit at the Museum. So not frugal but I have saved money all year for it. I had a free night with my IHG card. I spent $200 on the Ambassadors Club Membership which immediately gave me a free fancy hotel on Nob Hill and free nights which I will use visiting family this Christmas and all through the next year. While waiting to pick up my son at SFO, I collected my free drink from Pete’s and my bday gift from Sephora.

    Last year’s New Year’s resolution was to use a budgeting software for one year. I did it. I used Dave Ramsey’s EveryDollar. It might not be for everyone because it costs , but for the first time I funded multi year goals like charity, HSA for next year, new car fund (in five year’s time), travel fund for next year, gift fund, a three month emergency fund, my 403B retirement fund and my bday fund which I just enjoyed. I never really understood how to save in advance. So big credits all around for new learning.

    I wanted to say how much I appreciate everyone’s honesty. Good stewardship of money looks different in every family. I see all of us honoring God’s gifts, being charitable, thoughtful and full of love for our community. We share our ideas and talents no matter how our individual circumstances change. My farming husband is facing walnut prices that will be so low this coming season it will not be financially sound to harvest them. I enjoyed this bday but I might have a very different bday next year and all of your tips and strengths will allow me to enjoy next year just as much as this year.

    Happy New Year to all.

    1. Mary Ann, your comment really resonated with me! Although we have always been a frugal, one lower-income family, we have spent our entire adult lives in agriculture in Northern Montana. We currently have a fertilizer spreading business and had an excellent year last year, but due to the insane fertilizer prices this year has nearly zero business. Last year we were able to make a few larger purchases and be a bit freer than we would normally. This year looked very different. It’s been very slim, but God has provided and we have enjoyed each event and special occasion through the year with great joy even finding some new ideas and traditions along the way. I am praying you will enjoy the same even with a potential tough year ahead!

  49. I read about house temps and was reminded that i always use an electric mattress. I can live with colder rooms but my bed must be warm.

  50. Lovely and very different photos!
    I have been traveling a bit lately. We had trips booked (and rebooked) over the past couple of years which we finally took. I did all the usual small vacation economies like eating breakfast in the hotel room or condo, making our own coffee and tea, refilling travel water bottles, and packing lunches to eat when we’re on the go. Most expenses for our Hawaii trip had already been paid which was nice. We found that the food there (including restaurants and groceries) was expensive which we prepared for. The scenery is beautiful and we loved swimming every day. I most enjoyed the stars, planets and night sky at the Mauna Kea visitor center. Amazing! We loved a staycation in New York City, especially MOMA and The Life of a Neuron (an immersive film with exhibits). We used public transportation and walked and walked. After those awesome trips, my younger daughter invited me to join her in Las Vegas for four days. She had a work conference and her hotel room was paid already. I was able to book a flight using points and miles (actually 4 flights—not a great itinerary but a bargain). I walked around to all the hotels and exhibits during the days while my daughter was at her classes and meetings. I took a 1/2 day excursion to Hoover Dam and Lake Mead. It was nice to see Lake Mead and learn about water conservation after reading so much about it on this blog. In the evenings, my daughter and I went to dinner, usually sharing a meal or getting appetizers and a happy hour drink. DD still has her student-frugality even though she’s working. We went to a play and walked through the fancy hotels; we weren’t interested in gambling but it was fun to see everything Vegas.
    We are having a quiet Christmas. My older daughter and her husband are celebrating with family in Ohio. Younger daughter works Christmas Eve and Christmas Day in Philadelphia but we will see her for New Year’s. I am cooking for Christmas Eve for husband’s family. Sister-in-law suggested $20 white elephant gift exchange and $5 bingo card games. It was very hard for me to say no but we didn’t want to spend the money. I declined and hope she’s not offended. I am making lasagna, salad, homemade bread, hot spinach dip and crackers, cake and brownies. I had almost everything in the freezer or pantry so only a few things to buy.
    I enjoy reading the comments here even when I don’t have time to write my own!

  51. I was able to get a 10% discount code on a Christmas gift for my husband, thanks to an insurance group benefit with various vendors.

    Consolidated errands, such as returning books at the public library book drop on the way to other places on that side of town.

    Placed holds for library books online and will pick them up when in town again.

    We invested in a hot water heater tank insulation “blanket” and pipe insulation. According to the gas company, that can save over $100 a year on gas usage; we spent around $90 on the blanket, foam elbows, and straight foam pieces, so it should pay for itself over 2023.

    I had a much-needed dental exam and cleaning – as we are now on a civilian dental plan instead of military, I thought there would be a co-pay and was going to pay it from the HSA, but it turned out the new plan doesn’t have one for preventive care. I need a little bit of work done next month, so it will help fund that instead. (The HSA is one that allows a certain amount of rollover funds if not used up by 12/31, vs the kind that must be used up annually.)

    Saw few fruit flies or fungal gnats around my indoor coffee plants – made a trap with apple cider vinegar and dish soap and it’s already working.

    Trying to get in the habit of using the GoalZero solar battery we were given to charge my cell phone. The battery/inverter can be charged with solar panels or plugged into the wall like a storm station; we used the panels we were given with it to charge it up so why pay for electric to charge the phone? So far working quite well…… when I remember to use it. haha

    Exchanged magazines with my mom, passing on what I’ve read and enjoying the ones she had. We subscribe to/buy different things and then both get to enjoy them. She had a bunch of the Christmas-themed women’s and home decor ones so that was a fun holiday treat.

    Happy holidays to all! Chag Urim Sameach to those celebrating Chanukah right now, and good Yule as well. Merry Christmas to come! 😀

  52. After many years of about cooking myself into exhaustion at Christmas, several years ago I changed things up a bit. I use to cook a meal for Christmas Eve and another complete meal for Christmas day dinner. Finally I said “enough”. Now I still cook a lot but we have the same menu for both meals. I cook once and serve twice! No one complains and I enjoy both events much more now. Will be serving: ham, turkey, bbq sausages, chicken and dressing, broccoli-rice casserole, candied sweet potatoes, mashed potatoes, deviled eggs, corn on the cob, yeast rolls, chips and dip, cranberry sauce (canned and homemade candied whole) banana split cake, pecan pie, chocolate chip cookies, homemade peanut brittle candy, and toffee graham crackers. Will have homemade sweet tea, soft drinks and coffee to drink. Merry Christmas to All from Tennessee

    1. No wonder you are exhausted with that menu. I’m stunned just reading it. If you will give me your address, I’ll drop by and taste test.

    2. WOW! Penny! That’s a LOT of food! I hope you have a large gathering for all that food. I also hope you have leftovers for quite a few days too.

      We do Swedish meatballs, mashed potatoes, a vegetable (usually whatever we have in the freezer or is on sale), fruit and lefse for Christmas Eve. Christmas Day is Cinnamon Rolls, Baked Eggs and fruit for breakfast and then Seafood Chowder and more lefse for dinner/supper. Everything can be made ahead expect for the breakfast and fruit and are traditional meals for our families. We used to make clam chowder but we like the seafood better – shrimp, cod and crab for meat (a small amount of each) plus veggies.

      Enjoy your holiday and less cooking!

  53. I am late to the game this week! We have had our central system (heat & air) turned off for a while now, and enjoying the savings. We have an Arctic front coming in and lows will be single digits, and we will be below freezing for a couple of days. I turned our heat on 68. It probably won’t run much – we are on an upper floor and very well insulated. We closed the heavy drapes on our windows and put a draft stopper by the patio door. We’ve even had some snow flurries this morning.

    Did some last minute grocery shopping. When the weather gets cold here, or there is any threat of snow, people tend to panic and the grocery stores get ransacked. Deals were 10 lbs of red and gold potatoes (5 lb bags for 97 cents), a free dozen eggs with a grocery store reward, and some coffee that we like off the clearance rack. Tonight’s dinner will be potato and corn chowder with some of the red potatoes and corn I had frozen from a summer sale, and garlic cheddar biscuits. We have been eating all of our meals at home, including lunches. Other recent at-home dinners included chicken tikka masala with saffron rice; roast pork loin with mustard cream sauce, spaetzle, fried apples, and glazed carrots; roast beef with mashed potatoes and green beans; beef tamales with rice and beans; and pizza with breadsticks. Christmas dinner will be spiral ham with macaroni and cheese, brussels sprouts, yeast rolls, and a Buche de Noel for dessert. Christmas Eve we will attend evening church, then drive around to look at Christmas lights.

    Work is very busy for me this week, but I am looking forward to Christmas and some time off. I hope everyone here has a wonderful holiday and stays warm!

  54. I missed last week, so this will be for the last 2 weeks. I continued to focus on food expenditures watching our food waste, using less meat and purchasing less. We are making our way through the last bits of meat in the freezer. My goal is to wait to purchase more until I have used everything. Our grocery store had a good price on milk so I purchased more at that price as we go through many gallons per week. There were several baking items on sale for better prices than I have seen for quite some time. This included butter for 3.99 a pound, blocks of cheese for 2.19, chocolate chips for 1.88, and brown sugar and evaporated milk for 1.50. Our nearest Walmart is over an hour away so these were great deals as our store is pretty small and locally owned. I picked up several of each and will get more next week as it is a two week sale. There were large boxes of Sunkist oranges for 7.99 and some lovely small poinsettias from our local florist for 3.00. I purchased 3 of each to give as Christmas gifts to a family member and 2 pastor friends. I bought groceries with WIC and this helped tremendously for our overall budget. We purchased food items for a box for the food bank for Christmas meal donations. Many of the items were on sale and I came in under the budget I was hoping to spend on it. I wrapped the box in some wrapping paper I already had from a couple years ago, lined it with tissue and placed the food items inside. It turned out very festive. I purchased a couple just right Christmas gifts on sale and came in under my 10.00 per gift budget. I ordered 100 Christmas cards from Sam’s Club for 26.00. They were very nice quality and came quickly. I had purchased several books of stamps over the year, so I was able to send cards to everyone on my list even with a more limited budget. My teens went to Youth group and had a free meal and Christmas party. They had a gift exchange so we made up some inexpensive food gifts with “punny” labels. (i.e. “Fish and Chips” was Swedish fish and potato chips wrapped up in a reused go container). It was a fun time and we didn’t break the bank. We had our community Christmas Stroll and a friend and I headed a large event hosted at our church for the festivities. We offered several crafts for kids, pizza, cookies, hot chocolate, face painting and professional photos with Santa all free of charge. It was a wonderful night. We participated in all the fun and brought home a bag of leftover craft items to use at home. I used a gift certificate I had won from a drawing at a town harvest event in the Fall to eat at a local diner. I purchased a very nice snowsuit on sale with an extra coupon for under 22.00. I found a couple dressy toddler suit vests at the thrift store for 50 cents each. My teen son found a very nice purple dress shirt in an expensive brand and a tie that coordinated at the thrift store for a couple dollars. He wore them to church last week and noted very proudly that at least 8 people complimented him on his shirt and tie lol. I received a stocking full of gifts from our Pastor’s family with a Christmas movie the kids were wanting, a nice go mug and several fun treats. Thanks everyone for sharing. I so enjoy reading all the updates. Wishing everyone a very Merry Christmas!

  55. Brandy, your photos are always so lovely! I wish I had your creativity gene, but sadly, that’s the one thing I did NOT inherit from my Mom.

    Bracing for the upcoming holiday winter storm this weekend here in NE Ohio. I do have to work this upcoming Christmas weekend but will get paid double time and a half for working Christmas Eve night shift. I also live very close to the hospital where I work as an ICU RN. We are still seeing Covid cases along with Flu and even RSV in adults.

    Made a pot of vegetable chicken soup which I brought to work for my lunch. Since it’s just my husband and I, we shared the soup with his parents who live nearby. I bring lunch with me to work every night from home.

    My health insurance plan is changing our pharmacy coverage for the new year. Which means that some medications/supplies my husband needs for his diabetes will now be covered under this new company. He can now get the glucose monitoring system that wasn’t previously covered. So he won’t have to poke his finger 3 times a day. It’s been just about a year since he was diagnosed as a diabetic.

    I also remembered to sign up for an HSA through my employer for the new year. Last year, I didn’t realize I had to re-sign up for it so I didn’t have that benefit for 2022.

    Filled up my gas tank for free using rewards from our Grocery store’s savings card. We had $3.86 of a gallon of gas. It saved me $20 at the pump as I only needed 7 gallons to top off my gas tank. Plus there’s still reward points available left over for future savings on gas.

    I won’t get to see my son on Christmas Day for the first time ever (he’s 18) but I will FaceTime him as he lives an hour away from me.

    Hoping everyone has a wonderful holiday & for those of us expecting the winter storms to stay safe and warm!

  56. I wanted to wish Brandy and family a wonderful Merry Christmas. Also wishing everyone else a Merry Christmas. Growing up my parents always gave my sisters and I a toothbrush,a orange, a quarter and some chocolate candy in our stockings. I do the same my family and grandchildren.

  57. I have enjoyed reading everyone’s comments again this week. It has been a frigid few days for us (nothing for our Canadian friends!), but we didn’t get above zero today, and were at -9 with wind chills -35 last night until close to noon today. Now it’s “warmed up” to be -2. I’m hoping the ferocious winds die down soon. I have left a lot of birdseed out at the base of the evergreens for the birds that don’t migrate, so they get some shelter while eating, but a number of birds froze to death and fell in our side yard. That is very upsetting. Just going out to replenish the birdseed for a few minutes took me a while to warm up from.

    We have one frozen pipe in the garage and my husband has been working to thaw it and repipe an area. Hopes to have it done before nightfall. The garage is freezing as well. We have to keep the heat at 65 or some rooms just get too cold. Even with it set at that, there is ice on the inside of our windows and sliding glass door and frost on a few outlets that just have to warm up before we can use them. The thermal drapes help, but the condensation still freezes up. Should warm up out of freezing by early next week.

    We’re trying to be frugal and not just buy because we’re expected to at Christmas. We do stockings for each other, but still are running into buying some small items “because”. We said we need to figure out how to better do this going forward. Some years we’re on a trip, so our “gift” is the travel. For some reason this year I have been melancholy despite good news about my brother’s cancer (has not spread, and he is exceeding their 5-year cutoff for pancreatic cancer survivor range) … I am missing my parents who passed eight years ago. Our Christmas with the grandkids was to be yesterday but we postponed it for a week because of the storm that was moving through our area. They would have only had an hour or so here before needing to turn around and drive home. We’ll do that in a week.

    Homemade vegan meals included mini lasagna, spicy ditalini and white bean soup, roasted harvest veg bowl, black bean and corn/onion tacos, white bean soup and freshly made sweet potato rolls … I haven’t felt like cooking much so we’ve had a couple of “yo-yo” nights – you’re on your own. But most meals have leftovers so no great task to reheat anything.

  58. Merry Christmas, everyone!
    * We had all five kids plus their spouse/girlfriend, and mother and sister in law from Monday thru Thursday. We did our Christmas Thursday morning and had our traditional lasagna lunch. It was so fun having a full house of 15. I made a breakfast casserole, vegetable beef soup, cordon bleu casserole, eggs & bacon biscuits, cinnamon rolls, and the rest the kids were visiting inlaws or friends or out doing something. We bought a smoker before Thanksgiving an and it came this week. I pulled a small $5 turkey out of the freezer, bought a ham from Aldi for 80 something cents a pound, and got a pork loin for $1.79 a pound and we smoked all 3 one day. I made butterbeans and mashed potatoes that night a a few people were there to eat from whatever meat they wanted. We made pork loin and ham slices to put in the refrigerator then I packaged all the meat in bags and also froze the turkey bone and ham bone. I have 3 ham bones and 4 turkey carcasses in the freezer to make bone broth and soup after the new year. Last night my husband wanted me to slice the loin and pan fry it. I did that for him, but took some and cubed it up and sautéed onion and an orange pepper and made a quesadilla with mine.
    * My daughter gave me a Camellia bush. It is Alabama’s state tree, and we had a beautiful one in the yard I grew up in.
    * It got to 3⁰ with -16⁰ wind chill here. The TVA has said they are doing roving 30 minute blackouts in counties all around us, and then sections have had unplanned outages. So far we haven’t had our power go off. We have a gas fireplace and stove, plus a generator. I hung a quilt over the window near my husband’s recliner, put rolled up blankets at the doors, topped off my car, washed all the towels and our clothes as soon as the kids walked out the door, which was two loads of towels with 15 people.
    *My daughter has 3 chickens and brought me 2 dozen eggs. They are smaller eggs, but so good, and each is a different color.
    *We watched the first episode of 1923.
    * My son told me his wife wanted to take some of my home canned soups home. So I took her in the pantry and she was so shy to take anything, but said I’d given them one with vegetables and beef and it was so good. I am not sure which so gave her 3 beef stew, 3 vegetable beef, and then got others to try and a bunch of green beans and jam. I am so happy someone “wanted” it.

  59. It has been such a busy week that I just managed to get here now. I wanted to wish everyone a very Merry Christmas and the happiest of New Years. I especially want to thank you, Brandy, for all you do for this lovely community you have created. Since we are heading into a challenging 2023 we will need you and this community more than ever, I believe.

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