Almond blossom in my garden

I hope you are warm and well wherever you are in the world!

We borrowed a tractor to work in the garden (saving us the $1400 it would have cost to rent an excavator for the same period of time) in order to dig more of the beds in the garden. This was a much stronger tractor than we used last time (which didn’t scratch the surface of our ground) and we soaked the ground several times for several days before we dug to make it possible to penetrate the ground. It was windy, but we worked through the wind while we had the loan of the tractor.

I gave two sons haircuts.

We found a less expensive place than we have used in the past to have our van smogged.

I cooked a large pot of Great Northern beans in the crockpot to make pasta e fagioli.

I ordered some things online that I needed from Target rather than driving to the store. Shipping was free. I was given the choice to consolidate my order into as few packages as possible to save an additional dollar, so I chose that option. While Target is close to home (so the savings in gas is very small), this will save me time going to the store, which I can use to do other things. I feel that using our time wisely can also help us to save more money in the long run, as it frees us up to do other things that will save us money.

Red Drift Roses

What did you do to save money last week?

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  1. This week we had 2 back-to-back snow/ice storms. By the time Thursday came, we had 6” of snow on top of 1”+ of solid ice! We had Snow Emergency Level 2 most of last week. I usually watch my preschool grandson on Tuesdays and Thursdays and put him on the bus at 12:30. However, because I was unable to drive across town because of the roads (while our daughter and son-in-law were required to go in to work) and also it was declared a snow day for the two school age grandies, our youngest son became the babysitter all day! I helped out when he called. Granddaughter wanted Ramen cooked in microwave for lunch and our son had never cooked it before! But there was a special microwave dish to cook it in and he now knows how! Only a couple more weeks before the oldest two are in full time in-person school! While we have been happy to help out babysitting so our daughter can be at her full time job.
    We celebrated our 50th anniversary on Friday- not with the big party with family and friends that has been in the planning for almost 2 years, but quietly, just the 2 of us! Our kids surprised me (they told Hubs ahead of time)with takeout dinner from Outback Steakhouse! The daughter I babysit for brought it over; all the local kids chipped in! So that was dinner taken care of for 2 separate meals for each of us! That saved us some money and was so delicious!
    The kids all set up individual 30 minute zoom times with us (another daughter set it up through signup genius) on Saturday and Sunday, so we zoomed with 10 of the 11. #11 is stationed in Korea in the Army, so we haven’t heard from him yet! 50 years ago, when we got married, I worked as a long distance phone operator and it boggles my mind to. Think of how much 5 solid hours of phone calls (only 1 that was actually in our City; the Suburbs would have been long distance as well as the out of state ones!) would have cost!! We are probably talking about a few hundred dollars! 😱 And we could see them as we talked!!
    We made all our other meals at home- more muffins/pancakes/toast eggs/bacon , all dinners and lunches while using up food in the fridge!

    Our 3 month water bill was about $35 less this time!

    The estate sale quilt for a client got quilted and bound and is #119! https://pin.it/4mHW0b6. Putting Quilt #120 on Lenni now!

    Been a very quiet week, staying home, but this morning I’m headed over with 2 of my daughters to the semi-annual warehouse sale for Cheryl’s Cookies which is headquartered in my City. Things are typically 50-75% off!

    We are getting our first Covid shots on Thursday!

    Slow week as far as not going anywhere but fairly intense with deadlines! Hope everyone is finding ways to save money and that you and the others are sharing the ideas with us!

    Gardenpat in Ohio
    HandmadeinOldeTowne.com

    1. Congratulations it sounds like you had a wonderful anniversary. No better gift than hearing and (seeing)your love ones.

    2. Happy Anniversary
      I enjoy reading your posts. I learn so much from you. I loved the pictures from last week, seeing all your food storage. It reminded me of my growing up years and all the canning that was done

      1. cc, Cindi, Nancy from Denver area, Flora from WV, Sabrina, Bama Holly, Susan from Cincinnati, Darlene and Suzy – Thank you all for your kind wishes on our 50th Anniversary!! COVID has really helped us to recognize what is really important- Family, faith, friends- and what things are “nice but not necessary “. We will be video chatting with our Army son in Korea this weekend and are looking forward to that while marveling that it is even possible!!

        Gardenpat in Ohio
        HandmadeinOldeTowne.com

    3. Happy 50th anniversary! My youngest just returned from Korea last September. I loved being able to video chat with him. He sent beautiful videos of the mountains in Korea he took while hanging out in the back of a Chinook with the tail open.

    4. What a wonderful milestone! Congratulations on your 50th anniversary. It sounds like it was wonderful.

    5. Happy Anniversary! Our 50th anniversary was on Saturday the 20th. Celebrated in a log house near the Smokie Mountains.

  2. Thanks for the link to the Instagram video. Redoing your backyard seemed like such a daunting task to me, but you sure are making progress, and using large heavy equipment seems to be the ticket! Very nice to see your son and husband in action;)

    This month has been a good month so far. Initial review last week of our taxes due shows a nice refund (still missing some documents though) and with that and the stimulus, some long needed house work can be done this year. Yeah! We met friends at a local park for a picnic, four couples, and we each brought our lunches and chairs. I baked a pumpkin pie, and a friend brought whipped cream, so we had a fantastic dessert and conversation sitting outdoors. Lovely and safe way to spend a Saturday lunch!

  3. We were snowed in all of last week. It isn’t going to be a good week for us money-wise.
    I live in Texas and it has been a hard go for most of us down here.
    We were lucky here since we kept electricity and gas. A lot of families didn’t have any at all for days.
    My little village lost its water. We were without water for over 4 days. When we thawed…I was sure we would have leaks everywhere. I had 1 leak that my husband fixed in about 10 minutes.
    My daughter was home with us for the week. I’m sorry to say she won’t get paid for the lost week.
    We only saved on car usage…or lack thereof.
    My electricity bill is almost $200.00 more than usual.
    I’m still “fighting” with the city about my water bill. Twenty dollars a month more for no reason is crazy.
    Bless all of you during this trying time. Stay safe and warm.
    Oh…we got our 2nd Covid-19 shots last Friday. Thank goodness.

    1. I am so very sorry to hear about all the increasing costs, expenses and always concerned about not getting paid
      I hope you are safe and things start to change for yuh our family

    2. I am in Lewisville, TX.Just telling my kids how blessed we were to have no outages( exception was 45 mins on Monday) or boil-water notices. we didn’t have internet all week though. We have been praying for Texas more ardently so having heard about the many horror stories of families and the homeless. I know many are texan proud here and i know they still need help to pickup though.

  4. We had a family birthday celebration for my husband, but kept it very simple. We all contributed to the meal, so no one had to spend a lot of money, time or effort on it. He enjoys seeing his kids and grandkids more than anything else. I made a gallon of lemonade for us to drink, using lemons from our tree.

    We finally got some sun after a ton of rain, so I was able to hang out laundry again this weekend.

    I emptied some planting pots of old, worn out soil into a hole the dog had dug in the yard. I had to wait until she outgrew the digging phase or she would just dig it back out. Fortunately, that one big hole was all she dug.

    I pruned my grapevines a little later than usual, but not too late. I do this kind of thing myself, rather than pay to have it done.

    I found a like-new Melissa and Doug puzzle at a Goodwill for $1.99 and bought it for the younger grandkids, for when they visit.

    I filed my annual skin exam with my insurance policy, and they are paying me $25 for having it. I get it directly deposited into my account.

    I have a chicken carcass cooking in the crock pot right now, making stock. I had made a homemade pot pie with the last of the meat, using some leftover vegetables in it as well as newly cooked ones, and some frozen stock I had a made a couple of months ago.

    We aren’t getting snow and ice here in north Florida (although we get a tiny bit of snow on rare occasions), but we have had lots and lots of rain, some with tornadoes. We only lost power one day at our house, luckily. I hope everyone else is making it through this wild weather successfully.

  5. I’m in north central Texas (DFW metro area) and we were hit very hard by last week’s 2 winter storms. We had temperatures that beat anything on record for this area. For reference, our normal temps right now would be in the 50s and 60s. A few mornings we were below zero, which is completely unheard of here. Highs in the single digits and teens, and we stayed below freezing for several days. I know people in other parts of the country deal with these temps and weather regularly, but it is unheard of here and Texas is simply not prepared for it. (It would be like if a northern state had a week of 115 degree temps in August.) We lost power here for about 36 hours during the worst of it. Our home is all electric, so we did not even have hot water or a way to heat food. Fortunately our place is extremely well insulated, and it was only 54 inside when the power finally came back. I saw many people’s homes were below freezing indoors! Our water was shut off for about 10 hours one day due to repairs and city water main breaks (they had over 500 breaks), but thankfully we made it through with no leaks and no major problems. We were also never under a boil water order, although most of our city was. I’m grateful today for a high of 70, and I have the windows open! We did not even lose any food – which is great, because I had stocked up the week before knowing the storm was coming and we would be stuck at home for several days. We filled several coolers with snow and kept everything cold that way, and our chest freezer held temp the whole time. I know many people have it far worse than we do with lost food, burst pipes, etc. It is a really tough situation and I hope steps are taken to prevent this again in another 10 years.

    I did not post last week, so this will be for the last 2 weeks. We celebrated Valentine’s Day at home. We had already planned to do this, but weather made it necessary as well. We cooked steaks and potatoes and enjoyed a nice meal together. We ate almost all of our meals at home except for a couple when we ventured out in 4WD to find some hot food during the power outage. We had made sure our vehicles were full of gas before the storm hit, so we had no issues when places started to run out. I am still only going into the office 2 days a week due to Covid, and last week I did not go in at all, so I suppose I saved money on gas.

    I hope everyone is doing well and has a good week!

    1. So glad things ended up better than hoped for you…what a mess.

      P.S. Colorado may not be a “northern” state for you Texans — but we do get 115 degree temps now and then in August, PLUS the 0-degree-and-below temps in wintertime. Fortunately, our weather isn’t as humid as yours.

  6. Brandy, I am so with you on staying out of stores and not even for medical reasons. I’m just worn to a frazzle with driving through traffic to a shopping center, parking the car, trying to find what I want in the store (particularly hard if it is a brand new item I’ve never purchased before), standing in line to check out, etc. We go to Winco and Costco for groceries, usually to Target for toiletries and then there are the constant small house repairs that require a trip to Lowe’s or Home Depot. Spouse and I are now in our 70s, in good health, but find we tire more easily. On a shopping day I find I’m not good for a whole lot else.

    To that end we bought a very small freezer so we can shop less often for groceries. And our new best friend is Amazon. If they have the item we need, and they usually do, and the price is reasonable, we order from them. I don’t see any of that ending when the world gets healthier, either.

  7. This past week has been tough for us although not due to ice and snow storms that many of you have been facing. My Mom had her knee replacement surgery last Tuesday and was not able to tolerate the pain medicine at all. We planned for everything but this was not on our radar. It was very frightening to see her in so much pain and then at one point I could not wake her – this apparently is the symptom of one of the meds that the doctors tried to control her pain. They say this can be a symptom of an overdose and since I only gave her half of the prescribed dose I think we may have avoided a far scarier scenario. It has been very challenging to care for her, manage pain, meals, household tasks, all of her medications, work full time, and care for my family as well. I was awake for over 72 hours last week and I must say – I was not a joy to be around at all. Thank God for my husband who has been doing whatever I ask of him and not saying a word about my grumpiness. I was so grateful for the weekend to arrive and allow me the chance to catch my breath and accomplish some things to help us get ahead a bit. Thank God she seems to be improving and although I can see the road ahead will be a long one, I know that she will recover.
    Given the above I have never been more grateful to have power, water and heat as we watched all the storms roll through. We enjoyed pot roast, beef stroganoff, baked potatoes, tuna salad sandwiches, creamy tomato soup with grilled cheese sandwiches and roast chicken – all of these meals were from the pantry and freezer. I made a large pot of okra and tomatoes that we grew n our garden last spring and served it over rice. I baked a batch of Oatmeal Scotchies as well.
    Temperatures here warmed to over 60 degrees yesterday and it was a delight to be able to turn off the HVAC, open the back door and let my son play outside. I also took advantage of the sunshine to refresh my couch cushions and lay them in the sun to dry. I washed everything in my home over the weekend – all of our clothes plus blankets, bed linens, and towels. It is a good feeling to have everything fresh and clean so that we can start the week on a good foot again.
    We prepared with grocery shopping ahead of my Mom’s surgery so the only items purchased last week were some Powerade, bread, cereal and milk.
    I am delighted to report that we have qualified to buy a home and will begin the process of house hunting shortly. We are in a rental now so it is crucial that we find something that suits us by mid summer so that we don’t incur additional fees in our lease agreement. I don’t know that we will have as large of a lot as we have right now as prices are high but I feel that we can find something that will work for our needs and still allow room for gardening/play space. We will be putting money aside to cover closing costs so the next few months we will focus on eating down the food storage and trimming our grocery budget to help accomplish our goal.
    I hope that everyone is safe, warm, and well. Be encouraged my friends, brighter days are ahead!

    1. Angie I know your mother appreciates all that you are doing for her. My husband had extensive back surgery yesterday and my daughter is the one that took him. We have 3 adult children with special needs that live with us and I stayed home with them. My daughter took the day off to be with him and was at the hospital from 5:30am-6:30pm. When she left he was still not over the effects of the anesthesia. When I called at 9pm he was still disoriented. I am sure that the pain meds add to his confusion. He had no idea what day it was. Your mom is blessed to have a daughter like you.

    2. Angie, I am so sorry about your Mother’s difficulties with the surgery. We were told knee replacement is harder than a hip replacement and that was rough enough for my hubby. Your last statement was brave, “brighter days are ahead!” Love your optimism.
      Jeannie@GetMeToTheCountry

  8. We used some gift cards to have a Valentine’s dinner. Unfortunately, our taste has not 100% returned from covid, so it was a muted tasting delicious meal! 😉
    I’ve been looking for some bigger bookshelves to put all our books and games on. We homeschool, so we have lots of books. Someone in our homeschool community is moving and posted online that she is selling her IKEA Billy bookshelves! They were the exact ones I was hoping to get! (In a different color, but totally fine with me! They have been out of stock at all IKEA stores for the past year!) I sent her payment by venmo and was able to pick them up that night. My husband borrowed a truck and we were able to get them all set up that evening and it’s been such a joy to have all our books together, ordered, all of our memorabilia from travels displayed as well, my kids said it was like we have our own museum!
    I’m combining trips to stores, library, and activities. We renewed our library books so the due date matches up with my shopping day, so we can just do one big outing.
    We have brothers in the DFW area and talking to them has been heartbreaking with the struggles they have been through. One of my brothers was living in a hotel because of an internship and the hotel was evacuated while he was at work and NO ONE CALLED HIM! He came back to the hotel that night and it was all locked up, no one there, he was able to break in to get all his stuff. It was totally flooded, no electricity, no heat, he had no where to go (his normal apartment is 3 hours away!) It was a mess and he ended up being able to find another hotel that helped him get compensation. It’s made me really sit back and re-evaluate what we would do in emergency circumstances. Our neighbor gave us two extra small tents. We need to get some more sleeping bags so everyone can have their own. Definitely need to get more water storage containers. Our state now encourages have 96-hour-kits instead of 72-hour-kits. https://www.slc.gov/em/build-a-kit/ so we need to add some more things

  9. Every week we meet up with a few family members (all of which are in our “bubble” and quarantined like us) for coffee at an outdoor cafe. This week I chose not to partake in anything and instead just spent time visiting. With two little kids to wrangle I was plenty busy and no one noticed. Others in our household still bought coffee and muffins but I at least did my part to save some money— which sometimes is all you can do.

    I put off purchasing a new shower head for our shower. Only half of it works (it’s been this way since we moved in) which makes for an unpleasant shower experience. Upon closer inspection it looks like there’s lime build up that’s blocking some of the holes. I’m going to try to soak it in vinegar this week to see if that fixes the issue — wish me luck.

    I switched everyone in the house who shaves to safety razors. The handles are only $5 each (and come with a leather case so we can easily differentiate who owns which razor) and I found a pack of 100 double edged razors to go with them for only $6 — and they were highly rated too. This should save us some money compared to the cheap disposable razors we normally get because they cost less long-run, last longer, and as an added bonus they provide a much better shave.

    I canceled Disney+ to save some money. We had been holding on to the subscription because our son is obsessed with Toy Story and the DVDs were pricey (plus we don’t have a DVD player). After canceling I just happened to find a playlist of all the clips of the first Toy Story movie that we can stream on YouTube (for anyone interested here it is: https://youtube.com/playlist?list=PLuUJ7Ytqq5e-O7HyFshY4Gpgtj1ubmCo- )That combined with Veggie Tales and some of the other free shows on YouTube should be more than enough to entertain him and it’s all FREE!

    I also got my first covid vaccine shot yesterday which means all the adults in the house will be fully vaccinated! No side effects yet too! This was a surprising blessing. I randomly got a call last week from the regional center in California. They said because my son is special needs and I’m his caregiver I qualify to receive the vaccine in the current round. They got me scheduled for my first shot just two days later. I was super worried about getting sick and infecting our newborn so this is an amazing turn of events. For anyone who is a caregiver to someone who is high risk please try asking in your state if you qualify to get the vaccine early. Some of my family in Vermont also were able to get the vaccine early because they’re caregivers. I know some states are much further along but we’re still in the “healthcare workers only” stage.

    I tried out Amazon Fresh for grocery delivery. It was tougher than normal to find foods that were within our budget limits (less than $1/lb for produce and meat for example) but I managed to find enough to fill in the holes for a couple weeks. I even found a few items that were on sale for lower than the lowest prices in my price book — yogurt for example. For the first time ever with grocery delivery there were no substitutions or missing items. I wonder if it’s because everything is coming from an Amazon warehouse so there’s less guesswork in availability? No bag fees and delivery was free because we share an Amazon Prime account with my mom. Plus it saved a lot of time and some gas money. I find that I prefer having pickup or delivery because I can easily find the best prices online instead of having to wander the aisles trying to calculate best prices.

    On another note we had a frugal fail this week — we have never been able to get gas from Costco because we never lived close enough to a Costco gas station. So this weekend we drove to Costco to get gas (we have a shared membership with my mom that she renews for me every year as a birthday present) only to find a 30 car line… by the time we made it through that line we would have eaten up all the savings. We also had to drive significantly out of our way to get to another gas station to get gas afterward because of the way the roads were set up nearby. Oh well. Now we know not to try to get gas on a Saturday.

    1. Megan: You may know this– For the shower head, fill a small plastic bag with vinegar and rubber band it around the shower head. Saves trying to remove it to soak it and put it back up.
      Hurray for your vaccine!

  10. Er…what is smogged, please?

    We do many of the same things week to week – plan menus based on items on hand/items on sale, use the library as a resource, hang laundry outdoors, dress for the weather, etc.

    In addition to those things, I made a really nice soup stock from chicken bones and vegetable scraps I’d saved in the freezer. This batch had a lot of onion skins (the outer, dry, brown part, not just bits of white onion) and the broth had a lovely flavor and color because of it.

    I made a pan of brownies. Yum! As soon as they were cool, I cut them and made two packages for the freezer, so that we have them for a longer period of time. I’m a person who will keep going back for a nibble, but I’d rather enjoy fewer of them at a time, and it will be nice to have a ready-made dessert for a couple of future meals.

    We brought a chair from the basement to the living room a few months ago. It is a nice place to sit, but at night, the light is too low for reading. I had a piano lamp I was going to sell, but for now, I’ve moved that lamp to the bookshelf directly behind the chair. It has been nice to read there. I have a floor lamp that needs to be re-wired, so once I am able to learn how to do that, get the supplies, and get that done, I’ll go ahead and use the floor lamp and sell the piano lamp. For now, this is a good solution that was zero cost.

    My hair is a length I like, but seemed really difficult to manage. I have a lot of hair, so I got the thinning shears and thinned it some. It seems to have worked – much easier to style now.

    Our menu for the week is posted on my blog, and you’re welcome to visit. I want to expand to other topics there, but work has been busy and am not sure what else to add. I hope to figure that out when things are a little more settled.

    1. A smog check. We call it being smogged. I thought everyone called it that, but since I had several people ask, I guess not!

          1. Every other year in Colorado (except for very new cars) and we call it the Emissions test. I think it’s most likely the same thing!

      1. Where I live in Ohio, we have an “e-check” , short for emissions check. Kind of the same thing, but to us it is free.

        1. Oh wow! Definitely not free here! Also, no one does them on the weekends! You have to go during the week! It can cost up to $35 here depending on where you go.

          1. We used to have them in BC (Canada). I forget what they were called but they reached a point where the government figured that all the “bad” cars were off the road and they stopped them. Now the buildings sit empty. I’m not sure they were a good use of money.
            We had to pay as well and the cost was dependent on the age of your car. Also newer cars were exempt. Or so I heard we never owned a car new enough!

      2. Is that checking what type of emissions your van has?
        I’ve never heard it called either a smog check or “being smogged”. We’ve always called it an emissions check. Our current state doesn’t have this requirement but we used to live in one where all vehicles had to have one each time the registration was renewed.

        Thanks for answering the same question so many times! Language is such a funny thing!
        Lea

        1. Usually, it’s called a smog check here in the ads for different companies. My husband always says he has to go get the van smogged. I know it can be called an emissions check, but I’ve never heard anyone say that out loud!

          Registration is quite high here, too. It doesn’t matter how much you paid for the car; it matters what the DMV says it is worth. Many people are shocked to get a bill between $450 and $850 a year per car the first year they move here if they have a relatively new car. Older vehicles have lower fees.

          1. We don’t have emissions checks. But we pay over $1000 to put license plates on each of our vehicles. But that includes our insurance.

      3. I’ve never heard of that. What is a smog check. Sorry, I know it probably is self explanatory, but it is checking ro see of you are editing too much pollutants?

        1. It is exactly that. If your car does not pass, you must have it worked on in order to register it. If you do not register it by the due date, there is a fine.

  11. Brandy, what does it mean to have your van smogged?

    And prayers to all those struggling through bad weather and its repercussions. Better days are coming!

    1. We have a van. You probably drive a car or a truck. It has to go through a smog check every year when registration fees are due in order to re-register it.

      1. This is the ever popular emissions test that vehicles have to undergo before being able to renew the vehicle registration with their state each year. Every state has different requirements I think.

  12. Hi Brandy and everyone
    Team Simper are working so hard on the garden, it will be lovely for you all to enjoy.
    This week we pulled leeks, parsnips and cabbage from the garden and cherries and redcurrants from the freezer. I’ve written a reminder in my notebook to dry lots more bunches of bouquet garni this summer, I’m nearly out now.
    I cut my fringe and my husband’s hair.
    I sorted through some of my late Mums belongings, I kept some lovely scented soaps, a torch and some photo frames. Lots of clothes went to fabric recycling.
    I sent a friend a homemade fabric birthday card.
    I bottled my homemade vanilla essence into smaller bottles for gifts and for us and topped up the large bottle with more vodka and new vanilla beans.
    I chopped homegrown garlic and covered it with white wine vinegar for “easy” garlic to keep in the fridge.
    I used fabric from my stash to make an elasticated bowl cover to reduce cling film use.
    Hope everyone is safe from the extremes of weather around the world.

  13. I have been using the fruit I froze last summer. This will clear out space in the freezer about the refrigerator. It really doesn’t save money but apportions it from the month when I bought the fruit. It does mean I don’t have to spend money now though. Oh to live in a climate where we could grow more fruit! Still , once I have more room, my friend will bring over the large box of frozen blueberries that are stored in her freezer for me. I really do try to have 5-7 servings of fruit and vegetables per day. So far I’ve been having an orange, an apple, frozen blueberries or apricots, frozen broccoli (bought on sale), sweet potato or regular potato. Where I bake things, I try to bake them all in the same oven at once to save electricity. I saved money by buying a bag of “imperfect” apples, 8 pounds for $5.99 as opposed to $4.99 for 3 or 4 pounds of regular apples.
    This summer, I will be growing my own scarlet runner beans, bush peas, and cucamelons. Last year although my hakurei turnips germinated really quickly and were supposed to mature in 39 days, they did not mature even after 3 months so I ate the greens. I am hoping it will be a good sour cherry year. I’d love to have a bumper crop to put in the freezer. I will be making another plum crisp from my frozen supply. I have lots of oatmeal I can use.

    The book is on hold for a week while we wait for some research answers. In the meantime, chores!

  14. Our utility bill sure won’t be frugal…bitter cold(windchill as low as -25), followed by snow. It was a long cold week. Thankfully, it hit mid 40s by the weekend, so I could turn off the heaters. I am glad I found that discounted space heater last week. Two of our old ones were spent by the end of the week. I offered them up as scrap on a buy nothing site, and were picked up quickly.

    I stayed home Monday and Tuesday from work, and the kid ended up being out of school all week.

    Used $12.50 in Petsmart rewards towards dog food I needed this week

    Returned a library book before its due date to avoid fines

    Turned out “No Fast Food February ” turned out to be a good thing because we don’t have the money to spend anyways, lol(even though I’m so tired of cooking)

    1. We have a van. You probably drive a car or a truck. It has to go through a smog check every year when registration fees are due in order to re-register it.

  15. Those beautiful blooms make spring not feel far away. There are daffodils here that look close to blooming. How wonderful to have been able to borrow a piece of equipment, and make progress on your garden. I’ve been trying to use up last year’s frozen winter squash, but what’s been left is a very strong tasting squash, I believe from an odd looking cross. I realized pumpkin/squash is a wonderful thing for dogs, and they like it, so I’ve been giving them a little with their dinner each night, and have finally started working on the squash in storage. I made a butternut crumble, and froze enough for 2 more of this recipe. That flavor is much more to my liking.
    Two of the squash were getting soft, and were given to the chickens, so all of the homestead is eating their share of squash. I started a batch of pine needle vinegar, which is high in Vit. C. A free greeting card was picked up at Hallmark, and I was given a small bag of cat food. Meals have been made with produce pulled from the freezer and pantry, and leftovers have been used up. I enjoyed several On Being podcasts, while packing orders. Most of our fruit trees were pruned, and fig cuttings shared with friends. http://abelabodycare.blogspot.com/2021/02/pine-needles-prunings-and-podcasts.html

  16. I also feel that every time I can save myself a trip to the store, I not only save on gas but on making impulsive purchases. You’re probably a lot better at that than I am, but as I know it’s a weakness, I just go to the grocery store once a month so that I don’t even have the temptation to buy other things not on the list!

    I’m really excited to see all your garden progress this year—you have done a TON!

    We’re getting into full-on garden mode here too, or at least seed-starting mode. We’re making our own seed-starting mix (equal parts coco coir or peat moss, vermiculite, perlite) rather than buying it premade (which will save us quite a bit in the long run), and then we’re growing everything from seed this year rather than buying them as plants from the nursery, as we have in years past.

    We also used our tax return to make some solid financial strides like investing some into the newly opened brokerage account we just made in December, and using some to pay extra on our mortgage.

  17. Brandy – those drift roses are amazing – such an intense colour – what a beautiful photo!

    First, I’m glad to read that some of those who comment from Texas have let us know how they are doing and while it can’t have been easy, at least you are all safe – I hope this is true for all the others who were hit by that terrible storm and that you will get Govt. assistance to get back up and running.

    Not a lot new happening here. Toronto will remain under it’s “Stay at Home” order for another two weeks at least so aside from grocery shopping and walking with friends there really isn’t much to do out of my apt. Our Winter has been relatively easy – although we have quite a bit of snow at the moment and more coming down as I write this. We are lucky that we are prepared and by the time I go out to the grocery store tomorrow I expect both the roads and the sidewalks in my neighbourhood will be completely plowed. I may not go out – it’s more to stock up on some offers rather than a real need but – I’m doing an online course for work all day Thursday and Friday so if I don’t go tomorrow it would probably be Sunday – I’ll think about it.

    Any shopping over the past couple of weeks has been to take advantage of some good sales and point offers to put things into the pantry or freezer = the only day to day purchases have been salad greens, tomatoes, bananas and milk. I’m finally making a bit of a dent in my freezer and have also been good at using up some pantry items that are getting close to their BB dates (although I will use them well after BB and have never had a problem).

    I’ve made a big pot of soup and a pot of chilli and made both muffins and a chocolate cake from mixes purchased ages ago. Some of each have gone into the freezer for later in the month. Aside from some hand laundry I haven’t been down to the laundry room in a couple of weeks. I might try to do a few loads on Wed. afternoon when it’s usually quiet but if I have to wait until next week I will manage.

    I’ve gone through quite a few library books the past couple of weeks and some more holds have arrived so I have lots of entertainment. I am also looking forward to a Zoom meeting with friends later this week and I’ve joined my church’s Zoom Coffee hour the past few Sundays so it has been nice to catch up with people. I noticed yesterday that someone has posted a lot of new episodes of the Antiques Roadshow UK on Youtube so if you are a fan, Season 43 from this past Summer and Fall are available. They were done with pandemic protocols in place so not the usual huge crowd scenes but they have still managed some great shows.

    I’ve gone through my finances and intend to have a very frugal year in order to pay off debt. If we do get to go back to the Art Gallery or Museum this year I’ll just purchase an individual ticket for a specific show and hold off on my membership renewal until next year – or – I will buy one membership (with guest privileges) and a friend will buy the other and that way we can share. With things still being done around Covid I don’t think I’ll be willing to spend much time indoors with others until more of us are vaccinated. If the theatres do open up again in the Fall then my subscription is already paid for – we had renewed last Spring so that money will just carry over to whenever they reopen. The only Summer clothes I intend to buy are a couple of pairs of shoes. I will just make do with what I have since so much of it went unworn last Summer. Even if things do open up a bit more I don’t anticipate returning to the office for more than about two days per week. Until we re-open the church to in-person worship and in-person events/concerts (which we don’t think will be before Sept.) most things can be done from home so that will just continue.

    Canada is behind on vaccinations and at the rate we are going I don’t anticipate being called until May or early June so I will just continue being very careful, enjoying walks in nature (saw a whole herd of deer in the cemetery last week) and if I am really lucky I will be able to get a haircut within the next month or so! It is amazing how much we have come to appreciate the small things – I hope it continues.

    Stay safe and well everyone.

  18. I used a Good Rx coupon to get my prescription for $27 instead of $67.
    While I was at the store picking up my medication, I purchased 2 2-lb blocks of Tillamook cheese on sale, as well as grapes and avocados and saltines on sale.
    I cooked all meals at home as usual and made whole wheat sandwich bread. I cooked one of the pumpkins I grew and made pumpkin pie bars and froze the rest of the pumpkin for future muffins. We read library books and watched free shows on PBS. For exercise, we walked our dogs. Just our usual frugal lives.

  19. -I had booked a Community Seniors’ Bus to take me up to the village office, where the staff had printed some government forms for me that I had sent by e-mail. (I normally get things printed at the library, but it is only open for pick-up of books.) You have 90 minutes between drop off and final pick up on the bus service, so on the way back to my place, I stopped at the bank and at the grocery store. At the grocery store, I picked up a 15 lb bag of potatoes that was on sale for less than half what I would have spent if I had bought them 5 lb at a time, which is what I can carry home when I am walking with some other groceries. I used a gift card from loyalty points, so there was no out of pocket cost for the potatoes. The driver carried them from the bus to my back door, for a little unexpected service. I was home in 30 minutes from when I set out.
    -I filled out the forms, which are for a government program for home repairs for seniors, and took them to the post office to mail that afternoon. (One of the forms needs an original signature, so it needs to go by traditional mail.)
    -This morning, I filed my income tax return. It was the first date that the Canadian tax service was accepting electronic tax files for the year. I should have a refund in two weeks.
    -On Tuesday, I made pancakes for Shrove Tuesday, and used a dollop of whole cranberry sauce as a topping on each pancake. Very festive and tasty! I thought it was a good way to use up a can that has been sitting on my shelf for a while, but I think I will buy some more the next time I see it on sale, because it is much less expensive than maple syrup.
    -Other than that, I’ve been cleaning out the fridge, getting rid of some really old condiments, and giving the compartments and shelves all a good wash. I’ve also been doing some organizing of the chest of drawers in my bedroom.
    -Most of these were things I have wanted to do for a while, as well as regular chores, so it is good to have some energy to get going on them. It has warmed right up above the freezing mark from 39 below C a couple of weeks ago, and it makes all the difference in the world to my energy levels, even though the house has been comfortable and warm. It is light earlier and the sun sets well after 6:00 pm compared to 4:30 in late December, which makes a huge difference to how much I feel like tackling as well.
    -I hope everyone is well, and getting through all the terrible weather there has been. I feel very lucky that although we have had extreme cold, these are conditions that we are equipped for and not generally a hardship.

  20. Hello all, my dad drinks coffee all day long and I’ve left it on warm. I used to only make one pot in the morning so it was getting a work out staying on all day. It wouldn’t come on the other day, but leaving it unplugged for awhile helped. Sonny gave me a stainless thermos. This worked great, I made a pot of coffee and it stayed warm for hours. Should save electricity and wear on the coffee pot.

    We were snowed in and ran out of a few things. One my dad’s favorite soft cookies. I ended up making peanut butter honey cookies. He liked these and they are cheaper than the chip ahoy I usually buy.

    Even when I able to go to the store I waited because they were so busy they ran out of a lot of stuff. I went yesterday and there was no bread, eggs, milk, butter and not much meat. Luckily I was stocked up on those items and what I did go for they mostly had. All except cookies, that section was cleared out also.

    Bought gas today, other thing I waited on. Had a dollar gallon off so filled up for $25, I used one of the grocery gift cards.

    Got a email about downloading the new monopoly app for chance at a $25 gc. The game starts 3/3/2021.

    Needed a frame for a poster but didn’t have one and didn’t want to buy one. Did have a damaged frame that was bigger. Honey cut it smaller and sanded off some of the damage. He then stained it a dark color. It looks great, used something I already had and didn’t spend anything.

  21. Hello, your flower pictures are lovely. Your site is always especially nice because of your photography. I can hardly wait to see your finished garden. The last couple of weeks have not been unusually frugal. My computer was giving me trouble last week, so my post did not work. We are blessed in that we missed the cold weather and the ice storms, so our heat bill will be lower than it would be. We are also blessed with a new fiber optics line in front of our house that we were able to connect to. This means our phone line no longer has a distinctive hum, and perhaps we will not have to be told repeatedly, “You’ll have to speak up.” Our internet speed will be much faster; we will have unlimited data and unlimited long distance calls. The cost is set and cannot be increased, and our bill will be $60 less per month. We had to buy a new modem, and we still don’t have one computer working with the new system. Someone said Windows 10 has this problem; I don’t know. The high speed still has not materialized, but is at least as fast as we had before. We won’t have to use a phone calling card for long distance calls. Our ancient dryer quit working week before last. It has been overheating for weeks. We thought about buying a new one that might be more energy efficient, but the roads have been slick. My husband took the old dryer apart and found a dead bird in the exhaust line and a broken belt. He replaced the belt for $20, cleaned the insides of the dryer out, and it works fine. He did watch a YouTube video a number of times to get it right. It no longer overheats. I dried more clothes than usual on hangers while he was working on the dryer. I use an extra shower curtain rod hung over the tub/shower in the bathroom to hang wet clothes on. If the clothes drip, the water drains into the tub. I bought the rod I have now at a thrift store. (I found that used spring-loaded shower rods usually have weak springs, so I would buy a new one, if I bought another one.) I always hang to dry on hangers the shirts and lightweight pants, but I usually dry towels, sheets, and heavy denim pants in the dryer, but this week I hung them all on hangers to air dry, so that probably saved some. When we drove into town to get the dryer belt, I plugged the cell phone into the car to charge and that way take advantage of a little of the electricity the car makes that is not used. I bought a couple of $1 plastic shoe boxes for organizers for one kitchen cupboard, and I found a new shirt and cardigan on clearance for less than $20. The cardigan will work with the dress I usually wear to church, so that will be warmer. I also found an embroidered cardigan for half price ($2.50) at a thrift store. I found a new, small Instant Pot for our daughter for $40 at the thrift store, also. Some time ago, I bought a larger Instant Pot on clearance at WalMart for $60 and gave it to our daughter. She says she uses it several times a week; she programs it to cook legumes, so she has something started for supper when she gets home from work, and she avoids buying convenience foods. She mentioned she would like another Instant Pot for simultaneously cooking grains. This small one will work well for that, I think. She is exhausted by the time she deals with sick people all day and commutes almost an hour each way. I also found a very lightly used popcorn popper to replace my husband’s old one that was overheating and melting the plastic top for $4 at the thrift store. My husband took it apart for me, so I could clean and disinfect the insides where the air blows from. He forgot how it was wired and had to watch a YouTube video to get it put back together in working order, but he did it. The top has a couple of small scratches, but otherwise the popper looks like new. One granddaughter, age ten, called on Zoom to show me that she got her “new” lace curtains up that we bought at Goodwill. She had a nicely done arrangement of Dollar Tree flowers that were part of what she asked for for Christmas on the dresser beside the window. She didn’t take the tags off the flowers, but I didn’t mention it. She told me she thought the new curtains looked “very elegant,” and of course, I agreed. I had washed the curtains for her, but she loves to iron, so she starched and pressed them. Her mother put up the rod for her. I wish I could thank the person who donated them originally. They made our little decorator very happy. Thank you for maintaining this blog. It’s so nice to read and be encouraged by everyone’s posts. I think we are all cheering on GardenPat’s son:) It is so great that families can help each other.

  22. I am so glad we saved a little so we can get through the next two weeks. My husband finally went back to work today. We are hopeful he will continue to get hours. We will continue to be frugal so we can get through any other low paychecks or lack of any. I’m catching up on laundry today. We waited during the cold weather last week to do most of our laundry. Trying to save money as well as do our part to help keep the power going on the the grid. We only turned on the light above our kitchen table where we eat and work on things. We utilized the sunlight from the windows to see and warm the rooms. We all wore sweaters last week. We also stayed at home. It is so pretty today, 61 degrees. That sure beats the -16 degrees it got to last week. I am so looking forward to gardening this year! We are being careful about what we buy. With the bills, our money is dwindling. I love having my husband around, but I am sure glad he is working today. Being able to pay the bills is great. We can’t live on what I make alone. He sure got a lot of things done around the house last week! Just glad to be warm and have food and water. I know we are blessed.

  23. I learned what smoging is. West coasters 🙂
    Had leftover spaghetti squash – so I followed a SkinnyTaste recipe for spaghetti squash and cheese (like mac and cheese). That was a delicious new recipe to try. I made extra beans and rice to have for lunches this week. Also made an Indian spiced pot of lentils and homemade naan for our “fake take out” night.
    There is a nut mix sold at the Dollar Tree, after price shopping bulk ingredients, it is actually cheaper to buy at the Dollar Tree than to make a bulk batch of my own. A pleasant reminder that some things are meant to be treats and something to look forward to. (I am highly motivated by food!)
    Was able to pick up 2 extra hours from a job that has cut my contract work down to 25% (it will stay cut until next year at the minimum). I will put those extra hours into savings.
    I picked up some grocery items for my parents to get them by a little longer before their next online order and was gifted with some homemade cookies (best mom ever!).
    Working out releases the endorphins and I get all sorts of inspiration from them. I have been doing the Leslie Sansone workouts in different rooms of the house, and afterward, a little extra decluttering or decorating (with things I have already) is happening.
    Hope everyone has a calm week!

    1. It’s probably a west-coast term! Maybe other people here call it something else; I don’t know! That’s what my husband calls it 🙂

  24. I’ve spent much of the last week caring for others. I made two dinners and spent two nights over at my mother’s home. My aunt has been staying with her, but she has been in the hospital and a rehab facility for nearly five weeks. My mother is afraid to be alone at night. Fortunately, I have two siblings who have taken their turns providing dinner and spending the night.
    Then my husband had ablation surgery on his heart on Friday. It was a very long day at the hospital. He is recovering slowly, a little better each day. So I have been caregiving for him too. My lower back went out a couple of days ago. It’s feeling a little better, so I’ve been stretching and taking some ibuprofen to ease the discomfort.
    With all that’s going on in my life, I haven’t had much focus to do too much except basic housekeeping, cooking, and laundry. I’ve done a little charity knitting too. I also worked a little on my part time job.
    We had snow, but not the terrific storms that hit Texas. I’m grateful for health, blessings, and the kindness of others.

  25. Long time reader, first time commenter! With my husband and I about to drop down to one income, I’ll have more time to focus on our home and budget, something I’m honestly really looking forward to. Budgeting is something I’ve always really enjoyed and we’re living between our means, there’s definitely some spots that can be improved signifigantly.

    This week I:
    – Cut my husbands hair
    – Picked up a half-finished knitting project that I started years ago (a beanie style hat) using supplies I already had
    – Used several Ibotta coupons for groceries I needed to purchase
    – Found a set of 6 glass bowls, in a size I’d been wanting, at Goodwill. They were originally $7.99 for the set, but pink tags were 50% off so I got them for $3.99
    – Watched several home improvement type shows on Hulu, as we have the free trial for a month
    – We ate out a couple times, which wasn’t great since we try to only do that once a week

  26. Not a lot to report, as this is my busiest time at work. I will be mostly retired at the end of March, so on the downhill slide. However, for now I am working 6 days a week – but still only about 40 hours. I am soon to be 67, and 8 hour days are just too hard on me. I am an accountant, so if my brain starts to feel tired, I leave. Luckily, I have wonderful employers.
    I brought breakfast to work all 6 days, and lunch 4 days. My DH had a small amount of unexpected cash come in, so gave me $20, but only if I promised to use it for lunch. (I have enough left to treat myself to 2 more lunches). Also, my office provides lunch for anyone who comes in and works on Saturdays.
    We finally got above freezing this last week, and this week is supposed to be in the 40’s. Absolutely balmy. 🙂
    I was able to get asparagus for 99¢ a pound. I love asparagus, and this is early for inexpensive asparagus for us.
    We did a small amount of additional shopping. Got another ham for 98¢ a pound. This one went in the freezer for Easter dinner. Also got cosmic crisp apples for 98¢ a pound. These were both at Winco. That is such a great deal on the cosmic crisp apples. They are usually $1.99 to $2.99 a pound. These were much smaller than the normal cosmic crisp apples, so that might be why they were less expensive. If you’ve never had one, you need to try them. Kind of sweet and tart at the same time, very juicy, and the texture is great. I was raised on an apple orchard in central Washington, so am very picky about apples.
    We had ham with roasted vegetables for our Sunday dinner, using the ham I bought about a week ago. I try to make a big meal on Sundays, and then the DH and I eat on it most of the week. Luckily, we don’t care if we eat leftovers a lot.
    Made a batch of focaccia bread. Started it Saturday evening, and cooked it on Sunday afternoon.
    Used eggs I got from a former neighbor, as well as some sausage, peppers, onions and mushrooms hanging out in the fridge to make a big batch of scrambled eggs.
    Made chicken tortilla soup, using black beans I had previously cooked and frozen (these were from our garden a couple of years ago), corn from our freezer and onions (both the corn and onions were also from the freezer. Used chicken broth I had made from our Costco roasted chicken from last week.
    Chopped a couple of onions from last year’s garden and put in a jar in the fridge. Then when needed, they are ready.
    Had popcorn for a snack one time.
    Did a little clean up of the kitchen counters and dining room table.
    Filed my taxes. I experiment with my own taxes when learning the new year’s tax program. Mine are very simple however. We have no mortgage, no self employed income, just very straight forward.
    Just a reminder for everyone – even if you don’t itemize deductions – for 2020 and 2021 there is a small (very small) deduction that can be taken on charitable deductions on your tax return. Be sure to look for it. It is for cash donations only. Not donations of non-cash items. That is something that was not well publicized, and might be easily missed.
    Hope everyone has a good week.

  27. Brandy, you rented a tractor! You never cease to amaze me as to what you are willing to tackle. I went to Instagram and watched your video. What is it about men and boys loving to play with big equipment? Your husband looked like he was having a blast.

    My money-saving this week was limited. I focused on eating out of the freezer in preparation for the electrical lines falling during the ice storm (which they didn’t, thank goodness). I was surprised how much food I had crammed in it. Then I caught cabin fever and had to get out of the house. Knowing the roads were impassable suffocated me so I had hubby drive me to the grocery to buy potatoes. It was the first time I have seen them on sale (a real sale price – 10 pounds for $3.00) since last year. That was my reason for asking him to do something so ridiculous. (I have canned, dehydrated, instant mixes, instant mashed potatoes, and 15 pounds of seed potatoes – but I still had to get out of the house and buy more!) Since we didn’t slide off in a ditch and have a huge tow bill, I guess it was fine. At least I got some pictures of the snowmen in my neighborhood.

    Next week I will have a list of wise cost-saving activities and not need to confess to my batty behavior.

    Jeannie@GetMeToTheCountry
    https://getmetothecountry.blogspot.com/2021/02/the-great-snowstorm-of-2021.html

  28. I stepped away from social media almost a month ago, as well as most blogs, videos, etc. I have continued to read here even though I haven’t commented. This week was much like many others. My husband is still laid off which means some things getting done at home and has me relearning how to work around him when we are both home. Homeschooling seems particularly difficult because the children just want to enjoy spending time with Daddy while he is home. He and the children played several games this week and allowed me a long afternoon to myself. I watched a DVD of The Donna Reed Show and just relaxed. No money spent, but it was a much needed break.
    ~We went to a local indoor flea market and were able to purchase a few things…a pair of brand new leather shoes for me for $3, some vintage kitchen canisters for $13 (I had been looking at the same ones on eBay and Etsy for around $40), and a brand new collapsible wagon that was $13 cheaper than buying the same one from WalMart. My husband and I had been talking about getting this wagon because our children have outgrown the double stroller and we thought this would be a good transition since we can still transport their “stuff” when they are big enough that they no longer want to ride.
    ~We set up a shelf in a little nook behind our bed so that we can store more bulk grains. We hung an inexpensive curtain over it so that we don’t have to look at it all the time,
    ~We have been working on transitioning to a healthier way of eating over the last few weeks. We have both gained a lot of weight through the 15 years we have been married and we want to be healthier and teach our children to be healthier, too. We thought it would cost a lot of money to switch to eating a lot more produce and a lot less processed food and carbs. We have happily found the opposite to be true and our grocery spending has decreased significantly! We have also had a bit of weight loss which is encouraging. In addition, this way of eating means no trips out to eat, which saves even more. In order to help with menu planning, we decided to theme each day of the week. Fewer last minute meals means a savings, too.
    ~We continue to burn wood to heat our home as we anxiously await the warmth of spring!

  29. What beautiful roses!

    It’s been a fairly frugal week. More sorting before baby, more decluttering, extra eating up the freezer and fortunately being pleasantly surprised by the contents. Making as many staples as I can before I’m due in a few weeks.

    Do you all have any favorite frugal ways of preparing for a baby’s birth? Making freezer meals is a given, but do you have any favorite ones? We’re having a fourth boy, so we’re pretty set for clothes and stuff, just hoping to bank some sanity for the weeks ahead!

    Oh, also, has anyone switched away from Target diapers to something new? Target’s were my favorite, but they keep on disintegrating on me. Not sure whether I just have an extra wiggly one year old or whether they changed something. Thank you!

    We’re organizing seeds, especially ones saved from home, and hoping to plant some violas in time to enjoy them outside. We happily received a lovely bunch of hand-me-down clothes, with a surprise inclusion of 6 boxes of Bob books and early readers!

    Wishing you all a lovely week. Thank you for the wisdom and inspiration.

    1. I don’t have any favorite freezer meals, but you could make a few soups from my soup recipes and freeze those! The last few births, I had my husband and oldest children cook. You could also buy something easy, like macaroni and cheese, that young children can cook, depending on the age of your eldest.

      1. Thank you, Brandy! I love your soup recipes and can just picture tossing a frozen one into a crockpot. My husband’s an excellent cook, so I’m sure I’ll be relying on him a lot, especially as our oldest is 6 – old enough to help, but still has some limitations. Thanks for the idea!

    2. You could make a lovely spaghetti sauce. My mother used to freeze it in a metal ice cube tray with dividers, taking the sections out an freezing in a ziplock freezer bag. Then if it’s for a small meal, only take out a few “cubes”.

      Also split pea soup would be good to freeze, too.

  30. Maybe not so frugal because I bought 90 of them but took advantage of 90% off clearance on Valentines books today at WM. Some are suitable for Easter, some for baby shower gifts and some I’ll save for Valentines 2022.

  31. I agree with shopping online. It saves time and money. It keeps you from impulse purchases and it’s safe! Our frugal accomplishments for the week were:
    *Meals made were farmhouse soup with cornbread, steak fajitas with homemade cheese sauce and corn, chili, london broil with mashed potatoes and wax beans, chicken orzo bake with wax beans and homemade bread, roasted chicken with sweet potatoes.
    *Colored my hair using 1/2 a dye kit.
    *Walked with a friend and alone.
    *Visited a thrift store and bought a sweater, a pair of khakis for my hubby, a Pampered Chef frying pan, an iron “Welcome” sign, two yard flags, two spools of ribbon, three pieces of fabric, and 45 Christmas cards for $16.
    *Made a farmhouse soup using nearly expired cans of white beans and tomato  sauce along with marked down smoked sausage and celery from the freezer, among other things. I also used a cornbread muffin mix that was nearing expiration.
    *Used an expiring peanut butter cookie mix and Hershey’s kisses from Christmas to make peanut butter blossoms. I ran out of kisses, so I also used white chocolate chips that have been hanging out in the freezer. On top of some of the cookies.
    *Made several loaves of bread.
    *Used a snow day to make food for the freezer – cheesy ham and scalloped potatoes, breakfast casserole, chicken orzo bake, bean burritos, red beans.
    *Used an expiring chocolate pudding mix along with cool whip to make chocolate mousse for dessert. Also used several expiring cake-in-a-mug mixes to make lemon cakes and blueberry muffins.
    *Accepted a breakfast sandwich and a free lunch at work.
    *Used a coupon I had received for a free meal at Arby’s. Split it with my husband when we were in town doing errands.
    *Cooked chick peas in the crockpot.

    1. I am very impressed with all your thrift store finds for such a small cost. Really amazing when you stop to think how much all that would have cost at full price, even at Walmart or somewhere that usually has lower prices.

  32. -Meals for the last week-leftovers several times plus, tomato tortellini soup and toast; barbeque pork ribs(cooked in instant pot for 25 min-then into the oven with barbeque sauce), baked potatoes, and steamed broccoli; 5 bean casserole and cornbread; and eggs, pork sausage, and hash browns.
    -Decluttering and organizing continues. Hubby is helping. We did our bedroom this last week. 2 boxes to go to Goodwill and another to go to my daughter to sell. Just need to clean the area rugs when it gets nice enough outside to do it on the deck.
    -Mending done. A chore that I don’t like to do but I try to do monthly. 5 pieces of clothing back in circulation.
    -List of meals made. I hang the list on the fridge, and pick from these. I don’t like to be tied to a meal for a certain day. I can choose a meal off the list knowing I have everything to make it. After 4 weeks I do another list, moving the meals I haven’t made onto the next list and adding more.
    -Made a nightgown from a top flannel sheet. The bottom wore out so used the top sheet. Used a pattern and thread I already had. So no out of pocket cost.
    -Warmer weather has arrived and the snow is melting! Spring is getting closer.
    Pretty quiet week. Have a great week!

  33. I live in the DFW area of Texas. I have lived in Texas all my life & had never experienced cold like we received. Our water & power stayed on but I noticed a broken pipe on Sunday. Hubby is cutting into an outside wall to repair it. All the plumbers are booked due to the damage from the winter storm. The cat tried to run out the front door to escape. He got to the edge of the porch, experienced the snow & frigid air. He turned on a dime & ran back inside. Captivity is not so bad.
    *We kept the heat on 62 degrees & used electric blankets.
    *I made chicken stock from chicken bones.
    *Found 2 stuffed bell peppers in the freezer. I thawed them, cut them up, & placed in marinara sauce to serve over spaghetti. We ate from the freezer. Some stores low on food.
    *Cooked great northern beans w/ ham bone in the crock pot.
    *We did go out one day in the 4 wheel drive to get tacos on Taco Tuesday. My school was closed for a week & I wanted to get out of the house for a little while.
    *Husband repaired some shoes w/ Shoe Goo.
    *Walked in bitter cold for exercise. (I wanted to see what 10 degrees felt like.) Not too bad with long underwear & wool coat, hat, gloves.

  34. What does smogging your van mean? Is this an emissions test kind of thing? (Apologies if this is already answered in the comments; it usually takes me a day or so to go through them all.)
    Last week,
    * I participated in a free Minnesota trivia night (through Zoom) hosted by the local parks district. It was fun and educational.
    * I had been really bored with a blank space on our wall and finally hung up a framed floral poster in the spot. I have had the poster (and frame) since college. Dug it out of our storage area last month when I was putting the Christmas decorations away and finally hung it up — using a hand-me-down hammer from my great-aunt and nails from my grandfather’s tool bins. (Both of them passed away many years ago.) It’s much prettier and cheerier now in that space!
    * For Shrove Tuesday/Mardi Gras, made an apple oven pancake using several of the apples in our fridge; we’ve accumulated a lot of apples through free school meals, Fare for All, etc. I used our apple peeler/slicer/corer, which is old enough that I had to screw the handle back in a few times — we’ve kind of worn it out with use — but it is so convenient to use when prepping apples for cooking.
    * I signed up during early bird pricing for a consignor ticket for my local spring Just Between Friends kids’ consignment sale, and started work on sorting through the clothes, toys, etc., my daughter sorted out that we’ll be selling.
    * I borrowed a jigsaw puzzle from a puzzle library set up by one of the members of my church.
    * I received my “big fat check” for the quarter from Rakuten.
    * We had two limes that came with the produce box from Fare for All last month. I used them to make lime meringue pie (we had all the other ingredients).

  35. I went to my daughter’s in Florida Valentine weekend. Her husband is working a contract job in a hospital in Oregon so I went to help her with my grandson. I stocked up on Conecuh bacon, which is made in Alabama and hard to find in grocery stores. I found 5 lb packages so I bought 25 lbs and then repackaged into smaller packages when I got home. I also went to the fish market and got 15# of fresh shrimp and 2 #of crabclaws. I went in World Market and found towels that match a shower curtain I have on clearance for $2.50 each. I will monogram them for our guest bath. https://www.instagram.com/p/CLh5xqnn92e/?igshid=171xqc20gxyda
    – We left a day early to come home because 5he ice storm was hitting North Alabama Sunday night. We were pretty much snowed in a few days with about 4″ of snow and ice. I had my pantry stocked and we have a generator if we lose power so we enjoyed the snow and time to stay inside. My dog loved the snow and cold weather.
    – I had frozen 6 crock.pot freezer meals a few weeks ago so I have been pulling out one about every 5 days. One thing I learned is you put all the combined uncookedingelredients in a ziploc and are supposed to just pull out and put in the crock pot. We’ll, when frozen you can’t get it out of the bag. So I have been putting it in the refrigerator a day ahead so it thaws. I used to make meals and then freeze to have quick.meals ready, and am not as happy with having cooked. I kind of feel I didn’t save time over just pulling ingredients when I want to cook it.
    -I made an extra roast last time and divided it into two freezer bags. I pulled one out this week.
    -We have two deer from this year so I have been using it, but not used to ground venison in tacos, spaghetti, etc. It isn’t bad, just something different/off. Chili was great. Any tips to get the gamey taste out of ground venison?
    – I cut husband’s hair
    – Mother in law got her 2nd shot. My daughter is an RN and got her 2nd shot and was pretty sick for 48 hours. My mother in law had no problems. I am glad MIL got hers, we have been extra careful with her living with us, haven’t gone to church or many places.
    – I mad toile bolster pillows for my kitchen chairs. https://www.instagram.com/p/CLILk8kHiQH/?igshid=n1los8l3yzux I got this Waverly fabric for $3.99 a yard.

    1. I had pillows from that toile in my living room for many years! I changed them out last year as they had worn through. You got a great price on that fabric!

    2. I always preferred venison mixed half with ground meat. But my mother used to soak meat overnight in milk to leach out some of the gamey taste. I don’t think she ever did that with ground, but it would be worth a try!

    3. Holly you need to add some ground pork to the venison. It is gamey and the texture is off due to no fat. Some people add 1/2 pork half venison, but you can certainly adjust the pork down and still get a better flavor and texture. Have fun experimenting!!

    4. Mix ground venison with ground pork up to about 50-50. You might want to use deboned pork shoulder (picnic roast) to get some fat since both pork loin and venison are so lean (dry).

  36. It’s citrus season here. We picked up free lemons put out on someone’s driveway and also received blood oranges from our Buy Nothing group. My girls made fresh lemonade today.

    I mended my husband’s wool sweater. It has been darned at the elbows before and needs it again. I buy 100% wool darning thread so that it felts as it washes and makes a really strong mend.
    My husband and I spent several hours investigating what we thought was a leak from the washing machine. It turns out the pipe that it drains into is leaking. At least we have saved ourselves an unnecessary washing machine repair visit.

    I continue to up-pot my seedlings. Some are big enough to go in the raised beds. I’m excited for the next round of kale, I still have mature kale I’m picking too. The collard trees continue to give us 3 meals worth of greens per week, for 4 people. I’m in awe every time I pick them.

    I’m making a happy birthday banner that was ordered and every time I make one it makes me so happy. We have our own banner up at home, we have 2 February birthdays.

    I’m finding that some of my clothes are wearing right out. They were all old anyway and now having not bought anything for this last year, they are really worn. One day this week I was having a rather challenging day and part way through I realized that neither my underwear nor socks would stay up. The elastic was completely gone. Once I threw those both away, the day really improved! I guess I can go too far in the frugal department.

    1. Kara, the mention of your underwear and socks gave me a chuckle. This is so me! And a change this small is such a big comfort.

    2. Kara, I had to laugh about the elastic in your underwear. Your story reminded me of the day my DH accidentally put his shorts on backwards. He says he was mean all day! (He discovered it at work, so I didn’t have to put up with him, LOL). What I want most is a new bra! The ones I have are all stretched out, faded, and I’ve lost some weight, so they are too big! Can’t wait for the stores to open their dressing rooms so I can get a fitting! I needed new bras when Covid hit, and now I REALLY need new bras. It won’t bother me a bit to part with the money for them.

    3. I smiled when I read about your worn out clothing. I always wear my socks until they are barely staying together. My mother-in-law used to tease me about my holey socks. I do get my money’s worth!

    4. Hi Kara,

      I sympathize with your problem — catastrophe was narrowly avoided when I was out in the front yard and all of a sudden
      gravity claimed my pants leaving basically naked. Fortunately, no-one was passing by on the sidewalk and quickly retreated inside.
      I’m looking forward to buying a few more pants.

      1. Oh Ann that made me laugh as I had an almost similar experience a couple of years ago after losing a lot of wait. I took it as a sign that it really was time to buy some new clothes!
        A friend of mine lost the elastic on her half slip as she was crossing a busy street and it fell to her feet – she stepped out, picked it up and finished crossing the road to a round of applause from the drivers who had stopped! 🙂

  37. This is just a hard season in my life, no matter how I look at it. I spent too much money, saved no money and made plans to spend a great deal more money. In the moment, I am so happy that I can cover everything without dipping into my savings. The puppy needs cataract surgery ,and the price knocked me out of my chair. I slept for 8 hrs in my car while my mom had surgery. I didn’t need to shop in the many stores surrounding the hospital. My doctor ordered my most expensive prescription in a higher dosage so I can cut it in half. That’s $50.00 saved each month . I also added the puppy to my prescription card at Kroger. Her $100.00 worth of vet drops were $18.00 at Kroger. Sugar cookie went birthday shopping w college girl. She chose several wanted items from Goodwill. I’m happy she has learned to look there first. She bought 8 Barbies, 2 nwt t-shirts and a DVD for $12.00. My many bedside hours by my mother are spent on my tablet. I’ve made several successful contacts w family members using free genealogy sites. My happy moment this week was receiving my MEDICARE card. It’s taken 7 1/2 years to get this all straightened out. Have a great week everyone.

  38. Brandy, I love the close up almond bloom. I’ve only seen pictures of almond groves. I don’t know what you put in your soup, but every version looked good.

    This week I had three firsts making one meal. I cut up a chuck roast for stew beef to make Instant Pot Beef Stew (www.sidetrackedsarah.com/instant-pot-beef-stew/#wprm-recipe-container-34334) with my new favorite knife that was in the $2 set that I bought at the outdoor Mega Flea Market in the fall. I cooked it in my pressure cooker/canner that I bought after we got married to can vegetables. I never used it for anything else like my Mom as it was just the two of us for a long time. I was most excited about the knife. I had looked up its use. It has little holes along the top of the blade which are supposed to cut out the friction when cutting meat or cheese. Its tip made cutting meat strips so easy that I cut up the roast in the container instead of on a cutting board. I had no idea what I had been missing and will not be without a knife like this again. I prepped meal before being gone all afternoon, and after dinner put it together to cook and freeze some. This was originally planned for the slow cooker.

    My husband had been getting extra hungry sometimes at work and was getting something from the machines (which he has never done). After talking about it I made cheeseburger sliders to freeze that he could take in addition if he needed it. Cold weather tends to make us all eat more.

    I have continued decluttering. I also made some appointments. I have spent time looking into a second opinion on the roof. We are getting a home inspector with an infrared camera and drone for any water damage, etc. that cannot be seen and a Haag certified inspector (recommended for court) for workmanship problems and cost to fix. I know what kind of attorney we may need. We walked the most we have in a while despite the cold. Sunday afternoon was sunny so we walked along the pretty, green river. We noticed driving home how the signs, paint on awnings and buildings looked so much brighter due to the ice sitting on them a day and rain afterwards. I am looking forward to the next two days in the 60s. My Mom used to tell me about how pretty and warm it was the day I was born.

      1. Thank you. It is 64 right now and totally sunny which is unusual. It would have been almost unheard of then. We got deep snows through February when I was growing up. Today’s call would have been “just like your birthday”.

  39. Love the flowers.

    Our week has been good so far. We had three birthday parties this past weekend and one this coming week. Total out of pocket costs for four gifts, wrapping paper/,gift bags and cards was $25. We received lunch, a swim, wine, drinks and a fun gymnastics class. This weekends party will be admission to a trampoline world, snacks and cake.

    Other than that I’m planning a big clean of our house and enjoying time with my family. Meals have been plain and simple due to work commitments. Macaroni and cheese, boiled eggs, wraps, sandwiches, cheese, fruit, yoghurt, lemon cake, vegetable barley and lentil stew on repeat and avocado on toast. We also had take away food for dinner one night using a coupon I had on hand. I got the children grilled chicken and salad on wholemeal wraps, green apple and a chocolate milkshake whilst I had a big beef burger! Delicious! Tomorrow for dinner we will have spaghetti bolognese as I have some of my homemade bolognese sauce in the freezer.

    Have a good week.

  40. I received my second covid vaccine yesterday and I am quite ill. I ended up taking the day off of work to rest. I’m feeling better as the day wears on. Im grateful for a free vaccine.

    I needed a new mop, and looked at home depot. They wanted 14 dollars and I just wasnt willing to pay that much. It was a good thing, too, because I found the exact same mop at kroger for 6 dollars (a libman wonder mop)

    My husband and I were expecting a tree service to come out and give us an estimate on taking down some limbs and to do some cleanup after the recent storm. They never showed up when they said they would, and wouldnt return our phone calls. We were annoyed, but we just put on our work gloves and winter gear and did it ourselves. It only cost us the fuel for the chainsaw, and we ended up with more firewood. It saved us the cost and time of trying to hire someone, although my back was not happy with me 😂

    All meals cooked from scratch, including cherry poblano pork chops, thai chicken skewers, mushroom alfredo, and peach baked oatmeal (using a can of peaches I had on hand).

    I’ve been doing my best to make sure lights are turned off and have gotten back in the habit of washing laundry in cold water to save money.

    It’s supposed to be 64 degrees here today! Spring is being a tease but I’m going out and enjoying as much as I can before the temperature dips down again. If I’m feeling better, I hope to go prune some roses today. Hope everyone has a lovely week!

    1. I have hard water in my house and use a product called iron out. It comes in a spray or powder and works great. Not sure that buying it would be cheaper than just buying a new box of paper clips. I might also try baking soda and vinegar…

  41. Hello Everyone!
    This past week brought some discoveries as we begin a hall bathroom remodel. It’s an original, nearly 50 year old, dilapidated horror. My husband is demoing it himself as a bid to demo and haul debris to the dump was $1500. Uh, no thanks. We discovered that our stucco house has no exterior wall insulation. That explains our high heating bills! At least we can begin insulating with this room while the wall is open.

    I’ve been glued to my sewing machine trying to complete a 9 patch variation quilt for my son’s birthday in a few days. It’s a project I began several years ago and it’s nice to get this crossed off my to-do list! I listened to audiobooks on Hoopla while quilting.

    Our high school sport cohorts are finally opening up. I’ll be carpooling with several other moms to save time and gas transporting kids to and from practice. They’re thrilled to finally have their first high school experiences.

    We had some turnips, kale and celery from our garden. I planted them in the fall. I’ve been hardening off some indoor starts which I’m planning to plant this weekend.

    In the kitchen I made whole wheat chocolate chocolate chip muffins for my kids which they enjoyed! I used some frozen, homemade pumpkin butter to make pumpkin cheesecake bars for them as well. Dinners included shrimp and Asian salad, soup and grilled cheese, baked chicken and asparagus, split pea soup with homemade wheat rolls, and turkey soup from bones.

    In CA we have to get a smog check every other year. It’s expensive, as is car registration.

  42. It’s not really funny, but the poor bird in the exhaust line for the dryer made me chuckle. No wonder it was overheating with a blockage like that! Pretty neat that he was able to use YouTube for repairs. I’ve used it before for a washing machine repair and helping with automotive repairs and it’s just so handy to be able to find information like that at your fingertips!
    I got a kick out of your little granddaughter wanting to do her own flower arrangement too. 🙂

  43. I agree with your thoughts on using our time wisely. It is a half-hour drive to a store of any size from our house. So if we run into town for something, it takes up the majority of a morning or afternoon by the time we are done. I try to consolidate errands as much as possible to save time and gas money.
    Our week was mostly about our kitchen makeover. It is costing money, but the cosmetic changes we are making are much less expensive than tearing out the entire kitchen and starting from scratch. I’m enjoying the challenge of making it work with what we have.
    I am still only buying dairy and produce at the store. The pantry and freezer are emptying out enough that they will be easier to inventory and organize. I am glad the kitchen is back together enough to make cooking and cleanup easier. I’ve noticed I like having less “stuff” on the counters, so this is leading to a major declutter/organization of the kitchen, which has been needed for quite a while.
    Details of our week are on my blog at http://thebudgetinggranny.com/savings-and-goals-journal-34/

  44. We had a good week.
    My husband cut his own hair.
    He had more points earned from a reward program at work so I asked if we could choose a blender and/or air fryer. He checked the program and we were able to get a really good blender (Blendtec) and the air fryer with his points. I’m always so grateful for his hard work but this week I’m especially grateful for how appreciated he is by his coworkers, bosses and company that he earned all these reward points. We’ve already had fun with the air fryer!
    We are still very careful because of covid, so we don’t go many places. We did enjoy a church zoom activity where we played games and enjoyed other members for a little while. I didn’t think I’d like it, but I gave it a go and actually had fun.
    I crocheted a sweater set for a newborn with yarn I already had.
    Meals included naan pizza, tacos, salad with chicken and egg roll in a bowl. I made s’more brownies by just using a generic brownie mix and adding half a cup each of chocolate chips, mini marshmallows and crushed graham crackers. Next time I’ll add more graham crackers and leave then chunkier. But it was still a nice treat.
    A friend dropped off some Crumbl cookies left over from an event for us. That was also a super fun treat.
    We are so grateful to be warm and safe. Blessing to all that have been suffering during these bad weather times.

  45. Praying for you all recovering from the snow and ice in Texas and surrounding states. What an incredible mess and the freezing temperatures, I thought how fortunate the rest of us were to have heat and running water. It got me thinking what else we need to do for prepping for disasters. My husband and I discussed it over a free lunch out to celebrate his birthday from two weeks ago. We decided to get some more flashlights, matches, lighters and propane heaters. I would like to get a gravity fed water filter, I may start setting money aside for that.

    I have been very blessed to find lots of marked down produce and meat. I pop into the store near my daughter s couple of times a week. I found packages of turkey smokies for .50# and got 8 packages. Today I got 6# of ground turkey that expired today for $1#. I came home and cooked it all up for tacos. I found organic bananas for .15# and having been drying and freezing them. There were grapes for .33# marked down and I got 6# of those. My freezers are filled up and I am thankful we can share with family who are struggling.

    Work has been hit and miss due to families that I work for having had covid for several weeks going through 6-10 people. I told the Lord you always provide, it is in your hands. I have had requests for 6-10 extra hours a week, and have seen the Lord provide once again!

    Thankful for all of you, and Brandy for your work to make this all possible.

  46. Mostly just going to work and coming straight home for me. For a little bit of free fun, I have been going hiking with a friend and ice fishing. My little one likes to fish and theres no cost for a license for her in my state since she is under 12. Havent caught any fish we could keep, but being out on the ice has been fun !
    I continue with my French learning with the free version of Duolingo. I am considering buying a PBS passport membership. The shows I want to watch never seem to be available for free (certain episodes of Nova and Nature, the Ken Burns documentaries)
    I realize PBS puts recent episodes up for free for about a week – but those are not the ones that spark my interest.
    Have a great frugal week everyone ! Thanks Brandy

    1. We got Passport for “free” in exchange for a minimum $60 donation to Idaho Public Television. I know it is similarly available in Oregon. If you are already a donor in your state, check to see if you can get it. Registering for Passport–at least here–is a separate action from donating, IOW you don’t get it automatically when you make a donation. Since I am very hit or miss with TV, I can’t be depended on to know something is even on for the first 3 weeks. Passport has just about everything PBS has done for the last few decades.

  47. Very thankful I was able to book my Mum’s Covid vaccine this a.m. for Saturday. Just back from a filling at the dentist-not as expensive as I expected. Insurance paid 160 and I paid 140 and the dentist and her assistant did spend about 1 hr with me-and of course boatloads of sterile equipment. Going to relax now for the rest of the day.

  48. My utility bill will be $500 for the month — way up due in part to our cold spell and increased use of natural gas. Had to pay more for snow removal too. Because of my permanently damaged arm, I cannot shovel. I’ll be living off my pantry for most of March but at least we are probably past the coldest days. I am thinking of getting a pbs passport since I think Canadians can get PBS on internet now. I think you can pay$5 per month for it. I sorted out my telephone bill and then renegotiated my telephone bill, internet and tv package. I was worried that with the expiry of my internet package, it would go up to the regular $85 per month for internet but negotiated keeping it at $50 for unlimited usage. In addition my landline phones will go down by $11 per month. My tv still needs to be renegotiated but since my tv hasn’t worked I may give it up unless it can be repaired.
    So, all in all, a good renegotiation.

    Now to figure out how to pay the utilities bill.

  49. My husband purchased a phone from TING last July. He had one problem after another with it and called tech support a number of times. We weren’t too worried though, because it was warranted for a year. Finally, it would not even hold a phone directory and we threw in the towel. Husband called and they refused to accept the phone back, saying it had to be returned within 30 days of purchase. Husband’s reply was “How is that a one year warranty?” They continued to insist they gave a one year warranty but could not accept it back for repair or credit. Husband, in an amazing display of patience that I did not know he possessed, spoke calmly to them for over an hour presenting his case. No dice.
    We opened a grievance/complaint with our credit card company, and lo and behold, today we got an email from TING saying “keep the phone, we’ll credit you $96.00”. Apparently, Citi Bank holds a little more sway with them than we do as individuals.

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