Looking at the grocery ads that have been coming in the mail the last month, I’ve noticed that they are smaller (no outer flap and no inner pages)–about half the normal size. Sale prices are often double what the normal sale price would be at this time for things that I wait to buy at Easter. I think these new prices are going to last a long time (and get worse, with meat producers and farmers now in trouble), and I can’t see doubling my grocery budget for our family. Seeing the prices, I am even more determined to figure out how to grow more in the garden, sticking in plants here and there.

I figured out a shady spot in the back of the bed between a rose bush and an artichoke plant where I can grow more Swiss chard. The artichoke will bloom soon. After it is done producing artichokes, the plant dies back to the ground, which will give plenty of space for the chard as it grows larger.

Edible Nasturtiums (both the leaves and flowers are edible, though bitter).

I sowed seeds in the garden for Swiss chard (ones that I had collected from my garden), chives, basil, arugula, green onions, spinach (It’s super late but I am experimenting and we are having a very cool April–we even had hail this week! Spinach seeds usually are only good for a year, so even if they bolt, I’m good, as these are open-pollinated and I will have seeds to plant in fall) and miniature bell peppers. I never have any luck with peppers–and I always have bought plants–but I will try directly seeding these in the garden and see if they are large enough to produce something by fall. I keep looking for (and finding) more places to squeeze in a few more vegetables here and there, so I am planting seeds for them.

As seedlings came up through the soil, I covered them with small glass canning jars right away to help them grow faster and hopefully keep them from being munched. The pill bugs love seedlings; I have seen rows come up in the morning and be completely eaten by the afternoon. Bean seeds grow so quickly; these have been a delight to my three-year-old, as he helped plant them and is also watching them come up and grow taller each day.

Star of Bethlelem

My mom offered some of her old garden pots to me. I was able to look at them on the side of her house without seeing her (we only talk at a distance over the wall now, even though she lives next door, just to be safe). I chose several. I planted a tomato in one and will see what I can do with the others.

Lizard in the garden

My neighbor had mentioned wanting a pot with flowers a month ago, but she hasn’t been going out since February, so I chose a pot I thought she would like and transplanted some of my small self-seeded nasturtium plants into it for her. I left it at her doorstep, along with some basil seeds in a plastic nursery pot that I started for her. I know she normally grows basil each year.

Katy Apricots in the Garden

I tried the small Swiss chard leaves from my garden as a salad. I usually harvest Swiss chard when the leaves are as long as my arm, and we steam it or cook it in soups. But I know it can also be used as salad and I wasn’t really wanting to do that before as it is not as mild-tasting as lettuce or spinach. The smaller leaves are definitely better tasting than the larger ones for salad. Since Swiss chard grows in the summer here, and since I planted a lot more than usual, I’ll probably be doing this quite often. I have read it grows large enough for small leaves every ten days, which I never cut at that small stage before (always waiting to harvest until the leaves were huge) but I planted seeds every six inches apart so that I can harvest them more often this summer, as it is too hot for lettuce here in the summer. Lettuce likes temperatures below 90 degrees and we have 5 months of temperatures well above that, not even cooling down to that low at night.

I planted ten blackberry bushes that I had ordered back in March. I don’t expect a harvest from these until next year, but we could use more blackberries and there was some space in the garden for these.

I made French bread, eggless cupcakes topped with powdered sugar, Museum Pasta Salad with snow peas and green onions from our garden, whole wheat muffins, oatmeal, chicken noodle soup (using dried carrots, dried celery, and dried onions); frittata with asparagus and chives from the garden; bran muffins; black bean soup; alphabet soup; corn chowder with the last of our potatoes and dried celery, carrots, and onions; lemonade; tomato basil soup; paninis with cheese from the freezer; and bean burritos.

I defrosted several quart bags of frozen peaches from last year’s harvest and we ate those with meals. I turned some of them into a smoothie with frozen blackberries from our garden and canned grape juice from our garden.

We have some things in our pantry that have been given to us (people moving, from when my father-in-law died, etc.) that are not items I usually buy. I am going to prepare as many of those as possible during this time, for variety, to not waste, and to clear up space in my pantry. (If anyone has any favorite ways to use canned mackerel, I have a couple of cans of that and no idea what to do with it! I need recipes that can use items from my pantry.)

I was blessed with 5 dozen eggs from our neighbor who works at the grocery store. I had made three masks for her last week. She said that they are going to start requiring employees to wear masks now, so she is happy to have masks and wouldn’t let me pay her back for the eggs. She asked if I needed anything from the store, and I caved and said a ham for Easter. She picked up a ham for me, dropped it off at my house, and refused to let me pay her back!

We eat a lot of eggs (if everyone eats 2 for breakfast that is 20 eggs at one meal–so if we had eggs only three mornings a week, I could use 5 dozen eggs just on three breakfasts) so I am happy to have some more eggs to use for meals and in baking. I usually buy 13-14 dozen at a time when they go on sale for $0.99 and had been thinking about changing that to buying 20 dozen at a time earlier this year. Now that they are hard to find, have a two dozen limit, and are $1.99 a dozen on sale, that won’t work.

“I found two purple ones.”

A friend who has hens called me to ask if I could use eggs. She brought me three dozen and left them in front of my house.

Another woman I know who has hens traded me two and a half dozen eggs for some wheat from my pantry and some lemons from my trees. I left the wheat at my door and she left me eggs. It’s strange, leaving and receiving items at the door without seeing anyone, but it works!

I made more masks from fabric I have on hand for someone who works in the hospital. All of the masks I have been making have been for specific people who have essential jobs. I also made one for my husband and a few more for another grocery store clerk.

I turned two pairs of girls’ leggings that were ripped at the knees into shorts.

I harvested lettuce, Swiss chard, green onions, snow peas, lemons, and asparagus from the garden.

I signed up for the free CBS All Access month so that my husband and I can watch Star Trek: Picard for free together. We watched a few episodes.

They also had a few children’s shows, so I put Madeline on for the children.

I watched Call the Midwife and World on Fire on PBS.org.

I read an e-book from the library called The Orphan Thief.

I made Easter rabbits for the children using molds I have and chocolate melting chips I have on hand.

My husband fixed two breakers and fixed his welder. He also worked on other projects at home.

My husband and I cut his hair. We started doing this soon after we were married. It has saved us so much money over the last 20 years to cut everyone’s hair at home.

Our neighbor was cleaning out his garage. Since the thrift stores are not taking donations, he put everything useable out for the trash a couple of days early so that people could take what they wanted. My husband got a needed jack from the items.

Artichoke in the front garden

What did you do to save money this past week?

Do you want to support my site?

 As an Amazon affiliate, I earn from qualifying purchases made through my links. This means that I earn a small percentage from ANY items you place in your cart and purchase within 24 hours after going to Amazon from one of my links (i.e., it doesn’t have to be an item I have linked here). 

If you’re going to be making a purchase from Amazon this week, I thank you for using my links to support this site!

Similar Posts


  1. We often have canned mackerel on toast for breakfast but you could use it in place of tuna in a tuna pasta salad.

      1. No, we just heat it a little on the toast. Our cans are quite small, 82g drained weight, and that easily serves two.

        1. Hello. My husband loves mackerel with canned tomatoes and cooked macaroni noodles. I drain the tomatoes a little bit and add some seasoning of choice to it. His whole family loves it.

      2. I often have canned sardines on toast with avocado and tomato slices and I would do the same with mackerel. I believe you should also be able to find a recipe online for rillettes – using mackerel – it ends up being like a pate. Otherwise I would use it in pasta long with some olives in place of sardines.

      3. Mackerel has a strong flavor, to me it tasted like strong tuna fish. Bumble bee has a website and a recipe section there. We tried their canned mackerel recipe that included potatoes and other veggies, sort of like home fries, veggies and mackerel combination. It was edible. I don’t like strong fish flavor so it didn’t go into our recipe file…but like I said, it was edible ;).

        I also noticed sale prices aren’t very prevalent…or good. Didn’t even buy ham this year!

  2. The news that my husband would be returning to full time work hasn’t happened, so he’s still at home. I’ve enjoyed the time we’ve all had together, even if circumstances aren’t ideal.
    We cut 3 sons’ hair and my husband’s.
    My husband stopped at our closest store and bought two gallons of milk. They are 3x the price of the big stores, but I worry about the locally owned stores through all of this.
    I am worried, too, about prices increasing. It will make things more difficult for sure!
    While I always keep a “decent” pantry, I’m realizing how much more I would need to store in order to get by without shopping for an extended period of time. We’ve gone through over 50 lbs of flour in the past month. 600 lbs of flour is going to be expensive to purchase at once and I’m going to have to rethink storage. Our home is quite small, so I’m going to have to get creative!
    I sewed more linen bread bags, mended a skirt, mended a quilt, sewed 2 pairs of pajama pants for my oldest, and started a 1940s swing dress for myself.
    We purchased two movies from the Redbox. We usually wait a month or two after a movie comes out and purchase it used that way. We live 15 miles from town and we don’t venture in very often, so renting isn’t economical. We also don’t have home internet and our mobile data is limited, so streaming is difficult.
    I planted more peas, carrots, radishes, and herbs. Next up will be potatoes and onions.
    I’m working on defrosting my freezers as they get emptier. Hopefully they will run more efficiently and now I know exactly what we have.
    I made dandelion jelly.

    1. Hello, I noticed you mentioning sewing linen bread bags. I’ve never heard of such a thing, is this so you’re not using plastic bags? Dp they keep the bread fresh? If you have a pattern you would share, that would be lovely.
      Thank you. Karen B

      1. Hi Karen. I make cotton bread bags. Also cotton bags for lettuces and greens. I am not keen on plastic but to me these keep things much fresher as they are not sweaty and things stay dry not soggy. I just make a rectangle bag like you would make a small pillowcase. But Sarah may have a better answer for you.x

      2. Yes, they keep bread better (they’re breathable, so no condensation like with plastic). Also, my loaves are often too large for plastic bags! There are lots of tutorials online. I just made a super basic drawstring bag. I bought 3 yards of fabric and got 15 bags out of it. (I’ll gift several of them to friends)

        1. Old linen napkins or table cloths or towels could make a nice vintage look for the bags!
          I have read that linen keeps bread fresh, but have not tried it. Glad you posted this.

  3. I don’t know if this will work for you, but I make mackerel cakes like salmon cakes. I use some flour and egg for binding with dried minced onion (could probably use cooked onion), salt, and pepper. I use the liquid from the can of mackerel also. Stir breaking up the mackerel, then drop by large spoonfuls into frying pan with a little oil, flatten out (I keep them fairly thin) and brown on both sides. I have used these as sandwich patties with pickles, etc. or with veggies for a meal. Hope this helps.

    1. I make fish cakes from mackerel, too, as it is much cheaper than salmon here. I use dry bread crumbs for the binding and cooked onion or cooked green onions. Sometimes I even add a little relish or minced pickle to the mix. My kids love them with a little dollop of mayo or tartar sauce. The are good by themselves or in a sandwich.

    2. I have cooked it this way as well. I told my kids they were Krabby Patties and they ate them just fine.

  4. Thank you for sharing your beautiful photos. Spring has finally arrived in the Seattle area. I have tulips, daffodils and grape muscari in a few pots and have been enjoying them so much.

    We are allowed to exercise outside here, so it is nice to get a dose of sunshine while doing that. I know a few trails where there are very few other people, so that’s where I go. In anticipation of people wanting to go outside en masse, Seattle closed most of its parks this past weekend, telling people to stay home and to exercise in their own neighborhoods. I was able to sit outside on my patio several times. Yay for sunshine!

    My office is still open (physical therapy) so I continue to go to work. As it stands right now, are allowed to treat people for pain and rehab purposes, to keep them out of the hospitals. Our clinic is very specialized, so that’s the majority of what we do.

    Our QFC (Kroger) store had a sale on Tillamook cheese (2lbs for 5.99) and butter (2 lbs for $5). (I know the grocery fliers are printed far in advance, so I wasn’t sure if they would actually have the items in stock, but they did). My mom wanted some, so I picked up cheese and butter for her and me on the day I was going shopping, and delivered it to her (she is leaving the house as little as possible). I stood outside her condo building, and she came to the front door. She saves her newspapers for me to read, and I gave her the groceries I had picked up. We stood 6 feet apart. It was good to see her. She normally works in a grocery store, but thankfully she is taking a leave of absence (she will be 80 this week). I really wanted to give her a hug, but we can’t do that right now.

    On Easter, we did a Zoom call with my mom and sisters. My birthday is this week, so they sang me happy birthday. It was nice to talk to them.

    I made a bunch of masks for friends and family, and also for a friend of a friend who works in a bank. I read this amazing story about a sew shop in California that is making masks for medical workers, using commonly found materials like blue shop towels. They did lots of testing to find out what worked for filtration and what mask design worked best. Then they shared their mask pattern for free: https://suayla.com/pages/suay-community-mask-coalition. I managed to get some blue shop towels so I’m going to experiment with their design. I found their efforts so inspiring!

    I really enjoyed reading everyone’s comments last week. Thanks, Brandy, for continuing to post every week during these difficult times, and thanks to everyone who shares here.

  5. I’ve noticed an increase in prices too, in the sale flyers. I pretty much ignored my shopping list this week so I could get ham and turkey on sale – both were on a steep sale right before Easter. I had a couple of both in the freezer now and, with venison we were gifted, we should be good for meat for a while now.

    My husband has been helping with distribution of food for the food shelf (our church has a lovely portico they can drive under; since he is the Pastor he has to be there for insurance purposes). He has been able to bring home a few things that were left – typically items others don’t care for or don’t know how to cook. They are offered to others that come after, but if anything is left they can take it home. He brought home several individual bananas, questionable looking corn (we’ll get quite a bit – the husks looked bad but the corn was mostly fine), Brussels’ sprouts and asparagus lately. I am very grateful as his pay has been cut during this time.

    I was very excited to discover that my lettuce had re-seeded itself from last year! I have started some seeds but it is too early to plant almost everything. I did plant a few radish seeds in a pot outside and will be planting more as things warm up again. We had about 5 inches of show yesterday (about half melted this morning already), so it is too early for most things. I will be adding more to our garden this year too. We are already talking about dismantling and selling the children’s swings set (they will be 15 in a couple of weeks, so they don’t use it anymore) and planting an open-pollinating peach tree. I have blueberry bushes and strawberry plants and am getting a cutting for a grape vine from a relative when we can see each other again (she started it in a pot for me). More food grown at home is a good thing, I think.

    I listed my frugal happenings for the last week here: http://lea-intherefinersfire.blogspot.com/2020/04/frugal-friday-april-4-to-10-2020.html

    Have a wonderful week everyone,

  6. We eat canned salmon patties quite a lot. Walmart always has it for much less than Kroger; we get two meals from one can. You could try mackerel patties with home made tater sauce. I just mix mayo, homemade dill relish and a little mustard. To make it less fishy, try using mashed potatoes rather than bread crumbs.

  7. I’m in the U.K. so currently starting week 4 of the lockdown. I’m coping well with staying home, planting lettuce, onions, chard, beetroot, mizuna and radish and parsley. I shall plant spinach tomorrow too.
    I had to go grocery shopping a couple of times but observed social distancing and went to the supermarket when I knew it was quieter. I usually have a food delivery but wasn’t able to book one for a while as priority had been given to people more needy. However I managed to get a slot and food was delivered today. Some interesting substitutions but nothing I can’t work with. I put my mom’s shopping on the order too and delivered it with my DH this morning. My dad has smouldering myeloma so he has to be shielded for 12 weeks. They have high steps to their front door so we were able to chat for a few minutes after leaving their food by the front door which was nice.
    I cooked a leg of lamb for Easter dinner, I normally cook a turkey but as there were only 4 of us rather than 8 I tried the lamb. It was fabulous, expensive but enough leftovers for me to be able to make lamb biryani for dinner tonight. My mom gave me the money for the lamb as she wanted to help out. I decorated with Easter themed items I already had and cut flowers from the garden for the table.
    My husband is self employed and his work dried up weeks before the lockdown so our finances are tight at the moment. It was announced by our government that self employed would get 80% of an average monthly income. Unfortunately this will not be until June which leaves us rather short in the meantime. We have applied for Universal Credit which is sort of like your unemployment but contains other help too such as housing and child benefit, we should get the first payment on 1st May. I will need to utilise all I have learnt on this blog and others to get us through. I know we will manage however with a husband, a 18 year old athlete (American Football) who is now home from college and a 16 year old who is constantly hungry I do feel it’s an ideal time for me to diet! I could do with dropping a few (well quite a few!!) pounds so I’ll be having the smallest portion at dinner from now on. My Nan always did that – giving herself the smallest portion of meat so I shall honour her by doing this going forward.
    I have a new motto for these trying times which I stole from a work colleague:
    Stay safe, stay sane, stay sanitised!

    1. Hello Joanne,
      how fabulous of you to see the situation in a creative way. An opportunity to loose weight. How great is that!!
      Blessings to you and your Nan!
      Sophie (from Canada)

      1. Hello Sophie
        I am hopeful the pounds will drop off during this time. My Nan is no longer with us but I strangely when I’m stressed or times are stressful I always dream about her. She was uppermost in my mind and dreams at the beginning of the lockdown but as I’ve got into the swing of being at home and making do with what I have my dreams have become more ‘normal’ so I guess I’ve adapted to the situation!
        Stay safe, stay sane, stay sanitised! Xxx

    2. Joanne, I enjoyed reading your comment and how you are looking at the positive. Very inspirational! I started reading a new Amish book this week and found a saying I thought was appropriate for this time: Plan for happiness. That sounds like what you are doing 🙂

      1. Hello Jenny
        I love that Amish saying ‘plan for happiness’ I shall adopt that one too!
        Stay safe, stay sane, stay sanitised! Xxx

  8. I think you could probably make mackerel patties like you would salmon patties. The shut down of economy keeps having a ripple effect and gets bigger and bigger. Thank God we can look to Him in this trying time.

      1. I make salmon patties with mashed potatoes, green onions, a little baking powder and flour, and one egg. You can add other vegetables, like corn. Peas make them taste very much like peas! I put a little lemon juice on top after cooking. A year or two ago, I stopped peeling the potatoes before I mashed them in, and that stretched them by 20%, without any change to the taste. If I were serving mackerel patties to children, I would probably just call them fish patties. A lot of online recipes don’t include potatoes, but use bread crumbs instead.

        I used to teach English writing to Japanese people online, and I know mackerel was a favorite lunch dish for young workers.

      2. Check out Alaska from scratch Salmon burgers. We make it like she does but I don’t see why you couldn’t use canned. Super tasty. Also I use oats in place of the panko with no problems

  9. I’ve never used canned mackerel, but we do like canned salmon for salmon croquettes – perhaps it can be interchangeable. Here’s the recipe we love that came from our pastor’s wife:

    1 15-oz can salmon, drain and save juice
    1 egg
    1/2 c. flour
    pepper to taste
    1/2 c. chopped green onion
    1/2 t. Worchestershire sauce
    1/4 c. salmon juice
    1 heaping teaspoon baking powder
    Oil for frying

    Mix salmon and egg with fork. Add flour and stir. Mixture will be thick. Add pepper, onions and Worchestershire sauce. In the 1/4 c. salmon juice, put the baking powder and beat with fork until it foams. Pour this into salmon mixture and mix with fork. Drop by small spoonfuls into hot oil. Be sure to cook within 15 minutes of mixing. Makes very light croquettes.

      1. I love salmon croquettes or patties. This is a common meal in the south. Karen’s recipe is similar to what I do. Sometimes I bread them with corn meal before frying. If I am really enthusiastic I make cream gravy to go with them. When I was growing up we often had these with creamed peas and potatoes. I am known for my salmon croquettes among friends. They will put them a on a bun or bread and add some mustard, tarter sauce, ketchup or cocktail sauce and a slice of cheese. To each his own when making a sandwich.

        1. I love salmon croquettes. My grandmother made them with breadcrumbs or crushed crackers, chopped yellow or
          red onion, green onions and an egg mixed in and then pan fried. As Angela says, I think it is a pretty common dish in the South. Yum!

          1. I’ve only ever had them at a restaurant once in my life, almost 20 years ago. They’re not common to me at all!

      2. Brandy,
        I think this would be an excellent recipe to use aquafaba in as the egg replacement. I’m allergic to chicken eggs, so I also frequently make a flax egg, which would work well, too. It’s 1 T of ground flax to 3 T water. Some people recommend hot water, some cold water. You mix, let it sit until it starts to jell, and then use it in place of the egg. I’m not sure if you have flax seeds.

  10. This week has gone by in a blur! My garden is starting to grow and I look forward to a harvest later this season! I still need to get a replacement for the apricot tree we lost last season. Our state feels like nurseries and garden centers are essential and encourage us to plant edible gardens!
    We continue to eat from our pantry without needing to deplete supplies at the grocery stores! Here’s a photo of 3 days worth of jars we used in our meals- https://pin.it/3l56Qjz. Rather than waiting for some kind of “crisis” that forces us into using our food storage, we have always made it a part of our everyday diet.
    I’ve now made over 155 masks so far for others. I agreed to make them for $2 each just to reimburse my fabric through our HandmadeinOldeTowne.com website. Hopefully, any good will that comes from this will help our business in the future.
    While I’ve been busy churning out masks, Hubs and son have voluntarily taken on meal prep, kitchen clean-up and chicken tending! They’ve been learning how to use instant pot and bake cookies among other things! They’ve become more acquainted with what our pantry inventory actual is in the basement and Hubs even suggested that our number of pint jars of kidney beans was getting lower so he would love to help me pressure can some more jars so he will also have that experience and learn how to do it! I am excited that this “Stay at home” time (even though he is already retired) has had some positive things coming from it!
    I made carrot raisin muffins using one of the muffin mixes I made and had vacuum sealed in a quart jar! Those do come in handy and make fast, fresh breakfast options! https://www.budget101.com/recipes/651-muffin-mix-index/
    Not a lot of excitement, but we are hanging in there and still healthy! Hope all of your family is too!!

    1. Gardenpat you are so lucky that your state thinks nurseries and garden centres are essential – they are closed in the UK and seeds etc are running out online. I believe planting our edible gardens is essential too , both to stay at home and for social distancing but also for our budgets which are going to be impacted. Good luck all gardeners!

      1. Gardening supplies ARE essential. We have some states that are deeming them non-essential, so even when you go to Walmart, you can’t buy those items. It makes NO sense. Very frustrating. I am sorry you can’t get gardening supplies.

        I have made a large container garden on my deck (which is huge) and I am hopeful for a good harvest.

        Stay safe and healthy!

  11. I did not know that spinach seeds were not good for more than a year, but that could explain why the ones I planted haven’t come up. I have some newer seeds, so I may replant.
    We occasionally make salmon patties as well. I don’t have a recipe. I just remember how my mom made them. I think the mackerel would work. I do go through the canned salmon and take out as much of the skin and the bones as I can. I drain it and add bread crumbs and an egg. If it’s too dry I add another egg. You just want it to stick together nicely. My mom didn’t use bread crumbs. She just crumbled up the heels of the bread. I also add pepper. I’ve never added onion like some have suggested but spices would probably be good. Then you just mix it all up and fry it in patties till it’s browned. My husband isn’t a fan of salmon patties, but my daughters and I like them as a sandwich.
    For our savings this week, my husband went to the store (wearing mask and gloves). He went to Smith’s as they had soda pop on sale 4 12-packs for $10. He likes soda pop so he got the kinds he likes and I always try to keep some clear soda on hand in case of tummy illness. While he was there, he saw they had boneless skinless chicken breast for 99 cents a pound! He asked the meat department worker about it. He said there was no limit and it was priced so cheaply because they had too much. He got several packages and I separated them out into meal sized portions for the freezer.
    My husband and I improved the irrigation system for our back yard using parts we already had. (I had planned to do this project last year but didn’t get to it.) This will save me tons of time as I will not be having to drag hoses to the three different areas I need to water, and also my greenhouse. I now have a hose with a valve for each area. I am very happy.
    The chile pepper seeds I planted weeks ago in cell trays have had very poor germination, even though I used a heat mat. I am worried I will not have enough plants for the year’s supply of roasted green chile for the freezer. I still had seeds left so I am pre-germinating the seeds on moist paper towels in plastic bags on top of my freezer where it’s nice and warm. This has worked before. If these seeds germinate, the plants will be kind of small when I put them out at the end of May, but I should still get a decent harvest. It would be expensive to buy established plants, so I am hoping not to.
    I had several metal yard items in need of a makeover, so I used spray paint that I had on hand to make them pretty again. One was a plant stand. I had a small wrought iron chair that I think I am going to put a planter where the seat was. I repainted an old tool box to store my garden tools in in my greenhouse. And one was a metal planter. All of the things were from yard sales or were things that were given to me. My style for my yard is kind of fun and whimsical, and I think these things will work great.
    I hope everyone stays well and has a nice week.

    1. Lettuce seeds are good for three years; it’s such a bummer about spinach seeds. I wished they lasted longer! I always try the old ones anyway just in case.

      1. I’m growing spinach on my windowsills from seeds that were dated 2010. They sprouted slowly, but germination was over 75 percent!

        1. That’s awesome! Well, I can try again in the fall with my older ones. The seed packets that I order have the seed life printed on them, and spinach always says one year. But the beans I am growing outside are from 2013!

          I have been planting a ton of old seeds this spring.

      2. Brandy, a friend once sent me all of her old seeds. The lettuce seeds were 7 years old and they all came up! As far as beet seeds go, I knew about them only being good for one year, but here’s the thing–one (or more) of last year’s beets apparently went to seed, and I have volunteers this year! Not only that, but I live in zone 6B (where it gets pretty cold–still freezing overnight) and they are already 2 inches high! I would never think to plant this early. I went online and discovered that beets are easy to transplant, which I intend to do tomorrow. I planted a couple of lettuce seeds 2 weeks ago and intend to plant a few more tomorrow. I am hoping successive planting will give me a longer season.

        1. Most seeds go longer, but I usually don’t have any luck with Spinach or Mache past the 1-year-date on the package.

      3. Have you tried Malabar spinach Brandy? It’s a vertical vining variety, heat tolerant and very hardy, almost invasive. Leaves can get very big and tastes better in soups and sautéed…almost like a meaty Swiss chard flavor….too strong for salad. I harvested so much from a few seeds last year, I got creative: dehydrated and froze it. Often I use it like dried parsley in recipes like pizza sauce and meatballs to add nutrients. I live near Memphis and wanted a heat tolerant spinach. I grew it on a cattle panel arch which made me think of you and trying to optimize your garden space. We loved the arches for a canopy of green beans, spinach, cucumbers and trombocino squash!

    2. Michelle,
      Random question: Any chance you’re in SLC and just repainted all your metal yard items in cobalt blue?

  12. I haven’t tried it with mackerel but with anchovies (which I do not like).. have you thought of putting it in your spaghetti sauce? Mash it up finely so it dissolves into the sauce and isn’t noticeable but you still get the nutrition. I have done that with anchovies and it was acceptable in the dish. If nothing else maybe a neighbor has a cat or you could make some sort of garden fertilizer with it.

    1. Mackerel isn’t nearly as strong tasting as anchovies, and can be used in any dishes that you might use canned tuna or salmon in.

  13. This is my favorite fish cake recipe. It works with salmon, tuna, leftover cooked fish — I think it would work with mackerel too. https://www.thefrugalgirl.com/homemade-fish-cakes/ (I make a homemade version of the seasoning called for.)
    I made more masks from fabric and elastic I had on hand and gave them away. I also made a spring wreath, using items I had on hand.
    Like many of you, we’ve been eating from the freezer and pantry, reading library books, and walking for exercise. We’ve been blessed with gorgeous weather.
    I dug out my embroidery supplies and am embroidering some flowers on a T-shirt. It’s very relaxing work in the evenings.
    I never did get a ham for Easter, so we had seafood gumbo instead, which was delicious! And a small coconut cream pie– my husband’s favorite.
    My back fence neighbor is an aesthetician and had to close her business during the quarantine. Her husband works construction and is getting some work, but not a lot. They have two children. She decided to repackage the products she uses into at-home facial kits. I purchased one from her. I thought it was a creative way to generate some income for her little family.
    I made a big batch of banana-chocolate chip waffles and another of granola to use for breakfasts.
    I picked daffodils from the yard for our Easter table.
    I planted lettuce, bok choy, and more carrots and radishes in the new raised bed in the backyard. It is still too early to plant peas — maybe next week.

  14. I bought groceries a few days before Easter, because a number of Canadian government payments related to COVID-19 were being paid later in the week, and I thought I would go before other people were trying to shop. I found fresh produce and baking supplies were very expensive, while meat and most packaged supplies not so bad. I did buy a smaller ham at a good price, though not as good a price as usual for the time of year (which is partly why I bought a smaller ham). I was shopping during hours set aside for seniors and other vulnerable people, and the produce lady who becomes the grocery bagger at that time of day was kind enough to walk my groceries home with me again, since there was only one other customer in the store.

    Easter supper included ham, brussel sprouts, a potato, and a lemon icebox pie. The pie is too rich for me, but eating a small slice at a time will have it disappear in a couple of weeks. I have been making meal plans using what is in the house, so I think there will be lots of chicken-based soup and bread in my future, as well as ham dishes.

    I’ve been walking every day, usually because of an errand that needed to be run, like going to the post office or grocery store. Until the end of the month, I don’t have any more errands to do, so will just continue going for an afternoon stroll. It is warm enough that a few inches of snow are gone, and plenty of weather above freezing in the forecast, so the foot of snow left will clear quickly now. Physical distancing measures will likely be in place here in Alberta at least until the end of May, so I am planning a routine that includes some yard clean-up as well as spring cleaning inside.

  15. I haven’t thought through my whole post yet, but we ate canned mackerel somewhat often when I was a kid. My mom’s primary way of serving it it was to heat up the mackerel in some tomato sauce (sometimes it also comes packed that way) and serve it over a slice of toast. A slice of tomato and some cheese broiled on top was a real treat!

  16. I read your blog every week and it helps me be mindful of saving money where I can, regardless of whether I’m going through good times or tough times. I appreciate the positive, uplifting nature of the community here. Even though I rarely comment, I often keep a list of what I’ve done to save money and it helps me feel good about the effort.

    Much of my money saving effort centers around ensuring no food goes to waste. I cleaned out and inventoried my short term, working pantry and then prioritized the items that need to be used first and made menu plans with those items.

    I saved the pickle juice from a container of pickled beets and used it in a salad dressing. The dressing also included mustard from a condiment packet.

    I ate the greens from a bunch of carrots by using them in a breakfast scramble, home made veggie burgers, and a salad. I mention this because I recently learned that many people think the greens are poisonous and can’t be eaten.

    It’s still fairly cold here. We had snow last week and people are still heating their homes. Over the winter I adjusted the heat of the less-frequently-used basement area of my home, keeping the temperature lower than I have in the past. It made a big difference in my monthly heating bill.

    Like many people, I am trying to expand my edible garden this year. I got two free chive plants by digging up some from my mother’s garden that had self-seeded outside of her garden beds. She has plently and doesn’t need more.

    I found I didn’t have enough seed starter trays for the seeds I planted indoors this week. After rumaging through the recycling bin, I found some plastic and cardboard containers to use.

    1. I dry some carrot tops to use in place of herbs such as tarragon and dill, which I have never bought. The carrot tops add a distinctive taste that is good in dressings.

  17. Hi Brandy,
    You mentioned that the farmers and meat producers are now in trouble. I didn’t see anything about that on the news. What’s going on with that?

    1. Smithfield (pork) and Tyson farms (chicken) are shutting down plants because the workers are sick. There is a new avian virus that is a problem for chickens. Locally, the pig farm here is reducing their pigs from 5000 to 2000 as they can no longer feed them; they were fed from buffets. Farmers are dumping milk. Vegetable growers are throwing away millions of pounds of produce that went to restaurants and schools; food banks will only take 5-10% of it. I’ve been following this news carefully.

      1. I heard from some friends that Restaurant Depot (normally only open for restaurant owners and the like) is currently open to the public to try to unload some of their inventory (like the above mentioned). From what I understand it’s a source for many bulk foods and might be worth checking out!

          1. Another problem is that the migrant workers who harvest crops are not able to travel right now. An hour south of here is an area with many large orchards. They are worried they will not be able to get enough people in to harvest crops this summer. This may already be a problem in California, Florida, and Texas, where crops are ready to be harvested. I think we will see prices go up as some items become scarcer.

            1. Yes, I read this too. In France and Spain, the workers come from Morrocco. They are also blocked. It’s a problem for everyone.

      2. Brandy- Today at our daily press conference here in Ohio, our Governor announced that some of the federal relief money that just came to the state was agreed on by the State Legislature will be used to purchase milk and dairy products from our Ohio dairy farmers and then given to our Ohio food banks! Imo- a win-win! Helping the dairy farmers who are hurting and helping families that need food from food banks!
        Doggone it- we are Ohio strong! So proud of everyone pulling together here!

      1. Thank you very much Brandy. This is so sad. We had originally planned to allow our garden beds to rest this summer, but will need to grow a garden as usual after all. Thank you for this information.

    2. I made wilted dandelion salad from dandelions in my yard, pumpkin custard, cornbread salad to use up leftover pinto beans, potato salad, conecuh sausage, redeye gravy, biscuits, and asparagus. I also made dandelion tea. I made tacos from ground turkey and used spinach I had on hand in place of the lettuce. My mulberry tree looks like it will start producing late this week. We had terrible tornadoes and storms on Easter and I am so glad the day is over. I am still working but we cannot do jury trials because of social distancing, only hearings. Cases are really going to be backed up but it is what it is. I am still helping my kids who have been laid off and feel blessed that I still have a job when so many folks don’t. Grocery prices are awful. I will be basing most of my meals around beans and rice, and soups made from both and definitely cutting back on meats and eggs. I eat mackerel on toasted bagels with cream cheese. That is my cheap version of lox and cream cheese.

      1. Cindy in the South, thanks for the suggestion to use spinach as lettuce in tacos! I’ve been craving lentil tacos but didn’t have lettuce although I did receive spinach in my produce box this week. Now I can put lentil tacos on the menu! (Assuming I find time to make the tortillas). Thanks!

        1. Athanasia! Where have you been? Several of us have noticed you’ve been MIA. Hope all is well with you and yours!

          1. Hi Maxine, thanks, all is fine. I got behind reading so I kept thinking I had to read all the backlog to catch up and I didn’t and week after week went by. I decided to just start from now.

      2. Our area also was hit by tornadoes on Easter! Glad you are safe! Our road was spared, but within walking distance homes were not. And just a few miles away, a four year old child was injured enough that he later died from his injuries. So very, very sad!

  18. I love that you saw another spot to add seeds to grow more. And your three year olds interest in the beans. Such blessings!

    I mended more this week and sewed masks for family and friends. I am on the wait list to help sew masks for our first responders (they supply a specific material needed). The ones I made – I used fabric from my stash and made them cheerful and bright as possible.

    I cleaned out my Ebay closet to find things to list now (I list seasonal items and put away things that haven’t sold for another chance before donating). Right now Ebay is offering free listings and I am trying to accept and make offers to help cash flow coming in. I have 3 contract jobs and right now only one is in need of my services.

    We borrowed a small roto tiller (safely) and the Mister tilled the 2 small garden beds we have. They hadn’t been tilled in years. I more carefully plotted how to plant as much as possible. Right now I am seeking more sunny spots to plant things like beets and chard that I know can grow with not being in the “garden bed”. I will put tomatoes in large pots and sit those in the mint bed, instead of giving the tomato plants a spot in one of the mini plots. Thankful we own plenty of seeds to plant this year.

    Virtual hugs to anyone who can use it!

  19. Here’s a good recipe for mackerel pasta. https://www.walderwellness.com/mediterranean-canned-mackerel-pasta/

    I have taken inspiration from you and have a lot of seeds started. I am also being careful with food, making baked potatoes instead of mashed, keeping bean broth to make soup, using 50% milk/50% water in recipes instead of all milk, cutting portions for myself, using bacon fat in place of butter or olive oil, etc. It has all been going well. I was thankful to sit down to Easter lunch that had been made without going to the store. I decorated with a yellow tablecloth that we had been given, used, 20 years ago and pink roses from the climbing rose that comes over from next door.
    I called and got a price adjustment on a clothing item that I ordered on Friday and is now on 25% sale.
    I altered a long sleeve shirt to be short sleeved. The ‘long ‘ sleeves were not long enough (I’m 6 feet tall) and always made me uncomfortable. Now it looks beautiful.
    We have collected water from our gutters in rain barrels and I have used that water for my seedlings and transplanted plants. That makes me happy.

    Bluprint has free classes right now-lots of hobby topics- photography, gardening, sewing, quilting, etc. It is a free access account, no credit card information required. I shall watch the gardening ones to see if I can learn more to increase food production.

    I really appreciate this community, and second the thanks, Brandy, for continuing to post. I read the posts and comments with great enjoyment

  20. Brandy, I wanted to thank you for reminding me about the CBS All Access trial. My husband and I are both Star Trek fans and have been wanting to watch Picard, but kept forgetting to register. I took care of that just now so we can watch it! I have also been watching a lot of YouTube – 1940s House (one of my favorite “reality” shows) and Wartime Farm. I highly recommend The 1940s House if anyone has not watched it, it was a 4-episode British reality show around 2000 that took a modern family and put them into a 1940s lifestyle during the Blitz, so they had to experience rationing, cooking, building a shelter etc. They even had to live in a restored 1940s home and only use elements of that era. It’s extremely entertaining and educational, particularly if you are interested in that period in history. It is interesting at the end to see the modern family talk about how the experience changed their lives. You can find most of the episodes on YouTube

    I am still working from home and staying busy. I work as communications director for a church, and Holy Week and Easter are normally our busiest time. It was the same this year, just very different since we cannot gather together as a congregation. I am so incredibly thankful for the church’s financial stewardship and management over the years, that we all still have jobs (we have close to 100 paid employees total!) and receive a regular paycheck and benefits. My heart goes out to all of those who are suddenly and unexpectedly unemployed. My husband is still working full time outside the home, as his job is considered essential. His facility is not open to the public, so I’m not too worried about it and I know they are taking as many precautions as possible. We are still down to one vehicle, as his repair is taking considerably longer than expected. With me staying home it has been pretty easy. I rarely leave the house now, although I do try to go for regular walks. I can walk to the grocery store if need be while he has my car (although I haven’t needed to). We have an indoor bike so I’m able to get my exercise in, and I subscribed to some indoor walking videos on YouTube as well.

    We’ve been trying to eat most meals at home, although we have ordered out a few times to try and support some of the locally-owned restaurants during this time. For meals at home, we’ve enjoyed fried chicken with mashed potatoes, macaroni and cheese and green beans, meatloaf, bbq chicken burritos, pizza, swedish meatballs, chicken salad. I had to visit the grocery store over the weekend and did pick up a small pork roast on clearance for the freezer, as well as some marked down artisan bread (.59 cents/loaf) that I froze. We still have well-stocked pantries and freezers (and a decent supply of toilet paper!), so I’m not overly worried, but am starting to get concerned with the meat processing facilities shutting down indefinitely. Most of the grocery stores here (I live in a large city) have been limiting meat to 1 or 2 per shopper, and the supply has still been quite low each time I’ve been into the stores.

    The weather here has been up and down. One day it is 87 and the next it is in the 40s/50s. I have been trying to keep the windows open as much as I can, both to enjoy the fresh air and the savings on the electricity. My tomato plants and peppers are both doing well. Herbs (which I started from seed) – not so much. They have barely sprouted. We’ll see! I did spend a little bit of money and ordered an Aerogarden. I want to keep lettuce going (we love to eat salads), but being in Texas, it’s too hot here to have it outside for much of the year. I am anxious to have it delivered so I can get it set up. Now, to figure out how to keep my cat out of it! One of our cats loves lettuce. If we are cutting lettuce or making a salad, she will come into the room sniffing around until I feed her a little bit (which she gobbles right up). It’s the weirdest thing but also adorable. Last year I was lazy on gardening and didn’t plant anything. This year I decided to try to do a bit more, especially with the concerns regarding food supply and the economy. Anything I can provide here at home is one less thing I have to try and purchase.

    I hope everyone stays safe and healthy. I always enjoy reading and commenting here, but now this seems like such a vital connection with others. I believe many will be looking to find ways to live a simpler lifestyle and cut expenses, and turning to blogs like this.

    1. Pam, thanks for mentioning the Aerogarden. I’m going to look into that. (And how cute your cat actually likes to eat lettuce!) My husband and I are considering setting up an indoor garden in our extra room to grow microgreens, sprouts and mushrooms year round so we’re researching that now. You’re right – whatever we grow at home we don’t have to get in the store!

      1. You’re welcome! The Aerogardens are not inexpensive, but i think it will be nice for here where the weather is “difficult.” I want to be able to grow lettuce year round and the heat here just prevents that. I have seen that microgreens are very popular in the Aerogarden and I think they even sell a specific seed set for that.

    2. Funny, it must be a trend. I too ordered an Aerogarden. I got mine from Target . It came the other day but I have not set it up again. I want it for salads as well as providing lettuce for my lionhead rabbit and guinea pig. One of my parrots , a yellow headed Amazon, even loves lettuce. I thought this would be a good way to supplement any from the garden or the grocery store.

    3. Pam,
      I’ve read that cats don’t like the smell of citrus and that peels spread among plants will deter them.
      I’ve never tried it bit it seems worth a try if you happen to have any peels.

  21. I got my garden plot planted with peas, lettuce, spinach (old seeds, so I hope it works), kale and beets. Someone else had the garden plot last year and it has about 30 onions already growing. While rooting and weeding, I discovered some beets and parsnips. Those buried in the ground I pulled and roasted them to have as part of my lunch. Those with tops I left in the ground to continue to grow. There’s also another plant growing from last year. I’m not sure, but I think it may be bok choy.
    *My husband had our daughter, who is a cosmetologist, cut his hair.
    *I was able to sell a welder, a small table, and a lamp through online listings.
    *I had an electric range also listed for a good price, but no real takers. I felt impressed to ask a friend if she could us it. She was delighted as her stove is 29 years old and not working well. I gave her the stove and she and her son picked it up. All of these transactions were done keeping a safe distance.
    *I made bread and delivered it with small jars of jam, to friends in the area, leaving the items on their porch and texting them.
    *I grocery shopped this morning. It had been two weeks and I needed some produce and dairy. Fortunately, the store wasn’t crowded, but I noticed that the prices had gone up on a lot of items, like potatoes. Eggs were in short supply.
    *I did buy two dozen small eggs from a local person who keeps chickens.
    *Friends dropped by some cookies for us and another friend left a note and some chocolate and caramel wedges.
    *I was sorting through photo albums, trying to consolidate them, and came across photos of college roommates or friends I worked with during summer breaks. I texted them photos of the photos and it was nice to communicate with them again.
    *This week I’ve been on zoom a lot–with my knitting group. for a meditation session, for two meetings, and for a discussion about Easter. It’s been nice to be able to stay connected and see people
    *I watched the Andrea Bocelli YouTube broadcase with his songs of hope.
    *I also watched Call the Midwife and World on Fire while knitting.
    *I also took some walks in quieter areas near streams and enjoyed the peace and the sunshine.
    Be well, my friends!

  22. I’ve noticed the prices going up at the grocery store too, Brandy.

    I’m happy your neighbors are looking out for you! That is so nice of them!

    We are trying to use up some of the oddball stuff in our freezer and pantry also. What better time?

    My accomplishments this week:

    • Used free toiletries, washed ziplocks and foil and used ½ dryer sheets and ran only full loads the in washer and dishwasher during off peak times.
    • Ate dinner in 7 times. We had steak with baked potatoes and broccoli (twice); Spaghetti & meatballs; Buffalo wings with carrots and tater tots; chicken alfredo with ziti pasta and green beans; Salmon, baked potato and asparagus; and ham with cheese potatoes and broccoli.
    • Ate lunch in all 7 days too. We had soup; chicken pot pie; leftover spaghetti (me), pintos & jalapenos (him); freezer rice-a-roni casserole (me) and split pea soup (him); leftover alfredo (him), frozen single serve pizza (me); quesadillas; and french toast with bacon (brunch).
    • Hung 1 of 3 loads of clothes. The weather is beautiful and I wish I could hang more, but it is also allergy season, so anything that goes near our faces can’t be hung outside.
    • Made French toast with bread ends that were in the freezer.
    • Needed to renew my prescriptions and had a Dr. appointment set for Monday. I called last week and told them I didn’t want to come in, as I was self-isolating. They did a phone appointment instead. Saved gas money with that.
    • Walked outside for exercise.
    • Got out my box of crochet supplies. A friend of mine runs an organization that does laundry and provides items for people in need. They are in Oregon, so supplies for colder weather are always needed. I started crocheting an afghan and a scarf out of yarn I have already so she can give them to someone who needs them.
    • My niece and her husband put together a mystery party using Zoom and a game they found online. We had 10 people (all family) on the screen and it worked beautifully! We had such a good time. We had to make our costumes out of things we already had here. Luckily, all of us have costume boxes at home! After the game a few of us proceeded to play Jackbox.tv trivia. My nephew had bought the game and we were all able to log in our phones and play the game. Nice to have contact with the outside world!
    • We signed up for Zoom for the month. For Easter, we had both my kids on the line along with my daughter’s family. We figured out a way to play Battleship (my 4-year-old grandson played too) with all of us. We ended up visiting for 3 ½ hours. It was really nice and worth every penny of the $14.99. If you want to do just 1 on 1 meetings for a limited amount of time, Zoom is free.
    • Continued to work on a denim quilt I am making. It is my first one and is a project I’ve wanted to do for a long time.
    • My niece dropped off a book for me. We visited while staying 6 ft apart for about 30 minutes.

    Stay safe!

    Stay safe!

    1. Laurie,

      Are you using Zoom for video calling? You can use the Facebook video calling option for free through Messenger, or you can download the Duo app, which is also free. We talk to our daughter through the Dup app and I talked with two friends in Britain and France last week using Facebook Messenger video calling, all for free. My friend in England showed me her garden beds, her pantry, and also what she was making for dinner!

      We have only used Zoom for free for my children’s Sunday School classes. My eldest son also uses it for free for school.

      Hopefully I can save you the $14.99 a month for next month!

      1. Thank you for the tip! Can you do more than one person at a time on Facebook Messenger or Duo? How is the quality compared to Zoom? We used Zoom on my nephew’s account for the mystery game and was really impressed at the quality, even with 10 people on the screen.

        1. The quality was fine, but I’ve never tried more than one person at a time. I *think* messenger has that option but you’d have to look into it. I use Duo with my daughter and Messenger with my friends all over the world. We used Skype before (the free version) but FB Messenger was easier.

          On Duo, you can even make a shortcut for someone on your screen. This makes a little photo of my daughter come up as an icon for me to call her on Duo directly, which makes it easy for her siblings to call.

          1. On Duo you can also invite a group (just discovered this yesterday) and everyone who picks up will be in a different quadrant of your phone. I believe on the computer you can do it with Google Hangouts?? I can’t remember the web Google product, but they have the ability to do multiple people there too!

  23. Thanks for the idea of frittata with asparagus. We have lots of eggs from our chickens. It’s wonderful you’re able to barter with and help others out. There are three couples we are doing that with here as well. My husband likes mackerel, but just has it over rice. I expect you’d like a way to stretch it, into patties or something. Sorry, I’m no help there. I spent a lot of time working in the yard and garden… weeding, planting and harvesting. Our beans are coming up well, including some yard long beans. The peas are beginning to make pods. While weeding, I pulled up some wild garlic/wild onion. To put them to use with not much work, I washed them and cut the bulb and a small amount of stem off, and added them to the broth bag in the freezer. Free music concerts were enjoyed online. Wild edibles harvested were cat brier tips, sorrel and violets. I’m looking forward to learning from everyone! https://abelabodycare.blogspot.com/2020/04/weeds-seeds-frugal-accomplishments.html

  24. Picard is so good! We took advantage of the free month also to watch it and Star Trek Discovery.

    Aside from taking advantage of free CBS all access, here’s what else we did this week

    Our auto insurance renewal was up the 17th of this month and new premiums were only $21 less that what we had been paying, so I decided to check around to see if I could find a better rate. I got several quotes, and the one we decided with is $45 cheaper a month. I could have saved nearly $100 a month, but my husband refuses to switch his 16yo truck to minimum liability insurance. I’ll take the $45 in additional savings. My agent said we will qualify for additional 15% back this month and next for the Covid virus rebates they are giving customers.

    For whatever reason, our bank switched us back to paper statements on our business account and was charged $4.50. I made sure to stop by there to fix the problem and they refunded the money.

    Got back $1.50 in rebates from Ibotta

    Ate from what we had on hand most of last week. Hubby made a big pot of gumbo for himself and had that a few days, while fixed myself random things. I made sure I froze the leftover gumbo when he had his fill. I also made fried chicken one night, and then spaghetti, both the chicken and sauce came from the freezer, then one night we had sandwiches and soup. Sunday was my birthday and kind of was sad we couldn’t go out to celebrate (or have people over). My husband asked what I wanted and I said carnitas, so that’s what we had. He makes a ton of meat so there’s always leftovers. He also found me a coconut cake.

    My daughter’s middle school sent out a message that they were having a food giveaway just for them and I decided to go. I received a bunch of items, 2 dozen eggs, cereal, canned vegetables and fruit, bread, sandwich meat, roast, tuna, several snacks, a bag of onions and 5 bunches of asparagus. I flash froze 4 bunches of asparagus and ill make carbonara with the one I left out. That little bunch of food should help cover dinners this week.

    My mom sent over some canned beans, muffins, and bacon she didn’t want.

    Hubby was paid for a small job he did last month. That check will go into savings.

    A bit of a fail: when my husband was shopping for carnita ingredients, I texted him to get mayonnaise. After he got home I discovered 2 jars in the cabinet. Whoops. It’ll be used, warm weather means lots of pasta salad, but I couldn’t believe i forgot about the jars we had.

    I have several birthday freebies to use…free donuts from Krispy Kreme, free food item from our local gas station, free cinnamon sticks from pizza hut, free cookie from Subway, and a few more.

    Washed my truck for free 1 time at Sam’s

    Kept Easter giving pretty low key. My youngest is 13 and we’ve never did a ton of gifts for this holiday. I got enough candy for her and the 20yo, both got chocolate rabbits, then finding deals on Amazon between Christmas and last month, I found her a necklace, a card game, and a puzzle brain teaser game. School is strictly online only here now until the end of the current school year, so these will keep her hands busy.

  25. Our frugal accomplishments this past week are as follows.
    *we ate every meal at home. Made home made chicken soup to make 2 bone in chicken breasts lay longer than just by themselves. This made 3 meals for us.
    *we didn’t have to put any gas in our car. We fillled up 2 weeks ago for $38 and it normally takes $50 to fill up my tank. And we are saving money by not driving anywhere.
    *Haven’t been to the grocery store in 2 weeks and before that it was 3 weeks. Been living off our pantry. I will have to venture out next week or end of this week to get some items that we are getting low on. Since nowadays it’s hard to find things.
    *made a sourdough starter to start making my own breads. Yeast is hard to find here. I have some yeast left but we love sourdough and have missed it.
    *we canceled a few subscriptions to save some money.
    *my dad found 2 face masks from when he worked in construction and gave those to my husband and I. Hubby uses his for his job and I use mine for grocery shopping or having to go to the doctor since I’m pregnant. This saves me money from having to buy some since I don’t sew and don’t have money to be buying any.

    That’s all we have done so far to save money last week.

    We are blessed my hubby still has a job but his hours were cut back so we are making less money than before. He also had some heart issues which he had to go to a emergency room for. So we will be getting a bill for that. He took a week off to talk to his doctor and rest and he will go back to work on Friday.
    This pandemic makes me blessed to have found this site about 6 or 7 years ago and have been preparing ever since. They are also saying there will be a meat shortage in the future since they are closing the meat processing plants down since employees are getting the virus. I also got told by family that I’m not so crazy to have a full pantry and freezer full of food. I have been blessed to help our older family members out with providing some food to them from my pantry.

  26. This has been a very quiet time for us. I was last at a supermarket on 22nd March. I’m really not missing it. I have managed to have milk delivered as I was already a customer of a milk delivery service ( they are not accepting new customers as they are overwhelmed). It’s not the cheapest ( I have not used it recently but it was a great standby when the children were small and I would discover I was out of milk the evening before- you do not pay to be registered with them) but I am saving money by not going to the supermarket and eating from pantry and freezers. I also found a restaurant supplier who is now delivering to individuals. Again not cheap but it means I don’t have to go out ( I live in London, UK and we have had a lot of cases). I had to go to work on a few days ( colleagues and I are taking it in turns to go in or work from home- it is working well). I work outside London and while my long commute is usually not great this is a benefit at this time.

    A friend has lost his father to Covid. That really brought it home. My elderly mother is isolating in Scotland. She has various health issues and I told her to stay at home even before it became official. My sister has been able to order online shopping for her so she is well- looked after.

    My chest freezer has come into its own. I’m so glad I bought it a year ago. Every so often I go and ‘shop’ in it. We are lucky. I’m telling myself this is also a great opportunity to use up all the bits and pieces I have frozen. That can go wrong sometimes. My youngest wanted banana bread and I took out 2 packs of what I thought were frozen bananas ( I freeze overripe bananas as we don’t like them). One pack was bananas and (cough) the other was burger meat. I misread my writing. Anyway the bananas made muffins and I quickly cooked up burgers.

    I made strawberry crumble from some frozen strawberries ( there wasn’t much enthusiasm for smoothies). These went down well and I found some more. I reused glass ramekins from puddings bought on sale over the years and they are all frozen now. I also made apple pie from frozen puff pastry and apple pie filling made from garden apples and frozen last year. There was some pastry and filling left over so I made apple turnovers. I found some savoury puff pastry ( I buy puff pastry on sale at about 25p and freeze it). I’m going to make cheese turnovers.

    I can’t recall if I posted about going to a supermarket which had the delicatessen counter closing last Easter. Everything was so reduced! I had just bought my chest freezer and this was how I stocked it. I’m still finding stuff I bought that day. It was one of my best frugal finds ever! I found some old charcoal from last year, some kindling and some BBQ lighters and fluid. We have been able to have a BBQ for the last 2 weeks ( the children and I). It feels very luxurious. I did not have chicken pieces but have some whole chickens in the bottom of the freezer. I cut one up for the BBQ. All bones ( nibbled or raw) have gone into the slow cooker to make stock for my dog to have with his chunks. Luckily I had stocked up on his food ( using offers and new customer cash back) just before everything happened and I have a lot of chunks. I have enough charcoal for another BBQ. I find a BBQ a great way of batch cooking. I don’t really have to cook for a few days afterwards. The leftovers are so tasty as well.

    Due to the lockdown a lot of things have been cancelled. I am receiving refunds on a revision course I booked for a child, holiday activities and an outing. I’m grateful for this. Some of my income is going to reduce/ disappear shortly so everything helps. I also found that I had been paying too much tax. I’ve written to the taxman to sort this out. I’m sure I’m right so that will help.

    One thing I’m grateful of is how much I had put away. I’m sure that is partly due to this website and I want to thank you Brandy. We have not had to go to the supermarket/ get involved in any stressful situations because we have enough. I even took in some TP for a very nice colleague who was completely out ( she had gone to 5 shops without finding any). I buy TP in bulk off groupon when there is a good cashback offer. I’ve used this time to discuss the benefits of being prepared like this with my children. I never want them to be caught out by this sort of event.

    I have made fish cakes out of tinned salmon and tuna a lot. I looked on Pinterest for you. There is a Canned Mackerel Fish Cakes Recipe by someone called Krumpli. I think it looks good. When I have made these I’ve found you can put a lot of herbs/ filling etc in as long as you have a good binder such as eggs/ chai seeds.

    I’m using up all my wool I had squirrelled away ( yarn for Americans). This is clearing my stash and I’m making Christmas presents. My current obsession is ruffle scarfs which I crochet. Frugal and keeps me relaxed.

  27. Like others have said – I’d turn that mackerel into some type of fish patty using bread crumbs, mayo, an egg to bind and season with your dried celery, onion and herbs. Shape into patties and pan fry until golden on both sides. I’d probably serve it on a slice of bread open face sandwich style with a slice of cheese melted on top.

    I’m lucky enough to have a job I can do from home during the quarantine that allows me to have some structure to my days but I’m also discovering a lot of freedom to do things around the house during working hours when things are quiet.

    I sold a small appliance on Facebook marketplace and left it on the front porch for pickup. Everything was done over Facebook messenger, we never even had to speak face to face. I’m gathering other things from around the house that I will post for sale as well. My husband got laid off due to the quarantine so I’m being extra vigilant looking for ways to make or save money. Right now his company does not think they’ll be able to financially recover from the shut down and the lay off will likely be permanent. He’s looking for other positions but it will be hard while everyone is confined to home to get hired on somewhere.

    We had planned a vacation to Las Vegas for the first week in May. We got notification this past week that the airline has credited our tickets and the hotel is refunding our rooms. Even if the quarantine were to end, we would have to cancel this vacation anyway due to my husband losing his job.

    I roasted a chicken one night for dinner and then put the carcass in the crock pot overnight to make stock. I then reduced the stock down on the stove to make concentrate that I froze into individual cubes.

    Other meals for the week included fajitas using home made tortillas and bell pepper and onion mix I had previously cut up and froze. I also did a stir fry pulling from that same bag of frozen peppers and onions. I managed to stretch those veggies to a third meal of chicken and orzo pasta. This is one of my favorite meals to make when I don’t seem to have enough of any one thing for a meal but plenty of small random things. I put in about half a cup of fine diced bell peppers, onion, some garlic, one chicken breast diced small, half a bag of frozen spinach, a couple cubes of my frozen stock and enough water to boil down the box of pasta then finished with what was left of a block of cream cheese and some shredded Parmesan I dug out of the depths of the freezer and ended up with a meal large enough to feed all 8 of us fairly hearty portions. I’m always impressed by how far a box of orzo will stretch. I love finding ways to make entire meals for our large family using just one portion of chicken or pork or whatever meat I have on hand.

    I baked cinnamon rolls using some cinnamon sugar mix I had gotten free in a promotion. All purpose flour has been hard to get and the shortage happened right as I’ve been working through the last of my stockpile so I’m using what I have left sparingly. I have plenty of rye flour so I’ve been experimenting with making bread with 100% rye. Its a learning curve, usually I do a mix of rye with another flour so this is an interesting new process. I made an amaretto cream cake for our Easter dessert. The recipe made a 3 layer, 8 inch cake but I adjusted to do a 2 layer cake instead.

    I exercised in our living room most evening while watching television. Years ago I got myself in the habit of making myself exercise during commercial breaks – I’ll do squats, lunges, jumping jacks, push ups, planks… it works for me.

  28. I just got around to reading last week’s and this week’s posts. Last week’s was great. We are adjusting to being at home all the time (and working from home full time, suddenly, while helping 2 kids with remote school.) We are trying to hold off on shopping and go every two weeks. We are making it 10-12 days, with one caveat: we have produce delivery twice a week. I liked last week’s tip about the celery, and I will try that this week. We started our garden last week (two raised beds only), and immediately lost some plants to squirrels. Need to put up some fencing/ wiring.

    I also watched Call the Midwife. Working full time, we don’t have much time to watch TV. We’ve been walking the dog (at a distance!). I have been running outdoors and weightlifting at home.

    I’ve been focusing a lot on making soups, beans and rice, and pasta. Tomorrow is grocery shopping day (we are out of milk). I hope the store also has eggs. We try to only go to ONE store every 2 weeks, and we get what is there. A friend’s son works at the closest store, and he tells me when they get shipments in. We’ve had luck on Tuesday afternoons. It’s very hard to find flour and yeast. Luckily, we still have a pound of yeast from Costco. I was only able to find whole wheat flour by buying it at a restaurant. The restaurants aren’t doing as much business, so many of them are reselling their groceries. It was $5 for 5 pounds, but I’m happy to have it.

    This week, I made sugar cookies, chocolate chip cookies with almond flour (I cannot eat wheat). I made your rosemary olive oil bread. I also made bean/rice/chicken casserole, carrot soup, chickpea and green bean salad. I made 8 new masks (have been giving them to friends). We have been watching movies that we already own on the weekends, and are enjoying popcorn. We are drinking a lot of water, because we are out of milk!

    It is really hard to get my younger child to focus on writing (he’s 7), so I’ve found that it’s a good time for me to sit and work on coloring next to him. It helps to have someone with him. I get less work done that way, but coloring is relaxing.

    We have been doing a lot of yardwork, and I have hopes to maybe plant another fruit tree in front. We have a tangerine in the back – my husband moved it though, and it has never recovered since. We may need to replace it. I think the front yard, which is sunny and south facing, might be a good location for a lemon tree.

    Our neighbor gets free meat from a friend, and he basically emptied his freezer and gave it all to us. Last night we had pork chops. There is also shrimp, chicken, bacon, and steak.

    My biggest challenge is feeding the hollow leg teenaged boy without going broke.

  29. Our Easter was very quiet, with just the two of us. One of the things I made was cranberry sauce, using berries I froze from last Thanksgiving, when they were on sale.

    I’m unbelievably grateful that my employer was awarded an SBA paycheck protection loan, which will keep us afloat hopefully through the whole slow period. We are still all working from home. I go to the office once a week to do our banking, check mail, get print outs, etc., My gas consumption is so very much less than it was.

    I am trying to use up every last bit of food without wasting it. I’m dreading the higher prices. The good thing is that I can shop with two local farmers, who are busier than ever, and selling more than they ever did, so they hope to keep going strong with current pricing.

    The weather goes from hot to less hot then back to hot, but I’m keeping the A/C off for as long as I can. Since I’m on budget billing, my bill will only decrease over time, and not by a lot, but it will help.

    I’m still hanging out almost all of our laundry.

    I spoke to our neighbor safely across the fence, seeing him out for the first time in weeks. He offered to try to help us remove a stump from our yard, once the distancing is over. He has the equipment to do that.

    I got some of my plants in the raised bed and hope to plant a few more. It may be small, but any vegetables we can get will help. My longevity spinach survived another year and is coming back from the roots.

    Thanks, everyone, for the encouragement here.

  30. Happy Easter! I cooked a ham from the freezer, with cheesy potatoes, asparagus, rolls, and carrot cake. There were a lot of leftovers, which we will enjoy over several days.
    We don’t do presents for Easter, but the kids hunted (reused) plastic eggs. Most had candy or a coin inside. We still dressed up to watch church on tv, but it will be nice to have a normal Easter next year. We didn’t dye eggs this year, but we did make the chalk stained glass window project using masking tape on the driveway.
    My youngest wore an Easter dress that her big sister wore several years ago. I love hand-me-downs!
    I cut my boys’ hair.
    I used some cornmeal from the freezer. The sell-by date on the bag was 3/2016, but it was just fine.
    We shared some food items we didn’t need with a neighbor.
    I printed some coloring pages and worksheets for the kids to do at home.
    I fertilized the yard using a partial bag of fertilizer from the garage. I spread it a little thinner than usual, to avoid buying more.
    We are still making do with one vehicle, which hasn’t been a problem at all, since most things here are shut down.
    I cooked some rice pudding for breakfast, to give us a break from all the oatmeal.
    I used up some bubble bath from a long time ago to refill soap dispensers. Soap is soap, right? I even washed the dishes with it one night.
    I haven’t signed the kids up for anything this summer, so we may save a little money by not doing swimming, vacation bible school, etc. We’re definitely saving money by staying home and using very little gas.
    We have the windows open now, since the weather in Houston, TX is just perfect right now.

    1. We don’t do gifts for Easter either. My parents only did a little candy and we dyed eggs. That was fine and it works for my children, too!

      Your stained glass window project sounds amazing!

    2. I was just scrolling through the comments and saw your’s about bubble bath. A cheap bottle of VO5 shampoo is what we do. The bottle costs about 78 cents here.

    3. Talking about bubble bath…My four year old said to me the other evening, “when this whole coronavirus thing is over, can we go to the store and buy some of that stuff to make bubble baths?” It’s funny what kids miss. I think I’ll make up some homemade bubble bath for now.

  31. Mackerel pate is lovely with toast. Just drain and rinse (if it’s in oil) and smash it up with salt and pepper and lemon and then either a little cream cheese or creme fraiche or natural yogurt of even some mayo (the first two are best) just to make it into a pate. A little salad and that’s lunch. 🙂

  32. Parts of my state were absolutely devastated by tornadoes yesterday-lost lives, homes, cars, pets and businesses. It’s horrible and we have family affected (two who survived sandwiched between a dresser and the wall as the tornado blew most of the house away). It will be an Easter Sunday we never forget, but our family members are alive and can rebuild. We are thankful for Easter blessings and are now trying to find bottled water, plastic boxes, batteries, tarps, etc. to help. Please include the many who are suffering in your prayers.

  33. My husband found a huge bulk box of medium-sized eggs (13 or 15 dozen) for an inexpensive price at Cash and Carry. I don’t know if yours would have those boxes, Brandy, but it might be worth a call. We’ve shared several dozen of them with relatives or friends, and are using the rest. I can see how your kids would eat a lot of eggs! Even though I only have one of my 8 kids left at home, I am familiar with how kids can eat!!!

    I’ve also noticed the lack of good sales, the smaller fliers, and the rising prices. I’ve seen the articles and news stories about farmers plowing up fields of green beans and things. It’s tragic in my mind. My husband had to do some shopping after almost 2 weeks of not shopping, and it’s getting more time-consuming and more expensive. So many things are just not there. He’s not only shopping for us, but also for some others who should not be in the stores. I made him a mask, and he’s following all the rules, best as he can. Even though his hip is very bad, his general health is very good, so he’s the one who goes from our family. I’ve been sticking to home, except for rare occasions, and to work.

    And, I’ve worked in my garden and yard as much as I could this past week. I’m recovering from a sprained wrist, so it’s been slow and careful, but I’m getting little bits done as I can. Last year, I dug up a small section of a flowerbed and grew extra veggies there. Yesterday, I re-dug that area–removing stray bluebells and things that had returned, and will use it again this year. I want all the berries and veggies I can grow! I will preserve them and share them. I am so glad we ordered our seeds before this all hit. We did that because we wanted to start things like peppers and tomatoes and not pay postage twice, but now I’m super glad we did. My friend from eastern Oregon and I talked on Saturday, and she says only about 1/2 of what she ordered is actually coming–seeds are running short.

    Also, I wanted to say, your pictures are especially lovely this week, Brandy. You do have a wonderful knack for photography:)

    1. FIVE MILLION POUNDS of green beans–and the food banks can only take 5-10% of the food, while so many people need it. It’s so very sad.

      1. I don’t know about the commodities mentioned, but the Idaho onions didn’t surprise me because it seems this is about the time of year the onion cellars are cleaned out. Heaps of onions are deposited on fields every year because they have begun to get a little soft. In truth, the ones I gleaned when I lived there were in just as good a shape as the ones the grocery store sold. One year I put a large cardboard box in the back of my little hatchback, left the neighbor girl to watch my babies, and drove out to where a mountain of onions had been dumped that morning. I filled the entire back of my car. My husband set our wooden food dehydrator that he built outside, and I started peeling and chopping onions to put in the dryer. The neighborhood around our house reeked of onion for a few days, but those dried onions were so nice to have during that winter recession. Those times seemed tough to us, but they were nothing compared to what families who have lost loved ones and homes due to the virus and the storms are facing now. I am so sorry for them and can’t help but wonder if this is the beginning of the end.

      2. It’ often been said that America doesn’t have a food shortage problem: we have a food distribution problem. I volunteer picking up produce for a local charity and it’s incredible to me to see how much waste there is. People seem not to know that food lasts way past the “best by” or “sell by” dates, and that imperfect produce tastes just as good as perfect produce.
        I find it shameful that food is discarded when there are mouths to feed.

        1. Yes. We have hungry people and no way to get millions of pounds of produce to them. It’s very sad that we can’t distribute it. Feeding America is part of this distribution; they try to get food distributed to people.

        2. I googled “why are green beans being plowed under now” and got an article on April 11 from
          the New York Times called “Dumped milk, smashed eggs, plowed vegetables…” I encourage everyone to read it. I’m sorry I don’t know how to link to it, but I think you can find it easily. It goes into great detail why food & milk is being dumped & disposed of. It’s not because farmers just woke up one morning and decided “hey we want to lose money today so let’s throw out our crop!” It involves so many more aspects of things than people realize. It’s different than a local farmer that provides for a farmers market down the road from his farm or even on his farm that is able to be creative with the social distancing rules and still be able to service his regular customers. (Not that the small local organic farmer is not affected as well, I totally realize ALL farms of ALL sizes & ALL crops are affected by this pandemic).These farmers that are dumping are farmers that have binding contracts with restaurants, hotels, food chains etc. who can’t receive their products at this point because there’s not a need. They can’t store all this stuff in a cooler until this is over because we don’t know when it will be over and even if we did there’s not enough capacity to store that much fresh stuff, and it’s way too expensive to transport to farther away places. Packaging is an issue as well and that involves factories. I’m just going to throw out a number here because I don’t have no idea of capacity. But if one plant makes 1 million gallon size milk cartons in a day at peak capacity then they are still only going to be able to make that many every day. If another factory makes small milk cartons that are used for school lunches, then they can’t just switch over in the morning and say we are going to make gallon size containers today because that’s different equipment and different materials. I’m not trying to be on a soap box, I DO think it’s sad that there are hungry & struggling families and that there’s food being disposed of. I just want people to realize that the farmers are saddened as well & would absolutely love for others to be able to use their agricultural products but it’s not as simple as it seems once you look into it. I pray that this situation improves soon. That everyone will be well of this virus, that the spread of it will cease & people can return to work. I also pray that we learn to appreciate all the blessings that have come from this pandemic, like more time with family, slowing down & appreciating our homes where we have taken comfort. Thank you Brandy for this wonderful blog that helps us all during good times and bad and teaches us all so many things. ….Vicky in Ky

          1. Thanks for this, Vicky. I saw an interview with a farmer who had just plowed his crop under. He came from several generations of family farmers. He said, “In some ways, losing your whole crop like this feels like a death in the family.” I believe it. He also said he did not mean this in any way to trivialize the fatalities from the virus. Many family farms will go under because of this.

  34. Brandy, you and your site have been such an inspiration to me over the years. My husband makes a pretty good living but he’s in the entertainment field (live event production) so he’s been furloughed since there are no events, concerts, meetings and conventions scheduled anymore. I’ve always tried to be a good steward of our money but now that he’s on Unemployment I’m going to really be utilizing your methods and everyone else’s ideas more. Thank you so much for all you’ve posted. You are really a blessing.
    Anyway, I love that you’re able to get eggs from neighbors, and I actually laughed out loud finding out you and your husband are watching Picard. Wouldn’t have guessed that you were a fellow Star Trek fan (nerd?)! Husband and I finished Picard and are working to watch all of Star Trek: Discovery before the trial period ends. We’re enjoying Discovery very much.
    Take care. Much love to you and your family.

    1. When I was a teenager, I used to get so irritated that Star Trek was literally on three channels at the same time.

      My husband introduced me to the show. I had no idea I would like it!

      I’m not a huge fan; I like it, but I’m more a fan of historical shows. Those I could rewatch. It’s fine for me to watch once.

      1. Brandy,
        We’re huge Star Trek fans and signed up for CBS All Access specifically to watch Picard. I don’t remember exactly, but it seems to me there was some adult language in the last episode, or maybe the last two. Just thought you might want to be prepared for that (and keep younger ears away from the TV!).

      2. One of my little nieces used to share your frustration as her dad & brother were huge fans and watched the various series – and one day she snapped “Old Star Trek – New Star Trek – I hate Star Trek” – she was about 7 at the time and has come around since then. 🙂

  35. Brady, it sounded like your family had a wonderful Easter. We did as well. I cooked out last whole chicken for dinner. I made maple carrots, stuffing, gravy and mashed potatoes. I cooked the bones for broth. Today I made chicken orzo soup and and potato pancakes for lunch with leftovers. There is enough left for 2 more lunches for us. My youngest and I made cupcakes and decorated them with things we had. I went over to visit the man I help. I stayed outside. I brought him 2 cupcakes and a small chocolate bunny. He was very happy to see me. We Facetimed with my oldest while we were coloring eggs on Easter.

    I planted 4 buckets of potatoes and 4 of strawberries. Hubby built me a rack so they don’t sit on the floor. All meals were cooked at home. I did no food shopping this week. We made 4 loaves of bread this week. I sent Easter cards that I had in my stash from after holiday sales. I transplanted a few raspberry canes that were throughout the yard to the patch where the rest are. Friends have been very generous. 2 friends sent over masks they made. A friend made vegan hot cross buns for her DIL. She sent some over for Hubby. We have all been calling and texting each other to see who needs what. Hubby and I went for a 2+ hour drive out East. Didn’t go anywhere just back roads looking at nice houses. Saw lots of deer, horses and cows. Hubby wanted to order a few items from Amazon since we are not going to any stores. We used your links. Thank you for all you do Brandy. I have learned so much from you over the years.

    1. Thank you so much for using my Amazon links! It’s good to make a little something!

      1. Brandy,
        I usually go through Swagbucks when I order online, but right now Amazon and Walmart aren’t paying out Swagbucks. I used your link the other day to place an order! It wasn’t a very big order, but I’m hoping every little bit helps you! I appreciate your blog so much! Thank you for all the work you put into it and your beautiful photography!!

  36. I planted lettuce and green onion seeds in our garden. This is the first time I have attempted to grow lettuce and green onion. Last year I gathered marigold and dwarf zinnia seeds from plants I had purchased. Indoors I have planted those seeds. The kids and I are having fun watching the seeds sprout up. Our homeschool group is using zoom for us to chat with each other. The kids get on and share jokes and riddles or play games like guess the picture being drawn or hangman. The free version cuts off at 45 minutes which is great accountability for the mom’s chat that we don’t stay up too late talking. Thanks to Brandy’s notice on Facebook my husband and I are also enjoying a free month of CBS all access streaming. We are also enjoying the live videos on Facebook from various horse farms, zoos, and museums. During this time I am thankful our weather is warming up and we have a back yard that my kids can play in hours a day.

  37. I am back to work at home now after being off for two weeks on pre-approved leave. Working from home saves gas, wear and tear on my car, wear and tear on my clothes and shoes, as well as make up and beauty products! We again gratefully accepted five days worth of breakfasts & lunches from my child’s school. We continued saving water from showers and dish washing to flush toilets; when the garden is fully planted, we will be saving “clean” water to water the garden. Cooked and ate all meals at home. We received a rebate check from our old mortgage lender from our now closed impound account….right into savings it went! A dear friend knows I am working from home on a small tablet. She dropped off a monitor and cords that she doesn’t use and said we could have it if we can use it. My mother in law dropped off a power cord for my work tablet. She also brought a huge new bottle of rubbing alcohol….happy clap! One of our neighbors is making masks at home; she dropped off one for my son on our doorstep. I ordered a mother’s day present for my mom and a birthday present for my day on Amazon using an old Amazon gift card. I had another left over gift card for a bath store. I used a 20% off coupon they had, plus free shipping to order several more bottles of hand soap. We are going through them so quickly now. My husband was given an extra face mask at work which he brought home. We aren’t really going anywhere right now, but I’m sure we will need to go to the grocery store at some point and the mask would be helpful. My mom found two travel size tubes of toothpaste in her linen closet and gave them to us. Made one last trip to Target the other day (with gloves and mask). I hit the jackpot! Toilet paper, kleenex, paper towels, paper plates (which my husband uses for work), clorox wipes, laundry soap, counter spray and hand soap…..plus a turkey, canned goods and dried beans. They bagged everything in target bags, as they checks can’t touch reusable bags. We saved the target bags and are using them for garbage. I got an email from Peet’s Coffee advertising free shipping. I had another old gift card, so I order some coffee to be delivered. The card was enough to cover. Now that we have decided to put off purchasing a new car, I cleaned and detailed the inside of my car myself. My husband’s car is next. We cleaned out our garage and found a huge stash of toiletries that we were going to use for a donation project; we decided to start using them ourselves. I shared 1 dozen apples with a neighbor. Reused grocery produce bags as “gloves” for when we go get gas. Had a date night at home with my husband. We watched a show, shared a bowl of popcorn and had a drink. Dropped off a birthday present for my son’s brother. Eddie Bauer sent a promo code certificate for $10 off. I bought my son a pair of pajamas for Christmas that were clearance and also a insulated water bottle for me (32 oz) for $9.99. A friend gave us a box of Carpi Sun drinks that her son didn’t like the flavor of. I repurposed an Easter card my son received into gift tags for Easter baskets. While I was putting Easter baskets together, I realized I had way too much stuff. I then started a bag and put several items in to save for Christmas stockings.

  38. After reading the news articles about the meat processing plant closings and how this situation is impacting farm workers, it was hard not to think of what we will be eating months from now if there are shortages of the things we are used to seeing on our table. It does seem wise to grow as much as we can. Although my yard is very small, I am leaning towards planting edibles where I might have previously put flowers. So far I have planted lettuce, cilantro and parsley in containers. The lettuce is a mesclun mix and is just getting big enough to harvest. I have an herb garden with chives, thyme, oregano, rosemary and 3 small blueberry bushes in it. The chives are currently in bloom and I am going to make chive blossom vinegar for the first time. I have planted 6 little swiss chard plants that I bought at a nursery several weeks ago in a small flower bed outside my kitchen patio. I also have a Meyer Lemon tree in a pot that has several blooms on it so I am hopeful that I will get to harvest lemons this year. I would like to try growing cucumbers on a trellis although I have to figure out how I will purchase the seeds.

    Like so many of you I have been cooking from the pantry and the freezer. At this point it has been a fun challenge. Last week I made chili. Usually I use one lb. of gr. beef. After browning the beef I decided 1/2 lb. would be plenty so the other 1/2 went in the freezer to be used in another meal. It tasted just fine and was probably healthier for us. I made split pea soup which gave us (husband and I) several meals. I had a jar of yeast that was past it’s expiration date by several months. I tried making a loaf of bread and it rose perfectly. In the bread I used whole wheat flour that has been in the freezer. For the milk I made a small batch of powdered milk that was in the pantry. I don’t like it for drinking, but it works great for baking.

    I have enjoyed bringing in bouquets of daffodils, snowdrops, grape hyacinths and tulips. Now they are done, but the azaleas are coming into bloom so they will be my next bouquets. The garden has been a wonderful place to be during these stay at home days. I have spent a lot of time weeding. To me it is very therapeutic.

    I have been making my way through the books I have in my to be read pile. Prior to this pandemic I enjoyed looking for books while thrifting. I am glad I had a good supply on hand.

    I had points sitting in my Pinecone Research account so I requested that they send me a check. It arrived a few days later. I don’t know if it’s due to my age or what, but the surveys rarely come any more.

    It is so nice to have this community to share with especially in these times. Brandy, you have such a nice way of finding concrete solutions and ideas no matter how challenging the situation seems. You offer hope when it might be tempting for people to feel there isn’t much to be found. That and your beautiful, beautiful photos make this a place I look forward to visiting.

    1. Brandy, please delete this comment if you feel it’s needed!

      For Kim and anyone else needing garden seeds, I have quite a few seeds I am willing to share via the postal service. I think I can only send to others in the U.S. if I understand the laws correctly of not sending seeds across borders/into other countries.

      I also live near the Baker Creek heirloom seed farm, which is still open here in Missouri and considered essential, so if I don’t have a seed someone is looking for, I may be able to get them. If anyone is interested or needing seeds, you can email me what you’re looking for at raithfamily@gmail.com and I’ll try to get you some in the mail!

  39. I have noticed some increased food prices too. One of my favourite food stores has had a smaller flyer but I think it is partly because they are going to only online flyers next week-grrr, Not so convenient for those of us who don’t have smart phones. I can read the flyer on my computer but can’t really take it with me to the store.
    DH and I braved Costco today-cold line up outside but then in and out fairly quickly. The weather is warming a little here and planting time will be later in May.

    1. You can make a list from the online ad. My mom makes her list on paper with pencil for each store.

  40. I also use any canned fish for fried patties or croquettes.
    -We had a nice quiet Easter here. Filled my son’s Easter basket with candy that I had purchased early, before the virus started. I also printed out some homemade coupons that he could exchange to us for buying online games. He was very happy with that.
    -My Costco order arrived with all the items that I ordered, except 2. It turns out that my Mom had extra of both of those items, so I was able to trade some milk, eggs and bread for the other items that I really needed.
    -Used a brownie mix that was about to expire. We usually don’t care for those, I purchased the mix to make brownies for an event. I made my first ever homemade chocolate frosting (came out so yummy, don’t know why I never tried to make it before?). The brownies were a huge hit with the chocolate frosting!
    -Made more bagel chips and humus for family movie night, used up some odds and ends of frozen convenience foods from the freezer, made French bread, fried rice, peanut butter balls, ham for Easter, a cheese and cracker tray, hard boiled eggs, patty melts.
    -My husband cut his own hair and my son’s. I’m using this time to grow my hair a bit longer!
    -My Mom’s Birthday was a day before Easter. She said that she wants to celebrate in July when we can be together. My son made her a Happy Birthday sign that we left on her porch. We also grilled a package of brats that I had in the freezer and brought them to her. She is a Wisconsin girl who loves her brats, but is not allowed to have a grill at her apartment. She was very happy with the brats!
    -My Father In Law’s Birthday is this week, so my husband put together a video for him using video editing software that we had from another project. That will be his present, as we are having to watch every penny right now.
    -I’m upset that we can’t go for our dental cleaning appointments, my teeth have always been a challenge for me. So, I decided that we, as a family, are going to do extra teeth cleaning, flossing to keep our teeth healthy.
    -Our school is transitioning into online classes this week, with it officially starting next week. It turns out that my son will be way ahead in several of his classes due to the homeschooling we have done. Yay!
    – We are getting our house ready to sell when the stay at home order is lifted, and I was hoping for some tips from all of you on cleaning and restoring old woodwork. We have a house built in the 80’s with oak floors, trim and woodwork. The floors have deep grains where dirt has worn in over the years. I have tried everything I can think of to get the dirt out of the grains without taking off the finish, but nothing has worked. The trim is in better condition, but has lots of wear and scratches. I’m hoping to find an oil or cleaner that will kind of darken the scratches a little to blend in with the stain. Any suggestions for cleaning the floor and restoring the trim would be greatly appreciated. I just tried Murphy’s Oil Soap on the trim. It was good for cleaning it, but it didn’t make it look any better. We really can’t put any more money into this house! Thanks for your ideas!

    1. SusanMarie, when we sold our last home, our realtor asked us to use a product called Watco. I think we found it at Home Depot or Lowes. It does sn amazing job on wood work and even makes wooden doors look great. You’ll be pleased.

    2. Susanmarie, there is a product called Howard Restor-A-Finish, which restores color to faded finishes and blends out scratches and blemishes. It comes in pint cans of different finish colors–I’m looking at Golden Oak right now. If your Ace Hardware doesn’t carry it, they can order it. This stuff is a miracle worker.

    3. You might try Old English Scrath Cover to hide the scratches on the wood trim. I have used this on furniture to cover scratches successfully. I also covered scratches on an oak floor by rubbing a raw pecan nutmeat with the grain. This worked pretty good too. The oak floor was too light in color to use the Old English Scratch Cover.

    4. I just used Scott’s Liquid Gold on my kitchen cabinets and it really made them look good. If there are a lot of scratches, there is another brand that I can’t remember that came in light and dark colors to help fill in scratches. I bought the Liquid Gold at WalMart.

  41. You could make seafood chowder out of the Mackerel. I don’t have an exact recipe, but adapt it to what I have on hand. Sauté some celery and onion in butter. Add any kind of milk. Use the whole can including the juice of the Mackerel. You can also add some cut up boiled or baked potatoes. You can thicken with flour or dried potato flakes. Sprinkle old bay on top or mix in. Serve with saltines, oyster crackers or any cracker. I have done this with tuna in a can, oysters in a can, muscles, shrimp, etc. I have a can of Mackerel in my pantry now that I bought awhile back just for this particular purpose.

    1. I also have a couple cans but not enough to feed my entire family a meal. I saw a recipe on thrifty frugal mom some time ago where they use salmon this way. I think I will try the chowder. I have milk I can use as I bought a couple gallons of organic marked down to 99 cents. I’m sure with some sourdough bread, mine will hobble it up. I love that I can pick mackerel up at the dollar tree.

  42. Well this is an interesting time. I am starting week #3 of being furloughed in Washington state. I work in an essential business, but due to age (I’m 66) and underlying health issues, I am considered high risk. I start each day saying the Lord’s prayer and taking 10 deep cleansing yoga breaths. This helps my mind be at ease both spiritually and physically.
    We planted 30 hills of potatoes on Good Friday. My DH’s Italian grandmother used to always plant potatoes on Good Friday. We planted 2/3 Yukon Gold and 1/3 Russet.
    I made 6 jars of pancake mix, where all I have to do is add an egg, 2 T of oil and a cup of water. It will make about 15 small pancakes. That’s enough for 2 breakfasts for DH and I.
    I planted some broccoli, cabbage and cauliflower seeds in the house. Most of them have come up. These will be for my late season crops.
    My DH picked up onion sets and pepper plants while getting the seed potatoes. Also picked up a rosemary plant. We already have broccoli, cabbage and cauliflower plant. They might be able to go into the garden this weekend.
    We are still getting cold weather. It was down in the 20’s last night.
    I made rolls on Friday for Easter dinner. It was a somewhat warm day – reached around 60 degrees. I have a problem sometimes with bread rising, because it isn’t warm enough, except in the summer. I put the dough in the back of my DH’s SUV. The vehicle is black and was parked in the sun, so it was warm enough to assist in getting the dough to rise.
    I had to do a small amount of shopping for my 97 year old mother. Some was necessities, like a prescription and other medical needs. She lives in an independent living community with an assisted living community next door. They have had no instances of COVID-19, but they are not allowed visitors. I have to take her purchases to the front door, with her name on it, and they will deliver to her apartment. This time I also got her some chocolate ice cream that is in small cups. She said she really missed having ice cream after dinner. Since their meals are delivered to their apartments right now, ice cream is not on the menu, as it would melt.
    I picked 5 hyacinths from my garden for our dinner table for Easter. They are so fragrant.
    When I got my mom’s items, I also bought a small ham for us. So, we had our normal Easter dinner – ham, ravioli, rolls, asparagus and salad. I used sauce I had made previously and frozen for the ravioli, and the ravioli itself was also from the freezer.
    We are doing almost all our cooking at home. Saturday was my birthday, so my DH picked up takeout for us.
    I think that is all for now. Everyone, take care of yourself — and wash your hands 🙂

    1. Nancy, the next time it’s not warm enough for bread to rise, preheat your oven to 200 degrees, turn it off, and put your covered bread in it. It should rise in a couple hours, give or take.

    2. My Mom told the story about her Mom, who was visiting people from her church who were sick. At one house, in the middle of a conversation with an elderly woman resting in her bed, the woman’s daughter came in, lifted the covers at the foot of the bed, and took out two loaf pans of dough that were rising in that warm place.
      Grandma did not adopt that practice in her own home.

  43. I’m reaching out far trying to find something happy but the despair around me is deep. We loss one family member this week and a second is expected to go any moment. These were not surprises, but yet all loss is hurtful. My neighbor has a beautiful rose by my property line that is an amazing color. I’m going to photograph it and print it out. It makes me smile. The stress really sets off my medical issues. I’m not getting much accomplished . Our Easter ham is getting cooked today . I imagine we will get at least three days of meals from it. Eggs are a huge part of our diet. The 99 cent eggs have risen to $4.30 a dozen. We live in a rural area and I may be able to buy locally, but then again, everyone else may be trying to do the same thing. The chicken processing plant is 10 miles away. On Friday they are selling 40 lb cases for $40.00 . I’m hoping to get 4 cases. I’ve repacked my chest freezer to accommodate two cases. If I actually get all 4 wanted cases I may need to make room in my kitchen freezer. I’ve decided that I may have to sacrifice some bagged vegetables to fit the chicken in. I’m rather have chicken than onions and peppers. We looked into buying another small chest freezer but that seems impossible. Our local well named chain store is selling ALL chicken cuts for $4.69 a pound. I imagine we will go in the middle of the night to get in the surely long line. I have a good saved I have never used. Army boy will help me quickly process it. We’ve chosen to get all breast meat. The chicken quarters are less money but take up so much more room. Meanwhile I try to help where I can. For the neighbors working, we cut grass and make sure trash cans are moved back and forth. Each week as I go back and forth to deal with my terminal mothers needs, I ask my neighbors if they need anything. We have several neighbors in their 70’s and 80’s. Many sit on their porches or piddle in their yards. I drive by and holler out the car window. I drive by baby Henry’s house and left him Easter items on the fence post. I’m really missing my baby snuggles. I’m in desperate need of a haircut. But after evaluating the haircut I have the puppy I imagine I should refraine. So blessed to have what we need. After we lost all of what we had in the last crash , my paranoia has paid off. We’re not doing much so there’s no savings as we aren’t spending. I had a dollar credit in gas points at Kroger. I had two of the children whose tanks were lowest follow me down to fill up. We saved 30 dollars and filled all three cars for a total of $24.00. I’m wishing everyone the best in our trying times.

    1. I empathize with the loss and your mother being very ill. I can’t imagine how difficult that is and yet you still take the time to help your elderly neighbors. Don’t forget to care for you in between. Hugs to you.

    2. So sorry for your loss Lilliana – the world is such a sad place at the moment. Please look after yourself.

  44. I use a recipe called Quick Fish Loaf from The Joy of Cooking cookbook. I found the same recipe online at cooks.com. One can will make 10-12 small fishcakes. I bake them in muffin tins and serve with tartar sauce or a tomato sauce. The fish cakes are delicious hot or cold and my family always enjoyed them. It is an inexpensive way to add fish to your diet. Two cans should make enough fish cakes for your family.

    1. Thanks Jul , that was an ah ha moment. I have a several boxes of hamburger helper. I guess that’s actually tuna helper. My human garbage disposal boys should eat this and never notice.

  45. Brandy, I’m very inspired by the increasing you’re doing in the garden. I’m new to gardening and trying my hand at it and often think of how hard you work at it when I think I can’t figure it out or find a way to grow something 🙂

    *Thankfully my husband got 4 days of work in last week. This week and next week are looking good, too, if the weather holds. We do expect some slow down in his carpentry business as the economy recovers, so we are trying to cut back and be cautious with the budget.
    *I have been trying to use up items in the pantry and freezer and not let anything go to waste. It is certainly time consuming but so worth it. Our grocery and household budget is up just a bit with not being able to shop as we normally do, but I’m looking for ways to cut back.
    *I planted the cabbage plants I started from seed and noticed the cauliflower has come up well. We’re having a cold spell with freezing temps this week so my husband helped me put pieces of leftover wiring over the plant beds and plastic over that to help everything survive the cold.
    *My daughter and I set up a sewing area with a folding table so we can sit down and work on projects. We are very basic sewers but finding ways to get useful items out of repurposed fabric and having fun with it.
    I hope everyone has a lovely week! A bit more on my blog here https://www.cozyhomemaking.com/frugal-fun-homemaking-for-the-beginning-of-april-2020/

  46. Lean times ahead. Finally getting a long-waited-for greenhouse is going to be a blessing for growing in our zone 3 climate. As I’ve mentioned previously, I’ve moved our family toward a more vegetarian menu. To that end, I had ordered lentils and sausage TVP. This is in addition to the assortment of beans, split peas, grains and barley I’ve collected. Good protein and simple food. They can be an acquired taste, but I’ve been eating them for decades.

    *made more taco seasoning from seasonings on hand
    *made tacos to finish up a box of free-to-us taco shells
    *trimmed my husband’s hair again
    *used items on hand to make encouraging gifts for my neighbors…cupcakes and teabags…I left them on the doorstep
    *we zoomed with relatives for Easter
    *I’ve been watching Call the Midwife at PBS.com…its like visiting with old friends – something that hasn’t happened much recently
    *rewatching Foyle’s War on the Acorn channel with a 30 day free trial. Love this show.
    *still doing yoga with my daughter on her instagram feed. Anyone can join at yoga.mbs on instagram for free.
    *Made a bar cookie dessert that uses fewer supplies than cookies.

    Thankful that we got our house in order and can focus on saving our money. March’s goals had to be scratched or reordered. I’ve been looking at April’s goals and have realized how seasonal my life is.

    Blessings to all and prepare for the coming days. It’s might get rocky.

      1. Thank you Patricia,

        Some days are better than others. But, more good days than tired ones…yeah! It’s a good thing that Spring is here and we all can do something. I always feel better with something to do!

        Praying blessing for you,


  47. I am glad to see you and your family are doing well and still saving. I use canned mackerel instead of salmon, since it’s cheaper. I make patties using the salmon recipe. The juice can be poured over pet food. Some people save the liquid in a jar in the fridge and take a teaspoonful daily as a supplement. I let the feral cats outside have it. Speaking of receiving food from others, recently one of my decluttering and downsizing clients gave me a lot of vacuum sealed food that he can no longer eat due to health issues. I received bags of rice, beans, salt, sugar, powdered milk, pasta, and others. I was just about to go on my twice yearly pantry stock up shopping trip, but this saved me a lot of money and time. Stay safe dear lady.

  48. Paid bills on time saving late charges.
    My car is 20 years old and starting to have some probles. None of the windows roll up or down anymore. I was wanting a new, to me, car. I put it off for a month then the covid-19 virus hit. I decided to keep this car for as long as I could. That saves me a car payment.
    I ordered my $25.00 worth of over the counter items this month. I forgot to order them last month and lost the free items. I am determined to get as many of these OTC items as I can. This is part of my insurance supplement.
    I’m mending a quilt I bought at a garage sale a few years back. The woman had won it and didn’t like it so I bought it for$25.00. The corners are ripping so I am fixing it.
    Gaby, my granddaughter, who is 15. got a scholarship to college dual credit classes. We will just have to buy her books so we will be looking for used ones. We are hoping to save the money on these.
    I’m reading free books. I am also watching free movies.
    We have planted some veg, but need to do more.
    Like many of you we are seeing food prices go up. Some of our stores aren’t even sending out flyers every week. We bought only sale items this week…except for milk.
    My business has slowed to nothing. This month is when I began to see a lot of “lookie-lous” and it just isn’t happening. I don’t think I will be doing many sales this year. Thank goodness I have a good retirement.
    So far all of my children are still working. This is wonderful for me.
    The weatherman just said we may get a freeze tonight. *sigh* It never (well hardly ever) freezes this late in the year.
    Brandy, thank you for all of your years of information. You have helped us all so much.
    God bless and keep you all safe.

    1. Hello Becky,
      I am a retired college professor. You can usually get earlier editions of college textbooks for much less. For example, I recently bought the 8th edition of Chemistry by Zumdahl for my grandson for $11.49 versus the current 10th edition for $93.99 (amazon). There are usually not very many important changes between editions, but you can always ask the professor if using an earlier edition is okay. Most professors will allow it, unless there were major changes between editions. After all, most professors were poor graduate students at one time, and they will sympathize. Try to get “very good” or “like new” condition when you buy used–otherwise there may be a lot of highlighting or answers to exercises already filled in.
      Best wishes to you and your granddaughter.

      1. I would also say I bought the soft cover international additions after clearing it by my professors and those were MUCH cheaper too!

  49. Brandy what variety of spinach are you using? I use Bloomsdale Long standing *heirloom,,, and it has worked for 2 yrs at least, I have also sprouted them in house when it’s too hot out side which might be part of your issue.
    I am getting most of the seeds I ordered. I ordered more beans to grow dried beans after I saw them selling for $5.50/lb (Navy)

    I just read this, https://www.bloombergquint.com/global-economics/fed-s-kashkari-says-u-s-may-face-18-months-of-rolling-shutdowns
    we have been talking about it and then this came out… I told my kids when this started it would take 2 yrs just like the Spanish pandemic (which did NOT start in Spain, it might have been started in the US , https://www.historyextra.com/period/first-world-war/why-was-spanish-flu-pandemic-known-called-that-where-did-name-come-from-spain-myth-coronavirus-covid-19-name/…. SORRY The teacher in me keeps coming out.

    Hubby who has been talking to the farmers around us including Amish which are very self sufficient all are saying it’s going to be really bad.

    Frugal things, I moved everything except the unsalted butter to the house deep freezers from the barn freezer. Found a ham shank, whole turkey, 3 whole chickens and several briskets. We are now freezing water into blocks using sq buckets for the Amish neighbors who are out of ice. Ponds and rivers didn’t freeze this year so they couldn’t harvest ice.
    I have been transplanting tomato seedlings I started from seeds I saved from tomatoes I grew a couple years ago. I hope they do well but at least have 3 plants to harvest seeds from . I always harvest from at least 2 plants if not 3-4 .

    Not been to the store or out except for a ride around the block. Hubby gets milk.. I do have a list started on Krogers but they haven’t decided if I can use the paper coupons with a curb pick up. If not I will definitely change the order but will have several coupons expire. Not worth risking my health to be in a store.

    Stay safe everyone, stay calm… we can do this .
    Blessed Be

    1. I grow the same kind, and have grown others as well. I check soil temps and plant when it is cool enough.

      I read about the 18 months as well this morning around 4 a.m. I’ve been thinking about it all day.

  50. Lemon anchovy sauce is my favorite way to use up leftover canned fish. My husband loves canned sardines, herring, etc. on crackers for lunch, and I often hold my nose.
    The sauce is whipped up in a blender and does not taste like fish at all. We eat it as a dip for steamed green beans, asparagus, or fresh crudités. My children like it beside their Easter ham. Just a thought. Thank you for all the wonderful information you’ve generously shared with your readers over the years. It’s made such a difference.

  51. Such beautiful flowers! Thank you Brandy, it is always such a pleasure to come here every week for inspiration.
    My husband and I have both been laid off at this time; realizing that we have more time than money we have happily completed several projects that we kept saying “we will get around to that someday”. We added additional shelving in our laundry area, I painted the shelves and did a deep clean of laundry room. I listed several items on my local Buy Nothing Group. I wanted some large boxes or baskets to store light bulbs, rags, etc. I had 3 empty cat litter boxes that were very sturdy – I covered with burlap fabric using staples and a little hot glue. I now have 3 matching bins for storage and my laundry area is organized and tidy.
    We also did a similar project in the pantry; cleaned, organized and added 1 more upper shelf. The projects all used leftover materials that we already had. I needed a plastic bag to wrap up my paint brush and remembered to use a cut open air mailer from Amazon, it was the perfect size.
    I have decided to go back to hanging up laundry to dry on my indoor rack;
    I made 4 loaves of cranberry orange bread using up a can of cranberry sauce;
    I decluttered a few items and sold on my local Facebook group using the porch pick up method;
    I posted several items on my Buy Nothing group that were picked up from my porch and I was able to trade a couple of books for some cat food as well as pick up some free craft supplies.
    I planted a few more seeds, our season here will be delayed as well as short! We received snow fall 4 more days this past week.
    I sewed masks in the evening while watching Netflix;
    I was very mindful of our food and pantry, trying to ensure no food is wasted.
    I feel like I am getting on with the new normal and making the best use of my time. I am grateful for this community of sharing. Thanks again to Brandy for continuing your wonderful site. Wishing everyone a good week ahead.

    1. Kitty, thank you for the idea of covering cat litter boxes to use for organizing! I have been wondering what to do with those boxes in our home, and this is perfect 🙂

  52. My daughter and I planted seeds in soil using containers, some with lids, in the house. Seeds directly sown into the garden don’t seem to grow. I am hoping to grow enough herbs and produce to last until next year. I plan on growing some vertically, like cucumbers, zucchini, squash, etc to help prevent th empty from being eaten. We have now I raspberries that grow wild on our property I will be sure to pick. I have blackberries, grapes and kiwi vines that do not produce that I am going to try moving to different locations. If that doesn’t work they will be replaced.

    I have been borrowing books online from my library onto my kindle since our library is closed indefinitely.

    My daughter’s school has online learning using free to parents resources.

    I have made chocolate chip banana bread, chocolate chunk brownies, ham, twice baked potatoes, lasagna, eggs with sausage and toast, teriyaki chicken with rice, and are either leftovers or pb and J sandwiches for lunch at work.

    I’ve been drying laundry on my drying racks.

    Stay healthy and safe

  53. I’m glad that you were able to find ways to get some more eggs, Brandy, as well as finding yet more ways to squeeze in some additional plants into your garden.

    My frugal week:
    – I baked calzones using my easy pizza dough (http://approachingfood.com/easiest-pizza-dough-ever/). Just sauce, cheese, and olives, but tasty.
    – I baked two loaves of bread for sandwiches for the week, made date squares, baking powder biscuits, and baked hot cross buns (with a pizza dough base http://approachingfood.com/easy-hot-cross-buns/) as well. I didn’t have dried fruit or currents for the hot cross buns, so I just added in some frozen lemon zest and called it good. And it was!
    – I made iced tea from tea gifted to me, and a few white chocolate rabbits using the last of the melting wafers in my pantry.
    – The Ontario government is offering parents of school-aged children $200 to help towards educational costs for distance learning during the pandemic, so I helped some family friends apply for it.
    – I sewed a few more cloth masks for myself and my husband, using fabric and elastic in my stash. I sewed in saved plastic-coated twist ties for better fit.
    – I added water to a lotion jar to get the last of the lotion out. Then I kept the jar (it’s a pretty coloured glass jar with a pump dispenser) to reuse for soap or lotion.
    – I made vegetarian sausage patties, using tvp, egg, flour, and seasonings.
    – I planted lettuce, nasturtiums, peas, carrots, and sunflowers on my balcony. I also planted the base of some living lettuce after I ate as much of it as would grow inside my home. I covered the lettuce with canning jars to try to help it grow.
    – I received a living pea shoots plant in my produce box last week, so after we ate the pea shoots (I let it grow for a few days to get more out of the plant), I planted it in my balcony garden. I left a few shoots uncut. If this works, it will mean that I will get peas several weeks sooner; and if not, I’m not out anything.
    – I’m continuing to try to come up with educational activities to keep my small toddler daughter entertained, using items I have lying around the house. One thing I did this week was to teach her how to string items (i.e. working on fine motor skills, etc.) using some recycled sturdy rope and some nesting circle cookies cutters.
    – I arranged for my daughter to have a virtual playdate with her friend via zoom. Basically, it was one mom reading a book out loud while the other mom followed along with the same book, but it was good for my daughter to see her friend, so that they still remember each other once this is all over. Also good for the moms!
    – I continue to have my daughter skype with my family each evening. My siblings join the call as well as my parents, so it’s a nice social catchup for us all. And when my daughter is tired of looking at the screen, I just pivot my laptop and use it to livestream her playing, so that my family can see her just being herself.
    – For Easter, we splurged and ordered chicken take out: an adult meal and a child’s meal. I ate the appetizer from my husband’s meal and the fries from my daughter’s meal. Then I saved the bones and what chicken my daughter didn’t eat and turned it into chicken soup. When steaming veggies, I save the water as it contains both flavour and nutrients, and add it to a container in the freezer. I defrosted that container this week to make the broth for chicken soup (cooked the chicken bones and scraps in it), and added in a package of frozen celery that has been in my freezer for maybe two years, along with some dried chives and a handful of pasta. My husband and daughter enjoyed the soup and ate it for two meals. So I feel better about spending the money on takeout, since I was able to stretch two meals into 7 servings.

    Looking forward to learning from everyone else, as always! I’ve already made note of the lovely fish dishes everyone is sharing. I plan to make some tuna croquettes for my husband and daughter soon!

  54. I once cooked Salmon patties using mashed sweet potatoes and almond flour and basil in it along with some other things. I had found the recipe when I was on a diet. It was very good. I have some Mackerel and have not used it yet. Bought it because it was cheaper than Salmon. When I use Canned Salmon we eat it bones and all. I just mash them.

    I always love your pictures Brandy.

    I’ve been worried about family members who are our of work. We have cooked almost all month at home. But we got take out the other day. They gave us a bottle of bleach! I enjoyed it but was a bit sorry about the very unfrugalness of it all.

    Planting seeds and planning more to plant after the last freeze. Moved pots indoors so the seedlings would not freeze. My husband has been digging holes for raspberry plants. He also treated me to a couple concord grape plants! I love concords! Watching for asparagus, the spears are not growing yet.
    The rest of my seeds are starting to sprout too! I hope to have a big garden.
    We made carrot soup with the last of my carrots and ginger. Indian Lentil and rice soup. Barbecued ribs., Shrimp and rice, Spaghetti and meat sauce with less meat than usual. And leftovers for other meals. BLT’s for breakfast, Oh yeah Ham for Easter using a ham my son had given me and I froze. It was wonderful! We are also using the last of our potatoes.
    We are turning off lights when not in use.
    Using internet for entertainment. Video calls with family. Keeps me happy.
    Tonight I will look at seeds again to figure out what I am going to plant. I am also carefully considering what we should do for food security as well as hoping to share with family this year when we garden.

  55. I was so startled when I looked at this new post this afternoon and saw so many replies. Who knew mackerel ideas would be so popular!
    As a reminder for those who are not driving, do remember to drive your vehicles every few weeks, to re-round the tires, charge the battery, deal with affected fluids or gases, etc. If not, you might have a repair bill to get it started again.

    1. Re the mackerel – I KNOW!!!! I realize Brandy wants to feed her family during a financially difficult time but personally my first and only idea was to donate it to the local food pantry.

      1. Mari, a lot of the items I have are past the expiration date. I know they’re still fine to use, but the pantry doesn’t take items past the sell-by date.

        1. That is true for our pantries as well. Some of the stuff they get is “interesting” as well. Back around 1980, I helped the Red Cross sort donated food and pack it in Thankshivibv food bags to distribute. The usual foods were there – canned veggies and fruit, tuna, peanut butter, etc. – and then you would get the “odd ball” stuff. The one that really had us puzzled was two dusty cans of caviar. They were still good date-wise but… I don’t remember what happened to them but I do wonder what the donor was thinking.

        2. Brandy I fed my family canned peas the other night I found under the storage shelves. There were from 2016. The cans looked fine, No odor etc , nobody died. They were good.

        3. When we lived on Guam almost nothing I bought food wise was fresh. Everything was well past their sell by date. “Fresh” eggs being put on the grocery shelf were dated 6 months past their sell by date. About the only thing we could get fresh was on Wednesdays 2 liter cartons of milk were flown in from Australia. The cost was $3.50 a bottle. I lived at the end of the runway so I would see the plane land, wait half an hour then run across the street to the store and get in line. I did this once or twice a month. We could also get all the coconuts we wanted fresh. Did you all know a green coconut can be opened and eaten? It has the consistency of pudding. And if you ever wondered what happens to out of date items like cereal, crackers, etc, they are sent to small tropical islands where stores put them on the shelves as if they were fresh from the factory. And we would buy them, paying a much higher price than we would ever pay in the States. We are so fortunate here in the Unites States. Even as limited as some items are in the stores at the moment, at least they are fresh.

  56. We have not done any shopping or been around other people for 3+ weeks now. My husband went to get some produce 3 weeks ago because we had been out of town and had almost none at that time. We still have a head of cabbage, part of a romaine head, plenty of carrots, potatoes, some onions, an orange and 3 apples…so I think we can go another week or two. I will put some alfalfa seeds in my sprouter once the lettuce is gone. Even when the fresh things are gone, we have some frozen vegetables and fruit we can use, some canned fruit purchased on discount, and home-canned applesauce, peaches, pears and apples. We have a room in our basement that is our pantry/food storage. I am not LDS, but I learned a lot from LDS friends, and I am thankful to have supplies to make most anything we might need to eat.

    We have been planning our menus so that we are stretching our meats, often with beans. I have used ground flax or chia (I had both on hand, flax bought in bulk and chia given to me when someone cleaned out a pantry) as egg substitutes in baked goods, so that our eggs last longer. Before I serve an orange, I wash it well and zest the skin, to add the orange zest to recipes.

    We cannot plant here yet – we got quite a bit of snow today – but I have started seedlings indoors, and this week when the weather was warm before the snow came, we prepared all our garden beds and put out some cold frames. Last year we planted one garden area…this year we will plant four. We have to have our gardens fenced and covered, to protect them from deer and hail, but we have various spaces we were able to prepare and use in this way. Some of the perennial herbs have already started to grow, so we picked some thyme, green onion stalks and a bit of sage before it snowed, to have those fresh in meals as well.

    A local restaurant supply that specializes in overages and reducing food waste has opened up to the public. We can get 15 pounds of ground pork for $18.75, so we have ordered that. I paid online, and when we go to pick up, we hold the printed receipt up to the window, and they put our order in the trunk of our car – no actual contact. The pork is frozen in 1/2 lb. cryo-packs, which I will sanitize before putting in our freezer. This much pork will last us a very, very long time. This will be the closest thing to shopping that we have done in a long time!

    Our library (who is also my employer) had opened up access as much as possible and increased available e-books, e-audio and the checkout limits for both. I’ve checked out a couple of e-books, and so has our daughter. We have also enjoyed some of their free online programming. I’m reading some books we had at home that I had never gotten to, and I’m also taking free guitar lessons online – Fender has 3 months free that anyone can sign up for, and they have been really good so far! There are lessons there for ukulele as well.

    We have been going for walks and doing strength exercises at home, with basic equipment we already had. I like to listen to Hidden Brain podcasts while exercising. I also reviewed your weight loss article, and have kept my focus on exercise, drinking a lot of water, and having smaller suppers (we have made lunch our main meal). Since 3/11 I am down almost 10 pounds…which, in my case, is good. (I still have more to go.)

    I made some masks from supplies I have on hand, and I think I finally have a pattern I’m able to make quickly and well. It has an opening for an insert too, so I will continue making those to share.

    Thank you for your website – it has given me encouragement and inspiration for many years. I share it with friends regularly!

  57. These are some challenging times and this community brings comfort and helpful ideas. Brandy your photos are beautiful.
    Late April snowstorm here in the midwest with 9″ of snow and strong winds.
    *Local grocery store stopped offering weekly coupons and will give $5 off a purchase of $50.00.
    *There are fewer sales on produce; this week there were 2 offers.
    ” Making masks for our adult children and mailed them.
    *Husband is refurbishing his fishing rods.
    *Full freezer and pantry are a blessing

  58. Thanks for the interesting posts from you, Brandy, and other commenters. I have not been very well (chronic issue, not corona) this week and didn’t accomplish too much that was frugal. OTOH, I didn’t spend much, either. I shopped last Wednesday, after 10 days, but I expect to be able make it two weeks this time because I got some long-dated milk.

    An unusual Easter, to be sure! I cooked dinner entirely from my pantry and freezer, although I bought another ham for .99 lb. and froze it to make up for the ham I thawed and cooked. The only thing I didn’t have was asparagus. However, I put two recipes together and came up with a delicious way to cook carrots. I keep a mixture of coconut, toasted walnuts and a little sugar and melted butter in the fridge. I usually add it to Waldorf salad instead of just nuts. This time, I cooked carrots with a brown sugar glaze, then topped them with some of the coconut mixture. Oh, my–super delish. And I set a really pretty Spring table, too.

    I paid my bills online, saving time and $3.30 in postage.

    We made a trip to our vacation home (about 50 miles away) to drop off our snowblower and pick up the regular tires that need to be changed over. (We use the garage for extra seasonal storage). I also found six cedar 2x2s, three 5-foot pieces of shelving and a bracket, all of which we can use here. It was a nice drive and good to be out for a change! (We purposely didn’t see anyone).

    We bought gas for $1.79 gallon.

    I changed internet providers, saving $25 month over what I was paying and $5 month over their best offer to get me to stay. We are also switching from DirecTV Now (AT&T) to Hulu and saving an additional $5 month.

    I planted a few lettuce seeds from last year. I plan to continue doing this every week or so for the rest of spring. They haven’t sprouted yet. I bought most of my seeds in January, and am I ever glad I did! Don’t forget that all of those people buying seeds this year will be buying jars and lids next summer and plan accordingly.

    My adult son, who was furloughed from his job 3 weeks ago, has been called back to work next week. He works in the ski industry in the winter and high end bicycles in the summer. He will be helping set up the summer store and selling bicycles over the phone and online. His wife is still not working.

    1. Maxine,
      You are right about the jar lids. My sister had a terrible time ordering them on-line, but finally was able to get some. Places were just out, and this was a month ago. So, she bought what she found, and will share around the family, to whoever needs extra. My husband got the last few at Walmart. He said the entire canning aisle was quite empty–and we live in a place where very few items are ready to can, yet, if any. It would be people looking ahead that would have taken the canning things. I always keep a carry-over of a few boxes because it’s not uncommon for me to want to can broth or something like that during the winter. Thankfully, this year (just by chance, not by any great planning or foresight I have to admit), I had more left over than usual. So, I will be good. I do, however, plan to can more than I did last year, simply because we have ended up relying on the home-preserved foods more this year, due to less trips to the grocery store. And, because, for whatever reason, my husband and daughter have had an insatiable desire for salsa. They’ve burned through all the extra jars from 2 years ago, and most of the 27 jars I did last summer, many of which were pints. Wow! I’ve never seen such a hunger for salsa before:). Isn’t that how it goes!

      1. I know it’s not recommended, but I have re-used my canning jars lids more than once without any problems. I find the ones with the gray rubber gasket the best to re-use. The ones with the red gasket don’t do as well.

        I wouldn’t have tried it, but my husband, who is a plumber, said it would work–and it does!

        1. Just be careful when removing the lid so that you don’t bend it. I use the side of a butter knife for this rather than the prong of a can opener.

  59. Hi Brandy;
    I find draining and rinsing canned mackerel reduces the strong flavor. I sometimes use it in place of tuna for a tuna pasta bake. However my favorite way to use it is to replace fresh mackerel (which I can not get here) in twice cooked mackerel. I have included the recipe below.
    Thinking of everyone over in the USA. xx

    Twice-Cooked Mackerel
    aka – Saba Japanese Style

    – 1 whole fresh mackerel or canned mackerel washed and drained.
    – 1/2 cup flour for fresh mackerel, or fine bread crumbs for canned.
    – Sesame seed oil for frying. Can substitute for another oil if need be.
    – Teriyaki Sauce.

    Teriyaki Sauce:
    2 Tbsp soy sauce : 2 Tbsp mirin : 1 Tbsp sugar: 2 Tbsp sake
    – If you don’t have sake substitute with 1.5 tbsp water and ½ tbsp rice wine vinegar, or leave out.


    1. Fillet the fish and cut into 2-inch pieces. If using canned fish drain and rinse and drain again, before splitting pieces in 2 and removing bones.

    2. Coat each piece with flour or bread crumbs.

    3. Put oil in pan and heat. Once the oil is hot, fry the fish. Make sure the fish is cooked well if fresh. If using canned fish cook until crumbs are crispy. Remember that later the fish will be simmered with sauce so to retain the crunch factor, the fish should be fried pretty well. Fry each side.

    4. Once fish is fried and coating is crunchy pour sauce into the pan and simmer until the sauce reduces down to half its original amount.

    5. Plate and enjoy with steamed rice and a salad dressed with Kewpie Roasted Sesame Salad Dressing or the like.

    1. I have all this. Hmm. This one sounds appealing. I think everyone would eat it under teriyaki sauce.

  60. he amount of gardening that you do is amazing Brandy and the photos are always a joy. It was supposed to go up to about 15C today (about 57F) but that didn’t happen. It was a lot colder and the wind really picked up as well – we’re back down to around 5 to 7C for the rest of the week with lots of rain due. The mayor will be pleased as it should help to keep people indoors. So sorry for all those in the states who have now had to deal with terrible thunder storms & tornadoes along with this terrible virus.

    The only money spent last week was $20 to a friend who picked up some veg for me and $20 to renew my online card service – sent out lots of e-cards for Easter so I find it is money well spent.

    I managed to do some work online this week – updated the website – “proofed” a couple of YouTube sermons for Good Friday and Easter Sunday and I am still working on the phone around of the congregation so that occupies some time, Cleaning is an ongoing process and I am trying to use up food judiciously. I made another big pot of soup – half turkey & half chicken plus some wilting veg and egg noodles. Have to say that is very tasty. I also used a mix to make up some cupcakes – took soup and a few cupcakes to the friend who picked up the veg for me – she just lives downstairs so I can just knock and leave things for her to pick up. I cooked a big batch of bacon and saved all the fat. Also used some canned salmon for coated sandwiches one night. I had a bunch of bananas and the last two got to be too soft so I got them into ziplock bags and into the freezer for future smoothies.

    I am trying to set up a rotation of meat, poultry, fish, pasta, rice, soup & sandwich, salad & beans/cheese dishes over a two week period (I make enough for multiple meals and some usually goes into the freezer so I don’t have to cook every day). I ran into a neighbour while out for a walk a few days ago and we’ve managed to set up a rotation for getting meals to a very elderly neighbour that we were worried about and another set of neighbours will pick up the few other groceries that he needs so it was good timing to run into her that day.

    It will be 4 weeks tomorrow since we closed up the office and we were just told today that it will be another 28 days – at least. I think that we have all pretty much resigned ourselves to the end of May so if things get eased up even a bit earlier than that it will be a bonus.

    Being able to concentrate on reading is getting easier and since I’m missing baseball I’ve been watching reruns of great Blue Jay games from prior years that the sports network is broadcasting. I am trying not to binge watch too much TV but I did enjoy the Andrea Boccelli concert on Easter Sunday on Youtube and then right afterwards 3 new episodes of the UK Antiques Roadshow suddenly became available and I do love that show. I also spend a lot of time emailing and speaking with friends on the phone – had 3 long calls today so the day does go in. But have to say that, while I’ve never had a garden and have a notorious black thumb – I am envious of those who do have access to a garden. Even if I wasn’t growing food at least it would be exercise – I feel like such a sloth at the moment! I think I may go to the drugstore this week at some point just so that I can enjoy the long walk home (I’ll take the subway there for 2 long stops) – it’s at least a brisk 20 minutes so that will be a good stretch.

    Stay safe everyone.

  61. I haven’t been shopping since the first week of March. I have a running list of what I’ve used from the pantry but am becoming concerned that I might not be able to replace many of the foods on my list. I went online to order freeze dried foods as I’m about out of the ones I use regularly and every site I visited said “out of stock”.

    I’ve started tomatoes and peppers for the garden and they need to be transplanted into large pots this week. Our lost frost date is May 15 so they have awhile to survive inside before I can plant.

    This isn’t a new saving idea, but I’m going to share it in case it might help someone. When making spaghetti sauce with a pound of ground beef, double your ingredients to make double the sauce but with just the one pound of gb. Double the amount of pasta and I doubt anyone will notice the lesser amount of gb. When making chili double the amount of other ingredients still using one pound of gb.

    I buy chicken hind quarters in the 5# bags, cook, remove skin and from the bones , cut up and pressure can. in pints. When combined with rice, pasta or home made noodles that pint can be stretched to feed a lot of people. It is also a good basis for a variety of soups.

    Popcorn purchased in bags and air popped makes a good snack for kids and is inexpensive. Fix a dishpan full for teenagers — if boys maybe a dish pan for each.

    If your circumstances are dire and you are really short of food or can’t afford food, sit down with your family and explain that food must be limited to what is needed for nutrition. That means limited serving sizes, limited or no snacking and that it is NOT okay to go into the kitchen and help yourself to whatever you find. I had to have that conversation with my teenaged son when he was chowing down on way more than his share of the food that needed to last a week. I told him it amounted to stealing from the rest of the family. A niece with younger children established a snack cupboard and the kids were allowed to choose one item at snack time and only at snack time.

    A friend with four teenagers and a hard working spouse figured out that pancakes were the most economical breakfast and fixed them nearly everyday. Syrup can be made from sugar, water and maple flavoring. Leftover pancakes can be spread with peanut butter or eaten plain for a snack.

    1. I love this! We do oatmeal as one of the least expensive breakfasts. I buy a 25-pound bag of oats for $16. I cook 2-3 cups for breakfast.

      1. Thanks for always being here Brandy. I appreciate this community and your hospitality.

        * Cut the two basic patterns for our reusable cloth masks out of saved cereal-box liners–the liners are sturdy but flexible and hold up better than paper to pins and multiple use.
        * Doing a combo of cloth and disposable diapers right now; the cloth diapers stretch our supply to be sure
        * Our pharmacy is currently offering free delivery on prescription refills if you have their app set up and the prescriptions prepaid. That saves a car trip to a high-risk location so I appreciate it!
        * Saving citrus peels for vinegar cleaner or to freshen up the garbage disposal.
        * Picked up some wire grids from a member of our Buy Nothing Group; hoping that if placed over planting beds and weighed down with scrap wood it will keep the raccoons from digging up the beds looking for worms and grubs.
        * Turned off the irrigation for the maximum nine days because of three rainstorms passing through our area.
        * As I type this I see one of our little micro swales filling up with rainwater; we have made many little changes to our yard in hopes of keeping more rainwater on our property (“slow it, sink it, spread it”) and reduce evaporation of what soil moisture we do have.
        * Picked up nine “Victoria blue sage” starts that someone left on the curb for the taking and planted them around the back yard
        * Been using our cargo bike, rather than a car, for the rare trips to pick up provisions. There’s so little automobile traffic right now and it’s a joy to feel so safe on the roads.
        * Used previously purchased refillable wooden eggs for a backyard Easter egg hunt for the children.
        * I subscribed to Starz temporarily to watch Outlander and have since used it to watch a 10-part dramatization of Philappa Gregory’s female-centric retelling of the War of the Roses. It’s called The White Queen and it’s filled a little of the hole that Game of Thrones left behind. I will unsubscribe when the Outlander season is over.
        * I am grateful that I finally learned how to start seeds–it took me years! Now I try to start something or transplant something every day. I save all plastic trays from meat and seafood to use for this (I elevate the seedling pots a bit with old canning rings and capillary action handles the rest.)
        * I sent two homemade masks to my son’s teacher. I used stamps I was given for free to mail them in recycled packaging.
        * I’m experimenting with starting seeds from pantry items including pigeon peas, chickpeas and the guts of a butternut squash.

        * I was able to find toilet paper (large quantity box, recycled and paper-wrapped which is our preference, max 2 per customer) via Office Depot online.
        * My favorite source for eggs is 7/11. They’ve got them in stock and there’s no line!
        * I was able to find bulk yeast at a local shop that specializes in imported Italian foods.

        HOME FOODS
        * Harvested many artichokes from the garden, lemons, oregano, chives, rosemary and the first few blackberries. (We also have strawberries growing for the first time ever but the pillbugs, slugs and flatworms are fighting us for them. It seems to help if I put pieces of bark under the berries to keep them off the soil.)
        * Have established a kombucha SCOBY, a ginger bug and now a sourdough starter since the coronavirus “stay at home” orders began; we are eating well, to be sure.
        * Made apricot bread pudding to use up stale homemade bread and some dried apricots we keep in our pantry (soak the apricots overnight if you can)
        * Collected dandelion flowers while walking with my 3yo and made dandelion jelly–it turned out better than I expected.

        Stay healthy everyone.

    2. LeeAnn,
      I’d love to add my mother’s trick to your list: Make a batch of chocolate chip cookies and only put in 1/2 of the chocolate chips. She used to double the recipe on the back of the package and just use 1 package–amounts to the same thing. I did that the other day. I buy chocolate chips in bulk at Costco, but I’m trying to stretch them like everyone else. I have quite a lot of cocoa powder on hand and made the cookies themselves chocolate, so they were still double chocolate chip cookies, and were eaten with no problems. And, I only took 1/2 to my sister’s for lunch (we bring lunches some days while we are working with the kids over there), and froze the rest so they would not get mindlessly eaten. Same for the bread and buns I made the other day.

      A family member who cannot go into the stores due to a compromised immune system is also having trouble ordering things on-line. They are out of a lot of things. Rob’s been getting things for them, or they are ordering from a local Walmart. She says the trick for that is to have insomnia and get on-line at midnight, for a pick-up time right when they post new times. You still might have to wait a couple of days for a time, but you can get one. Then she makes her order, and sends her husband or daughter out to get it when the time comes up. She’s been able to get things that way, but there is a limit of no more than 2 of any 1 item she has to work around.

      We looked on Bob’s Red Mill’s website because we had a gift card, and they are out of many things on there, but have more than they did a couple of weeks ago, so are gaining on it, I think. We live about an hour from there, and know a young man who works there. He said they are working hard, very busy, but are making more as fast as they can. Now to get it shipped around the country……

  62. Years ago I found a mackerel recipe but used canned salmon instead. In a casserole dish, alternate several layers of canned fish and crushed soda crackers., ending with crackers on top. Then warm a cup (or more) of milk and add a beaten egg (your substitution would work I think), and some thyme (I just used sage), pour over casserole, and then poke a knife in several spots to get the mixture incorporated. Bake 30 minutes.
    Another actual canned salmon recipe, so quick and so delicious, is to combine salmon and coleslaw and serve on onion buns.

  63. I am grateful to Brandy and like-minded individuals who comment here. Today I went over to my late mother’s house with one of my siblings to pick up some food. I have 4 siblings, all with families. Two of my siblings said that did not want any of mum’s food, cleaning or bathroom products. Two of my siblings took some things and I took most of what was left. As we sorted through tinned fruit, tinned veggies and tinned beans, my sibling made comments like “we only eat these sorts of beans. We don’t eat any of the other types of beans or tinned vegetables”. I was surprised and saddened. If I am given food that other people don’t want, I find a way to use it, as Brandy is with her tinned mackerel. I and my family are grateful for food that comes our way at any time, but especially now when we are seeing empty shelves in our supermarkets. Tinned veggies, beans and fruit last a long time. I am grateful to add these foods to my pantry, and I know my mother would have been glad that her groceries were being used and appreciated by one of her children. But I really don’t understand people turning down perfectly good food because it is not something they usually eat. I am grateful for blogs like this one because they show me that there are other people in the world like me, and that even though people around me think I am strange, I am not alone.

    1. You are a wise woman Debbie – and I think that everyone is going to have to readjust their thinking over the next year or two – the variety that we are so used to in the western world just isn’t going to be there. We won’t starve but we are going to have to get used to what is available and not be so fussy. Your mom would be proud of you!

      1. Yes, for sure, Margie. I’ve never considered myself spoiled or entitled. I’m extremely frugal and cook almost all of our family’s meals from scratch or almost scratch. But….last February I was at my neighborhood Trader Joes and couldn’t find the canned pasta sauce our family prefers. I asked a grocery store associate and she said that it had been discontinued. I stayed calm and polite on the outside, but I was reeling inside. This is what we eat and enjoy, how dare they stop making it! How dare they make my life harder! These were my thoughts (it had also been a long day). Now I realize how ridiculous I was being. I am thankful each day for the ability to cook for my family, the food I do find in the stores and from my garden, every meal we eat together, and a full stomach afterwards. I hope I never go back to my old ways!

    2. I have friends who volunteer for a church food-bank and gave he a big bag of oat bran that know my charity won’t use. She told me people come in and get the pre-filled (with various staples and extras, made up ahead of time) bags and will go through them giving back things they “don’t like.” While I’m glad the things won’t get wasted, I can’t help thinking it’s ridiculous not to find a way to utilize free, healthful food, and that obviously they don’t really need the assistance if they’re being that picky.

      As long as food is in keeping with our restrictive diet (gluten & lectin-free, and vegan), we’ll eat it when it;s given to us, and if we can’t, we’d find someone who will!

      1. Cara, I agree with you about picky people at food banks. OTOH, if they really won’t eat it–and we all have stuff pushed to the back of our pantries that we will probably never eat–it’s better not to take it than to throw it away. Plus it’s more efficient to leave it at the food bank–where it can readily be passed on to someone who wants it–than to take it home and try to find someone to take it. I’m not sure what I would do if offered a can a mackerel, but as this week has shown us, plenty of people would take it!

    3. Debbie, my husband’s work is so generous and for all holidays they give out large ham/turkeys to each employee. They are pastured and organic too (the business is health related). My husband said that out of 400 employees, 70 didn’t bother to pick up their Easter hams. Most of them were office workers who are working from home and would have had to make a trip in to pick it up. I was very surprised and thought it ungrateful. Well, they were donated to the local food pantry and I’m sure will be well appreciated.

  64. Hi Brandy, I make Pate de Sardine from canned sardines and I think Mackerel would work the same. Delicious on crackers. It uses 2 cans packed sardines, 1/2 stick room temp butter, 1 large shallot or green onion, 2 T. lemon juice, 3 T. finely chopped herbs- such as chives, parsley, or dill. Just use it as a spread. Rich and healthy!

  65. Hi again Brandy, I forgot to say you mash all those ingredients together then refrigerate for the pate de sardine (or mackerel in this case.). I never write the instructions on my personal recipe cards if I think the procedure is logical! Not a good habit when passing on a recipe!

  66. Thanks to everyone who shares ideas here and to Brandy for hosting us and making eveyone welcome. When I was a child, we had oatmeal for one supper a week and pancakes for another. Sometimes we had rice and raisins boiled and topped with milk, sugar and cinnafomon. Our other meals wee balanced, but it stretched everything. We also at times had salmon or tuna and hard-boiled eggs in a white sauce on toast. We’ve only been to the store once for groceries as we started out definitely low on vegeetables. Hopefully this summer we can freeze part of our gardens. We have 2 community garden plots and 10 square beds in our front yard where we have things that are nice to grow nearby for meals. We also have lots of bigger pots where we grow tomatoes and cucumbers. We usually freeze tomatoes for adding to chili and soups. Our gardening is somewhat limitd in Fairbanks, AK but we grew about 500 pounds of potqatoes last year. We shared the excess with other pastors and a food shelf. I may see about dehydrating some this year. Our son purchases a large number of walking onions this year. Hopefully we will be able to get them started so that we will have them in future years. Onions are difficult to grow here without spending a lot of time on them.
    My husband is able to work from home.for which we are very thankful. He had the first church service this Easter by zoom. No travel is allowed between towns so I have not been able to travel to Kaktovik for church services. I’ve been trying to use FB but my learning level has not been great! Thankfully so far, the villages have not had Clovid-19.
    I am hoping we will be able to buy some garden plants for the garden. We do not have a house wher it is easy to start vegetables or flowers, so normally buy a lot of plants. I’m mostly concerned about celery and tomatoes. I add celery to many dishes to increase their nutrition, soups, pilafs, chili, and stuffings.
    Stay safe evryone and appreciate whatever we have!

    1. My mom used to serve canned salmon in a white sauce (with peas) and hard boiled eggs – it was delicious!

  67. I, too, never had any idea that so many people eat mackerel! I have never tasted it.

    One thing I found when making salmon cakes is that the patties are much improved if you mix in a few tablespoons of chopped green pepper. I’m wondering if anyone does this with mackerel? The other thing is, my salmon patties are always on the dry side, which is why I don’t make them a lot more often. Anyone here have any ideas?

    1. Maxine, Maybe you add too many breadcrumbs? I always add a strong cheese to our patties. Maybe the cheese helps keep things moist. I’ve never bought mackerel, though.

  68. I have not bought anything. I was very ill (not covid) but discovered how great it is to talk to a doctor over the phone. It was a doctor I didn’t know. Am now on antibiotics and back in the land of the breathing. Am planning my vegetable garden. I don’t know if I’ll get a community garden plot yet so am making plans in case I don’t get one. I will move a patio table where the grass is denuded underneath. Put the table and chairs on the driveway (out of the way) then dig up the denuded earth. I will line up tomato pots also on the border of the driveway. I will interplant cabbages with the roses as they will both be protected from deer and hares by the netting deer fence. Not sure where the beans, peas and carrots could be squeezed in — hopefully in a garden plot. I will be buying several tomato and strawberry plants grown by friends. I will put netting around the strawberry plants and probably plant them in my hanging pots — trying to keep them safe from squirrels, birds, mice and hares. I have a ham I meant to cook for Easter and about a month’s worth of meals but I now may just put it in the freezer. It is worrisome that the meat processing plants and one in Alberta are closing down (at least temporarily). And a new chicken virus? Hadn’t heard of that but that is scary, too! I read about all of the food (produce) going to waste down there and think that the national guard should be called in to distribute it — there should be some plan to get it to people and save the farmers too. Our government has been working on a plan to get the foreign workers up here and quarantined. We don’t plan on letting their families back home starve, either.

    I think cabbages are a good thing to grow — can be preserved as sauerkraut or shredded in the freezer .Lots of vitamin C. I hope to pickle the beets and carrots, too. My aim. would be to have really full pantry shelve stocked with canned veggies for next fall.

    I was amazed when my doctor told me that coronavirus can survive for up to 28 days on cold moist surfaces. Apparently people have gone to the parks and used the handrailings and brought coronavirus home to their families in that way. I think we in Canada think the cold will kill everything but apparently not. So stay home people! I continue to try to finish our book. A few miracles happened in that regard. I had tried repeatedly to get an 1881 survey from various archives but with no luck. Now that everything is closed down I could not imagine how I could get it. So out of the blue I wrote to an author who’d written a book on surveying — she did not have it in her research notes but she had a contact who had it!

      1. Playgrounds and any other park amenities have been closed here for a few weeks now – and then they blocked off all the parking lots at the main parks. Now even some of the benches are taped off – you can walk in the park but they want you to keep moving – no sitting around on the benches and no sunbathing (not that there’s been much yet).

    1. Hi Ann!
      Thanks for writing me last week. I’m sorry you have been sick. It is great that you have more information for your book. Food insecurity is scary so we hope to have a big garden this year. I need to get canning supplies. We only have 3 chickens right now. I would like to get a rooster so our hens could have chicks. I’d like more egg than we get. I’d also like a source of meat but I’m not keen on culling my chickens. If we are hungry that could be a different story. I’m trying to grow some beets. It is a good idea to grow cabbage. We like a lot of different vegetables and because I am diabetic I really should be eating more veggies. My numbers are better when I do. I’m a bit afraid to go to the stores though. So I will be happy when our garden starts to produce. We might try ordering some food and having them deliver to our car. I miss shopping without care, only watching prices not germs. Anyway, I’ve been pouting a little bit today. Just miss hugging my family. But I don’t want to make anyone sick, if I am a carrier. Just glad I can talk to them on the phone. On a positive not I enjoyed walking around with my son and his dog today on our land today. My husband has been digging holes for raspberry plants a little bit at a time. He has to take breaks because of his foot. But we hope to plant them soon. It might snow on Friday. We have been bringing out seedlings in at night. I hope you are feeling much better. Tammy

      1. Hi Tammy,

        Your note really lifted my spirits today so thank you! I am back in the land of the breathing. The infection is going away. I want to ask Brandy about chard — am I right to think that you can keep harvesting a leaf here and there as it continues to grow? If so,
        I think chard would be high up on my list of plants to grow. I wonder if it would do well in pots. Now I have the seeds for carrots, peas, beans, beets and am hoping to get seeds for chard, cabbages. I want to grow Jerusalem artichokes (sometimes called sunchokes) (not artichokes at all). They are good for diabetes. I think they are probably easy to grow. They are good keepers! My friend is growing tomato plants so I will buy from her and I’ll buy my gardener’s strawberry plants. I love tender beet greens too. If desperate, I’ll eat the plaintain weeds in my garden as I think they are edible and the dandelion greens. I feel that if I grow too many cabbages (here’s hoping) I can trade some for other veggies. My only problem is I can’t dig well with my broken tendon and I have little sun in the yard. My gardener has said she’ll help if I get a garden plot. I hope to make some jam, too. I realize I’ve been making a basic error when planting potatoes — when you cut them up to get the eyes, you should leave them inside on a paper towel for a day so the cut area dries out; otherwise, they rot. I am also picking seeds that have the shortest maturity dates — like cabbage or chard in 45 days — partly due to the short growing season here. I am going to buy my pickling vinegar, mason jars (I mostly just need new lids) sooner rather than later. I wish I had a freezer in addition to my little freezer over the fridge.

        Tammy, isn’t it lovely to still be able to walk around the garden? A neighbour (whom I have never met) emailed me a photo of a pheasant in her yard — given the coyotes, bobcats, cats, cars in this area, that is one lucky and spectacular bird. I wish he’d come to my yard! I’m sorry that you miss your family — but I think we’ll look back on this and be stronger for it! That is my hope! I myself have felt a little sad that I won’t get out to the country to see the bluebirds and swans but am so glad they are back1. There is a joy in seeing the new seasons come in. I’m also going to plant some sweet pea (poisonous) seeds and mimulus (monkey flowers) seeds as my annuals this year as they are easy to grow and lovely to see.

        I listened to a friend rave about her anger towards her long departed mother — I suggested that perhaps she is just missing her mother and there were tears. I ave been working on getting my oxygen levels up and find that singing opera really helps! At least I can sing again. Like Margie from Toronto, I too listened to and enjoyed Andrea Bocelli’s singing from the cathedral in Milan. (still available on You Tube). Well, back to the book!

        Keep a song in your heart and your spirits up. This too will pass.

        1. Chard–YES. You can just keep harvesting it. It will grow below freezing as well, though it will slow down drastically as it gets colder. If I could only plant ONE thing in my garden, it would be chard, because it just keeps growing back. It does take a long time to germinate, and it does not transplant well at ALL (and that’s not just me saying that; it’s pretty well known). I like the Fordhook Giant variety best; it grows the fastest and the largest, and it is open-pollinated, so you can collect the seeds to plant more.

          Yes, you can grow it in a pot. I am sticking more seeds all over the garden. I just planted some more today. I hope I grow enough to share plus for all of our needs.

          1. Brandy,
            I love swiss chard too! We grew it at my old house years ago. I am going to try to get some going here. I love rainbow chard because it is so pretty. I like to cook it with onion, garlic, a bit of bacon, sour cream and tomato sauce. Yum!

        2. Hi Ann,
          Thanks for writing! It is nice to walk around the garden. Pheasants are beautiful. I once raised some years ago. I’d like to do it again. I like dandelion greens also. I’ve cooked them much the way that I cooked Swiss Chard. I do love music. It relaxes me. I like to play Thy Word, by Amy Grant on the piano and sing.
          I thought about growing extra vegetables too. At first to process for winter and give to family..but now I think I might grow extra to sell. I’m not in the best of shape but gardening should help me get back in shape. At the very least I do want vegetables to eat and give to family.
          It is nice to be outside. I’m grateful that I can go outside and enjoy sunshine or even rain.
          I am going to have to listen to Andrea Bocelli. I love music. Especially violin and piano music. My son played the violin. I used to listen to music with him when he was in high school . I loved doing that. I’m glad you feel better. Enjoy your Opera and writing your book!

  69. Oh my on all the recipes for mackerel! I am very adventurous with food, so I may just buy a tin to try it!
    I am so thankful for this site, I am learning so much from everyone!
    My frugal attempts… ate all meals at home and cooked from scratch. My husband takes his lunch everyday that he works. Grocery shopping has not been so frugal – I had lost my detailed list with coupons one day. Seems we never have enough – there are only 3 of us 85 yr old, my husband & I. two of have big appetites…. My husband still drives company vehicle so we are saving on gas & wear and tear of our vehicle. I am still picking celery and tomatoes from our garden. I continue to walk our dogs for exercise. One sibling, continues to post slides that I haven’t seen in years, so fun to see! Easter I spent time with my mom, 4 sibs, their families on Zoom, that was fun too and will continue to do this so we can “see each other” and catch up.

    Stay safe everyone and if you can, please stay home!

  70. Hello everyone,  Very glad that so many are safe and well!!

    Thanks to Brandy and so many here,  I have become inspired to learn to can.  Hoping I will be canning what we’ve grown but we’re also readying ourselves for windfalls or a sale price we just can’t pass up.  We are getting ready to build a waist high raised bed with the idea that in future years we can still garden sitting.  We are going to try a self watering system as typically here in South Central PA, we have had cold, rainy springs  and with a very hot end of summer with sometimes weeks without rain.  We had a garden in another part of the yard but it only got good sun part of the day. The new garden will be in a much sunnier spot. The bed will also have hoops which we plan to use in conjunction with deer fencing.   Don’t feel sorry for the deer, the other section of the yard has three or four places with lots of hosta! The deer fencing is because I don’t want to share my tomatoes and sweet potatoes!!

    Luckily, we have odds and ends from other projects to get most the bed put together. While looking through the odds and ends for what we can use, also bumped into some pots, trays,  and other items that had been forgotten but will definitely come in handy this year. Like you Brandy, I am looking at shadier areas to try and put things that might grow longer ( or sooner) in shady/deep shade areas.  ( But I will have to put thought into protecting vegetables in the shadier areas). 

    The crisis has really influenced my decisions about “how far can I make this last, what can I substitute for egg, oil, paper towels, etc”. A month ago, I had quickly pulled some cloth napkins from the drawer,  but it wasn’t until I was putting something away today, that I saw napkin rings my mother made and said, “These should be used!”   I’ve begun using catalogs, phone books ( we still find a yellow pages book in the driveway once a year), etc and tear out a page or two to put under a wet flower pot, empty the sink drain stopper on, grab the gas pump and then discard in the trash can at the pump, etc. Rags are getting triple duty too, washed and hung to dry.  With fresh eyes today, both my husband and I were dumbfounded to find a container of bleach wipes in the workshop that neither of us remembered. It’s not a new container but I can add water and some bleach so they are ready if we need to use them. 

    Getting back to my canning initiative, I used credit card points to order jars and lids. I don’t expect to have yard sales to attend and I also notice on Facebook Marketplace, the prices looked higher than in my past years of yard saling.  

    Thank you so much for the recommendations about Wartime Farm!! We really enjoyed it and were very glad to learn of Victorian Farm with the same historians. We watch an episode a night and its a wonderful distraction and educational too. My husband loves antique machines, engines, etc so he enjoyed the series as much as I did. 

    I pulled a flannel shirt that shrunk in the dryer from our ongoing donate box. I decided that flannel might be perfect to line a couple masks. I’m also eyeing up sheets and dress shirts. 

    We are also keeping a very close eye on pantry and freezer items and medicines. We’ve marked the calendar when it’s time to pick up more so we’re not caught unaware.

    Usually for Easter, we send our mother’s flowers or the like but this year, since they both like chocolate, we made double fudge brownies from mixes I found on sale before the stay at home orders.  My mother was getting ready to put a sign in her window reading, “Need more books!!” so we found a couple from our bookshelf we hope she will enjoy for her box. My motherinlaw loves a chocolate biscotti unavailable in her stores so a couple boxes helped fill her package.  We also included seeds I had saved from our Mexican sunflowers for each box. The sunflowers are very good growers and drought resistant too.  We used the flat fee US Post Office boxes which was particularly handy since I couldn’t use book rate on the box with books and brownies and pistachios. My best guess is we probably spent half of what we have spent other years. Maybe even less.  Yet, both mothers were very pleased and  surprised the brownies were home made.  Its a good lesson/reminder about how much more it means when you realize someone made it especially for you.  

    Brandy, I thank you again.  I remembered the bobby pins from your “Gift A Day” tab of your blog and grabbed bobby pins our last shopping trip. Pretty soon, I will be needing to use them all the time because I have tons and tons of texturized layers that will soon be looking very much like a forsythia bush that needs a good pruning!

    Here’s to getting through this safe and well!!

  71. Brandy – just wanted to ask. I will be placing a large order with Amazon shortly but I’m in Canada and your link takes me to Amazon.com which is US – can you tell me if there’s any way for Canadians to order through Amazon.ca but still give you the credit?

    1. Not yet. I am trying to figure out how to set it up but have been left very confused. I have been thinking that I need to try again.

      Amazon announced yesterday that they were drastically reducing the percentage that affiliates are going to be making starting next week. I guess they have so much business that they don’t need extra advertising. The last time they did this my income from them went down by two-thirds. I don’t make a lot from them, and I take my payment in credit (because I always need things from Amazon) but this is a bummer, especially at this time.

    2. I would love to order through your site if you are able to receive credit through Amaazon.ca. Hopefully you can resolve the issue. Thanks!

  72. In the UK Lawrence D. Hills was an early pioneer of organic gardening. He composed the following poem (in the style of early English poet Thomas Tusser) in the 1960’s to give a guide to the viability of various vegetable seeds.

    You have in your drawer since Candlemas Day
    All the seed packets you daren’t throw away
    Seed catalogues cometh as year it doth end
    But look in your drawer before money you spend

    Throw out ye Parsnip ‘its no good next year
    And Scorzonera if there’s any there
    For these have a life that is gone with ye wynde
    Unlike all seeds of ye cabbagy kind

    Broccoli, cauliflower, sprouts and kale
    Live long like a farmer who knoweth good ale
    Three years for certain, maybe five or four
    To sow in their seasons they stay in your drawer

    Kohl-Rabi lasts with with them and so does Pei-Tsai
    The winter ‘Cos Lettuce’ to sow in July
    But short is the life of ye Turnips and Swedes
    Sow next year only, enough for your needs

    Mustard and cress for when salads come round
    Sow for three seasons, so but half a pound
    Radish last four years, both round ones and long
    Sow thinly and often, they’re never too strong

    Last year’s left lettuce sow three summers more
    And Beetroot and Spinach-Beet easily four
    But ordinary Spinach, both prickly and round
    Hath one summer left before gaps waste ye ground

    Leeks sow three Aprils and one hast gone past
    And this is as long as ye Carrot will last
    Onion seeds keeps ‘ til three years have flow by
    But sets are so easy and dodge onion fly

    Store Marrows and Cucumbers, best when they’re old
    Full seven summers’ sowings a packet can hold
    Six hath ye Celery that needs a frost to taste
    So hath Celeriac, before it goes to waste

    Broad beans, French ones, runners sown in May
    Each hath a sowing left before you throw away
    And store peas, tall peas, fast one and slow
    Parley and Salsify have more spring to sow

    Then fillen ye form that your seedsman doth send
    For novelties plenty, there’s money to spend
    Good seed and good horses are worth the expense
    So pay them your poundies as I paid my pence.

  73. Hi Brandy,

    Love your blog as always and the superb photos on this one in particular. I always enjoy reading such wonderful comments too – thank you all.

    Today is the third week of lockdown completed in NZ and it’s been a very trying time for many people, one week to go. I hope it ends then as it is causing a lot of stress and difficulty for so many people with so much economic devastation.

    Prices for food have risen here very quickly as well and there have been terrible queues at the supermarkets. This is definitely the time you are so glad you have a deep, well stocked pantry already! We haven’t really bought very much at all as we had so much in the pantry, freezers and gardens and didn’t want to take items others might really need if we had some at home already.

    Being Autumn here we’ve been lucky to continue an abundant harvest of pumpkins, apples, peaches, walnuts, beans, courgettes, potatoes and so much more from our large garden and orchard of about 26 trees. Much of this we have given away or preserved.

    We are fortunate that our income has not reduced so far like so many who have lost jobs and businesses but we will continue to be very careful with the pennies as we feel there will be tough times ahead.

    I did buy a vacuum sealer and some spare rolls as I really want to cut our food waste to zero.

    Kind regards,
    Wendy (NZ)

  74. I went grocery shopping for the first time last week as my cough is finally gone. I was able to pick up 2 hams on sale for Easter. We had gone through a lot of staples so I was stocking back up, which was good since our Aldi shut down a few days later due to employee illnesses. My parents gave me toilet paper and Kleenex in my Easter basket. I bought eggs from a local farmer. I was able to get a few more seed packets. We supported a friends coffee shop, they opened a few months ago and have been struggling. I’ve been helping my parents with their businesses social media accounts and applying for loans. I reopened my office this week for a few critical patients, whose physical and mental health both are suffering. Several companies are offering free continuing ed, which I have been catching up on. I’ve sold a few things on eBay including a lot of hats, with salons closed even my DH has been wearing a hat everywhere. I dyed and trimmed hair for my mom, first time ever. I’ve made fruit crisp with bits of fruit from the fridge and freezer, banana date blondies, banana muffins, Irish soda bread, scalloped potatoes with leftover Easter ham, and brownies using a old mix from who knows when. We have a lot of venison so many meals are centered around venison like tacos, chili and sloppy joes.

  75. Lately I feel I am reliving my grocery shopping days when we were stationed on Guam. I would go to the store with a list and consider myself successful if I came home with half of the items listed. That is when I learned you can make pancakes from bisquick type mix with no eggs and boxed mac and cheese with no milk or butter. We went 3 months once with no butter or margarine of any kind. My mother in law came to visit and asked me what my “secret” recipe was for making these dishes without these ingredients. I told her if you don’t have it, you don’t put it in. These days when I go to the store it is the same experience. I go with my list and come home with half of the items. Fortunately at the moment, while eggs have gone up in price they are still affordable. Milk is limited here in the mountains of Virginia which surprised me as we have many dairies here. Unfortunately, they cannot get their milk to market for a price to break even, much less make a profit. And they still have to feed their cows. Very concerning and sad.
    On the frugal front for the past couple of weeks we have made an effort to save as much as we can and plan ahead.
    *My husband fixed several things around the house including our refrigerator, saving us at least $200. He can fix many things, thankfully.
    *After reading this post I started to rethink my garden for the year. I am looking to plant more of what we eat and looking for additional places to plant besides our garden. We have space but our problem is critters, mainly deer and rabbits. We have a raised bed garden with a deer fence, but just a regular fence around the backyard. I am trying to grow peas in planters. We will see how that goes. I have planted lettuce, spinach and green onions in the window boxes on our deck railing. So far, so good. I planted potatoes in bags for the first time. This is more of an experiment than anything. It has not cost us anything so far.
    *I have been using cooler shower water. I find I love a hot shower which causes me to stay longer. This way I want to get out quickly reducing the amount of water I use.
    *I froze extra milk to have on hand in case I cannot buy any. I have gone twice in the past 2 months and all stores were out. There is no powdered milk to be had either. Ironically, I was about to put in an order to the LDS food storage center for several items including powdered milk, but they were sold out of everything the day I went to place the order. This was right before the “Stay at home” order. I check daily to see if they are restocked.
    *I have made all meals at home using what we have including baking bread and adding mashed beans to meat. Yesterday I added 1 cup of mashed black beans to 2 pounds of hamburger and made 30 meatballs, a meatloaf casserole and 6 small meatloaves. The casserole and meatballs will serve my husband and I several meals. Basically I cooked once and we will eat all week so I won’t have to use my oven or stove again this week.
    *Our DIL works at a local restaurant and gifted me some small cheese ends which I used in salads and froze the rest.
    *I have been reading books I have here at the house or from the online library.
    *I have been using what I have to sew a quilt and dress.
    *I have been making wheat sprouts to add to dishes.
    *I was able to harvest a few asparagus stalks and green onion from the garden.. I only get a couple of asparagus at a time but I use them in quiche and omelettes.
    *I have been watching the 1940’s House and WarTime Farm as well as The 1940’s Kitchen and garden shows. Thank you to those who suggested them. I have found them very interesting especially since I had British relatives there at the time.
    *I could not find beans or rice at the grocery stores so I looked at the Mexican grocery store and hit the jackpot. Their prices were just a tiny bit higher than I usually pay, but I decided to purchase them as I have no idea when our chain grocery stores will restock.
    *My husband works in a doctor’s office. He was telling me someone at work was bringing in homemade masks for the staff. It reminded me I had purchased 6 N95 masks back in the fall at Home Depot. They were on clearance for $2, I think, so I bought what they had and put them in our emergency bag. I bought 1 mask for each adult member of our family. I never realized at the time how important they would be. So I passed the masks out to my husband and adult children as they stopped by. I use mine on the rare times I go out.
    *I now only have to go for a monthly allergy shot versus weekly. This saves us $27 a month OOP plus time and gas and exposure.
    I hope everyone is safe and healthy. Thank you, Brandy, for keeping us motivated and encouraged.

  76. Thanks again for the encouragement in garden. It’s still too cold to plant most things outside here. So I turned my laundry room into a mini greenhouse. I do have onions, spinach, mixed lettuce, and mint growing outside. I had my first salad yesterday. I made mint syrup for tea, etc.
    I was finally able to get a grocery order in, so we had ham for Easter. Ours was on sale!
    Most of our stores have dropped all sales, so that was wonderful! My family is truly learning what it means to “make do” with food, etc although that is the way I grew up. We have a family birthday in less than a week, so will have a quiet celebration with frozen pizza I was able to order. After everything that is going on, he was most appreciative to look forward to it.
    Have a wonderful week.

  77. I never post here since our conditions are quite different than most especially due to my location. However I just wanted to share http://www.archive.org as an awesome resource for online books and other media. I recommend using their app to read instead of Adobe that they recommend.

  78. Thank you to everyone!

    Brandy, is there a way to know if someone has responded to your post so we don’t seem rude by not replying?

    Anyway, here, all is fine. The charity we volunteer for couldn’t use 11lbs of organic cauliflower florets so I’ve been processing them all day. I wish someone on here lived close by so I could share. I’ll probably offer some to neighbors, but I made cauliflower rice with the food processor and tamped in into glass jars. I got about 20 oz in each jar. I also made a raw cauliflower soup with ginger and sauteed mushrooms and onions, pureed. I have a bunch of ginger root, and already planted a bed, so I pureed a bunch to freeze in ice cubes to use later. I will use it for cooking and flavoring kombucha. Now I have mushrooms that were given me, to cook down.

    What food neither the charity nor we can use is donated to the local Food, Not Bombs group that is feeding the homeless. Normally they do this once per week, but are now trying to serve food every day. Today they got a case of eggplant and heads of Romanescue cauliflower from us.

    We’re re-glazing old sash windows, but having a difficult time doing it so it looks good and decided to hire a person whom we have wash our windows once a year to do the glazing. He really needs the money because his window-washing business is not doing well with all the stores that are closed. We feel good about helping out because we still have an income.

    As always, we use rainwater for washing our clothes, then let it drain in the garden to water plants, keep all our dishwater, and shower water for watering plants, hang all our laundry, and use everything edible we can, or compost it.

    Iguanas were eating my seedlings so we used a old roll of wire to make a temporary fence, and just clipped the pieces together with clamps. It seems to have helped, but now we need to do 3 more beds! My partner had wanted me to put the wire out for recycling, and I refused,. He gets impatient sometimes at my tendencies to keep potentially useful items, so it’s good when things work out.Fortunately, a friend gave us wire, but putting it up will mean the paths between beds will be almost unusable because years ago, when I made the beds, I put them a bit too close together, to maximize growing space.

    We, too signed up for CBS All Access– mostly to watch Blue Bloods because we have a friend who’s a recurring guest. I was enthusiastic about seeing Picard, but after the first 2 episodes, I find myself getting anxious because of all the intrigues. I also prefer when episodes stand on their own so you don;t feel you have to keep watching. I don’t know if I’ll watch an more, though it is well done, and I like Sir Patrick.

    I so look forward to reading this blog, Brandy and everyone
    Thanks again!

      1. No, there are no ping-backs or whatever you call them on replies, at least not that I have seen. I use a laptop, not a phone or tablet.
        To find a previous comment and see if there has been a reply, you can search the page for your name or some key word. I do this at the end of the week to search by date, to see the latest dated comments without having to scan the whole week’s comments.
        This is the “Find” function.
        To search, hold down the Control key (CTL or maybe Command) and simultaneously hit the letter F. A box will open up and you type in the word or phrase you are looking for. It will tell you how many times that word appears, with little up/down arrows to move to it, and highlight the word on the page. For instance, “Picard” has appeared 7 times, and “Kirk” zero, which is the way it should be.
        This works (as far as I know) on any website or document.

        1. Thanks, Heidi,
          I know how to search, and also use a laptop.. Some blogs have a box you can check if you want to be notified if you get a response. I’m not suggesting Brandy should implement this; I was simply wondering if I’d missed that function. I use an older OS and sometimes pages don’t display properly.

  79. For those looking for historical viewing, the first “Miss Fisher Mysteries” movie is on Acorn TV. Acorn has a 30 day free trial going on now.
    This is new, following the three seasons of the television program, lavish productions set in 1920’s Australia. Those are also on Acorn, which broadcasts mysteries, dramas, and comedies, from “Britain and beyond.”

    1. Thank you for posting this. I was really wanting to see the new Miss Fisher Movie. I’ve watched all 3 seasons and have been looking forward to the movie. 🙂

  80. Greetings! It’s nice to know so many are hanging in there and doing their best to stay positive!
    Our week consisted of all meals made and eaten at home. We did not have an Easter ham as the sale hams were all gone. The hams available we’re going for 3.99 lb.
    I decided to grow potatoes in my grow bags. I happened to have two organic potatoes that are starting to sprout so that’s what i’ll use. I haven’t checked but i would imagine it’s probably too late to order potato seeds.
    I contacted the company i ordered seeds from to see if they were processing my order. I hadn’t heard a word since i hit the send button. They assured me that they were on it so i’m very happy about that! Here in Michigan, buying seeds is not an essential item. Of course, we all know better! I’m sure our governor is not a gardener.
    I was able to hang clothes on the line two days in a row. Since then, we got 16” of snow and the weight pulled down my umbrella clothesline. My husband said it’s an easy fix.
    I helped my husband shave his head with a shaver we bought many years ago.
    We’ve been doing facetime with our daughter and her family several times a week. Now that she and her husband are working from home, the one year old starts calling out “Mimi an Gampa” so she calls us more often. So, so happy about that! I can’t wait to see them in person!
    One son bought us roku last year or the year before but we rarely turn on the TV. He emailed with easy instructions for watching a few news stations so we just started that. It’s kind of weird to have the TV on again! I was getting used to just dusting it once in awhile.
    Our insurance co. called with a question about our policy. While on the phone, we asked if we were going to get any kind of refund since our cars are sitting in the driveway. It sounds like we will be getting something back but it’s still in the works. So, that’s good! I always like getting money back from the insurance company!
    We have four gas stations in our small town. Two of them were priced at 1.58 gal. while a third was still 1.79 gal. (I didn’t notice the fourth price.) Needless to say, i paid 1.58!
    Wishing everyone a healthy week!

    1. I read about your governor’s rules on garden supplies and wondered how people are supposed to be eating in Michigan this year. A lot of people garden to be able to eat, and even more are starting gardens now.

  81. Brandy,
    I just wanted to say that I really appreciate your blog. I love reading it every week. I am going to be cutting my husband and son’s hair very soon, in a few days. I’m a bit nervous because, it has been years since I have done that with my boys. I’ve never cut my husband’s hair. But I told my husband about your husband’s comment of the difference between a good haircut and bad haircut is two weeks and he laughed. He’s pretty good nature about it. Both my son and husband said they could just shave it if I mess up. Your gardening is inspiring. I also love your photographs.
    When we order online from Amazon we will order from your site. I hope this helps you some. Thank-you so much for your positiveness. It is truly inspiring when I need it. I’ve been trying to remain positive. But sometimes I’m in tears missing my family who are so close but not close enough for a hug. I’m happy they are ok and I can talk to them on the phone though.
    I have been saving every can or container that is empty to plant seedlings in. I hope to have a big garden. I am looking forward to when it warms up. Happy Gardening! Tammy

  82. I read often but rarely post. We are in the heart of the covid19 nightmare in NJ. I am grateful we live on a small farm in north Jersey. When I first heard about the virus in China the “boy scout” mom in me said start stocking up, be prepared. Though money is tight, I spent the money to stock up. I am very glad I did, In the beginning here we were able to get almost everything at the stores but paper products. Now the majority of the stores are empty shelves. We don’t have meat, frozen food is hard to find, no peanut butter, pasta, spaghetti sauce, most of the can goods are gone, etc… as someone mentioned one store might have one thing and another might have something else. We decided that since both my husband and I are in the high risk group that we would order what we could online and not go to the stores. I did order some frozen meat online from a well known company but will use it very sparingly for my husband and youngest son. Things are so bad here, my oldest son had to move out in order to protect us from getting sick because he works for an essential company with over 250 people. Really broke my heart because it was so abrupt! He texted me tonight to say he can’t wait until he can get a hug again. We see him once a week, practice social distancing and visit with him outside. I cook some meals for him since where he is staying doesn’t have a stove/oven. We are working on a new garden and hope to plant this weekend to have some fresh veggies. Stay safe everyone!

    1. I hope you can grow a ton! Keep looking for ways to expand your garden this year. It sounds like we’re all going to need it!

      1. For those of us living in the Pacific Northwest, I was at Fred Meyer in Coeur d’Alene today and the seed racks had been refilled. And it’s BOGO1/2! I am assuming if one Fred Meyer has seeds, all will have been re-stocked.

  83. Brandy,
    I just wanted to add that you are so right about grocery prices increasing like crazy. I got my grocery flyer in the mail yesterday and apples were $2 each and butter was $10 per lb!!! It is going to be a real challenge for all of us to figure out how to feed our families with limited incomes. I know we are resourceful and creative and the best part is that we can share our ideas in this great community you have worked so hard to create.
    Many Thanks!!

    1. TEN DOLLARS A POUND!!!!!!!!

      Yeah, this is not good. And it’s everywhere, all over the world.

      I’m pretty sure the cost of food is going to be a new high.

    2. WOW! I bought butter today and it was $6/pound and that’s up about a dollar here! The US is usually so much cheaper than Canada…

    3. Please check other stores for butter. I live in your part of the country and it’s $2 a lb. at Costco this week and $2.50 at several regular grocery stores.

  84. -Thriftbooks.com is supposed to have good prices on text books
    -I am confused, people are using litter boxes where their cats have used the bathroom for storage? Surely I am misunderstanding something but two previous posters mentioned using litter boxes for storage
    -I have cooked more in the past month than in the previous 60 years of my life combined. I hate cooking and going to grocery store, until a month ago I never had to do it. But I live with my 83yo Mom who no longer cooks so since staying at home I’m the chef. I still hate it but we are eating well and able to get everything on our list on my weekly trip to grocery. We live 15 miles in country so curbside pickup or delivery is not a daily option. My sister had to go to town for work errand Monday, she got us all curbside Mexican and it was terrific. Great meal for us that I could have never cooked, business for local restaurant and tip for curbside deliverer. Win Win Win !
    -Reading tons of ebooks from library via Kindle

      1. Oh that makes me feel much better. My inside cat passed away 20 years ago and back then litter was in bags. Had no idea it came in boxes these days. I’ll have to cruise pet aisle next grocery run. I’ve seen people mention using diaper boxes for storage so guess it’s dance sort of thing.

    1. Yes it is the box the litter comes in at the store….the litter is inside a bag inside the box. The boxes are very sturdy as they hold 18 kg. Just a little repurposing and you have a storage box; I can see where this could be confusing!

  85. I too have followed you for years and never commented. The reession in 2008 cost us our business and nearly our home; we’ve spent a decade recovering. At the first of the year I finally felt like I could breathe again. This time around I am not afraid. I am seasoned and prepared.

    Your optimism is what has kept me coming back. I have never accomplished as much as you, but I never stop trying and trying to learn new skills in order to feed my family on a very small budget.

    Yesterday I went to Wal-mart to do my weekly shopping. I was hoping to avoid large crowds but the arrival of stimulus checks packed the store. As I was finishing my shopping I went by a freezer that had chicken leg quarters. They were 30 cents per pound. I’ve never seen them that low in this area. I bought 180 lbs. People were smirking as I hauled my cart to checkout. I have learned to be frugal. I spent hours packaging and freezing that meat,

    With 8 mouths to feed, 3 being adult males, I had no qualms getting it. It will put meals on our table for a long while. I have been stocking up on things like flour and rice when I can find them. I know things are going to get crazy. This is a worldwide food chain problem, and it won’t go away soon.
    I am thankful I have always stocked up. I had purchased seeds last year to have on hand never dreaming I’d not be allowed by my Governor to purchase them. My peas, beets, spinach, chard, and turnips are safely tucked under the ground.
    I also had a gardening friend gift me 100 baby strawberry plants. I spent 3 days planting in sun, rain and even hail! If I can keep them alive it will give us fresh fruit and jam.
    Thanks to all of you who faithfully comment. I have learned so much from all of you. My prayers are with you all. We are in God’s hands…what better place is there??

    1. Deanna,

      I’m so glad you commented!

      I felt like this year we were finally looking at a change. We had all kinds of positive things coming our way.

      Today’s news says a housing market crash is inevitable. So, here we go again! In some ways, I am less prepared than before when it comes to my pantry. There are gaps I was planning to fill as our sales started in April/May. Instead, we watched our first sale of the year go away two weeks before closing. I seeds I planted in the garden never come up. I had fruit trees die and the young trees are too small to produce now–

      But unlike 2007 (when we first started to live on our food storage) I have trees and vines that produce fruit. I am a better gardener. I am a much better baker.

      And I know we will get through this. I’ve seen God bless us so much over the years, and I know it’s going to be okay.

      Keep commenting! Keep sharing your wins with us!

    2. In order to prevent hoarding and allow everyone a fair chance at procuring essentials stores here have limits and no one would have been allowed to purchase that much meat. There are limits on most meats, paper products, certain cleaning products, certain canned and baking goods. Even loaves of bread. People are encouraged to buy no more than one week’s worth at a time so there is enough for everyone. I felt guilty for buying two blocks of cheese until I remembered one was for us and one for my 96 yo aunt who lives one mile from us

      1. TCR — there is a difference between hoarding and being stocked up for emergencies. I would rather buy groceries for a month and cut down 3 weekly trips to a store to only one trip where I or others could be infected on those extra trips. Encouraging people only to buy enough for a week is ok to ensure availability for everyone but it multiplies the trips to the stores and is not in keeping with “stay home”.

        1. I agree, we have limits as well and the stores around here are always busy with people because they can’t buy what they need and go to store after store. It does just spread germs. We have stay at home orders and still the stores, drive thru’s and liquor stores are packed. I was very fortunate that a dear friend picked up something for us today so we could stay out of the store.

          1. Liquor stores are closed in my state. Several were shut down by the police and fined.

          2. Brandy, at last something good has come out of Covid-19! Love it that they closed down the liquor stores!!

  86. Amazon accidentally sent me six packages of 6 rolls of toilet paper instead of one package of 6 rolls. I was told to keep it. I had used a gift card making my total for it all only $1.38!! I traded with my friend this week, one 6 pack for 2 dozen farm fresh eggs. They were getting low on TP so she was thrilled.
    I’ve been trying to keep my seedlings I started indoors alive. My tomato plants look a little leggy. I couldn’t afford a grow light right now. :/
    My daughter and I made our first loaf of sourdough bread completely from scratch this past week. It turned out really well.
    I had a few things listed on FB marketplace for awhile & people messaged me about them this week so I just stuck them outside for porch pickup & made a few extra bucks!
    I really feel like God was preparing me for all this because we already homeschool & have a new business we started back in Sept so we work from home. (Last year my kids went to a private Christian school & my husband worked in a horrible job). I’ve been on a no spend this year since Jan! We do really miss my kids’ activities and going to church, but our daily routine really hasn’t changed much.
    I did sign up for curiosity stream this past week but feel like it was money saving too, as they dropped their membership down to a whole year for only $12! We’ve already watched several of their documentaries that fit with what we were learning about in school.
    It’s almost impossible to meal plan before heading to the store, so I’ve just been focusing on getting the basics and things I know we typically eat.& trying to come up with a meal plan once I get it all home. I was shocked that the price for things has almost doubled! Kroger prices are just sky high right now.
    I have always looked forward to reading everyone’s comments from week to week, but now even more than ever! What a blessing your blog is Brandy & your reader’s tips & ideas too!

    1. I have seedlings coming up in pots without a grow light, and ask for advice. They are next to a somewhat sunny window.
      The sprouts naturally bend toward the light. I turn them once or twice a day so they grow straight. Yes?
      The sunflower sprouts went up about five inches, with only two leaves on top, and have now fallen down, and I suspect will die. Not enough light for them?
      I had read that seedlings are strengthened from a very very gentle fan blowing air across them. Yes?
      Thank you!

      1. Hi Heidi Louise,
        Yes to turning plants to compensate with bending towards the sunlight. Not sure about a very very gentle fan blowing air across them. My thinking would be seedlings don’t like drafts. Not sure about the sunflower sprouts,,,

      2. Usually when a seedling falls over suddenly like that it’s because of a fungal disease.
        Yes on turning them several times a day.
        Wind (or a fan) is very damaging to seedlings. It is good for them to be gently touched though, sort of brushing very gently over them.

  87. Hi everyone,
    I was inspired to plant more by all of you. I used the containers from the free school lunch pick up to plant more too that way if things don’t come up I can fill more spaces. I talked my husband into planting more tomatoes in the front container. I ordered your Armenian cucumbers, yard beans and swiss chard seeds since I’m in zone 10 as well. Regular green beans are not doing great. I used your Amazon link. I learned to make sourdough. I’ve been rationing meat too.

    My mother in law gave me cream of chicken so I might try your chicken fried steak recipe since I have a lot of oats.

    I was able to find and pick up some canning jars and lids today at Walmart. I wouldn’t have thought to buy extra lids, thanks for the reminder.

    Tomorrow we are continuing a yard project by laying flagstone that I found. I’m excited to see it done.and to have a project to keep us busy.

  88. We use canned mackerel or sardines a lot in a simple recipe we call St Joseph Pasta. We make a sauce using passata or canned tomatoes and some italian herbs, mix in the fish (oil and all, but after picking out the bones) and toss through pasta (usually spaghetti). My husband likes his hot so adds a lot of chilli, I just sprinkle a scant pinch of chilli flakes. But you can have it without any!

    We also make a simple pate by blending a tin with Greek yoghurt and herbs.

    I made your eggless chocolate cake for Easter and loved it! Also, I would love to hear more about how Winter is doing.

  89. TCR- I should have clarified that this chicken was a manager’s special because of the sell by date. Most peopIe are very concerned with expiration dates on their food and won’t purchase such items. There was no limit on the 10 pound packages. I didn’t even make a dent in the bags in that freezer case. A gentleman was restocking from an additional 8 cases and adding to the freezer as I removed those that I purchased.

    I also purchased some of the chicken for immunocompromised parents who cannot shop. There was plenty for other people to purchase when I left that srore. In this time of shortages I am very conscious of others having the opportunity to purchase items they may need. I strictly adhere to posted limits on number of items. I ended up having to reluctantly return to this same store that evening and there were still packages remaining.

    Over my many years of shopping for a large family I have learned that most people go to the store every other day. They purchase the items they plan to cook or eat for the next 24-48 hours. I shop completely differently. I purchase milk and perishables weekly as my budget allows and shop for meat when it is on deep discount. I don’t do this kind of thing every day. It will be months before I purchase meat of any kind again. If I didn’t do this I could never afford to put meat on the table at all.

    I also buy in bulk as supplies run low. In my area of the country we have Mennonite and Amish stores where I can buy 50 lbs of rolled oats, popcorn, rice, and flour. I don’t consider that hoarding but bulk purchasing. We use it up and I replenish these items as we eat them up.

    I think we all have different ways of shopping and providing for our families. That is why I love coming to this site because many in this community do such creative things to stretch their funds. I am constantly amazed and inspired!

    1. Deanna, I shop how you shop, and it usually isn’t a problem. I don’t clear shelves. The new limits do make it more difficult and mean more trips to the store. Until yesterday, we had not gone to the store for five weeks. I prefer to go shopping as infrequently as possible normally. I buy in bulk and replenish as needed.

    2. Deanna,

      I too tend not to go to the grocery store very often. I stock up on meat for a month and put it in individual packages in my freezer. Friends have been picking up items for me more often because I am trying to get a pantry stocked. I don”t clear shelves either but starting in early January I had my friends pick up a couple of bags of pasta here and there for me so that I could have a good reserve. I can’t eat several things due to allergies (including rice) so pasta is a staple for me. Fortunately, I started early enough that I could do it gradually and I have a decent reserve which I only need to restock occasionally. I cannot buy from the bulk bins because of possible cross contamination. In about two weeks I will not be asking anyone to pick up things for me for about a month as I think this is when our surge is going to occur.

      1. It is a blessing you were able to stock up before this pandemic took such a firm hold in our lives. It is much more difficult to stock a pantry when one has allergies. I pray that your careful planning will get you through the surge in your area.

  90. Deanna, Thank you for your prayers! And it is a blessing that I was able to stock up! And similarly I pray for you and yours and everyone here and a lot of other people as well.

    I am really glad you got the chicken, Deanna. The meat packing plants are having problems with covid and several are closing down at least temporarily.
    It is predicted that beef will be in short supply and the prices will go up. I’m not sure whether people will try to load up on it in the stores or avoid it. I got some today on sale. I wiped the packages down with bleach water. I am just as happy not to eat beef but being allergic to nuts etc it is hard for me to keep my iron up without eating beef. Also I read some workers at a chicken processing plant in the U.S. were also affected. It may be that the meat supply becomes hard to get temporarily.

    Today two friends were going to different stores so each bought groceries for me. (I had a different list for each). No toilet paper at all in one store nor bleach but she stopped at a second nearby store and got bleach. I don’t like using bleach; she says she went to a liquor store and bought 95% alcohol and has been making her own hand sanitizer. The store was totally out of canned lentils (there was an. article about lentils here recently so everyone went out and bought them I guess). Still no toilet paper in one store.

    Blessings to everyone!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *