I have not been receiving the personalized Smith’s grocery store coupons in the mail for several years, but right after finally getting my app working with my account, I received a packet with coupons for several items!

I stopped by Smith’s after taking my daughters for their second Covid shots nearby so as to save time and gas. I received a coupon for a free jar of peanut butter (which I picked up). I used a coupon for $0.40 off two heads of iceberg lettuce (my husband and one daughter prefer this kind), one for $0.50 off of 2 pounds of grapes (they were on sale for $0.88 a pound; I won’t have many grapes, if any, from the garden this year, so I bought them as a treat), and a $1 off my favorite Lindt candy bar (which was on sale for $2.50). I also picked up some ice cream on sale for $3.99 a gallon.

I decided to sow a variety of old seeds in the garden. These are rather old (some more than ten years old) and may not germinate, but if they do, then it will be wonderful! I also planted some free seeds that were a gift with purchase from a past seed order. I sowed old seeds for pumpkins, peanuts, zinnias, basil, watermelon, chives, and borage. I also planted new seeds for zucchini. As of today, from these seeds, I have zinnias, basil, and zucchini up so far in the garden.

I am looking at ways to fit in more plants in the garden. Some spaces I left a bit open in my design. For this year and a few more years, the trees are small, and I have more sunlight than I will in the future, so I can plant differently this year and for the next few years than I can once the trees grow in and shade the planters more.

Later this summer, my husband and I plan to visit my daughter and her husband. We are planning to fly and had looked into car rentals after buying airplane tickets. We were shocked that prices in that city started at $400 a day (not including insurance and fees), and most places didn’t even have anything available at all. It would have been almost $2000 to rent a car for the weekend, which was not something we were willing to pay. We began to wonder if we needed to cancel our flight and spend the two days driving it would take to get there and back.

We were looking for alternative ideas when a reader commented last week about Turo, a car-sharing option where you rent from individuals. We found one car for $108 a day and decided to rent that (for a total of $524). For some reason, our bank decided this might be a fraudulent purchase and wouldn’t allow the transaction to go through. I decided to wait a few days and try again after the weekend. Once we did, my husband decided we could try paying with his card instead to see if we had better luck. He got on to find the car, only to see another listed at half the price with no charge for delivery to the airport (the other driver charged $60). He put in our times and noticed it was charging us for four days, and realized that the days were counted by the time you started and returned the rental. We had three hours past the 24-hours, so it counted as another day. He adjusted the times and got it to show three days. We will just spend a little more time at the airport and will rent a car for the weekend for $217 total.

I read two library books: Words on Fire, about the struggle to keep the Lithuanian language and culture alive after Russia outlawed it, and Resistance, about the Jewish Resistance during WWII in Poland.

My deal from last week did not work out (it was sod on clearance; the manager refunded our purchase completely). We bought it on the manager’s advice and it ended up with dead spots throughout. We took it out today. We will try again, but only with fresh sod. It had just been too many days since it was cut. Had it worked, it would have been a savings of $110.

What did you do to save money last week?

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  1. -I am in the last few days before my monthly pension payments come in. However, I am enjoying blueberry pancakes for breakfast. I made a big pot of broth from a couple of ham bones that were in the fridge freezer, and am adding pasta and bits and pieces from the fridge and freezer to make soup for lunch, and have had a hamburger patty stretched with onions and beans, or chicken with rice and vegetables for supper. I also have been making homemade tortillas for eggs, and have a bowl of blueberries from the freezer as a snack.
    -We are down to one co-vid case locally, and provincially all restrictions are scheduled to be lifted July 1, so I’ll add a couple of outings to my schedule. I missed the local farmer’s market, which is indoors, last year, and the library in the next town over, so occasional visits to each of those will likely be the things I’ll add first.

    1. Elizabeth, in my town there is a local food bank that helps Seniors and those on fixed incomes tide things over by providing food boxes,I wonder if that is available in your town/ Here, a couple can make up to 80,000 and still qualify to receive food. Our grocery stores fill up our bank with SO MUCH FOOD sometimes they have to much and try to get people to come in and yay take some. Just a thought.

      1. Madeline,

        Yes, there is a food bank in town just a block or so away from my house. There is no qualifying necessary other than to show you live locally. Its primary sponsor is actually the grocery store that I shop at, along with supplies of potatoes and carrots from the local Hutterite colony. I haven’t felt the need since I started to follow Brandy’s blog, since I find I have enough ingredients at month’s end to put together some good meals, though sometimes different than what I would make for myself earlier in the month. I have started to visit there sometimes to pick up surplus bread and other baked goods, since they have enormous anounts extra that get sent to feed pigs if they are not picked up by local people!

        I do keep it in mind as a possible back-up, and I know that if I were sick, the woman who runs it wouldn’t hesitate to drop off a box at my door to keep me going. The blessings of living in a very small town.

    2. I like hearing how you stretched food at the end of your pension. I use to have a lady on a group I belonged to who shared her creative menu plans at the end of the month they only shopped once a month they had gotten in to that habit when her husband was in the military and only got paid once a month I miss her creativity with stretching what they had.

      1. Anna,

        I usually have a reasonable supply of food at month-end, but not always my favorite foods. In months where things are leaner, though, I really do enjoy seeing what meals I can put together from what I have on hand. Quite a few end up in my regular meal plans after I experiment with them.

  2. This weekend my son and I went to the Naples Botanical Garden for free as library card members. It was beautiful. About an hours drive. We packed a cooler, and did stop at McDonald’s on the way home. It was $19.99 for two adult meals. It was definitely a treat. The third time we have eaten out in the last two months.

    We continue to mow our lawns which is very labor intensive in SWFL. We mow about 4 to 5 days a week, and as soon as we’re done, it could use a little more mowing.

    A neighbor offered to hang two bathroom medicine cabinets for me. This was about 4 almost 5 years in the making. I wish I had done this sooner. It upgrades the entire house. I also spoke to the neighbor about fixing the soffits on my roof which he said he could do and would look into purchasing azek material, which is plastic shaped to look like wood. It is a better long term solutions for the corners of the roof which suffer water damage in my climate over time.

    1. McDonald’s is that much now?!?!!! Wow! I haven’t been there in over 25 years (and worked there as my first job). Just shocking.

      The botanical garden sounds wonderful! I would love that!

      1. $10 is for a meal – a sandwich, fries and drink. You can still get $1 or $2 deals – and around here they have a $2 special with fries and a McDouble.

        1. Thank you. It amazes me that fast food has gotten so high. I can feed my whole family for a few days for $10.

          1. My son gets a $5 combo with coupons occasionally when he hangs out with friends. I always give him the coupons and he keeps them in his car.

      1. Patsy, it was our first time and we’ve lived here for about 10 years now. My son and I talked about visiting in winter so it would be more pleasant to walk around and enjoy. I will have to look out for when they have their holiday lights out too!!

        Brandy et all, I’m not sure about the cost for McDonald’s because Naples is such a high cost of living place, I think the menu may have been higher than the same restaurant an hour away. I didn’t see a single special or deal on their menu boards either. Which forces you to pay full price instead of maybe getting a few dollar menu items.

        A co-worker later mentioned to me that McDonald’s has an app and how the app will offer you a free sandwich with a $1 purchase periodically. But unless I am at the store about to purchase, I sometimes find the apps to be enticements to get you to go more when you normally wouldn’t. I can honestly say I felt the price was too high.

        1. I’m in the DFW area of Texas (in a major downtown metro area), and McDonald’s is not that high here. You can get combo meals starting around $5. It must vary by area and the general COL.

  3. Two weeks ago I received some good ideas to keep birds and bugs out of our strawberry patch. We finally came to the conclusion that the chipmunks and squirrels were getting the nearly ripe berries. A quick internet search indicated a combination of hot pepper and dish soap in a spray bottle with water can keep animals away from the berries. So far, we are now getting ripe berries so it seems to be working. Our other vegetable plants are now taking hold and growing well so I hope we have a good crop.

    I have been stocking up since our Covid benefits will be ending soon. Prices are noticeably higher and I am being very careful to read the sale flyers carefully to get the best prices on items we need. My mom is very kind to pick up the specials at the store she shops at. I also pick up food items from the buy nothing group when they are things we will use.

    I hope everyone has a wonderful week and that the southwestern states receive some much needed rain.

  4. On one of the local buy nothing sites, someone was giving away a variety of items. One thing she had was Hot Tamales candy (my favorite) I asked if I could have two and could pick up quickly and she gave me 4 10oz bags. I’ll have candy for awhile.

    I froze strawberries before they went bad, probably about a pound. We had been eating them for weeks and finally had our fill.

    My mom sent over a jar of pizza sauce, a jar of sweet and sour sauce, 2 boxes ice cream bars, and half a gallon of chocolate milk

    Purchased 8 doses of flea meds for the small dog and cat for $35 each at Sam’s. Ill use 4 doses this year, then 4 next year(I only give flea meds June-Sept)

    I looked online how to repurpose open hand sanitizer for other uses(not sure why it was open, we don’t use it). I used some of it to get some marks off walls.

    I did a product test for Ibotta for Ranch and Bacon Suddenly Salad. I received product to try and received $10 in my account for doing the follow up survey.

    Sold two pairs of soccer socks for $5(paid way more but at least they are gone. Now if only I could sell the cleats)

    The water pump for my husband’s boat ended up being $62, but he watched YouTube videos and changed it himself.

    Father’s day was low key. My mother in law came in because my husband’s birthday is also this week. My 14yo cooked lunch, the 21yo purchased computer fans and a new hard drive for him, and I got his favorite pie and ice cream from the store.

    Not so frugal: It was hot, hot, hot and one of our window AC units decided to quit. Unfortunately , we had to replace it. We put half of it on our Home Depot card and paid for half in cash(bonus, it also has a heater so hopefully it’ll cut down on how many space heaters we’ll need)

  5. What a delicious bouquet! For someone who completely tore up their garden, you sure do have a lot of pretty posies!

    I lost quite a few plants over the winter, including most of my foxgloves and all of my mums. Since foxgloves seed around all over the place, I asked a good friend for some of her seedlings. Foxgloves and columbines are tricky to transplant because they have a taproot, but she gave me about 2X as many as I wanted in case some don’t make it. Then she gave me 5 canning jars, and I didn’t even ask, LOL!

    Besides planting, I also repaired and added some drip irrigation lines using (and sometimes reusing) parts I already had.

    My garden kneeling pad split. I glued it back together and reinforced it with duct tape. I kind of doubt that this will be successful–at least for very long–but a cheap and easy fix is always worth a try.

    I washed my comforter at the laundromat for $6.50. I spent another $2 to dry it enough so it wasn’t so heavy and drippy wet. Now I have it draped over the patio furniture to finish drying.

    I got my first picking of strawberries Tuesday–a little over a pound. Saturday, I picked 5 lbs., 10 ounces! I made a batch of freezer jam and a glazed strawberry pie (my mom’s recipe–she wasn’t the world’s greatest cook, although she thought she was–and this was the only recipe I ever asked her for!).

    Don’t mean to hijack the comments, but I haven’t been able to find the answers online. Please feel free to delete this, Brandy. I’m appealing to readers who have experience growing strawberries. Mine are planted in a raised bed that contains a lot of homemade compost. Compost settles over time, and the bed needs about 4 inches more soil and compost. I will have to take all of the plants out and start over. Nothing I have found online addresses this, and it begs several questions. So, what is the best time of year to do this–after harvest, fall, or the following spring? Also, should I replant the current plants (which are only 3 years old), start new ones with runners, or some combination thereof? Runners appear later in the summer, so they would only be viable in the late summer and fall.

    Articles about renovating strawberry beds never discuss taking everything out and starting over, which is my biggest question. They also direct you to begin a week after the berries stop bearing, and I won’t have runners that early. Any tips and tricks? What kind of harvest should I expect next year (these are June-bearers). If anyone knows about this, thank you for any and all help–I appreciate it!

    1. Maxine, this tiny bouquet is in a sugar bowl. I could cover the whole thing with my hand 🙂

      Yes, you probably have to start over on the strawberries (though you could replant your existing plants and runners). Make sure to compact the new soil. Walking on it helps, but a compacter is even better. This is why we rented a compacter. I am still concerned that ours will fall as it is half wood chips and half sand. I also added manure to it, but it’s not enough. It really needs compost to become good soil. That will take time.

      1. LOL about the size of the arrangement! It really does look large and luscious! (OK, it’s tiny–but still luscious).

        Any idea what time of year to re-do the strawberries? That’s the big question. I realize that the months will be different, since I’m in zone 6B and you’re in zone hotter-n-hades, but are you thinking right after the season, OR what for us is fall (8-9 months before they bear) OR just when they start growing again the following season?

        Thanks for the tip on compacting the soil. I’m sure I can do something with body weight and a scrap of plywood. I wish I’d thought of that 3 years ago!

        1. I think fall from what I have read, but I am in no ways a strawberry expert. I bet you can find something online if you search.

          A tamp can help compact the soil. You need to tamp hard. A compacter is better but heavy and hard to use.

          1. Hi Brandy,
            I’ve always read that compacted soil isn’t good for plants. Is it something you have to do there because water doesn’t settle the soil?


            1. As a general rule, yes, this is a problem. However, if you bring in a load of all-new soil to your garden, it’s fluffy like whipped cream. Once it loses air, it falls. Part of our backyard garden, which we drove over with a large backhoe when we first put it in (to compact it) fell TWO FEET after 7 years. If your trees fall two feet, and your irrigation system falls two feet, you have, as we had, major problems. In the front yard, we used a compactor (in 2014), and the garden has not fallen, and the trees have done well. There have been no breaks in the irrigation system. So for new beds, I would highly recommend it. If you build a raised bed, I would do it there too. In our raised beds, I’ve seen it fall a foot in two years even after we all walked around all over it. You can’t add soil over tree trunks; you will smother the tree to death. So in a new bed, yes, I would compact it, especially where there is something permanent. If you’re growing just vegetables that are all going to be harvested in fall, then you can add new soil on top every year. When you have something that stays for years, you can’t do that.

        2. I am not a strawberry expert but have grown them for several years in zone 6A so maybe this will help. I have everbearing plants, though, so take that into consideration.
          If I have room in the bed, I let the runners go, sometimes training them in the direction I want and push the little plant that comes up along the stem into the soil a bit. They always root with no problem, I have found.
          When I have had to move them, I have done so in the Fall. They seem to appreciate the winter to get settled in their new home or in their new soil. I have hoops over the top of them and cover them in the winter when it snows or is icy. I have friends who do not do this, however, and their berries seem fine. Just me being overprotective, I guess. In my very wet climate (mountains of Western NC) the big thing is keeping them from getting soggy so the more mounded the soil, the better. The best strawberries I have ever seen was at an organic farm a few hours from my home. They grew them in raised rows with the black plastic and they were constantly covered on top by plastic that was held up with those wires that look like croquet wickets. They were open on the sides but covered from the top so they never actually got directly rained on. I might try this some day but, for now, my method of keeping them mounded in their beds and moving the berries around a bit so they are not on the ground helps a lot. I would think your plants will appreciate their soil being higher so they don’t sit down and stay wet. Maybe try it this Fall and see what happens? Best of luck!

    2. I am interested in all the comments of people paying money to dry clean or launder their comforter’s. I don’t have that expense as I use a duvet instead-and just wash the cover in the regular laundry-easier to make the bed in the morning too.

      Not sure what I have done to be frugal this week but I did take two day trips to the mountains rather than overnight so just the cost of gas. I had planned to overnight with my Mum and pay for the hotel but she was not feeling well so that was a saving. The Icefields Parkway was not busy and there were lot’s of vacancies at the hotels. The businesses must really be hurting with few ,
      if any, international visitors in the national parks for the second summer in a row. Since the US border is still closed and we cancelled our Europe trip I figured we might as well enjoy the sights closer to home. My National Parks Pass expires at the end of June so I decided to use it more often and then renew it a bit later. We have 5 beautiful National Parks within a short drive-Banff, Kootenay, Yoho, Jasper and Waterton.

      Brandy I am glad you are able to visit your daughter and that you found a reasonable price for a car. I just booked a flight for my daughter to fly back from Toronto-Calgary in August for my husbands surgery. The price was only $115 which is about 1/3 the normal cost for high summer so I was very pleased-it would cost at least that much for gas for the 2700 km drive-not to mention hotels and food. Speaking of DD she will be here for a few days the first week of July-I was able to book her second Covid shot and a dental apt. As she finishes uni at the end of Dec she will only be on our dental plan until then. We also applied for student loans/grants for the fall but have not received the amount yet. Wishing everyone a good week.

      1. Yes, we were looking at gas prices and days driving and while it is nice to have only one vehicle to maintain and register, a large van that fits our entire family with strong towing capacities gets very low gas mileage, so we decided to avoid driving there and save the time if we could. We both have our shots, so I feel comfortable with us flying there.

        1. I just used Turo for the 1st time in Florida. It was much cheaper than the brand name companies like Avis, Hertz, etc. My girlfriends & I rented a 2019 year SUV for 5 days for 232$ to take a girls’ trip. I used hotel points to pay for the hotel so it was an economical treat.

    3. Hello Maxine, I have revamped our strawberry beds several times. Wait until fall and then take them out and replace with some of the older plants and lots of the runners. I take out some runners every fall and either plant somewhere else in my garden or give them away. I live in zone 5b. I know that MI Gardener on youtube has videos about this since that is where I learned how to manage mine. Hope this is helpful for you.

      1. This is VERY helpful! Exactly what I need to know! Thank you, thank you, thank you! (I will check the You Tube, too).

    4. Maxine,
      You may have already checked out this source for plant information, but I thought I would mention that the extension offices (in the U.S.) have information about growing specific plant types. When I took the Master Gardeners class I found they had some detailed and extensive pamphlets about growing different berries. I thought the information came from our state land grant university, but the US Dept. of Agriculture (USDA) may have been the source of the information I saw at that time, also. Just an idea. Our farm extension office also works with local small farmers who need expertise about specific things.

    5. I grow strawberries in raised beds. I fill in (around the plants) in the spring. I transplant Runners in the spring or fall. Depends on their roots. I sometimes to do a sandwich bag with water on the runners to form roots a type of hydroponics. I am in OHIO. You could call your local nursery and as them the best time to transplant in your area. I don’t transplant the “mother” plant after 2 years. Mature plants usually only produce the berries 2-3 yrs.
      Hope this helps

    6. I feel you with the ground dropping. I need to redo some raised beds for this very reason.

      I live in strawberry country. For your strawberries, I’d direct all your runners into pots and get those going that way, so when you are ready to plant (after you’ve redone your bed) you’ll be set with a bunch of transplants ready to go. Don’t feel too bad about ripping out the mother plants, commercial growers pull them every 2-3 years because they start producing less after that. Many set their rows up with spacing every other row, so eventually you are pulling and starting new plants from mothers every year or two. This is what I do too.

      I also have some in “strawberry pots”. If you do that, the trick with them is to put an irrigation pipe down the center with drilled hole so it waters evenly to each opening. That’s the right way to do, so of course not what I did. I put the empty cardboard roll of a paper towels down the center and filled it with pea gravel because I had it on hand. This distributed the water perfectly. It lasted about 4 years till I replanted this year because those sunk after awhile too, but I was fine with it because they needed younger better producing plants anyway and redid them the same way.

      Good luck!

  6. I love Smith’s—I’m super sad we don’t have one near where we recently moved to (although rumor has it that one is likely in the works in the county over the next year!).

    Excellent tip about the car renting service—I had never even heard of that, but I’ll definitely be looking into that next time we go on a vacation and need to rent a car!

    As for saving money, I’ve:

    *drastically cut down on trips to the grocery store this month and have made do with things at home (which is how I found out that plain yogurt mixed with a little milk is an EXCELLENT substitute for buttermilk if you don’t have any!)
    *had a simple birthday party with grandparents here at our house for my son, who just turned 3. We did get him a few things, but all in all we kept expenses low by making the dinner ourselves from things we had on hand, making our own cake (and buying some inexpensive ice cream), and just filling up the kiddie pool for the fun.
    *cancelled one of the last of our subscription boxes (even though I have looooved it) so that we could allocate that money towards our other financial goals (like paying down the mortgage as fast as possible)
    *bought some supplies for my business (of flower farming) and future Christmases/birthdays from an estate sale at a steal — scads of ribbon, two huge totes of various rolls of wrapping paper, and other miscellaneous wrapping supplies for just $15!

  7. On Thursday I cooked up 10 pounds of the ground beef I got on sale over Memorial Day for $1.79/pound. After it cooled, I put it into my Kitchenaid with the batter paddle to break it into a more uniform crumble. Then measured 2 cups for each ziploc freezer bag. This is a bit less than 1 pound per bag, but no one here notices that so it stretches my meat!

    Found a box of pie crust (I know I should DIY pie crust but it, like making jello successfully, is way beyond my capabilities! Many have tried to teach me their “never-fail” recipes and methods and just as many have left afterwards muttering under their breath with me no closer to success!) To use up the piecrust, I made a chicken pot pie using a pint of my home-canned chicken and making the sauce from scratch! Quick, easy, cheap meal for me to make and even with our college granddaughter living with us for the summer, we will still have 2 filling meals from the one pie! Plus, it’s rotating my food storage!!

    Yesterday I went in search of a zucchini plant or seed for my garden. Even the big box chain hardware stores were out! So I went to a little family-owned local nursery that has it’s own greenhouses on site where it grows many of their plants.
    Not only did they have my zucchini in 6 packs, but all their veg plants were half off and if you bought a flat of 12 (mix and match) punnets, it would just be a flat $10. That could be a total of 72 plants if you got the smaller ones. I bought (6) six packs and (6) 4” pots. I spent $10 for 42 plants and this morning I got them all planted in my garden! This afternoon and overnight it is due to rain so the timing is ideal! I planted 10 kale (2 different varieties), 6 capsicums (peppers), 5 zucchini and 12 bush cucumbers. I am giving one daughter a six pack of butternut squash and another one will be given a zucchini plant and 2 kale. The amount of produce for now and later that these will produce will pay for that $10 spent many times over! Other parts of the country are experiencing drought conditions and uncertainty about their crops. We are blessed to know that we will, at the very least, have a bountiful harvest of produce that is native to our area. It might mean that we will be eating “local” rather than foods that come to us from different climates. Plus, gardening has been so therapeutic for us and brings us joy.

    I started picking the first ripe raspberries and blueberries -it looks like we will have a good harvest from them this season. The huge amount of blackberries on my bushes are just getting bigger but not ripening yet.

    I added a Chicago fig tree in a whisky barrel to our edible landscape last Spring (2020). It overwintered here in Ohio without my covering it. I thought it was a goner. But this year it has tripled in size and I’m thinking that if I cover it this winter, it will do even better! I’ve found several tutorials free on YouTube showing how easy it is to get new fig trees from cuttings! This past year, we’ve learned, as you have, how to propagate new fruits/bushes from existing ones which have increased our number of plants and also given us a side income from selling extras! It’s also a fun activity for Hubs and I to share!! We plan to continue this!

    I bought a sausage breakfast burrito ($1) from McDs to analyze since I have cooked and crumbled DIY breakfast sausage in the freezer I want to use up and tons of eggs, peppers and tortillas on hand too! Too simple!! Hubs will never want for one of their tiny sausage breakfast burritos again!! Lol!! The “research” burrito was the last one of theirs that he will eat! Sometimes it’s worth buying something to use as research to discover how to DIY the same thing in the future! I’ve done it with foods, clothing and many other home goods!! Do you ever do that , Brandy, or do you know intuitively how to replicate something you see but don’t want to spend money on?

    If there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s that I exercise much more creativity and enjoy the process more by making do, reusing or repurposing things than by just going into a store and spending (usually a considerable amount more money) for a comparable item!
    Gardenpat in Ohio

    1. I don’t usually do that. I rarely eat out so I wouldn’t be copying recipes from meals out, though several of the things I make are copies from something I ate at a restaurant decades ago.

      In my house and garden, I have replicated things, but it’s not intuitive. I’ve studied and learned skills over the years to be able to do different things.

      Figs are the easiest thing to propagate from everything I’ve heard. Good luck!

    2. Gardenpat – Can you share your best way of taking pallets apart for projects?? Wood is at astronomical prices and people are even trying to sell 25 year old treated deck lumber for $100+. I can still find free pallets but am really, really struggling to get them apart without splitting all the wood as well as I do not have the strength I used to have :/
      Thank you!! Melissa V

      1. Melissa V- The fastest way we’ve found to deconstruct a pallet without breaking any of the boards in the process is by using our Sawzall (reciprocating saw) with a metal sawing blade. We stand the pallet on it’s side and saw through the nails between the pallets and the braces. When we turn it over to do the second side of pallet pieces, it’s easiest to have a second person hold on to an end of the 2×4 brace so it doesn’t fall on the ground.
        Hope that helps!
        Gardenpat in Ohio

    3. Pat, I can’t tell you how reassuring it was for me to read that I’m not the only person who struggles with pie crust! LoL! I know that buying it is less frugal but by golly I just CANNOT manage to make them. And since I don’t bake pies all that often, that’s a concession I make.

      Thanks for the cheer and inspiration your posts add to Brandy’s site, and I’m still loving my scrappy bag. I bought the “gardening lady” and gave it to my cousin as a gift – it was perfect for her (even sort of looks like her) and she LOVES it.

      1. Ava, my mother hates my pie crust. I was given some store crusts and used them to make a pie. She finally praised my crust . . . but it wasn’t mine! Sigh.

        1. Don’t feel bad Brandy. Daddy claimed for decades Aunt Shirley had the best pie crust… Mine was okay … I finally asked her what it was and if I could be taught it… it’s Pillsbury pie crust. She hadn’t made him a pie with anything else since it came out. LOL

        2. Brandy and Ava- My thought is that if you put a pie into the oven and take it out after it’s baked that you “made” that pie!! Lol!
          I love to make pot pies for dinner, so I’ll watch for the boxes of premade pie crust dough to be on sale and buy several boxes. I try to have a box in the fridge or freezer regularly. We prefer fruit crisps to pies so that’s easy!
          And jello is something else I no longer attempt. It’s a family joke! Leather on the bottoms, water on the top and again, many have tried to make it “with” me and they leave muttering under their breath because it’s been SO dismal a failure. I figure I can live without jello! 🥴😉😉
          My Brown and Serve rolls from the store for holiday dinners years ago were renamed “Burn and Serve” rolls by my kiddos. Or they would be “Raw and Serve” rolls! I have been able to rectify that and even make my own rolls! (Thank you to generic Sil-Pat sheets!)
          Glad she still likes the bag, Ava! That made my day to hear!!

          Gardenpat in Ohio

          1. I’m laughing at all these stories (and feeling better about myself!). I have a church friend whose motto is, “If I opened that can at home in my kitchen, that spaghetti is homemade.” 😀

        3. I know the frustration of having something that never comes out right. My mother was known for her lemon meringue pies. I seriously started making pies when I was 13. It took me until I was about 50 before I found the way. I stopped trying to use the recipe on the cornstarch box, which was what Mom used. It never got thick enough and my kids still laugh about the time I tried using aluminum pots and came out with green lemon pie! My usual pans are stainless steel. I couldn’t make decent biscuits either, but I kept trying. I probably perfected those about the same age. They aren’t great, but they are passable.
          But I can make pie crust. So can my daughter, but she uses ready made from the store. She gets a good pie out of it so I quit giving her trouble over it. If it tastes good, it’s a success! I now use a lower fat recipe given to me by a friend–it’s not as good as Mom’s crust recipe, but it has no saturated fat, and that’s what I need these days. A pie doesn’t usually last long enough in this house to worry about good vs great!
          So don’t give up and don’t feel badly if you use a purchased crust. If your family likes your pie–that’s good enough!! I still can’t make fudge and I’m 78 now. I might not beat that one!!

    4. Hi Pat,
      I have found that pie crust turns out really tender if you minimize the time your hands touch it — I cut the shortening really fine with a knife and then blend in the flour. The more you touch it the tougher it gets! I use the classic pie crust recipe on the Crisco box.

  8. My son is on his 2 week Army training so I went at lunch all this week to let his dogs out. I noticed the Neighbirhood Walmart near him had gas for $2.59 and everywhere else it is $2.79 or higher.
    * We bought a fountain 3 weeks ago. They put it on top of pallets on our trailer as it was too wide for the trailer. It is 1680 lbs so we have not been able to get it off the trailer. My husband finally bit the bullet and rented a forklift and we got it installed. He then put the electric switch on an app and we can turn it on and off with our phone, so only turn on when we are out to enjoy it. Here is a photo https://www.instagram.com/p/CQR66YHnTns/?utm_medium=copy_link. My grandson is here and has had so much fun playing in the fountain
    *My daughter turned 25. She had plans to go to Nashville for the weekend so last minute I asked if she could come for supper to celebrate Thursday. I started to go buy a cake, but baked one with my grandson and he put sprinkles on it. I made chicken lazone that she requested.
    * We had hamburgers for Father’s Day. Ribeyes were $19.99# at Publix and $16.99# at Sams. I made potato salad, deviled eggs, home canned green beans, and corn from the freezer.
    * I cut husband’s hair. He cut the dogs hair after we paid $100 for our dogs 2nd grooming that totally butchered him.
    * I found Culterelle Probiotic on the end clearance at the Neighborhood Walmart for $9 a box. I got the 3 boxes they had.
    * We got the washer and dryer from an uncle that passed away. My daughter was going to use it, but moved to another apartment that has a set included. We sold it- and found every crazy person in a 90 mile radius.
    * We went to Lowes and got mulch, fruit fertilizer, and some annuals for our front bed. My husband gets the military discount. I sprinkled the fertilizer around my trees, blueberries, and tomatoes just before it rained.
    * I used the water from boiling potatoes to boil eggs then watered plants, put the egg shells around my hydrangeas, and buried the potato peels in my container that has green beans. I have a compost bin, but want to try to sift what is ready.
    * We went to the Farmers Market and they had a kid section so my grandson did a coloring page and they gave us a ” Sensitive ” plant that closes when you touch it.
    * My husband got to pick an item for $500 for his 5 year anniversary. He got a guitar. We also had his raise on last check. We are increasing 401K contribution.
    * I did a big Sams, Walmart, and Aldi trip to try to really stock up. My freezer is so full I may can some chicken and chicken soup, chili and taco soup to make room.

    1. Ha! You missed a few crazy people! They fled to the U.P.!
      I, too, love the fountain! That had to take some work to get it situated. Wowzers!

  9. It’s interesting sometimes how things don’t work out because there’s something better in store for us. It sounds like that’s what happened with your rental car. I’d seen references that your deal didn’t work out. Thanks for filling us curious minds in. We’re having challenges with critters here. For the first time in 25 years, the deer have come up to the garden and orchard near the house, and have been browsing berries, kiwi, plums and more. Then this evening, my husband found that something ate all the roots of one of our two rows of sweet potatoes. Probably a vole, as we know we have them here. We’re hoping they won’t eat the other row before we have a chance to come up with a plan. There’s not much to harvest yet, other than herbs and berries, but our first tomato is starting to show color. I requested The Kitchen Front from the library last night, and was excited to see it’s ready for me to pick up. The last time I looked, there were many waiting for the book, so I was pleasantly surprised. We were gifted several yellow squash and a zucchini. I won a cookbook on a blog I follow. My husband harvested our onions. For online business purchases, I received 4% back on one, and $10 off the other. Happy Summer (or Winter), everyone! http://abelabodycare.blogspot.com/2021/06/happy-summer.html

    1. We are in a drought as well. So many critters are looking for water. I had a Coyote up by my house trying to get to the dogs water. I decided to fill a container with water and leave it by the creek. It is seasonal so bone dry right now. Crossing my fingers it keeps the Skunks and Coyotes out of my yard.

  10. I’m having shoulder surgery in a month so I’m starting to prep some things for that. I’ve heard that sleeping is difficult, so I’ve been on the lookout for a recliner on Facebook marketplace I can sleep in for 2+ months. I need to look for some button up shirts from the thrift store and chop some veggies and food items for the freezer for easy meals. Has anyone had shoulder surgery and have some tips? I won’t be able to drive for 6 weeks (and have little kids at home) so I’ll need to prep some activities we can do at home. (Good thing we have lots of practice from last year! Haha!)

    1. I linked to some playdoh and watercolor paints. We’ve been doing those a lot.

    2. You need both indoor and outdoor entertainment/activities to accommodate whatever weather you have and don’t require too much input from you. If you don’t have a lot of games and puzzles they can play with without your help, now would be the time to look for them. Also the sprinkler and a slip’n’slide, etc. You can probably reserve library books during your recovery and find somebody that will pick up a big stack at a time. You might work with your older kids so they can help with cooking.

    3. I had rotator cuff surgery a couple of years ago and yes, you will need to plan ahead. I made a lot of meals for the freezer that I could just reheat but I also put condiments and things into smaller containers so that I could lift and pour easily with one hand. I also loosened some jar lids – I live on my own but did have to warn a couple of the friends who came to help for the first couple of weeks.

      Also – and I know people will laugh – but this is what the nurse told me on my pre-op visit – this does only apply if it is your dominant arm that they are operating on – practice wiping your bum with that opposite hand – it is a LOT harder than you think it will be!

      I would also suggest oversized t-shirts – unless you have someone to help you won’t be able to do up a bra. Elastic waste pants will make life a lot easier as there are a lot of simple things that you can’t do with only one arm! I had some discomfort and did take some painkillers but it was more discomfort than actual pain. A recliner is a good idea – I slept in one for the first week as lying down (and then getting back up) was very awkward. I was very lucky in that my short term insurance kicked in at work as I was off for 8 weeks (doctors had said 12) – I went back for just the mornings for the first two weeks in order to ease back into things. But it was all worth it in the long run so good luck.

      1. Great ideas. I fractured my dominant arm a few years ago and learned the hard way…your ideas should make it much easier to be one armed 😉

      2. Dear Margie,

        I’m sorry but I laughed about your “cleaning the bum comment”. It is so true and something I’ve experienced when I broke my dominant arm and broke a tendon, too. For some strange reason, my non-dominant arm is shorter then my dominant arm. This created huge problems. One solution is to acquire some barbecue tongs (make sure it’s the kind with silicone wrapping on the end). Then wrap it in toilet paper; then I’ll leave the rest to your imagination. I still (after two and a half years) have to use the tongs. Wherever I go, so go the tongs (discreetly of course). You also mention about a bra. I still haven’t been able to do this. I’ve gone without. I have looked into getting a front closure bra but haven’t found one in my size (I really don’t know what size I am as I lost weight during covid). Always remember if putting a coat on to put your bad arm in first otherwise you can end up in a tangled mess. Once you have your bad arm in the sleeve, then do a curious movement where you toss the coat the way of the good arm (this is difficult to explain). Ask for some post surgery physio tips in advance. Stock up on things like stamps, envelopes, food of course. Slip-on shoes (and if you need it a long shoe horn) or shoes with velcro perhaps would be a good idea. I would cut my hair short. By the time it grows out you’ll probably be recovered. I would think about access to your bed. I stayed with a friend for a couple of weeks and the bed was reversed so I could get in (and out) using my good arm. However, a reclining armchair is probably better. I would get a shower chair. Then if you have a hand held shower, use your good hand to dangle the shower head from your good shoulder so the water trickles down your back. (That is after the doctor tells you that you can have a shower). Have grab bars on your bathroom tiles. Meredith suggests deodorant — that is a great idea. Silver cloth also can be used to dry an area but it is expensive. Julie recommends leg and core strengthening and that’s a great suggestion. Before I went home to manage on my own, I could not have physio on my arm as it was in a cast for 9 months. So the physios gave me leg strengthening exercises but even more useful for me was exercises to improve my balance and I did have issues of feeling unbalanced because of the heavy cast. I also loved the exercises as they felt as if I were snowboarding down a mountain (something I’ve never actually done).

        1. two other tips — put your staples out of the cupboard and keep them on the counter. (If you might already have canisters for this but I don’t. Also, one thing I loved was I bought two inexpensive capes and a friend sewed snaps on them. It wouldn’t work in minus thirty weather but it replaced struggling with sweaters.

      3. Great advice, Margie! I was an Occupational Therapist before my children were born and these are many recommendations I would have suggested to my shoulder surgery patients in the rehab center and in my private business working with those same patients in their home. Experience is a great thing to share and it sounds like you came through your own surgery with flying colors. Have a lovely day!

    4. I’m an orthopedic nurse, I would recommend getting a strong deodorant. The armpit under the surgery side tends to get sweaty and with moisture rashes and swollen skin can be very uncomfortable. Make it a priority to keep it dry and as cool as possible there. I recommend the armchair and large gel ice packs. If you have long hair invest in headbands or a one handed way to keep hair out if your face. Practice pulling up your pants one handed. Then buy or pull out some cotton knit tee shirt dresses. Button ups are not actually easier. Once you get the hang of it you can slide your arm into the sleeve, pull the garment over your head sideways and then put the other arm in. For entertaining kids I highly recommend cosmic kids yoga on YouTube, as well as science videos by Mark Rober. He’s entertaining and a former nasa engineer.

      1. I’ve had both my knees replaced in two separate surgeries. I invested in large (11×14) Chattanooga ice packs the second time and they were AWESOME. The heavy weight felt great and helped reduce swelling and the cold lasted about two hours each time – long enough to get to sleep. The cheaper ice packs I used for the first surgery were warm after 20 minutes or so. Here’s an Amazon link: https://amzn.to/3zPdi8J Oh and I found the Chattanooga brand as that is what my PT practice was using.

        When I came home from the hospital, I was on a combination of 10 different medications – some of which made me very spacey. I was thankful to have created an Excel sheet that I used to check off each time and day that I took meds so there was no need to remember.

        I only had one washcloth before surgery and bought an eight pack to use for my birdbaths until I was greenlighted to take showers.

        Best of luck with the surgery and a fast and successful recovery!

    5. Hi Lisa,
      I had a client (I’m a corrective exercise specialist) who underwent shoulder surgery. We strengthened her legs and core in preparation. She later reported how helpful it was to rely on those muscles for her mobility as she recovered so that she wasn’t dependent on her arm. Hope that helps!

    6. Lisa, my husband just had his 2nd shoulder surgery so I have lots of tips.

      Clothes: I bought some shirts a size larger (thrift shop) or used old shirts to modify. For the first week or two, we slit shirts/undershirts from the underside of the surgery-side (hereafter SS) sleeve about 2/3 the way down. (The 1st time he had it, we slit it all the way and I sewed in velcro or we just tucked it around under the sling. This new way works much better.) This way, you can put the SS arm sort of in first, pull the body part over head, the other arm in, then pull down. Plan to have someone help you dress and bathe; just accept it. Minimize zippers, buttons, snaps, etc as it’s super hard to do with one arm. Yes, buttoned shirts and dresses are easier to put on.

      Meds: Allow yourself to sleep all day as needed for the first few days. Keep a written list with columns for each medicine to track when you take them. (Hubby had 5-6 prescribed meds–but stuck with OTC options in larger doses (aceteminophin, ibuprofin).) Stay ahead of the pain (meaning, for 2 weeks, take pain meds by the clock, not waiting until you feel pain–it’s easier to stay ahead than to chase it). Alternate tylenol and ibuprofin (we worked out an every 2-4 hours schedule–and had to get up round the clock the first 2 nights.) Doc had him start a muscle relaxer prescription a few days before surgery which made a big difference. Post-surgery, anti-twitch medicine helped with muscle cramps–obviously all has to be discussed/prescribed. Doc told him to ice all the time for 2 weeks–that made a huge difference. We bought a bag of ice a day for the first week–an ice maker can’t keep up. Dollar Tree just started carrying 7# bags here. Walmart is around $2 for 10#, grocery stores more. If you can talk the surgery center into 2 ice bags to take home with you, they work better than anything we’ve found locally. Multiple soft gel packs or the kind that have a velcro strap to secure around the part can help.

      Sleep: Hubby doesn’t sleep well in a recliner (hasn’t slept through the night since surgery 4 weeks ago–always has to get up for tylenol, but now only once a night). The physical therapist suggested a small pillow under the SS shoulder and support under the SS arm. That helped. Once he could remove the brace for awhile at night, sleeping was a little easier.

      Misc: Not all doctors tell you to use stool softener for the first few days after surgery, but many do as it is apparently needed (I’ve never had surgery, just been the frequent support person!!). Let someone else get things out of the microwave and consider what’s easiest to eat with one hand, especially if the SS is your dominant hand. I feel like I’ve forgotten a bunch, but hope that helps. Most of all–good luck. I hope that surgery goes well, that your recovery is quick and as painfree as possible.

    7. Lisa, I recommend the cryo-cuff aircast if you have the extra $ to purchase it. The healing time seems significantly improved with it. My Husband had his shoulder repaired last year, and he was back sleeping in bed about week 4 post op. Wishes for a successful surgery and quick recovery for you.

    8. I wish you all the best and will pray for quick quick quick healing! I can’t give any better advice than these awesome folks but I thought I’d suggest following Mothercould and Busy toddler (Instagram but maybe they have blogs?)because they have the best kids activities most of which are low prep.

  11. I’m on vacation with my mother for a few days-we brought much of our food which makes it more of a vacation with no cooking! We are staying for free at a friend’s house in a world famous vacation spot. We are so grateful for the opportunity.

    I made a pan of the easiest enchiladas for my husband, who is staying home. He had mistakenly bought corn tortillas when I needed flour tortillas, so the enchiladas used the whole package of corn tortillas. I usually bake cookies for my dad for holidays but this year I am just too tired. Safeway had 20 cookies for $2 in their ad this week, so I bought those! He loved them.

    I picked up baby clothes for our grandson from the Buy Nothing group. He’s growing fast. We gave away a set of 6 chairs that I had picked up for free and had hoped to refinish, but I realized I just wouldn’t get to it. It was a relief to see them go. My husband took a load to the thrift store. We moved some furniture around in the house to make it work better. We had a spot for the TV, but no plugs there. We bought a long, thin extension cord and a cord cover, which runs along the bottom of the wall, with the cord inside it. It looks very tidy and we got power to the unused corner. It felt like a big win.
    I hope everyone has a good week!

  12. Such lovely flower photos Brandy! Every week I think that those photos are my absolute favorite, and this week is no different!
    This past week was a huge blessing for our family in saving. Two main things, and they each had nothing to do with anything WE did, but everything to do with what others blessed our family with. First of all, a music shop did quite a few repairs for us on our string instruments—some of them minor, but a rather major repair on my daughter’s violin as well as a major repair on mine. And after doing all of that, they did not charge us anything at all for doing those repairs! I was very, very touched! This shop has the best customer service I have ever in my life experienced. They are staffed with truly wonderful, caring people, and I feel like they truly do whatever they can to help a person. Of course I do not expect all future repairs to be free of charge—a business could never survive that way. But I so appreciated what they did for us this time!
    Second, my daughter’s wonderful violin teacher worked things out for my daughter to attend two music camps almost free of charge—one camp for adults, and one camp for children (my daughter is a teen, so kinda spans both ages). All my daughter paid was one $50 application fee, and all other expenses are being taken care of through a scholarship, my daughter doing some coaching for the children’s music camp, plus our family doing apartment cleaning of the university apartment building where the music teachers stay when they come to teach at the camp. So bit by bit, everything was arranged to be taken care of.
    I feel super blessed from these two events, and it really has made me want even more to help others whenever I am able to. It may be in different ways, but all of us can help someone else.
    I have pictures and more details on my blog at: https://chickadeecove.blogspot.com/
    Looking forward to reading what everyone else is up to this week!

    ~Susan M. From Chattanooga

    1. How wonderful for your daughter! And how kind people have been – it is so nice to hear such a lovely story.

  13. My husband, 4 children, and I spent the week at Bible Camp. It was a wonderful week, though very tiring! Because my husband, oldest son, and I volunteered all week at the camp, the cost for our children to be campers was greatly reduced. Instead of $250 total, it cost is $60 for the week total. This included all food and lodging.

  14. Brandy, I thought this blog post was such a good illustration of how sometimes saving money takes research and perseverance. I am always inspired by your example.
    I received a coupon from Safeway for 10 pounds of russet potatoes, so I popped into the store to get this. I also bought 4 pounds of pasta for 49 cents a pound while I was there.
    I received a $5 Amazon GC for completing a survey for our local health department.
    This week we enjoyed chard, peas, a little lettuce, and our first cabbage from the garden.
    I sorted all my fabric (two plastic bins and a large dresser drawer) and organized by type/color. It’s much easier to find everything now. I sewed two summer blouses and a sunglasses case from free patterns I found online and fabric I had in my stash. We received some much-needed rain. I was able to shut off the irrigation to the garden for two days. My husband and I spent a whole day deep-cleaning the house. He shampooed all the rugs and pressure-washed the front and back decks, and I steam-mopped all the floors and washed all the windows inside. And he cleaned the solar panels on the roof. He will have knee-replacement surgery in 3 weeks and is trying to get a lot of stuff done around the house before then.

  15. We have had a good week. A tropical storm came up through the Gulf of Mexico and brought us three solid days of heavy rain and some light winds. Once the rain stopped we got into the garden to assess the situation. We lost all of our spinach plants, one zucchini plant and several of our Ferrari green bean plants. We harvested 3 lbs of banana peppers, 6 green bell peppers, a bunch of basil, a bunch or parsley, several yellow squash, six cucumbers and ten pounds of Ferrari green beans. I pruned a bit and tied up our tomatoes and our crowder peas. I am hoping that this will keep them upright and able to grow well. I have at least a bushel of tomatoes that are green on the vine. I am wondering if I should pull them as they are not turning red. Since these are the first fruit the plants have set they may be too young yet to ripen that many tomorrow’s at once. Any thoughts on this?
    Frugal fail this week in addition to losing my oregano plant to the rain. We lost several green bean plants and all of our New Zealand spinach.
    I have seed and will replant once things dry up a bit.
    I used coupons from Kroger to get $2 off my grocery bill after purchasing $10 of dairy products. I took advantage of a digital coupon to purchase 90 eggs for about $0.80/dozen & a half. I also purchased 7.5 pounds of bacon at $3.99/pound. I may have to try your recipe for yogurt Brandy but I am so nervous that I will mess it up. My son is gobbling up Greek yogurt left and right.
    I was gifted a large bag of blueberries from a neighbor and tossed them into the freezer until I determine what I will use them in.
    I also have a large bag of cranberries from last fall and may use some of them to make a recipe for cranberry mostarda which is supposed to be tasty on pork tenderloin, chops, roasts, etc. I may also use the remainder for some cranberry preserves or sauce ahead of the fall season.
    We have enjoyed lots of zucchini, squash and cucumbers out of the garden this past week. I made spaghetti using home canned sauce and herbs from the garden. We Cooked a large batch of the Ferrari green beans and I used day old rice plus zucchini from the garden, peas & carrots, onion, garlic, ginger, scrambled eggs, and some soy sauce to make a batch of chicken and veggie fried rice. I always add double the protein and sneak in as many veggies as I can.
    Our trash company didn’t pick up our trash last week so I’ll be calling them for a credit on my account.
    I paid off our furniture bill in full last week avoiding the 30% interest that they charge after the introductory period. Not having to make this payment every month will allow us and additional $100 towards another expense.
    We washed our dog at home instead of having her groomed. I picked hydrangeas, purple coneflowers and greenery from the yard rather than spending money on flowers from the grocery store.
    I received the kindergarten supply list and will start gathering items as I see sales. We shopped our insurance and found a plan with all the coverage we currently have that will save us over $1200 per year.
    My husband’s Union finally is making the move to adjust salaries and it looks like he will get a raise in the next month.
    All of these savings will add up as we continue to work toward our biggest goal…buying a home.
    Love and blessings to all!

  16. A couple weeks ago I bought some produce bags and a friend told me she had made some from old lace she had. On Friday I went to our thrift store and found a small lace tablecloth for $1.99. Today I sat down and cut it in to the sizes I wanted so far I have hand sewn 2 they look so pretty. I hate those plastic bags that before Covid we would lick to get them apart and now wouldn’t dare even think of doing that lol. So I bought some and have made some I would guess I should have about 5 when I’m done with this. It’s going so well that I will look for more of the same kind of material and make some as Christmas gifts. I was gifted a half bushel of clingstone peaches last week and canned 15 pints of peaches plus had some to eat along the way.. they were so good. We used them as toppings on our waffles this weekend. I read a tip on using Irish Spring hanging out on your porch to deter flies/gnats and even watched it in action on a neighbors porch last week so Saturday I bought 2 bars for $1.00. I had a old sheer draw string bag I put one bar in it and hung it outside my back door it really works.

    1. I keep thinking that I want to make some produce bags as well, but haven’t yet. I like the idea of using lace tablecloths!
      My solution for licking my fingers to get those pesky bags open is to run my fingers along the area where the produce has been sprayed with water. Just a little moisture on my fingers is enough for me to rub the end of the bag open.

    2. I think that your produce bag idea utilizing the lace tablecloth is the best idea I have heard in awhile. I am always seeing those tablecloths at thrift stores and can’t wait to try it!

  17. Thank you, Brandy, for alerting me to Words on Fire. My father was a kid and participated in the clandestine movement to keep Lithuanian alive; I wish he were still here to read this book but I plan to read it as soon as the library gets it through interlibrary loan.
    Have not done more the the usual stuff for saving money. It does get repetitive and I have to remind myself that even small acts of savings lead to bigger things…One thing I did do was we had three neighbors having birthdays and rather than buy them something I gave them each three dozen eggs from our small backyard flock. We are a pretty tight neighborhood, mostly older people, and we do a lot of little things for each other. Watering plants, offering (esp. during the height of the pandemic) to pick up an item if one of us was going to the grocery store, calling if someone has not been seen in a few days…not big things but it is what makes this a good neighborhood. My husband has a habit of driving off and leaving the garage door open and one neighbor finally figured out how to close the door when he does not—important when it is 30 or 40 below zero!

    1. Mable, that is really amazing! The story takes place around the turn of the last century. Of course, since Russia took over again, I’m sure they also had to do this again and again. I think you will really enjoy the story. Do you speak Lithuanian then?

      1. Yes, I do speak it. I was the oldest and only child that my father insisted learn to speak it, going so far as to send me to a very small Lithuanian boarding school. The other kids never did learn to speak it; I think my father ran out of energy to keep on them about it. And talk about a small world, a few years ago I was in the grocery store and ran into one of the other kids who went that same boarding school and now lives in Fairbanks, too!

  18. Brandy, sure hope your seeds germinate! I can’t imagine gardening in your heat! We had five days in the 90’s and it was oppressive. Today the high was 60. Tonight getting down to 40. Only in Minnesota!

    -I was given some daffodils, iris, and Asian lilies from a friend who was splitting plants. I got those planted and mulched. Watering them daily. Hope they will make it since it has been so warm.

    -Meals this week-turkey rice hot dish with salads; hotdogs with ham macaroni salad; pizza with lettuce salad; sloppy Joe’s with ham macaroni salad and fresh veggies from the garden( kolarabi, radishes, and small green onions) and fresh strawberry pie; marinated grilled chicken with baked potatoes(done in crockpot) and the last of the asparagus done on the grill; leftovers x 2.

    -Went to a flea market with my daughter. I spent $20. I bought a set (4) of plastic mugs for $2, these are for the grandkids. Also a flag holder for $1. Already up with the flag in it since last Monday was flag day. We had one on the deck but when we rebuilt it, hubby removed it and we could not find it. And some metal pieces (faucet knobs, hinges, and a couple of metal pieces for bodies) for $17. I am going to make garden angels for Christmas presents. I need 2 more set of hinges and one more body piece. Then I will start wiring them together. I am making 4.

    -Picked up 50# of sugar from the Mennonite store-$30.50 for the bag. Next week it will be 50# bag of flour and after reading last weeks posts-walnuts (3 or 4 bags)at Costco. I will then freeze them. I use for granola, oatmeal, and baking.

    -Just poured off the vanilla I had making. Now the beans are in a canister of sugar flavoring that. Also made vinegar with apple peels and cores. And some chive flower flavored vinegar for home made dressings. It is a pretty purple color!

    -Hubby’s redwing steel toed boots needed repairing. We have a leather repair shop locally. They fixed them for $12.00. Sure beats brand new at $150. They should last at least one more year.

    -Made baked chicken thighs last week when grands were here. Saved all 8 of the thigh bones and made a quart of chicken broth for the freezer.

    -Picked 30# strawberries at a upick farm for $2.00/lb. Did this at my daughter’s in Wisconsin. Most strawberry farms in Minnesota had the blooms freeze with a late frost, so no harvest this year. Made 2 fresh strawberry pies, strawberry shortcake on Father’s Day, left half an ice cream bucket with my daughter and froze 16 pint bags. Will make jam in the winter as we have enough right now.

    -Stopped in Fall Creek, WI at Weavers Country Store. Found a whole sleeve of regular lids(over 200). Snapped those up. I will have enough for canning this fall now. I also bought brown rice flour, tapioca flour, rolled oats, molasses, and salt.

    -Picked radishes, lettuce, kolorabi, and the last of asparagus from the garden.

    -Love feeding the hummingbirds. My entertainment is to sit on the deck in the evening and watch them feed and play!!

    -Have a great week!!

    1. Julie, I have planted bulbs late in warm weather. So long as they aren’t dried out, they are perfectly fine

    2. We have a hummingbird feeder that we can see from our dining room table. We love seeing them come and go while we eat dinner!

  19. How wonderful that you will be able to have a break and a visit with your daughter and SIL – you must be so looking forward to it!

    I have finally been able to book for my second Covid shot (I’ve been eligible to move it up for the past 3 weeks but the only spots available have been 1 to 2 hours drive away – and I don’t drive)! I also booked for a haircut on July 8th! They are currently scheduled to reopen on July 6th in my province but people are anticipating it being moved up as our infection rate has plunged and vaccination rates have risen ahead of schedule but I spoke with my hairdresser (and salon owner) today and she has decided not to reopen until after our long weekend (like your July 4) as some staff had already made plans. That is fine with me as I’ll be almost at my maximum rate of protection by then.

    I haven’t done a big grocery shop in a few weeks, just filling in fresh items as needed and adding a few bargains to the pantry if I see something. My laundry detergent was on for about 60% off last week so I now have enough on hand to see me well into the New Year. I have a few other cleaning items on my list but will wait until I see a good sale or can earn Loyalty Points.

    I made my first trip to a dentist in over a year for a checkup and a cleaning – all was well and my insurance will cover 90% of the cost. My medical frugal fail this past week was losing my Medic Alert bracelet. The catch had become loose and it had fallen off a few times recently but I always noticed it in time – not quite sure where it dropped off my arm as I was out for most of the day with a friend. I’ve just ordered a basic replacement for now and paid my registration fee up front for the year as well (this gave me 10% off my purchase) – plus I took the time to update my information. When I can afford it in a few months I’ll order a little silver one and keep the metal one as a backup – something I should have done already.

    I’ve been working my way through a lot of library books, watching Euro 2021 on TV and walking! I am hoping to meet a few friends for a coffee or even a meal on a patio over the next few weeks as I ease back into going out a bit more. Have a wonderful week everyone.

  20. Something to think about in renting a car from a private party is car insurance. Who pays if there is an accident? What happens of it breaks down and needs a tow? Will your insurance cover you if you are renting a car from a private party? You don’t want any surprises.

    1. It includes insurance and your personal car insurance can be additional coverage if you have rental coverage. They have several different insurance coverage options at different price points with a national insurance company.

      1. Brandy, I canceled the car I reserved a few weeks ago and booked a minivan (5 adults), also for $100 day, except this one doesn’t charge to deliver the car, so we’re getting a refund. You can cancel without penalty until 24 hours before the rental starts. If you do this, you can either wait for the refund, or they will immediately give you the full amount as a credit to reserve another car. This is the option I took. I’m impressed with how they handle insurance. Turo’s business model seems to be well thought out. Let us know how your rental goes. At this point, I think my satisfaction is going to hinge on the car and the owner…which, of course, will vary with every single car and owner (I’m keeping my fingers crossed–this one has 5-star reviews).

  21. My frugal week has entailed getting ready for hip surgery. I have purchased far more food than normal and done a ton of precooking. Chili, gumbo, waffles, cookies, brownies, tomato soup etc. I’m doing all my garden prep I can tomorrow. I’ll be on crutches for 6 weeks and won’t be able to do much. I purchased some puzzles and a few toys to put away for Christmas on Prime day. Calico animal sets on sale for my little girl! We have our IEA paperwork filed with the school for our special needs son, will be filing our IEP with our umbrella program, purchasing curricula for our eldest and beginning homeschooling our youngest this fall. Planning ahead prevents emergencies. My husband replaced some rotten deck boards and a railing with rotten spindles. This was about 10 feet above concrete pavement and my special needs child was occasionally interested in pushing these railings. They were still decently sturdy but needed replacing. It was a fear of mine he would get badly hurt falling through. I cut and sold a flower arrangement, I grow specialty flowers as a hobby and sell any excess I have. This was made of mint, borage, cosmos, dahlias, scabiosa and love in a mist. I will file my fmla paperwork so my work insurance covers me being out for surgery. It’s a blessing to have good work and insurance and to have access to medical care and have something fixed that has been bothering me for years.

  22. We have been cooking at home for the most part. Lots of Indian food, veggies and beans are cheap. My husband made a greek dish with eggplant, tomatoes, mint, cilantro, and pine nuts from the Blue Zone diet. Yum! We ate roasted chickpeas with herbs and olive oil with that dish. I have been eating fruit for dessert. The only junk I ate this week was a couple bites of my husbands dessert. My numbers are great! Yeah! I’ve been snacking on veggies if I snack. Usually I will eat some cherry tomatoes. I am feeling so good! Sometimes I will eat a few nuts. I have had a small bit of cheese. That is not on the blue zone diet. But I figure it is better than something with sugar. It doesn’t seem to affect my numbers negatively. I checked books out from the library. My son checked out movies. We plan to plant more seeds that we have. Still enjoying the plant my son got me for Mother’s Day. It still has flowers! We enjoyed an evening at a music festival for free! We watched a piano duet and a string quartet. They were very good! It was such a nice evening. We went out to eat that evening. Enjoyable, but a budget breaker. We took home what I did not eat. and my husband ate it for breakfast. We are trying to run all our errands on the same trip to save gas. We have been very careful about our spending for the most part. We live on much less than what we made years ago, but we are doing better because of the budgeting we do. We shop at the cheapest grocery stores. I almost always get my clothes from a thrift shop. ( and get compliments on the clothing. I just say Thank-you.). My spices are usually from an ethnic store or Sam’s. We turn off lights. Open windows for fresh air. Pay our bills before they are due. Entertain ourselves at home or for free most days. We are working on our health. Eat foods that are cheap; beans, greens, fruit and a little bit of meat and eggs once in awhile. Oatmeal, rice and bananas are on our menu often. (Although I don’t eat a lot of the rice myself because of the carbs.) We try not to waste what we have. We do like to go places, but we try to do things that are free and bring food or go to a grocery store. Smoked sardines or oysters, pickles, veggies, a bit of fruit and maybe a bit of cheese are a treat that we can do from the grocery store when we go somewhere. I’m just grateful that we can buy food and pay our bills. Being frugal has really helped in the long run! This blog and all the ideas from you and this community has truly helped us through the years. I am so happy! Thank-you! I hope you have a nice trip to visit your daughter and son-in-law! That should be fun!

  23. Hello Everyone!
    I attend a free Caring for Citrus workshop via Zoom, offered by UC Santa Cruz. I learned some useful things and I’m on the right track! The Zoom workshop saved me 2 hours of driving plus gas! I’m on the email list for future workshops.

    I’ve been managing food well and we’ve had barely any waste. Even scraps and peels go to the hens. I was running low on fresh food and switched to canned to stretch shopping trips. I prepared a delicious burrito stuffing by sautéing 1/2 leftover bell pepper and red onion, adding canned chicken, canned pinto beans, canned diced tomatoes, taco seasoning and salsa. It was a hit! I baked 2 loaves of whole wheat seed bread; one for now and the other for the freezer. Similar bread sells for $5.29 each at a grocer.

    My frugal fail was an attempt to make bagels. The recipe in my bread book recommended boiling them 4 minutes side 1 and 3 minutes side 2. They were shriveled and doughy. I’ll have to research better recipes because it was a lot of work! 😕 Any proven recipes out there? Please share!

    This week I picked my first tomato!!! This is a huge win. Typically I can’t get tomatoes until August in my climate. The red mulch is proving to be a great asset. In addition I’m getting early zucchini in the bed I planted in green mulch. I’m experimenting and it’s definitely teaching me how to better garden in my climate. More broccoli, zucchini and lettuce mixes from my garden and less produce to buy this week!

    We’ve already started fire season with an uncontained one nearby. I’m hoping we don’t have another smoky and ashy summer. It makes gardening unpleasant and our home insurance outrageous! It has increased nearly $1,000 in several years due to the fires.

    For Father’s Day my kids made cards. I baked a cherry pie using ingredients on-hand. We barbecued steaks on sale and corn. I made a tossed salad.

    This group is so positive, helpful and encouraging. I enjoy it immensely. Have a blessed and beautiful week! 🥦

  24. We need to make a trip to see family this year and our rental car is double the price we usually pay. (Our plane tickets were also twice what we normally pay.) Rental cars are already reserved for the entire summer in many places. We were trying to plan a second smaller vacation within driving distance, but hotels were totally sold out in several of our favorite towns. Our favorite hotel in Missoula, Montana has more than doubled the hotel room price this summer to $450.00 per night for a basic room. It’s just crazy. We gave up and decided to do “staycations” taking the kids on day trips.

    *I was able to go to the bread outlet this week. I saved a lot from the grocery store prices. I put everything in the freezer right away, so it doesn’t matter what the use by dates are.

    *I’m expanding my small vegetable garden to add pots. I’ve been looking around, but nothing was in my price range. The cheapest I could find was $4.00 each for a small pot, and I need quite a few. My son wanted to go to Daiso, a dollar type store. I found very nice looking large plastic planters for $1.50 each. I’m thrilled!

    *We had out first meal at a restaurant since February of 2020. We were able to pay for our meals, and for my Mom, with gift cards that we received as gifts before the pandemic started. Eating out now seems so extravagant, I truly appreciate that I don’t have to cook or wash the dishes!

    Hope everyone has a great week!

    1. Susanmarie, check out some estate sales and yard sales in your area. We find a lot of pots and other garden containers for 25/50 cents.

  25. I have the remainder of the week off work to have day surgery and recover. My son was in hospital late last week for two nights, three days. His meals were covered by the hospital meal plan (order what you what from their breakfast, lunch, dinner, snack and drink menu). I used the parents kitchen where they have free bread, a toaster, spreads for the bread, an assortment of breakfast cereals, tea, coffee and biscuits.

    We are still eating an abundance of mandarins from our tree. I was thankful to have frozen lots of my vegetable, barley and lentil soup during this past week. We also made pizzas one night and have had lots of wraps (with hommus, ham, cheese, salad), bananas and avocados.

  26. Hi Brandy and everyone
    Great news that you could hire a car for a reasonable amount when you go to visit Winter.
    Bad luck on the turf but thankfully you had a refund. You win some, you lose some. Love the flower photo.
    We picked sweet peas, sweet William and lettuce from the garden. My husband planted out more leeks and dwarf beans.
    I made elderflower cordial and bottled it in cordial bottles I’ve bought from charity shops.
    I used leftover lemon to make a lemon drizzle cake.
    English asparagus is still a good price in Lidl so I bought some more for eating fresh and for the freezer. The season will end soon. I bought three packs of British beef mince at a reduced price and froze them.
    It was Father’s Day on Sunday and one daughter was able to come home. I cooked a roast dinner and we had ice cream for pudding. We sent our daughter home with a bottle of elderflower cordial and a big bunch of sweet William.
    One of my husband’s gardening clients was a professional garden designer when she was younger. She invited us to go over one evening so I could see her garden. She’s quite a grand lady and served pink champagne and tiny smoked salmon sandwiches while we sat outside and then we toured the garden. As I thanked her at the end of our lovely visit she asked if she could come and see our garden. Gulp! Of course we will invite her over.
    One day this week my husband suggested a trip out as a break from the house and garden so off we went ……….to a garden! It’s run by a charity to employ young people with learning disabilities. Car parking and entrance is free if you buy something from their cafe and if not they ask for a donation. We enjoyed wandering all around the garden, then sat outside and had coffee and cake from the cafe and my husband put a donation in the box too. Next door to the garden is a graveyard where Lawrence of Arabia is buried so we visited his grave, then went into the church which is famous for the windows engraved by Laurence Whistler. We put a donation in the box for upkeep of the church and finished with a walk to the river which has a large shallow ford for crossing. Money spent was in a good cause and we had such a nice time.
    It has rained non stop for two days and is raining again this morning but the garden desperately needed it.
    Stay safe everyone.

  27. -I purchased a few more blueberry bushes. I replanted bare spots in my garden. I was given a beautiful plant from a patient, who knows I love to garden. I’ve been foraging for mulberries. I’ve harvested asparagus, garlic scapes and herbs. Cooked batches of black and pinto beans. Made a big batch of pesto. Also made zucchini muffins and mulberry oatmeal bars. I’m hoping to get a flat of local strawberries before the season is over. Unfortunately, I broke my crockpot and the food that was in it. I bought some naan on clearance, so quick homemade pizzas saved the day.
    -My kids outdoor chairs have mysteriously gone missing, but I picked up a few that tenants left behind.
    -My long time housekeeper has become very unreliable since covid hit. I have had trouble finding a new one. While I’d be much happier paying someone, I am saving money by doing it myself.
    -Hosting a birthday party for a family member. I’m making food and a cake, overcoming temptation to just buy cupcakes. Reusing decorations, using real plates etc.
    -Our house tends to become the hangout spot in the summer. While not necessarily frugal, I’m trying to keep more easy to make food on hand, like frozen burger patties. Then, if we have impromptu guests, we aren’t always ordering pizza.
    -While I stocked up early last year on canning lids, I was happy to buy from the grocery store. I haven’t seen them anywhere in so long. I also got low sugar pectin.

  28. The flowers are lovely, my roses are only just coming into bud. I saved money by making a tablet cover and a new Bible cover by using the leather from an old bag. I bought 5x3m of good weight Jersey material for £38 down from £84 which was still a good price. Looks like a lot of sewing will be being done.
    We replaced a broken greenhouse panel(the boy next door kicked the ball too hard) it cost £9.35. Two week ago it would have cost £6.37. The glaziers told us that some sheets of glass have gone up by 92% in the past 2 weeks. Also a builder told us that wood prices have increased by 15% in the last month.
    I received a food delivery and was delighted to receive 2kg of chicken for the price of the 1.2kg I had ordered. I’m very thankful for a full fridge and larder.

  29. I so enjoy reading your blog every week. I’m glad you’ll get to go see your daughter and her husband. Idaho is such a beautiful state. In 2006 we drove from WV to visit 3 Army buddies from our time in Germany. We went to Omaha, Nebraska first, then to Meridian, Idaho, Yellowstone, then to North Dakota. On our way back we visited family friends in Indiana. It was a wonderful 3 weeks.
    Does your oldest son still live in Idaho?
    We do most of our shopping at Krogers. I use the digital coupons and they send me alot through the mail. We buy gift cards when you can get 4x the fuel points. We also have the Kroger credit card. It saves us an extra 5 cents a gallon on gas. Gas here is $2,89 now. We pay the card in full every month. The card gives points for food you buy or if you use your card somewhere else. Every quarter they send you a check. I usually get 10 to 20 dollars to spend at Krogers depending on my points.
    I have been decluttering some. I have donated alot to a Church run thrift store and posted a few things for sale just on my Facebook page. I made over $70 doing that. We are very rural so I just sold locally.
    Good luck with your garden. We don’t garden anymore, but this year it looks like I’ll have lots of applesauce to can and freeze and also pears. It is just my husband and I here, so I don’t can like I use to when we had gardens.
    Have a lovely week, and I so enjoy reading all the comments.

    1. Yes he does; we will see him there too. I have not seen him for over a year. They attend the same school.

  30. Anyone here who has done Bokashi composting with success and lives in colder climate? (in Alaska for example)

    I have been figuring it out for 5 months now but…

  31. Thanks for the recommended book reads. My husband and I were also shocked at the sticker price of renting a car! You will have to share your experience of the car rental, after visiting your daughter. Thrifty actions this week included getting back to meal planning and decided to get back on track, with themed days: Sunday Slow cooker, Monday Pasta, Tuesday Taco, Wednesday Soup, Sandwich or Salad, Thursday Salad or Noodle Bowl, Friday Charcuterie (last of the left overs), and Saturday Homemade Pizza with leftovers and grocery ingredients flowing into different days. This little tweak Motivated me and improved our budget. Read about soil solarization to help with fall planting in Florida; trying it this month on a patch in the backyard. Beginning autumn pumpkin seeds and planting cucumbers and peppers this month.

  32. I saw a free listing on Craigslist for leftovers from a yard sale that was near by. Hubby and I went over. We got a camping stove, a used computer, several new puzzles and a DVD.
    I am picking quarts of mulberries from my neighbors tree. I only pick what is on my side of the fence. If I didn’t pick them they would all end up on the floor. Strawberries are starting to slow down. I have frozen several bags worth for future smoothies.
    I hurt my shoulder. I pulled out burgers from the freezer and Hubby cooked them for an easy dinner. I have been using our tens machine and doing Motrin and ice. It is feeling much better.
    I went food shopping for the man I help. I always check the clearance rack. They had Annie’s vegan mac n cheese for 85¢ each. Hubby is allergic to dairy. I bought all they had.
    The lady I help wanted to go to Walmart. She treated me to a crumb cake. I gave her a coupon for the creamer she uses.
    We only had the AC on one day this week. Otherwise windows have been open.
    The garden is doing well. I have lots of little peppers and tomatoes.
    Have a wonderful week everyone.

  33. Hi Everyone!
    The last couple of weeks haven’t been completely frugal since we adopted a puppy from the Humane Society, but they have been lots of fun (and a lot of work!).

    A couple ways we have saved include:

    -Getting vaccines at Tractor Supply instead of at a vet office. They are a fraction of the price!

    -I signed up for the Flashfoods app. They sell food about to expire at discount prices. You pick up the food at the regular grocery store. I hadn’t used the app after signing up and they kept sending me “bonuses” to try it. I ended up using it on two boxes of peppers that I brought home and diced for the freezer.

    -We have been cooking and eating at home. We were too tired to cook one night after a long day working outside and in the past we would have just done take out but we opted for cereal instead!

    Have a nice week everyone!

  34. I’m also in preparing for surgery mode – bunion surgery for me which will have me on a knee walker for about 2 months and crutches towards the end of that time. Did this on the other foot last summer so we know what to expect and are trying to make it easier and less expensive this time.
    – Borrowed crutches from a church medical supply closet. Still looking for a shower chair to borrow.
    – Decided to buy a knee walker for less than rental costs this time as now I know I can donate it to the medical supply closet! This one has a basket on the front so I hope it will reduce the stress on my knee by allowing fewer trips to get things.
    – Prepared easy breakfast foods (egg bake muffins, oatmeal bake, muffins) and some easy dinner starters like homemade soup/chili, cooked chicken/meatloaf/burgers, etc. and put in freezer as Hubby got exhausted doing everything last time.
    – Using what we have am setting up the guest bedroom and my couch recovery area so that I will not have to do as much walking to get everything or ask for as much help.
    – Borrowed books (print and Kindle) from the library and friends. Bought more for $1 each from the Friends of the Library book store. Have other free activity options lined up.
    – Postponed my haircut and the dog’s grooming until the week before which also saved money.

  35. I love tiny things, and tiny bouquets are adorable. Brandy, have you ever seen the tiny shops made by AnonyMouse? Those are the tiny little shops and stores set into openings in walls in the shopping districts in Sweden, and now I read they are elsewhere in Europe. With your gift for detail, I think you would really enjoy them, if you haven’t already seen them. https://mymodernmet.com/anonymouse-miniature-art-mice-shops/

    I was blessed with a cash gift this past week that I am immediately using for needed medical work for my husband. I know insurance won’t cover all that is needed, so this is set aside for the co-pays.

    It was too rainy here to hang out clothes, plus the humidity stayed at about 90% even when it wasn’t raining, so I hung the laundry up on my drying rack and shower rod in the air conditioned house.

    I cooked three bags of pork bones in my slow cooker for 36 hours to make a rich bone broth. I save bones in the freezer until I have enough to fill the slow cooker.

    I have to be gluten-free, so I was happy to find expensive cassava flour for almost half-price at the food co-op. They only had two bags left, so I bought them both.

    The lowest price for gas in my very small town is at Walmart. I always add money to a Walmart gift card to get an extra 3 cents off per gallon when filling up our vehicle. I can add money to my card at the self-checkouts and don’t have to purchase anything else. I mention this one because I found out my sister didn’t know one could do this to get the extra cents off, so perhaps some others don’t, as well.

    One of my prescriptions was running low. I checked — my mail order pharmacy that is preferred by my insurance would charge me $119.40 for a 90 day supply, while Walmart pharmacy, which also uses my insurance, would charge me $57.90 for a 90 day supply. I don’t understand that price difference, but I obviously went to Walmart for that prescription. (I’m not a huge Walmart fan, but with limited options here, it is often our lowest priced choice.)

    I was gifted with a pound of ground venison. It will not go to waste!

    I found a sale on fresh peaches, and I bought some to pack in my lunches. I like to eat them out of hand, but they always get dented or smashed in my lunch bag, banging up against my reusable lunch dishes. I tried swaddling them, but they still bruised. I finally got the idea to place a peach in the bottom of one of our 12-ounce stainless steel drinking “glasses” before putting it in my bag, and the peaches have each been in perfect shape at lunch time.

  36. My daughter gives plasma 2 to 3 times a year. It takes a few hours, but she gets a $200 Visa card every time.

    My other daughter donates blood every month and before Covid would get movie tickets, t-shirts, and $20 store cards, etc. I am not sure what they are giving now, but know their is a big need for blood donations. Especially those who had Covid naturally.

  37. Thank you for the new book recommendations! I have greatly enjoyed ones you have suggested in the past. I have been waiting for Kitchen Front for a few weeks but should get it soon. I have a couple of recommendations of my own to share. Both are by Olivia Hawker – the first is “The Ragged Edge of Night.” It is set in WWII Germany and is a real page-turner. I did not know till I reached the author’s notes at the end that it is based on a real story in the author’s husband’s family. This does not spoil anything, in fact, I think knowing that from the start makes it an even more amazing story of faith, love, and perseverance. The second is “One For the Blackbird, One For the Crow.” As a child, I learned the old saying “One for the blackbird, one for the crow, one for the cutworm, one to grow” while planting seeds. This one takes place in 1870s Wyoming and is a remarkable story (and also based on the author’s family history) of coming together under difficult times and circumstances and how people can become close when many things are stacked against their friendship. Highly recommend them both especially if you don’t mind getting teary while reading. 🙂
    Our frugal work has been focused a bit on planning ahead this week. We have joined a newly formed homeschool group filled with wonderful families with lots of great ideas and things planned staring this Fall. The only downside is that the weekly meetings (for now) will be about an hour away. I think it will be very worthwhile and we are willing to adjust for the increase in gas spending. The homeschool group itself is a co-op so everyone will be helping and the costs for materials and field trips will be kept very low by design. Another upside is that we will drive right past an Aldi when we go so you can bet I will be shopping there exclusively. We do not have an Aldi where I live but I do go to the one in my in-laws hometown (2 hours away) when my boys and I go to see them about once a month or every other month at most. I have found their prices to be a bit less than the store where I usually shop and I enjoy the smaller, less overwhelming experience.
    Father’s Day was quiet and relaxing – both things my husband enjoys and doesn’t always get in our rowdy household. He loves to grill so he cooked the chicken and I cooked the sides. We ate outside, as we often do, and enjoyed the day. My children made their Daddy a card and told him how perfect he was (and he is, for us!) We got him a small assortment of his favorite candies as a gift. We have an old general store nearby that sells loose candy in barrels (including many old varieties that are hard to find anymore) so we were able to get him a few of this and a few of that. We don’t eat much candy so that is always a treat. Always one to be busy and productive, my husband power-washed a trailer he has been planning on selling. He put it on FB Marketplace that night and within 5 minutes had 9 people interested. It went Monday morning for exactly what he paid for it 3 years ago. We needed it at the time but do not anymore so he was thrilled that we had the use of it for free and got our money back. Trailers seem to another one of those things that COVID has disrupted the distribution or production of and we could have sold lots of them. That money will go into a fund we are saving to build another building (storage and space to work on vehicles) when woods prices go down.
    We continue to eat out of the garden and enjoy our chickens generous gift of their eggs as well as canned goods bartered and traded for with our neighbors. We went to a cook-out with the family of one neighbor last week and they insisted we take all the leftovers home – fried chicken, bread, pasta salads, etc. – that we ate on for days. A real blessing, for sure.
    I took a little of the money I made from caring for an injured neighbor’s horse and bought a few plants at a garden center. Plant prices are so high, particularly for someone who has gardens almost entirely made up of gifted cuttings and divisions. But, I bought perennials and they were on sale and I was thrilled to have this little “shopping spree.” I smile every time I see them and my bees (we raise honey bees) are already appreciating them, as well. I also needed a pot large enough to pot a geranium given to me a few years ago that had outgrown its original pot (an old crock pot insert that had a hole in the bottom – perfect for plants.) I repotted it and then thinned out some of my succulents (also gifted to me a few years ago) into the crock pot. Frugal and enjoyable.
    I have recently joined a couple of new plant share/swap groups in the two towns closest to me and am considering offering some of my succulents for other things I can use. Thinking I may wait till closer to Fall as I would want things that can go in the ground versus house plants. I have cats that live in and out of the house that enjoy nibbling on most houseplants (but they leave my geraniums alone, thank goodness.) With 30 acres of stuff to nibble on, you’d think they could have their fill outside! 🙂 It’s ok because we love them more than a house full of plants. I just need to limit how many I have to bring in for the Winter.
    Speaking of cats, my boys and I rescued a kitten 4 days ago. This is a habit for me as I have done it about 10 times in my life and loved each and every one. We just rescued a kitten from the side of the highway in a nearby town last August so this is pretty close together. We were down at the end of our road checking out an old abandoned house that my neighbor is supposed to take down at some point (this is his job.) The house has feral bees living in it and my neighbor and I have been plotting how and when we will remove them. So, my boys and I were down there checking out the bees where they come and go at the top of the first level window. While I was looking at them, I caught a glimpse of something above and looked to the second floor window. A kitten was looking out at me! My boys ran through 4 foot tall weeds yelling “Get out of the way, snakes!” and rushed into the house to find the kitten. Long story not so long, in her effort to hide, she fell down inside the wall (from the second floor to the first) and was stuck inside the wall between the studs. My youngest son found a flashlight and shone it down there while my oldest and I hunted for a crowbar. We tapped around a bit and then removed the boards where we thought she might be. There she was! The fact that she was not injured falling from that height was amazing especially considering that old wall was filled with rubble and bits of metal screening. We took her home, bathed her, fed her and made her a safe place to quarantine from our other cats. Within a couple of hours, she was purring and sitting on our laps. We fell in love with her immediately, of course. My boys remember all of the things they learned about kitten rescue and rehab from last year’s experience and have been doing a wonderful job. My 9 year old is even waking up in the middle of the night to feed her. He really impressed me and his father, however, when he called both sets of his grandparents and said that all he wants for his birthday next month is money to pay for her vet bills. We all thought that was a wonderful and precious idea. My youngest also said he would donate all the money he makes tending the yard at my parents’ house this summer to the kitten cause. She goes to the vet tomorrow so we will see what is in store. Fortunately, she seems very healthy (especially for what she has been through) so I think the costs will not be out of sight. My children have been born and raised on a farm and know there is no such thing as a free animal. But, the love they offer and the healthy lifestyle we enjoy by living with them makes us more in their debt than the other way around, I have always felt.
    As always, a frugal philosophy allows us to live the kind of life we want without the distraction of things the world might say we should want. Works for me! Hope all of you have a blessed week!

  38. Wow – I love this week’s pictures! So pretty – thanks so much for posting them each week.

    *That’s interesting about the Smith’s coupons you received. I hadn’t received any in months and had some show up last week in the mail. I have been given free items in digital coupons, but I hadn’t seen paper coupons in a very long time.

    *Made all meals at home except for our one date for lunch. We used a gift card for the restaurant. I made bbq drumsticks, bean and cheese quesadillas, eggs & toast, grilled chicken and taco salad. We used leftovers for lunch throughout the week. I love using my cast iron skillet to make the quesadillas. We use corn tortillas which taste so good compared to flour tortillas – at least to me. They reheat really well on my cast iron skillet.

    *We had all of our family here for Father’s Day. It was a quiet day except when everyone showed up for dinner. My husband received See’s Chocolates from the kids (his favorite). He loves the Scotch Mallow (sp?) and white chocolate pecan brittle. Our oldest son gave him a new hoodie that he bought with work points. It will be wonderful when the weather cools down. I made his favorite dinner – steak and mashed potatoes. We had watermelon and canned corn with a blueberry pie for dessert. It was so fun to see everyone and have a chance to hold our darling grand baby.

    *I shopped the sales and loss leaders this past week and saved some money. I used Ibotta and Fetch for my receipts. I love the gifts cards I can get and will use them this Christmas. My husband wants us to up our food storage. I went to Sam’s Club and bought more flour, rice, spices and milk. At another store I purchased bread flour. I’m going to get more potato flakes, dried milk and oatmeal this week. We’ve put everything in buckets and stored it under our living room in the crawl space. It stays cool and has no sunlight. I have plenty of wheat and the grinder. I used to buy large 20# bags of popcorn kernels at Sam’s but I was told they no longer carry them. I will need to find a good source for this. We like to make our own “microwave” popcorn. I use a brown paper lunch sack, 1/8 cup popcorn kernels, butter and salt to preference. I fold the top of the bag down 3-4 times and put it on a plate in the microwave. I use the popcorn setting and adjust the time accordingly as it pops. It can burn easily just like microwave popcorn so watch (listen) carefully. I shake the bag by holding the top and then carefully open and pour into a bowl.

    *I’ve been reading my library books, exercising at home, taking time to sit outside (but not too long – it is SO HOT). I enjoy puttering around my garden and watering my flowers. I’ve been researching the garden plants and seeing what I needed to do to try and get a better yield. I added crushed egg shells to my tomatoes and peppers. I’ve been watering my peppers and cucumber plant a bit more often because of our heat. I take time to journal and take time to be grateful. My daughter and I have a pass to a local water park that has plenty of shade. We go in the late afternoon/early evening and take a dinner to enjoy there from home. It’s very peaceful and nice. Also a great way to cool off with our 100* temps. My mental health enjoys being by water, seeing beautiful flowers and having quiet time. I also love to listen to the birds chirping. I put up twinkly lights around my deck and enjoy sitting out there in the night until the mosquitos decided to start attacking.

    *I had 3 bananas and 1 pear that needed to be used. I made banana pear bread. Just followed the usual recipe for banana bread and added the pear by carefully peeling it, slicing it and then mixing it with the smashed bananas. It adds a nice sweetness. The recipe made two loaves. I froze 1 1/2 loaves and have been enjoying the bread with butter. I also said no to a few social events that would have required an hour’s worth of driving. I decided I would rather save my money because gasoline is quite pricey- $3.60ish and up. I have been combining errands as much as possible. I also try to get out early in the morning to run errands to avoid having the car running in that heat.

    Have a wonderful week!

    1. I just read today about adding fish emulsion to cucumbers every two weeks to increase yield.

      1. Brandy- Thanks for that tip!! Hubs just filled a bucket with fish emulsion from our koi pond and in the past I have randomly given it out to our veg plants. My cucumbers could use a boost! I’ll try this!

        Gardenpat in Ohio

    2. Thanks for the tip on “microwave popcorn”! We were planning to move several years ago and downsized by at least 75%. Shortly after we had our moving sale my husband became very, very ill and we decided to stay put. I have learned to live without so many things and don’t miss many of them but we never replaced our pan for the stove to make stove top popcorn and two of my kids really don’t enjoy air popped popcorn. They will be thrilled! Thank you!

  39. It will be wonderful for you to see your daughter and son-in-law, Brandy.

    I have bought far more groceries than I should have but there have been some great bargains and
    I’m restocking my pantry. Although our provincial covid rate has plummeted, the variants like Delta are still
    a concern.

    I have been buying soup — now on sale for $1 per can in contrast to the regular sales price of $3 or more. I bought three large bags of cheese. Two I put in the freezer. They were 1 kg bags of shredded mozzarella. Shredding cheese is one thing I find hard to do still with my arm. While expensive, I still save $5 on each bag so buying three bags was a great deal (effectively one bag plus a bit free). I’ve been buying canned meat on sale, too. By the end of this month, my pantry should be restocked with the basics.

    I binge- ate ice cream bars. I shouldn’t have but I did. They were given to me. I did it because I was under extreme stress, in part because of the book. Fortunately, a friend came to my aid and told me something really helpful. It has been great for butterflies recently.

    1. Oh Ann – I’d be right there binging on ice-cream bars with you! I very occasionally buy a box of 6 mini Magnum bars and then try not to eat them all in two days! I am an ice-cream addict so I try to limit my consumption to something that I have out as a treat – if it’s in my freezer – it’s gone!

      1. Mini-Magnum bars go on sale here from time to time, but I don’t have much success in making them last. Good thing they aren’t available at the sale price all the time!

  40. Way to go on finding such a great rental car deal! I

    My husband employee-owned company was recently bought (they’re keeping all the employees, thank heavens!). This meant that we received money for all his shares in the company. We put most of it into retirement to avoid the fees BUT we did take out enough to purchase a 3 month supply of food! I am SO EXCITED! I’ve really been terrible about having a stocked pantry in the past, and just shop week to week. I’ve been studying your site like a textbook, Brandy, and used a couple food storage calculators and could do not go to the grocery store for three months and eat solely from my pantry. It is such a liberating feeling! The food supply chain could be interrupted, my husband could get laid off, and we could float by for a few months! The security in that is priceless. I organized my downstairs food storage room and I just go down and gaze into it and revel in my accomplishment—haha! Now I’ve got to overhaul my grocery shopping and meal planning habits to match my food storage—start thinking and planning for a month instead of the week. Your menus, grocery shopping and stocked pantry advice were invaluable, Brandy!

    My other frugal goal I’m working on is giving up caffeine. I didn’t think it was possible. And sometimes I still desperately want a cold Diet Coke (heat wave, anyone?). But it’s been a month! I can put that money saved to food storage, right?! 🙂

    1. Darcy- Well done on building your food storage with a three month supply!! It DOES give you a feeling of security! I menu plan with our current food storage- fridge, freezer, shelves- in mind. That way, I only go to the store when something that we use is on sale at the price I’m willing to pay. I’m sure it must look odd to some people if they look in my cart!! One time it was aluminum foil on sale and I had 6 or 7 rolls in my cart (back when there were 13 of us at home! ) and I got the strangest looks! Other times I might have a whole case of peanut butter or Prego spaghetti sauce (we are spaghetti sauce snobs! 🥴) in my cart and little else! But it doesn’t mean we are only eating peanut butter or spaghetti sauce at every meal. It’s just that the price is great and we are replenishing for all those times when it isn’t! Hubs had sticker shock when I showed him regular prices versus what we paid on sale! You can use the money you saved for expanding your food storage or putting directly into a savings account or to pay down a debt. We always did a combination!
      Grocery shopping becomes a fun activity rather than one to be dreaded!! JMO

      Gardenpat in Ohio

  41. Last week was an expensive week but we could afford the repairs so I can’t really complain. We are fortunate to have a summer cottage on an Island. last summer we couldn’t really go to it much due to the pandemic restrictions but this year it opened up early. We arrived to find about 60 bats behind one shutter. Of course, we couldn’t take that shutter down until we knew if it was a maternity ward. Fascinating to watch from the indoors thru the glass…kind of like a giant ant farm. All the bats decided to leave over the next few days so we took down the remaining shutter and cleaned thoroughly. It’s good to see so many bats again.
    Next was a failed hot water heater. But we managed to get a repair done immediately and it wasn’t very expensive. And then there’s the septic field…sigh…it needed repair/replacement. We got the fellows to come and do the work immediately and again, although we didn’t expect the expense, it wasn’t as bad as we thought. Plus the work was done in 3 hours flats. All except the topsoil that is included and will be installed this week.
    i can divide several plants in my city garden to plant on the septic field so that will keep expenses down and I will replant several lilies that I saved as well. We should be good for another 30 years now. (hope I’m around that long)
    Being on an Island means there’s a real need to plan ahead for food and menus. It cuts down a lot on impulse buying for sure.
    Youngest DS and his longtime girl came up one weekend, the next it was just DS as GF went to visit her folks. She’s lovely and we think she’s going to be around for a long time.
    On the way home to the city i stopped at a farm and bought 2 flats of pre-picked strawberries. Oh my heaven’s they are so good this year! I paid a pretty penny for them, but I think they were worth it. So far I’ve made 9 jars of strawberry/rhubarb jam, and 12 of straight strawberry jam. It’s freezer jam so simple to make. The rest of the berries will be frozen for eating in the winter months.
    My Kale that overwintered in the garden and then went to seed has been covered in aphids. Yuck! so it’s getting pulled out today. I have some seed I’ll try but it might be too late in the season. I had some other old seed for peas and beans but they haven’t come up. However, my lettuce plants are doing very well and I picked a colander full this morning so we will have that with supper tonight.
    I have had my second covid vaccine but my DH has delayed his til the end of the month in order to clear a new medication from his system that makes him immunosuppressed. DD gets hers on Sunday at a huge clinic, youngest DS gets his this week from his GF’s mom who is a pharmacist and the GF has had hers already. My oldest child and his family have all managed to get their shots in Alberta. It will be so good to have this over with. I have a feeling it will take quite a while tho’ to feel like we are back to normal.
    My bookclub just set the list of books for the upcoming year and I think we will have some lively discussions. And we didn’t just pick gloom and doom books this year. A surprising amount have to do with motherhood in one form or another. I’m looking forward to some reading soon. I did finish the book “Hamnet and Judith” last week.
    Well, time for me to get back to the strawberries.

  42. Last week I spent the week at a small college about two hours from where I live, taking a workshop on making my own frames for art. It was fun and exhausting and challenging! The tuition was $395, but I was ultimately able to make seven frames, two of them 24 x 30, and it would have been much more than that to have them custom framed. I took food with me for my meals. The workshop space was open until late in the evening, so I worked each night until I was to tired, or making a lot of mistakes.
    I found strawberries for $1.50 a quart yesterday and so far have made two batches of freezer jam. I bought Kroger pectin and used it and it turned out great. While shopping, I also found Kerr regular size canning lids at the store. I bought 6 boxes. I wanted to buy more, but left some for other canners.
    We had a community breakfast on Saturday, which I helped organize. I was able to bring home extra bagels, cream cheese, orange juice and almond milk.
    From my garden I harvested Swiss chard, radishes, lettuce, a few strawberries, and some thyme.
    I finished knitting another cowl to donate. That brings my total to 20, all made from extra yarn in my stash.
    I read “The Lost Apothecary”, by Sarah Penner, at the recommendation of a friend. I really enjoyed it! Now I am reading “The Home Front” now and only want to read, not do other tasks!
    We have been able to open our windows about midnight to cool off the house. We can get the inside temperature down about 6 degrees, not needed the AC to come on until the afternoon.
    My neighbor gave me some sprouts that she has been cultivating.
    We are healthy and blessed!

    1. My father (until he retired) was a picture framer. When I graduated from high school, he sent me to a week-long course to learn how to frame. I only framed one image in the class (but could them help him). Your class sound like quite the deal!

  43. For any fellow apricot fans here in Western Washington, the farm stand at Chimacum is selling 24 lb crates of organic apricots for $38. They’re around $5 per lb here otherwise, so this is a GREAT deal (as long as you have the time/resources to process them).

  44. Gorgeous flowers, even if they’re petite!

    My frugal week:
    – made a low sugar Healthy Berry Crumble (http://approachingfood.com/low-sugar-healthy-berry-crumble/) with a mixture of mulberries and service berries
    – made healthy breakfast bars using the last of my frozen mulberries and service berries from last year
    – picked and froze cherries, mulberries, and service berries from my parents garden
    – gave myself and my husband a haircut
    – made copycat chocolate frostys using frozen banana and chocolate milk
    – used up some brown bananas in banana flax muffins
    – made bean soup and grilled cheese to balance out the cost of some higher meals during the week
    – did STEM activities with my daughter using household items (frozen baking soda with pipettes of vinegar for example)

    I know I did lots more, but can’t remember it at the moment. Looking forward to learning from everyone else as usual!

    1. It is another month until service berries (we call them Saskatoons in this part of Canada) and blueberries are available here. I’m conscious that my back-up supply of frozen blueberries that I bought mid-winter no longer has to last, so I am enjoying blueberry pancakes and bowls of blueberries as snacks. They have to compete with fresh strawberries, which are widely available to purchase at reasonable prices, though not in season yet here. I love berry season!

    2. Margaret – in case you are looking for things to do with the little ones – the zoo at High Park has opened early (but gates are up until 11am) – I walked down there this morning and it was so funny – the animals seemed to be just as curious about all the people as the people were about them! All the little kids were having a great time. Unfortunately the big duck pon at the end of the zoo is closed off as they are doing major repairs. Oh and Riverdale farm is open again as well!

  45. I planted more seed, this time from the dollar store in our area, in my shed flower bed. I had planted nearly $15 worth of seed in the bed with no luck at all, but these cost less than $3 so fingers crossed they come up. I planted all the plants I bought last week, herbs, Persian shield, some coleus I’d rooted over winter and a Penta to make a pretty half barrel. I used a mixture of old potting soil and new soil together. I tend to pay a lot for soil but find it more than worthwhile and get years of good plantings from it.
    I came across an offer from Southern Bulbs to get free Spider Lilies, so I placed my order and received three bulbs yesterday. I had to pay for postage only.
    I used photos clipped from a seed catalog to make greeting cards. I’m so over the cost of cards these days and the sentiments inside are so bland. I thought I’d much rather write my own personal sentiments.
    Father’s Day my husband requested cheeseburgers. I did them two ways, one for lunch and the other for our dinner that evening. He was happy to eat cheeseburgers twice in a day’s time. That is not something I’d typically do but it was fun for him.

  46. This has been an incredibly good year for mangoes! We’ve been giving them away and putting piles of them out on the corner for anyone who wants them. Our neighbors don’t like them and allow us to pick up the ones that fall on their grass. They’re delicious! I used some that weren’t completely ripe to ferment with onions, and garlic. We liked them that way. Green ones we shred and put in salads– also good.

    The organization I volunteer for can’r use onions and so we had a lot of organic red ones that I made into an onion compote. We haven’t used it yet, but it tasted fine.

    I’ve been making cuttings of various house plants and plan to have a plant yard sale when they’ve rooted. I hate throwing cuttings away and often give bare-root plants away through CraigsList .This week I gave 2 trunks full of macho ferns!
    Brandy, thanks for the blog and I was wondering if Winter would allow you to show us her special project she was working on for a grade.

    Happy week!

  47. Mini-Magnum bars go on sale here from time to time, but I don’t have much success in making them last when I get them. Good thing they aren’t available at the sale price all the time!

  48. We finally got to see Hubby’s side of the family. Everyone was vaccinated with his parents being the last ones. It was for nephew’s graduation/ Father’s day combination. The only sad part was Hubby’s dad announced he has Alzheimer’s , we knew they had mild dementia. He called each of us by name and told us he loved us in case the next time he saw us he didn’t remember us. They were the ones that took care of the grandparents and MIL brother. He is the eldest of his siblings. They did say the doctor told him to quit watching war shows and the news. Catch the weather and then either shut the tv off or turn it to something happy.
    We are being careful of even buying necessities with going through a refinance off a FHA loan (PMI on for entire length of loan) to a regular loan where the PMI comes off automatically at 22%. If we just make the payment the amount we pay now, we would have it paid in full in 12 yrs. I always pay extra. Waiting for the appraisal (who stated there are no home in the entire county to compare our to… I don’t think that was a good thing.

    The gardens are coming in… peaches are in season and coming in the bulk stores so are apples. My days are focused on putting food in the pantry for winter. Strawberries ended just in time for blueberriesa
    and blackberries to start up.

    We have started looking at Blue Zones lifestyle and diet. I got 3 books on Amazon prime day along with dehydrator screens, spice grinder and my Resveratrol(OTC) that my doctor put me on for cholesterol and I found out it also helps lessen dementia. I paid ZERO out of pocket due to Amazon coupon and cash back points. I held off on some other things that need replaced until I can get them for zero out of pocket. Hubby went to Menards for rebar for the cement that is getting poured in a week or two for the basement ramp. Picked up some odds and ends we needed for other projects. He used Menards rebates so ZERO out of pocket for that.
    Blessed be everyone. Brandy enjoy your trip and be safe.

    1. How loving and how brave of your father-in-law! May your family members continue to be blessings to each other.

  49. As an alternative to soup, I made a quinoa salad. Bits of leftover veggies, cucumber, beans (I used chickpeas), diced peppers, tomatoes and cooked quinoa, tossed with olive oil, lime juice, a bit of vinegar, pepper. SO good. I don’t want anything warm right now so this was a great way to get my veggies and use them.

  50. I did quite a large shop, for a single person, and was shocked at how much prices have gone up!

    I needed to pay very close attention to the new pricing and did without many of my previous normal purchases.

    Since I live in an apartment and have no balcony I have no place to try and grow food. I tried previously in pots outside but some other tenant helped themselves to the harvests 😡.

    Since I did a large shop this time I will have time to redo my price book and to research more frugal meals again.

  51. Brandy, the color of the flowers in the arrangement are beautiful. If you ever have a card reject a charge like that again or a charge that would seem very unusual for you to your bank, call them ahead of time to expect it and they will let it go through. We found that out when we were trying to send transcripts for classes DS took in school through our community college. I called and that’s what they told me so we ran it through again and everything was fine.

    I have continued eating from freezer and pantry. On the hot, humid days it is wonderful to pull something out partially or all the way cooked to make a meal quicker without heating the house up. I made a Strawberry Jello Salad for something cool to enjoy. We only bought milk and oranges all week.

    We were running air only for a few minutes a couple times a day, but with some humid days we have had the last couple weeks it is shortly for three times a day, with the exception of one very humid day. Overall its been cooler than usual. Crops are running a month behind. I don’t remember a year quite like this ever. We will see if it really heats up around July 4th and stays that way. As forecasted for the year we did not have the month of mostly rain we have had. It has been around us at times. I canned salsa and found I have another bag of tomatoes ready to use. I have green peppers, but need more red. There will be plenty soon. There were a few other surprises down in the freezer the farther down I go. I measured and looked for other containers for the freezer. They have changed sizes just enough that I couldn’t get what I wanted. I thought of another way to rearrange things but I need to measure again to determine if its workable.

    DS and I both cut our hair this week. I did the best I have ever done on the back by doing the hardest part first. We also trimmed a dogwood that needed it more than I thought. DS also clipped a little more from another one. There is a lot more to do. I combined boxes of supplies in the office like staples and got rid of more papers. DH did some also. I have gotten some more things ready to sew. I went through some long ago vacation pictures and found many duplicates and fuzzy ones that I deleted. DS found his camera would take multiple pictures if you held the button down and was enjoying the Watch and Clock Museum making something like a flip book. One clock wasn’t working so there was no need for so many pictures of it. I bought a Swiffer Wet Jet to replace my other one for small cleanups. The guys didn’t use it last year and the batteries corroded. A piece got broken trying to get them out.

    For Father’s Day we had a late breakfast in the car and went walking on a trail that didn’t look like anyone had been on at all since the pandemic. Paths were narrower than usual with a lot of new growth. The path through the rhododendrons was actually wider as was the creek. There were mini falls over rocks that was very peaceful to listen to and watch. Young DS had walked in it with his shoes to pick up rocks. I noticed on the other side of the creek was a little truck that had been left on a big rock. I suspect that child was unhappy when he got home without it. We saw a box turtle and some beautiful patches of ferns. It was a very nice afternoon. On the way home we forgot to stop by Kroger and went back to another delightful surprise. A guy was playing a violin hooked to a speaker and I think his children were sitting against the wall of the store where he could see them. We could hear it as we parked. He stopped playing after that song and left. I think he was playing for donations. His talent was evident by the song he was playing. I cannot remember the name but hummed it for two days.

    I called my Aunt for the second time in two weeks only to have my cousin’s wife answer the phone this time. My Aunt has Alzheimer’s and does not know anyone now and has to be fed. She has had other health problems and falls leading up to this. From what I heard I think she is close to the end. I found the last pictures we took when we visited her. I am getting everything ready as I want to go to her funeral if at all possible like I did when her husband, my mother’s brother, died. I loved to stay with them when we went to see my Grandparents probably in my preteen years on up. They had moved back to Tennessee right beside them. I am just glad I was able to tell her the last couple times how much they both meant to me. I only wish some of my other cousins had gotten to know them better. They didn’t have as much as some of the rest, but their love of family was evident. Their children never got in any trouble and stayed close. When their parents moved a few miles away as they grew up they bought lots on the same street and continued their close family.

    Have a wonderful week!

  52. *The weeks seem to go by so quickly anymore that I often forget the things I do. This past week my father gifted me 50 bare root strawberry plants and 4 small blueberry plants. He purchased them on sale from Stark and ordered more than he could use, so he said but I know he ordered extra for my family. I was extremely thankful as we don’t have any strawberry plants and only a handful of blueberry plants.
    *I made all our meals at home, which for our family and allergies/dietary needs, is just normal for us but I know saves us SO much money.
    *We made a trip to Aldi to stock-up on some basics, they are a fraction of a cost there versus locally. We make the trip every 2-3 months. It takes almost 2 hours to get there but we packed breakfast, lunch and dinner and made a day trip of it. We stopped at the National River, walked a few trails and drove through Branson looking at the sights. It was so nice to have a safe family outing and stock up on many things I am getting low on.
    *I have always kept a fairly well stocked pantry but really stocked up at the beginning of Covid. Some things I am getting very low on and have started making lists of things I need to add back into our pantry. Our rural county is considered 1 of 2 extreme hotspots for Covid in the state. It has started to blow up again just in the last two weeks so I want to go into the fall/winter with a fully stocked pantry again.
    *We started the process to refinance our mortgage. If everything goes properly it will lower our payments by $93 a month and our term will remain the same, so I am really praying it all falls into place.
    *I’ve been able to harvest lettuce, spinach and swiss chard from the garden daily as well as green onions, rosemary, thyme and sage. I have started picking some green beans. My corn is looking like some will be ready in the next two weeks, as will yellow squash and tomatoes. We picked our first blueberries of the year but the kids enjoyed them before we even made it indoors.
    This year I worked hard on transplanting all my self-seeded veggies and flowers in the garden. I have resisted the urge to purchase flowers and instead have sown seeds. My zinnias are starting to bud and my marigolds are in full bloom. My lavender plants are large and luscious as are my salvia and bee balm. I wish more were blooming currently but I am being patient and waiting for my seeds to bloom. I have tried hard to grow things the last two years my family really enjoys and some have not been successful, even with extra care. I have decided next year to grow more of what does well to make the space more productive.
    *I haven’t meal planned in months, just used what I have but I have noticed I have used so much more meat, so I’ve started meal planning again. I love the certainty of knowing what I am making and it makes me more mindful of what I am using as well.
    *We made popsicles using 100% fruit juice from canned fruit that was eaten with meals or as snacks.
    *Our backyard flock isn’t exactly frugal but we get 6 eggs most days so we enjoy having a constant supply. It is a huge plus that the children love their domesticated hens.
    Although I often don’t comment, I truly enjoy reading the posts weekly and all the comments. It is encouraging to see the entire community trying to live their best lives, even frugally.

  53. It was little one’s third birthday last week and we had a lot of fun. I collect party supplies all through the year and we did not have to spend a penny on balloons (she loved them), party hats or wrapping paper. We bought her two books from a charity shop, two puzzle boxes, both from Olio given to us for free by those who don’t need them. I made a big goodie box for her with some juice, chips, puffy snacks, chocolates and stickers. This was her favourite gift. We also got her a scooter and a helmet using some of the free gift cards for Argos. We did not have a party but had a video call with family and cut a cake, bought from the grocery store for about £3. She loves cupcakes so we took her to Costa coffee and she chose a big cupcake with a big chunk of chocolate on top. We took advantage of a deal on pizza to get a large pizza for an early dinner. I had initially budgeted the birthday for about £50 without gifts but even with the pizza, we ended up spending less than £15.
    My pain had receded over the last few months but it has come back along with the anxiety and I have been struggling for the past week or so. Still, we have managed to steer clear of take-out. I do wish we have more coupons here in the UK but the cashback apps here are quite good and we usually buy treats when they are eligible for 100% cashback.

    1. Such a sweet birthday party. Too many birthday parties here are “extravangazas” even for toddlers. I still send my granddaughters snack boxes with their favorite treats and some they are unable to purchase where they live. They love them and both are in their twenties.

  54. I haven’t commented in awhile but do read the posts every week.
    My daughter recently had a birthday and it was nice to be able to have the grandparents over since they have all been vaccinated now. She wanted an ice cream cake so I did splurge on that but otherwise kept it low key and within the budget I had set. That was a nice feeling as I have certainly gone overboard in the past.
    Hope everyone has a great frugal week !

  55. Hello friends! Let’s see…..
    My garden is producing! I have never had a garden before so I overplanted a lot of things, not sure if any of them would work (do I need 50 snap pea plants and 12 tomato plants? no, I do not). But I am so grateful to have the fresh produce just outside my kitchen! We are expecting a major heatwave in Portland this weekend (108, 113, and 109). For reference, in recorded history, there has never been a year in which Portland had more than 2 days over 100 degrees. We are expecting 3 days in a row. Oof. I would guess 90% of Portland homes/apartments do not have air conditioning because we so rarely get this kind of heat. Tonight I begin the process of deep watering to hopefully ensure all the garden survives. Cross your fingers!
    In preparation for the heat, I made a quick stop at Trader Joe’s to get just a few things so that we wouldn’t have to use the oven or stove at all for the next week. I got burrito fixings and popsicles. Priorities!
    I have been keeping the blinds drawn, windows closed. Trying to keep the cool in and use the A/C sparingly (I am VERY lucky to have A/C in my 112 year old home).
    I am house/cat sitting for my neighbors. They got out of town camping to avoid the heat and took the dogs but someone needs to keep an eye on the kitties and their garden. This is frugal because they will return the favor when I (eventually) go somewhere again haha.
    I have been watching Clarkson’s Farm on Amazon prime and let me tell you it is a hoot! I don’t have cable so my family and I each have a different subscription service and we all share the passwords to them. It works out nicely for us all.
    That’s all I can think of for the moment. I hope all of you are doing well and staying safe.

    1. You can freeze the peas to eat all winter in stir fries.
      The tomatoes can be canned, dried, or roasted and then frozen.

      It doesn’t sound like you have too much to me at all!

  56. Joyce, my son’s favorite ice cream cake is the grasshopper pie from Baskin & Robbins. The last time I bought one (a couple of years ago) it cost $18. I make my own with a pre-made Oreo crust and a 48 oz. carton of mint chocolate chip ice cream. Let the ice cream stand for about 20 minutes at room temperature, then scoop into the crust. It will be soft enough to spread around and fill the crust. Put the pie in the freezer for a couple of hours to harden before serving with hot fudge sauce, whipped cream and a cherry. If you have hot fudge or chocolate sauce and a can of whipped cream in the fridge, the pie will cost under $5 and take less than 5 minutes to make. “The boy” will be 43 next month and this will be his birthday cake. I have made this with other flavors of ice cream and crusts (caramel ripple flavors of ice cream are very good with graham cracker crust) but this is his fave and the one he wants every birthday.

    1. Maxine –
      Thanks for the suggestion, it sounds easy and delicious ! My daughter’s favorite is the reese’s peanut butter chocolate ice cream cake. I hadnt thought of trying to deconstruct it to learn how to make it on my own. Thanks !

  57. Lisa, my husband just had his 2nd shoulder surgery so I have lots of tips.

    Clothes: I bought some shirts a size larger (thrift shop) or used old shirts to modify. For the first week or two, we slit shirts/undershirts from the underside of the surgery-side (hereafter SS) sleeve about 2/3 the way down. (The 1st time he had it, we slit it all the way and I sewed in velcro or we just tucked it around under the sling. This new way works much better.) This way, you can put the SS arm sort of in first, pull the body part over head, the other arm in, then pull down. Plan to have someone help you dress and bathe; just accept it. Minimize zippers, buttons, snaps, etc as it’s super hard to do with one arm. Yes, buttoned shirts and dresses are easier to put on.

    Meds: Allow yourself to sleep all day as needed for the first few days. Keep a written list with columns for each medicine to track when you take them. (Hubby had 5-6 prescribed meds–but stuck with OTC options in larger doses (aceteminophin, ibuprofin).) Stay ahead of the pain (meaning, for 2 weeks, take pain meds by the clock, not waiting until you feel pain–it’s easier to stay ahead than to chase it). Alternate tylenol and ibuprofin (we worked out an every 2-4 hours schedule–and had to get up round the clock the first 2 nights.) Doc had him start a muscle relaxer prescription a few days before surgery which made a big difference. Post-surgery, anti-twitch medicine helped with muscle cramps–obviously all has to be discussed/prescribed. Doc told him to ice all the time for 2 weeks–that made a huge difference. We bought a bag of ice a day for the first week–an ice maker can’t keep up. Dollar Tree just started carrying 7# bags here. Walmart is around $2 for 10#, grocery stores more. If you can talk the surgery center into 2 ice bags to take home with you, they work better than anything we’ve found locally. Multiple soft gel packs or the kind that have a velcro strap to secure around the part can help.

    Sleep: Hubby doesn’t sleep well in a recliner (hasn’t slept through the night since surgery 4 weeks ago–always has to get up for tylenol, but now only once a night). The physical therapist suggested a small pillow under the SS shoulder and support under the SS arm. That helped. Once he could remove the brace for awhile at night, sleeping was a little easier.

    Misc: Not all doctors tell you to use stool softener for the first few days after surgery, but many do as it is apparently needed (I’ve never had surgery, just been the frequent support person!!). Let someone else get things out of the microwave and consider what’s easiest to eat with one hand, especially if the SS is your dominant hand. I feel like I’ve forgotten a bunch, but hope that helps. Most of all–good luck. I hope that surgery goes well, that your recovery is quick and as painfree as possible.

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