I wrapped Christmas presents using the reusable boxes that I invested in a few years ago.

I bought an online gift card for my daughter at college for her birthday. She can find something she wants from a place she loves and I saved the cost of shipping, as the gift card was simply emailed to her. We video called her via the free Duo app and sang happy birthday to her.

We continued our work in the garden on the days it wasn’t too windy to be outside. My husband poured concrete posts for two of the lights after running the wires to them. To make the concrete stronger, he put rebar in the columns, connecting them down into the square concrete bases that he made. He borrowed his brother’s rebar bender to bend the rebar.

Our old lights will be in new spots in the garden, closer to the house than they were before. My husband picked up some LED bulbs from the dollar store for the garden lights.

We continued to pick up the meals from the school district that are being offered to all students this year. This has eliminated my need to purchase milk and fruit and is keeping the freezers and pantry stocked. My neighbor continues to gift us with the food items that they pick up from the school that they don’t want. It has been nice to not have to prepare many meals for the family while we are working on the garden; it gives us more time to work outside as well as helps with the budget.

I covered parsley, lettuce, and Swiss chard seedlings in the garden with small canning jars to protect them from the possibility of frost as well as to help them grow faster. Covering them with jars is like putting a greenhouse over them, and my trials in the past have shown me that covered seedlings grow three times faster than uncovered seedlings.

I harvested lemons and carrots from the garden.

I listened to Mahler’s Symphony #4 on YouTube and enjoyed listening to Christmas music on Pandora while I wrapped gifts.

The library announced that it would be closing for a month due to rising Covid numbers. I took three children to the library who wanted to go and we all checked out books for the month. The library has been fairly empty of patrons this year when we have gone. This gave everyone who went something new to read over the holiday break.

What did you do to save money this past week?

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  1. Great week! I just bought Meijer brand frozen whole turkey for 39 cents/pound through dec 24. But wait, that’s not all ! Between now and Dec 24 (Thursday) they are Buy 1, Get 1 FREE!! I got 2 for us $7.83 for 2 twenty pounders and Hubs got 2 eighteen pounders for our daughter who has to work today! That’s under 20 cents a pound!! 🎉🎉 This is at all Meijers in our region ! It would be worth checking if anyone has a Meijers!
    Also, while I was there, they were marking down ground beef- 75/25% grade. Look at original price- $21.98!! Even sale price was $9.14. But I got it for $5.53 ($1.27/pound)! https://pin.it/16NNyCy Looks like we will have meat loaf tonight!!

    Just when it looked like the business was quiet, 3 more quilts came in , including Quilt #105 which is a huge T-shirt quilt- 124”x 117”. https://pin.it/1Cxn02i. So grateful for the extra income right now as it inches us closer to our goal of paying off the mortgage in a few weeks!
    I found a free online pattern for microwave heat pads for neck and shoulders https://pin.it/25kD1WJ. I loved this because it uses 3-1/2” x 6-1/2” fabric rectangles (bricks) that are a size I cut some of my trimmings into. So I have a shoebox labels 3-1/2”x6-1/2”! I then found a partially made pillow case (maybe?) in among gifted fabrics that I was sorting through and this is what I was able to do: https://pin.it/nW7FvkG. I was able to cut 5 backings from this striped fabric with only slivers of fabric left over!! And these are the gifts they became: https://pin.it/5LSJ1eG!! So 5 more gifts made! Also- the pattern says to fill with rice or some other filling. After filling some with rice, I did some research and found that I can use my hard red winter wheat (that I have to grind with white wheat for us to enjoy homemade bread because the red wheat makes a heavier/denser loaf). So instead of rice, I’m now filling them with our not as favorite red wheat!! Win-win!!
    Also made these treats to go in Christmas baskets for family/friends: https://pin.it/2iKxrrE. Had all the ingredients in my pantry!!

    We got about 3-4” of snow last week and were thrilled that with the plexiglass we put up around the chicken coop perimeter, their coop inside was completely dry and considerably warmer! Well worth the time and cost of the plexiglass!!
    Through the snowstorm and cold, windy weather, my sewing room was warm and toasty and the furnace didn’t even have to keep running! I will be interested to see how it looks on our heating bill in a couple weeks!

    Hubs found a table saw on FB Marketplace for $75 and he and our son took our 15 year old van up to the small town an hour away where it was. Long way to go? Yes (although we got gas for $1.59/gallon) But it was a very good brand and made when tools were much sturdier! Case in point: it will end up being the replacement for his current table saw which had been my Dad’s and we have had for 45 years now (and my dad bought 10 years before that!! It is still working but just not as precise as it used to be!) We believe in spending money on things that we use that have lasting value. Probably the same reasoning we use about cars! Our van cost $1000 about 7 years ago (we sold the one we were replacing it with for $500, so our OOP for van was $500). It was several years old when we bought it but it came from original owner. It now has over 220K miles on it. We keep it well maintained and use it to haul stuff that we get! Our other car, we’ve had for a year now. 2006 Buick . Original owner- 106K miles on it- $2200. We replaced our previous Buick (same year, 210K miles on it) that we have our son when his car was totaled in an accident. Because cars don’t tend to appreciate in value, we don’t need new! We look for reliable, dependable brand and model that has been owned by 1 or 2 people over its lifetime. Our kids tease us because they all drive newer cars than us. But we never have car payments either so we’re okay with that!

    We are well here! Our Christmas will be just the 3 of us. Our extended family of kids and grandkids will stop over 1 family at a time with masks and distancing so we can exchange gifts. Gifts are food we’ve made and handmade things like neck warmers. Focusing more on the Spirit of Christmas. In some ways, this pandemic has helped us focus on what is truly important and meaningful! I hope you have a lovely and safe and healthy Christmas and holiday season!!

    1. Gardenpat I love reading your posts,I always learn something and we seem to see things similar like good quality older cars, tools etc
      I was over the moon on your steal with the Turkey
      Thank you for sharing
      If you were to sell those neck warmers with red wheat I think they would sell like hot cakes lol
      I certainly would buy 4 at a time

      1. Pam Wager McCormick- It’s always nice to find out you’re not alone on the “prudent path”! 😉
        My turkeys are thawing on my back porch steps and as soon as they’re thawed, I’ll cook them up and portion the meat into freezer bags! That may be one of my fun Christmas activities since this is such a topsy-turvy year!!
        You’re too kind about the heating pads! I’ll be giving them to family and friends in their Christmas baskets and I’ll see what the reaction is. As far as marketing them, they each use about a pound of filling (wheat/rice) so shipping would “outweigh” the price of them and it’s not like small quilted items that don’t become incredibly more costly to ship in volume.
        Although…..now you’ve got my brain going! They are small but heavy! They could be packed in volume in a flat rate box! Hmmmmm……… So, down the rabbit hole I go…………🤪🤪

        All this stay at home time is giving me too much time to let my mind wander! Yikes!! Lol!

        Gardenpat in Ohio

      1. Sarah- One other tip. I always go early in the morning! They open at 6 AM, so I try to be there around 7 AM. At that time, they are restocking everything and also marking down things. Better selection, way less people! I can get in and out in about 20 minutes!
        If they are out, chat with the meat guy and ask when they will be getting more in since the sale goes through Thursday.

        Gardenpat in Ohio

  2. Am trying to visualize the lights situation from the picture. It looks like the lights will be higher than before. Is that correct?

    1. Yes they will be! The concrete pathways will be level with the top of the 2×4. We had concrete posts last time as well but this time we have made them a little taller. I am loving them higher!

      1. If your backyard turns out anywhere as nice as your front courtyard, it will be gorgeous. I showed my husband the pictures of the front. He just retired from 30 years as the inspector for public works projects for a small city. He said that is some NICE concrete work in front of your house–not that his opinion matters to you:)

        1. We have the same style of concrete on the back patio and will be continuing it with the same style. It’s textured and then I had it cut on the diagonal to look like slate pieces. The front concrete has been sealed as well.

  3. Such lovely photos, as always. I too love reusable gift boxes (and bags!) It does make easier work of wrapping, especially items that are oddly shaped. Also, how wonderful that you were able to do a video call with your daughter for her birthday. I’m sure the gift card was much appreciated!

    We’ve continued our usual frugal things over the past week. Ate almost all meals at home – slow cooker pot roast and mashed potatoes (which made several meals, including tonight’s leftover roast beef stroganoff) orange chicken with steamed jasmine rice, buffalo chicken wraps, sloppy joes, bean & rice burritos, and weekend breakfasts. We did pick up carryout from a local restaurant one evening after running a bunch of errands and ending up later than we expected. We made homemade oatmeal white chocolate craisin cookies together yesterday afternoon. We have both been diligent about taking our own coffee, snacks, and lunches to work each day. I have continued doing my own hair coloring, manicures, and pedicures at home.

    I am enjoying having our windows open while the weather is warm (60s) early this week. Saves on the electricity and the fresh air is nice. We are supposed to get a cold front just before Christmas Eve, and I’m looking forward to that! No chance of a white Christmas here, though. We did a grocery run to HEB and Aldi and stocked up on everything we need for Christmas and NYE dinners at home, as well as regular supplies. HEB always has good bargains on meat, and we were able to get a large boneless pork roast very cheap for our freezer. I also stocked up on jasmine rice and dried pinto beans. I was running low on beans, and we like to make a pot of beans often during the winter months early in the new year. Our Christmas ham is bone-in, so that bone will make a nice addition to the freezer for whenever we cook beans.

    Today, I’m not feeling great. I have a UTI and needed to get some antibiotics (I have struggled with these my whole life, usually get about 2 per year). I started feeling bad on Sunday, but fortunately was able to call Teladoc (a phone-in doctor service through our insurance). It is normally a $10 copay, but during Covid they have waived the fees, so the consultation cost me nothing! I was thankful to get a prescription that afternoon, and it was inexpensive with my insurance, which I’m also very thankful for. I am not feeling great today – mostly just very tired and wiped out, but today is my usual house cleaning day since I currently work from home M-W-F. I felt like I’d run a marathon just after stripping, washing, and re-making our bed! But, it needed to be done and I am glad I did it instead of putting it off. I have already done most of the heavy cleaning and laundry, but need to finish oiling some of the wood furniture (a couple of antique pieces that tend to get dry) and clean the floors, and then I can relax until dinner.

    I’ll work my usual days this week – Tuesday & Thursday. Yes, Thursday – Christmas Eve! I work for a church, and always work Christmas Eve (it’s one of our busiest days of the year), so it will be a flurry of activity. This year is quite different as we still aren’t holding in-person worship. The virus numbers in our area continue to rise and are very bad right now. In normal times, we would have at least 4 in-person services on Christmas Eve. This year we are offering one online worship service, and also 3 services in our parking lot. People remain in their cars and tune into the FM radio station (like an old drive-in movie) and the pastors and musicians are visible in front of the church. Very different than usual! I’m glad there are still opportunities for worship, though. After I get off work, we are planning to attend an evening parking lot service, and then probably drive around to look at some Christmas lights (with a thermos of hot chocolate brought along from home).

    I hope all of you have a safe and Merry Christmas!

    1. Pam B – I had struggled with UTIs for most of my adult life. I suggest you try cranberry pills. I order Nature Bounty brand 4200 mgs. fruit with vitamin C from Amazon. Make sure you get the 4200 mg size. I haven’t had an infection in years. Every day I take 2 pills at night and 2 in the morning. If you should feel an infection coming on just immediately take 3 or 4 pills. It can’t hurt you. Nothing in the capsules but fruit and oil. They work for a lot of women. I know some women drink the juice but I find it gives me a stomach ache and that’s a lot of calories too.

      1. During the 10 years I worked with a holistic vet, we always recommended cranberry capsules (usually the Cranactin brand, I believe), for UTIs in cats and dogs. We’d also recommend they fast the animal for 24 hours while giving the capsules, and encourage them to drink (by giving them broth).

        I’d definitely try the cranberry capsules. Blueberries also work.

        Good luck!

    2. I too work for a church Pam and yes, Christmas Eve is usually a very busy day! We normally do a 7pm Carol Service – usually 600 to 700 people attend and then an 11pm Communion service that draws 150 to 200 people. This year we will have one service available on YouTube. It’s almost done – I proofed some of it last night for the ministers, made a couple of suggestions and sent them some photos to consider using. We are a large downtown church so no parking lot! We don’t expect to be back in-person until well after Easter.
      Yesterday we loaded the Christmas Pageant – I couldn’t believe how well it came out – people did a great job of using Zoom background etc. and the homemade costumes turned out great. Last time I checked it had been viewed well over 400 times already! Who knew we’d get so used to worshipping this way. Merry Christmas.

      1. Hi Margie! We are a large downtown church, too, but we do have several parking lots including 2 in front of our main sanctuary that work well for parking lot church. It should be interesting for sure! We usually do 4 services averaging around 750 each. This will certainly be different! I honestly don’t know when we’ll be back in person – you are probably right about after Easter. I know we’re already planning some things into February that will be virtual and parking lot based. Sigh. Zoom and YouTube are a new way of life these days! I hope your services go well; the pageant sounds really cute! Merry Christmas!

    3. Pam B in Texas, I used to suffer from frequent UTIs. A little more than a year ago, I discovered Truenature one per day cranberry capsules, 650 mg each. I’ve only had one UTI after I started taking a capsule faithfully every night at bedtime. They can be a little pricey, but I feel it is worth it for me. If you happen to have a Costco near you, they have truenature cranberry capsules for a discounted price starting December 26. I wish you the best of luck.

      1. Thank you, Yvonne! I do have a Costco membership and shop there regularly. I’ll pick these up!

        I used to take D-Mannose capsules, which works amazingly well (usually as good or better than antibiotics) for prevention and to treat an active infection, but they are expensive – especially in comparison to pharmacy antibiotics under my insurance. I can get 5 prescriptions worth of antibiotics for 1 bottle of the D-Mannose capsules! I’d rather just take a preventative over the counter pill, but I dislike that expense. I’ll give the cranberry a shot.

  4. Thanks for sharing! My grandpa used to make concrete stronger by mixing soil in it. I remember the concrete floor crumbling…

  5. So nice to read the latest blog over my lunch break. It’s a peaceful respite from my chaotic work! Beautiful wrapping of the presents, Brandy! We have a small pile of pretty boxes which we will open Christmas morning. I miss my daughters and can’t wait for the day that we can all travel again. I haven’t seen my daughter in Dublin (Ohio, not Ireland) since March. I saw my younger daughter (who lives in Delaware) a couple of months ago. I am very thankful for Zoom and for unlimited cellphone minutes. Spiral sliced hams continue at $1.29# so I bought another to freeze. No turkey bargains here though. I made white chili for the first time. I had never heard of it before this blog. We loved it and it is going into the rotation. I garnished it with my windowsill cilantro! I made a potato, beef and mixed vegetable casserole which was not so good but I melted shredded cheddar on the leftovers under the theory that my husband will eat anything with melted cheese and that was successful. We still have snow on the ground so maybe a white Christmas. Blessings and thanks to everyone here. You have no idea how grateful I am to visit this little oasis of beauty and peace. Best, Kat

  6. This has been a busy week for us and continues to be.
    I have been wrapping gifts all weekend with supplies we had on hand from years past. I am trying to get it all done so that I do not have stay up until dawn Christmas Eve as in years past. We purchased a bit of tissue paper but other than that we are trying to use what we have on hand. We have finished our shopping except for a couple of gift cards we need to purchase – I will grab those when I am in the grocery store on Wednesday. I won’t be purchasing much this week – milk, a loaf of bread, asparagus, and some crackers. I used a target circle promotion in order to save 20% on a set of flannel sheets for my Mom. I had some rewards that I combined with that promotion in order to purchase at a great discount. I also saved on the purchase of tennis shoes as the store we went to had a promotion of buy one get one 50% off. We chose shoes from the clearance section and left with two pairs for less than we would have paid for one. This was a blessing as my Mom is going to have knee replacement surgery in February and is needing a certain type of shoe that gives extra support/stability and will be helpful when she is doing the rehab required after surgery.
    Saturday was a very busy day for me. I resisted the urge to order a pizza and pulled chili from the freezer and put some baking potatoes into the air fryer. An easy dinner was enjoyed by all.
    I too have not done much in the way of cooking as we have been eating down leftovers or making quick items – like eggs and toast – when the pace of life was too much. This year is very different and we are trying to simplify things and downsize as we won’t be visiting all the family & friends that we would have in years past. I will serve sliders and appetizers on Christmas Eve and bake a ham on Christmas day. Simple side dishes of scalloped potatoes, roasted asparagus, & pineapple casserole will be served. I am hoping that the quietness of the season will offer a time of much needed rest for us.
    I hope that everyone enjoys a blessed time of rest and refreshment. Take heart friends – we made it the end of the seemingly never-ending year 🙂

      1. It is lovely with ham! Sounds weird I know but you mix pineapple, butter, shredded cheddar and a bit of sugar and cover in ritz cracker crumbs and bake. You only need a small amount with the ham but the flavor together is amazing. I typically buy the no sugar added pineapple and reduce the added sugar to about a third of what the recipe calls for. If you google pineapple casserole the Paula Deen recipe is a good place to start.

    1. Years ago I had a pineapple cobbler recipe that was in a 1950’s magazine. It had a cheddar cheese crust and was delicious. I’d never heard of Pineapple casserole until a couple of years ago when my daughter mentioned her former mother in law always made them for holiday meals. Yes, they are delicious too and I imagine they would be wonderful with baked ham. A nice hot side dish for holiday meals. Juice packed pineapple would be better than heavy syrup packed in my opinion.

  7. Brandy, I LOVE your idea of using a wax stamp on a gift tag! I’ll have to remember that for next year!

    My frugal accomplishments for the week:
    – I made fruitcake (http://approachingfood.com/fruitcake-smackdown-loaf-version/) using ingredients purchased with an X of $20 coupon from Bulk Barn. I didn’t have nuts, so I just didn’t use them, and as I didn’t have rum, I just used a sample bottle of rum raisin liqueur I had at home. Tasted great!
    – Wrapped presents using saved gift bags and ribbons. I also used some craft paper to wrap presents, used ribbon that I bought last January at 50% off, and then stuck sprigs of pine under the bows (snipped from the free Christmas tree I got when I picked up a click-and-collect order from Ikea).
    – For the past few months I’ve been saving my Swagbucks and redeeming them when Amazon.ca was at 25% off, and I was able to save enough for a $50 gc to Amazon for my husband. A nice gift for him, and OOP cost for me!
    – I made homemade yoghurt (http://approachingfood.com/easy-slow-cooker-yoghurt-good-gut-health/) and my favourite green smoothie (http://approachingfood.com/foodie-trends-hemp-seed-antioxidant-smoothie-bowl/).
    – I read a lot of ebooks free from the library on my phone. So handy!

    Looking forward to learning from everyone, as always!

  8. I’m thankful you shared about using boxes in previous years, as I was able to wrap a good portion of my husband’s gifts in boxes and a few fabric wraps I sewed previously. Lots of kale and collards were harvested, for a new to us recipe of creamed greens with garlic bread crumbs, which we enjoyed. Dog treats were made with homegrown pumpkin, and a double batch of granola was made. Cashmere sweaters were mended, and washed with homemade soap gel. Vegetable fritters were made, using up all the leftovers. I made pasta sauce with homegrown vegetables and herbs. A book I’ve been waiting to read finally showed up at the library, and I’ve added it to my list. A small amount of turmeric was harvested, and added to a batch of Fire Cider. Za’ater was made with foraged sumac. Some was for us, and I sent some to my MIL, as she expressed interest in tasting it. A couple of jars of preserves were shared with my husband’s family. Happy Winter Solstice, everyone! http://abelabodycare.blogspot.com/2020/12/winter-solstice-frugal-accomplishments.html

  9. Hi Brandy and everyone
    Your gift wrapping looks so elegant. It’s so useful that your husband can turn his hand to installing things in the garden.
    We iced and decorated our Christmas cake.
    I sold an item on eBay.
    I have been wrapping presents using paper I bought in the January sales. By next Christmas I want to have made some gift bags which can be reused over and over.
    We have been eating our homegrown fruit from the freezer, apple slices and strawberries this week.
    I bought a present on a deal for next year/ Christmas. I keep a gift box all year round so I can pull out a present when needed without having to drive to town to buy something.
    Our Christmas family gathering has been blown out of the water by the latest restrictions ( as have lots of other families plans) so we decided not to buy a fresh Christmas tree for the two of us and we are donating the money to an NHS charity instead. I’ve decorated the house to look festive with decorations we use every year. The big fresh turkey we had ordered from a local farmer would be too big just for us two but we didn’t think it would be fair to cancel the order. My husband spoke to the farmer who is kindly going to joint the turkey for us and make a turkey crown which we will eat on Christmas day and eat/ freeze leftovers. We will also freeze the legs etc he prepares for us.
    We are very upset not to see family but if we all obey the rules we will save lives.
    Thank you Brandy and all your readers for your company through this difficult year. Wishing you all the best Christmas possible under the circumstances and peaceful, healthy days ahead in 2021.

    1. Dear PennyP, I am another UK reader and I am so sorry your plans have been upset. I really feel for you; it’s such a very worrying and sad time with the new variant. Your adaptation to your Christmas plans are so helpful thank you for sharing. I hope you and your family stay safe and well.

      1. Thank you for your kind words Effie. We’re all in this together aren’t we. Stay safe and I hope you have a good Christmas and we all have a better year in 2021.

  10. I haven’t posted in awhile, so this is for the last month or so.

    I bought $100 worth of target gift cards when they had them 10% off. We buy our diapers from there, so it will be like getting them 10% off. Plus I used our credit card to buy them, so I’ll get 5% in cash back on there.

    I used Acorns to place a Walmart order, so I got $1 put in my investment account there. I’ve made about $20 on my investments there in the last couple months. I noticed they added a few more retailers. I have a referral link, if you want to sign up. I think it gives you $5 if you use someone’s link. Mine is: https://www.acorns.com/invite/7CRSZD

    I used all groceries from the pantry/freezer for the last two weeks.

    I changed out my son’s clothes, as he’s now in the next size up. I was grateful for our friends that passed hand me downs on to us. I had also picked up some stuff at yard sales this summer, so he has plenty of clothes in his new size for very little money.

    A friend gifted us some hand-me-down Christmas outfits from her kids. I don’t usually buy holiday outfits because he can’t wear them very long. These fit perfectly and were free, so it’s been fun to dress him up for the holidays!

    I’ve come in under budget on my christmas budget. After Christmas, I’ll try to buy some dog toys, Christmas tags, and bows on clearance. I’d love to get some more garland for the staircase railing, but I don’t think I’ll have that much wiggle room in my budget. I’ll put the rest in my son’s college account, so I’d like to have a little extra.

    I finally did another Walmart pick up. Some of my items were out of stock so I got larger quantities for the same price – shredded cheese, cheese slices, etc..

    I used a coupon at CVS to get cough medicine for free. I also had $2 ECB that I used on my sons Vitamin D.

    I bought gas at Murphy, so I got points on the app. I have enough for 10 cents off per gallon right now. Are usually try to save them until I have enough for $.50 off per gallon, then I bring the gas cans so I can get all 20 gallons that it will let you use the discount on.

    I cashed in my fetchrewards points for a $50 Amazon gift card. I’ll save it to buy birthday presents throughout the year. I also have a referral code for that, I’d you’re interested: K9YTB

    On the down side, my husband and I got COVID. Thankfully, our son either didn’t get it or was asymptomatic. Since my husband can work by himself, he was able to continue working. I, however, have had to stay home. My work is only paying 65% of my income. We’ll be okay, but we’ll have to pull from savings. It stinks because my husbands truck needed repaired, so it’s going to be tight. I also ended up in the emergency room last weekend. We’ve met our insurance deductible for the year, but I know we’ll still have the 80/20 copay to cover.

      1. * harvested tangerines and blood oranges from the garden

        * while parked for a minute outside a COVID-closed branch of our local public library, I spotted a bag of kids clothes next to the dumpster. It turned out to be full of boy’s clothes in exactly my son’s next size. Score! He’s wearing one of the hoodies right now.

    1. We all got Covid as well. Fortunately, my husband and I had mild symptoms and just felt out of it. We really attribute this to megadoses of Vitamin D, zinc and quercetin. Our son and his fiancée and her mother got it much worse, but once they started on the above, their symptoms abated and their smell and taste came back quickly (they know people who don’t have it back and they are two months out). One of the signs of a zinc deficiency is loss of smell and taste, so this virus must suck up the zinc in our bodies. There are many articles coming out about vitamin D and how low levels lead to getting covid much worse (articles also about peoples with brown or black skin getting it far worse and they attribute it partly to darker skin not processing Vitamin D as well…also explains why one of the factors of the winter is bringing higher numbers of cases). My hubby works from home so he continued to work with a few hours off for naps. We did have co-pays for the tele-Doctor visits, but I will pay them in January when we get our health insurance assessment cards refilled (we each get $50 if we answer some basic questions). One of our sons was asymptomatic so he skated through our quarantine. Glad you are on the mend. As for the vehicle, you might ask your mechanic if he would allow you to order the parts (ours give us the numbers to order) from Rock Auto, ship it to your house (makes it cheaper), hen put it in the vehicle and have them install. We found our mechanic is very good about this, and found a good mechanic in NH, where one of our son’s lives, that will also do it. This might save you some money.🙂

  11. I watered my strawberries and chard to keep them going through winter. I’m not trying to get anything from the strawberries, but hoping that some water in dormancy will mean more plants make it through to spring.

    We planned our dinner menu for the week based on food we have on hand. This is really quite easy since we keep a pantry, but we are trying to make sure all our produce gets used wisely, and the planning helps with that for sure. Also, we looked at some minor compromises to make the menu work with things we have on hand. I’m still making cream puffs for my husband for Christmas day, but rather than a ganache over the top, I will drizzle some chocolate melted with coconut oil, since we don’t have heavy cream. (I am partly motivated by keeping us out of the stores as much as possible).

    I’ve been using free online tutorials to learn watercolor painting and enjoying it very much. I have supplies on hand that were hand-me-downs from friends, holiday gifts, etc. I did splurge a little, on an offer from Craftsy to get a year of premium access for 2.49 – for the whole year. I’ve already bookmarked 8 or 10 classes that I am very interested in. The offer came with automatic renewal, but I called the customer service number and asked them to cancel the automatic renewal. The lady on the phone explained that they would send a reminder at 45 days before renewal and I could cancel then, but I explained that I would prefer that the renewal was removed now, and she took care of it for me. She was quite nice about it. There are some watercolorists on that site whose tutorials have been on my ‘some day’ list, and at this price, I guess some day is now.

    I’m using Mango Languages through my library to learn Japanese. We borrowed several books from the library too.

    We just aren’t spending much these days. We don’t tend to spend as it is, but we’re finding we make use of items on hand more often than we even did before, which has been nice for several reasons.

  12. I reuse Christmas paper and bows,etc so many times my grown son makes fun of me.. we try to remember where we’ve “seen that paper before” on Christmas Day!! I saved money by using up some freezer items and pantry items.Also am preparing Christmas Eve dinner with foods i stockpiled back on sale times.. and kept in freezer/pantry till December..no last minute instacart for us! This month (and since March) I have saved money on nail appointments.. seems I can live without that “splurge” for ever,do not miss. No haircuts or color since March am liking the new natural look. We have saved a lot of money by not attending lots of musical and theatrical events in December. .I am not sure I am happy about that, as I love the season and some of our local theaters are hurting.. and even our frugal “lunch date” splurges are a thing of the past..we tried food takeout once or twice (just 2 of us) and it was so disappointing(and expensive) we won’t do it again.Luckily,I love to cook and we appreciate my own home cooking. Merry Christmas to you and yours!!

  13. I haven’t bought Christmas wraps, bags, boxes in years. I started saving bags given to us over 15 years ago. I save the tissue paper also. I smooth it out and fold it for use the next time. When you think of how much those items cost it is a huge savings.
    Quite a few years ago I read that some stores would no longer sell tinsel. I LOVE tinsel on a tree. That year I bought all of the boxes Walmart had after Christmas for 10 cents each. When we take the tree down I pick off every strand of tinsel. I put the tinsel around candles (in a jar) for decoration.
    I’m sewing the last quilt/gift for Christmas.
    The quilt is made from my stash here.
    I hope to have it done in time, but it may be a little late.
    This is my no buy month. I only replace milk, bread and the like.
    Merry Christmas to all of you. Stay safe…stay home.
    See you next week.

    1. Hi Becky! I have a big Sterlite box of tissue paper saved for years…or from sales. Did you know you can iron tissue paper to make it look like new? Use the lowest setting. It’s like ironing a pattern!🙂 I must confess, I buy wrapping paper at TJMaxx/Home Goods, which is very high quality and heVy paper! For a while I had bought cheap paper and we are mostly done with it (except for the really tall rolls), so it didn’t last long. I try to save the bigger used pieces, and also have a bag of scraps which I diligently use for stocking and smaller items. This year, I bought bows on sale because ours were so worn. And smashed, they looked pathetic. I also buy any paper, ribbon or bows that look like they could be used for birthdays at this time when they are much cheaper.

  14. Greetings from eastern Idaho, where we’ve just arrived to spend Christmas with our son and daughter-in-law. Brandy, we passed through your son and daughter’s college town and took a drive out to see the campus and temple. Both very nice! Are your kids coming home for Christmas?

    This is what I’ve done over the past week–
    * I wrote a short note to enclose in my Christmas cards, which I bought last year for 60% off. I formatted the note twice so it would fit on two different designs of Christmas stationery left from previous years.
    * My daughter bought mostly GCs for Christmas for the people she lives with for half the week. She bought a coffee card for her coffee-o-holic roommate and received a free 20 ounce coffee for herself.
    * I shopped at the liquidator in my area that sells Costco returns. I bought my daughter two sports bras for $7.49 for both and two pairs of Nautica pajamas for myself for $8.99 each. If anyone here is interested, contact your nearest Costco and ask for the name of the liquidator that buys and re-sells their returns.
    * I am making myself a robe with fleece bought on sale for about $15. I am re-cutting the pattern I used for the robe I made for my daughter for Christmas, I already had the thread, and I’m using a 20 inch zipper I’ve had forever. How long is forever? Well, it’s metal, and it was priced 35 cents!
    * Last spring, my son and daughter-in-law refinanced their house when interest rates went down. Last week, with rates down even further, I suggested they look into refinancing again, but this time for 15 years. I can get pushy when I think something is a good idea, but I kept my mouth shut and waited to see if it sunk in. It did. They are re-financing for 15 years, and it’s only going to cost about $160 more a month. This means their house will be paid for when he is 57 and she is 62! (They started late–only married for 3 years). Isn’t it wonderful when you realize your adult kids get it about money…always remembering that it took us a long time to get it, too!

    Merry Christmas to all! We are a small family and we’ll all be together.

  15. Our local community center is not open but they have outside shelves where you can select free books and jigsaw puzzles. We found 2, new and still sealed, jigsaw puzzles to bring home.
    We are continuing to cook all meals at home and read free books on our Kindles.
    My sister sent us a Christmas package. She told me that there was one item which had to be opened before Christmas. It was a vintage Christmas tablecloth, probably from the 40’s or 50’s – still in great condition without holes or stains. She knows I love vintage items. I found her a perfect Hummel figurine of a small girl feeding chickens. It was only $10, a great deal as I checked ebay prices.
    We checked out charities as we would like to contribute to a food charity. I have been reading, in the news, about the massive lines of cars waiting at food banks and how almost a third of the nation’s people are having food insecurity. Really quite heartbreaking.
    On a completely different note – I was in a car accident two years ago that wasn’t my fault. The driver had insurance and admitted guilt. A couple weeks ago his insurance company called me and offered me a rather large sum to settle the claim, as I have had medical issues since the accident. I decided to accept as I feel like I need to put this behind me for 2021. It is nice that this all worked out without going through a legal route.
    Our local Meals on Wheels asked the community for gift donations for seniors that would not receive gifts otherwise, so we bought several gifts to contribute.
    We signed up for a station, “Broadway HD”. I think it was about $8 per month. We decided that we would designate one night per week to watch a Broadway musical or play. Something new to do amidst all this Covid isolation.
    I am sure there is more but that is all that I can think of.
    Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, or whatever you celebrate, to all of you.

    1. I know that Hummel very well. My parents ran a collectibles business for many years. Each year we attended a convention where we could order the new pieces. I met a lot of artists that way (plus they would come to my parents’ store) and one year I dressed up and won a prize competition in a Hummel contest for children. I believe it was second place. I will double-check with my mom, but I’m pretty sure your Hummel is the one I dressed up as!

      When the 1994 Northridge Earthquake hit Southern California, I wrote endless insurance paperwork for people according to the current years’ Hummel book with prices for people for their Hummels, including many from West Germany, and some even before WWII. There was so much damage that I did it for weeks. Quake Hold is a great product for keeping your breakables from breaking in an earthquake. We tested it out; everything that had it on during the quake did not break. For months we just wrote insurance claims for people and only sold Quake Hold.

      1. It amazes me how one person’s post taps into stories from someone else that we would never normally hear. This was very interesting, though an unexpected subject!

      2. I can only imagine how cute you were in your Hummel girl costume. The reason that I purchased this particular one was that it reminded me of the way my sister looked when she was little. There were two other Hummel figures for sale. They were a little bit more, $20 each, but perhaps they were more rare. Now I could kick myself for not buying all three. I know they would be gone if I went back because the store supports a highly popular cat charity.
        I think it is nice that you have the backyard project. It sounds like it is something where the whole family can get involved. Right now it is cold and raining cats and dogs here. Sigh…

        1. The stamps on the bottom will show the manufacturer. The Hummel books show the date. However, none of them are worth what they used to be 25 years ago. My parents got out of hte collectibles business as the worth started to decline.

  16. You are making great progress on your yard project. I know you will be so happy with the results of your hard work.
    We were finally able to turn on our solar panels this week! Of course, it then snowed heavily for four days, so they haven’t generated much electricity yet, but it was good to finally have this project completed (we first applied for them to be installed back in August.)
    We made gift bags to give to the homeless men who stand on street corners in the town where we shop. We usually do Angel Tree gifts, but these were all fulfilled before I got to anyplace that had a tree, so I did this instead. I tried to include some nutritious snacks, warm socks and hats. If you ever want to do something that will make you feel incredibly humble and grateful, do this.
    We stopped at a local Mexican grocery to buy tamales and they were out. We left and were sitting in the car when the young man who worked at the store ran out and insisted on giving us a dozen homemade tamales! He wouldn’t take any money. I was so touched.
    I did my last grocery run of the year. I purchased for Christmas Eve, Christmas and New Year’s dinners, as well as our anniversary dinner and stocking stuffers, so it was my largest bill in a while. But I am hoping to not go again until late January or early February. I am challenging myself to do this.
    I hope you all will have a Merry Christmas.

    1. Last month we had a severe storm that damaged many houses in our area. My former home had the entire roof taken off. That was a huge wakeup call for me. Today I lowered my deductible to $2000.00 . Better safe than sorry. Mine was 10.000 . I ended up saving 270.00 on my car repairs. Matching prices, coupons and rebates were well worth the time to locate and utilize. I took that savings and passed it on to a favorite cousin who is raising three grandchildren. I’m sure it will be well used. We brought home 10 boxes of groceries last night I repacked multiple boxes and dropped them off to other families . I will be making Christmas dinner with several of the fresh items. My ham is all I needed to buy. Although I didn’t spend unnecessary money , I still feel stretched. I hope everyone has a great holiday. My decision to keep sugar cookie away from family has been emotionally difficult for all of us. The family that would have had her this season , just lost the father from covid. Be safe dear friends.

  17. A trip to the grocery store got me a ham at $1.88 a lb Cdn ($1.47 US). Turkeys were the same price. Normally the best price would be $1.29 or $1.49 for ham, but I am happy to have a favorite meat to roast for Christmas Day, and many leftovers for the days to follow it. I found a tiny acorn squash to go with it. It was the first I’ve seen this year. And I got Brussels sprouts, though I have been eating these all week, and there may not be any left by the time Christmas Day arrives. The butter I bought was $1.50 less than usual, though it wasn’t in the flyer or marked as a special. I got a 3-lb bag of yellow onions for $1.98, but found I was charged for 3 lb of fancy onions for $5.98. I will go back for a refund when I do this week’s groceries. With Co-vid, I didn’t want to make a special trip out.

    I made shortbread cookies. Today, I’ll make sugar cookies for icing as well. I won’t do any more Christmas baking though. That gives me the taste of Christmas, without a long surge in calories! I’ve done a bit of decorating for Christmas in the living room. I’m continuing to enjoy my box of mandarin oranges.

    I am planning another trip for groceries this week. There are a couple of things I would like to have for Christmas, but mostly just want to get some supplies in while the weather is relatively mild and while Co-vid levels are low in our village. I am still walking to the store, so I will just be buying what I can carry. That seems to be about a week of my grocery budget.

    I’ve found quite a few shows to enjoy on YouTube and on Acorn, as well as having several books to read. I haven’t started other entertainment yet, but there is plenty for the coming winter weeks. I have a couple of jigsaw puzzles from a charity auction and some watercolor pencils and pastels to play with.

    My power bill and phone/internet bill are both very low this month. The price of electricity was quite a bit lower than last month and last year, and my usage was also lower. The reduction I got last month on my internet was just after the bill was issued, so the reduction this month covered last month and the coming month — $20 off rather than $10. Electricity goes up again January 1 by 15%, I think, so I can enjoy that just for a month and three-quarters.

    I hope everyone here is safe and well, and has enough food to eat. 95 families in our very small village and surrounding area needed Christmas food hampers and toys for kids this year, but local businesses and residents had found a way to pull together enough supplies to fill the need. It is heartening to see that happen. We are not allowed to have gatherings of any size outside our households here in Alberta, so I imagine many families who normally get their Christmas dinner from larger family gatherings were needing to put together their own celebration without a budget to do that with. The good news is that the increase in the daily number of new cases is lower every day this week, so our quiet season seems to be paying off. Take care, and have a happy holiday.

  18. I am deeply grateful for the sales in my shop in December, plus special orders, and already a queue of 3 special orders for January. My daughter says her new cat has kept her sane this year. I said my shop has kept me sane! Fabric gift bags have been a great seller, and have given me great joy to see people turning to reusable wrapping. I love your gift boxes too, Brandy!

    I have sold several things on ebay. I have lowered the prices on a few to help them sell before Christmas. It has worked.

    My daughter and I planned meals together and she made a grand shopping list. We took our car in for a repair job this morning and went to Trader Joe’s and Costco, which were one block away from the car place. We finish both shops before 9am. It was the best time to go! I stuck to the list exactly. Not a single extra purchase.

    I have picked up free lemons while walking in the neighborhood, and I got over 10 lbs of free kiwis. They are locally grown and smaller than the grocery store ones. I love free food, especially fruit.

    I darned a hole in the elbow of my husband’s wool sweater. It has been darned in other places, but still looks good overall. My Smart wool socks and much darned and the darned patches on the heels do not develop holes again as quickly.

    I made a birthday gift for a friend. I used lovely washable wool fabric that I had been given and backed it with flannel from a new sheet to make a throw blanket. It turned out so well, and cost me only for flat sheet. The sheet came in a set and I have already listed the fitted sheet and pillowcase to sell on ebay. If it sells, it will make the gift very inexpensive!
    Wishing everyone a peaceful holiday!

  19. That is a really cool looking idea/project with the lights. I never would have thought of that. (tips hat). You’re photos are beautiful – I really like your style, crisp and always a perfect balance of complimentary colors.
    This week, I took a chicken carcass and turned into 5 pints of seasoned stock.
    My one job gifted me a bunch of candy and sweet treats in a decorative open topped box. A storage box of that size was on my list of things to be purchased. And the treats – well those are always a need.
    This week we cooked together for a few “date nights” and watched holiday movies on the tv after. We made take out style foods this week to curb some cravings.
    I shoveled mine, part of our neighbors and my parent’s driveway for free cardio workout one day.
    I gifted myself an hour of time to finish small projects (add a holiday pendent to a chain, fix a picture frame, new elastic in a skirt I am currently wearing). It gave me a great feeling of accomplishment for the evening getting this small pile done.
    I made myself a private wish list to use my Amazon GC on (that I get from Bing searches). Once I have a few GC saved up, I will be sure to go through your site for the purchases.
    Wishing everyone a peaceful Christmas/Holiday Season.

    1. We had the lights before, but they are going in a new place. I think they will be much more effective in the new spot. Of course, they weren’t effective at all before; they stopped working a year after we installed them, which we believe was due to a wire being hit when we replaced a tree stake. They are getting all new wires now.

  20. Brandy,
    I don’t comment very often, but I read all the posts. Thank you for taking the time to put together this website and blog. Recently, I stumbled onto a tv program called “Struggle Meals” which has a very knowledgeable young chef as host. I find him quite delightful, and he talks about all the frugal activities discussed on your blog, i.e., planning meals, using leftovers, no food waste and using healthy foods to make simple, healthy, and frugal meals. It is sponsored by Walmart and on the TasteMaker (?) channel, but he can also be found on YouTube. Just type in “Struggle Meals”. I have found the program to be quite inspiring and have tried a few recipes. I don’t recall anyone mentioning it on your blog, so thought I would put it out there in case anyone wanted to check it out. Merry Christmas to everyone!

  21. This was not a frugal morning-I broke a front tooth and even after insurance the dental bill was $153-clearly I am in the wrong profession. DH and I went to Costco this a.m.-there was a line but it moved quickly and we stocked up on a few things. DD was here for a few days last week so we already had our turkey dinner and opened our gifts which was lovely-we will see her again in a couple of weeks when she passes back through. Later today or tomorrow I plan to make cauliflower soup and morning glory muffins. We are expecting about 25 cm of snow overnight so homemade soup and baking will smell and taste good. Wishing everyone happy holidays.

  22. Your gifts and decorations are so beautiful! What a blessing to pick up the food offered by the school district for your children. Our library closed during our first Stay at Home order, and has never reopened to the public. However, you can put holds on books and go pick them up.

    Joining in from the Seattle area.

    I have been adjusting to not working since I quit my job at the beginning of December. Thankfully, I have had time to rest and get a lot of things done that I did not have time for before. Things I have done:
    – Taken many walks when it was not raining (and sometimes when it was). I have boots and a good raincoat, so that helps. On other days, did my workout indoors using exercise equipment I already had.
    – Washed windows, inside and outside (when it was dry out). Usually our condo association has the outside windows washed once a year, but for some reason they did not do it this year. We are on the ground floor so I was able to do it myself.
    – Ate most meals at home. Now that I have more mental space, I have been more creative with cooking, which is nice.
    – Visited my mom who lives alone. My local sister and I both try to visit my mom at least once a week, on separate days, because she gets lonely by herself. In March, she will be moving to a retirement community, which will be good for her socially. Unfortunately, once she moves in, it is unlikely we will be able to visit her in her apartment due to Covid restrictions. However, the community is building an outside heated/covered meeting area so that will be good. (My mom will be able to come and go, but we won’t be able to enter the facility to see her).
    – Assisted my mom with cleaning out drawers and sorting what she wants to keep. Texted pictures to my two sisters, so we could figure out who wanted which items. This worked pretty well.
    – Took a load of things to the thrift store. Only had to wait about 10 minutes in line with my car. The last time I tried to do this, there was a 30 minute wait.
    – Worked on an art project with supplies I already had. Read blogs and watched Youtube and streaming TV.
    – Made a plan to organize my sewing shelf (located in the bedroom) to fit my art supplies in there too. My husband currently works at home in the main room of our condo, so I end up spending a lot of time in the bedroom. It will be nice to have my art supplies at hand.
    – The internet service in the back part of the condo was not great. The modem is in the living room, so we bought a small shelf to put it on so it is up higher. So far, this seems to have improved the issue.

    Have a great week everyone.

    1. Our library has been closed also, but we are able to order books and pick them up from a table out front. I feel I have gotten to know the librarian better in these times. When she calls to tell me a book is ready, we have enjoyed talking about books and she has recommended some good ones, too!

      1. And our library closed at the beginning of Covid, had curbside pickup that takes from a few days to several months to get a book (no kidding), and just shut down completely again during this latest crisis! Just when I had some books finally come in!!! They want us to check books out on-line, which I do, but there are times I really want actual books. I guess I didn’t realize how privileged I am to have a library, but I won’t take it for granted again once this is over:).

        1. Our library was completely closed for several months because of Covid, no book pickup or dropoff (you could of course check out e-books). They just told everyone to sit tight with books that needed to be returned. In early summer, they reopened for pickup and dropoff from a large table outside the front door. They asked people to return any checked out books (I believe they waived all fines). It took me three tries to return a book I had checked out in February because the lines were so long! You are able to make reservations to pick up books you have on hold, if you don’t want to wait in line.
          Our library is hugely popular and has been rated one of the best library systems in the country. Pre-Covid, if you stopped by on Sunday before the library opened, there would be 50 people waiting outside to get in. I really miss being able to go there. It’s such a great place.

  23. When I give gift cards for presents, I decorate them with stickers, making sure not to cover up the magnetic strip or the opposite side so they can be swiped without the stickers catching.
    My standard wedding present for former students is a small picture frame with a gift card from a store they registered for as the picture.

  24. I was able to find pork loin for $1.94/lb, so I bought 3 of them, which turned out to be 15 lbs. I butchered it down into small roasts, cubes, strips, and thin chops for tenderloin sandwiches, which turned about to be about 16 packages. That’s the frugal good news. The frugal fail was I had a large ham in the online cart and a small one. Forgot to delete the large one, so ended up with two. So I butchered the large one down for another 7 packages of ham. So now I think I have enough pork to last me until next fall. You win some, you lose some.

    In other news, I received word of a co-worker whose cancer has returned. This horrible disease has hit our division at work too much. I was able to make a comfort quilt for the last woman we lost, and now I will be making another quilt of comfort for this co-worker, pouring all the love and hope of our division into it. This will be my labor of love over this next 2 weeks. If you are of faith, her name is Tammie. (We have already lost Karen, Trish, Angela and Deanna – no more!)

    Bell well, everyone! I do not know you in person, but cherish you all!

  25. Two or more friends are dropping by with Christmas dinners for me.

    I am buying (I hope) a small frozen turkey for 0.99 per pound. I hope to have it for a month’s worth of dinner, together with soup I make from it.

    I apparently am inheriting a Bernina sewing machine that was used for beautiful quilts from my friend. I could not bear to tell her that I already have an old, very basic singer (my favourite) and a Kenmore (my mother’s). I will give the Kenmore to a refugee and keep the Singer and the Bernina. I have coincidentally been thinking of learning how to quilt. I would rather have my friend than her sewing machine.

    I also asked if, under the circumstances, she might give me back a tiny oil painting (not of any value at all) I had given her of a wildflower, one of a set of three. I really did not want to split up the set but when she was a child she had known the artist and at the time I felt pressured to give one of them to her. She declined. It is a minor matter and perhaps I should not have asked but I would have liked to reunite the set. I emailed back to her that it was fine for her to keep it but thought I’d ask so as to reunite the set if possible and said I’d always regretted (not giving it but) splitting the set up. I had felt pressured to give one to another friend who has since died, too. I don’t feel I can ask my late friend’s husband to return it.

    It’s a lesson I hope I have since learned –– never feel pressured when being importuned for something. As a child, I was taught never to ask for something one sees or admires. Be generous yourself but never ask.

    I think my favourite Christmas pastime or story is not just one occasion. Instead, I think fondly of going to Christmas Eve ceremonies at church — I loved the candles held by each person and the quotation from John about the light that overcomes the darkness. My mother and I would come home from church late at night, have a glass of wine and wrap the gifts. It was a chance to be alone with my mother and chat. In later years a beloved neighbour would invite our entire family over for an elaborate spread of Christmas goodies. Then we’d go to a late church service. I loved when we had fresh snow. Those were my favourite Christmas Eve memories.

    Merry Christmas to everyone! Ann

  26. I mistyped their additional payment. It’s a couple of hundred dollars, but still doable. Sorry your big kids won’t be with you. The university is bigger than I expected!

  27. I found two mid-century modern reproduction nightstands for $40 each on a local listing site. We bought them and they will be a nice addition to our bedroom, as we don’t have nightstands at present.
    My husband has been having health problems and was prescribed Eliquis to help. The current medical coverage we have initially doesn’t appear to cover it (I am calling to see what kind of help they can give us). However, the doctor gave a month’s worth of samples and a coupon for another month’s worth.
    I have nearly finished a knitted shawl, which has taken about two months. I have other projects in the works, not buying new yarn, but using the stash I already have or what other people have given me.
    Our temporary housing looks onto Christmas lights in our downtown area, so that brings a lot of pleasure to me.
    I’ve been experimenting with adding Kalamata olives, walnuts, and rosemary to my overnight bread and it has turned out really well! My husband and I are eating a lot of it! My friend also gave me a sour dough whole wheat starter, so I will give that a try too.
    Friends and family have given us many treats–chocolate mostly–so it’s been nice to indulge more than usual.
    We are staying healthy, happy, a little sad that we won’t be with much family at Christmas, but grateful for the many gifts we have.
    There’s a Call the Midwife Christmas special on PBS on Christmas night that I am looking forward to watching!
    I hope all of you have a joyful Christmas!

    1. Kandace
      My partner was recently put on Eliquis for a DVT (he was a pilot for 40 years, and retired in March, but recently his father was ill and he took 2 plane trips to see his parents; a week later he got the DVT). Anyway, the independent pharmacist we use look don the manufaturer’s website and found a $100 couple, so our copay was only $10. I hope that helps.

    2. Google Eliquis coupon and there will be two options. One is a co-pay of $10 each month for 24 months. It can be renewed.

    3. My husband also has DVT. This is what we have learned. We also go through a program with Eliquis to get it for $10/month. However, just a caution. If your husband goes on Medicare Part D for drug coverage when he is 65, Eliquis will no longer cover Eliquis (which isn’t covered with Medicare Part D) but Eliquis will no longer cover it. My husband will turn 65 in a month so this is what we learned. He is still working so he is going to continue with his work insurance and only do Medicare Part A (which is hospital coverage) but not perscription coverage. (His insurance doesn’t cover it, but then he qualifies for the Eliquis program through them.). (We’ll have to figure out what to do when he is no longer working.). The two times he’s tried to go off blood thinners, he has immediately gotten new clots. Also, he has asked his specialist to give him a 90-day perscription. (That is $30 for 3 months, but much better than trying to go the the pharmacist monthly. Also, since Covid some drugs have been hard to get. So I like to have a surplus.). Also, we did purchase Xaralto with Canadian Perscription Service before we figured out the Eliquis thing so we do have a little bit of excess in case there is ever a problem getting it. Hope this helps. Also, I asked his specialist if he could do either Eliquis or Xaralto depending on what we could get at a better price. He said that he could use them interchangeably. Xaralto has a similar program but it only covers 3 months at $10/month then its $225/month. To get it without that program it is $425/month. Hope this helps.

      1. Be sure he won’t be penalized in the future by signing up for the Medicare drug coverage late if he does not have an appropriate drug coverage now.

      2. Thanks for all of your responses! Goodrx doesn’t offer much of a discount, but I will go to Eliquis’s manufacturer and see what we can get for now. My husband will qualify for medicare in about two years. Many thanks to all of you!

  28. -Meals this week-Chili-Mac; chili and cornbread; spaghetti and meatballs and salad; taco salad; tomato soup with tortellini; chicken and dumplings; sausage and lefse; and quail, scalloped potatoes, and green beans.
    -I just used the last of our fresh onions from the garden. I did dehydrate some so we will be using those. If I need to I can reconstitute in hot water to make more like fresh.
    -I just finished the last of the Christmas gifts. When my mom passed away in October she had 15 pair of pajamas cut out for great grandkids. I got all 15 sewed and wrapped for Christmas as she had planned.
    -I also took some beaded pieces my grandmother had made. She sent them each year as the front of her Christmas cards. I made ornaments out of them by stapling the cross-stitch canvas to 3 x 3 blocks of plywood with quilt batting underneath. I added a ribbon hanger, and felt on the back to finish. They turned out great. I will be gifting these to my two sisters. I bought a quart of maple syrup for each of them from a friend (family business-I buy a case at a discount every fall for gifts and some for me.). I will hang the ornament over the neck of the bottle and put in a gift bag. They will be thrilled!
    -Christmas cards all hand made from supplies I had. Letter printed on bits of Christmas themed paper left over from previous years-4 designs. Sent out with postage stamps my mom had-she used to buy them a roll at a time. So no out of pocket.
    -I also made a garland from items I had in my Christmas decorations. I used 3 star ornaments and 2 deer ornament. I also buy vintage Christmas ribbon at garage sales to use on Christmas packages. You can usually get a bag for $1. I spaced the ornaments out and tied them onto 10 feet of thick twine. I cut lengths of the ribbon (varying lengths) and tied them to the the twine. Turned out cute. Saw something similar for sale for $40!! My cost $1 for the ribbon.
    -Bought a bone in ham for Christmas. Been waiting for a sale. Paid $1.99#. Can’t find it for any less where I live. It was $12 but had $7.50 left on a gift card so only paid $4.50. Also bought 4 bags of Brach’s candy corn-50 cents each. We love to mix a package of the candy corn with a regular sized jar of peanuts. Tastes like salted nut rolls. Will mix a batch for Christmas. Also bought half and half and a package of vanilla pudding to make my eggless egg nog recipe. Much cheaper to make this recipe than to buy it in the carton. That was it for groceries this week.
    -Week before Christmas is the time I make those goodies. I made lefse with my sisters, made popcorn balls and date filled cookies for my dad, crispix and popcorn caramel corn mixture, frosted sugar cookie, both regular and gluten free, and chocolate dipped gluten free pretzels.
    -Everything is now done for Christmas. This coming week we enjoy Christmas movies, work on a jigsaw puzzle, read, or work on a hobby.
    -Merry Christmas. Have a great week.

      1. It was a labor of love and tears. But so worth it! I feel it is a way to honor her memory of what will be a difficult Christmas.

    1. Sorry about your Mom. I hope you have wonderful memories to sustain you through these challenging times and at Christmas.

    2. Julie T- So funny you should mention the candy corn/peanuts! My Hubs just loves that combination and after Halloween, he checks stores for clearance candy corn! He bought 60 packages at CVS in November at 90% off!! I now have candy corn in it’s packages stored in buckets with gamma seals! 😱

      He went with me to get 2 turkeys (B1G1) yesterday and I saw 1/2 price clearance on peanuts and the price was good, so I suggested he might buy a few. (He already had about 6 jars at home.) We went through separate checkouts so my daughter’s turkeys we were picking up would be on separate tapes. I heard his cashier laughing and I glanced over to see that he was buying 2 stacks of peanut jars- 24 one pound jars in all! 😱 I think he has enough and won’t be invited along to shop for a while! Bless his heart!! Lol!!
      Gardenpat in Ohio

  29. A little bit of savings…one thing we’ve actually been doing for a few weeks…our 13yo is active in sports. Since October, she’s been playing basketball and volleyball, sometimes 3 games a week. It’s $2.50 for admission to volleyball, then $2 each for basketball. I’ve been the only one attending, but livestreaming it over Facebook for hubby. My mother in law an hour and a half away usually watches them the next day, and several other relatives have popped in to watch at various times.

    I decided not to go buy Christmas specific stamps, just use what I already had(which was more than enough)

    I ran over something one evening picking up dinner before a basketball game. I made it to the restaurant in time for the tire to go flat. Hubby came and swapped out for my spare saving $ of having to call a tow.

    The next day, I went to see if it could be fixed or if I would have to buy another tire. Thankfully, it could be fixed. Since my truck is only two years old, the spare was the same as the others. I had the tire shop put what was the spare tire on my stock rim, then the newly patched tire went on the spare rim. I was only out $34, versus $300 if I needed a new tire.

    Our freezer is stuffed with deer meat. I had to take several things over to my moms to make room.

    My mom sent over a bottle of peroxide, chips, and some can goods someone gave her she wouldn’t eat.

    Sam’s has Cosequin that we give one of big dogs for $10 off per bottle. We purchased 2 so he should be set for at least 6 months.

    Made sure to renew my library books so I wouldn’t acrue any fines. (Hopefully I’ll have time to read after Christmas)

    I had to rip out 80 rows of the blanket I’m crocheting. I nearly cried. I did absolutely nothing all weekend besides laundry and work on it to get it finished (almost there)

    The weather has been decent enough to at least turn off the heat. Today hit low 60s so I actually opened up everything for a bit to air out the stuffyness

    Keeping Christmas pretty simple…gifts are few but pricey(all of the 13yos were bought with some sort of sale or discount, but the 21yo is so hard to buy for so his are more needs…sheets, work pants, etc), dinner will be simple(grilled ribs, macaroni salad, deviled eggs, jalapeno poppers, plus pumpkin pie, no bake cheesecake, and fudge), and I kept teacher gifts minimal…just a card with $5 gift card to Walmart for 6 middle school teachers.

    Happy holidays everyone!

  30. I wrapped presents using my many years used boxes, wrapping paper, bows and tags. It is so nice not to have to run out and replenish these items every year. My daughter wanted all her Christmas/Baby money from us to be used for their 1st baby due in January. She picked out what she wanted and I sent her the cash. I don’t have to wrap any of that stuff and am grateful. My youngest daughter had their name for Christmas and got them a baby outfit on clearance.

    Made meals at home. I made Tuscan Beef Stew (slow cooker recipe that I was able to use pantry items. Everyone one loved it), chicken enchiladas (again with pantry items), german pancakes, scrambled eggs with homemade bread and jam, grilled cheese. Simple meals but it’s what we all want. We went to lunch at Arby’s for a date and got their French Dip Sandwiches 2/$6. We went to a local Mexican restaurant for our date and used a gift card.

    I exercised at home again but have somehow messed up my ankle. There is a ganglion cyst, scar tissue and arthritis in the ankle but something shifted or changed and it’s been quite painful. I’ve been icing and using over the counter to try and get it better. Also I’ve been massaging it.

    I shopped the sales and got butter for $1.99, a double layer cake for $2, carrots for 50c, bread 50c. Kept my cost down low and submitted a few items for Ibotta. We discovered the Lactaid milk is aggravating my daughter’s health issue so we switched her almond milk.

    It’s nice to read everyone’s positive Christmas messages. This season is a huge anxiety/depression trigger for me and I have been struggling. The noise, music and mess are so hard. I’m trying to take time for myself everyday but I’ve been exhausted and sleeping 10 hours/day. It’s been helpful to be done and do pre-planning. I am using so much of what I already have for our snacks/meals/treats.I focus on what I’m grateful for each day and also giving myself grace to be more quiet or spend time by myself to recharge. I am meeting weekly with my therapist and journaling. And I’m saying no to things that make it too overwhelming. I hope that if anyone else is struggling – please remember you’re not alone.

    Merry Christmas to everyone!

    1. Dear Amy: I hope you get just exactly enough people to keep you encouraged and enough space to allow you to be your best.
      And perhaps some sunshine– literally outside sun.
      You are not alone.

    2. Thank you, Amy. The holidays are always stressful and it seems much more do this year. Can you tell me how you make German pancakes? I have a happy memory of my grandmother making them and would love to try it.

      Christmas blessings to all.

      1. I hope this is the recipe you’re looking for Carol S.

        German Pancakes

        1/4 cup butter, 1 cup flour, 1 cup milk, 6 eggs, lightly beaten, 1/8 tsp salt. Preheat oven to 350. Melt butter in a medium baking dish. Mix flour, milk, eggs and salt in a bowl. Pour mixture into prepared baking dish. Bake on center rack in oven for 35 to 40 minutes or until golden brown. We top ours with powdered sugar or butter and syrup or butter and homemade jam. Hope you enjoy and thanks for your kind words.

  31. Hello all!!

    So many ordinary things have increased in value when we need to social distance!!  

    The realization of how many people do not have enough to feed their children and themselves is not only heartbreaking to me but also makes me feel ashamed.  I pray we see hunger for what it is. 

    We had earned loyalty points with one of our grocery stores of .90 off a gallon of gas. Since our state has the highest gas tax in the US, we were very motivated to take advantage of the discount. The limit is 20 gallons  so we filled a 14 gallon gas tank we keep for lawnmowers and snowblowers and then topped the gas tank of one of the cars. 

    Since we used the snowblower after Wednesday night’s storm and another possible storm or two this week, we’re ready.

    We tried to break it as gently as we could to my motherinlaw that we wouldn’t be joining her and my brotherinlaw’s family for the holidays. It was with great relief when she said, “Good, I want you both safe!” 
    We laughed and said, “We want to keep you safe too!” 

    She is one of those people who has everything she could need and has very few interests.  We are giving her a renewal of weekly magazine she enjoys. The Girl Scout Troop sponsored by our parish was selling magazines so it was a win/win/win for us, my motherinlaw and the Girl Scouts. Our neighbor is a Scoutmaster and posted the fund raiser on Facebook. The magazine site was easy and secure which made the entire transaction for us and the neighbor girls safe and contactless. 

    Through discussion with other family members, considering most of us might have unexpected expenses, we’ve chosen not to exchange this year. But that doesn’t count for our moms!!

    We chose to send greeting cards as we want people to know we are thinking of them and we had cards waiting from sales last year.  

    We also chose to mail our Catechism students a very small gift which fit inside a Christmas card as we both have some who in quarantine or studying at home using our class notes. (Invariably, there are always students who are absent the last class before the holiday too!).

    We have been burning wood nearly every day the temperature outside is below 45 degrees or less. The new woodstove purchased a year ago is really coming into its own since last winter was so warm and not a good test. This model has a catalytic converter which is very efficient and sometimes, is almost too warm. The other wood stove had been bought used 40 years ago.  Looking forward to the electric bill savings!

    Cold weather means more soup being made here. We had regular russet potatoes starting to go soft. While a whole chicken was roasting, I baked the potatoes on the verge of turning. I will use them tomorrow to make a very “heart healthy” baked potato soup. I saw recipes asking for 8 cups of heavy cream and decided I could do better.

    We transferred our cell phone carrier service to Comcast. We are paying for 3 new phones ( greatly needed!! ) with medium data usage plans and monthly service fee and still saving over $100 a month. When the phones are paid off, the savings will be even greater. 

    Have done a little research and am going to try a very simple hydroponic “garden” experiment that doesn’t need a water pump or lights. Using buckets, pool noodles and nutrients in a sunny window will grow lettuce and spinach. So, we will see! 

    Brandy, not only are you rockin’ it with your blog and frugal living, your photography and your gardening, now you must be in great shape with your all day workouts!!  

    May everyone remain safe and well!

    1. I feel in better shape in some ways from all the shoveling but my mom, who lives next door, has been baking cookies with my girls each Sunday the last little while. I love cookies and whenever I eat them, I gain 3 pounds in a week! So I have about 7 pounds to lose to get back to where I was in April.

  32. I had meant to write about a Christmas Eve that was different for me from my usual ones. I was a student in Montreal many years ago when my friends and I were kindly invited to a Réveillon (réveil means wake and it was a celebration after Christmas midnight mass). We passed through copses of snow-covered aspens to reach our destination. There we enjoyed Québecois tourtière — a pie made from spiced ground pork, ground beef and potato in a pastry, pigs feet cooked until tender and many other dishes and for dessert a maple syrup “sugar” pie. We were treated to this marvellous gourmet delight and cultural evening. It was also wonderful to attend a midnight mass in Old Montreal. Truly,, a Christmas Eve to remember1

    1. The friend in my bubble is Quebecois and while out for our walk today she was talking about Christmas Eve tortiere – apparently her gran used to make about 30 each year as gifts for the family and neighbours! They are delicious! What a lovely memory.

      1. Funny, this morning I had decided to make tourtiere for New Years. Though it is a Christmas Eve tradition, I often make it for New Years so that I am not overwhelmed with leftovers of tourtiere and turkey. I found ground beef in this morning’s grocery shop. I hope next week I can find ground pork to mix with it. No doubt the butcher at my store will grind some if there is none available right then.

        For several years I had a coworker at an office I worked in in Edmonton, who would bake tourtiere for me in return for a donation to a Christmas charity. It was lovely to have homemade tourtiere without having to organize it myself!

        1. Hi Elizabeth M.,
          I know you’re not in Calgary but Sunterra makes a good tourtière. I am thinking of making one myself. I think it would freeze well, do you? Merry Christmas!

  33. Brandy, I love your garden lights – you have been making great progress with the garden. Your gift packaging is lovely. Happy belated birthday to your DD.
    Our newest grandson was born 2 weeks ago! The past several weeks have been super busy food and gift shopping and mailing out Christmas gifts. We have a large extended family plus our 4 children, their spouses and now 3 grands . We’re having a quiet Christmas with DD and her family only as due to covid we’re not to have more than 10 people indoors (outdoors we can have 25 but it will be too cold and we’re expecting rain). Our sons live in states south to us and we would have to self-quarantine if we visited them or they visited us. We will porch deliver a Christmas meal to several older neighbors whose children live too far away and cannot visit due to covid.

    The grocery stores have continued to have some really good sales (for our area) including butter (salted or unsalted) for $1.88/lb -bought the limit of 4 each); shelled pecans and walnuts at $3.99 lb each; 80/20 ground beef at $1.79 lb – bought the limit of 4 lbs); chicken breasts, salmon, scallops all on sale; Pearl black olives at $0.99 (reg price $2.49 a can!) – bought 2 cases; green stuffed olives also at $0.99 (reg price $1.49) for small glass jars -bought 1 case. We love olives and am stocking up the pantry. Fresh asparagus has been on sale and have bought it each week as we enjoy it steamed or roasted. Last week baked Christmas cookies with DD and her 7 yr old dd – a family tradition that we all enjoy while also teaching basic baking skills to my grand. I’ve also made red velvet cake and cupcakes; several trays of eggplant parm (one to eat, one for freezer, one for dd to take home); meatballs with homemade sauce; bacon wrapped scallops; roasted asparagus and brussels sprouts; stuffed acorn squash. We’ve had lots of rain while others in the state have had snow. The last time we had snow was in 2017, so we made a quick trip to play in the snow in the mountains an hour or so away. We had fun!

    Wishing you Brandy and your family and your readers who celebrate a Blessed Christmas – as we keep in our hearts the reason for the season – and are thankful for all our good health and all the blessings that we are fortunate to enjoy each day.

  34. Oops sorry for so many entries but I meant to say that I greatly enjoyed Andrea Bocelli’s free Christmas concert filmed in an underground cave with spectacular stalactites and stalagmites, etc. If anyone wishes to watch it, go to Andrea Bocelli’s Facebook page and scroll down. even though it says live event ended, right underneath there is a button that says “Watch Now”. If you get a lock that is counting down you are in although you may have to wait about two minutes through the written comments about what it means to “believe” and then the concert which is short begins. As one friend said “spectacular”! A lovely Christmas gift from Andrea Bocelli who sings Christmas carols in English and some in Italian and a song Pianissimo” from his new cd “Believe”. He recites a poem he wrote and there is a ballerina…It is very much like a subterranean cathedral!

  35. Amy, I hear you on Christmas being such a hard time of the year. I was severely depressed for 15 years, but woke up one morning last December and it was gone (power of prayer). But, even in the years that I wasn’t depressed, the lack of daylight combined with memories of Christmas past were enough to send me over the edge. This year is good, but know that I am walking with you! ((( Amy ))).

    Go take a hot bath. You will be surprised how much better you will feel. For your ankle, try arnica cream. You can buy it at drug stores, health food stores and online. The relief is amazing!

  36. Hello Everyone!
    It’s sunny and cold here on the CA coast. A client recommended a Masterpiece series called Poldark which is excellent! I blasted through Season 1 on Prime this weekend while I enjoyed some downtime and worked on my Covid crochet blanket. It’s 80% done and quite warm! ♥️

    Tonight I’m soaking a pound of white beans to make a ham & bean soup tomorrow. I already have sourdough rolls in the freezer which I’ll defrost and warm in the oven. Over the weekend I made refried beans from scratch for the first time. Fairly easy and super delicious! I tried a new gingerbread cake recipe from the December issue of Victoria Magazine. It was the best recipe I’ve tried, however the unmoulding was disastrous. LOL! For lunch today I made a cabbage salad using a cabbage from the garden. My teens nearly scarfed it all! Who knew teens would devour cabbage salad?!?! 😆

    My husband’s fix-it skills saved us some $ this weekend. He replaced a broken toilet valve and installed a new ceiling light fixture in the dining room.

    Someone mentioned the Craftsy $2.49 membership deal. I also signed up for that. I watched a flower arranging tutorial, along with some YouTube videos. I created a silk flower arrangement using flowers purchased at a 50-70% discount. It turned out beautifully and I will have it for years.

    Tonight we enjoyed viewing the Christmas Star using a pair of binoculars we have. The fog and clouds were in and out but we got a nice view. 🌟

    Beautiful gift wrapping Brandy! Merry Christmas and health and happiness to you all!

  37. Brandy the lights in your garden are beautiful and moving the other garden lights closer to the home will give more light if you wish to have outdoor meals too which I am sure you have thought of 🙂 . What a wonderful initiative with the school giving free school lunches for all school age children and glad it is giving you a break from preparing meals and keeping your pantry stocked as well. What a lovely thought from your neighbour giving you the food items that they pick up from the school that they don’t want too.

    Thought I would take this opportunity Brandy to wish both yourself and your whole family a very blessed and family orientated Christmas 🙂 .

    We are exploring different areas for groceries and other household pantry needs 🙂 . While we were in another larger town on an appointment we had to stop into a restaurant wholesale supplier to pick up some Christmas things for the local RSL club. It suddenly dawned on us that they also sell directly to the public so whilst there had small look and found their prices were very good for lots of bulk pantry items and other things as well. Next time we are in that town and have more time we shall have a much better look and compare prices on items we usually buy and buy more in bulk if the prices are right 🙂 .

    Our savings added up to $90.63 last week 🙂 .

    In the kitchen –
    – Made 2 x 700g of wholemeal bread in our bread maker with a free supermarket sample of wholemeal self raising flour saving $5.98 over buying them in the supermarkets.
    – Cooked all meals from scratch.

    Income –
    – DH and I earned $100 for the month doing a cleaning job each week for one of the local clubs.

    Internet listings –
    – Listed 10 items on an eBay free listing promotion saving $16.50 on usual listing fees.

    Finances –
    – Got an email from the bank where we keep our emergency fund that they are reducing interest rates substantially from what they were so they are no longer competitive with other banks. We had a family financial counseling session together and decided to withdraw our funds at the end of the month and look for alternative banks and other ideas to maximise our savings.
    – I deposited more money into our 6 month living expenses emergency fund bringing us to 60.43% of the way there.

    Purchases –
    – Bought 2lts of Worcestershire sauce from a wholesale restaurant supply store saving $8.15 over buying it in smaller bottles at the local supermarkets. I keep $20 aside out of our grocery budget to spend on any good specials/markdowns etc on goods in one of many pantries in our home.

    Home maintenance –
    – We replaced a tap that wasn’t working that gravity feeds water from our rainwater tanks saving us $60 or more over hiring a plumber to do it for us.

    Hope everyone has a wonderful week ahead and a joyous Christmas.


  38. Your gifts look beautiful, Brandy! I always start off with the best of intentions and dreams of lovely ribbons and bows, but my packages end up pretty plain.
    I’m focusing most of my frugal efforts in the kitchen, as we will have some additional grocery expenses for our Christmas meal. My daughter wants to make a charcuterie board, and we’ve bought the ingredients for Chex Mix and candy making. The little extras do add up.
    I’m struggling to get the seeds I planted to grow. So I will try again using a different kind of soil. I’d really like to have lettuce and such in the greenhouse.
    My best friend is moving and gave us some wood which I am going to used to build raised garden beds. She also gave us two quarts of paint, some stain, some polyurethane and a metal storage cabinet. I have lots of projects planned for the spring!
    Details of our week are on my blog at http://thebudgetinggranny.com/savings-and-goals-journal-25/

  39. Our dental insurance was taken out 3 weeks early and was restored to our account. We had enough to cover it without further problems; a good lesson for our son.

    I cooked a turkey and we had turkey noodle soup and turkey sandwiches with vegetables for another meal and froze the rest in quart bags. We have also had breakfast for dinner and several pantry meals. I froze broccoli from Aldi. We got some Christmas candy from Ollies. We planned our Christmas meal and got stocking stuffers. We actually have more fun with that than gifts. We only allow a very small amount so it is always a surprise what each of us finds.

    My husband and son have been taking down some woodwork and paneling to fix damage from a fitting on a pipe leak. Old houses! We have been going through things in the basement for donations and selling that are no longer useful to us. We also found one thing to take apart and recycle the metal. Looking better!

  40. I decanted my apple scrap vinegar today and strained out the solids. Now we wait about six months, with periodic checks, before we have vinegar. This cost me the whole sum of six tablespoons sugar. Everything else was free/scrap. I can live with that expense if it doesn’t turn out.
    We had our family celebration this past weekend with our children and grandchildren. I’m glad that our state didn’t ban family gatherings. We purchased deli fried chicken and I made sides here at home. It was fairly affordable. For dessert, the annual Christmas cookies sufficed. We sent home leftovers with everyone and have leftovers ourselves.
    I’ve been turning our heat down to 65F at night. My husband has Hashimoto’s and suffers with chills if we let the house get too cool, but he can handle it at that temperature at night as we have blankets and body heat to keep warm. In the mornings we’re using the propane heater to bring the house temperature up and offset the need to have the heat pump work so hard.
    I feel we’ve little to share but all the same things happen everyday: we wash full loads of dishes and clothes, we hang clothes to dry on the line, we stick to grocery budget and we stuck to our Christmas budget, we make 3 meals a day at home every day, I bake from scratch bread, and am on top of foodstuffs so nothing goes to waste. It all adds up…

  41. What beautiful lights, Brandy! And those boxes are so pretty!

    It’s been a good week. We got a good sized snow for us – 18″ – so we haven’t trekked out to the greenhouse so much for salad, but supposedly everything’s fine in it. All the guys went cross-country skiing at a local golf course. We love that for cheap fun! Those kinds of skis last forever, can be handed down from kid to kid, and are only about $30 used in our part of the world. I’m 6 months pregnant and a little off balance, so I’ll ski next year.

    We’ve been eating out of the pantry except for milk, eggs, and apples. I’ve been enjoying some new youtube videos about different ways to cook tougher cuts of meat. It seems to make it easier for me if I can see what they’re doing instead of just reading. Hooray for the kosher salt crust!

    I’ve been trying to mend and alter more clothing right away, and it’s been a help keeping the mending pile down and more useful clothing in rotation.

    I’m very curious if anyone has any frugal tips about Christmas cards. I used up old cards, added a family photo (100 prints for $1 on snapfish, and thanks, Brandy, for the camera remote idea! We’ve loved it!), and a Christmas letter printed at home on black and white, so I just paid $1 and the stamps. I do love sending and receiving these, so I don’t mind making it a priority, but the stamps even just add up. My mother in law has a wonderful paper cutter , so I tried cutting some heavy card stock to be cards for envelopes I got in a huge bundle at Savers. When my husband was little, he and his family used to make a special block print each season, either out of linoleum or styrofoam, and print their own cards. I didn’t get that done this year, but it sure sounds like fun.

    Wishing you all a very special and peaceful time this week.

    1. Sarah, I got a PDF file from a shirt-tail relative this year and I am thinking about doing the same–at least for some recipients–next year. I’ll be honest and tell you that I only received ONE Christmas card by Dec. 20, when we left, and I sent 30. Most of the 30 were to my husband’s relatives, some of whom have NEVER sent Christmas cards, and I’ve been sending them for 53 years. I do it because I enjoy it, but I’m planning to limit my snail mail to about 10 next year and e-mail a PDF to the rest. I do expect a few more cards waiting when we get home, but they will be from longtime (high school and college) friends. I will continue to send them cards and letters.

  42. It was a busy week work-wise last week as I attended a 3 day course via Zoom from home and then went into the office on Friday morning to do a few things that cannot be done from home. I don’t expect to have to go in again until the New Year so my transit card has certainly had a good rest. My monthly pass normally costs $128 but these days I usually only add between $20 and $40 per month

    Did only two loads of laundry last week then did a bit of hand laundry. I don’t expect to have to go back to the laundry room for at least 2 weeks.

    In anticipation of busy days while on the course I had made a big pot of turkey noodle soup which I ate all week along with sandwiches of cheese or bacon & tomato. I also took out some chicken (already cooked) from the freezer and had that with salad. Then I opened a tin of corned beef and had that for a few easy meals along with a bunch of cooked veg. It made for a very easy week in the kitchen.

    The whole province is going into a complete lockdown at midnight Christmas and for us it’s another 28 days at least. I shopped last week and then a friend took me out today for a walk and then afterwards we made one last trip for a few more fresh items. Neither of us anticipates going back to a grocery store for about 3 weeks. I have given myself a budget of $125 until January 25th (next payday) and if I can come in under that even better! I am putting the difference from what I usually spend towards a CC that I want paid off by April. I am very concerned and mindful that I make proper use of my pantry and not let anything go to waste. I have already gone through my small freezer compartment and listed everything and really, if I work things properly I won’t have to buy more than 1 or 2 items of meat/fish for the next couple of months. Frankly – some days a big bowl of homemade soup and some toast & cheese does me just fine. I just have to remember to work in a lot of veggies along the way so I do budget money for salad fixings even during the winter months.

    I made a trip to the library last week and so far they are staying open (although no browsing allowed – you just pick up your holds from the librarian) so I have lots of books to read. I had to order something on an emergency basis from Amazon and once again have 30 days of Prime for free so I have a couple of series on my list to watch. I still haven’t watched “Queen’s Gambit” on Netflix so that is still a treat to look forward to so I am well sorted for entertainment.

    I baked 3 loaves of fruit loaf this past weekend (all ingredients were in my pantry) and they turned out perfectly – with so much fruit it can be a bit tricky to get it cooked properly in the middle. I have some buttermilk to use up and I think it will used to bake a lemon & cranberry loaf plus an orange and mixed peel one (again, all ingredients already purchased). I slice up each loaf and give some away to neighbours and then freeze some as well. I bought a tin of luxury Belgian chocolate biscuits and some mincemeat tarts as a Christmas treat so there are lots of goodies to have with a cup of tea while stuck in lockdown.

    Brandy, your garden is coming along at an amazing rate and I cannot wait to see the final results. You also continue to do so much for your family in a thoughtful and frugal manner so I hope that you will enjoy a few days of rest over the holidays. I hope that everyone here stays safe and well and Merry Christmas to everyone.

    1. Oh, Margie, you are so kind! I had imagined it would be done by the end of this month! Haha! We are not even halfway. I am hoping that I will at least be able to plant some things in spring. Our last frost date is in just under 8 weeks! Since we are taking a break from school right now, we are spending more time working in the garden. My husband poured another concrete base and post today, I sifted more roots and rocks from dug dirt, the children helped dig part of a bed so that my husband can pour the next base, I added manure to some dirt for two small places where I can start to fill in (I can’t fill in most laces because we still have to dig them) and my husband started to refill one walkway with the bad dirt, which we are mixing with water and tamping down as a base for where there will eventually be a concrete walkway. Eventually! Ha! We’ll see how it all goes!

      1. Your garden project is such an apt metaphor for life. In my fairly long stay here on earth, I have noticed that things I really want take so much longer to come into my life than I had originally thought they would. But even the measurable things, like a huge garden makeover, always take longer than what I have carefully planned.
        I know there is a lot of wisdom in that discovery, and you would think I would have developed lots of patience knowing all this, but it’s always a struggle. 😀

  43. Brandy thank you for keeping up with your inspiring blog every week. I read every week and enjoy the positive frugal lifestyle we are all accomplishing – especially this year. I can not say enough how I appreciate reading all the comments from the readers. Wishing everyone joy and peace ahead.

  44. It was a nice, frugal week:
    At the salvage store, I went on $3 day and found: opened packages of the overnight underwear diapers, in boy prints, my son’s size, 12 pack case of Campbell’s tomato soup, 3 pack of Tom’s of Maine kids toothpaste, 12 pack of Lara bars in the chocolate peanut butter flavor my kids like, as well as some other things.
    There were a lot of good grocery deals this week: $1/8 oz shredded cheese, $3 Blue Bell ice cream half gallons, $2 bacon, .77/# broccoli and grapes, etc. Plus, the 2# loaves of Velveeta were marked down to $2, so I bought quite a few. Sometimes, Velveeta is more expensive here than real cheese!
    I was able to put together teacher gifts using what we already have, that I’ve picked up inexpensively.
    I bought a very lightly Bath and Body Works candle at Goodwill Outlet, which probably was about $1.50 ($1.19/#). I wouldn’t pay full price, but it does smell nice.
    My mom cut my sons’ hair.
    We ate most meals at home, using food we had or purchased very inexpensively. $5 or less meals were: pork loin, ham and cheese sandwiches, chicken legs, chicken soup, and bacon sandwiches.
    For the person asking about our Costco hack: the Costco stores here (Houston, TX) allow you to shop with their gift card (they call it a cash card), even if you’re not a member. I’ve never been a member, but I go once or twice a year, and buy 10, $25 cash cards with my aunt or friend who is a member. Then, I can use those to buy gas (~$23 worth), then pay for part of my purchase in the store. You can pay for the rest of your purchase in store with whatever payment method you like, so the first $2-3 of my purchase is whatever remains on that gift card, then I just pay the balance using cash or my debit card. This allows me to buy gas, then shop 10 times, using the cash cards. I know another person who does this instead of renewing her membership, so she’s basically a Costco member every other year, using their cash cards on off years, waiting for the next groupon deal. There’s really not much I buy at Costco, as their prices are higher than Aldi, and most of what they sell I don’t buy or can buy cheaper elsewhere. They do have high quality products, though, and their gas is competitive. We also like their snack bar.
    The check engine light came on in my van, so the auto parts store ran the code for me. It’s just an emissions thing, so while I’ll need to do something before annual inspection comes up, it’s not a safety issue.
    A neighbor gave me what was left of the deer he got last year (mostly sausage), to make room for this year’s meat.
    We enjoyed listening to Christmas music at home and baking a birthday cake and Christmas cookies.

  45. *My husband & I went to a movie. There were only 4 people in the theatre, us and one other couple. At the AMC chain there is a 5$ admission per person on Tuesdays. We wore our masks but we were certainly distanced from others.
    *Got a free iced coffee at McDonald’s on Monday. In Texas McDonald’s is offering a free coffee any size to teachers each Monday in December.
    *Hubby replaced the ancient shower head in the shower. When I turned on the water last week the shower head exploded & blew apart. Fortunately it did not explode on me!
    *My dear friend gave me 3 lg bags of clothes. I picked out a few items for myself. One bag I will give to the housekeeper at school. I know she does make much $ at her job & she is the right size for the clothes. The other 2 bags I’ll take to church.
    *Used a 5$ off coupon a $25 purchase at Dollar General for some cat litter & other needed items.
    I adopted a cat which cost me 95$ which is not frugal. However he is slowly mending my broken heart that resulted from the recent death of a much loved cat. He meows & talks to me in cat language & purrs. His soft warm body is comforting. He has earned his adoption fee.

    1. I totally agree on adopting a pet being worth any adoption expenses! One year ago today we adopted a stray kitten, to replace my dearly loved 19 year old cat—also adopted as a stray. This kitten has kept us laughing, madly dashing around the house trying to rescue the furniture from being shredded, and just plain entertained these past 12 months. Although I do my best to keep the house from being destroyed, truth is this kitten is worth his weight in gold to me! I would not trade him for ANYTHING, even though he decided his favorite person is my teen daughter! I paid $65 for him, plus a couple hundred for further vet attention, and he was worth every penny in mental health!!!

    2. We had a tuxedo cat walk in front of the front window – coming to the front door like he was on a mission. I have another rescue tuxedo that I adopted a couple of years ago and I thought it was him. No – this was a short hair with the top of his left ear cut off. Short story – he just seemed to think this was home and couldn’t understand why we didn’t ‘get it’. Kept him outside for a couple of month over the late spring/summer. Finally started integrating him – confirmed that he wasn’t ill with our vet.

      He has been an absolute delight – he is fearless, funny, playful, affectionate – doesn’t pay any attention to the dogs, would like one of the cats to be a friend but so far we have just reached the barely tolerating stage. It has made this time so much easier – he is a sweet companion type of cat.

      BTW – I bought the annual vaccine’s for cats at Tractor Supply (not rabies – that has to be administered by a vet and recorded with the county) and gave my cats their annual. It was surprisingly easy – well, other than the other long hair tuxedo who acted like we were torturing him – enough that the dogs got concerned and started barking! It was $10.00 for each cat. We will have out mobile vet come out in February and do the rabies vaccination. Right now they are pretty much inside – too cold and windy for these pampered beasties.

    3. I know first-hand pets (cats) sometimes aren’t frugal. We adopted a cat from an elderly couple who needed Hospice care last March. Honestly, this cat has brought us so much comfort and calm (especially now) and laughter/joy she’s worth every penny. Thankfully, other than her prescription diet she’s pretty frugal-minded as well.

    4. Texasilver, congratulations on your new kitty! Our ‘cat daughters’ (as we call them) are certainly worth more than their weight in gold in the joy they bring.

  46. We had another quiet week. In fact, there were a few days that I felt a bit bored, so I decided I will start some extra cleaning right after Christmas. I did the usual cooking, cleaning, and so forth, but there is always those messy areas that need extra organizing, and so much dirt it’s crazy–the more you clean, there more there seems to be, at least around here!!! I did do a few areas already. I feel so much peaceful when things are cleaner.
    I sewed another mask for my husband. As this pandemic goes on, we’ve all gone with a very few masks and some seem to be getting worn. So, I will sew a few more another day, as well.
    We harvested a bowlful of lettuce from my husband’s project in our unheated greenhouse.
    We got about $30 worth of groceries. That will finish off the month. We are staying out of the stores as much as possible and using our stored food, as everyone else is. I’ve menu-planned the rest of the month, mostly with food we have on hand. I spent a couple of hours looking at old magazines and chose about 20 recipes I can make with things I have on hand and marked them with sticky notes. When added to our tried and true recipes, those will keep it interesting for more than 20 days.
    My husband keeps fixing things. The latest is an old high chair from a friend. The foot rest was broken clear off and gone. He made a new, sturdy one and will give the highchair to our daughter to use with our grandson. He’s not quite big enough yet, but he is growing!
    We cooked and ground winter squash we were given. I froze several cartons and we ate a lot.
    We are still finding inexpensive, safe activities for my niece and nephew on the days we have them. The kids are all a bit bored these days–all activities and field trips, etc. are cancelled. So, we’ve been doing things like Christmas sing-a=longs, puzzles, reading a picture book that takes an hour (it’s fat), painting nails, cooking projects, walks with the dog, without the dog, to the park, around the block, etc. I read aloud for hours to my nephew and help him with his school.
    Pictures are on my blog: http://beckyathome.com

    1. Your husband’s greenhouse lettuce sounds like a wonderful way to save. Perhaps he will experiment with other veggies as well. Would you mind sharing what variety of lettuce you are growing? We have a climate somewhat similar to yours. It sounds like you are having a lot of fun entertaining your niece and nephew. When our granddaughters visited for a week, we thought we would have so much time to do things, but ended up doing school mostly, but they did listen to a free story on Your Story Hour at yourstoryhour.org/listen-for-free every day, and I found the following site thinking we could do some virtual tours of aquariums or zoos–> https://www.goodhousekeeping.com/life/travel/a31784720/best-virtual-tours/. Both do take up some internet though. The girls are coming back the week after Christmas, so we are looking forward to seeing them again, but we were almost disappointed to learn that their parents are coming in the middle of the week, too. The reason they came to stay with us in the first place was that the house they had barely moved into was found to have a resident mouse population, and needed come deep cleaning. We haven’t heard of anyone having bubonic plague or the hantavirus here, but their parents thought they shouldn’t be there, and we have recovered from COVID-19, so it worked out for them to come here. At the end of the week we met their dad halfway and ate a picnic lunch in a park. It was a little chilly outside but not raining. I had put a couple of cups of dry soup beans (the mixture they sell at WinCo) with a couple of cans of diced tomatoes and water into the crockpot to let cook the night before. In the morning some of the larger beans were still not quite done, but almost so I seasoned it with a light sprinkle of the rich brown G. Washington broth mix that I bought from the ABC store in Gladstone and a half a teaspoon of onion powder and put the soup in our large thermos. The soup with a round loaf of multigrain and seeds bread with Toby’s tofu spread from Freddie’s Nutrition Center and some crackers and vegetables made a pretty good lunch. The beans seemed to finish cooking in the thermos after their 3.5 hour drive. I was really glad I brought a Dollar Tree plastic tablecloth and paper towels because the picnic table was filthy and slightly wet. I would take a couple more tablecloths for the seats if I had it to do over. As it was I put down paper towels for the girls to sit on, and the adults stood to eat. But it worked out okay, and the cost was so much lower than it would have been to buy takeout food for five people. I like to think it tasted better, too. We watched some people play pickle ball at a nearby court. That looks like something fun for older kids. By the way, I always enjoy reading your posts. Elizabeth

      1. Our family LOVES Your Story Hour!!! My kids are pretty much grown (youngest is 16), but on long car trips I play Your Story Hour for all the hours that it is my turn to drive. That is what keeps me awake, and since we homeschool, learning quite a bit of History helps “count” as school!

  47. My goodness, Brandy! You and your family have moved a LOT of dirt if the path will be at the top of the 2×4 s! I’m so excited for you all – the final product is going to be so worth it in the end.
    The semester has ended for both myself and the children and my husband has been so busy getting ready for Christmas at church (he’s a Pastor). It’s been frugal to stay home and only do things here. We did return some library items when they were due on the way to pick up a couple of needed groceries, otherwise we’ve been home. We have done a lot of cookie baking using supplies I had on hand. The children decided to make cookie trays for their friends in place of other gifts this year and we have had a grand time baking and listening to Christmas music. In other areas, we have still been cleaning out in preparation for the major part of our long-planned remodel in January. Every time I think we can’t find something else to get rid of, I find something else! I’m okay with that!
    Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays and a blessed New Year to everyone.

    1. We’ve taken around 14 trailers full of dirt to the dump. We have many more to go; we are basically digging most of the garden down about 2 feet.

  48. It was a simple and pleasant week around here. Our college kids are home and all tested negative for covid, plus they haven’t been seeing any friends in person, so we are good to go. We have spent time cooking and eating together, playing games, doing a puzzle and watching old Christmas movies. It has been very fun. Our daughter who lives about thirty minutes away is coming with her family on Christmas eve and spending the day and we are so excited about that. We haven’t seen them because of the new baby, but since everyone is covid negative and have isolated, they are coming. It’s the first time the aunties will be able to meet baby Poppy and we are all happy about that. I’m making a big pot of chili and a sausage and cheese tray and, because everyone is older, they are all bringing fun appetizers. Should be a wonderful day. We are having an on-sale ham and cheesy potatoes for Christmas day.

    My husband and I were able to deliver the Secret Santa gifts to members of our congregation who have fallen on hard times. We were just the delivery elves but it sure brought us the Christmas Spirit to see how kind people are to each other. One family was so surprised and so thankful because they weren’t able to buy any gifts for their children (ages 6,4,2,newborn) and we were able to drop off multiple gifts for each family member plus a large grocery store gift card. People were so generous and it was a complete surprise to the family and it made our hearts soar.
    Merry Christmas to all of you. I enjoy all of you so much, and Brandy, you have blessed my life more than you will ever know! Thank you!

  49. I received a gift card to a local Italian market from the family I babysit for. I think I will use it when DD and BF come back for a nice takeout meal-I am sure the prices are much higher than what I would normally spend. We received 16 inches of snow yesterday so we just stayed in and DH shoveled. Today I did a quick errand and nearly got stuck twice-even with my snow tires. Best to sit tight for awhile I think. Happy holidays to all.

  50. My husband has been working long hours, but we are happy. We hope that his job last longer than the project they are working on now. Tomorrow I am going to cook a ham that my son gave me last year. I was going to make mashed potatoes, but one of your readers inspired me to make cheesy potatoes. I hope to cook a butternut squash and open a can of green beans or corn. We have been turning off our lights when not in use. We borrowed a movie for my son at the library. We canceled a subscription that was a gift to us , but if we continue we would have to pay for it. I turned some dry chicken into a tasty curry. Everyone enjoyed the curry. Funny how sauce and spices can liven things up. Speaking of spices. That is what I gave my family for Christmas… Herbs and Spices. We bought it at a local store and then we were given free tickets to the zoo light show! We were thrilled! They also gave us some Vietnamese Cinnamon. So even though it was about 23 degrees and very windy, my husband and I went to the light show at the zoo! Oh my! Very pretty, very cold! We also gifted a family member the other tickets. We have been doing a good job of using leftovers or cooking just what we will eat. I have been cooking soup to keep warm as well as wearing sweaters over my blouses.
    My husband takes his meals to work and they feed him there sometimes as well. Makes for happy workers! I know my husband was happy. I have been watching youtube videos. I watched some Struggle Meals. I was glad that someone mentioned it. I also watch the Quaint Homemaker. I like some of her recipes and she has a calm voice. In fact I made her Liverwurst Sandwich with onions and mustard for my husband. He enjoyed it at work. I have been eating the frozen soups I have in the freezer while my husband is at work. I love to freeze leftover soup when I make it. I made broccoli cheese soup with broccoli that I had frozen back when we had gone to food pantries. The broccoli was still good. I tested it out before I added the cheese and onion and broth. I love soup! Have a Merry Christmas Brandy and Friends! I am so happy you have your blog Brandy.

  51. We drove to another town about an hour away where we bought several items from Aldi’s. We skipped Meijer. It’s always busy and i wasn’t feeling it. We did buy Meijer gas which was 10cents cheaper than our town.
    While out, and the real reason we made the trip, we stopped into the local art center to see my husbands photographs which were part of a contest. One of his works has been bought by the local community college for their permanent collection. It’s always fun to see what everyone submitted and how it may look on the wall. All very impressive! So much talent and time spent making it!
    I finally got a water bill that was actual and about 15.00 lower than the month before! Woohoo!! It energizes me and makes me want to do more.
    It’s been almost two months since we had a repairman here for our dryer. My husband called and found out that Sears is waiting for Maytag to send the part. My husband asked for the part name and number. With that information, he went online and bought and paid for the part from an online store and it shipped the next day. When it arrives, he’ll call and cancel the order from Sears and ask for the prepayment back. Hopefully, this will now get moving. We were right at the edge of our warranty when this all started. It took so long that the warranty was no good.
    I walked with friends, did yoga stretches at home and walked the dog for free exercise.
    I’ve been eating my weight in chocolate and Christmas goodies made with items i already had or bought on sale many months ago.
    We emailed, phoned and/or did facetime with our family.
    I gratefully accepted two pasties, and two cookies, from a friends husband. I think it’s his way of thanking us for our small acts of kindness.
    I took some body butter that i didn’t like, thinned it with water, and added it into the main lotion bottle.
    That’s about it for me and my chocolate addled brain. Happy holidays to everyone!

  52. Wishing everyone a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.

    It’s been a tough year for so many and next year might be a struggle as well. Praying for the health and wellbeing for all here. Being frugal used to be something I did for fun to see how much money I could save and to not waste (especially food). Now I’m in it to keep our budget functioning. It’s been a long 17 months, but we are doing OK! Still in the game.

    This Christmas is one where we are preparing for the future and being able to process our own meat. We upgraded our dehydrator, bought a hand crank sausage stuffer and a wood smoker. Christmas dinner is a small roast, baked potatoes, broccoli and pickles from this summer. Dessert will be cookies and an icecream cake my son made. Simple, yet delicious!

    I finally tested negative for Covid and will start the months long stem cell transplant treatment. Your prayers and thoughts are very appreciated. Thank you!

    1. Merry Christmas, Trish. Glad you can now begin your treatment. Praying for your health.
      Much grace to you,

    2. PJGT, That is such great news that you will start your treatment to prepare for your stem cell transplant. My husband just had his 6 month post transplant check up. He is still 100% donor cells. He has a very rare AML with many missing chromosomes. AML is gone and chromosomes are present now. All’s well so far.

      Stay positive and keep moving-even small amounts of movement helps in the long run. Mind set is critical – stay positive.

      Sending love and prayers.

    3. That is wonderful news that you will be able to start your stem cell treatment now. I’ll be thinking about you all through the month and beyond, wishing you the very best results.

      Your Christmas dinner sounds lovely, and your investments in the future sound like they will bring you many more delightful meals to come.

      All my best wishes in this holiday season.

    4. Trish,

      That is great news — best wishes for a Happy New Year. My friend had a stem cell transplant 11 years ago and is still doing well! Ann

    5. Trish, we always wish people a “healthy and happy New Year,” but your illness really puts this into perspective. So here is to a HEALTHY and HAPPY New Year to you and to others that are struggling with health issues. Such good news about your Covid test. I wish you all the best in 2021.

  53. It is Boxing Day here. My gardener/friend (a single mom) dropped off turkey and mashed potatoes which was a lovely treat. It is snowing again but I hope to keep ahead of it. On You Tube I just watched Hugh Bonneville and the Tabernacle Choir do a choral and story telling presentation from last year. It was about the Spafford family and keeping faith after a terrible tragedy and the tremendous good that arose from it. Wonderful!

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