My husband and I both got a coupon on our Albertson’s app for $5 off a $5 purchase. We used the coupon on the app to buy 2 pounds of strawberries each for the unbelievably low price of $0.67 a pound (usually they have been $2.50 a pound on sale; the regular price at Albertson’s is almost $4 a pound). The limit was 2 pounds, so we each bought 2. We then bought chicken thighs on sale for $0.97 a pound. The total cost was $1.20 for two large packages of chicken thighs (almost 8 pounds) and 4 pounds of strawberries.

I bought cherries on sale for the incredibly low price of $0.97 a pound.

I used part of the strawberries to make strawberry popsicles.

I sewed my daughter’s camp patch on her camp sweatshirt.

My husband and I listened to a comedian from Dry Bar comedy on YouTube one night.

My daughters attended their church youth camp. This is much less money than other camps. They paid for their own youth camp expenses by babysitting.

For camp, they are each assigned a secret sister. They then do nice things for that girl and are also able to give a few small trinkets (not more than $3 in total). The week before last, I took my daughters to the Dollar Tree, where they picked out items and bought them themselves for their gifts. The girls also added a pretty pocket folder from school supplies that my mom had bought at a garage sale to each of the gifts.

My son has been wanting to make a bullet journal. There were a couple of journals in the box that my mom bought over. He didn’t care for the color of one, so he took off the cover and made himself a new cover using cardboard and the plastic from an old binder. Now he has a journal that he likes.

My children did some crafts with construction paper and glue sticks that we were given by a neighbor who no longer needed them. My three-year-old is delighted that he has learned to use scissors and wanted to cut paper into a million pieces. My eleven-year-old helped him glue them to paper to make faces.

I pinched my zinnia plants to force them to produce side shoots and more blooms. A few of my zinnias are just starting to open, but most plants are still small. I’m grateful to have a few blooms in the garden.

I put a one-gallon ice cream bucket under the air conditioner drip pipes (they are on the opposite side of our house from the air conditioners). It has been both hot and humid, and when it is humid in July, I can collect several gallons of water a day from this. I use it to water the potted plants in the garden. The rest of the year it is not humid enough for any water to come out, even though we use the air conditioner for six months of the year, so I always try to use this while I can. Last year, when we went 240 days without rain, it wasn’t humid enough to collect water.

I read a couple of e-books from the library, including Eternal, which I really enjoyed. Thanks to the reader who recommended it!

My daughters need some new clothes, which I ordered the week before last from Shein. They have the same items I have seen on other websites, but for two to three times less. I also ordered a few extra things that I will put aside for Christmas gifts for one daughter. I had a large enough order free shipping and they offered me a coupon for another 20% off my purchase. I cannot choose what my daughters will pick for themselves anymore, so knowing what they like and buying it on sale ensures they’ll get a gift they like within my budget. They’re at an age where they are reaching their full height, so hopefully, the items will fit them for many years to come.

My husband and I started making our garden obelisks. We couldn’t find what we wanted in the size that we need, and the cost of materials for us to make them is what it would have cost me to order something that same shape but that would have been much too small for my needs. I plan to use these to grow tomatoes, snow peas, cucumbers, and long noodle beans. We are bending steel to make these and my husband is welding them together. I will clean the metal and paint it when he finishes them.

I took more cuttings from the single sweet potato vine that I bought to make more plants in the garden. I am having 100% success with rooting these in water. They are a decorative vine only (they don’t produce food) that only grows in the summer. I transplanted previously rooted cuttings to two pots this past week and will plant these next ones in empty pots too. I think that next year I will buy one of these plants when they are first available at the nursery and take cuttings as it grows to fill a myriad of pots in the summer as I am doing this year, but by starting earlier, I’ll have full pots sooner.

What did you do to save money last week?

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221 Comments

  1. Brandy- it sounds like you really scored with your grocery shopping!! I love when things “fall into place” that way!!
    More even beans from the garden- filled two more freezer bags with 24 Oz in each bag!! We also harvested 2 bell peppers (capsicum) and 3 more cucumbers!! Using Marivene’s method for weeding, as I harvested in the garden, I also filled1 big bucket with lots of green weeds which I then gave to our chickens to eat up!

    We rented a big dumpster and put out the word to friends that we were hiring people (teenagers and adults) to help us empty out two of our basements into it in a major decluttering mission! We had several people take us up on this! It saves our knees from all those stairs plus it’s getting done so much faster than if we did it ourselves! We pay in cash at the end of the same day and that has been appreciated by several. https://pin.it/1AFzWtf. We were also able to have them bring up from the basement another van load of scrap metal to recycle today! Maybe it will only be a dollar or two, but maybe it will be $44 like last week! Regardless, it’s clearing out things that are just gathering dust!!

    On the business front, I’ve quilted #153, #154, #155, #156 and #157 this week- https://pin.it/41p7mz2 and https://pin.it/2b3T1Pl and https://pin.it/5bVytXR and https://pin.it/33vnVS6 and https://pin.it/31baEZX . I have 1 more from a returning client that I hope to finish by Tuesday when another repeat client is bringing a bed quilt over!

    We redeemed another $10 cash back from our credit card into our savings account.

    We got word this week that we have been approved for the Homestead Exemption starting with 2021 property taxes! That should trim $500 at least off of our property taxes!!

    Our weather has mellowed out- temps in mid-80’s and rain twice or three times a week- spectacular for our gardens! I see our first zucchini set on and, in watching some of my favorite YouTube gardeners, it’s time next week to plant peas, beans, lettuce for a second season crop!! I’m excited about extending our garden year! Looks like our bean harvest will be enough to ensure that we won’t need to buy any green beans from store before next summer’s harvest!! I love that! Now, if I could just get a great pea harvest! I missed the spring planting for this year, but what I’m hearing now is that, in our climate, peas planted in late summer produce substantially more!! So fingers crossed!!

    The weeks seem to be flying by and getting filled with so much to do and so many commitments for our time! It must be a result of growing older! But we are thoroughly enjoying our lives with all the bumps and bruises along the way and we recognize that we are extremely blessed in our circumstances!
    Hope everyone has a wonderful, prudent week ahead!

    Gardenpat in Ohio
    HandmadeinOldeTowne.com

    1. As soon as we can finish making obelisks, I will be planting beans around them. I have only planted at this time once, and it was bush beans. I only got two beans. I have since learned about long pole beans being the recommended type here, but I still have only planted in spring. The vines give me a couple of harvests before they burn to a crisp in the heat. I may be changing my planting calendar to July for beans if I see greater success this time. I would love to grow enough beans for our family. I have never been able to grow very many. They like humidity, which is in short supply here, save for in July.

      1. We made trellis’s out of panels that you make driveways from Lowes originally $7 a panel earlier this year now $15 a panel sigh. We attached 2 together and formed like a house shape if that makes sense. I planted cucumbers on one which are climbing up them great ( Oh we zip tied them together and planted seeds in cinder blocks inside and outside of them). Anyways we had planted 54 Bush beans and pole beans this spring and those are doing great. Just put 2 more of the trellis’s together this weekend and planted 32 more pole beans ( Kentucky Wonder) today for a fall crop. In Ohio they say we should really plant bush beans for a fall crop but I’m going to gamble and see what happens. I like the pole beans they are very long pods. Anna In Ohio.

    2. Hi Gardenpat, I am also doing a second planting. I tried a very late one last year (end of August into September) and was pleasantly surprised with what I was able to harvest. This year, I am planting sooner and will get those peas in (I, too, missed the spring planting). Would be wonderful to get bumper crops. I just planted zucchini seeds (couldn’t find any starts and didn’t know enough to start one for this timing). Read that if you plant them mid-July you will get zucchini without the infestations of the vine borers. Same with cucumbers. I have found Hakuri turnips to be prolific producers and much less strong and fibrous than the purple globe ones. My garden has been and is producing them and I harvested them through last winter and into spring. I live in North Central Illinois so similar climate as yours, I believe. Brandy, I grew yard long beans on your recommendation last year and loved them. I have bamboo sticks which they climb and am waiting to harvest them. Thank you!

      1. So glad they grew well for you! I love growing a larger vegetable in the same space as I have planted shorter vegetables!

      2. Laura S- Last year we planted zucchini in late July and were amazed that the vine borers that decimated our cucumbers earlier were completely gone by the time we harvested zucchini!! Hope you have similar good luck. I was so disappointed not to get my peas in this Spring and have a nice big unopened seed packet! So this weekend or next week, I will make space for them!! This year I’m trying to be more “mindful” about our gardens and harvest so there is less waste- of garden space, of time lost by not planting and of produce that goes bad before it’s picked!! So far, so good!!
        Gardenpat in Ohio
        HandmadeinOldeTowne.com

        1. Interesting how different conditions influence even what we eat. When I was gardening–in quite a small garden–I was able to grow bush green beans in sufficient quantities to feed a family of four and can enough for us and for my parents, 12 quarts a year which I presented for Christmas-my mother loved making vegetable soup all winter. I did get very tired of picking beans, but I got that many from 3-4 25 foot rows.
          At the same time one of my friends grew tomatoes in her much larger garden and when she finished canning her 100+ jars of tomato products, she would invite me to glean what I wanted from the rest. I usually took about a half bushel, sometimes a whole bushel, and shared with my parents. That did not take all she had, and she offered them to a couple other friends as well.
          Green beans were not all I grew as I changed veggies every year–one year growing 14 different ones in very little space. I had lots of weeding because I planted them much closer together than recommended, but it worked with careful tending. Beets grew well too if you got them to germinate in the first place. We love beets. I am not able to garden any more and I have to hire some help just to keep it tidy.

          1. That amount is really eye-opening. I don’t have the space for 25-foot rows, and certainly not 3 or 4 rows that long! The longest space I have is 35 feet, and there is space for 2 rows there. I will definitely have to plant more if there is a way to do so!

            1. Brandy- My raised bed space that I have green beans planted in is about 2 foot wide by 6 foot! I plant intensively. Here’s the green bean part circled in the photo before it filled in completely! https://pin.it/3dS4Hvn

              So, as gardens go, it’s not a huge space allotted to green beans, but our harvest is exciting and with the idea of a second planting and harvest, we are quite pleased!

              Gardenpat in Ohio
              HandmadeinOldeTowne.com

              1. Thanks! It is very interesting to see how everyone’s fences come together where you live! Very different from here with our cinderblock walls.

    3. I am in love with the “dwell in possibility” quilt–any chance the owner would be interested in selling it to me? Thanks!

      1. Laura- I love that quilt too. My 85 year old client who made it already has plans to give it to a granddaughter at their reunion in 2 weeks! I can check to see what fabric panels she used for the center and let you know so you might be able to get it and make yourself one!
        Good luck!

    4. I’m actively seeking peace in my life. We are at 34 solid months of chemotherapy with my mother. The changes in her mind are just devastating. The stress has caused my medical problems to go nuts. I simply can’t get my thyroid under control and it makes me feel almost manic. I want to shop constantly and absolutely must keep this under control. I’m trying hard. I canceled a cruise we had and rescheduled it. That took a great deal of time researching options which kept my mind occupied. I settled on a much better deal and hope sugar cookie will enjoy it. It may simply get postponed over and over but gives her something to look forward to. I’m traveling to Florida on a 5 day trip in a few weeks. I paid for the $600.00 expense by cashing in swag bucks. I also spent many hours researching and plotting the cheapest way to have a vacation. It poured rain today. I dumpster dove as its the perfect time. I brought home lots of organic items. Meats, fruits and vegetables. I deep cleaned my refrigerator which was very much needed. I found bleach pods in there that had been purchased a while back. Gasoline continues to rise in price. I’m continuing to fill up for 20 cents less at one particular station. We got free subs at Subway from a recent promotion. I’m not sleeping but I’m not shopping online so I’m still ahead of the game. Blessed be dear friends.

      1. You sound so stressed Liliana – you have certainly had a rough time with everything this past year and more. Please take care of yourself – so many others rely upon you being healthy.

      2. Lillianna, I’m sending good thoughts and wishes to you and your mother. Despite all the stress, you have accomplished so much. Best wishes.

    5. Gardenpat,
      I have a little over an acre in S. OR with a house on it. How does one qualify for the Homestead Exemption?
      Thank you,
      Shirley Lenz,

      1. I’m not Gardenpat, who is in Ohio, but homestead/homeowner’s exemptions are on local property taxes. Call your county assessor to see if Oregon has one…they didn’t used to, but this could have changed since I lived there.

      2. Shirley Lens- every state in US is different, I suspect. Here in Ohio, the Homestead Exemption is available for owner-occupied primary residence. The exemption takes the form of a credit on property tax bills.
        The homestead exemption for senior and disabled persons allows eligible homeowners to exempt the first $25,000 of their home’s appraised value from taxation. For example, an eligible owner of a home with an appraised value of $100,000 will be billed as if the home were valued at $75,000.
        The enhanced homestead exemption for disabled veterans and the homestead exemption for surviving spouses of public service officers killed in the line of duty allows eligible homeowners to exempt the first $50,000 of their home’s appraised value from taxation. For example, an eligible owner of a home with an appraised value of $100,000 will be billed as if the home were valued at $50,000.
        It is income based as well and uses our Ohio adjusted gross income (from our state tax form) to determine eligibility. Our 2019 AGI was too high because Hubs didn’t retire until June 2019 + we had a pension lump sum disbursement that bumped our income up. For 2020 taxes, we qualified. Yay!!
        Check your state and see! It’s worth checking!

        Gardenpat in Ohio
        HandmadeinOldeTowne.com

  2. What a lovely week you had, Brandy! It is inspiring to read that your daughters earn money by babysitting!

    Here is what we did to save money last week:
    * We gladly left the air conditioner off and used a fan when necessary.
    * I was excited to harvest lettuce and dill from our small container garden!
    * I continued to read a book I had purchased several years ago.
    * I sent a present which was two books and used media rate postage.
    * I ate unprocessed food and took vitamins to avoid high medical bills in the future and to feel good now.
    * It was a joy to take walks outside for free exercise, fresh air, and Vitamin D.
    * We ordered our groceries online and paid the same less for organic than we would have for conventional food.
    * It was a delight to go blueberry picking with a family member!

  3. Hello Brandy, I had a fun visual of your three year old and the scissors, along with a trail of debris and glue left behind ;). Our week was quiet, Phoenix weather has been hot and humid, and we finally are having a monsoon and rain! We spent most of the week indoors, trying to catch up on our to do lists (for interior projects). For fun we watched free movies or documentaries on You Tube or Amazon prime. I set a small amount of money aside for July groceries. It was very difficult for me to NOT buy “on sale” items this week. I really enjoy finding food items on sale but can spend too much, so am practicing self restraint….again!

  4. Hi Brandy, I read news that your area received considerable rain. I hope this cools things down for you, even if only for a short amount of time. After looking on Google for garden obelisks I understand the different interpretations of these in gardening and also was able to see the price point for some are quite high. Finding ways to save money can lead to great results. I’m excited to see your final product!

    In Florida I continue to purchase items in bulk slowly for hurricane preparedness. Although we’re half way through Summer, I remember hurricane Irma made landfall in early September taking the kids out of school for two weeks. We had no power for a week after. And some in my neighborhood longer. We now have three cases of water and a case of Gatorade in the laundry room along with flats of canned items, as well as a box of MRE meals for up to four people for 30 days. Spending money on items we wont use immediately doesn’t seem fun, but I remember what being inadequately supplied was like too…

    My son is in week two of his STEM camp with the school district and loves it. He’s started talking about future career paths and I am excited about his interest.

    Over the weekend we moved about 50 cement cylinder blocks from the house we’re selling to the one we live in. I am considering making garden beds from these, and if not I will sell them. We put about half as much on the curb for garbage pick up. The property we are selling had so much concrete block, curbing, and breeze block…I dont know what the previous people were planning to use it for. But I have thrown out over a dumpsters worth of damaged product, and given away as much. I am excited that we are almost done with it. When you sell a home the last thing you want is for potential new owners to see ‘projects’.

    Wishing everyone a safe, healthy, and productive week!

    1. Most of the rain fell on the other side of town. The garden is enjoying the humidity here. I saw several people’s videos yesterday of it pouring in the valley, but it was 45 minutes from here. I live in the driest spot in the valley. Still, rain in the general area is good and runoff will go to Lake Mead.

    2. Ashley, those cement blocks make great raised garden beds, and they don’t deteriorate over time. Don’t be in a big hurry to get rid of them, if you garden at all!

      1. I agree I have bought so many lately it seems like I should own stock in the company lol.. I direct plant in each hole and it works good at least for green beans.

      2. You can plant in the hole, as Anna is doing, but I was thinking more of building a perimeter and filling the center. 4 ft. wide is good, any length you want.

    3. Please look at “A Working Pantry” on blogspot. Patsy has built all of her raised beds from concrete blocks and she really fills them full of plantings.

  5. Hello Everyone!
    This week I picked up library books for the first time in years! Our library has a small selection of books outdoors plus people’s requested holds. They’ll reopen the library building in August.

    It was chilly last week in the low 60s. It’s absurd to consider turning on one’s heater in July. I resisted! The cloudy, overcast weather seem to have stunted my veggies. No ripened tomatoes this week. 😕

    I’m teaching my daughter to sew. I picked up an easy skirt pattern on sale a few weeks ago. She chose some fabric at JoAnn 60% off plus coupons. It wasn’t terribly expensive, yet I wonder how others get fabric for less? Thrift clothing (bought for the fabric) doesn’t always have enough yardage. Any tips for finding frugal fabric?

    We’ve been so busy this summer that the house has gotten a bit neglected. I’ve been deep cleaning under, behind and above. It makes a meaningful difference to live in a tidy, clean home. There’s still more to do!

    Skylights are fading our furniture. They have a UV film over them, but it’s still too much. I’ve been investigating investing in skylight shades. However, it’s not at the top of our priority list. I’m considering sewing some drapery lining (that I already have) to mount, shirred, on tension rods for the time being. I would need to buy tension rods though. I’m still thinking through this issue. 🤔 If anyone has a brilliant solution, please let me know! 😊

    I planned out our August budget using the Every Dollar app, free version. It really helps to have a purpose for every dollar. No guilt when buying something needed when it’s planned for. I recently went to the outlets for some new trainers. Nike had nothing under $65 and I didn’t like the updated style and fit. I went to Reebok and found fitting great trainers for $25! Shopping around pays off. 💵

    Costco was missing brown sugar, orange juice concentrate, cocoa powder and a few other things. It has been hit and miss! I hope they’ll have it next time I return.

    Great deals on the fruit Brandy! I haven’t seen prices like those in years. Have a blessed and beautiful week! 🌻

    1. Hi Julie,
      Yard sales can be a great place to find fabric. Also, old sheets can be turned into many items. I shop the fabric clearance bins at Hobby Lobby sometimes. My Costco was short on canned veggies and vinegar. I am wondering if it is because of the shortage of cans? The overhead storage was empty in many areas, and in over half of the food section it was filled in with pallets of blankets, towels, pillows, anything but food. I took pictures because it was very concerning, but not surprising given what I have been reading here and elsewhere. One thing I have especially noticed over the last months is that the household battery supply is dwindling (AA, AAA, C, D and 9 volt). I mentioned this to a friend when showing her the photos and she said she hadn’t thought about batteries so was adding that to her urgent list. Maybe this will help someone else out here. 🙂

      1. Laura, Thank for the fabric tip! I do need to attend more yard sales. I should check our battery stock. I didn’t know that supply was affected, too.

    2. A friend in the hospitality industry said boxes of chicken wings have gone from $40 to $240. Last Sunday, we had brunch at a restaurant that had no crab dishes because it has skyrocketed in price. They also had no bell peppers for omelets and were out of the peach syrup needed to make one flavor of their mimosas. This is not the first restaurant I’ve been in lately that did not have certain menu items available because they could not get one or more of the ingredients.

    3. Julie, there are 2 shopping websites I know of…Lehmam’s Country Fabrics and Good’s Store. Their fabric is about $4 to $5 per yard. They are popular with Mennonite sewers. There is a wide variety of patterns, majority in cotton-poly blends.

  6. It’s wonderful you’re able to find such good grocery bargains, when so many things are going up. I enjoyed your garden video on IG, and seeing how it’s all coming together. Last week, I canned tomatoes 2 days, and have 20 quarts to add to the pantry. From the garden, besides tomatoes, I harvested a tromboncino squash, blueberries, a few blackberries, basil, oregano, and a cucumber, and spotted the first bloom of the yard long beans. A small amount of mushrooms were foraged several days, all but one chanterelles. A trip to a new discount grocery was a bust, but you never know until you check it out. We were nearby picking up a track that my husband put in my new workshop, for rolling orders into the powder coat oven. A blueberry pie was baked. We were gifted cucumbers, honey and a bit of sweetgrass to plant, and we shared eggs and several comfrey plants. After several days of running a/c, we were able to open up after rain began last night. We really enjoy the fresh air, and savings too! My husband noticed an interesting caterpillar on our elderberry, which turned out to be from the Saturniid moth, the largest moth in N. America. http://abelabodycare.blogspot.com/2021/07/creepy-crawlies-preserving-harvest.html

  7. It has been a hectic week here.
    I have had 2 “larger than life” bills this month. It has me pinched to the limit.
    With food prices going up more every week it has been a true struggle to eat well.
    I cut my coffee consumption to one cup in the morning when the price of coffee went up. I may have to give it up all together if the price doesn’t even out soon.
    Coffee is up 18% over last year.
    I buy coffee only when it is on sale and I buy a years worth at a time. I do this with tea also. I am down to 2 months worth so was looking to stock up again.
    I only spent $80.00 worth on food this month. There will be more, but not much. We are eating down the freezer and pantry as the last few months have been a struggle here.
    I am making items to sell, in my Etsy shop, from fabric I have here.
    What with purging, purging and more purging I am down to fabric and yarn that I will really use. I am hoping to have no outlay for shop items this year. I spent hundreds last year and only sold 5 costumes and nothing else all year. With reason, but it was painful. I am hoping for a better “shop year” this year.
    We continue to work in the garden with very little success. I have had only about a dozen green beans and they have been nothing to rave about. I have some pickle cucumbers that are supposed to be small.
    I’m not sure what we are doing wrong…if anything.
    I do seem to have pumpkins growing like mad.
    We are doing the usual stuff to save.
    Not much else new.

    1. Becky, I start my morning with a large glass of water.

      Last winter, I drank more herbal tea than I have in years. I really enjoyed peppermint and lemon verbena. I planted more lemon verbena this year in the garden to dry for winter. It still isn’t growing much (it’s supposed to get 4 to 6 feet tall and mine usually is only a foot tall) but I hope that having more plants will help. I only dried a little bit of peppermint last year for tea. I usually just grow it for using fresh. I loved it last year and so I plan to harvest a lot more this year before winter. Of course, I had to dig out my peppermint with the garden makeover, but I managed to save some plants, and they will spread. I’ve never willed mint to grow so quickly! Ha! I am planning to drink more herbal tea in the future.

      Along that line, I have also planted seeds for Roselle Hibiscus. I just planted it, and it needs 5 months of growing, so I may not get any this year, but I plan to grow it from now on every year. I like this cold in summer. It’s an annual, so I need to grow enough to save seeds each year, which I hope to do.

      Pumpkin leaves are edible; perhaps someone here uses them. They are often used in stews.

      1. Brandy, I drink water the rest of the day, but I start my day with a cup of coffee and then a cup of tea later.
        I, also, grow mint for tea and tabouli. I have 3 mints growing this year. We cut it and I let it air dry.
        Pumpkin leaves? I will have to research that. I didn’t know you could eat them.
        Your garden is looking wonderful.
        Your pictures are mouth-watering. I can’t wait for you to sell them.
        Thanks for all you do.

      2. Fermented blackberry leaves also make a delicious floral tea. Just wrap a bunch on stems in a wet towel then bash them up with something heavy. Very therapeutic as a farmer 😂. Wrap and keep somewhere warm for a few days until they smell nice then dry.

    2. I didn’t finish my “chat” about my pickle cucumbers. Instead of being small they are growing round and yellow. We are watching for them and it seems that overnight they turn into these yellow “basketball” looking things.
      Does anyone have any idea why this is happening. I am stumped.
      Thanks in advance.

      1. Could they have been cross-pollinated with something else, like the pumpkins?

        1. Perhaps.
          My husband did the planting and my grandson came in shaking his head saying Papi had planted things in “his” plant area. Jake had planted pumpkins all over the place. *laughing* So it is a possibility.

          1. My Boston pickling cucumbers have done the very same thing this year. A first! We have had an inordinate amount of rain and blistering temperatures! I am attributing their underperformance to that!

      2. Becky, when our cucumbers yellowed, it often meant too much sun or not enough water or both. However, there is a tasty little round yellow cucumber called a lemon cucumber — could you have gotten those seeds by mistake?

        1. Perhaps I did. I bought these online and they came in little packages. This was from a private person not a company.
          I’ll try one to see what it is like.
          They are the cutest round yellow things.

          1. When I grew lemon cucumbers before, I found that they were very spiny on the outside and mostly seeds on the inside. They grew well for me, but I didn’t really feel like there was a lot there to eat, so I stopped planting them.

          2. Last year, I read a lot of complaints in our local garden group from people who planted regular cucumbers, but got lemon cucumbers instead. It seemed that there was a seed mix up! If they are lemon cucumbers, harvest them fairly small because the seeds get quite bitter.

    3. Hi Becky it’s a bit of work but you can dig wash and roast dandelion roots and Chicory roots for “coffee” I use them to extend my coffee and as a nice herbal “coffee” for my non coffee drinking friends. I grind them in a coffee grinder or my big herb grinder. They are delicious and have their own health benefits along with coffee.

  8. Wow Brandy-I am impressed with the prices you found on berries and chicken! I don’t know about others but I always find fresh chicken tastes the best-although of course I freeze it too. I continue to do my Mum’s shopping for her-she is 89 and I have a discount store right by my house. We had her for lunch on Saturday for farmers sausage, fresh from the Hutterite market peas and potatoes and fresh BC cherries for dessert. I also had he go through my fridge for a few fresh fruit and veg to take home.

    My neighbour kindly gave her a tour of her large vegetable garden-she loved it compared to my tiny one. Mum’s covered balcony garden has not been doing well so she dug up 5 tomato plants and I put them in pots on my sunny deck to see if they will produce anything for her here.

    My husband was shorted $1,000 on his EI payments last summer-and although it took several phone calls and about 8 months the $ finally landed in his account so we are pleased about that.

    We are counting down this last month to my husbands hip replacement Aug 18-finally! Slow but free.

  9. -The local food bank and one of the town’s grocery stores now have a waste reduction program so that about-to-expire meat, vegetables and dairy are available to anyone who can use them for free, and are no longer sent to the landfill. This week, I was able to pick up bone-in chicken breasts, a small pack of pork, a head of cauliflower, an onion and multigrain bread for free. The meat had been frozen, so I was able to thaw and cook it later in the week. I roasted the chicken and will use the bones to make broth.

    -I looked into people who could rebuild my front steps, and repair and paint the outside trim on my house. I had one company over who seemed to understand what I was wanting, and I am waiting for a quote.

      1. Yes, it will be interesting to see how it goes. The priority is for the regular food bank clients, but the woman who runs the food bank is helpful about pointing out which foods she has a surplus of in this program. The hours are different than for the food bank, too, with food being available at 6:00 pm some days, instead of during the day, so more working parents will be able to access it.

  10. Strawberries have seemed terribly expensive this year, so your deal was unbelievable! There’s a lot about rural life I don’t mind, but I do admit that not having more of a grocery store selection around me has been hard to adjust to, as there isn’t as much of a chance to score big deals.

    I am currently trying to root some carrot tops from carrots that I pulled out of the garden a week or two ago so that I can get flowers from them—they make a great filler flower in bouquets.

    I accepted some small jars from an aunt that can be used as bud vases, and I also picked up a few more vases for arrangements from the thrift store while we were there making a donation.

    We’ve been opening up the windows at night and turning off the A/C, which I hope should be reflected in our next utilities bill.

    We’re looking into buying an at-home hair cutting kit so that we can start cutting all our kids’ hair (and maybe having me cut my husband’s, if I can get over the nerves!) at home. If anyone has any recommendations of a high quality at-home kit, I’d love to know about it!

    1. This is the one we use. It’s wonderful!

      My husband told me, the first time I cut his hair (21 years ago!) that the difference between a bad haircut and a good haircut is two weeks. You can do this!

      1. Have enjoyed the fact that you include comments about your husband in your posts. How blessed are you to have such a capable and willing partner! Wonderful example for your children!

      2. Thank you for the recommendation! And I love the two week comment—makes me feel slightly less nervous, ha ha 🙂 And frugal win here—I’m going to get the kit even cheaper because I got a $20 credit for sharing my Personal Capital link! Frugal wins all around 🙂

        1. If you are nervous about cutting your husband’s hair, try just trimming around the edges, over the ears, and the back of his neck. Then shave the neckline. This will add a few more weeks before he goes to the barber. The next time he goes in for a haircut, go with him and watch.

    2. I also highly recommend the Wahl kit! However, despite using the razor oil, I found that the razor dulled after about 6 haircuts. However, I figured out how to resharpen it using a whetstone, and now have endless haircuts for that initial investment. But a razor just makes cutting hair easier; I’ve also learned how to do it using a hair comb and a pair of hair scissors. I can cut both a traditional men’s haircut and variations on a women’s pixie haircut (including on myself!) using just a pair of scissors. A little research via youtube and practice (like Brandy says, hair grows quickly!) is all that you need!

    3. Definitely do not buy the cheapie hair cutting kits. They have cheaper motors, they heat up fast, and they do not cut as well. We bought a set of Wahl Designer clippers, plus the peanut clippers, a couple decent capes, hair clips, combs and my husband had a really good pair of Japanese steel hair shears. We spent some money up front, but good tools last. My two teen boys get their haircuts every three weeks. I take a seat every couple months to have hubby trim my long hair, here is the method he uses,
      https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=36Ry3Dpm3lQ
      He does cut his own with a combination Of The Clippers with a large attachment and scissor over comb cutting on top. He does a great job every time on the haircuts, no buzz cuts for my boys, but their hair is kept short as they like it that way. I figure that I am saving well over a $1000 a year insourcing our haircuts. My best friend and my mom regularly have him cut their hair as they like his work and saving money be getting free haircuts. Definitely watch a lot of Youtube videos on techniques before attempting to cut hair.

  11. Decided to fill out an application for pandemic food stamps since school wasn’t full time until January. I wasn’t going to do it, but with prices increasing, I figured if approved, I can use it to stock up on groceries (mostly meat)

    Redbox finally had some new movies we wanted to see, so while the 14yo was at a sleepover Friday, I picked up 2. I used a .50 off 2. The 22yo watched Mortal Kombat with us, and ordered pizza.

    I used .05 off gas reward for up to 20 gallons. Saved $2.

    Found Dr Pepper bottles on sale 4 6 packs for $10, plucots .98 a container(6-8 in each, bought 3), and taco bell dinner kits for .95(just purchased 2)

    Daughter found some boots she’s been wanting for 30% off. She paid $35 for them(school starts in about a month here)

    My mom sent over a gallon of milk, 2 bottles of gummy melatonin, 2 bottles of iron, and juice.

    Picked more lettuce and radishes out of the neighbors garden. I don’t want to clear them out, but don’t want it to go to waste either. It’s been rainy here, so my teen only had to water once so far that they’ve been gone.

    Returned a library book on time

    My husband found a trolling motor at Bass Pro outlet for $300. (The one he’s been eyeballing is $1200, this one was originally $900). I swear the saying Be Out Another Thousand with that thing is so true 🙄(I really don’t like that thing, can you tell, lol) He did ask though, before he just showed up with it(I did emphasize no more boat stuff this year)

    1. LOL on the boat comment. We had a 33 foot Carver Mariner that had to be kept in a marina as it was far too big to trailer. We called it our floating cottage since it has two 305 engines in it and it sucked gas something awful. When we moved out close to Lake Michigan and when the total cost between the slip and overwinter storage alone went to $4,000 a year, we were done with it. We traded it for a small bass boat on a trailer which has all the room my husband, me and our 2 Danes need AND we are not limited to just the big lakes. It also can easily be repaired and sips gas. Funny thing is, the guy we traded boats with just asked us if we wanted to trade back!! That would be a big NOPE!

  12. We are enjoying tomatoes, kale (the last of it), collards, strawberries and green beans from the garden.
    Saving money by using the small toaster oven instead of the regular oven when there’s only one thing to bake. It’s a large toaster oven that will fit a large pizza or a 9×13 pan. As a bonus, we use the toaster oven in the garage, or outside, thus heating up the house less.
    I saved $100 by buying a needed queen size comforter on sale at Macy’s. Grand total $21! I’m sewing large storage bags for the comforters (duvets for those in Europe) out of old sheets.
    I’ve started arugula and spinach seeds indoors. I’m giving that a go since it’s too hot outdoors for those to do well.
    My husband phoned around for the best price on 2 tonnes of gravel to be delivered. We are following fire service recommendations and moving the mulch away from the house and putting gravel in it’s place. A big job, but worth it for lower fire risk. We are in Northern CA, with very high wildfire risk.
    Wishing everyone a good week!

    1. Kara, thank you! It never occurred to me to make storage bags for the duvets we don’t use it the summer. A real light bulb moment for me.
      I will add those to my sewing list. Thank you.

      1. I’m glad that idea helped. We live in a small space and duvets are so bulky and they come unfolded/unrolled so often when I move them. I did some research on how to store them and it seems that something that allows air flow is best (not a plastic bag). It is such a help in organizing the small closets here. I have duvets saved from my own children that will go to our son and daughter-in-law when he leaves the service next year. They have lived somewhere hot all the years he’s been in the service and so have had no need for warm bedding. I will be SO glad to pass on some of these bulky duvets!

  13. Friendly reminder that due to Covid enrollment for Health Care via Marketplace (and updates which increase credits thus lowering out of pocket premiums for most people) has been extended to August 15. https://www.healthcare.gov/
    Even if you are already enrolled you can save $100’s per year by updating.

  14. Butter was on sale for 99 cents a pound at Macey’s on Friday! I bought 12 so I’m ready for Christmas cookies. Grateful for a freezer to store it.

  15. Nice to see you so early this morning, Brandy! Sounds like it was a good week for you!

    In the 1950s-60s, and probably long before that, children age 12 and up (younger if accompanied by a parent or older sibling) harvested most of the strawberries, raspberries and green beans grown in western Oregon. I was one of them. (Mechanical pickers were still being developed). The berries were sold for jam and Santiam and Del Monte bought most of the beans for canning. Bush green beans were just being developed and pole beans were grown on strings. Pole beans were easier to harvest (for .02 lb.!) and they bore over a longer period. I am not an expert gardener, but until we moved here three years ago, I always grew Blue Lake pole beans based on what I learned in the bean fields. (Now I grow Blue Lake bush beans due to space) The important thing is to keep beans well watered. We picked the same field every 4-5 days and the beans were heavily irrigated after every picking. We were told that as long as you kept them watered, they would bloom and keep bearing (up to a point, of course). That was my experience at home, too. The beans came on for about a month starting in late July, when temps were mostly in the 80s and low 90s. Don’t take it on my word to grow Blue Lakes, though–they are an excellent all-around green bean, but research what grows best in your climate.

    Here was my week–
    * I rearranged my longterm pantry shelves in the garage to accommodate this year’s canning. What I really need is a complete re-do. (My freezer needs it, too).

    * I picked another 10 oz. of raspberries for 4 lbs. 5 oz. to date. Still a few left. I picked enough green beans for dinner. The tomatoes are setting fruit and I’ve picked the first 4 zukes, with more on the vine!

    * I mixed up a batch of Miracle Spray so DH would clean the bathroom, LOL. Best cleaner we’ve ever used, and dirt cheap, too. (Don’t use it on mirrors–it leaves smears).

    * I’ve been monitoring airfares to Hawaii on Kayak for about 6 weeks. I entered the dates, destination, etc., and received e-mails when the fares changed, along with advice for when to buy. Last week I got notice from Alaska Airlines about a Hawaii sale. Tickets for our dates had dropped over $100. (Kayak never did notify me, but their with their info I knew it was a very good price). Although fares MIGHT go down before our trip, they also could go up. By combining one full fare (no frills, of course!) with a $99 companion fare (from our CC) and using frequent flyer miles for 3 tickets, we will be taking 5 people to the Big Island for $857, including taxes and trip insurance! This was a saving of (drum roll) about $2,600! This was definitely my deal of the year, if not the century!

    * Frugal fail–I cleaned my refrigerator and threw away entirely too many “science projects,” IYKWIM. My biggest problem is that my husband will make himself a hotdog or open a can of soup for lunch instead of eating leftovers. We had a talk about this, LOL. Hopefully, with all of the junk out of the fridge, he can SEE what’s there and eat it up.

    1. The problem here is that once the nights are hot, the beans won’t bloom. The plants will burn in the heat. 80’s are considered cool temperatures here. Our nights have been around 91 most of the month. Days are 107-119.

      The only person I know who successfully grows Blue Lake here does so in a swamp-cooled greenhouse with shadecloth. I have cared for her garden while she is out of town before on several occasions. The beans really like the humidity. My plants are well watered on drip irrigation on a timer, so the problem isn’t drying out. It’s heat and sun. It literally burns things to death, including established trees.

      Gardening here is a whole new thing. In the gardening classes that I took, many senior, experienced gardeners were full of questions, because everything they knew about gardening in another climate didn’t work here. I see people all the time declaring that gardening is too hard here and that they are giving up. I saw someone post about it locally just two days ago. It’s a challenge, but it can be done.

      The Oregon raspberry growers had temps like ours a couple of weeks ago and watched as the berries and canes burnt to a crisp. The heat will do that.

      1. Have you tried planting green beans two weeks after your last frost date? Some varieties are ready in 60-65 days.

      2. I’m in South Carolina, about 3 lateral degrees further south than Las Vegas. Gardening here is a TOTALLY different ballgame than it is in Maryland, where I lived for 30 years. There is very little chill period so many things won’t flower here. Apples come from North Carolina. On the other hand, local strawberries are ready around the 3rd week of March and my fall garden will be productive until Thanksgiving or later. It’s just different here…

      3. Brandy, I now can relate to your stories of things burning to a crisp (Oregon here). My blueberries burnt during our heatwave, as did other plants. It was shocking, and now I see how your plants get burnt. I am even more impressed at how much you can grow successfully, after our heat here.

        1. It’s really normal here for things to burn every year. If the trees aren’t large enough before the heat sets in, they can burn to death. I lost several trees this year. My roses are very burnt-looking. We have several months of these temperatures and it takes a toll on the garden.

          I checked my soil temperature tonight at 8 p.m. It’s 100 degrees.

      4. Even here, in the Willamette Valley of Oregon, it can get too hot for the bean blossoms to set beans. If it gets into the 90’s (especially upper 90’s) they will just do a blossom drop, instead of set beans. I was so thankful that ours had just begun to form blooms when the super heat wave hit. They went ahead and bloomed and this week are forming tiny beans. It remains to be seen how many set, but I do have a lot of blooms. One thing I learned from my mother is to run a sprinkler over the beans during the heat of the afternoon on those super hot days, hoping to cool the air down enough that they will set. It has mixed results, in my opinion, though, because if it is too hot, it kind of cooks the bean bushes or they get too much water and mold underneath……gardening is not for the faint of heart in warm weather, no matter where you live. I absolutely cannot imagine trying to live in that kind of heat regularly, though. It would take a lot of the fun out of gardening. Good job for figuring it out for your very challenging area, Brandy!

        1. It’s too hot to water leaves here. It causes leaf bun and can kill plants. Of course, at these temperatures, beans just completely burn on the vines. However, the extension service says we can do a planting at the end of July, so I am going to try soon, once I get some obelisks painted!

          Our nights were 91, so no way would they set this time of year anyway. I’m wondering if, like squash, I wouldn’t just be better off planting in July for an October harvest. I’d really like to have more to pick.

    2. Maxine, thank you for the information about Blue Lake bush beans. I am growing them for the first time and they are about to begin bearing. I saw 3 little beans yesterday. There is only one short row of them since I am experimenting with so many different varieties this year. I will make an effort to keep them watered (easier said than done).
      Jeannie

  16. Happy belated anniversary! I can’t wait to see the obelisk in your garden. I bet they will be absolutely beautiful! Having the skills to work with your hands and be able to create and repair things is truly a gift! I know you value your husband for that. I am fortunate to also have a husband that is very skillful and happy to be working on projects.

    The days seems to be going faster and faster than ever currently. Last week I gave everyone in the house haircuts, including myself with my husband trimming a few areas in the back I couldn’t reach properly. I have cut everyone’s hair for years and years but this is only the second time trying my own and I was very happy with how it turned out.

    I canned my first batch of green beans from our garden-6 pints, which was incredibly exciting, even though it wasn’t a lot. The vines are loaded and I should be able to put up a lot more. I also made homemade vegetable soup with garden produce: green beans, onion, corn, rosemary, thyme and sage were all from my garden. I was gifted some new potatoes and tomatoes from a friend’s garden that I added and it turned out beautifully. it made 4 quarts and 3 pints. Then I canned blackberry jam from fresh berries from a friend’s garden as well. Canning lids have been extremely hard to find this year (as well as the end of last year and although I have some, I want to save those for pressure canning.) I have been researching and decided to experiment with re-using lids with rubber gaskets with the original jars they came from. I have a great deal of heavy glass jars with durable lids from Germany from a sauerkraut I purchase for my husband. I have talked with several people who water bath can regularly with them (NO PRESSURE CANNING) and they have always reused them. So I decided to try on three jars of blackberry jam, knowing if they didn’t seal properly I would give one to my father, one to my sister and we would eat the other, so none would be wasted. All three sealed up beautifully.

    I froze blackberries to make a few cobblers throughout the winter months, as well as local blueberries we purchased. All meals were made at home and I made homemade gluten free bread instead of purchasing it.

    This summer I have been trying to spend some one on one time with each of my children. On their days, they can choose an activity they want to do for some alone time with mom. My 11 year old daughter wants to learn to cook more things so she has asked to learn to make quiche and apple pies her first two weeks. Both turned out fantastic for a first time. My 8 year old wants to learn to sew, so we have been working on a stuffed animal she picked out, a chicken. My youngest, who is 5 wanted to pack a picnic lunch and visit a park less than a mile from us with a stream and outdoor amphitheater. We had fun and he was able to catch a few small fish with a net. None have cost money and we have made beautiful memories.

    Both my husband and I received a $50 Visa gift card from our Blue Cross Insurance for having a wellness exam for the year. It was a big surprise! They can be used towards utilities, dr’s bills, medical supplies, eye glasses or for health items at Walmart. Both my husband and I need new glasses and these will be used to cover those online.

    I have been watching the prices creep up on groceries, like everyone else, and have been trying to watch online prices to snag any sales I see on items we need to add to our pantries. I was able to purchase Coconut Flour, the exact brand I like to use for my husband for almost 1/2 off this week. It was $6.99 for 2.25lbs versus the normal price of $12.48 so I purchased two.

    I have been gathering our rabbit manure to add to our garden. This year the soil is much, much richer from adding extra compost and mulching with shredded leaves last fall/winter. I want to make sure I have plenty for the new garden bed we plan to add this fall. I picked more lettuce, chard and greens from the garden as well as 7 Roma tomatoes and okra. The plants are loaded with tomatoes this year and I can not wait to make pasta sauce to can as well as salsa.

    I cut off several pairs of pants that had gotten too short for my daughters and my youngest son and turned them into shorts. I mended a pair of my husbands work pants.

    1. Amanda, I use the reusable Tattler Lids and have had many problems. I finally discovered the problem is my hard water leaving a residue on the rubber. I do all of the following to ensure they seal:
      *Simmer the lids and rubber rings in water and put them on the jars hot. Right before removing from the hot water, add some white vinegar to the water. Add vinegar for each batch because it evaporates.
      *Wipe the jar rim with white vinegar.
      *Don’t tighten the bands on the lids real tight when putting them in the canner. The pressure must be allowed to escape. If the lids are on tight, the jars will crack. Remove the jars from the canner while hot and tighten the lids tight. Use a cloth to cover the whole jar to avoid burning your hands. Remove them slowly because the jars can explode when hit with cold air.
      Some people use the reusable lids and never have any problems at all. I have had every problem imaginable! However, as much canning as I do, the money-saving has really added up.
      Jeannie

      1. Jeannie,

        Thanks for these suggestions. I’ve had 50% failure rate with Tattlers. We have extremely hard water. I’ll try the vinegar trick. I just ordered more Tattlers and I am determined to get them to work. I was able to get some disposable wide mouth lids awhile back, but I haven’t seen any regular lids. Most of my jars are regular so I have to figure out how to make the Tattlers work. I have celiac and I’m allergic to dairy. I have to eat very carefully or I have extreme pain. Home preserved foods is a big part of my plan.

  17. My husband found pre-marinated pork loins and chicken livers (I know a lot of people don’t like them, but I’m country, and livers dredged in flour with salt and pepper and fried in bacon grease are my love language and the reason my state tops the country in obesity, I think 😉 ) on deep discount, so he bought some. The loins are small, so he made both one night, but honestly, one was enough for our current family of three, and leftovers. I made salisbury steak one night with hamburger patties and gravy – we had about a pint of gravy leftover that went in a jar in the freezer for my next turn of soup. We have almost paid off my daughter’s upcoming rehearsal dinner – it was NOT a bargain, but she has paid for most of the wedding, so we are happy to do this. The last payment will be made this week, so that is $100 a month back in our pockets. My husband brought home two small toolboxes from work that someone had thrown away – my son is going to take one with all the tools, and I’m going to turn the second one into a plantar for my succulents. We have been enjoying front porch sitting and taking walks – free entertainment. I was able to transfer $7.50 from my Kroger cashback program, that I completely forgot about, onto our card, and that should by the few things I need for supper ingredients this week. I’m going to have a Christmas in July dinner next Sunday, and my mom offered me a turkey she has in the freezer and her electric roaster to use, so I don’t heat up the house, so I’m very excited about that. Slow and steady, but still working at keeping costs down.

    1. I have a friend who uses her electric roaster OUTSIDE during hot weather. I think it’s genius. Besides a turkey per summer, she also uses it to cook 3 chickens at a time. She strips the meat from the bones and freezes the excess for quick meals; then makes bone broth the next day. Thank you for the reminder to cook the turkey that’s been in my freezer since Thanksgiving.

    2. HA! I went out with a guy in college and he took me to a place that specialized in chicken livers. I knew I could never marry a guy who confessed, as he was tucking into the mound on his plate, that he could eat them every day. It was our only date.

    3. Alice, I too love chicken livers but haven’t had them in quite a while.
      I used to make the following dish:
      dredge the chicken livers in flour and saute them a little until brown;
      sauté some chopped onions if desired;
      sauté some fresh mushrooms;
      add some chopped green peppers if desired;
      add some chicken broth and then some sour cream;
      Cook a while longer. Enjoy but do not serve them to Jewish friends as they are not kosher, of course.
      years ago when I was in school, my Jewish friend who lived a long way from campus phoned and asked what I was having for dinner and I told her chicken livers. I said she could come. I said sure. Everything was going really well until someone said they were delicious and what made them so creamy and that they’d never had such delicious chicken livers. I knew right at that moment I was in trouble… So I confessed that I hadn’t really thought about it when they all asked if they could come. All the forks dropped then were picked up and someone (this is the height of graciousness) said “are there seconds?” They said once they’d sinned they might as well have seconds. And everyone had seconds…
      — she phoned back and asked if she could bring her friends. I have given a basic recipe but you might have to tweak it somewhat…

        1. It was indeed gracious. If they had been really strictly observant Jewish, they wouldn’t have come to dinner at all as they knew I wasn’t Jewish — and of course didn’t have a kosher kitchen. but yes that was truly gracious.

      1. Ann – I too love chicken livers and do mine in a similar manner to yours – I also like them with peas and mushrooms and I add some good mustard to the cream sauce. I also love “chopped liver” and can’t wait to get back to a restaurant where they still have chopped liver sandwiches on the menu!
        I am very shocked at how much chicken livers have gone up in price!
        Great story by the way….

  18. Two things. First, thanks so much for the recommendation for Dry Bar comedy. Being retired, we watch some TV every night and love comedy, but, oh, my, some of the stuff we hear just curls our hair. Really to say that stuff in public just stuns my sensibilities. Now, with Dry Bar we’re never surprised with shocking material. We like it a lot.

    Secondly, I was stunned and pleased that you are using Shein for the girls’ clothes. I let my granddaughter pick out some clothes and all her friends and she, use Shein. When I looked at the online stuff, some of the poses the models were in were really inappropriate. (You can tell I’m an old lady.) But the prices were fantastic and she didn’t pick out anything immodest. So now I’m a convert.

    1. I don’t like the huge amount of immodest clothing and poses either, but we managed to find some things there and prices were $6 to $18 for most things. My girls recently found out that a bunch of other girls they know also shop at Shein!

      1. Thanks, Anne and Brandy, for the Dry Bar suggestion. We are always looking for comedy we can watch together as an extended family without cringing!

  19. Hi Brandy!

    Love reading your blog! Been reading it for years, as well as the comments; such a great group! I was wondering if Maxine could share her recipe for Miracle Spray? TIA!
    Frugal wins/losses:
    Win: I have a FT job, but the position has been approved for full-time WFH status-so I am saving money on gas and clothes! I need to ask my insurance company to re-assess our policy, as I don’t have a commute anymore! Feeling so blest.
    Win: Inventoried all food, planned out what to do with it. We have enough for 30 meals at least! Saving money with food is so satisfying!
    Win/Loss: Bought discounted 9 good sized zucchini and yellow squash at farmers market discount shelf for less than $4! Came home and washed it. Had to throw out 3 as mold grew on them overnight. Should have used vinegar/water bath. Lesson learned!
    Loss: Not facing my budget for two weeks now! Going to do that now, as your blog inspires me constantly!
    Win: cooked some wrinkly red, yellow and orange peppers overnight in my crockpot with onions, butter and olive oil. They are nicely carmelized now and will be used in quesadillas with beans and rice.
    Win: We were so busy in the spring that we never got our garden into our raised beds in our back yard. Fortunately, I got out there last week and found tomato plants growing from the dropped fruit last year! Not sure if we will get anything, but fingers are crossed!
    Win: I like to quilt, and am using the extra time at home to go through my stash!

    Our daughter is going to college in a few weeks after a gap year. She did it to save money, as she wasn’t sure what she wanted to do for a major. Now she has decided on Elementary Education, and we are so happy for her, even though I will miss her something awful! The spending is a bit wild right now, but she is trying to stay in budget.

    I have to thank you and all the wonderful people who post to your blog. You are all so inspirational and such great ideas! It has helped us through some very tough times. Thank you so much for sharing! Everyone please take care of yourselves!

    1. Here is the recipe for Miracle Spray. I got it from an Aussie blog and converted the measurements. We use it on just about everything. It is “da bomb” on soap scum. The reason I do not use it on mirrors is because it contains a little bit of eucalyptus oil and it will cause smearing that’s hard to remove. I have not used it on windows, but it’s fine on the glass oven and microwave doors in the kitchen (if it smears, it doesn’t show). This makes about 1/2 gallon and smells wonderful. The eucalyptus oil also has some disinfecting properties.
      1 cup boiling water
      2 tablespoons washing soda (Arm & Hammer, in the laundry aisle)
      Additional 5-1/2 cups water
      1-1/3 to 1-1/2 cup white vinegar (I never can remember, so I use what occurs to me at the moment!)
      1/4 cup dish soap, like Dawn
      5 teaspoons oil of eucalyptus

      Dissolve washing soda in boiling water. Add other ingredients. Be sure to use your finger to get the Dawn out of the measuring cup and to swish the cup in the solution to get it all out. Stir gently to prevent sudsing.

      1. Hi

        I have lived in Australia these past 10 years. I found this recipe years ago on the internet and usd it ever since in a spray bottle. I undo the top and pour a tiny dollop into my sink of hot water for my wooden and tiled floors too. It is amazing. It is true about the windows though. It is a really inexpensive and effective cleaning spray for the bathroom and kitchen. Spray stuck on food on benches or the cooker and leave for 5 mins. When you come back, a simple wipe and it’s gone.

      2. I have been doing a little math in my head (a pretty dangerous thing, LOL) and I think it is 1-1/4 or 1-1/3 cups white vinegar, although more doesn’t hurt. (I used 1-1/2 cups in the last batch). Also, I don’t have granite countertops, but I don’t think you are supposed to use vinegar on them. This vinegar is diluted, but still…I wouldn’t do it. (Haven’t read anything about this, even on the Aussie blogs). And, as someone commented farther down, just a quick spray and letting it sit for a few minutes, will remove just about anything pretty darn quick and easy. It’s a pretty good pre-wash, too.

  20. You got some terrific deals on groceries. Good for you. I’m looking forward to seeing the obelisks you make.
    My husband had his long-awaited knee replacement at the beginning of the week. It was a very long two days at the hospital, but everyone was very nice and he is doing well. (His nurse was a woman after my own heart – she sent us home with everything in the room that would have been thrown away, from a box of tissues to a partial tube of toothpaste, to the packets of brown sugar left over from my husband’s breakfast. Because of sterile concerns, there is a tremendous amount of disposable stuff involved in medical care, but I appreciated being able to take some things we could use.)
    We had a good rain while my husband was in the hospital and I was able to shut off the irrigation to the garden for three days.
    I picked up the quarter cow we purchased. We ended up with 71 pounds of beef – half ground, the rest roasts, steaks, and stew meat. Our cost was $5.30 a pound – very good for grass-fed beef.
    I canned 7 pints of stew meat. While I had the pressure canner out, I also canned 5 pints of pinto beans and 5 pints of chick peas. I usually cook dried beans and freeze them, but my freezer is pretty full right now, and I love the convenience of canned beans.
    With two bottles of black dye ($7) I re-dyed all my husband’s black T-shirts and a pair of shorts. By doing this once a year I keep the shirts looking nice for a long time – a couple of these are 5 or 6 years old and with re-dying and careful mending they still look good.

  21. I envy those prices on strawberries and cherries! I don’t remember the last time I saw strawberries here for less than $2.50 a pound on a really good sale.

    This was a refreshingly quiet week. My husband cut our sons’ hair. My mother gifted us with a bag of apples, which the kids enjoyed as snacks. The husband and kids are doing some household painting projects themselves, which saves money on hiring it out and also on preventive maintenance. Plus, teaching the kids how to do this type of work will hopefully save them money as adults and increase their self-sufficiency. We enjoyed fresh basil from the garden with our cooking. We watched our friends’ dog when they went out of town. Our two families doing this for each other for several years has literally saved us hundreds if not thousands of dollars in dog sitting fees, plus the comfort of knowing that our dogs are well cared for in a loving environment. As a bonus, we took evening walks all week as a family and got free exercise and quality time. After researching ideas for projects to be made with upholstery samples, I am using up a stash I’ve had for a while to make a decorative fabric bunting.

    Have a lovely week, everyone.

  22. Thank you, Brandy, for your beautiful blog, which I look forward to every Monday.

    What is the Shein quality comparable to? I was worried the items might be very poorly made and so have not made a purchase.

    1. So far it has been comparable to items we have bought in stores and online.

      I don’t like their return policy, though. I ordered two dresses that did not fit me (check sizing on every piece as they are not the same) and had to send them back. I have ordered shirts for the girls mostly and a few pairs of pants that fit them.

    1. Thank you for mentioning this Emma. It’s hugely important to be aware of theft and fraud – and definitely not worth supporting crime, even if it means saving a few bucks. Bad karma all round!

  23. Beautiful flowers!

    My sister lives in Henderson, near Las Vegas, and it rained there yesterday. She sent me pictures of all the water washing over their patio. I wondered if it rained where you are, Brandy!

    I am currently waiting for a washing machine repair tech. I had to call three companies before I could get someone to come out. Our dryer is stacked on top of the washer, and apparently not every company deals with this setup.

    Frugal things:
    – Did some pants alterations for my neighbor’s elderly father. I offered to do it for free, but he wanted to pay me. He gave me $10 for the work, which I appreciate. He was thrilled with the work.
    – Used random freezer bits to make a meal, which turned out great. Made good use of our farm share produce. I have many zucchini and kohlrabi in the fridge.
    – Did a Youtube workout that I enjoyed. Worked out at home using equipment I already had. Took walks in the local area.
    – Bought a bag of lemons at Trader Joe’s. Half of them went moldy in two days. I took the empty bag bag to the store and they gave me a new bag of lemons at no cost.
    – Caught a $4 mistake on my grocery bill elsewhere, so that store refunded me that amount.
    – My mom fell and ended up in the ER. I met her there and brought snacks and water in case I was there for a long time (I was). She did not break anything, thankfully, but is still in a lot of pain. At least she is home now.
    – Sent a birthday card from my stash to a family member.
    – Watched streaming TV, read library books and e-books, and….visited our library for the first time in a year and a half! It is finally back open. I was so happy.
    – My former employer asked whether I’d be able to spend a few hours (paid) helping out at the clinic. I said I’d be happy to assist (the transition after my departure last December was not smooth). We will see what happens.
    – Bought a few patterns at Joann’s for $1.99. I enjoy thinking about new sewing projects and this is a very economical way to get ideas.
    – Did all the things I normally do: cooked at home, made my own iced tea and coffee, made water kefir, listened to podcasts, etc.

    Hope everyone has a great week!

    1. I am about 45 minutes away from Henderson. All the Henderson gardeners were posting videos of it pouring this weekend while we just had clouds. I am happy that rain fell there, though; it will go into the drains and be treated for everyone to use.

  24. Your shopping savings are wonderful, wow! I’m thrilled for you!

    COVID continues to rage in South Africa, it appears the Delta variant is highly communicable, and people are sick and dying in alarming numbers. It has been 6 weeks and we are still recovering (our whole family of 8 had it), but thankfully haven’t needed a hospital admission, or ventilator (or mortuary). That together with violent riots and destruction costing billions last week, that insurance companies won’t be obliged to cover, has stripped our both our economy and emotional resources to the bone. We are in for hard times.

    When the rioting and looting started, I did a thorough inventory of the pantry and food storage, looked at our available funds and prioritised where I’d spend it, even taking the time to visit store websites and use their current sales advertisements. Because I already had a lot on hand, I didn’t desperately rush to the shops as many had to. I waited out the panic and arrived to neatly restocked shelves. We did, however, immediately fill the van and by thinking fast we avoided long queues and worry when the gas stations in our area ran dry. As the week progressed, more bad news arrived. Our tax service informed us that my husband in personal capacity and his business had under reported on taxes owed. This was an honest mistake (we would not intentionally withhold or underreport!), but over and above a large and unexpected additional bill there, there is of course a fine too. Then we received our June power and utilities bill – what a shock! The annual rate increase is significant, and even though we have tried to be careful, the bill is enormous.

    To start, we sat the children down and explained that we need to working even harder, together, to cut our expenses. Now, we just keep going doing what we’ve been doing all along…… just with more purpose and intensity. So keep on sharing the tips and stories and advice and motivation and inspiration ….. I think we all need it more than ever!

    1. Tracy, thank you so much for updating us on the situation in South Africa.

      A lot of gas stations have been running out of gas here. It is nothing like other places, but I am hearing about it a lot in local FB groups as people report on stations out of gas all over the city. I wonder if it will become much more common place.

    2. Tracy,

      A bunch of local people are now reporting empty shelves in stores here for several items. This morning it is eggs and pasta.

      I’m so grateful for a well-stocked pantry to keep us going.

      I think with the drought issues it is going to get a lot worse. Pasta is one of the things that is already being talked about, as the wheat crops were severely damaged by heat and drought in the U.S.

    3. What a terrible time you are having. I love how you keep your head, calmly tackle every problem and involve your whole family in the
      solutions. All the very best to you.

    4. Tracy – how frightening and troubling the situation is in South Africa. We’ve had gas and diesel shortages here. Many large farmer’s have gas storage tanks for their equipment but many small farms and people who have large gardens rely on the local gas stations. We were able to get 5 gallons of regular gas from a neighbor to run our mowers. Fortunately had diesel for our tractor and our pickup truck.
      I am anticipating we will see shortages of a lot of items here – if eggs are hard to find (hot weather, drought affecting feed crops, eggs are used in almost everything commercial food wise) then we are really in for a time.

      I have great empathy on the tax situation. Years ago I misunderstood something with our taxes – which were very complicated at the time and ended up with a large amount to pay back and a fine. Next year took them to a tax expert and did so for the next ten years when we were dealing with an inheritance which involved land and water rights – much more complicated than I was up to.

      Thinking of you and your family – sending good thoughts your way. Mary

      1. Someone in town here today was talking about going to the store and there were no eggs. They included a photo of the empty refrigerator.

        1. I buy dehydrated eggs for baking. They work great and keep well. When I open the bag I put about 1/3 of the package in the refrigerator and freeze the rest.

          1. Aquafaba (liquid from beans and lentils) is able to be used as an egg substitute in cooking and makes good use of something that would often just be poured away. I find it works well in baking – to replace eggs fully or partially – as well as in items such as meringues however there is some variability depending on if the aquafaba is from tinned vs dried beans. Internet sources that give information about a vegan diet are the best place to go to for further information.

  25. Thank you for your inspiring post! Love those gorgeous flowers as well. And yes, I appreciate the idea of raspberry plants. I couldn’t find any plants this year for my garden bed. We didn’t get it put in until late June. I’m hoping to get some in this summer but the heat has been so intense here. Also – we love Shein! It is such a great deal and the clothes are nice. My daughters have ordered several things from there and been very pleased with how pretty and cute the styles have been. We’re doing an order this week.

    *I don’t do well in heat and get quite sick. It’s been that way since I was a child. I wish I could get my A/C at 78/79. We keep it at 74 and have fans running. Our home is a California split level. Our front room is the only room on the middle level and gets so warm in the morning with the sun. We planted a tree to try and help but it hasn’t gotten as big as we thought it would. Our basement is always nice and cool, but the upstairs is where our bedroom is and it is warmer. Our kitchen gets east, south and west sun. We have planted trees to help with shade and keep our blinds closed during the day. My husband installed an attic fan several years ago and we have ceiling fans in the front room and the upstairs rooms and kitchens. I have our bill set up that it averages each month from the whole year. It’s nice to have major ups and downs in the bill. I am so glad people comment on how they save money because it gets the juices flowing for more ideas.

    *My daughter had her church camp as well this past week. We didn’t have to pay a fee. One person offered their family cabin at Bear Lake. We had the sleeping pad, sleeping bag, camp chair that she was asked to bring. She also had a secret sister. She got things out of my stash to take for her. No money out of pocket except for her food. Because of her dietary issues, I had to pack food for her to eat. The camp director let me know the menu ahead of time so I could substitute in options for my daughter. We had everything on hand. Unfortunately, the non-frugal part was that she got a flare up anyway and was very sick. I had to drive a total of 5 hours to pick her up and bring her home. But being able to be there for my daughter = worth the price.

    *Did my grocery shopping and it was about $20 higher because of birthday celebrations. But we celebrated at home doing dutch oven pizza, watermelon, veggie plate and cheesecake. I received the cheesecake for free from my son who received it for free from a birthday party he attended. We made extra pizza and munched on it all weekend with fruit, veggies and other homemade snacks. My daughter made no bake cookies for the weekend. I’m hoping I have enough groceries to go two weeks without going to the store.

    *I exercised at home, read library books, watched tv shows, worked in my garden and flower beds. My daughter and I played Uno Attack. My husband and I had a date night. Our anniversary is same day as my son’s birthday. We’re celebrating 29 years of marriage. We booked a room at a B & B with a gift card to have a small getaway. We paid $30 to stream a new movie because it would have been $100 to go to the theater with the whole family. My neighbor brought over a bucket of movie theater popcorn for us because she had a B1G1Free deal. I think popcorn makes one of the best snacks.

    *Just started picking produce from my garden this past week besides lettuce. We got a cucumber, San Marino tomatoes, green beans and gold sugar tomatoes. I’m going to plant more green bean seeds.

    *I remade leftovers into a taco type soup to use up ground beef and black beans that were lonely in the fridge. I was also able to use up the rest of a red pepper and shedded cheese in the soup. We made leftover deli ham into grilled ham and cheese. It used up the last of the sourdough bread. I’ve been perusing through the blog budgetbytes.com to also get some ideas for leftover meals. My two girls and I don’t eat enough to make meals every night so I am just throwing things together. My daughter and I agree that eggs and toast are perfect comfort food dinners. I moved my Air Fryer and Bread Machine out to the counter to remind me to use them more often. I often talk myself out of using them just because I don’t want to go pull them out. Now I don’t have an excuse.

    *I went through and filled up a few more bags to donate. I moved the furniture around in the guest bedroom to try and create more space. It’s a tiny room. Pushing the bed against the wall created more space. I’m going to move my craft desk in there so that we can walk comfortably in our office area.

    *My husband and his brother moved their mom into assisted living (at her request). They were able to do the hard work themselves because everyone has a truck and muscles. It is a blessing to not hire a moving company.

    *My neighbor treated me to lunch last week at our favorite mexican restaurant. It was so nice to sit and talk and laugh. I’m so grateful to have a friend.

    *Wishing everyone a truly wonderful and frugal week.

  26. We had a fun day out. My mother in law has a friend that moved up here because her son lives here. She and I have so many things we like so we are friends. We like to go to garage sales, garden, eat, and both love seeing the historical homes and finding waterfalls and just enjoying driving through all the pretty places. Then my mother in law moved up here to move in with us. She does not like any of it, but we make her come along with us as we have fun. So, Tuesday I asked one of my friends to join and my MIL and our friends rode up to Tennessee to an Amish community. I got 2 dozen ears of corn for $9, a few handfuls of okra, a buschel of green beans for $20, a basket of jalapeño for $3, and a box of tomatoes for $8. We had lunch at a restaurant and loved riding through the rolling hills past farms and beautiful scenery. It is an hour and 15 minutes, so a great little day trip.
    *I blanched and canned 4 and a half pints of salsa. I have tried two recipes and neither was the best, just ok, so I tried Mrs Wages mix. I haven’t tried it yet to see if I like it. I canned 32 pints of green beans and had half a pint left over I just froze to add to soup. I cut the corn off the cob and milked the cobs and froze 4 bags of Southern skillet corn. I cut and froze 4 bags of okra to fry later. And I dehydrated the jalapeños.
    * I cut my basil and rosemary and made a bottle of rosemary and garlic olive oil, then dehydrated some. I dehydrated some basil and have some for pesto, when I can find the blade to my chopper. A cousin sent some Bay leaves from her tree and I have dehydrated 4 trays.
    * I have gathered all the things I haven’t sold online and put in my trunk to take to the thrift store when I go to town.
    * I saved seed from the Amish big tomatoes, I don’t know what variety, but they are big and nice and round. I saved seed from the jalapeños, and also from an Aldi mini yellow pepper.
    *friend, mentioned above, gave us some tomatoes, cucumber, okra, jalapeños. I washed and put the okra in a freezer bag and plan to pull out one pod to add to peas and green beans when I cook them to season them. It adds a lot of flavor. I had a bunch of my tomatoes ripen so I blanched and froze 4 cups. I will probably have some more soon and just add to that bag until I have enough to can.
    * We are looking for another freezer. I have mine slam packed so will be able to buy more meat and vegetables if we get another one. Stores are out of the size we want.
    * My husband is getting the wood to make a 3 bed terraced garden bed on our little hill. We want to eventually do the whole hill, but wood is so high. It is $200 plus to do one section. We have put it off, but decided to just do atleast one section so I can do a fall garden and add more later. The good thing is I have two rain barrels on the back of our garage and we will place it behind the garage and can water with the rain barrels with gravity. I would like soaker hoses, but don’t know if the money and time/work to trench a pipe down to the hill is worth it. We have a lawn sprinkler system as well as the rain barrels and no shortage of rain here.
    * I sold a pair of shorts and shirt I bought that after wearing found they were too big. I bought a rectangular galvanized planter for $6 off Marketplace.
    *Our 33rd anniversary was this weekend so we went to an Italian restaurant on the town square. They have a community event on Fridays during the summer and the shops around the square stay open until 8 and there is a live band. So we walked around and listened to the band.
    * I have read through May, June, July from each year on Homesteading Families group page under Tightwad Tips archive. I will go back through August from each year in August and each month after that. I have been taking notes of tips on gardening, cooking, frugal tips, etc. I also take notes from this group page and all your comments!

  27. The flowers are lovely. I just deadheaded a lot of coneflowers and yarrow, so my little flower patch that usually brightens up one corner of my yard is looking a little drab.

    I picked a few more elderberries from my shrubs. This is the first year to get enough to pick.

    I also weeded my little blackberry patch. Two of my plants, from a somewhat local nursery, just aren’t doing well, and it’s past the one-year replacement deadline. I couldn’t take them back in time due to closures last year, and I hate to ask for a refund now, as they are a small family-owned operation. One plant was ordered from Baker Creek, and it’s doing very well. So far, Baker Creek isn’t showing that they have more, but I will keep watching for them.

    I dehydrated a pound of trimmings of organ meats from a local organic farmer. The dog and the cat are very happy to have the dried meats as a treat and the trimmings are quite cheap. They are sold only as pet food. Commercially dehydrated raw treats for pets are unbelievably expensive.

    I refilled several spray bottles with homemade cleaners and washed and hung-dried my reusable mop pads, cleaning rags, etc.

    I sewed Velcro fastenings into some more shorts for my husband, since he has lost a great deal of the use of his hands.

    I found a pair of navy and white capris at one Goodwill, and a nice navy shirt to go with the capris at another GW. I’m running very short on decent summertime non-business clothing. About all I have left is house and yard work clothing, not really suitable for a trip to the store or for socializing. Like Brandy, I also like light weight dresses, so I am watching for those as well, but why oh why are so many of them black or black patterned? That’s the last thing I need in Florida summers – black clothing.

    I’m keeping an eye on my olive tree. It looks like I might have over a pint of olives this time. Every year since it started bearing, the harvest gets a little larger. I want to pick them green, but I also want them to reach full size, so timing is of the essence.

    I cooked mostly skillet meals this weekend, to keep down the heat and the use of time. One particular large skillet meal will serve as my breakfast every morning this week. I eat vegetables, a little meat, and often fruit every morning, so the big skillet meal makes breakfast simple and saves time and energy on busy weekday mornings. It also helps to stretch the meat further. I have to limit my consumption of eggs and really limit beans, so most of my protein has to come from meat.

    I hope everyone has a good week, and that those who need rain get it, and those who need sun get that!

  28. Clever of your son to create his own bullet journal! Bullet journaling is such a beautiful way to organize things. It sounds like you’ve passed onto all of your kids the desire and ability to make the everyday beautiful.

    My frugal week:
    – I baked more brownies (I’m trying to lose the baby weight, but I have to factor in chocolate. Brownies work for me!) and am still using up leftover Christmas chocolate as a mix-in. These are a lighter brownie (http://approachingfood.com/gluten-free-brownies/) and sometimes I just use regular flour instead of oat flour.
    – I baked two French baguettes, and turned one into a box lunch for my husband
    – I picked mulberries from a tree in my parents yard and added them to the freezer
    – It was National Fry Day or something recently, and I got a coupon for a free fries from NYFries, so I took my eldest daughter to the mall for a treat. I do love free things!
    – speaking of free, I’ve been taking advantage of all the playgrounds, sand play areas, and splash pads available in both my neighbourhood and my parents neighbourhood. And every week I take my daughter twice to the local outdoor swimming pool (free reservations have to be made online, to keep users socially distant), and can see her swimming skills returning, which makes me happy.
    – I made Taco Nachos, with taco lentils (lentils, a splash of oil, and homemade taco spice mix heated up until bubbly) sprinkled over tortilla chips and topped with grated cheese, baked in the oven and then topped with chopped fresh tomato and mesclun greens. It was really yummy and quite inexpensive, plus my meat-eater husband also enjoyed it.
    – I mended some clothing
    – I planted some discounted tomato and pepper plants, added crushed eggshell to my tomato plants, and pinched the tops of my new tomato plants (which I’ve never done before)
    – I realized that I have basil growing on my balcony from basil that I grew last summer. It must have somehow survived and self-seeded. This makes me happy, as I hope to develop some winter hardy basil, similar to the chive plant I have on my balcony.
    – I baked apricot and flax yogurt muffins as easy breakfasts, plus it helps rotate some pantry items. I also made smoothies on the weekend to use up some older frozen fruit. And added in frozen vegetables to some homemade macaroni and cheese to use up some older frozen vegetables. My husband marinated (mayo plus bbq spice worked as a marinade and a baking sauce) and baked some older frozen chicken (which I had bought on sale) for lunches to use that up as well. I’m slowly working through the extra supplies I bought at the beginning of the pandemic, and keeping my pantry current. Oh, and I also used up a container of soon to expire pedialyte from my medical supplies to make popsicles for my daughter (mango chunks plus pedialyte make a refreshing popsicle on a hot summer day). I had bought the pedialyte on sale at the beginning of the pandemic — normally I would just keep something like gatorade powder for emergency rehydration if I keep anything at all.
    – Oh, and I made pumpkin pancakes to use up a can of pumpkin puree. Pureed pumpkin, a pinch of cinnamon, an egg, milk, and self-raising flour make for super-easy and delicious pancakes with an extra punch of nutrition (I also added in ground flax for the same reason). I froze the remainder of the puree into ice cubes for easy use in future pancakes or to toss into meals for added nutrition. Extra pancakes were frozen for quick toaster pancakes.

    Looking forward to learning from everyone else, as always!

  29. The week before when it wasn’t so humid and rainy we had a few cool nights which made me want chicken noodle soup. Last week started rainy and then we had a couple cooler days and nights so I made it one night. It turned out a good idea as I got a bushel of green beans and started working on them. First batch my canner didn’t come up to pressure due to an error I made so I turned it off and after cooling washed everything, let band dry thoroughly, and started again. It did the same thing without an error. The band is only 2 years old and still looks like new so I think my pressure cooker needs replacing. I have only had it 42 years! I got anything I would need out of the freezer for the week, rearranged things, and started freezing beans. DH asked the next day if I had ordered a new canner. I told him I didn’t have time yet. I appreciated the chicken noodle soup for a couple nights. And anyone with a canning problem will know I had very little sleep. I will try the canner one more time, but felt I could not loose the time in case it didn’t work.

    I made a few appointments that were needed, did some cleaning and rearranged some spaces to make them easier to utilize. DH and DS both liked the changes. For movie night DS wanted to split a large sub from Walmart and have tortilla chips and home made dip. It was a crazy week so that sounded easy and less clean up. It did take me a little time to find some black bean tortilla chips and I ate my part of the sub on romaine lettuce instead of bread. We enjoyed it.

    DH is working a different schedule for a while as an employee was tested for Covid over the weekend. Results are not back but she wasn’t vaccinated. They already have two employees out due to surgeries. His current schedule will actually be easier for me to run some errands I have wanted to do and go to appointments.

    Have a nice week everyone.

  30. Hi Brandy and everyone
    You had some great grocery deals, lovely to find strawberries and cherries at such a good price.
    You must have saved a fortune on your garden remodel by making things yourselves. Skills are as good as money.
    We are having a heatwave in the UK ( don’t laugh Brandy, we’ve been up to 29C!) The garden and produce feel as though they’re racing away from us so we’re trying to harvest and work there first or last thing.
    This week we picked raspberries, strawberries, broad beans, lettuce, chives and sweet peas. I blanched and froze the broad beans, everything else has been eaten fresh.
    We had some friends to stay and ate our fresh produce and meat from the freezer for BBQs. We went swimming at the beach twice and took lots of cool water with us. Our friends are like family and very happy to sit in shade in the garden, read, do crosswords/ needlework or just chat. Very little money was spent and we just enjoyed each others company. They gave us some plants they had propagated and we gave them a tray of Sweet William seedlings. We swap books to read, my friend brought a big bag for me and I put together a bag load for her. When we next meet we’ll swap back again.
    This week I was able to buy ruby grapefruit 3 for £1, the usual price is 47p each. I filled up the salad drawer in the fridge again.
    I have been struggling a bit with ideas for lunches instead of the same old, same old so was very pleased to find some corned beef/ cheese and ham/ cheese and onion crispbakes( patties?) reduced in the supermarket. I bought some for the freezer, I could make them from scratch but the heat is sapping my energy so I think it’s a sanity saver for now, to be eaten with our homegrown salads.
    There have been several warnings of price rises, there is a serious shortage of lorry drivers leading to problems with the supply chains coupled with a shortage of raw materials. Food prices are rising and the more we can grow and preserve from the garden the better I shall feel. I need to turn my attention to replenishing our pantry with shelf stable goods next, I believe there’s going to be a tough winter ahead with cold weather resurgence of Covid cases together with the usual winter respiratory viruses. Food production and distribution will probably be disrupted. I don’t mean to sound glum, I just think it’s sensible to prepare.
    Stay safe everyone.

  31. We have been looking for a slightly larger kitchen table for 2 years. I have always lived with old things as my parents were and still are antique-lovers and raised me to appreciate vintage things of all kinds. I can probably count on both hands the number of new things in our house. So, buying a new table just didn’t interest me even if I was willing to pay the price. We finally saw one that looked like it would work for us – a beautiful old oak table in wonderful condition – for $75! I am thrilled with it as we will be able to more comfortably accommodate a few friends or family members to eat (when we don’t eat outside which is most of the time.) My husband spent about $20 purchasing some items to restore the finish and it looks wonderful. The table we were using belonged to my husband’s grandmother and we were grateful for it for the past 4 years. We will return it to my in-laws who gave it to his grandmother years ago. They will enjoy having it to use and remember her by.
    My sons and I are at the beach with my in-laws, brothers-in-law and families. We are having a great time enjoying each other’s company and sharing the cooking duties. We all bring food from our gardens and homes and chip in a bit of grocery shopping here, if needed, and we eat like kings. My oldest son has been crabbing all day and we will have the fruits of his labor for supper tonight. Yum! This trip has been happening the same week every year for longer than my husband has been alive so it is a very special family tradition made possible through the generosity of my in-laws for which we are very grateful.
    I continue to put up all that I can from our garden and barter/trade with my neighbors. I really wish we had an upright freezer. We used to have a chest freezer which was VERY old (given to us by family members) but have not replaced it since it died a few years ago. Keep hoping one will come up for a reasonable price at some point and have family members who live in different areas on the look-out for us, too.
    My oldest son will have his 10th birthday next week. Our family tends to spread out celebrations over time so we have time to honor the birthday person more than once and it is never too overwhelming for anyone. We will celebrate here at the beach tonight with an ice cream social and our neighbors planned a party for him next week with everyone contributing food and ideas for games. We will also celebrate as a family with my parents on his actual birthday. He is an avid fisherman so he will get a few fishing related gifts from part of the family. As I previously mentioned, he asked my parents for money for vet bills for the new kitten we rescued 4 weeks ago. They are cat lovers who recently lost their last (so they say) cat so they are happy to be a part of this little one’s life by helping in this way.
    I have a neighbor with a booth in an antique shop who allows me to put things there to sell as I find them or decide to let go of something I no longer need. It is a fun way to get a little extra every month or so. In June, I made $54.
    A big thank you to everyone for sharing your experiences every week. I find so much inspiration and kindred spirits here.

  32. I took leftover apples, carrots for my work lunch. I bought bread at Aldi and cheese at Target for lunch cheese sandwiches this week. I am trying to cut back so I will probably eat canned turnip greens and rice this week for supper. I have a large package of chicken legs , so I will make chicken and rice this weekend for my son. He will eat leftovers for at least three meals. I made him hamburgers over the weekend and he ate them for Saturday lunch, supper and Sunday lunch. I made spaghetti the weekend before and he ate it for three meals. He does not seem to care that it is repeats on the weekend. I like it that no food was wasted.

  33. Hi Brandy,

    Are the flowers in your photo a vinca? Very pretty whatever they are.

    I gave myself my 9th covid haircut. Since I’d made a botch of it before (with an uneven side),
    I was able just to trim one side.

    I’m not sure what a bullet journal is?

    Although I don’t have many sour cherries, I do have nanking cherries this year and I’m eyeing them for jelly.

    I have survived the smoke. Sometimes it settled in the ravines right next to me but I was above it;
    yesterday it was foggy with smoke so it was all around me.

    I bought a lovely box of tomatoes for $5, more pasta sauce for the pantry. I’m trying to reduce my sodium consumption. before
    the pandemic and canned food, I had a naturally low sodium diet that I loved. I am trying to live on my emergency supplies for a while so I don’t have to go out in the smoke.

    The new air purifying machine is a dream. It was easy to assemble and works well.

    Just noticed Co-op has 5 pound boxes of B.C. blueberries for $9.99. They will be hard to get because of the heat damage. It also has its own brand of chicken nuggets for 5 boxes for$20 — that is a bargain.

    1. Yes, those are vincas.

      I didn’t know what a bullet journal was either, but my son explained it as more of a way of keeping track of goals.

    2. Bullet journaling is a specific way of journaling. The term “Bullet Journal” is actually a specific brand of journal and way of noting things/list keeping (here’s a link: https://bulletjournal.com/).

      Many people use the term in a more general way. (Here’s an example of how some use it:
      https://www.oprahdaily.com/life/work-money/a32155559/how-to-start-a-bullet-journal/ )
      Pinterest has many examples of “bullet journaling”, if you’re curious. I discovered that I’ve done this general style of journaling for years! Who knew I could be so trendy? (HA!)

      Lea

      P.S. Brandy – if you don’t feel the links are inappropriate, please feel free to delete this comment.

    3. We had the smoke from northern Ontario and out west arrive yesterday. Add that to the heat and humidity and it looks as though the top half of the city has totally disappeared from view! It doesn’t smell like smoke but the haze is unbelievable – I cannot even imagine how bad it must be for all of you in the west!

  34. This will be for a few weeks!
    Found an amazing food source here in S. Colorado – Compassion Food Bank. The man who founded it has a huge heart and gathers food from various sources (grocery stores, warehouses) and then distributes it (usually once a week) in Colorado Springs area, Pueblo area. We opted for a ‘drop off option’ for a little more as it was just too hot to go out and wait in line to pick it up. Wow! Rec’d over $200 of items, all usable food including great bread products, gourmet candy and cookies, pricey yogurts and cheeses, an 8 pack of Odwalla juice bottles, snacks (including a lot of organic) and a lot of produce (14 cucumbers!!!) and a lot of other stuff. Got home and had a message from him that the driver had forgotten to give us the meat portion so we have $30.00 towards the next pickup. I found all kinds of uses for items and it was nice to have such lovely treats. It is on FB for those in this area. Plan to do this again in the next few weekends but will do pickup then as I can say yes or no to items I know we can’t or won’t use. There were two boxes of gluten free chocolate mint cookies that I gave away and a couple of boxes of cookies that were supposed to be frozen and had defrosted and didn’t bake right. I think it is $45.00 with cash, $60.00 if you chose the delivery option.

    Going through everything we own – room by room, shed by shed. Trying to sell some and will donate what we can’t sell. I am being ruthless with my clothing. For example – I have two ‘vintage’ classic Coach bags – one was mine from Corporate life and one was my mother’s. I kept my mother’s bag and will sell mine. No need for two black Coach bags (which literally last forever and these are of a classic design). The saddest thing is that I have 12 (!) pairs of Liberty flats – a style that I wore for years in my work life – in all sorts of colors. After developing foot problems I can’t wear them for very long as my inserts don’t fit in them. I can wear them for about three or four hours so kept three pair for when I have events I can wear them to (black, navy and red suede).

    We went up to a favorite place with friends so celebrate SO’s birthday. For the first time in forever eating out wasn’t a disappointment. It is called Juniper Valley Restaurant – between Pueblo and COS. It has been in the same family for 70 years! It is a set menu – choice of ham or fried chicken as mains, riced potatoes, gravy, vinegar coleslaw, okra/tomato mix, rolls, butter and amazing homemade apple butter! Starters a small glass of a locally made cherry cider or a light curry soup. Dessert is a choice of brownie or ice cream with homemade topping. Served family style and all you can eat. We ended up bringing home three pieces of chicken, some ham, rolls. Lovely service, quaint place and the food was just as good as it has always been. It is a flat price of $23.95 and you can get alcoholic drinks but most beverages come with the meal. I don’t mind eating out when the food is so good and so reasonable. We’ve eaten out a few times since things started to open up and have found that the food is disappointing (both chains and local) and much more expensive than we remembered. That and the service has been less than great. I have to say it was a nice break to have someone else cook!

    Have been doing a lot of reading as the library has opened up again and there seem to be more ‘regular’ books available. I am not a fan of reading on a tablet or phone but think I will give it another try. I have a table that I am going to use and then try our libraries free online books. They also have started carrying some of the Great Courses so will check those out this fall. Also watching documentaries and shows like Home Fires on Prime or with BritBox and PBS. We were so upset to learn there isn’t a third season of Home Fires. We spent days saying ‘But what about…”, “What do you think happened to…”! Will check for the book that is supposed to help answer some questions. Have really enjoyed the Jennifer Ryan books and others mentioned!

    Someone mentioned donating plasma. A friend (a nurse) had done this and 10 years ago I had worked for a company that made blood therapeutic machines. I knew the need was there but was actually kind of put off by it. I checked into it as a way to have extra cash for our RV trips. I was so pleasantly surprised! There is a very thorough vetting process for medical conditions. That includes monitoring for medications and for illnesses such as Hepatitis variations. The clinic is super clean – all following protocols, a check in each time to ensure one can donate (blood pressure, anemia, etc.). The first couple of visits can take up to four hours as there are a lot of questions, tests, etc. with a nurse. The times after that have been about an hour for me – I seem to do well (told that drinking lots of water, lowfat and low dairy foods helps immensely – all easy for me to do). I am given (it is a donation, not a pay so no 1099 – it goes on a Chase debit card that you can draw money from/online/store) $100.00 per visit for the first 8 visits. There are special programs for various areas of the country and for those who have recovered from Covid-19. I take a book and just read for the time. And it is important as the plasma process is different from blood donations. They are regulated as to how often you can donate. The people who donate have been students, retired people, parents who have had children who benefited from plasma, medical people, etc. Just a thought for those looking for a extra cash.

    We had the hottest June on record. The local farmers have water for this season (comes from the Arkansas River/Monarch Mountain area) but are wondering what the future holds. The local farmer’s markets prices are up this year as their seed, fuel and labor costs are all up.

    1. It’s so important for people to donate plasma! It’s life saving for people who have severe burns and anyone who has a traumatic injury and is on blood thinners or aspirin we give them plasma to stop the bleeding since the plasma is where your clotting factors are! Unfortunately I don’t have large enough veins to donate plasma.

  35. We also had an anniversary this past week. 11 years! We enjoyed reading at the library and borrowed books and movies for home. We have been turning off lights when not in use. Opening window shades for light. We have been trying to cook what we have in the refrigerator and what we are growing. The price of things has really gone up. But we are watching sales online and that is what we will buy.

  36. *I worked on using up food we had left from feeding 13 people the week before! We had leftover watermelons, so besides eating them fresh I also made some fruit popsicles from watermelon and lime juice, blended and then froze. We have not tasted the popsicles yet, as we have been instead still eating the fresh fruit and can eat those after the fresh things that will perish are eaten. We also had leftover heads of lettuce, so we have eaten lots of salads. Our garden is producing tomatoes, so these go perfectly with the extra lettuce!
    *Speaking of the tomatoes, these tomatoes are a new variety for me, and I have to say they are the very best tasting tomatoes I have EVER had in my entire life! They are the “Carbon” variety, and I am definitely going to try and save some seed and grow these again!
    *We have also had some green beans from our garden that we were able to pick and eat, so have been enjoying those!
    *I was able to cash in some “Bean Bucks” at LLBean and ordered two free tee shirts that have Snoopy on them. I would NEVER pay the full price for these, but since they were 100% free for me, I will enjoy the splurge and they ARE adorable. Well, if you are a Snoopy fan, they are adorable anyway! They are long sleeve, so I will have to wait until Fall time to wear them, but I will love wearing them all winter long!
    *I was able to use free $10 Kohls coupons on a clearance under garment. This is way not as exciting as free Snoopy tee shirts—but I am still appreciative of the blessing!
    *I attended a free Zoom Bible study, and enjoyed it greatly! It meets weekly, so I may try and join in again as I can.
    Pictures and more on my blog at: https://chickadeecove.blogspot.com/2021/07/frugal-fridayweek-of-july-11-17-2021.html
    Looking forward to reading what everyone is up to!
    ~Susan M. In Chattanooga, Tennessee

  37. Brandy,
    We had a good week. We have now picked a year’s supply of little, wild blackberries for our freezer. Some will be used for pies and for something we call blackberry dumplings which I make every 4th of July. We had a good crop of strawberries but ate all of those fresh. We will still get blueberries and raspberries from our garden. My husband is going on a charter ocean fishing trip so maybe we will have some salmon. If so, we plan to smoke some of it so it will last longer. I don’t really care for frozen salmon. This fishing trip is more of a vacation. My husband enjoys fishing and will be going with our son and SIL so it will be a memory making adventure which in my book is priceless. I hosted an 80th birthday party for my mom. This was not cheap but she has had a rough year and needed some TLC. I will now have to be very careful with my grocery budget for the next month but I believe the effort of conserving is worth the splurge of making my mom feel special for the day. Summer is the time we spend more money because our weather permits us to be out and about enjoying ourselves. The fishing trip is my husband’s splurge of the summer. Mine comes next week when I will take our grandson to a big cat sanctuary. There is a guided tour so he can learn about the different types of animals. This is a day trip but the entrance fee is pricey.
    I will echo what others are saying regarding empty store shelves. We are seeing a lot of that here in the Pacific Northwest. When you can find the item you want, it is much more expensive than just a year ago.

    1. Kim, what is the name of the cat sanctuary? I’m in the Pacific NW also, and that sounds so interesting.

  38. I am working 2 PT (1 is a contract) jobs. Last week it was decided I should leave the contract job to help take care of our parents. The non-contract job has offered me a few extra guaranteed hours (work when convenient to me). This is a great blessing, as this job is so low key and I need to be able to focus on our parent’s needs and not cause finances to strain.
    From my garden, I canned kale and potatoes. I used chard in lieu of spinach, cucumbers in salads. There are plenty of green tomatoes coming in. I plan on canning tomatoes and zucchini (together), and salsa soon. Zucchini was sauteed or made into a casserole with rice. My compost pile is once again, sprouting acorn squash.
    There was just enough (or more) rain each day to not have to water the garden each day.
    At the pay by the pound thrift store, I found a shirt new with tags and a bathrobe new with tags perfect for certain family members for holiday gifts. I weighed both (after purchase) and spent $3 for the 2.
    I am combining all driving to save on gas, as it went up another 6 cents in our area.
    Hope everyone has a calm week!

  39. Good afternoon all. I love your vincas. I have never tried to grow them, but I am much more a vegetable person than a flower person.
    I stuck to my goal last week of only working 3 days. I took breakfast and lunch all three days.
    The garden is producing a few things right now. We picked basil, zucchini, lettuce, cabbage, onions, kohlrabi, broccoli and thyme. We are eagerly anticipating tomatoes, corn, peppers and cucumbers.
    Thinned the carrots. My mother always said this was her least favorite garden chore – and I agree with her. However the carrots were large enough that we will be able to eat most of them. Gave the tops and the carrots that were to small to the neighbors’ horses.
    I gave some lettuce and a head of cabbage to my sister. she was in town for her birthday.
    I weeded the onions and the garlic. My DH weeded the peppers, tomatoes and corn.
    We slept in our basement for 3 nights as it is still very warm here in Eastern Washington.
    We are surrounded by fires so the air is hazy. We try to do outdoor work during the better air quality times.
    We planted more lettuce seeds, after my DH cleaned up the area where it is grown.
    I have been looking for a good broccoli cheese soup, and having a tough time with it. So, I took my cauliflower soup recipe, which we love, and substituted the broccoli for the cauliflower. Big hit.
    Did laundry and dried on the line during one of our smoke-free days.
    Fred Meyer (our Kroger store) had their brand of cheese for $3.99 for a two pound brick. While I much prefer Tillamook cheese, this is fine for using in cooking, on pizza, in soups, etc.
    Today on my way to work I stopped at Winco. I needed some cinnamon, and I buy it in bulk there. They had just received medium sized avocados and were marking them at 33¢ each. I bought 12 and may get some more and make guacamole for the freezer. Just wanted to let you all know that in case you are near a Winco in your area. I know they are all different, but you never know. Maxine – this is the one in the Spokane Valley in case you’re close.

  40. Great grocery buys and your daughters camp sounds wonderful.

    On the weekend we took a bike ride with friends and stopped at the park for a few hours in the afternoon, to avoid midday heat.

    I received home made (including the base) pizza with chicken breast, salami, ham and cheese which we enjoyed for dinner for two nights. I added a side of steamed vegetables each night. I made cauliflower soup which we enjoyed for three nights. Additions one night were toast, another night salmon and brown rice and the third night boiled eggs. I made butter chicken which we are still eating our way through. It is my lunch at work today too. My children and I received sandwiches and cake for lunch on Saturday.

    All washing was line dried as usual and food scraps buried in the garden.

    Have a good week.

  41. We had several frugal successes and some fails too! With me recovering from surgery my husband cooked or heated precooked meals for all our meals at home. Some of these were frozen pizza from aldi which at $2.75 is cheap for premade pizza but still more expensive than our normal meals. Still it’s our safety valve food while I’m recovering. We also purchased some bulk frozen fries and things to fill out precooked meals I made before hand. I was able to make a batch of homemade biscuits from scratch while on crutches one morning. I let my son help a lot! We had a frugal fail with my autistic son who has severely rigid habits for eating and drinking. He will not drink water, (we tried to break him of this multiple times by slowly watering down his drinks, and he will eventually not drink at all). We normally give him weak Gatorade with the powder purchased in bulk at sams and had been slowly dropping the Gatorade content in an attempt to gradually get him to drink water. He will drink juice or soda as well as Gatorade but those are even higher in sugar and price. He stopped drinking the 1/2 strength Gatorade and for 3 days only drank very little and got to the point where he had not voided any urine in 8+ hours. So we put the Gatorade back to 3/4 strength and he drank and drank it and is now very happily rehydrated. With his severe autism he can’t be reasoned or talked into things and his food habits are severely limited. It’s not a behavior or obedience issue for him as it would be if my other children were to refuse food or drink. In happier news, we save money for Christmas presents every month in a separate account. While sitting and lying down after surgery I have purchased or planned almost all the family presents for the rest of this year. That’s 7 birthdays and Christmas for 14, including extended family. I was able to purchase many things on sale especially some winter clothing needs for my children and a new down winter coat for myself. I have been making do with a hand me down coat for the past 8 years and needed a new one. I was able to find a lovely long coat for a (still not cheap, but deeply discounted deal). I have solicited home photos from my family and will be doing custom watercolor home portraits for part of their Christmas. I have the paints, papers and time and only needed some tracing paper which I found on sale. I carefully selected school supplies and organized our books and homeschool drawers and teachers guides. We were able to buy a few extra supplies to give to our church foster care ministry which is collecting this week. I was able to purchase several things on deep discount for decorating my daughters room for her Christmas. She has no bedside tables due to space and the room needs to be painted. We will paint it and I got 2 small shelves from ikea that will serve as mounted bedside tables, a canopy which was being discontinued for over her bed for $9 with some free gauze and polka dot curtains from a church site and an alarm clock. It will be lovely when we get done. I will thrift for some lamps and she will have curtains hung on both sides of the bed, her own bookcase and a lovely sanctuary. I continue to have children and my husband cut flowers from my garden and hope to sell the excess bouquets as I did before surgery. We got a new coupon card for a very expensive but necessary medication which took it from $547 for 30 pills down to $15. This is prescribed every day but after trying daily the doctor has now instructed my family member to take it every other day as it’s more effective that way. So we have a surplus and when the coupon card runs out again we can use that until we are able to get another coupon code. It’s been sunny and beautiful and my heart has been full of joy at being home with my children on summer break while recovering. Summer is my favorite season and being able to have fun and rest and enjoy this time off work has been a blessing to my previously rather frazzled soul.

    1. It’s hard for many to understand autistic children, but my niece almost starved herself to death rather than eat what we would consider “normal food” when she was little. Needless to say, even in her 20’s, we give her what she wants. It is what it is. I’m so glad you recognize the issue, and let him drink what he will. It’s not worth the stress, possible health issues, and anguish to fight it. It’s all a learning issue, and I think it’s even more of a learning curve when you have special needs involved. Hang in there!

      1. Indeed– Eating is very different for those on the spectrum.
        I expect you tried this, Meredith, but will he accept either crushed or cubed ice in his beverages?

  42. The garden is looking amazing. All or your hard work really shows. I loved the Instagram tour.
    My youngest and I had her friend and her mom(my friend) over for a game night. I told them not to bring anything. We had popcorn and homemade cookies. It was a lot of fun and it was nice to get together. We are trying to get back to our old lives. All of us are vaccinated. My friend brought shop vac bags for us. Theirs broke and they got a different kind that needs a different size.
    My daughter is having so much fun working at the art camp again this summer. One regular has been bringing her gifts since she takes such good care of her autistic grandson. My nephew is autistic so she grew up around someone that is and takes very good care of all kids. The women brought her a GF carrot cake after learning she was also GF. She brought her a dozen eggs from her chickens too. She got more cash tips last week. Her bosses fed her 2 days so she saved her lunches for the nest day. She has brought home several paintings that she has made during slow times. They will become Christmas and birthday presents.
    P is in the hospital and will be going to rehab. His daughter asked me to clean out his cabinets and fridge. Keep what I want and toss what I don’t. I brought home a banana, a peach, a plum, grapes, cold cuts, bread, 1/2 a box of donuts, milk and OJ.
    I have been charging my phone in my car on the way to and from the hospital to visit P. I have been bringing my own water with me. I have been parking in the far lot so that I don’t have to pay for Valet or parking.
    The eggplants have gone crazy. I am picking them everyday. I have given several away. Can you freeze eggplant? Anyone know. My lettuce is also going crazy. We have had several salads this week and several neighbors have gotten some. Cherry tomatoes are getting picked slowly. Wine berries have been getting eaten fresh and frozen.
    We did the firepit again. I love sitting out doing it as a family. We roasted marshmallows too.
    It was hot here all week. I either cooked in my crock pot or did a BBQ. I try not to turn the oven on in this heat. It did rain 4 different nights so I haven’t had to water a lot.
    Hubby and I paid our bills online saving us stamps.
    Hubby went with his brother to a free car show one morning. They both brought coffees with them.
    Eggs are down to 46¢ at Aldi this week. I didn’t think they could get much lower. Cherries were on sale for $1.99 so I got 5 pounds. Brandy 99¢ for cherries is amazing.

    1. I have sliced eggplant and put on a cookie sheet and frozen , then package in freezer bag once frozen. If you want to fry it bread it while still frozen, or grill from frozen, thawing will make mushy.

    2. You can freeze eggplant. The way you want to freeze it depends on how you plan to use it. I only like eggplant parmesan. I let the slices sit with a bit of salt on them first to draw out water, then bread & fry like usual. Freeze in single layer (I like to use a cookie sheet with wax paper for the layers). Store in a ziploc bag. Then I just take it out of the freezer, layer it with sauce and cheese, and bake.

    3. I cube and roast eggplant in olive oil before freezing. I mainly use this with similarly processed zucchini to eat with pasta and simple tomato sauce. I find that the roasting dehydrates the veggies well and prevents them going mushy after thawing.

  43. First, a book recommendation, for those who like to spend a few hours living in WWII England: The Last Bookshop in London, by Madeline Martin. It was inspired by the few bookstores that survived the Blitz. If you liked Jennifer Ryan’s book The Kitchen Front, you will probably like The Last Bookshop.

    I was making out a grocery list a few weeks ago and realized we had a fridge and freezer and pantry stuffed and things needed to be rotated out. So, the only thing we have purchased in the last two weeks is milk, which my husband will guzzle like water if he doesn’t watch it.

    A young friend who used to work for me and now lives outside Alaska, came for a visit. Bless her heart, she asked for a chore list and using the kind of energy I had forgotten you have at 39, did a ton of cleaning. She also helped my husband with several heavy fix-it projects. In the evenings we played Scrabble or worked on a puzzle or watched old movies. She swears she was not bored to death…even if she had done nothing, we would have enjoyed her visit but to have her be so thoughtful as to help an older couple with difficult projects was a real blessing.

    My garden is producing so many cucumbers that I am giving them away like zucchini, which I am also giving away! There are only so many jars of pickles and zucchini relish that we will eat over the coming year, and we are having a cucumber salad virtually every night, so giving the extra away is necessary. I did dry 4 quart sized jars of zucchini chips for winter soups.

    The chickens continue to produce more than they should—an egg a day each, so with four chickens we get a dozen eggs every three days. I have been trading them, selling a few dozen for $1 each, and baking things for future eating in the fall when their laying slows down.

    The other thing exploding in the garden is basil, in a way I have never experienced. I have harvested it several times and it keeps producing. We now have 47 containers of pesto for the winter and are eating it fresh also some nights.

    1. Oh that sounds wonderful! I have planted loads of cucumbers and basil this year and they are both just SITTING there, not growing. I hope they do something as I would absolutely love to have a cucumber salad every day and can all the pickles we need! I planted more cucumber seeds last week and they are up now. I should go plant more basil seeds as well as I think the new soil just needs more nutrients. I just thought of a place to plant more basil.

      I requested the book from the library. Thanks so much for the recommendation!

    2. Mable – I’ve just put that book on hold at the library – but it might be a while! I am number 423 on the list – even though they have 65 copies! It must be really good!!

    3. Hi Mable! That book was fabulous! Your garden abundance is wonderful! What a blessing your young friend was. It is strange to all of a sudden remember the energy we had at that age🙂

  44. Hello, everyone!

    Like many of you, I haven’t used my oven much at all this summer, and when I do, I make multiple items at once.

    We primarily eat vegetarian/vegan. Some of the meals and treats that I made recently were: mushroom stroganoff, bruschetta (lots of tomatoes and basil from the garden) tomato risotto, strawberries and cream bread, vegan chili, and spinach calzones.

    Books I read from the library were: “Finding Freedom,” by Erin French. This was a memoir, and I really enjoyed it. The author owns a very famous restaurant in Freedom, Maine. I also read and enjoyed “The Warsaw Orphan.”

    I recently read that “only 37% of the US wheat crop was deemed good by the USDA,” which seems alarming! I later read online though that the majority of the US wheat comes from Kansas, and I didn’t think that they were having drought issues? Nonetheless, I have been purchasing extra flour and storing it in my chest freezer-it will keep up to 2 years! I would love to hear if any readers from California have any insight to other crops? I know someone recently mentioned a potential nut shortage, so I stocked up on those as well.

    1. Wheat is grown in the PNW as well as Montana and North Dakota, and probably several other states. The numbers I have seen are much worse. They’re saying over 97% of the crop is bad.

    2. I’m in California, and I’d say any crop that needs a lot of water is going to be problematic. The first thing that comes to mind is almonds. It’s takes a lot of water and I’m not sure farmers recovered from the last drought. Trees were pulled out. Grapes of course are another big water crop here.

      1. Orchards were destroyed for almonds and oranges. Asparagus fields have also been destroyed.

  45. Brandy, have you tried eating the sweet potato vine leaves? They are edible but I haven’t tried it. They can be cooked like spinach. I just love your vincas (I think that’s what they are?) with the pink centers. Have never seen those before.

    I planted some lettuce and Asian greens a few days ago, and they’re already sprouting. Still getting lots of yellow squash, zucchini, and beans from the garden. Some of the yellow squash went bad before I could get to it, so I have been making a better effort to shred & freeze it instead of letting it go to waste. Tried a recipe for lemon poppyseed bread that uses yellow squash — it was SO GOOD. Definitely a make-again. Here’s the recipe if anyone is looking for a fun way to use up yellow squash–> https://www.southernmadesimple.com/lemon-poppy-seed-summer-squash-bread/

    Last week I ordered 2 backpacks and a lunchbox from Lands’ End using a coupon code. Today, a new & better code came out, which would have saved me about $25. The Lands’ End rep said they would refund the difference owed. I so appreciate companies that do price adjustments! It only took about 3 minutes to get it resolved, too.

    1. I’ve never had them grow big enough to have enough to eat. I think they like humidity, which is why they are growing so well right now; we have very high humidity for here right now at around 40-60%, but usually, it is only 5%, and they don’t grow well then.

  46. -Meals: Monday-took the meat off the last of the short ribs and added it to the leftover gravy which was served over a slice of bread and mashed potatoes with diced beets(what was left that wouldn’t fill a jar from canning; Tuesday-homemade pizza with raw carrots and celery; Wednesday-Spicy beef lomein with lettuce salads; Thursday-Lasagne skillet toss(deconstructed lasagne, so much easier to make) with home canned green beans (1 jar didn’t seal so we ate them), and garlic toast; Friday-leftover lasagne skillet; Saturday-pheasant chunks (canned) with gravy over mashed potatoes with green beans and watermelon, and Sunday-(we went to a free water ski show with our grandkids) so we had a picnic-cheese, summer sausage with crackers, cheese popcorn, watermelon and peanut butter cookies.

    -Groceries on sale-celery $1.28/bunch; large cantaloupe $1.50; iceberg lettuce-very large head-$1.00 (will use with the last of the garden lettuce for the week), and mandarins (3# for $3.29)-bought 2; bacon 1#-$3.79/lb limit 2. From Aldi discount bin-2# ground turkey for $3.75 and 6# chicken legs for $4.19.

    -Bought 4 bunches of celery and chopped and froze in 1 cup measurements. Froze 15 packages. Bought 2 bags of the mandarins and canned 8 pints.

    -I made the ground turkey into turkey sloppy Joe’s and froze several meals. Chicken legs will be for a camping trip in August so they were frozen.

    -From the garden: green beans, yellow wax beans, finally peas, pea pods, basil, cabbage, kolarabi, yellow and green zucchini, and onions.

    -I pressure canned 7 pints green beans and 1 pint yellow wax beans. One jar didn’t seal so we ate it. I made a quart jar of refrigerator zucchini onion pickles and froze 4 pint bags of shredded zucchini. I dehydrated basil. I shredded cabbage and got it mixed with salt and layered in the crock to get sauerkraut working.

    -I picked a quart of wild raspberries and froze them. They are on the edge of my yard. So I didn’t even have to leave home and they were free! Not sure why there are so many this year but I will take it!

    -Got my sister’s birthday gift sewn. A quilted casserole carrier (from leftover scraps and a small piece I had left after sewing my daughter a Cricut carrier for her birthday). Only out of pocket was the casserole dish-brand new from GoodWill on 30% off for 55 and older. I paid $3.50.

    -Got the binding cut for a flip and stitch baby quilt. I will hopefully get it attached and then I can do the hand stitching in the car on the way to see the grandkids play. There are in a summer drama performance. It is a 4 hour drive round trip. Been sewing st least 15 minutes each day and I am getting things done.

    -Went to JoAnn Fabrics to pick up the cording for the casserole carrier. They had a whole section of clearance fabric already 50-75% off and then it was an additional 40% off. I bought 2 pieces of flannel for just over $2/yd. That will make pajamas for 2 of the 5 grandkids for Christmas. I already have the thread and patterns. So basically $6 for each one. Will check out the JoAnns near my daughters and see what they have. It would be nice to get something for 1 or 2 more.

    -Have a great week!!

  47. Hi!

    Please don´t buy clothes from Shein. They is the most terrible company in the industry, the working conditions for their “employees” are really slavelike and they are very environmen hostile. That is HOW their prices can be so low.

  48. Brandy I am so happy you were able to buy some really cheap cherries, strawberries and chicken as it certainly helps with the grocery budget 🙂 . I love how your girls earn money to attend their camps it teaches them responsibility and instills a good work ethic to earn money. Lovely you have some beautiful flowers in your gardens are able to start some lovely sweet potato vine
    Last weeks savings added up to $46.50 🙂 .

    In the kitchen –
    – We baked 4 loaves of wholemeal white bread in the bread making machine saving $13.96 over buying them locally.
    – Cooked all meals from scratch.

    Purchases –
    – Did a mini grocery order and saved $11.50 by buying Vegemite on special and using $10 off WW rewards $.

    Finances –
    – With a bonus I got I paid an extra months mortgage payment saving time and interest on our loan.
    – Also with the bonus I added more to our 6 month emergency fund bringing us to 73.2% of the way to our goal.

    In the gardens –
    – We harvested .945kg of capsicums saving $15.35 over buying them in the supermarket and washed, chopped an packaged them into 4 double meal sized portions for the freezer.
    – With well composted grass clippings we topped up 2 raised garden beds and mulched an ornamental flower bed. We also used spent potting mix and soil in two pots to put some more soil in one garden bed.

    Hope everyone has a wonderful week ahead 🙂 .

    Sewingcreations15.

  49. Brandy your grocery savings are wonderful! I have never seen cherries and strawberries priced that low in my area – what a blessing!
    We are in full blown canning season here and although there is work involved it is wonderful to see the shelves being filled back up. We are harvesting a half bushel or more of tomatoes from the garden every other day. Thus far I have put up 25 pints of homemade tomato salsa, 12 quarts of tomato sauce, and 25 quarts of diced tomatoes. We are fresh tomatoes as well and enjoying the bounty. We have also harvested about 10 lbs of green beans, as well as several green peppers, banana peppers and herbs. Our crowder peas (these are a type of field pea we have growing for a source of protein) are starting to come in nicely and we harvested the first few last week. We should have these in abundance in the next week. All the beans will be prepped and frozen for use throughout the year and the peas shelled and frozen the same way.
    I reached out to a local farmer that I know and purchased a bushel of pickling cucumbers, half a bushel of yellow squash, and two cantaloupes. The cucumbers will be used to make sweet pickle relish which will be canned and the squash will go into casseroles which I will then freeze for easy side dishes in the coming months. When cleaning out the pantry I found a large bag of dried apricots that was nearing its expiration date. Not wanting them to go into the trash I did a bit of research, reconstituted them and made apricot jam. I got 6.5 pints from the 3 lb bag and it is delicious. I picked up 6 pounds of black seedless grapes and brought them home to make homemade grape jam. I found a local peach farm and purchased a bushel of peaches. Buying them direct from the farm cost about $1/lb and I have the added benefit of buying fruit that was picked the same day. I will put some up as sliced peaches and others as peach salsa both of which we enjoy year round.
    I expect that I will be doing quite a bit of canning this week as I have taken time off work. I will also be working on organizing my seeds and filling in gaps so that I can sow seeds for my fall garden. I have a shady back section in my garden and I will sow seeds for fall crops there with the hope that they will germinate and the seedlings will be ready to transplant once the summer veggies are ready to be torn out. I have already pulled up some of our green beans as they were done for the season and the tomatoes are not far behind. I am hoping to plant collard greens, mustard greens, celery, cabbage, broccoli, snow peas, butternut squash, herbs, and I may try another round of squash and zucchini to see if we can get a bumper crop. My fall garden was a fail last year so I am trying to be a bit more diligent in planning this year to get a better harvest this year.
    Most of my grocery budget has gone to fresh items that are needed for canning recipes such as limes, onions, cilantro, garlic, etc. I will be making a trip to the farmers market to purchase red peppers, onions and some other items in bulk to save some cash. We will use what is needed for the recipes and eat any leftovers or freeze them for later use.
    A friend gifted us a lovely bunch of basil which will go into tomato sauce this week and be canned. A neighbor of ours brought over some beef brisket that he smoked as a thank you for our watching his dog while they were out of town. I found ground beef at $3.68/lb which is the lowest price I have seen in months. I bought 9 pounds and will be making meatballs for the freezer and freezing portions for spaghetti, tacos, chili this week.
    Meals have been simple as there is much to do in the garden and canning. We enjoyed baked cod with a simple pan sauce made with cherry tomatoes and peppers, rice, white beans, tuna salad sandwiches, pancakes, pork tenderloin, pasta with a tomato garlic cream sauce and a lovely Spanish style chicken and rice soup using up cilantro, peppers, rice, carrots, celery, and a whole chicken from the freezer.
    I did not think once Covid began to turn that we would need to stock back up again but watching how things continue to progress has changed my mind and we are in the process of filling in holes in our pantry to make sure that we are prepared. I am looking for sales on meat, veggies and dry goods and buying as we can to ensure we get the lowest prices that we can. This combined with what we are growing in our own garden will hopefully be a help during the days ahead.
    Be well my friends! Enjoy the week!

    1. Angie,
      You are very busy and a real inspiration. I applaud your efforts at stocking up on food.
      Buying directly from the farmers is a great idea- so much cheaper than paying retail prices.
      You’ve given me a lot to think about.
      Thanks!

  50. Thrifty actions this week included transferring my neighbor’s aloe vera plants (she wanted to get rid of) to a section in our yard…noticed our grocery store is charging $2.50 for one stalk in the vegetable and fruit section. We found a badminton set for the grandchildren to play with when they visit. Our son finally had an offer accepted and closed on a house last week. It took them over 6 months for this process, as they kept running into investors bidding up and capturing the home. On this house, he had his realtor ( this was a home placed in an estate) tell the realator of the family of the estate… that he had a young family and would not be tearing down the house but renovating it. It worked, as the family had grown up in the home; it appealed to them that a young family with children would be living in their family home. So sometimes when the bidding is close, it is not all about the money.

    1. This is exactly how our son got hi s current home. The father had custom made all the cabinets and all the trim. The mother had done all of the roman shades. It sits on 5 acres and everything about this house screams quality. They wrote a letter to the family and at that time the father was in care. Even though our son and dil’s bid was 5k under the next offer, their offer was accepted because they wrote a 5 page letter of what their dreams were for the property. In the current market, it makes sense to appeal to the heart of the seller – especially in an estate situation. This family was so grateful the the kid’s recognized the work put into the home and wanted to keep it as is (other than getting the geothermal system working and adding solar when they redo the roof) The father died (Mom had already passed) 2 days before the closing 🙁 I so hope he knew that the home was going to “youngsters” who’d honor his work.

  51. Brandy, I have a gardening question. I planted a tomato for the first time this year, and I have weather conditions much like yours, hotter than hades. I noticed that many of the tomatoes were burned on the west side. What do you do to keep yours from burning in the sun?

    1. Some people use shade cloth. I try to let the leaves shade the tomatoes by growing them in a tall, wide cage of 18″ wide.

  52. Our weather has been mixed with some heat and humidity and some rain. The plants that survived in our garden are now doing really well. I have harvested a large zucchini and about 4 cups of strawberries which went into the freezer for winter. I am also taking the front page produce specials from the ads to freeze as well. I really want to be well stocked for winter. Like many of you, I think prices this upcoming winter are going to be very high.

    My husband has now claimed the maximum number of weeks of Covid benefits that he is allowed. He has also decided not to return to work at the university as they are not making vaccines mandatory and he works in frontline work there. Our son turns 18 in September and will be able to claim a disability benefit which we will live on. I knew that most likely this would be our decision so I have been planning and stocking up for months. We are blessed to be involved in a very active buy nothing group and I am constantly getting food and other necessary items from them. Just this week, for example, I have been gifted a dozen eggs, an unopened 10kg bag of whole wheat flour and some toiletries. Some folks in the group save their beer and wine bottles and cans for us as well and my husband and I have been returning them for cash for groceries.

    I have also started my canning. Last year’s apples have been on sale as they want to get rid of them before the new crop arrives. I used 30 pounds of them to make and can applesauce for my applesauce loving son. I also canned cherries when they were on for a good price. I was gifted a couple of cucumbers which I hope to turn into a couple of jars of pickles.

    I hope everyone is having a good week!

  53. What a wonderful bargain you got on the strawberries & chicken Brandy. I had to go back and make sure I was reading this weeks post, and not one from 5 years ago. Last week I took advantage of the ibotta back to school offers. DH used his account for them as well. I used some of the ibotta money to buy some more groceries. I decided to use some other credit cards for the percent back instead of using my discover card. DH has to buy ice and water for work every morning and he’ll be reimbursed after submitting the receipts, so I was having him use the sams card at the gas station. I decided this was a bad idea and to just stick with the discover card. My luck I will forget about the card and miss a payment and then I get nailed with a $50 late fee. So, we’ll get 1 percent back on purchases instead. I use the discover card on everything except 2 bills that will charge me a service fee to use it. I pay it off every few days. It sure is nice to earn money back each month instead of paying interest and the balance seeming like its not going down!!! I did call and close 2 credit card accounts. I made bread once last week. Some of us have been eating a lot of chicken, and others have been eating a lot of eggs. I cant even get pork for under $2 a pound anymore. Sams is definitely not the place for meat anymore. I do hope the price goes down soon. This inflation thing is scaring me. I already have a bare bones budget. I did all the usual stuff to save money, cant thing of anything extra ordinary.

  54. *This week brought frugal savings through sharing. I gave 7 skeins of mohair yarn to a friend who will turn it into a sweater. I bought the yarn a few years ago at a $5 fill-a-bag sale and haven’t used it. It’s a difficult yarn to work with.
    * We had my aunt, brother, and sister in-law over for dinner. They brought a green salad and also apricots, a squash, beans, and a pepper from their garden.
    * I cat sat for a friend and she brought me grapes, watermelon, and a bar of dark chocolate.
    * I went on two hikes to two lakes. Really beautiful in the higher mountains!
    * I hosted a pot luck working lunch to help package the cowls I and others have been knitting.
    * On Saturday night, we met friends at an outdoor concert. I brought fruit to share and others brought zucchini bread and sourdough bread with yummy spreads.
    * I harvested apricots from my community garden tree (and picked a bag of them for my hiking friend), harvested basil, a few tomatoes, chard, and amazingly, lettuce.
    * Shared some textiles with my friend who is an avid quilter.
    Brandy, thanks for the Dry Bar recommendation. I watched some of the comedians while working on other projects. It was nice to not worry about what might be coming out of their mouths!

  55. – Washed the reusable air conditioner filter to get as much efficiency as possible.
    – Revived a wood swing with boiled linseed oil and turpentine that we had on hand.
    – Painted a room in the basement (with the heat spending much more time down there) with paint leftover from last summer’s porch project.
    – Able to make turkey pot pie using up frozen carrots, peas, a few going towards soft potatoes.
    – Started carrying some cash again as a number of the diesel stations for our work truck will give a cheaper price for cash than credit at the pump.
    – Went to a fishing access site on the river (free) 3 times to cool off from the heat. Low water levels made the swimming refreshing and safer, but the lack of water is sad.

  56. I don’t understand why a recipe like this would mix soda and vinegar. Don’t those just chemically combine to form salt and water (and carbon dioxide bubbles)? Why not just mix salt and water? Could someone explain this to me? Thanks for your help. I have always wondered about this.

  57. I haven’t commented in quite some time but we have been doing our best. My husband made a big mistake in figuring out things and getting payments out this month so we will be playing catch-up for the next few months. This isn’t the first time, so I think I need to double check his figures before he spends anything (We only get paid once a month). I have been struggling with my mental health for the last several months that is making getting projects done difficult. Hopefully with some new med adjustments, things will improve.
    *We have used our over the counter benefits to purchase all of our vitamins and the stomach meds we need as well as new toothbrushes and toothpaste. It even covered a wrap around heating pad and a small food scale. The scale I use when I am splitting up meat and veggies for vac sealing.
    *We have bought only the bare minimum at the grocery store the last 2 months. Many things we just put back on the shelf due to the prices being well above my price point.
    *Since my bucket garden is failing miserably this year and my berry patches are not large enough yet, I will be purchasing veggies and fruits at the farmer’s market or at u-pick places to fill the freezer.
    *I have used various wood scraps to put more shelves into our pantry cabinets (which we purchased at deep discount several months back after my BIL paid me for redoing his boat canvas windows and screening). These cabinets are large enough to fit my 5 gallon flour, sugar and rice buckets so they are finally out of sight 🙂 It makes me very happy to see the unorganized mess finally starting to come together and makes it so much easier to keep track of what we need.
    *Our daughter moved back home rather suddenly after ending a 4 1/2 year relationship and she brought a young husky so the house has been very chaotic with our 2 Danes and the husky getting used to each other. The husky is NOT good with cats so we have had to make use of all the baby gates which our young Dane has figured out how to open for her….. :/ The husky is so small she can go right thru the cat door as well to where the cat’s litter boxes and food are kept. Our young Dane has also figured out how to turn on light switches…..he’s as bad as a human child lol
    *We switched our younger Dane to a cheaper large breed puppy food (he’s almost 9 months) since he is eating 12-13 cups of food a day (he was eating this much on a much more expensive food as well). We also did the same with our cats.
    *My BIL gave us his old chain link dog kennel so we were able to enlarge our secure dog area further. We do have another area but since it is only 4 feet high, we cannot leave them in it unsupervised. While there, he also said we could take four 4×4 posts that were laying there so I think I have enough found lumber to make stands for my bucket garden. We had to borrow a trailer to get it home and while picking it up, my Dad also sent us home with a big roll of old page wire fencing that I hopefully can use to surround our future berry area and fruit trees we want to put in next year. The deer have been munching on my hostas so I know I am going to have to protect anything we put in.
    *Just a warning to others: We paid cash last year when we sold our old home and downsized to our current one. However, when we tried to get a mortgage for a garage we ran into a problem – even though we have total equity in this home, we had to be here a year since it is considered a mobile home (manufactured house on a 8 foot tall basement) and have been thrown more and more hoops to jump thru. The current one is a structural inspection (already had the appraisal which shows the home as being worth more than what we paid for it a year ago). The bank just seems to keep stringing us along and has been very, very frustrating. Being so near Lake Michigan, means we get a significant amount of snow at times and since we aren’t getting younger, a garage would be much safer for us in the winter. We also need to do some repairs to the decking, Several windows have broken seals and locks, have more dead trees removed and figure out if we want to replace the retaining wall (previous owner tore it out so it is just a sand hill right now) or bring in loads of topsoil and plant it with shrubs and perennials that would hold the soil in place (this is the more appealing choice since I could incorporate blueberry bushes into it).
    *I have borrowed several books from my son to read (Stormlight series and some smaller novellas by Brandon Sanderson (scifi/fantasy). One I have saved for my knee repair surgery next month.
    *For the first time in 15+ years, I have a bathing suit. I am overweight and am very self conscious of it, plus when you have big thighs, they rub together and you get very uncomfortable, very quickly. I found swim shorts that are comfortable and I paired it with a very cheap bathing suit top I found on Amazon ( have to wear a sports bra with it as it is a single layer) It has been wonderful to be able to go in the water and cool off again!
    *I re-used a metal coffee can and cut down a tube from some upholstery fabric to make an organizer for my drawing pencils and markers. I also made a rustic “welcome sign” for by our front door. I am hoping to make a wreath for the door as well but may need a few supplies for that so it will wait. I’ve also used fabric left over from shortening curtains for my son and DiL to recover boxes to use as beds for our cats. Since they prefer boxes over anything we’ve ever bought for them, it just made sense to make the boxes match my “girl cave”. They have shelves built up one wall with wood left over from the entertainment/book shelf that is also in the room that the boxes are attached to.
    *I repaired a measuring cup and a heavy, large plastic wine glass (I like this one for my water) They can’t go in the dishwasher anymore but at least they can be used again. I also mended multiple clothing items as well as a couple pairs of my husband’s shoes the puppy chewed on.
    *I have started seeds that I saved from shrubs at our old house (Siberian pea trees) to hopefully use to start a hedge between us and our closest (noisy arguments) neighbors. I also took cuttings of all my various sedums to try and get more plants started for planting next year.
    *I have gone thru my seeds and will hopefully be able to use some of our grocery budget to buy some before things get worse. I do have quite a few different squashes but not much else.
    And I think that’s it for now! I am sending up well wishes for all of you dealing with the extreme temps, droughts and wildfires. Please stay safe! We have even had a forest fire in Michigan but it’s 6 acres seems like a joke compared to the thousands that have burned throughout the world now.

    1. Melissa,

      Can you set up your bills to come out automatically? Most utilities and mortgages allow for this. You can use Quicken to track everything and make it come out automatically so that you know what is coming. You can then make sure you know how much is in the account at all times, and you can see your actual balance after paying bills so that you know what you have for the rest of the month.

      1. We have tried this in the past and several times Social Security didn’t get deposited at the time the payments were to go thru and we ended up with many over drafts. Our current bank would probably refund those but the one we had at the time would not. We are very leery of giving them that access again. I think I just need to get involved in the budget again – I had turned it all over to him as I was struggling with doing everything. He HAD an unhealed diabetic ulcer (since 2016) + he has degenerative spine disease and a damaged heart so he physically can’t do a lot. He had surgery back in April to remove a bone in his foot and the ulcer has finally HEALED!!! But he has become more forgetful so I think I need to just step up.

        1. Oh that would make it difficult!

          Some of our utility companies allow us to pick a day or the withdrawal, but not all of them.

  58. Wow, you got a real deal on the cherries and strawberries! We never have pricing anywhere near that here, despite the strawberry farms capitol of the USA being about 1/2 hour away.

    For all the talk of heatwaves, in my neck of the woods, it seems slightly cooler than normal for July. I think we’ve only had one day it hit 100F and most days in the 80s. Slightly further inland it’s been a different story though, and of course major drought. My established hydrangeas and artichokes I normally never water in winter died because we didn’t get enough rain.

    Our COVID closed local farmers market has been back a month or so now, I’m grateful, but not all vendors returned. There was always a farmer who specialized in dry farmed early girl tomatoes, so with the drought decided not to plant since I could get them there. Wouldn’t you know he was a farmer that hasn’t returned. In fact, I haven’t yet seen any tomatoes there.

    Today I made pie crusts that I’ll turn into a peach and nectarine pie tomorrow. First time we could taste samples at the FM was this week and couldn’t pass them up. I’ve never mixed them before and I don’t know why. I always mix apple varieties for pie.

    My neighbor picked up a 25lb bag of sugar for me at Costco, then wouldn’t let me pay. So nice! That should get me through the holidays if I’m frugal.

    Got an 8lb bag of KA flour at grocery outlet for $3.99.

    Saved over $20 by going back to the hospital for additional dressings for a small surgery I had a couple weeks ago instead of buying at drugstore.

    Late spring a friend came and helped me trim a large shade tree back from the roof out front. This created a sliver of sun late morning/early afternoon. Apparently it’s just enough for me not to kill cilantro, which I’ve done every year I’ve tried to grow it. Until this year when I moved a pot I was on track to kill over there. It’s a tiny miracle, but so far it’s not dead. It’s trying to bolt, but I haven’t killed it. This is progress.

    Watched Disney+ movies while animal sitting for neighbors.

    Watched an AppleTv show as I got a free yr with an iPad gifted to me for my birthday.

  59. I am redoing our budget this week to reflect the refinance mortgage and some areas we cut and a few we had to increase.
    Garden is doing good, though a handful at times but that’s okay. We are eating fresh instead of from the pantry. I got some veggies from the Amish that are now starting to sell their extra. My Roma beans have a lot of blooms, I am just hoping the birds don’t eat them like they did the scarlet runner beans. Ate them through the bird netting SIGH. I still have some things to plant for late fall harvests.

    We have had a rough week family wise including with the oldest dog. We thought we were going to have to put him down but Vet is hoping it’s a bad case of bronchitis and not heart failure or cancer. On the good side Son 2 started a new job that will most likely end up being what he retires from in 20 yrs.. Increase of pay of $20, 000/ yr and a promotion from GS 9 to 11… Hummm levels on work you can do in military is the best way I can explain that. LOL
    Blessed be everyone
    https://chefowings.blogspot.com/2021/07/what-week.html

  60. Talk about sticker shock! I’m just back from a trip to my No Frills grocery store and the PC frozen veg (Cdn. readers will know what I mean) – that is usually $3 per bag (very occasionally $3.50) is now up to $4.47!!! I checked out a few other items and things like crackers, cereals, cookies and pasta (all using wheat) were all up in price, along with coffee and tea! I did get some No Name canned corn on sale so put a few more into my pantry but look carefully at sale items – many of them are very short dated. I don’t really fuss about canned items but other things will go a bit stale – even if they are safe to eat.

    I managed to collect a lot of Loyalty points on my purchases so then went next door to Shoppers Drugmart (same parent company) – this one has a small grocery section (usually very pricey cut with occasional bargains) and I got humus, sausages and potato salad all at 50% off – I will freeze the sausages and use the humus and potato salad this week – paid for all these items with my Loyalty points!

    I will be doubling my efforts not to waste ANY food if this is the way of the future!

    1. Margie – I’m in the Vancouver metro area. For me to get anything that’s on sale at Nofrills, I have to be there when they open on Friday, their first day of that week’s sales. They will be sold out of that week’s loss leaders well before noon on Fridays.
      I usually shop at a local chain called SaveOn and noticed that they aren’t having their usual sale on frozen housebrand veggies either. And their ‘sale’ price is now what was the regular price a year ago.

    2. Hi Margie — Yes, I’ve been noticing the same thing at No Frills in their flyer. Have you ever noticed that what is on sale at Superstore often isn’t at No frills but then goes on sale the following week and vice versa?

      Because of the smoke, I’ve been eating from the pantry. Just cannot get ahead….

      1. I don’t often get to a Superstore as I live in the city and they tend to be further out in the suburbs but I do go to Loblaw and a City Market that is like a high end Loblaw with all PC and Black Label products and yes, you have to know your prices to know that you are getting a bargain. And now with Shoppers being part of the group and many having food sections you really have to be on your toes. In one week I have seen Kraft PB on a $3.99 at No Frills – $5.99 at Loblaw – and $7.99 at Shoppers!!!!!
        Here the new flyer goes into effect on a Thursday and electronic versions are available on the Wed. for Loblaw & No Frills so I do a comparison shop before heading out for anything! My Loyalty Point offers also get updated on a Thursday so I again cross reference with my morning cup of tea. What is the “sale” price at a Loblaw can be higher than the normal price at a No Frills!

    3. Last week No Frills had Maxwell House coffe on sale for just over $6/ tin so I bought 6! That’s the same price as last year.

  61. Margie, Got to love those loyalty points. I have $30 worth to use on my next shop. This morning I picked the first Saskatoon and raspberries from the garden. My DH put these in his daily salad-along with the last scallion and the first of the Norland apples-still loads more fruit to come.

    Dinner tonight will be BBQ salmon, fresh potatoes from the local Hutterite farmers market and stir fried Indian cabbage with mustard seed, turmeric, onion and lemon juice-thanks to my Indian friend. I am hoping to start harvesting my own potatoes soon from the 8 plants I have growing. Even though my garden is tiny there is something very satisfying about growing at least some of your own food.

    The only good thing about the forest fire smoke is that it is keeping temps down somewhat. It is looking a bit like rain this morning off to the West and I hope we do get some-had a bit of a drizzle yesterday morning and we sure can use all we can get. Planning a little mini get away to Vancouver next week with my SIL. We will stay at my daughters apartment(she is away) and will drive and split gas expenses so cost is quite minimal other than any activities or meals out we should choose to have. We have a good friend and our niece living there so we will catch up a bit.

    1. I — Have a great trip. I hope the smoke isn’t too bad for the driving. Because my friends do all the shopping for me, they get my loyalty points. It turned to blue sky here so I’m heading outside — hopefully little smoke.

  62. I’ve realized that our grocery bill is a bit too much for our 4 person family and a lot of it is due to “impulse buying”. I go to the store with a list and I get the items on the list, but a whole lot of other things end up in my shopping cart as well. I really want to get this part of our spending under control.
    Any tips or tricks to combat this would be greatly appreciated 🙂

    1. Shop online with a click and collect option for pickup. If you can’t see something, you can’t buy it

  63. Mackenzie, Shop alone when not hungry and try to stay out of the aisles where you know there is nothing on your list( for eg I try to avoid the chip and candy aisle on most trips)-stick to your list other than good prices on stock up items that you will use in future. The outside aisles of the store will have most of the items you actually need. Good luck.

  64. Just trying to stop the bleed here, as money seems to keep flying out the door! My online business has been really slow this month, and I will soon have to take some time off for a family visit and a surgery that I need to have. Thankfully, it’s a relatively easy outpatient surgery, but I will be unable to move or bend much for 2 weeks because of the location of the stitches in my back. I’m trying to plan and prep ahead as much as possible for that. My husband works in the airline industry, and his job was just starting to feel secure again….but, now things are changing in his factory, so not so secure anymore. We also just found out that Washington State is going to start requiring residents to carry long term care insurance or pay into the state system It’s a nice thing to have, but has not been in our budget. Fortunately, there are some options that my husband’s company is offering that are more affordable than what the state has to offer.

    *I was able to host family for a last minute cookout and Birthday celebration using food that I already had on hand, in the freezer and in the garden. We served brats and burgers from the freezer, vegetables from the garden, homemade coleslaw, homemade focaccia bread, cheese tray. I did buy the cake at the grocery store because it needed to serve quite a few people. I re-used decorations and candles from my party bin, made a balloon bouquet using the kit that we bought last year.

    *Harvested Lettuce, a few tomatoes, beans, sugar snaps, basil and cilantro from my garden.

    *We have a high end air filter system in our house and an air scrubber. We bought the house last year and assumed that the filters had been recently changed by the previous owner. They had not. My husband researched the air filter system and learned how to replace the special filter himself, saving us several hundred dollars. Now, he has to figure out the air scrubber system or maybe we can just turn it off.

    *Saved money by not buying much this week. Went to Grocery Outlet to check out their specials, but most items were well above my best prices. I found a few snack items for my husbands lunches, some fresh produce and large jars of Miracle Whip for 99 cents. Went to a couple thrift stores, just looked, didn’t buy anything. Went to the mall to do an exchange and didn’t buy anything!

    *Working on changing my very bad water waste habits…. it’s baby steps! Also learning that I can do a lot of things in my house without turning on any lights during the day!

  65. I have been able to start my summer food preservation, as many of you other readers are. I got a really large pile of zucchini and we made it into zucchini relish last week. When I got it washed and ready to put away, I counted the ones left from last year, as I always write these things down. I was surprised at how much there was left of that particular item, as many things actually got eaten beyond my wildest expectation. I canned so much, trying to build up a backlog on a few things. So, I am already making plans to include this relish with several Christmas gifts. I am thinking along the lines of canning either some chicken breast or tuna and putting together a “lunch” or “sandwich” kit with the relish. I could also just buy some tuna on sale, but the home-canned is much, much nicer, though expensive. I’m still not sure exactly what I will do, but it’s nice to know I’m started. Last year, I did homemade berry syrup with a box of pancake mix for some of these people I want to remember, but am not able to buy large gifts for.

    I went out most evenings and filled several buckets of weeds each time. It’s been a busy week with caring for kids between our job of caring for our niece and nephew and our 2 grandsons. We just lend a helping hand a day here and there. I’ve also been down at the local hospital visiting a close relative who has ended up being there for a much longer time than anticipated. But, my garden is very important, too, so I have to make the time to weed, pick and preserve whether I feel like it or not. I actually love gardening, sometimes I just get tired. We plant our garden densely so there’s a lot of hand weeding and hoeing. I told my husband I was very flattered that he planted the tomatoes SO closely this year–thinking I could actually fit in there to weed, but next year, they needed to be a little further apart:)

    Just like everyone else, we are seeing higher food prices here. There are occasional great deals, and I buy them, but many things I buy are up 20 or 30c an item, and it adds up. I have been stretching out the shopping trips to every 10 days or so and that helps cut down the overall cost for me. This last time, I didn’t go until I ran completely out of milk and they had to go without for a day. They survived, although they were surprised they did, I think:). When I am there, it’s so easy to see something I’m out of and forgot to write down, or would really like to have. Lately, I’ve passed up many items I would have previously bought for the pantry, just to stay within my budget. I don’t seem to find watermelon for a good price lately. But, we are not suffering. I’m using my garden to the max, taking things out of the freezers and cupboards daily, and managing my food. Whatever does come on sale is our new favorite meal:)

    My husband cooked a small turkey, purchased last fall for a low price, outside on the BBQ so he didn’t heat up the kitchen. He de-boned the meat and made broth from the bones. The extras were frozen. I sent some to my sister’s. She sent me chili. I’ve been making many stir-fried vegetable skillets and salads from my garden produce. I’ve gotten strawberries and blueberries galore, but lost the blackberry (Marion berry) crop to the heat. My lettuce wants to bolt, but I’m using it up before it gets bitter and have new planted in a couple of places. I’ve been sharing this lettuce with the relatives so it gets used before it goes bad. The heat was not kind to the cabbage, so some is bursting way more quickly than usual. I’ve been sharing cabbage 1/2’s with my mom and sister to use it up. I planted a few more zucchini and summer squash seeds and they came up. I will have my husband plant some new little cabbage and broccoli starts for me for a fall garden when he gets a chance.

    I froze broccoli, blueberries and made 4-1/2 quarts dill pickles.

    I’m planning an “outdoor school” experience for my daughter and nephew for September. I have done this occasionally over the years. We will go camping and do outdoor activities along with learning activities. I include crafts. I went to Michaels to get some Perler bead kits because they enjoy them and some other craft supplies. I was shocked at the higher prices and the fact that so many shelves were absolutely empty or half-full. I hadn’t been in there for 2 years, and I guess it’s not just food that has been impacted by this pandemic.

    Pictures of my week are on my blog: http://beckyathome.com

    1. That is what I am seeing too. I am getting the loss leaders, which I am sharing here, but I have found that everything else is higher, and it is adding up. I can no longer stay within my old budget, and I don’t know how to make it work.

      The garden is my big hope for the future in bringing down food costs. Right now, several things are not growing, and not having those in the garden means I need to buy them this year, which is significantly impacting what I need to spend. The tomatoes have been a complete bust this year. I think I should have added much more manure to the new garden soil. Everything comes up and then just doesn’t grow. I am going to go buy some more manure and try to mix it in more places where I can.

      1. This sounds like my new garden as well. After much research, we discovered our acid level were way way off. Basically the soil did not have any nutrients. For examples tomatoes need a ph level of 4.5 to 5.5. Most of our soil was 8 or higher. I was so dishearten as this was a huge purchase around $800 this year. I am currently adding lime and manure to try improve for next year.

        1. Lime will increase the alkalinity! Don’t add lime or you will make it worse! You need to add soil sulfur to lower the pH.

          Definitely add manure. I added some but I think I should have added a LOT more.

        2. Sheila,

          We also have very alkaline soil. In a garden class that I took, the instructor specifically said to NOT add lime. It makes it even more alkaline. Good luck.

      2. I’m noticing the prices of everything going up too. It is definitely affecting our budget. I had high hopes for our tomatoes and peppers, but they are not doing well at all. I hope we get some this year. We are ok, but our little bit of savings is dwindling. I worry about when we get less hours, how that will affect us. We need to entertain ourselves at home, use what we have and I’d like to find extra income streams without stressing us out too much. I’m just glad we have been saving when we could. I’m going to refigure our budget so we don’t drain all our savings. It would be great if we could build it up instead. I need to brainstorm extra income ideas.
        On a positive note, we are getting yellow crookneck squash, kale and our corn is growing. I also have some herbs growing. I’m going to check on our beets, I might be able to pull them. Onions have grown with the grass as well. Other than a bit of worry,I am feeling pretty good. Good health is a bonus. I wish you well with your budget as well as your readers.

  66. Accepted a bag of gently used boy clothes for my sons. This week’s big find was peaches at .79 per pound. I bought 60 pounds and saved over 50.00 from the usual price. I am half done canning and will finish today. Then I will make peach jelly from the pits and peels. I too am not able to maintain my budget due to increases in food and gasoline. It is worrisome. I have gone through the big pantry and need to get my supply of sugar and a few canned vegetables built back up. Finally we have some homegrown blueberries!! My blueberry plants are about 7 years old and we just got our first crop off of them. They taste amazing. I am going to mulch them with pine needles and cage them so the rabbits don’t eat them over the winter. I feel like my food production will increase in a couple of years but this year will be slim. My pear trees have about 40 pears in total. (Last year they were over laden with pears!) I put in the raspberries, grapes, strawberries, and blackberries this spring. Only two blackberries survived. About 1/3 of the strawberries made it. My soil must be grape vine heaven because the new seedless varieties are taking off. I have pumpkins, cucumbers, and zucchini flowering. Picked 2 zucchini slightly nibbled; the rabbits are after them and have decimated my green beans. I think the combination of early burning heat and no early spring rains have contributed to my garden woes. My tomatoes and peppers are small. I hope they do something before fall. Tried celery and potatoes for the first time this year. The potatoes are growing in a trash can. They would not grow in my soil last year. The celery is coming along. The chickens get every scrap that is not used by us. I need to clean out the chicken coop and add it to the garden soil. My dad grows an amazing garden so I know I can get some great produce from him and will can what he wants in trade.
    We are thinking of selling off a good portion of our laying chickens. Feed prices are getting out of control. I am going to start sprouting old wheat and use that to offset the commercial feed. Thanks to everyone for all the tips and ideas that help me be more frugal and find things we need for less. I think its going to take a lot of ingenuity to navagate the coming years.

    1. I agree. I don’t think food prices will come back down for a while, and I think they will continue to rise. I also am expecting shortages, as the drought has meant so many fields left fallow and so many orchards that were razed.

    2. Deanna,
      Do you maybe have edible weeds you could feed the chickens as well? Any chance you could ask a local grocery store to save you trimmings of veggies that are wilted or just a bit off? We volunteer for a local charity and it’s amazing how much food would be thrown out if we didn’t pick it up. Your store would also save on disposal fees.

      Hope it helps.

      1. Thanks for the ideas Cara! I’ve checked with two stores so far and they say they compost all the unsellable produce. I will check with a couple more stores in my city. Every time I shop I think about how we could easily feed people with the sheer volume of produce that is stocked in stores. One of my personal pet peeves is food waste. I try my hardest to eat/preserve every bit that I buy or grow.
        I do let my chickens free range occasionally, but they destroyed my flower beds around the entire perimeter of my house and a large portion of my grass this spring. We have a mulching mower so there is nothing to give them after mowing. I am thinking about partitioning 1/4 of their enclosure and planting it to some type of quick growing greens to allow them to forage before winter.

  67. Brandy,

    Things are looking bad for food and other costs now but I’m sure you’ll manage somehow — you are so resourceful, although I know that resourcefulness only goes so far. I meant to tell Elizabeth M and Margie from Toronto, that I believe No Frills and Superstore will match each other’s prices. So if one week, No Frills has higher prices than Superstore, just ask No Frills to match the prices and vice versa.

  68. “Drought is withering grains on both sides of the U.S.-Canadian border, prompting farmers to take the rare measure of baling up their wheat and barley stems to sell as hay.
    In Brazil, the world’s biggest coffee supplier, some of the coldest conditions in more than 25 years are dimming hopes for supplies. Torrential rains in Germany have repeatedly interrupted the grains harvest. And the Henan province of China, a hub for agricultural and food production, has also suffered from flooding.”

    This is an excerpt from Bloomberg Newsletter “Supply Lines” The article also mentions shortage of grapes and raisins from Chile and cooking oil.

  69. -Enjoying tomatoes, beans and herbs from the garden. Found peaches for .80c/lb and did some canning. Our local orchard also has some u pick, so hoping to make it there early next week. My kids eat all the fresh berries off of our bushes so we haven’t gotten enough for jam or pies.
    -Enjoyed our county fair. We did buy dinner and treats but it was a very fun family night out. Stayed away from the rides, as we all get motion sickness
    -Hosting a party this weekend but making our own taco bar. Always easy to make pulled pork and beans for a crowd. I freeze buckets of ice cubes ahead of time, as I hate spending money on ice. I broke my crockpot, so I used my instapot slow cooker function. I don’t love it (it was a gift) but trying to pare down appliances. For now, I’ll avoid buying another crockpot.
    – Enjoying free coffee from Panera.

  70. Hi friends! Let’s see……I made my first batch of pickles for the season this week (woo hoo!) and they all sealed so that made me happy. I made a cauliflower/green bean/carrots mixture. I LOVE pickles, so I usually make all sorts to last me through the year (pickled beets are my favorite I think.) Last summer because of the shortage of jars and my living situation, I didn’t make ANY pickles. So I was very ready to get that started again.

    I didn’t go to the grocery store. I have a fairly well stocked pantry and try to keep my visits as few and far between as possible. I did go to the farmer’s market last Sunday to get some cherries and a loaf of artisan bread, so those were my treats for the week.

    I got to meet an internet friend in real life this week! Long story short we were paired up for an online holiday gift exchange last year and got to talking on a regular basis. Her husband took a job locally so they moved to his family farm (outside Portland city limits) so I got to go out and meet them! It was such a treat! I took them a jar of the pickles, and we picked the first blackberries of the season. I only got a cup or so, but in a week they will be POPPING. I love jam with mixed berries so I’m delighted to be able to go back and a) spend more time with my friend and b) get all the blackberries I can stand!

    I picked up six library books which I am very excited to dive into. I am a voracious reader, and since the library has reopened my heart is SO happy.

    I was house/cat/garden sitting for friends of mine who were out of town for 10 days. It was easy enough to pop over and check on everything. Since they were going to be gone such a long stretch they said I could pick whatever was ripe in the garden. I got probably 4 pints of strawberries! I was so excited. I only planted mine this year so I have gotten sporadic fruit at best (like one berry or so a day). So having all those strawberries was such a treat. I prepped them all and froze them for use in jams or sauces or smoothies in the winter months.

    I was able to borrow my neighbor’s Kitchenaid mixer with the grater attachment to grate all the things that needed grating hahaha. I like to keep Mexican blended cheese for quesadillas/burritos/tacos/enchiladas/nachos etc and I always make my own. I buy monterey jack and medium cheddar blocks at Winco (cheaper than Costco!) grate the two and mix up. Toss in some flour to prevent clumping. I make two gallon freezer bags at a time and freeze one and set the other in the fridge to use. It always gets used. I was grateful (<see that! I made a cheese pun!) to be able to borrow the machine so I didn't have to do it by hand! I thoroughly cleaned it and then grated the GIANT zucchini that another neighbor had left on my porch. I never grow them because it seems like everyone else does and I always end up with plenty.

    I did all the usual things: ate all meals at home, line dried my laundry, drank primarily tap water, stayed home, all the things. Not terribly exciting but I remind myself that they all add up. I wanted to order delivery more than once, but I looked through the fridge and made what I had available.

    Thanks as always for being such a kind and supportive community. Sending you all love!

    1. Interesting. Winco is more expensive here for cheese than Sam’s Club for those two cheeses. Always good to compare, wherever you are!

  71. I had been feeling a little guilty about spending so much money on seeds, but the bulk packs were a good deal overall. Reading this blog post has put my mind at ease that I was wise to prepare ahead and buy the extra seeds at a discounted price. Thank you!

    I did save my own cilantro seeds this summer so I did not have to buy cilantro seeds!

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