I picked peaches and figs from trees in the garden. I cut basil, oregano, sage, and Swiss chard from the garden.

I divided an aloe plant and the babies surrounding it and planted it in pots that I got from my mom last year when she was getting rid of several small pots. I may end up giving a few away as Christmas gifts.

I planted two small agave babies into pots that I already had. My dad gave me my two plants that had grown from babies of his original plants. Then my plants each made one baby plant. Now I have more to use in the garden. I had another baby from these, slightly older and larger, that I transplanted into one of the pots from my mom and moved to the table in the garden.

A woman from church called me from another woman’s house asking if I needed any canning jars. I don’t have room for any more jars (and I have plenty for us!), but I did think to ask if she had lids, something I have never thought to ask about before when people have offered me jars. She did. I was able to get a few opened boxes of lids for free. They were rather dusty but will be fine once they are washed and sterilized.

I planted more seeds in the garden for watermelon, acorn squash, and pumpkins. It’s been too hot for much to germinate (the soil temperature was 100 degrees at 8 p.m!), but these have been coming up, so I planted more. These are almost all old seeds from many years ago.

Butternut squash plant in the garden watered by drip irrigation

My husband welded a fixture to help him set the pieces for each of the obelisks. He also made another fixture from scraps of pressboard (that he used to make his temporary work table) to help him shape the top curves of the obelisk.

He then began making obelisks for the garden. He shaped and welded them, and then I cleaned and painted them. We will use these to grow tomatoes, pole beans, snow peas, and cucumbers.

I started another e-book from the library: The Paris Library, which I enjoyed greatly. I keep requesting titles as people mention them in the comments and then I just wait for them to be available! I read the book in two days, so I returned it early for those who were waiting.

What did you do to save money this past week?

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  1. *I got a refund check of $74 from a furniture store that I didn’t know that I had a credit, so that was a pleasant surprise.

    *I harvested tomatoes, basil, and a few plums from my garden plot.

    *I made a frame for a work of art I am turning into a gallery later this week. I learned the skills at a workshop last summer. OOP costs is about $15, plus my labor.

    *Went to a potluck party on Saturday night. Ate really well and enjoyed a variety of different foods.

    *Hiked, practiced yoga, opened the windows each night to bring down the inside temperature, had no-drive days, ate what I had on hand rather than grocery shopping, and used the library–all things I try to do each week.

    *Said no to bringing home things from my mother’s house that I know that I won’t use, except for two boxes of gallon-sized bags.

    *Colored my hair at home.

    *Sang, laughed, danced, watched birds and squirrels, painted, and knitted. Not necessarily to save money, but because they bring me joy.

  2. It’s wonderful you are still able to get some produce from the garden despite all the work to redo it this year.
    My red potatoes came down with blight, so I had to dig them all early. We are eating the ones I dug up (about 5 pounds), which are so delicious. I planted bush beans in the bed where the potatoes were and hope to get another harvest. It’s always a race to the first frost every year, but the seeds were given to me by a neighbor, so no loss if they don’t make it. I also planted more carrots.
    I harvested the garlic I planted last fall – lots of nice big bulbs. We also enjoyed cabbage, lettuce, carrots, and zucchini from the garden.
    The food pantry for the next county over sells local corn, straight from the fields, for $4 a dozen ears as a fundraiser. I purchased 3 dozen. We ate some fresh and I froze the rest. Last year I got carried away and frozen 6 dozen ears, so we still have some left. With that and what I bought this week, we should have enough to get through next year.
    Regular afternoon showers allowed me to keep the irrigation off for most of the week. However, Saturday afternoon we had a tremendous storm with a lot of hail. It beat up all the outdoor plants – shredded the shade cloth over the cabbage and perforated all the squash leaves and big cabbage leaves, as well as knocked almost all the blossoms off the beans. I don’t know if the beans will put out more blossoms or not. I hope so.

  3. I love how you can get new (free) plants from ones you or someone else has!! It’s almost time to start rooting our strawberry runners!

    Just took another van load of scrap metal stuff from our basement clean up to the recycling center and got $37!! So between last week and this week, that’s $81 for useless clutter!!

    I made buttermilk mixed berry (raspberry/blueberry) pancakes using up a handful of berries I picked from the garden. Chopped them up in my mini food processor to make a purée. So tasty and one batch made enough for the 3 of us for 3 breakfast days!

    After being jealous of you, Brandy, and many of your commenters for your magnificent blackberry harvests, my blackberries are now giving me a quart a day! https://pin.it/f6ysvFD and
    https://pin.it/28c4jLg

    I started and finished the quilting on Quilt #158- https://pin.it/2ECPd0K and the back https://pin.it/3J9mCpo. I started making a quilt to gift to a young man who is going on a Church mission to Cape Verde for two years. His mom wanted to pay me to construct this quilt but I’d rather do it as a gift for him. Here it is before I add a border. https://pin.it/7aneKEf. It will be Quilt #161. I currently have Quilt #160 on my longarm.

    I received a beautiful loaf of bread from a neighbor a few blocks away. I barter some eggs and I get fresh homemade bread in return. We also trade produce from our gardens! https://pin.it/5YlUT9t. I love cashless transactions that leave both parties happy! I’m thinking that I may put it out to other local friends too and see what kinds of barter agreements we can have! The possibilities seem wide open!!

    Gas is $2.82/gallon at Sam’s club today so we will fill up when we are close by getting chicken feed and picking up granddaughter.

    We are hiring some teenagers from Church again this week to heft buckets of sand, paver bricks and chicken feed as we continue on some outdoor projects! This gives us more time to work before we are worn out and aching! We pay well and the same day in cash so the kids love coming! They have been excellent workers as they cleared two of our basements out to a dumpster a week or so before!

    Life is great here! We are buying less and less at the store- just shopping excellent sales/markdowns and clearance and only for things we will actually use. So our food budget is going down.

    With the new windows we’ve put in this year, our need for air con is down and so is our electric bill, even with the sweltering heat we’ve had ! We open them overnight and then close mid-morning. Window a/c in only 4 rooms- 2 bedrooms (we have a GD staying with us), family room and sewing/computer room. The rule is that they are only on when we are in those rooms for 30 minutes or longer. If we need a/c for overnight, we turn it on 30 minutes before we go to bed. First one up in the morning turns it off and opens windows. Sounds like a rigid system, but it’s really become a habit!

    And it has saved us quite a bit!
    Hope everyone has a great week!

    Gardenpat in Ohio
    HandmadeinOldeTowne.com

    1. Brandy, I hope you don’t mind me asking here…but someone (I think it was Gardenpat, or ? ) posted or linked a fabulous zucchini bread recipe last year that also had coconut as an ingredient. I have lots of zucchini and coconut on hand and I’d love to make it for friends this weekend. Can anyone help? I promise to write it down this time!! Thanks!

        1. Thanks, Pat! This is an excellent recipe. We are going “up the river” with friends and staying overnight, and this will be dessert Friday night. PS to Brandy–I promise to write this down!!

  4. Good morning, everyone! How smart of Brandy to ask about lids! (Ask and ye shall receive!).

    We went to eastern Idaho (525 miles) to visit our son for 5 days, so it wasn’t a frugal week. Definitely worth it, though! This was our week–
    * My daughter-in-law gave me a purse that she ordered online and was too big for her,. It was too much trouble to send back.

    * A plastic eyelet piece broke on DH’s swim shorts. The shorts wouldn’t stay up without it! I hot glued it back together. If the glue doesn’t dissolve when it hits the water, it’s a fix!

    *I got my first picking of beans–just enough for a meal. Four zukes so far. More to come, LOL. When we got home last night, I picked another zucchini, and there are more beans to be picked this morning (too tired last night). The raspberries are done. I got nearly 5 lbs.

    * My daughter and I were wandering through a thrift store near our son’s home. We weren’t really shopping for anything and definitely not for clothes. I literally ran into a gorgeous navy blue Ralph Lauren cocktail dress for $8. It fit her perfectly! Bingo–next year’s prom dress! (She is developmentally disabled and the special recreation program has an adult prom every year).

    * We have had a month of weather over 90F. During the worst of it, and despite daily watering, my flower pots got very leggy and burned out. Figuring I had nothing to lose, I cut everything down before I left, watered well and moved into the shade while we were gone. The plants have put out a lot of new green growth and are starting to flower again. If anyone else decides to try this, cut the plants down to about an inch or so high, being sure to leave some green leaves for photosynthesis. Also, cut off anything that is brown. It is dead and won’t recover. Then keep your fingers crossed!

    1. Maxine, I love that you used a hot glue gun on the swim trunks. Very creative. As a frugal investment, my hot glue gun has definitely paid for itself many times over.

  5. My car has been off the road for almost a month so I am saving money there.
    We (my daughter, Lyric, and I) have been calling around trying to find someone to fix the car for a reasonable price. So far the range of prices has been $300 and upwards to “starting at $600.00” and we’ll see where it goes.
    Lyric was talking to a friend at work who said he would come fix it here for the price of parts and a homecooked meal. I can do that with no problem. What a relief that was to me.
    I am “putting together” a few sew alongs in a group I belong to. These will be free sew alongs to test if I want to make kits and sell them in my Etsy shop. Fingers crossed that I enjoy doing this and it brings a little more money into the house.
    I despair that my garden isn’t doing as well as it should. I have only gotten about 40 green beans, 5 tomatoes, 1 very small green pepper and a small cucumber that wasn’t what I thought from the garden so far. Some things are still growing like the garlic and onions. The pumpkins are flowering, but I haven’t seen fruit set yet. All of my apple trees seem to have something wrong with them. I’m not sure what to do differently. I will be spraying the trees I do know that. I wish I was a better gardener.
    This is the month my electric bill is usually $300.00+. My bill was at $270. I had set my air at 78 degrees and it has been cooler in Texas. This price is with another a/c in the house also.
    I’ve read 4 books free. Honestly three of them were not my cup of tea, but there you are.
    I am still working on gifts for my family. I am making as many quilts and small items as I can for Christmas and Chanukah. I am trying to see if I can spend nothing on gifts this year. Heaven knows I have enough here without buying.
    I ordered my OTC meds. This is $25.00 a month “free” with my Medicare supplement. All of you on Medicare need to check and see if you are entitled to this. My disabled daughter was entitled for years and didn’t know.
    I look forward to this every Monday. Thank you Brandy.

      1. A new friend and I were talking today about my garden not producing much. She said perhaps we didn’t have enough bees working the garden. Once I thought about it I thought she might be right. I haven’t seen bee one out there. I know we have wasps, but I haven’t seen one honey bee.

        1. A lack of bees will definitely impact your garden! Last year, I saw no bees in my yard at all — we used to have tons of them. I had to hand-pollinate the squash, zucchini, and tomatoes. My husband pointed out that very few of our neighbors have wildflowers; most of the neighborhood yards are landscaped with shrubs. This year, I made sure to plant lots of wildflowers and it made a huge difference. We still don’t have nearly the amount of bees we used to have, but there are at least a few. In the spring I still had to hand-pollinate but haven’t needed to do so since.

      2. My garden harvests increased when I started hand pollinating things….especially tomatoes, zucchini, and cucumbers. There are lots of good YouTube videos. For tomatoes you can just wiggle the blossoms with your fingers.

        1. Right now, the plants aren’t growing. I have things I planted two months ago that came up, sprouted–and never grew leaves past that. The tomatoes should be 6 feet tall by now, and they are not much bigger than when I bought them. It’s got to be a lack of nutrition in the new soil. I mixed in manure, but not enough.

          1. Brandy, if you can get hold of some rabbit or alpaca droppings, tie them up in an old cloth of some sort like a giant teabag and put in a big bucket or other container of water. Let it ‘steep’, and use that water on your plants that aren’t growing – it should help.

  6. I Love your pictures! And everything you get done in a week is amazing. How wonderful to receive free canning lids!

    *The most frugal thing was a complete surprise. I’d mentioned a while ago that my husband’s mother was moved into an apartment. She had a health setback and needed to move to a care facility. She is doing very well there. But her apartment needed to be cleaned out again. She had only taken a few things from her home to the apartment. My husband was offered her 1 year old washer and dryer which we would give to our daughter and husband. We went to pick it up and found so many unwanted items by other family members. We also picked up a recliner (for my son), a vacuum with spare vacuum bags (for my other son), a white canister set filled with sugar, brown sugar and sugar cubes, a new Singer sewing machine, step stools, a crockpot, toaster oven, blender and a complete set of silverware (all given to my son for his new apartment). Additional plates, bowls that match with our other plates, tupperware with lids of various large sizes (which I needed). We were also allowed to have the food in her PACKED freezer – packages of ground beef, bacon, microwave meals, butter, chicken cordon bleu, lemonade, shrimp. We were also allowed to have all the canned food in her 5 shelf pantry which was also packed – soup, canned meats, fruit and veggies, spaghetti and alfredo sauce. They all had expiration dates of 2022/2023. I also was able to bring home plastic sandwich bags, aluminum foil, plastic wrap and wax paper. A few decor items that she no longer wanted were also brought home. A beautiful, beautiful blessing.

    *I was also blessed to discover her boxes of genealogy, pictures and saved items that were in the top of a closet slated for garbage. My husband took those precious things down to her as soon as we were done loading everything.

    *I purchased a new pressure canner that will be coming this week. I want to start canning meat and other vegetables for our food storage. The markdown racks in my grocery store will be my cheap option of doing my canning.

    *We moved around several rooms in our home to try and open up more space for us upstairs. We moved our guest bed down into a daughters room. She can sleep on a bunk bed in the other downstairs room when siblings are home. We moved one set of bunk beds upstairs into our previous guest room. They are twin beds and take up less room. My husband moved my craft desk into that room as well which gives me more room for my desk and gives us more room in our office to move around. Plus I can use my new craft room closet to move all my stuff out of the office closet and give my husband and I more room for things stacked on file cabinets. I put a rocking chair in the office so that when one of us is working in there the other can come chat and talk without having to stand. Or I might just sit and read a book there by the window and watch my beautiful big tree.

    *We did a clothing order from a company and were able to save an additional 10%. These clothes are needed for my growing teenage daughter.

    *Another hot week in the high 90’s and low 100’s. My fans are running constantly which is nice because I hear my A/C able to switch off for periods of time. Our air is so smoky I don’t like to open the windows. Picked tomatoes, green beans and cucumbers from the garden.

    Wishing you all a wonderful frugal week. I hope we have amazing inspiration for our frugal problems – that they can be solved with frugalness. Thank you to all who contribute. I learn so much from all of you. Brandy – watching you and your husband do metal work was interesting. Thanks for sharing it on Instagram.

    1. The story of your MILs up-to-date food shelves really left me think thinking what might be found if smth would happen to me.

    2. Amy, what a huge windfall to receive all that frozen and canned food. That’s so nice that you were able to pick out many things that you can use!
      Your Mother in Law is probably very happy that her food will not be wasted and her household items are helping your son set up his household.

  7. We grow the brown figs in our yard. Your photo of your figs makes my mouth water. Fresh figs are so very good!

    I was gifted some shirts by a family member. She bought them at a thrift shop and they didn’t fit her, and she can’t return them. They are in excellent shape.

    I purchased two Christmas gifts in the form of a gift certificate for a couple to a place I know for sure they love. Early shopping helps me stay in budget.

    I filled out a survey about dog treats online and earned a $5 gift card. I filled out another online survey today and should get another $5 gift card for that one.

    I got some no longer needed furniture out of my house and enabled someone else to avoid having to buy a piece of furniture, by giving her mine.

    I bought a hair product I didn’t especially care for, but I used it all up, anyway.

    All of my work outfits these days are nice tops provided by my employers worn with thrifted slacks and skirts. It’s nice to know every day that I have my pick of seven shirts and seven bottoms. It streamlines my morning and keeps me from buying more work clothes.

  8. This past week has been all about canning, freezing and restocking our pantry. I am focusing on preserving the harvest that our garden is giving us and also putting away food that I can purchase for the lowest possible prices from farmers, farmers markets and local grocery store sales.
    We have been blessed with several bushels of tomatoes from the garden and we have eaten lots of fresh tomatoes and canned quarts upon quarts of diced tomatoes, tomato sauce for spaghetti and chili, salsa, and marinara sauce. We have been harvesting lots of fresh basil from the garden to use in our sauces as well. We prepped and froze several gallons of green beans along with green peppers and banana peppers. I spent $70 at the state farmers market and purchased 50 lbs of yellow onions, a bushel of green peppers, a bushel of red peppers, two bunches of beets, a bushel of corn, a dozen bunches of cilantro, half a dozen red onions, and 3 lbs of tomatillos. I also purchased 52 pounds of peaches from a local farm. From this I canned 25 pints of peach salsa, 4 pints of salsa verde, 6 quarts of diced green peppers, 6 quarts of diced red peppers, and 10 gallons of corn. I picked up a bushel of yellow squash and a bushel of pickling cucumbers and put 5 squash casseroles into the freezer. I also canned 12 pints of sweet pickle relish, a batch of bread & butter pickles, and a batch of dill pickles. I prepared a large batch of sofrito using cilantro, red & green peppers, onions, garlic and green olives. Once pureed I froze the mixtures in ice cube trays and stored the individual cubes in gallon bags in my freezer. These are great for adding to beans, rice, soups, stews and they give lots of flavor without the need to chop every time that you cook – It is kind of like the Spanish version of pesto. With all of the canning I have been doing I needed some additional jars – I was excited to find jars for $8.98/dozen at Walmart and purchased 3 dozen.
    I made a large pot of chicken and rice soup using the last of the cilantro, leftover rice, leftover chicken broth and a whole chicken from the freezer. I used the last of a container of beef broth to cook some pork chops in the slow cooker and make a delicious gravy. I baked a double batch of granola – thanks for the recipe Brandy! I used walnuts and pecans since that is what I had on hand. I cooked a large batch of pinto beans using up a quart of diced tomatoes that didn’t seal in the canner. We ate some for dinner and I froze the remainder to use in future meals.
    My husband spotted bacon on sale in 1.5 pound packages for $3.99 so he picked up 8 packs and we added them to our freezer.
    I cleaned out my son’s closet in preparation for the changing season and discovered that he has outgrown all of his cool weather clothing. I gave the pants and shorts that no longer fit him to a friend with 3 boys and I have a stack of long sleeve items that I will consign this week. I will use these funds to purchase pants, long sleeve shirts, etc. I am happy to have done this early as it allows me time to plan what is needed and shop a large consignment sale in our area. I usually find lots of great items for him at deeply discounted prices there as well as sales/clearance for back to school.
    I cleaned and organized the pantry space that we use to store home canned items. I pulled items that need to be used first to the front and took note of what we have on hand & what we may need to add to our storage.
    I visited the farm supply store in our area and purchased seeds for peas, swiss chard, mustard greens, collard greens, pumpkins, bok choy, & broccoli. I have a large corner in the garden cleared in which I can sow fall veggies and then transplant them once the seedlings are established. The are is more shaded then the rest of the garden and hopefully will allow the seeds to germinate as long as we water it well through the hot August days.
    I hope that everyone has a great week ahead!!

    1. Wow, that’s a lot of produce you bought! For a great price, too! You put in a lot of work, as well.
      I miss not having somewhere to buy such large quantities of produce. Our farmers market is tiny and on the high end. I’ll live vicariously through you!

    2. Wow Angie! That’s a lot of canning to get done in a week. Congratulations! I got tired just reading through that list of accomplishments.

      1. The story of your MILs up-to-date food shelves really left me think thinking what might be found if smth would happen to me.

  9. I froze 5 lb of blueberries. I used 1/2 litre milk cartons which hold 2 cups. I rinse them out as I finish with them, but gave them a good soak in hot soapy water before using them again.

    The blueberries came from British Columbia, which has been hard-hit by heat this year, but they were in excellent condition. The store had them for sale at $9.95, the best price in several years. Several boxes were damaged and donated to the waste reduction program, so I got this box for free.

    I get two senior income supplements, one from the province and one from the federal government. Together, they have gone up $60 a month this month, mostly to reflect the last of my reduction in employment income between 2019 and 2020.

    I made much better progress in getting my questions answered about details of several government programs. I got through on one line, and the other questions I figured out myself with the help of some information from our municipal office. I also got the quote on the work on my house. This week I’ll get my applications in once I visit the library to use their printers.

    1. Hi Elizabeth,

      It’s great you were able to get the blueberries. I myself tried to get two boxes at Co-op — same as yours, but my Co-op shopper went to the store and bought one for herself and absent-mindedly didn’t get one for me. They were all sold out. Blueberries are my favourite thing to freeze! So easy! I was very disappointed until I saw Superstore has them on sale for $3.84 for a two pound clamshell. I asked my friend who shops at Superstore to pick up 5 clamshells for me but
      she only got to the store yesterday so I wasn’t hopeful at all. Well, she got all 5 and they are beautiful B.C. blueberries.
      We have a planned power outage today for a few hours but once it’s back on I’ll be working on getting the blueberries in the freezer. I could not believe I could get some and I could not believe that they were even less. Superstore said the regular price was more than $6. I may make some jam but I may just freeze them all.

      1. Ann, I’m so glad you were able to get blueberries. I like that they are not only easy to freeze but easy to use! I would like to get some more this week if my Buy-Low has some in. Like you, I find 10 lb is a good amount for winter. I am really happy to have the first 5 lb. though, and such lovely fruit.

  10. Isn’t it wonderful to get book recommendations?

    Here is what we did last week to save money:
    * I gladly made all our meals at home, to save on money and future medical bills.
    * It was a joy to re-read a book I had purchased last year.
    * I checked out several print books and a few audiobooks from the library.
    * We gladly ate dill from our little garden.
    * I stayed home several days to save on gas and to get more accomplished.
    * I used our biodegradeable multi-purpose cleaning concentrate to wash dishes, floors, bathrooms, and laundry.
    * I took my vitamins each day to maintain my health (it’s less expensive to be healthy than to be unhealthy).
    * It was a blessing to take walks with friends. It was a way to get Vitamin D, exercise, and time together for free. Plus, we didn’t spend any money going to a coffee shop or restaurant!

  11. thegraphicsfairy.com
    This site has so many free graphics and Victorian art work that can be used. Old images of postcards, flowers, children, Paris, holidays etc. I signed up for her free emails that have so many really pretty old images. There are parts of the site that are Premium that need payment, but there is a lot that is free. Brandy I think you will really enjoy it. Her automatic emails are not everyday, but often enough. I am very impressed with her site and anyone who loves Victorian images will really like it. Many of the images have transfers. She also has instructions for projects.

    1. oh. so pretty. I have paper where I can print images and then use my heat press to transfer to cloth and these would make beautiful pillows and tea towels.

  12. I bought some much needed Fiskar Garden tools on sale from London Drugs. I am going to share a “Stand Up weeder) with a friend — also Fiskar’s and on sale. I’m also getting two bottles of first pressed olive oil on sale from $10.99 for $5.99. I bought a few towels as well ($4.99 from $19.99). I had hoped to get small very attractive packages of hand cream to include as Christmas gifts ($2.99 from $7.99) but they were sold out.

    I noticed the Bay has some great specials on Lord and Taylor blouses and other brands. I usually buy classic clothes for next summer on this summer’s. sales but this year I’m not buying any clothes.

    I have been staying inside working on the book. The smoke has been intense but on Saturday it lifted and luckily I was able to sit outside and visit with an out-of-town relative for 4 hours.

    I interviewed a young woman for a scholarship and prepared a nomination letter for her. She is an outstanding candidate so I hope she receives it.

    I had a zoom meeting with an archaeologist about the park. Very interesting.

    My vegetable garden never got planted (for a number of reasons). I did plant 8 tomato plants which are really thriving in the heat. Still, the price per tomato does not make them a bargain.

    Largely because of not getting outside due to the smoke, I feel as if summer has passed me by. Our park group is looking forward to finishing the book so we can all enjoy the fall. We are all worried about a fourth wave of the pandemic. Am trying to get ahead with food storage.

  13. Brandy,

    I love the instagram videos of the making of the obelisks. And loved seeing that you got some rain!

  14. That was great you were able to get some canning lids.

    Joining in from the Seattle area. We continue to have perfect summer weather (low 80s, cooling off at night), although many forest fires are burning to the north, east and south. The winds have blown all of the smoke eastward, affecting many parts of the US, but not our area. We had terrible smoky skies last year.

    The repairman who came last Monday declared our washing machine dead. He could fix it – for $800 – but it’s 9 years old already. We are better off just getting a new one. My husband is doing all the research for this, but nothing has been ordered yet. But that means we have no washer for the time being (our dryer still works fine). I arranged with a neighbor to do a couple loads of wash at her place, and also did a load at my mom’s place when I was there. I’ll probably have to go to a laundromat this week to do a load of towels. Additionally, I hand washed a few items in a 5 gallon bucket using a laundry plunger I bought a few years ago. I didn’t get it from Amazon, but here’s the link to what it looks like: https://www.amazon.com/Mobile-Washer-Portable-Clothes-Agitator/dp/B084D2FRZ8/ref=sr_1_7?dchild=1&keywords=clothes+agitator&qid=1627318264&sr=8-7

    Other frugal accomplishments:
    – My mom fell about 10 days ago, and needed to go to a doctor’s appointment. She could barely walk. I was able to borrow a transport wheelchair to get her to and from the appointment. Thankfully, the situation is improving and she is doing a lot better now.
    – My neighbor shared some food with me, which I ate for lunch on two days.
    – Our local coop had a coupon for B1G1 avocados, so I got one for free. They have the best avocados.
    – Picked up my weekly vegetable share at the farm, and also picked the herbs they had available, basil and cilantro. Flowers are part of the share, so I got a bouquet of sunflowers. Have been enjoying those all week.
    – My husband needed a gallon jar for a project. Was pleased that I managed to locate the one we had!
    – Needed to purchase some disposable nitrile gloves. Last year, I bought a package of 100 gloves for $12. I checked at the same store, and the current price was $30! I eventually found a box for $20 at another store, which was the same price that I found online. Prices are going up around here, but I was shocked by that increase.

    Have a great week, everyone.

  15. Summer is going so quickly! Hope everyone had a great week. I really enjoyed the videos you posted on IG last week, Brandy. I’ve love following your garden progress. I love reading about everyone’s gardens…I used to have a big garden and put up so much food, but can’t anymore due to health, but I love living the gardening and canning life through all of you!
    Our 19 year old son was complaining that none of his clothes fit anymore. He asked if we could give him a little money to buy some new clothes. Having just seen the state of his room and the hallway by his room said, “If you wash all of your clothes…ALL of them…I’ll help you fold and sort them. Then if you really need new clothes, we can help some.” He has a job (not a great job, but a job) so he can fill in the gaps (he is 19 but has some struggles). Anyhoo, I wasn’t sure he would actually do it, but his sweet girlfriend helped him get everything washed (she must really like him…ewwww). After we sorted, he had two big garbage bags for donation plus a laundry basket to try to sell. I bought him new underwear and undershirts (Walmart) but we were both happy to see that he needs much less that he originally thought. Maybe just a couple shirts that aren’t t-shirts and some pants. The best part about this exercise is he has much less to care for and he feels good in everything he owns, which helps his self image and mental health. Glad to get this all behind us.
    We took a trip to see our daughter and her husband who are working in Pennsylvania for the summer. We drove, used points my husband had for some hotels and hotwire for a couple other nights. We were only there a weekend but we had so much fun playing games, visiting, driving around the beautiful country side and pickle ball (I watched). It was a pretty inexpensive vacation and it showed her that she matters to us. She is the fourth of our five and quiet, so I worry she falls through the cracks some times.
    I miraculously came in 32 cents under our grocery budget this week. One of our strategies to stay in budget is to eat less (no little kids at home). I’ve especially curbed my snacking which is good for my weight and diabetes. I’m also working really hard to use up all leftover food. Saturday is our leftover concoction day. This week I combined leftover penne pasta, a tablespoon of leftover red sauce and about 3/4 cup taco meat. It looked dry so I added a can of plain tomato sauce, threw in 1/2 c shredded cheese and baked it. It was a weird taco/spaghetti sauce flavored hot dish that was edible and we enjoyed enough. Lol.
    Our church had an activity that was an Olympic themed fun run and breakfast. It was nice to have pancakes and sausage for breakfast and socialize. It was also fun watching the fun run.
    Entertainment still includes reading library books, watching shows, crocheting, knitting and sewing. I’m trying to get up the gumption to start decluttering again. How does the house fill up so fast??
    Hope everyone stays safe and has a good week. I think of you all often during the week and pray for those of you in harms way with the fires, droughts and floods.

    1. I’m hoping your son will give me inspiration. I have a lot of clothes, many thrifted or bought at yard sales, but I need to go through ALL of them and see what I haven’t worn in a while or can’t fit into, and get it down to a manageable collection so I can actually find something to wear! “Much less to care for” and feeling good in everything I own sounds like a wonderful goal.

      1. Lizajane, I did this for myself a few years ago and it has been life changing. Not looking at clothes I “outgrew” anymore has helped me feel so much less shame every day. The stuff that obviously didn’t fit was easy enough to get out of the house, but I had to work on the other clothes that I wasn’t sure about. I finally had success when I got everything I owned and stacked it all, like things together. I could see I had way too many shirts and not nearly enough pants. Then I was able to sort through and only keep the things I felt the best in. Best wishes to you and I hope you feel as liberated as I did….now to get my boy to put things away. It’s still all sorted but in my living room….sigh…..

  16. Well my day has not started very frugally after getting my teeth cleaned this morning-$118.00 after insurance coverage. Never cheap but at least tax deductible. I am meeting a friend for lunch but I think it is her turn to treat. Given all the drought news I was happy to hear over the weekend that the 300 acre family farm that my husband co-owns with his brother and sister in Illinois has had plenty of rain-best winter wheat crop in 15 years and the corn is looking good. They also received $2,000 in US farm aid-perhaps related to the pandemic I think. We receive a small income from farming each year. I continue to pick some fruit from my garden every couple of days-I even got a very small handful of wildflowers to make a tiny bouquet for the table. This morning we also received a cheque from our US lawyer towards an unpaid loan-unfortunately we had to do a wage garnishee and the loan is about 40% paid after 4 years. I should have listened to that old adage about not lending money to family-my now ex BIL used the loan to pay back a student loan. I hope everyone has a pleasant week.

  17. How wonderful you were able to get some free canning lids, in these times of them being rather scarce. Last week, I canned blueberries, small potatoes and tomatoes. I harvested tromboncino & yellow squash, blueberries, tomatoes, basil, oregano, cucumbers, and a pepper that had been munched on. Lambs quarter, chanterelle & old man of the woods mushrooms were foraged. I gathered a bouquet for my sister, who broke her ankle, and brought eggs and tomatoes to share. So far, it looks like she won’t need surgery. We’re praying the bones don’t shift. My husband put the final layer of soil on the new asparagus bed, and began mulching it. We had a bit of a disaster with our potatoes, we think because they were in piles rather than single layers as in previous years. One night when I went to grab some for dinner, I found a lot of them rotting. I spent as much time as I could handle going through them, composting many, and bringing salvageable ones into the house to cut off the bad bits, and cooked them for dinner. Another day, I gathered all the smallest potatoes, as well as composted another 2/3 bucket, brought more into the house to eat, and canned 18 pints. This morning, I went through them one more time, sorted them into single layers of small, medium and large, brought in a basket of ones that need eating soon, and covered them well with new pine straw. Here’s hoping all that’s left is enjoying them over the coming months. Dealing with that was some stinky business!
    https://abelabodycare.blogspot.com/2021/07/a-bird-id-our-potato-disaster.html

  18. Beautiful figs! And I loved the video on Instagram of you and your husband bending the metal!
    A friend gave me a pot of a lot of starts of Mother of Thousands plant. I let them grow bigger and then separated them out into groups of 3 per pot. I will give some away on Buy Nothing, keep some for myself, and give some as gifts.
    I have collected large bags of used coffee grounds (Starbucks) and wilted lettuce (Wholefoods) all for free. I have bought chicken manure. I will make a large batch of compost this week using the Berkley method. I have some areas of soil that are hard clay and so dry. The plants in these areas are struggling badly.I’m layering as much organic matter as I can produce on the top of the soil. In time it will improve.
    I cut up a thrifted linen dress, drafted a pattern for an a-line skirt, and sewed the skirt. I did sew a mock-up of the skirt out of an old flat sheet to make sure there were no problems with the pattern before I cut the linen. I sewed a car seat drape for my grandson from different thrifted linen ($4 per pound offcuts from a high end bedding manufacturer. The linen is new). I finished cleaning out the hanging files and moved them into better drawers, freeing up space for linens in the tiny closet in the 3rd bedroom.
    Safeway has cheese on sale $3 per pound, which is as good as it gets here. CVS has free CVS brand acetaminophen or ibuprofen (50 count) on their app. I got both of those.
    Best wishes to all!

    I picked a cucumber, strawberries, collards, green beans and chives. I fertilized the cucumber and tomato plants.

  19. I appreciate the book recommendations also. I’m just about finished with The Kitchen Front. I just finished The Four Winds. Both are really good reads.

  20. So happy to read this as I watch the pressure canner. Great, interesting reading for the next 60 minutes!

    You helped me identify a compost plant. I thought it was acorn squash, but now I am betting it’s a butternut squash – win!Win!

    This week I canned more kale and potatoes. This time in chicken broth which was made from a chicken carcass.
    I am pretty sure the Swiss Chard soup you have a recipe for on your website can be pressure canned. I might try that for another quick meal option. My chard is flourishing this year thankfully.
    I lowered the “hem” on sleeves to make them elbow length. Added (hidden) elastic from my stash to polish off the look.
    I traded produce and herbs with other family members.
    I needed more office attire, so I took time to create a capsule wardrobe with what I had.
    I hope everyone has a calm week!

  21. Hi Brandy and everyone
    I enjoyed the video on Instagram of you and your husband bending the metal for your obelisks. Teamwork! Looking forward to seeing the finished product.
    My temporary job at school came to an end this week. Although the extra money was welcome I think this has reinforced my belief that time at home is just as valuable. I am glad to return to my homemaking and gardening. I’ve saved some of the money and some has been earmarked for considered spending. I received a nice box of chocolates and a card as a farewell present.
    I batch cooked moussaka for the freezer this week.
    I have been judiciously reducing quantities in recipes, if it says 3 eggs I try 2, if it says 8oz of dried fruit I try 5 and nothing has failed so far and no one has noticed.
    I cut down pink poppy seed heads to dry and save the seed.
    My husband planted out kale, broccoli, salvia and cosmos – all grown from seed.
    I cut roses for the house. We picked Swiss chard, courgettes, a crystal lemon cucumber( first one we’ve grown and I’m interested to try it after last week’s comments), a few tomatoes, broad beans, new potatoes, oregano, redcurrants, raspberries and a few strawberries.
    Such a saving and so fresh! I froze the redcurrants and broad beans and we will eat everything else fresh.
    I enjoyed pottering around giving our houseplants some TLC and moved flowering plants to better positions so we could enjoy the flowers.
    The BBC have started showing another series of Secrets of the Museum. The curators and conservators at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London show how they prepare for exhibitions, conserve costumes and works of art etc. It’s fascinating and if you like textiles, costumes, fine art and history etc you might like it too. ( The jewellery gallery at the V & A is one of my favourite places. A girl can dream.)
    Stay safe everyone.

  22. The cheapest thing is that when I got caught in a monsoon like rain (several cars around me were stalled. This was on a busy, main road I have traveled for 30 plus years and this has never happened before) my car did not stall. My roof at my retirement house did not leak either! I walked at the park that is literally around the corner from what will be my retirement house. I am so enjoying it on weekends now! It is small, 720 sq ft plus a basement but perfect size for me. I ate a peanut butter sandwich for lunch at work, brought carrots, and an apple.

    1. Congratulations Cindy in the South on your new retirement home – the size doesn’t matter as long as you will be safe and content in it – as it sounds like you are and will be once you retire. Also glad your car didn’t stall. That’s a scary event- living on a barrier island, I know all about flash floods and the roads that all of a sudden become quickly flooded when in the past didn’t. I too thank my nissan rogue 4wd often for keeping me safe.

  23. Hi Brandy, interesting video about the metal bending, thank you. Last week our part of town had a large monsoon (my rain gauge said 3 inches!), and our neighborhood had quite a bit of damage. Compared to others, we were lucky, a bent (but fixable) garage door, missing roof tiles and damaged trees and bushes, overall will be about $1000 to fix. But others had much greater damage so we feel lucky! Our homeowner deductible is $1000 so we won’t even report this damage. My favorite clothing store had a sale, so I bought some shirts for us, so we are done needing any clothing this year. We met a couple for lunch last week, and found the lunch prices at a normal restaurant eye watering…$16 for a hamburger. Large enough for us to split but even so, somewhere I think there is a rule that says $16 is a crazy price for a hamburger ;). Based on the inflation I am seeing, I decided to do august grocery shopping now to top off the freezer and pantry. And ever time I hear the economists saying that inflation isn’t an issue, I sigh. Apparently they aren’t doing any grocery shopping.

    1. You could not be more correct Hilogene. In Costco this week I saw pkgs of ribs that I bought last July for $23 marked at $48. Packages of pork tenderloin were $15-$24, last year I bought them at $9 -$11 per package. Ground beef is over $3.86/lb. Farm Raised salmon has also doubled in price. Anyone who says that prices have not increased is obviously not in grocery stores shopping – prices on almost everything have doubled. I shutter to think what they will rise to in the coming months and days. I guess we will be eating more chicken, turkey, ham, and beans and rice over here.

      1. I am hoping the cattle sell off that so many ranchers are resorting to, will reduce the beef prices temporarily. At least long enough for me to get my ground beef stocked back up. My hubby doesn’t like ground turkey texture or flavor (and yes, I’ve tried mixing it…..he did not grow up in a household that had to watch their spending) and the only pork he likes is sausage or bacon LOL

        1. I’m with your husband on the ground turkey–I can’t stand the smell of it cooking–but he has completely missed the boat on pork chops, roast pork and ribs!

      2. I was shocked when I looked at the price of napkins! Previously $7.99 for Kirkland napkins, now $14.59! I went home without them and pulled out the cloth napkins.

      3. Be prepared for pacific salmon to go through the roof. Sadly whole generations of them are being lost due to our western drought as the water is so low in rivers they are cooking. 😭 I expect they may not be allowed to fish for them in the next few seasons. They’ve done that before, but it’s never been this bad.

        1. I think this is regional, though. Here’s a live feed of Alaskan bears fishing for salmon. All of them have pot bellies at this point, so I think the fishing is good. (This is very fun channel to watch at this time of year.)
          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nprdq03e8yI

          In Canada we are seeing lots of fresh salmon in the stores, and the prices are getting more reasonable as more species are hitting peak season.

          1. The news here has been reporting a lot about a loss of salmon due to the water being too low and too hot in several places.

            1. Apparently they are closing some commercial salmon fishing on the Canadian west coast and reducing levels of salmon fishing on other rivers. It is a result of many issues, the heat being only one of them, and will take some years to improve. We have certainly seen much less canned salmon and much higher prices in the last couple of years, and less fresh salmon on the shelves, but this summer there has been fresh salmon widely available during the season.

              I am allergic to tuna, so canned salmon has been a staple in my pantry. Over the last year or two, it has changed to something I have in my pantry occasionally rather than always.

              1. Elizabeth M.
                I read that over a million sea critters were killed by the heat off the coast of B.C. Things like mussels, clams, etc. I even read that people could smell them as they “baked” It is truly a disaster apparently. I also was told that B.C. has lost about a third of its fruit and other crops and Alberta has lost about the same (wheat etc.).

                My friend went back to Superstore yesterday and bought 10 more pounds of blueberries. She will keep them in her freezer for me. I am working on getting my batch frozen. The price has gone back up from $3.84 to $6.84 now. I had three big bowls so enjoyed three meals worth of them so ate one clamshell.

  24. I know a lot of people know the exact prices of the groceries they buy and where they are the lowest. I don’t know how they do it unless they are writing it down somewhere. You also have to know the container size. So my concession to price has been just to shop at Winco and Costco, it is the best I can do.

    But recently I have noticed that the smart folk are stocking up because inflation has hit, so I decided to get serious. I made up an Amazon order of things I wanted and wrote up all the prices on a sheet of paper. Then husband and I drove to Wal Mart and bought there when the cost was cheaper. Wal Mart was certainly cheaper on much of it, but Amazon prices can be very confusing because sometimes the prices for the same product vary widely. In any case I’m quite happy with this morning’s shopping and the cat pantry is quite full.

    1. Paper works! And with rising prices, it’s good to update them.

      I have seen a few price book apps. With all the changing prices I am seeing, it might be time to get one and use it.

    2. The Complete Tightwad Gazette by Amy Dacyczyn has instructions for making a simple price book. It really helps keep track of which places have the best prices on what. It’s a great frugal resource, in general.

    3. I just keep it in a notebook and update it from time to time. It is organized by store area (produce, meat, paper products, laundry/cleaning etc.) I also sent a copy with each of my kid’s when they moved out so they would have some idea of whether the sale price was actually a good deal or not.

    4. Anne, I am pretty good with prices, but I think you are onto something. I’ve found that Winco is .50-$1.50 cheaper PER ITEM than anyplace else. Don’t forget their bulk bins for as much (or as little) as you want. Costco is good, but be careful about buying large quantities. Even if you will eventually use it, it can greatly affect your cash flow. I buy the majority of my meat as loss leaders at either Fred Meyer (Kroger) or a local chain called Super One. I might only visit one of these stores every 2-4 weeks (when I will pick up ALL of their loss leaders, not just meat), but I always glance over their weekly ad to decide. The loss leaders are always prominently displayed in the ad, generally on the first page and/or in red type. It would be a good idea to write down the advertised prices of cuts of meat that you usually buy for awhile so you will get an idea of when they are at their lowest price; otherwise, I’d just wing it at Winco! (Their meat is good, but not usually as cheap as loss leaders bought in quantity and frozen at home. I always swing by the meat department to check the prices, and I have gotten some really good deals–just not consistently).

  25. Impressive obelisks, Brandy!
    We usually go to the beach in St. Petersburg with our dog for my 3-4 days during my birthday week but not only is the red tide making beaches there unusable, but also we had no one to care for the cats. We just went to the beach locally for 4 days and to a few thrift stores. We bought a lot of paperbacks for 50 cents each as well as a cotton tablecloth for $5 to use for slipcovers.

    On my birthday we headed up to Juno Beach to the dog beach which was just lovely . We had breakfast on the way and stopped at some new to us thrift stores.
    I collected seaweed for the compost at our local beach.
    On Saturday our contractor came over and we all worked to get hurricane panels installed on our house. They’re attached with screws that go into permanently sunken bushings, then you put a plastic screw in to keep them clean. I’ll need to paint those to match the trim. After, we had to take them all down. That was for one and a half houses and we were tired.
    I fermented cabbage and other vegetables that weren’t wanted by the charity we volunteer for. My huge okra plant is still producing and I make sure to cut the pods while they’re small, then roast them with salt and olive oil and they’re delicious!
    Have a happy week everyone!

    1. Cara, I would love to know how you roast your okra? My husband loves okra but I hate to fry it up often. Our plants are doing great this year and I bet roasted would be delicious!

      1. Hi Amanda,
        I just remove the ends where the pods connect to the stem off and use a small, shallow baking pan (I only have one okra plant so it takes a few days to get enough to roast and even then, not a great number). I put the okra pods in the baking pan in one layer, drizzle olive oil over them and then turn them so all sides have oil. I sprinkle salt on top and then put them in the toaster oven at about 350 and turn them when they start to get soft. Sometimes I forget to take them out and they get really crispy which I like as well. It just depends how you like them.

        I tried okra many times but with no success, but for me the trick was to grow it in a very large pot in compost. Next season I’ll grow more!
        Good luck and I hope you enjoy it!

  26. Brandy sure hope your plants keep growing and produce lots for you. Watermelon for us is borderline as the number of days it takes to mature. Last year we harvested 4 watermelon, and they were yummy. This year with the hot and humid weather and having to water the garden we have 8 watermelon on the size of oval softballs. We may have a harvest this year too!

    -Meals-Monday-bacon with raw fried hash browns, leftover green beans, and watermelon; Tuesday-popcorn; Wednesday-mushroom wild rice brats in buns with fried green peppers and onions(from the garden), oven fries, and fresh peas (from the garden); Thursday-leftover wild rice mushroom brats with cucumbers in vinegar, salad, and watermelon; Friday- taco salad with grilled chicken and home made chipotle ranch dressing; Saturday-BLT’s with hamburger vegetable soup( a quart of the canned failed to seal so we ate it); Sunday-What we call “garden skillet” (it uses cabbage, green pepper, tomatoes, onions, and potatoes from the garden) with green beans, pickles, and watermelon.

    -Canned 32 pints of green beans. Shredded cabbage to start sauerkraut in the crock. I also started some in jars as I have 8 cabbage in the garden. They all survived and are doing well. I also dehydrated basil, sage, parsley, and oregano. Blanched and froze 3 more pint bags of snow pea pods.

    -Canned 3 quarts and 1 pint of turkey soup with carrots, celery and cabbage. This winter makes for a quick meal, can eat as is or add noodles when the jar is opened and heated up. I had the turkey chunks in the freezer and trying to use up cabbage from the garden.

    -I also thawed out the 2# clearance sirloin I bought previously, 2# ground beef, and 1# ground pork. I used half this mixture and canned 6 quarts (5 sealed) of vegetable cabbage soup. I had mixed vegetables in the freezer and of course more cabbage from the garden. The other half was made into 16 cabbage rolls (flash frozen and then vacuumed sealed 4 to a package for 4 meals) and porcupine meatballs (2 meals of 5 meatballs).

    -Picked from the garden-green and yellow beans, onions, cabbage, peas, snow pea pods, cucumbers, and peppers. I have used 7 of the 8 heads of cabbage from the garden. My 4 larger heads were 6# each. I have one smaller one left. Not too bad for 2 packages (4 each) of cabbage sets. Plus I leave the bottoms of the cabbage in the garden and they start growing small side heads we can harvest until frost. They are more loose leaves than heads but it gives a second harvest for nothing.

    -I purchased a gallon of sunflower oil right from the manufacturer. It is in the next town over. I got it before the price increase which they said was happening July 15. I also ordered another 25# of my organic white flour from a Minnesota grower that mills their own. I am gluten sensitive but I can eat this wheat as it is an ancient wheat and doesn’t affect me.

    -I ordered two more food grade 5 gallon buckets with gamma lids for storage. I hope to fill one with popcorn and the other with actual wheat kernels for making my own flour. I already have full buckets of rolled oats, sugar, and flour. Trying to stock up for winter so we have to go out less in snowy weather and there might be supply challenges as well.

    -Grocery deals- hamburger and hotdog buns 8 count-$0.79 each (bought 3 each for the freezer); mayonnaise 2-$4 (smaller jars-30 oz); and tea bags (the flavor and brand I like for sun tea-usually $3.99/box) for 2/$3-I bought 6 boxes. I also bought two tomatoes from the farm market for $2.50/# since mine are not ripe yet. Used on BLT’s and in the taco salad.

    -Finished binding a baby quilt for my gift cupboard. Starting on some table runners for Christmas gifts.

    The harvesting and canning has started!! Have a great week!!

    1. Where are you getting the flour?? I am also gluten sensitive and would love to find a wheat I tolerated so I could make “real”
      bread for myself!

      1. Sunrise mills in North Branch MN. Free shipping on orders over $50. They have Heritage white (like all purpose flour), bread flour, whole wheat flour, and pastry flour. Website is: sunriseflourmill.com

        I agree it is a game changer for me I can now bake bread, muffins, and other goodies and actually eat them without getting sick!

        I hope it works for you!

    2. Hi Julie T – May I ask where you order your food grade 5 gallon buckets with gamma lids? I don’t own any and am thinking I should start using them.
      Your garden sounds fabulous and highly productive. Thanks.

      1. Mari sounds like Mable got a good deal. My 5 gallon we’re ordered thru Amazon and were about $25 each.

    3. We got our food grade 5 gallon buckets from Firehouse subs. They get their pickles in them and then offer them for sale for $3 each (which is much cheaper than other places in Fairbanks, even though I have to buy the gamma lids for them from Lowes). The $3 goes to their community support charity, which buys equipment for first responders in our community. I don’t know where you live, and in some communities the $3 may not be a bargain, but they are here.

      1. Hi Mable – thank you for your response. You have given me an idea – I will ask the owner of the local diner that we frequent what they do with their pickle containers (just about every lunch item comes with pickles so they use lots) to see if he can sell me some. LOL, $3 in HCL NJ is a bargain. And now I know to look for the lids at Lowes. Thank you so much.

        1. You may also want to check with Kroger or other grocery stores. I’ve been able to get the pails with a study plastic lid for free. It is a bit messy to get the leftover icing out but doesn’t take long

    4. When you harvest cabbage, cut a cross in the stem remaining. You then get 4 tight little cabbages from it

  27. Some frugal wins from the last month:
    *our Mango tree has been producing like crazy for the whole month, so my husband fought off the squirrels for our share, and we’ve been enjoying them in smoothies and as mango cobbler. I’ve frozen 40-50 cups for future smoothies, and canned 24 pints of mango jelly, gave away to neighbors who don’t have mango trees, and the neighborhood squirrels and iguanas are enjoying the fruit he can’t reach.
    *Our son is attending high school football practice 5 afternoons a week and the school is a 25 minute drive each way so I got in touch with a mom who lives near us whose son is attending as well and we started a carpool, saving time and gas!
    *Took a large donation pile to the thrift store today to free up room in our storage closet under the stairs. The newly freed up space will go toward building up more long term food storage. We live in Hurricane country so we need a good supply and also with the western droughts, I want to stock up on grains, anticipating more price increases on food soon.
    *I have been looking for a grain mill for months and finally found a nutramill slightly used online. I made an offer and the seller negotiated until we were both happy. I paid half the price of a brand new one including shipping. I make homemade bread often and want to completely stop buying all bread, for convenience and health and cost savings.
    *Donated unopened pull ups to a group that helps local families in need, now that our twins are fully potty trained, yay!
    *Signed the twins up for free preschool at the school one of our older children attends and one of our twins already receives speech therapy at.
    *Just learned our children will get free breakfast, lunch, and a take home meal all year at school. Every child in the county will. My kids didn’t always love the food last year but we were always able to give away the items we wouldn’t eat.
    * Finished Christmas shopping for one child when I found a gift for her in our storage closet that I forgot I bought last year. I decided she was too young for it last Christmas, but it will be perfect for her this year!
    *Gave haircuts to husband and two boys, did my own hair color at home
    *Cleaned my home spring cleaning style last week, we washed and waxed both cars, husband changed the oil in one car
    *The cost for our pest control is going up so I called around and found a company that does the same service for less and they gave us a military discount as well
    *Started school supply shopping at the Dollar Tree. I spent $18 and got about half of what my kids need. Even Walmart’s prices seemed high to me this year, everything is getting more expensive but if we don’t contribute, the teachers have to spend more of their own money, which is unfair.

  28. I heard about stamps increasing in August so purchased a book while I was mailing off a package. I now have 2 books of them, so that should last me awhile, even though I’m tempted to get a third

    I cleaned out purse and had over $4 in change. I put it in my change jar to use at Christmas. I’m liking the lighter purse, lol.

    Sent in a Menards rebate $22.44

    My mom sent over cake, popsicles, and an almost new 5 lb bag of french fries.

    I didn’t know about Amazon gaming being included in Prime. My husband was reading an article about a game series he likes that has free downloads this month and next, so I went on Amazon gaming and downloaded it for him.

    My plucots went soft very fast. Hubby and the 14yo had only made it through about half of them. I put the rest in a ziploc bag and put them in the freezer until I have time to make some jelly out of them.

    Enjoyed salad multiple times last week thanks to the lettuce picked from my neighbors garden. They came home Monday evening and paid the 14yo Tuesday.

    The refund for the supplement was deposited already. Even after $17 it cost to ship it back, that’s $102 back in the account.

    Walmart substituted my small bag of chopped broccoli with a very large one so I flash froze the rest of it to use at a later time.

  29. Well, Brandy, I wish you lived in Fairbanks because I would have someone to offload my excess cukes on. After 24 quarts of pickles and 13 of relish, and a cuke salad every single day for lunch or dinner (and sometimes both), I am thoroughly cuked out. (Even the dog and chickens are tired of them.) I am giving it away like zucchini…which is also overrunning my capacity to process, eat or give it away. My tomatoes, on the other hand, are not being very productive. I am very thankful for the bounty, but just a little tired of it at the moment. And today I noticed the peas are about ready. At least I am blessed with a husband who stands right there with me to help with canning in whatever way he can. Usually he chops or peels or whatever and weighs, while I do the cooking and putting in jars part, and then he puts the jars in the canner and times things. It would be lonely and a lot more work if I had to do it all myself. and he always says he loves the stuff, even when the pickles are not as crisp or are a bit garlicky…

    That was pretty much how we saved money this week, took care of the garden and harvest. We never made it to the grocery store, so no money spent there. And we have all the clothes we need. We did spend money two evenings, driving around at the flowers in neighborhoods known to have great displays. Cheap entertainment, even if it does use gas!

  30. Brandy I am so glad your older seeds are sprouting in the gardens despite the heat there 🙂 . Sounds like your vegetable garden planting and creating lovely extra plants is going well and such a blessing harvesting a lot from your gardens. The obelisks sound like they are coming ahead nicely thanks to your talented husbands skills and your painting skills.

    We are having heavy frosts here where we are and it is extremely cold and we are keeping warm with our slow combustion fireplace with the free firewood we have cut over time.

    Our savings added up to $241.32 last week 🙂 .

    In the kitchen –
    – We washed, blanched and froze the broccoli we purchased for $2 kg to make 18 more single serves of vegetables for the freezer.
    – Cooked all meals and bread from scratch.
    – We made a lovely apple pie from apple pie filling I had made in the freezer and chocolate pudding out of our powdered milk, flour, butter and vanilla extract. It tastes a bit like Yogo but better.
    – Made 3 loaves of wholemeal white bread in the bread making machine saving $10.47 over buying it locally.
    – Packed all the pork, chicken, leg ham and beef mince we purchased into meal sized portions for the two of us in the freezer.

    Purchases –
    – From Coles we purchased 7 tins of Campbell’s mushroom and 4 tins of chicken soup for $1 ea on special and 1.381 kg of broccoli for $2 kg saving $14.99 on usual prices in other supermarkets.
    – Purchased from a wholesale butcher 4.31 kg of beef mince for $8.49 kg, a large 4.332 kg half leg pork roast for $4.99 kg, 4 cabana for $1.50 ea and 2kg of double smoked leg ham for $9.99 kg saving $64.06 over buying it in the local supermarkets.
    – From Woolworths we purchased 4 x 10 pk of Sorbent TP on half price special for $3.75 saving $15 on usual prices.
    – From Rivers we found a lovely cotton and linen long sleeved white shirt for DH for $14.95 saving $35.04 on usual prices.
    – On half price special online from Kmart I purchased 3 long sleeved puffer jackets for DH for $15 ea saving $45 on usual prices.

    Finances –
    – We paid another extra part mortgage payment off our home loan saving both time and interest on the loan.

    In the gardens –
    – We harvested around 6 or more kilograms of sweet potatoes from the gardens saving $56.46 or more over buying organic ones in the supermarkets.
    – On warm days we split more firewood we had already cut with the log splitter and stacked it.

    Hope everyone has a wonderful week ahead 🙂 .

    Sewingcreations15.

    1. Thanks for mentioning the online K-Mart. They closed them around close bordering states near us 4-5 years ago. We never heard of them going online. Nice to know.

      1. Most welcome Linda 🙂 .

        We are located in Australia so we do have Kmart online here but if you are in the States then this many not apply.

        Sewingcreations15.

  31. I watched an interesting you tube video this morning claiming you could eat for $15 per week from the dollar store, So I watched to see what was bought-and how nutritious it would be.
    1lb rice, 2 lbs dry beans, 2 doz eggs, 2 packs frozen stir fry veggies, 1 pack frozen peas and carrots, 1 lb cornmeal muffin mix( which she instead used for pancakes), 1 box of milk, 1 package tortillas, 1 jar salsa, 1 package frozen spring rolls, bouillon, syrup, teriyaki sauce. The menu featured a lot of pancakes, eggs, burritos and stir-fry which might get a bit monotonous but you would not be hungry. If it were me I don’t think I would have spent so much on condiments and instead taken that money to Walmart or another cheaper place to buy some fresh fruit. Not surprisingly there was no meat-but no doubt plenty of protein from the rice, beans and eggs. It was interesting to watch and does make you think about what you would buy on a very limited budget for a week.

    1. That sounds pretty good! Fresh food are helpful but you wouldn’t starve on that and would still get a number of vegetables. Don’t forget that the peas are also a good source of protein.

      We eat a lot of bean burritos and eggs here. I would take those same items and make a soup with the vegetables, rice, and bouillon.

    2. About 7 years ago I found out that a coworker was only eating one meal a day(takeout about $10 a day). He had gone through a bad divorce, and had tons of debt. He was working 2 jobs and eating popcorn as his dinner most nights(we worked at a movie theatre). So one day after work I met him and another coworker at The Dollar Tree. He had no clue how to food shop. I took him through the store and he spent just over $40. He got enough food for the week. He even had some left for the next week like peanut butter and jelly. I then took him to Aldi the next week. He had never been before. He spent about $70 but the food lasted him 2 weeks. All easy items that someone who can’t cook could do such as pasta, jarred sauce and bag salad. A few weeks later he asked me if I could help him with his budget. So I did. He quit his 2 job after a year and was doing great at getting out of debt. He even learned how to cook.

      1. Love that you helped your co-worker, Mary Beth! I once did a similar thing with a new college grad at my office. He was stressed over his student loan debt and high meal costs from eating out. He told me he didn’t know how to cook. I told him to take $20 from his next check and buy a crockpot. I then gave him some super easy recipes to use in it. His favorite was just cooking a whole chicken in his crockpot. He told me many times how thrilled he was that I had shared crockpot cooking with him.

        Once upon a time, my co-workers shared many meal ideas and recipes with me! I often remember them when cooking their recipes! So nice to share our talents with each other. I bet your friend remembers you forever too, for showing him how to shop for groceries so that he had meals to make. There is a skill to it!

    3. Several years ago I discovered this book which is free in pdf form! It’s written by a nutritionist on the premise of providing a cookbook for those living on SNAP or an equivalent amount of money. It’s assumed you have $4 a day, which what food stamps gives you according to her. Personally at the time I found this we were living on about $1.75 per person per day and though it gave me some ideas it wasn’t groundbreaking. But it would be a great start for someone new to food budgeting and really cool to read just for fun! I have it in my phone and read it about once a year just as a reminder. https://www.leannebrown.com/cookbooks/

      1. I remember this! I agree; it’s very expensive for me. That would be $1080 a month for us, just for food. That’s way more than I spend.

      2. Thank you for the recommendation. I’ll look into that for my young adult son who sometimes struggles to make ends meet. He’s a pretty creative cook though, thank goodness!

  32. Hi Brandy, it was interesting to see you and your husband working the metal in your video together. Excited to see how the final product and installation looks. Also wondering how melon type plants will do with the drought. Although, you do irrigation watering so they wont be without. But the heat must really cause many plants to struggle there.

    Lately I’ve been looking for cheap or free ways to garner more food and school supplies. It seems food prices are definitely on the rise. I haven’t seen any articles that say otherwise. A few talking about shrinking product quantity and the same price per package, so the quantity price inflates. I have stock piled some canned goods, and am trying to buy clearance meat items as much as I can.

    I did find that ibotta is having a back to school type of saving event where you can purchase many things from Walmart and get a full refund making the item free. The items included a loaf of bread, peanut butter, jelly, cheese rounds, a yogurt smoothie type drink, a 3 pack of erasers, a 12 pack of pencils, and a 3 subject notebook. After purchasing all items they add up over $20 (the threshold to cash out) and you get the money back in your account in a few days through the rebate the program creates.

    Coupons.com also made an app and to kick off the app they did a free package of hotdogs, buns, mac and cheese, and mustard, also at Walmart. Their app does an automatic refund/rebate through PayPal.

    I’ve also been getting a free item every week from CVS through their app. Winn Dixie also does one free item ever week. This week I was able to get a bag of frozen broccoli from Winn Dixie, and a 50 count of CVS brand acetaminophen. None of these items individually add up to a full pantry or to hugely well rounded up meals, but they help. We also went to a book bag drive this past weekend organized by multiple organizations. Children were given a book bag with school supplies in them. It was a drive up event where we popped our trunk and volunteers loaded the book bag, they also gave every family a very large bag of groceries. Most were shelf stabilized items. I did not realize this, but did not refuse the items either. What a blessing. Some items we wont use and I brought them to work. We have a table in our lunch room where you can leave items for others to take for free.

    While at Walmart I browsed their gardening section and was able to purchase discounted hibiscus bushes for a few dollars off their original cost. After watering, and letting the bottom of their pots soak in water for a few days, and giving them partial sun, all four plants look very happy. I am also contemplating gathering pine needles for mulch. I would need a lot, but I think I can do this. It would also be a huge cost savings as they would be free….

    Love reading your blog. And everyone’s responses. Have a great week!

    1. Thank you so much for this post! I had no idea about the Ibotta offers, and even though two of them were expired, I was able to clip the remaining coupons. I’m a teacher, and any free supplies I can get for the classroom are awesome! I’m going to head to Walmart later today and pick them up!

  33. Hello Everyone!
    I’ll have to watch the metal bending IG video everyone is praising. Sounds interesting!

    I’m doing my best to put off grocery shopping as long as possible to eliminate waste. Meals revolve around what the garden is producing plus what we have on hand. This week I baked 2 loaves of cracked wheat seed bread, a batch of cranberry almond granola, peanut butter chocolate chip cookies, 2 pans of dinner rolls and a cheese Irish Soda bread. I also made a large batch of homemade chicken and rice soup, pot roast, pizza, and a chicken-veggie pasta bake. These dishes used up leftover rice, garden veggies, and extra pizza sauce.

    Our garden gave us a few tomatoes, several cucumbers, lots of lettuce, and some snap peas, zucchini, plums, peaches apricots, and carrots. I haven’t gotten enough to can though. Our cloudy, foggy weather has slowed down garden production, egg production and brought powdery mildew to a few plants. 😕I will need to clip affected leaves tomorrow as I pruned tomatoes today. I hope our weather perks up as our warm season is usually August-November.

    Other money savings this week included getting pot roasts for $3.99/lb. plus a $7 meat purchase discount. We ate one and froze one. I patched a pair of my daughter’s jeans, colored my own hair, and made my $0.09 pitcher of iced tea.

    I’ve been noticing higher prices everywhere as well. I read an article that said consumers should prepare for 10-14% grocery inflation by October. That seems more realistic compared to what I’m seeing already at stores. https://www.dailywire.com/news/grocery-billionaire-inflation-for-food-prices-will-hit-10-14-by-october . I’ve already purchased extra nuts for the freezer upon the suggestion of the nut grower I met at Costco a few weeks ago.

    Thank you kindly fellow readers for the suggested resources for discounted fabric!

    Have a blessed and beautiful week! 🍅

    1. That’s interesting. I read one that said 25% (worldwide).

      I am not sure what I believe about the percentages, though. So many people today have said they are already paying twice as much for items. It definitely depends on the item and how the crops come in, and I think the drought is going to have a huge impact on that. It’s one more reason to plant more if we have a space to grow anything, and then figure out how to squeeze in some more plants after that.

      1. I can see percentages varying by crop or product for sure.

        I added 5 raised beds this year but am realizing I need to find more ways to creatively expand and grow vertically. I have enough for seasonal eating but not much extra to dehydrate and can. There’s always room for improvement! 👍🏼

  34. I had to plant our cucumbers 3 times, but they are finally growing.
    I worked 3 days this week, and took breakfast and lunch all 3 days. I normally work Monday through Wednesday, but had to have a root canal on Tuesday (ouch), so worked Thursday instead. At least I have dental insurance that will help pay for it.
    Harvested snow peas, zucchini, onions, a small bell pepper, kohlrabi, cabbage, basil, thyme, rosemary and 3 hills of potatoes.
    Made homemade pizza with peppers, onions and snow peas from the garden, as well as a little sausage.
    Made chow mein with cabbage, carrots, onions and snow peas from the garden. Gave a cabbage some basil, onions and zucchini to a friend.
    Dried 4 trays of thyme. It is already taken off the stems and in the jar.
    Have 10 trays of basil drying right now.
    Made Brandy’s rosemary roasted potatoes with potatoes and rosemary from the garden. Also used finely minced garlic from the garden instead of garlic powder.
    Made a blueberry coffee cake with some blueberries from the farmer’s market.
    Got 5 pounds of angel hair pasta (the limit) for 69¢ a pound. Also had a $1.00 off three coupon loaded to my Fred Meyer card.
    Using the avocados I got last Monday for 33¢ each. Yum.
    Ordered and received my quarterly $50 of merchandise from my Medicare Advantage Plan. I got epsom salts to use on the tomatoes, using part of it.
    Hung laundry on the line, had popcorn for snacks, re-wore clothes that were not dirty, kept curtains closed so heat won’t get in the house (though I love the light), and slept in the basement on extra hot nights.
    We received 1/10 of an inch of rain last week. Our first rain in over a month.
    I think I am going to do an inventory of my pantry this week, to determine what is needed.
    Hope everyone has a great week.

  35. The figs are beautiful. Ours aren’t ready yet but there are about 50 on the tree. We can’t wait.
    Our friends were away for 2 weeks in Hawaii. I got a phone call late the second night they were gone if I could drive their father to the doctor the next morning. So I did. The doctor wanted to see him again the next day. So the next morning Mr. M and I go again. Well the second day the doctor didn’t like what he was seeing. He made a specialist appointment for him for later that afternoon. So I went and took care of P and then took Mr. M to the specialist that afternoon. After waiting almost an hour, the specialist took one look and said get him to the ER. So off we went to the ER. I was there until 9:30 pm until a family member from the next state could get to the hospital to take over. I had a water with me and I keep some snacks in my car. I had a bowl of cereal for dinner when I got home. Well fast forward to last week and my friends are home. Their poor father will need surgery. They were so grateful for everything I did they got me a very generous gift card. They also brought me home 2 boxes of chocolate macadamia nuts from Hawaii.
    Youngest daughter’s 20th birthday was this week. I survived the kids teenage years! She has been wanting Sperry’s for a while. Between sales and coupons I got a pair that is normally $100 for $37. She loved them. I gave her several items from the present closet that I get throughout the year for free or almost free. She also got a few food items that she likes that I don’t normally buy. She has been getting lots of birthday freebies this week too. She picked all of the meals(at home) for the day. Her boyfriend did join us for dinner and cake. We did a firepit also.
    The garden is doing well. Lettuce is out of control. We have been eating salads everyday for lunch. Cherry tomatoes are still doing great and I picked our first big boy tomato. Finally started picking peppers. Eggplants are being picked every other day and several have been frozen. The first few cucumbers have been picked. The raspberries are still being picked daily. I made 3 bottles of syrup out of them for waffles and ice cream. Basil has been made into pesto several times. I put it in ice cube trays to freeze and them pop them into a bag. Herbs have been getting dehydrated.
    I have been giving away lettuce and eggplants to friends and family. My girlfriend showed up with 2 huge zucchinis when she came to get more lettuce.
    My giant aloe plant had lots of babies so my daughter put them in small pots. We offered them and they all are in new homes. One is going away to college next month.
    Our electric company finally sent us our rebate check of $50.
    My ENT sent us a check after our insurance paid them.
    Got $66 in cc reward. We pay it in full every month so it is free money.
    A friend’s GMIL passed away last year. After all the family went through her jewelry there was some left. She offered it to my girls and me. We took a few pieces. It was very nice of her to offer it to us. All of it was 10k or 14k gold. My youngest took a string of real pearls. They didn’t want to sell it. They want to see people they know wearing it. We are happy to.
    Have a wonderful week everyone. Stay healthy and safe.

  36. I made a big shopping trip to Sam’s, Walmart, and Aldi. I got what I hope will be enough condiments, pasta, rice, beans, toiletries,medicines,etc for a year. I need to get cheese, eggs, butter, and meat, but was out of freezer space. My husband bought an upright off Marketplace tonight so I can get those items this week.
    —I have been blanching and freezing excess tomatoes. I got 4 cups this week. I am going to can some soups that need tomatoes so it will free up some space and give me a quick canned soup. I can’t eat store bought soup since I am gluten free.
    —We have been looking for a camper and found just what we wanted. We drove 3 hours to Knoxville and picked it up Saturday. It is a beautiful drive. They also knocked off $900 since we paid cash. It is not new, but in excellent shape.
    — My flowers are all thriving and vegetables in pots giving me mini harvests. I bought 3 bushels of purple hull peas and 2 bushels of butterbeans.
    —My kids came over after church Sunday and I made a lasagna and Olive Garden copycat salad. I had a box of brownies and bought icecream.
    —I took a load to the thrift store. The tax deduction is worth more than trying to piece it out.
    —I changed sheets on our upstairs bedrooms. We have three bedrooms. One is my dad’s furniture. One is an antique set from my mother in law. The third is a garage sale queen size iron bed with my great grandmother’s dresser and moms cedar chest. I have antique quilts on every bed, that I change from my quilt collection each time I make the beds. I have vintage embroidered pillowcases. We got a vintage 60s bright yelloe/ green floral chair I put in one room. I got it when an uncle passed this year. I thought I would recover it but I am liking it for now. this is photos of the antique room. I have a lot to do, but it is coming together https://www.instagram.com/p/CRrfI_0JaBo/?utm_medium=copy_link
    My rooms are cobbled together with a mixture of antiques and yardsales I paint.
    —I cut hydrangeas and made an arrangement for the table for Sunday lunch, and put some on a buffet tray to dry.
    —my husband went to increase our retirement contributions and found he had done it earlier this year by 3% and we didn’t even notice. That was a sweet surprise. So, we are going to do a Roth IRA instead with what we were planning and contribute the max in that account for the year. We have also been paying extra on our mortgage each month.

    1. I think I need to start using your phrase “mini-harvest” in reference to my potted plants, (one each of green onions, parsley, lettuce, carrots, basil, rosemary). Maybe even “tiny” or “minute.”
      This year, I am celebrating FINALLY having several nasturtium plants blooming. I put black plastic forks, tines up, in the soil to discourage animals from digging and that gave the seedlings some protection.
      Hopefully, they will reseed for next year from blossoms I miss deadheading. I don’t like the taste of the leaves, though have enough of those to harvest for salads as well.

      1. I don’t like the taste of them either, but they are pretty, and when they reseed themselves, I don’t have to plant. I love that.

        1. I had read that nasturtium seeds are edible and can be used to give a slightly peppery taste to home made salad dressing. Also, although the leaves are edible, I thought what is usually eaten are the flowers. When I just researched this, however, I read that nasturtiums are toxic…

          1. They are not at all toxic. Leaves, flowers, and the unripened seed pods are all edible. They are rather peppery though so I haven’t eaten many of them!

  37. I’m reading The Paris Library right now and enjoying it, too!
    Dividing plants for gifting is such a great idea! I once divided an aloe and gave away 50 of her babies!
    This week I made the mistake of trying to do the week’s worth of yard work in one long day and learned my lesson. Things look nice, though! 🙂
    I developed a master list for groceries and other supplies to try to streamline the weekly task of menu planning and grocery shopping. I focused on produce that’s plentiful and saved on the food budget.
    I salvaged a pair of curtains that had shrunk unevenly when washed (the lining didn’t shrink, but the front panels did, leaving the lining hanging longer than the panels).
    I mended jeans for my husband using Sashiko embroidery, and I mended clothes belonging to my grandkids.
    Thanks for the inspiration everyone!

  38. Just finished reading Home Comforts: The Art and Science of Keeping House as you have recommended, Brandy. What a comprehensive and valuable book! I would consider myself a veteran homemaker, having been married over 20 years, but I learned the “why” of some of the things I automatically do and a few ideas that were new to me. I highly suggest anyone interested in keeping a home to read this book. I have a couple of old housekeeping books from the early 20th century which I love from a historical perspective. Home Comforts included some of that historical information, which I greatly enjoyed.
    Still waiting for my copy of The Kitchen Front from the library after about one month of placing it on hold. I wonder if many people in my state are readers of yours and saw your suggestion!
    Not much new to report on our frugal journey. We just keep on keeping on! Thanks for all of the wonderful comments. I enjoy them each week.

    1. I’m envious of you Mama Dawn – I’ve had The Kitchen Front on hold for at least 6 weeks now and I’ve just checked – I’m currently #32 out of 59 – and there are 22 copies in circulation (we have a city wide library system so books are shipped around according to need) – I too suspect there must be a lot more readers of this blog than those who actually comment as I often find that a book that I’ve only heard of recommended on this site to suddenly be in HIGH demand when I go online to place my hold. I’ll just have to be patient for another month or so.

      1. I agree! The Kitchen Front is not the only book I’ve seen recommended here that is suddenly hard to come by. I am just glad to know so many people still enjoy reading. A good thing all around!

  39. *We had a combined birthday celebration for my daughter, myself, and my cat! My daughter’s birthday is two weeks before mine, and my cat’s birthday is the very same day as mine! At least, as close as the vet could guess, since he was born a stray. We had a celebration with a family friend and had popcorn, grapes, and fruit ice cream. We played table games afterwards, and talked and laughed a lot!
    *I helped my hubby enclose our breezeway. It is not finished yet, but this will give us a place to sit down and take our shoes off before coming in on the carpet. We used the Lowe’s cc for materials and received 5% off.
    *I took our daughter to test for her learner’s driving permit. She passed! I am glad we do not need to pay for her to retake it.
    *I learned how to save tomato seeds.
    *I made “jam” out of frozen fruit, corn starch, and dates. I try not to use refined sugar, so this type of fruit sauce also gets made and used over waffles and pancakes.
    *I picked apples and peaches from our own semi dwarf trees that I planted in our yard! Normally the deer get most of the fruit, but this year both the deer AND we got quite a bit! I was happy about that!
    Pictures and more on my blog at: https://chickadeecove.blogspot.com/2021/07/frugal-friday-week-of-july-18-24-2021.html
    I love seeing what everyone is up to!
    -Susan M. In Chattanooga, Tennessee

  40. * I repurposed an old rusty tool box into a planter for my succulents. It was a happy project that just took a few minutes after work.
    * We went through our DVD collection and probably culled 1/2 of it. The discards will be going to my daughter’s home or sold on Facebook.
    * I did find some noodles on sale for 69 cents at Kroger plus we found some great produce clearanced – my favorite was a big bag of brussel sprouts.
    * I have really been searching for things we need on Ibotta, Checkout 51, and the coupons app to choose those rebates before purchasing so that we get some money back on things we were already buying.
    * My supervisor has okayed me for overtime, so I’m hoping to get about 14 hours worth this payday to help with our upcoming vacation costs. It will just be my husband and I for the whole week and maybe my mom for a couple days, staying in a timeshare, so it won’t cost us much anyway. We hike and swim in the pool there, make our own food, and spend very little, but it’s nice to have the option to spend if we want.

  41. Oh! I also found two cute Santa mugs for a quarter a piece that I used to decorate for our Christmas in July dinner plus four bags of books at our local church thrift store – I found a book I had really been wanting to read, and I got everything for less than I would have paid for that one book if I had bought it new.

  42. Hello Frugal Friends,
    Here are my frugal accomplishments for this past week. It has been awhile but I would like to keep track again.
    – I bought some plants for my garden. I am only going to put a few late ones in. We have had a very busy and stressful summer. So, I will at least get a few in.
    – We are going to a conference with my husband. He can stay for free for work. I am going to bring food and snacks to not have to eat out in this expensive resort area. It will be fun to get away.
    – Re-did the budget with focusing on paying down the mortgage. I used the tax money for the children for the mortgage.
    – Trying to drive less and be more intentional about trips as gas here in Colorado is $3.65 or so a gallon.
    – My son is paying for his own back to school items with money he earned this summer from a job.
    – Picked some crabapples to make in jelly.
    – Scanned my receipts to Coinout, Swagbucks, Ibotta and all other receipt apps that I have. Every little penny helps.
    – Fought with Expedia/ Dollar Rental for a reimbursement of a double charge from a trip last month. It took several calls and hours on hold but they issued a refund.
    – I scanned my receipt from Kellogg’s cereals that I purchased to get a book for each box of cereal. The cereal was on sale and I had a coupon and a rebate on Ibotta. I will keep the books aside for for Christmas gifts! I have a blog post about this: https://lizsfrugalfamilyfun.com/2021/07/26/how-to-get-free-books-from-kelloggs-rewards/?fbclid=IwAR3wZU54zd33ZPw9GZEgclNb1Xnsvl-1m8TkR6jnsYvl1ihsS4QRQPeVFb0
    I wish you all a fun, frugal summer.

  43. Although our garden is doing well, many of the vegetables aren’t ripe enough or large enough to pick. An exception to this has been jalapeno and green bell peppers, and yellow beans.
    **I managed to accumulate 28 fairly large jalapenos which I then minced in the food processor, then froze as one of the ingredients I use to make Salsa in the Fall. This amount of peppers is for a triple batch of salsa. (Will need to accumulate enough for 2 more triple batches).
    **I also diced and froze 3 lbs. of green bell peppers. (Again, will need to accumulate enough for the Salsa).
    **My herbs are growing like gangbusters and I’ve already harvested and dehydrated parsley, sage, thyme, oregano, summer savoury, chives and both spearmint and peppermint a couple of times each.
    **Although I also dehydrate my chives and rosemary, I find I prefer the taste of them freshly picked so to preserve their flavour over winter I freeze in butter. I finely mince each herb separately then stir into softened butter. I then form into rolls, wrap in saran or waxed paper and refridgerate until it’s solid enough to slice into pats of butter. Then I layer in between sheets of parchment paper and freeze in a tupperware container. When I want the taste of fresh chives for example in a recipe, I just toss in some of these rounds of butter. Great stirred into egg noodles, warm vegetables, and mashed or baked potatoes. Sometimes I cut it into homemade biscuit dough. The Rosemary butter is great basted on beef and pork.
    **Besides freezing Chive and Rosemary butters, I’ll also mince up an assortment of my fresh herbs and add to butter. One of our favourite grilled summertime dishes is Herbed Chicken where I put this herb butter under the skin and grill it – so moist and flavourful. By freezing this Herb Butter blend, I can make this chicken recipe year round and it tastes like freshly picked herbs. I’ve also used it under the skin of our holiday turkeys. So far I’ve frozen 2 lbs. of Herbed Butter, 1 lb. of the Chive butter and a 1/2 lb. of Rosemary butter while my herbs are still flourishing.
    **Picked and froze 2 1/2 lbs. of garden yellow beans. We prefer frozen beans in homemade vegetable soup, so once blanched, I diced into small pieces.
    **Foreseeing that corn products have and will continue to increase, I purchased cobs of on-sale corn, and shucked and froze the kernels.
    **I also froze some of the leftover corn cobs. When I make corn chowder, I simmer a few cobs in the broth for about 30 minutes. It’s a great way to add another layer of corn flavour to the soup. Then I remove and add the remaining ingredients.
    **Keeping an eye out for stock up items, I purchased on-sale pasta: 99 cents for 900 grams, which is about 2 lbs. per package. Limit of 12. I plan to grab another dozen.
    **I happily found 2 boxes of Standard size rings and seals. Like others, I’m having a hard time finding canning products. I have enough Wide Mouth but the Standard size is eluding me.
    **We celebrated 4 birthdays by combining them altogether into one family get together. Because we were in lock downs for 3 of the birthdays, we finally were able to celebrate recently. I kept it simple by making 2 kinds of cold salads, sliced (very small) garden cucumbers, warm herbed-potatoes, garden yellow beans and a Brisket which my husband cooked in his smoker and then served on homemade buns. Homemade birthday cakes, ice cream and fruit were served as well. It was so nice to see everyone again!

  44. I had a moment of pure serendipity yesterday. My daughter does not have a butter dish and I found one on sale. I went to buy it and I had enough reward points to collect it without paying a cent.

    1. Now she needs another one! (And so do you). I had been married over 50 years before I discovered how handy it is to have two butter dishes. Just about every other cube of butter used to be served on a saucer, but not anymore! I bought my second one at a thrift store. They are very hard to find there, though.

      1. I have had two butter dishes for many years. One was a vintage one from my mother and I found the other one, exactly the same, in a thrift store. It’s so much easier to just pop a stick of butter onto the clean one and wash the other one….no more saucers!

  45. We bought some pasta at 68 cents a lb. Strawberries for 1.29 a a quart. Some bruised cherries for 99 cents. Otherwise everything else had gone up. We cooked soup at home. Beans at home. Oh yes, I bought boneless skinless chicken breasts for 1.69 a lb. I will be cooking chicken curry and other chicken recipes this week. I am going to make a squash casserole today from squash from the garden. We borrowed books and movies from the library. I’ve been staying at home a lot, saving on gas.
    I am not buying any clothes, even from the thrift shop. We really have enough. We enjoyed seeing deer, raccoons, and lots of beautiful birds. We are hoping for rain. Enjoyed essential oils as perfume. Lavender is calming and smells good. I enjoy lemon oil but my husband said I smelled like end dust. Not sure I want to smell like end dust. He said it was not a bad thing. mmmm. I guess he likes the smell of end dust. Essential oils are great! I enjoy gardenia oil as well.

    1. Hi Tammy,

      I’m not sure what “end dust” is — dare I ask? I love lavender too. I could not believe it but my lavender plant in a pot from last year survived. It is just now coming into bloom. I am going to harvest some of it for use in sachets. Years ago, I bought the loveliest white linen sachets made in France and filled with lavender. I gave them as gifts. It would be nice to make them. I may not have too much to harvest, though. It sounds like you are doing well…

      1. That’s a great idea to make lavender sachets for gifts. I have always kept them for personal use. I’ll have to remember that.

      2. End dust is a cleaner that smells like lemon. It is used for dusting furniture. I like your idea of making sachets filled with lavender as gifts. I am growing lavender in a pot as well. I thought about taking some and putting it in the ground. I am growing oregano and rosemary in that huge pot as well. It is all growing. I didn’t realize how fast it would all grow. I might need to repot some, not sure. We are doing well. My health is so much better. It makes me happier. Tonight we saw about 10 deer coming home from the grocery store. They were playing in a field. It was so much fun to watch. We actually stopped the car to watch them. I love deer.

  46. Thank you, again, for the blog – it is such a blessing!

    Any recommendations on a pressure canner? I have a gas stove.

    Thanks in advance.

    God Bless,

    Becky-TN

    1. My mom used a mirromatic canner when I was growing up. An advantage of these is they have a regulator that jiggles as you can. (Not so fiddly as a gauge.) It has 5 lb, 10lb, and 15lb pressure choices. it jiggles rapidly and releases steam and then you adjust the gas flow down. I just found one at a garage sale and all I had to do was replace the gasket in the lid. I just referenced the model number on the canner. There are many websites you can use to order canner parts. I also use canners with a gauge, but I find my gauge will do 11 pounds pressure but not stay at 10. And it is a new canner.

  47. Pretty picture of figs-nothing like fig jam! Tropical storms blow through typically in the months August-October, so trying to get our city to cut down tree limbs that surround city power lines. Also, keeping our car filled with a gas weekly, if evacuation is enforced. I learned the hard way not to wait until the last moment. Thrifty actions this week included making a batch of hummus and alternating toppings of cucumber, tomatoes, radishes with homemade flat bread in an iron cast skillet. For entertainment finished reading The Personal Librarian by Marie Benedict (about JP Morgan’s Collection on the wait list for 3 month) and was disappointed in how the story was written. Also, FREE tickets were offered for our art museum’s Friday night summer live music, in their garden.

  48. I know a lot of us are stocking up all we can. Just a reminder to check the unit price and not assume the larger bag is cheaper. At Walmart, the 10 lb bag of sugar was cheaper per ounce than the larger bags. aA lot easier to carry and store, too. I was also buying Crystal Light tea and lemonade packets to take camping. They have a large bag with individual packets or a smaller can with just 6 in it. The smaller was cheaper, then I bought the Walmart brand, which was even cheaper. I know many of you are saying, “duh,” but it is so easy to be in a hurry or overwhelmed and pick the big bag

    1. I found this to be true on many items that last time I went to Walmart. I was surprised but glad I check the unit price. You can’t be too careful.

  49. Bama Holly, an excellent point. It’s not always the most obvious item that is the best price either!

    Hello all…Not in the least a frugal month for us and certainly not a frugal week. We are currently trying to help a family member who hit a 2 month period of unemployment. Catching up monthly bills, buying tires and doing car maintenance and just when we thought we were all done, the AC went out on their house as well and we paid for that repair. It was hard not to get downhearted especially as this month was to have been our first getting ahead. Now we are more behind than when we started! Mind you all, we have the money in savings to cover all these but we do feel we must replace that cash paid out and as quickly as possible. It means going with out and skipping things I’d really hoped we were about to be able to do, like small bath renos and a Fall vacation and doing work on our own yard. Good news, a new job was started this week and family member should be on their own feet for August.
    One thing we’d done was to pay for six months car insurance for this family member. It had an unexpected benefit in that we got a still deeper discount on our insurance so that was helpful. I have a fully stocked pantry and freezer at the moment and I am appreciative of it. I almost always have cut grocery spending any time we had unexpected bills to cover but I halved my budget for July and I’m very reluctant to do the same for August. I am feeling I should try to focus on stocking on the pantry and freezer a bit deeper rather than cutting grocery back hard. I expect I shall have to compromise on that score. We are not yet seeing the much higher costs that many are reporting but I’m well aware that as the fall harvests don’t come in we’ll be likely to see prices increase at that time. So far prices are running roughly what they usually do. The one most obvious rise might seem a silly one to others but canned baked beans typically run $1.50 each summer. This year they have not been lower than $1.85 at any point and often are quite a bit higher. Chicken remains the cheapest protein around. I see little turkey in our area though and have seen no turkey breakfast sausage in nearly a year now. Ground turkey runs about the same as ground beef per pound which is about $4.
    I am so determined to have new plants of any sort that today I pitted an avocado and stuck it in water to root. Of the $40 worth of flower seeds bought this year, I have 3 Cosmos and 5 small zinnias. I am disgusted by the lack of germination and production.
    Our electric has remained under $200/month this year so far and fingers crossed it will stay there. This is very good for us. I attribute it in part to various things we’ve done over the years to help us save, like putting up room darkening blinds and curtains, pulling curtains and blinds to shield heat from coming right in the windows no matter how much I love sunlight in the house, the concrete underpinning (we previously had PVC skirting) and our milder summer thus far. It is harder at present though because we are keeping our 18month old grandson full time and many rooms have to be shut off to keep him from getting into things he doesn’t need to be in.
    Have thoroughly enjoyed reading all that everyone has done to put up foods, frugal finds, etc.

      1. I stayed up a little late reading posts; very busy day. I turned on the TV while I drank some water and James Corden was joking about packets of ketchup being the new toilet paper. I don’t think a lot of people are realizing how hard the next year will be. I already plan to can more of everything, even pre made meals and stock up even more than last year. DH called me this morning to let me know of McCormick recalls as he knew that yesterday I was refilling and going through spices planning to make an order.

      2. Brandy-
        Thank you for this information regarding tomatoes. Canned tomato products are one product that has not increased in price in our stores (Midwest), but after reading this article, I went to Aldi today and stocked up.
        Also, thank you generally for all the information about the drought. We don’t have tv and I’ve tried to stay away from most radio news this summer (to avoid the local crime and politics) so would not have otherwise known! Surprisingly, our newspaper has not covered it, that I’ve seen. Our food prices overall are going up but not more than other things that shouldn’t be affected by weather like toiletries and gas, which lately has been $4.69/gallon — probably mostly due to excessive taxes here — so I thought it was just rough inflation overall. We always keep a pretty good stockpile but the higher prices had dissuaded me from replacing much earlier this summer….until I read your blog.
        Thank you!

        1. Gas is $4.09 here. I’m surprised it is higher there! Wow!

          I read a lot of crop and drought information. I feel like it affects all of my readers, so it’s good to be informed, and if there’s a crop in trouble, it’s nice to know beforehand. I remember when vanilla quadrupled in price overnight. I was shocked. I would much rather be prepared.

          1. $4.99 a gallon? We’re between 2.70-$3 a gallon. Costco’s gas station is usually 5 to 10 centers cheaper a gallon and I’ve been going there. However, I found WaWa, a popular gas station with a typically large convenience store, has a credit card that offers .50 off a gallon the first month and 5 cents off each month there after. I’m seriously considering getting this and letting go of my Costco membership…..the prices just keep climbing!

            1. $4.09. Did I mistype it? Though by the end of the year it will probably be above $5 a gallon. Sam’s was $3.39–70 cents cheaper a gallon! I put 29 gallons in my tank.

  50. GardenPat… in our home we call you GRANDPat. It seems at least once a week I read something from your post here that I can use. Like it’s time to start potting strawberry runners. LOL

    Hubby and I switched things around today as one of the Amish had their livestock barn burn down. No one hurt, no animals hurt. They don’t carry insurance and it had this year’s hay in it. One group cleared the mess and started putting new cider block in while our neighbor has another crew cutting trees from his woods and another group sawing lumber from those trees. Hubby is hauling the lumber to the site.

    We took all 3 dogs to the vet… all 3 got toe nails clipped. Wilbur got checked for his bronchitis. The Vet added a second med and another round of the first med. Did give us a break, they don’t charge office call for toe nails to be clipped to begin with but Wilbur was an office call… they only charged half of the amount and he looked at Rascal’s elbow (raw from licking it ) for free. Charlotte is in good shape.

    I got a refund from the orthopedic, old mortgage and redeemed points at Pinecone. We also got back a rebate from Menards of $248.69 from what we bought of the basement ramp project.

    We went to a pot luck with friends we haven’t seen for 2 yrs due to Covid. I only took what we had in our home to share and brought enough back home that was theirs to feed us 9 meals total. They definitely cooked too much.

    I deadheaded and clipped dead vines off the flower on the front porch. They have rebloomed. Zinnias and annual sunflowers on the deck did also.

    Daughter 4 did some “fall” cleaning of her back porch since she is suppose to finish with cancer treatment (he doctor told her to work out as she will have to pass a fitness test for him to release her for work) and found 4 dozen on my canning jars that her sons had boxed and put there. They were wide mouth so I was excited to get them back as wide mouth is next to impossible to find around here.

    I canned cole slaw (vinegar base dressing), green beans, purple beans (that turn green when cooked), beets, blackberry pie filling, carrots and made refrigerator pickles and spicy squash refrigerator pickles. We eat blackberries, mini eggplant, onions, cherry tomatoes and what ever beans are ready. Amish neighbors just offered sweet corn today so that will be on the menu and in the freezer also.

    We use our dog food bags (50 lbs.) and softener salt bags( 40 lbs.) for trash bags. We tape them shut.

    I am growing dry soup beans again this year.

    I just found out that the apple tree we were told was a cider apple tree is probably a Lodi( best guess from 3 Amish) and makes applesauce and apple butter. We prefer chunk applesauce but I told Hubby for free we can always add a fresh apple for the chunks. I will start harvesting tomorrow. It’s never really made decent apples. We pruned it 2 yrs in a row and spray it every Feb like my foster sister told us to and it made baseball size apples.
    Blessed be everyone. Stay safe and well.

    https://chefowings.blogspot.com/2021/07/what-was-frugal-this-week.html

    1. Jules Owings- You’re too sweet!! I eagerly read Brandy’s ideas as well as everyone else’s (including yours!!) posted each week and realize how much I never knew that I never knew!
      So many helpful and creative things everyone here shares!!
      Btw- if you ever have reason to visit “the big city” (Cbus), please let me know and come visit!!

      Gardenpat in Ohio
      HandmadeinOldeTowne.com

  51. When your only vehicle isn’t likely to start, you tend to not go anywhere which saves money LOL !
    * I used more scrap plywood and left over paint to put 2 more shelves in the pantry cabinets.
    * I had my daughter take me out for feed for my quail and pheasants and combined it with her errands. I did not buy anything at Home Goods (that store is dangerous! So many pretty things – none of which I NEED) other than some wipes to clean the dogs feet and our old girls bum (she is occasionally leaking 🙁 )
    * Bought another package of chicken breasts ($1.99 a pound) and another 10 pounds of flour. I wanted to buy sugar as well but the shelf was cleared out of the 10 pound bags. I’ll try again next week.
    * Found the outdoor fabric I needed to finish the cushions and pillows for my wicker furniture on our deck at Joanne. I thought I was doing good at finding one that matched at 60% off (original price 21.99 a yard) but it ended up being just $3.95 a yard!! And I also did not buy anything else in the store.
    * We ate all meals at home and did not waste any left overs.
    * Sold a piece of furniture that was doing nothing but taking up space. We also were refunded for insurance premiums that we no longer need to pay. We have both Medicare and Medicaid and it gets very confusing at times!
    * Made up batches of muffins now and froze them so I have quick grab breakfast items available for after my surgery next week. I will probably hard boil some quail eggs as well, It is “only” arthroscopy on my knee but I have no idea what my limitations and pain levels will be like post-surgery so I want to be prepared.
    * My husband and I both have 8 hours a month of extra help available thru our insurance carrier. After being encouraged again to use it, we finally scheduled someone. I am hoping the person can help with some yard work I haven’t been able to do. They will also do housework and pet care. I may see if this person is comfortable walking my huge pup as a way to get him out a bit and socialized with someone outside the family. At 9 months he is closing in on 140 pounds and with my bad knee, he is hard for me to walk.
    And I will call that good! Hope you all stay safe and have a good week 🙂

    1. Melissa – I had arthroscopy on my left knee a couple of years ago and like you didn’t know what to expect. I checked in to the hospital at 11am – had the surgery and was walking into my apt. by 4:45 – I do use a cane but could have managed without it! I was heavily wrapped but I had discomfort rather than pain (the pain was before the surgery). The stitches came out a week later and it was a really smooth recovery. They gave me 60 Oxycontin for pain and I think I used 2 – just to help me sleep. I did have physiotherapy but it was definitely worth it! I hope you have as easy a time.

  52. I’m impressed with how much produce you have been able to get from your garden despite the major renovations. And I’m also impressed with those obelisks!

    My frugal week:
    – I made pickled beets (http://approachingfood.com/easy-mennonite-pickled-beets/)
    – I baked pretzels (http://approachingfood.com/preservative-free-shortcut-pretzel-bites/)
    – for entertainment, I’ve been arranging weekly video lunch dates for my daughter.
    – I’ve picked cherry tomatoes, mulberries, snow peas, and raspberries from both my parents and my condo gardens.
    – I’ve planted more onions and they’ve grown extremely fast
    – I started trench composting
    – I made a very effective and frugal sugar and coconut oil body scrub/moisturizer
    – I reformatted banana pb flax muffins to get my toddler to eat them: cut into slices and used mini cookie cutters to make fun shapes
    – I baked a chocolate cake for snacks for the week
    – I redeemed $20 of loyalty points for needed drugstore items, and had my mother buy me an item using both a coupon and her seniors discount.
    – I redeemed Swagbucks for $10 to my paypal account

    Looking forward to learning from everyone else, as always!

  53. The first few days I got must do things out of the way since I had an appointment and DS had an out of town appointment the next day. I saw on the news that smoke from fires out west would reach the area we were headed. It was strange to see a smoke haze over the Blue Ridge Mountains well after sun up, but it was not close enough to smell. I have seen regular haze/fog on the southern end but never in the north. The trip was frugal as the doctor was in his new building which cut a half an hour off the trip by not having to go all the way across the city. I sat in the car with opened windows and the air was actually cool.

    I made several meals from the freezer/pantry including a Reuben Casserole; did not write down the rest.

    I made a batch of dill pickle chunks and bought more cucumbers on Saturday to make another batch.

    My MIL fell after standing up in the nursing home and was taken to the hospital. She fractured her pelvic ring but it was the best fracture possible; nothing was out of line so no internal bleeding or surgery needed. She will be up in a chair for a while each day until it heals. My husband went to the nursing home Saturday to get her glasses and I noticed when I was going to visit her that I could not take them. An earpiece was missing so she could have pocked her head, eye, etc. I was able to get them fixed Monday for $3 and given a new case for them. The fabric case was bright yellow with clear and orange circles and she loved it. My visit Saturday night was the first time I had seen her in person for a year and a half. The power went out right when I arrived so I had to explain what was going on a number of times. One of her lights was on the generator so it was confusing to her that the hall and room across from her was dark. I also happen to be there when they released her from the hospital to the nursing home. I had to explain the ambulance ride she was going to take. DH wasn’t notified ahead of time. When the medication for pain wore off she was back to normal Sunday. The hospital visiting policy was strange. There was a afternoon and evening 4 hour time period but only 1 person could visit during each time period no matter how long they stayed.

    I had a couple frugal shopping trips. Big lots was having 20% off days. For $31 we got 3 large containers of laundry detergent, 1 large bottle of Dawn refill, 1 large bottle with pump of Old Spice body wash, and 2 large bottles of hand soap refills. We also got a coupon for $10 off $40 so I may go back for extra stock ups by Saturday.

    Recently, we are having a hard buying some supplies from Walmart that DH needs for healing from his surgery. I found CVS maybe had comparable ones and if you bought $30 worth you received $10 EB through Saturday. I bought 2 pkgs. and he liked them. I will get another for $5.49 with the $10 EB and $1 EB I received for medication. That should last until I order some.

    At Walmart I bought some fabric bags marked down to $3 to organize the freezer. I am going to shorten the handles.

    The riding mower is still not starting correctly so DH and DS are going to exchange the battery they bought for it.

    We walked a little more when we had time last week. We are near the border of NC and they have only had 9 of the usual 21/22 days with temperatures over 90 in July at the location which we usually mirror. That is unusual, but we have more humidity. It will feel closer to 100 tomorrow. August and September are usually the most miserable months weather wise. I wonder how they will be. Our trees are not looking good due to clouds splitting and rain going around us. Dogwoods have dropped some red leaves. But in the city the Crepe Myrtles are the most beautiful I have ever seen. I usually favor the darker pink ones, but the red ones are a very intense red this year which is beautiful. The city has had more rain. Have a wonderful week.

  54. Your figs look so yummy! I love how you were able to photo capture the “milk” on the figs. So glad you enjoyed The Paris Library. I’m currently reading The Girl From Venice by Siobhan Daiko – a novel based on actual events in Italy during WW11 and present day. Two weeks ago we went to visit my parents for a few days as we celebrated my dad’s 80th birthday. Three of our children (from different states) were able to also make the long drive. It was a mini family reunion as over 100 of us – children, grandchildren and great-grands plus some close extended family and friends came together to honor my dad. My siblings and I planned the birthday party – rented a hall and had a fully catered dinner – we bought the wine and ice cream birthday cakes separately – we split the cost. We have always been a close family but since the pandemic, we have become closer. Luckily none of us ever got covid and all are in great health but we don’t know what the future holds so it was a get-together that was important to all of us. While there, as a special treat for my dad I made tiramisu – his favorite – and Chantilly cake that the immediate family enjoyed. We returned home with loads of produce from my parents’ garden: 3 varieties of tomatoes, pickling and regular cukes, lots of zucchini, a few eggplants, a few peppers both hot and sweet, lettuces, mission figs and blackberries. Thanks to this bounty, I was busy for several days: made dill pickles and blackberry jam; tomato sauce; zucchini bread to eat and for freezer and gifted a loaf to each neighbor, fried zucchini, zoodles with tomato sauce and Italian sausage; eggplant parm.

    Last Friday we and DD and her family went blueberry picking at a local farm. We have been going to this farm for many years and have gotten to know the owners well – in conversation, he said that it’s getting more difficult to keep their head above water due to labor costs, shortage of workers, NJ taxes and regulations, etc. Also, developers are often inquiring if they want to sell and the offers keep getting better as the hunger for more mega-mansion housing hits the rural part of the county. I hope they do not sell; we have lost so many local farms over the past 20 yrs to luxury estates. At this farm they have some cute friendly goats and the grands had fun feeding them – they have a machine where you put a quarter in and a handful of food comes out and the goats eat right out of our hands.
    On Saturday we all went horseback riding at another local farm – this is part of last Christmas’ gift to our grands – they are loving their lessons and are also learning how to take care of a majestic animal. Our County Fair would have taken place the last two weeks of July but because of covid, it was cancelled this and last year. Our state was fully open by Memorial Day weekend, but it was too late for the Fair. I feel sorry for all the 4-H kids who don’t get to show their animals and for all the fun and revenue that everyone in the County is missing out on.

    A nearby town had a free concert on their beach -a Billy Joel tribute band – we along with some friends brought blankets, chairs and coolers with iced tea, lemonade and homemade cookies. It was a fun evening as we all danced and sang along on the beach about 1,000 or so people attended all spread out thru the sand. On another night enjoyed free fireworks at this same beach (fireworks are done once a week until Labor day weekend). Good grocery deals – dozen Egglands brown eggs $0.99 using a $0.50 manufacturers coupon they were free (our store doubles coupons) – I got 4 doz free as I had 4 of the coupons (we get circulars and coupons delivered to us free each week plus we get the Sunday paper and my bffs who don’t coupon give me their coupon inserts – they get free baked goods in exchange, lol). At Aldis, 30 0z of unsalted roasted cashews for $10.35 – this is the best price per ounce that I have found. Baked a blueberry sour cream cake to bring to a friend; blueberry muffins and blueberry/lemon bars for us and DD to take home. Made pesto for us and DD using walnuts instead of pignoli nuts as pignoli are $9.99 lb! From the garden harvested and dried oregano, basil, parsley; picked more berries, cherry tomatoes, zucchini, lettuce. Thank you to the poster who posted about the potential shortage/price increase for nuts. As we eat almonds &walnuts daily and other nuts often, plus in baking, I’m stocking up as I find good prices.

    1. I found The Girl From Venice but it says the author is Martin Cruz Smith. It is a WWII book. The one you mentioned is no on the e-book list. I see Amazon has it; I will look to see if the library has it in book form.

    2. So between looking for that book (which my library doesn’t have) at the library and on Amazon, I came across several other books to read! I requested two and borrowed two others!

      1. Hi Brandy – sorry your library doesn’t carry this novel – I’m reading it on DD’s kindle. It’s odd that two books were allowed to have the same name; the Martin Cruz Smith book I see is more of a thriller/mystery and if I had known of it’s existence, I probably would not have mentioned it to you as from what I recall you don’t care for that genre. I’m glad your search was not wasted, please share what you have found that you find interesting. An update on our weather – our area just came off tornado warnings and we had torrential rain/heavy winds all evening. It’s drizzling as I type this. I so wish we could share all this excessive rain with all of you in drought.

        1. I am sick in bed so I read the book today after finding it this afternoon: If I Were You. It was very interesting. I requested another book by the same author called Chasing Shadows. I also requested a book called The Secret Messenger by Mandy Robotham. When I found that one, the library also recommend Churchill’s Secret Messenger, which I will probably read tomorrow as I am too sick to be up much.

          I don’t usually read thrillers, but someone suggested one to me the other day, and I read it. It was called The Seven and A Half Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle. It was very good, but if it had been a movie, I would never had gone to see it. It was definitely scary. I don’t watch movies like that. I mention it in case you like that genre.

          1. Hi Brandy – hope you are all better now. Thank you for the book recommendations. I don’t like scary movies either nor scary thriller books. I like “cozy” mysteries where all the bad stuff is not detailed. I love Agatha Christie’s works.

    3. Mari,
      I am sorry that you were unable to have a fair. It is an important community event. In our state 4-H shut down face to face operations last year and this year. They have offered zoom classes all year. Our family did a class on beekeeping. Our county fair board decided to put on the county fair without 4-H funding. Our community businesses rallied and funded the fair. It is this week. There are less entries and animals than usual. Animal arrival at fair buildings have been at different times of the week to maintain social distancing. We went to the large animal barn to auction to maintain that social distance. My 3 children entered the chickens they raised in 2020. My heart overflowed with gratitude and thankfulness as community businesses purchased animals again and again. I am so thankful that my children were able to participate in this experience.

      1. Hi Deanna – we totally agree with you – it is an important community event and one that many of us look forward to. I’m so glad that your business community stepped up to fund the fair. You must be so proud of your three children. I hope that their chickens took first prize!

    4. Mary J. I loved reading about the fun on the the beach! I could just imagine it! I love beaches! Tammy

      1. Thank you. I’m so worried that I will mess it up and make us sick if I don’t use a yogurt maker. I saw an instant pot with a yogurt maker setting. I thought I’d use dried milk to make yogurt. My son has trouble drinking milk but he can eat yogurt for some reason.

  55. We have a late garden this year, but we are getting an ongoing produce supply now, which is nice. This week I made your chard soup (with extra chard – mine is a rather intense green) and I’ve been having that for breakfast each morning with a little wheat bread. It’s a nice way to start my day. I’ve also gotten strawberries, peas, lettuces and zucchini from the garden, with a few more things coming soon. We have planned our menus around what we have on hand/what we get with good sale prices, and have kept our grocery/toiletries budget at $200/mo for 3 adult eaters.

    I’ve been getting by with some underthings that I altered, but were already pretty worn out. Recently I found replacement items in my new smaller size that were on clearance – they had just enough for me to replace what I needed to replace. My husband did an Ibotta rebate that got some school supplies our kiddo will need for school, and he has gotten lots of awesome grocery rebates as well. I’ve been earning some gift cards with surveys.

    I’ve listened to quite a few audiobooks (borrowed from the library) when I go walking, learned some new things, and kept up with my walking goals. I made birthday cards and farewell cards for co-workers from supplies I had on hand. I went to a Friends of the Library book sale and got several titles I wanted to own rather than borrow from the library, which left me really happy! We visited family recently, and did several maintenance and repair tasks that saved them hiring someone.

  56. Those figs look amazing; yum. I hope to get a fig tree in once we are going to get a wet winter again. I lost my hydrangea due to the drought this year. Normally, I don’t have to water in winter so didn’t think of it. My fault.

    Love garden obelisks, so looking foreword to seeing yours. What a great idea using them for tomatoes. Without a vegetable garden this year I’m enjoying reading about everyone else’s.

    I drove to my favorite “local” nursery (they grow their own plants; many natives) about 60 miles from here so planned ahead. They grow varieties I can’t get nearby, especially since the pandemic. Local nurseries were hit hard. I’ve been terrible with seedlings of late, they spout then die, so got transplants. They had a bogo sale and got a bunch of nectar plants to round out my butterfly and bee garden. I already have 21 milkweed plants for monarchs. We are having a bit of a heat spell, so won’t plant till next week. I got:

    Cosmos sulphureus ‘Orange’
    Cosmos bipinnatus ‘Versailles White’ (bred for cutting)
    Antirrhinum majus ‘Chantilly Bronze’ snapdragon
    Marigold ‘Day of the Dead Golden Yellow’ (these get 3’ w/5” blooms)
    Achillea millefolium ‘Sonoma Coast’ yarrow (it’s white)
    Lantana camara ‘Bandana Pink’ (pink and yellow)
    Tithonia rotundifolia ‘The Torch’ (Mexican sunflower, monarch butterfly magnet)
    Echinacea ‘Rainbow Marcella’ (bi-colored raspberry and peach)
    Scabiosa atropurpurea ‘Florist’s Blue’
    Salvia chiapensis (pinkish red, hummingbirds like it too)
    Agrostemma ‘Milas’ (pinkish/lavender)
    Zinnia elegans ‘Zowie’ (tri-colors of magenta, red and gold)
    Scabiosa caucasica ‘Fama Blue’
    Basil herbalea ‘Wild Magic’ (the bees won’t leave this alone and it smells heavenly)
    Agrostemma ‘Ocean Pearls’ (white)
    Sunflower ‘Aura Gold’
    Campanula medium ‘Deep Blue’ “Canterbury Bells”
    Verbena lilacina ‘De La Mina’ (purple- another bee/butterfly magnet)
    Scabiosa caucasica ‘Perfecta Alba’ (frilly white blooms)
    Delphinium elatum ‘Morning Lights’ (purplish-mauve)
    Eriogonum nudum ‘Ella Nelson’s Yellow’ yarrow
    Dill ‘Bouquet’ (butterflies followed my shopping cart for this)

  57. More money flying out the door! My phone died, so I needed to buy a new one. Luckily, we were able to get a credit towards part of the new phone by agreeing to send back my old broken phone. That helped a lot. I chose the cheapest phone that our carrier offers. Instead of buying a case at the phone store, I saved a lot of money by ordering one with free shipping from Amazon. The cases at the phone store that I liked were around $50.00. I got one for $6.00 online. Huge savings, and it arrived in 2 days.

    *My garden is a mess!… but it is a producing mess, so I’m ok with it. I made a lot of mistakes when planning. Some plants are very hard to get to for harvesting, I should have done more succession planting, and some plants are blocking the sun from others. Next year!!!! This week I harvested beans, peas, cherry tomatoes, tomatoes, 2 types of lettuce and basil. I just planted pumpkin seeds, hope I’m not too late! I keep planting a lot of things that may be too late, but sometimes we have really warm Septembers… so I’m hopeful!

    *I only grocery shopped for pet food…except I had a weak moment in the cookie aisle and bought a package of Keebler Elf Double Stuffed Cookies, but the package was dessert for 3 days for the family.

    *At a local Dollar Type store I found 4 large outdoor plastic plant pots for $2.00 each. I will plant lettuce in those. That is the lowest price I have found anywhere for large pots. I also found a clear plastic case with a handle to store my seed packets for $1.50.

    *My son and his friends love to watch really bad Godzilla spin off movies. He found a “Croc Zilla” DVD at the Dollar Tree for $1! It has 5 movies on it, so that will keep them entertained for a while for 20 cents a movie!

    *I tried really hard to buy bras this week, mine are really getting worn out. I need to try them on, but gave up after going to 3 different stores where the fitting rooms were closed. I ended up finding a few in my drawer that I bought several years ago when I was 20 pounds heavier. They were too uncomfortable then, but feel fine now. I may still try to buy a couple more, but I’m so saddened by the mess in stores right now, low inventory and the lack of customer service.

    *As always, looking forward to reading about everyone’s frugal adventures this week!

    1. Susanmarie, I am also having a terrible time buying new bras! I have lost a lot of weight-yeah!! and all of my old ones are much too big now. I have ordered from several companies and have had to return all. Having a hard time finding one that is a size 46/A. Not able to try on in stores either.

      1. I found out a few years ago that very few brands make cups smaller than a C. Look at Target online.

      2. Isn’t that ridiculous?? I mean I know I am overweight but we don’t all carry it in our chests!!! Bathing suits have also always been a problem for me since I have never been comfortable in a 2 piece even when I was thin. My other pet peeve is the size of the armholes on plus size tank tops!

        1. Have you considered a mastectomy swimsuit? I was looking at them the other day for this reason.

  58. I always really enjoy reading these posts! I really enjoyed watching you and your husband work together on IG. I know you made it look easy but it is a great deal of work. I truly can not wait to see the finished product.

    This week was mainly the same things I always do but my husband was a winner this week! He searched for a new seal for our concrete countertops and found the one he wanted to use. To purchase the amount we needed, we needed 3 smaller jars (the only size sold at Home Depot/Lowe’s) which would have been $225 + tax. He called the manufacturer to see if larger sizes were sold and they sold him one directly for under $90 shipped. We were thrilled at the savings!

    I have also been saving for a new dishwasher, the last of the original appliances that were in the house when we purchased it over 6 years ago. I searched the numbers online and the GE dishwasher was from 1986! It had lived a very long life and just wasn’t working anymore and not efficient at all. I cook 3 meals a day and it is a necessity for our family. I have been searching for a deal and found the model we wanted. I had the cash to purchase but we used an offer from our Capital One card and received $200 off a $500 purchase so we found it on sale, saved an additional $200 and received 1.5% back. I paid it off immediately, before the dishwasher was even delivered (for free) and then hubby installed it.

    A friend dropped off a bag of cucumbers, tomatoes and banana peppers from their garden. I passed the peppers to my father and we have been enjoying the cucumbers all week. The tomatoes I froze to be used in soup this week.

    We picked enough Blauhide beans and yard long beans for meals this week and to make another batch of soup to can. We are picking the rest of our corn and will prep that patch of the garden for more green beans and fall crops. Sadly I also pulled the last of my squash plants due to beetle damage. Everything I tried didn’t seem to take care of them this year, they just overtook everything. I am going to add more compost and manure and plant fall crops. We also picked lettuce, chard, cucumbers, tomatoes and a lot of okra. I will cook okra this week twice and then freeze for future use in the the winter months. I collected a few of my favorite Queen Lime Zinnia and Queen Lime Blush Zinnia blooms that were on the way out to collect seeds. They are stunning and make me so happy. I want to make sure I have plenty for next year as I would like to plant even more. I always purchase heirloom seeds so I can collect as many as I can. I have a cucumber, lots of lettuce and have left some of all my beans to mature so I can collect seed as well.

  59. Hehe I just borrowed The Paris Library, glad to hear you enjoyed it as I’m about to start reading it.

    I like your potted aloe vera and think it would make great Christmas gifts. I have memories from all throughout my childhood of breaking it off to expose the aloe and rubbing it across all my cuts, scratches and sunburn. We had a huge amount in our garden.

    Our week consisted of local bike rides, a beach picnic, play at the park and a ride along the esplanade, we treated the children to ice-cream, we were kindly provided with a dinner of home made honey chicken, fried rice and creamy tuna pasta bake. We got leftovers of each to bring home. We supplied dessert of sweet bread filled with custard. We are still trying to sell our car! I’ve updated the online advertisements and lowered the price so hopefully this helps.

    Have a great week.

  60. Beautiful pots, Brandy! You’ve got a gift for taking something simple and making it lovely.

    This week, we ate all our greens from the garden. Lots of kale and arugula, and a few tiny leaves of Australian Yellow lettuce that’s slowly growing in our moderate New England heat.

    We cooked from scratch all meals. I made French toast with dry bread.

    My husband made us a new garden gate, so that we could more easily get to the greenhouse in the snow. We also invested in a 20′ greenhouse that we’ll use unheated during the cold months. We ate so much from our 12′ one last year, it was worth it.

    My mom found a wonderful dining table at Savers that we’ll use on the front porch. I do love $20 furniture that’s real wood.

    Frugal fail: my 4 year old son keeps misplacing his new glasses. Trying to find a routine for this! The Zenni Optical glasses are indeed terrific – thanks, Brandy!

    Wishing you all a good week!

  61. This week we did all our normal things, water the garden, let the kids eat popsicles and play in the sprinkler. We didn’t buy food out or takeout. Went over to my mother in laws house and ate pizza, let our children play with their cousins and saw family. Had a dental cleaning and continued my physical therapy. Scheduled my children for dental cleanings and for yearly checkups. Cut and enjoyed some beautiful flowers, saved seed from Love in a mist seed pods, divided and dried my ranunculus corms and anemone corms. I wonder Brandy if you could grow ranunculus and anemones over the winter. They are beautiful and like cool temperatures. You can dig and save the corms each year if you get deep freezing temperatures. They can go down to about 20 degrees but then freeze. They die back in the spring after they finish blooming.

    1. I grew them here before many years ago. I would have to dig them for storing in the summer, actually. We don’t get temperatures below 20 degrees. The issue is that they need to dry in the summer; they will rot if they are wet then. Sadly, mine did not make it through the summer. I love ranunculus and would gladly grow hundreds each winter if I could be sure I was storing them properly in summer. I wish I didn’t have to dig them at all, though.

      1. Hmm. I wonder. Some people actually grow ranunculus and lilies in wooden crates. Erin Benzekein of Floret Flower farms grows her lilies in crates so when they are done she can just stack them in her garage where the soil slowly dries out and the plants go dormant. I have no idea if that would work for you. Necessity is the mother of invention as they say and I think flowers are very necessary! I planted my ranunculus in a mini greenhouse with frost cloth and used tea lights to keep them from freezing over the winter and then dug them as soon as they turned brown and planted zinnias one their place.

        1. Maybe in pots they would work. I would have to store the pots somewhere for 10 months, though.

  62. Hello friends!
    It has been a pretty quiet week around here, just like I like it. Here are some of my frugal accomplishments:
    Though tempted, I did not order takeout when I was tired and hot after working extra hours. I made pasta with items in my fridge and produce I had grown. Tasty and way less than takeout.
    I got my dogfood at Costco. I have two big dogs who eat a lot, and Costco has been the most economical for the food that I feed them. I got only what I went in for, which in itself is frugal!
    I picked up 6 new library books.
    I watered and tended to my garden. It’s still producing beautifully and it makes me so happy! We are going into another heat wave here in the PNW, nothing like Brandy gets in NV but for us, 102 is not normal. Luckily it won’t be as bad as last time (3 days in a row of 114 was BRUTAL). So I’m trying to make sure that my plants stay alive.
    The freezer part of my fridge is acting up. I am watching YouTube videos and reading as much as I can online to see if I can figure out the problem before I call a repair person. I am NOT handy hehe. That’s all I got for now!

    1. And here I’ve been rejoicing because it cooled down to 104 and 78% humidity . . .

      Water your plants well!

    2. We have had really good luck with Appliance Parts Pro to fix appliances. They have an excellent chat feature, videos online, etc. My husband fixed our fridge for $20. He’s also fixed our washer multiple times. We are not incredibly handy. But they are really helpful.

  63. Do you use the agave as a sweetener, or is it just an ornamental plant? I love the idea of giving aloe babies as gifts! I have a potted fig tree that looks very pretty but hasn’t produced anything yet. It is less than a year old.

    Tomatoes have been trickling in, but I did not have time to deal with them since school is starting back, so I put them in the freezer. Started seeds to replace the yellow squash, zucchini, and green beans. It’s been in the mid 90s here (hot for us) so I only stay in the garden for a few minutes at a time. I’m a wimp! I took a bouquet of wildflowers to keep on my desk at school.

    My son needed a larger water bottle; luckily I’d saved the coupons that were on the sport store receipt. The coupons took 17% off our purchase.

    I found a new discount store near my house. It’s only open 3 days a week, but worth the trip. They had an odd assortment of items; it’s the kind of place where you never know what you’ll find. Looks like overruns from places like Target, Dollar General, and maybe even Amazon. Most of the items I purchased were about half the retail price. Even better, I found things that wouldn’t usually be on sale (such as the fish food we buy from Amazon — usually $24, it was $12 at this store. The bag lasts about a year!) I told some friends about the store, but no one got as excited as I was. I know you guys will appreciate it, though!

    Every month or so, I send a box of Christian fiction to my grandmother. She lives alone and spends her days reading, easily going through 3-5 books a week. After she reads them, they get passed around to all of her friends. I found a LOT of books for her at yard sales last weekend, $14 for about 75 books. That will keep her busy for a while! For my own reading, I read several titles for free. Some were borrowed from the library, others were given to me to review on my blog. My daughter needed a specific book for summer reading. I already bought her the Kindle version but also wanted a paper copy so she could write on it, have it out in class, etc. I was able to find it on paperbackswap so didn’t have to purchase an additional copy.

  64. Love the aloe plant and that you can replant the babies. Plants are so amazing!

    Ways I saved money this week:

    Gardening –

    Picked heirloom (Ivan) tomatoes, (Egg Yolk) tomatoes (yellow cherry tomatoes), a few banana, jalapeno, and bell peppers. Been eating the yellow cherry tomatoes with my lunches (packed from home) – hummus/tomato on toast sandwiches are my go-to right now). Our office is providing lunch tomorrow so I will enjoy the variety. It will be Chick-fil-A! (I never eat there so it will be a treat.)

    I purchased two raspberry plants at a local grocery store. They are super hard to find so was glad to get them. I plan to get them in the ground this weekend.

    Recently got two $10 apple trees and they are still living after we got them planted. I would not have thought of planting perennial fruit plants if it wasn’t for this blog. Hoping I can keep them alive until they produce!

    I bought three David Austin roses (at Brandy’s suggestion when they were buy two get one free). They are doing great! We have a hillside that our beloved little dog, “Rosie” used to play on. I planted the roses on that hill for Rosie. Mine are Alexandra of Kent and the pink reminds me of Rosie in her little pink dog dress! LOL

    Purchased 10 strawberry plants at Menards for 75 cents each and used a rebate to pay for them. Got them planted in a raised bed. One plant was dug up that evening by a small critter but we got it replanted. I see lots of runners so will make sure to spread them out so they can fill out in there.

    Have enjoyed Facetimes with our Kansas daughter showing each other our vegetable gardens. It’s fun to tour the garden/yard on Facetime with folks who live so far away. She is a very beginning gardener and is doing square foot gardening. Love how one person’s successes always inspires another!

    I have three small raised beds and containers for gardening. I got all of my dirt for free from composted grass/sticks/leaves that we bag with the mower. My plants seem to love it and there is an endless supply!

    Cooking-

    I took a tip from this blog /commenters and made bean burritos for my supper last night. Made “cheese beans” (kidney beans with a couple of slices of cheese melted in) and also made some Mexican rice using parboiled rice, water and a ½ cup of salsa. Turned out great since the salsa had everything in it rather than using a complicated recipe. I loved my supper!

    Made a big skillet stovetop chocolate chip cookie to avoid using my oven. It was a flop although we are eating it anyway). Next time will try using small cookies in the skillet, flipping on both sides – in an effort to keep avoiding the oven.

    Made a recipe for skillet granola. It worked like a dream and I may always make it that way. It is delicious!

    Canned pickled beets (most from my container garden) and made beet jelly (uses raspberry jello) from the leftover juice. Also have canned five quarts of dill “pickles” using yellow squash.

    A friend gave us five dozen ears of sweet corn! We plan to “shuck it” and store the ears in the freezer. Nothing tastes like summer sweet corn in the middle of a snow storm.

    My daughter found rhubarb for 39 cents a pound in Kansas. She grabbed some to bring tonight (we are dog sitting) and I plan to freeze it. I have blueberries in the freezer and since strawberries are a good price lately, plan to make jams to pay back the gift of the corn and to make for Christmas gifts. I love to do my canning outside so am really looking forward to spending time outside with the fish cooker and my canning jars this weekend.

    I made a batch of banana muffins using overripe bananas for breakfasts at work this week. I stored them in the freezer. Had the last one this morning.

    My daughter had me over for supper this week. She had grilled chicken and roasted vegetables. She is a great cook and it was a real treat since we had been working in the yard after work and it was too late for me to cook.

    Started working on an unfinished crochet project. It uses the waffle stitch and I find it so relaxing! I’m usually super busy at work but when I can take lunch, I love to get a few rows of crochet in.

    I especially love how seeing deals across the country gives me hints on local “finds” in my neck of the woods. This blog has an abundance of kindness and inspiration, doesn’t it? Have a great week, everyone, and stay well!

  65. Our two tomato plants are producing more than the two of us can eat. I have shared some, but still have an excess. Does anybody have suggestions for using them up that doesn’t require canning? Sure would appreciate suggestions as I would hate to see them go bad before we could eat them all. Thank you.

    1. Roast them in the oven with olive oil and garlic. (I line a pan with foil or use a silicone baking mat for clean-up). Then freeze them. In winter, serve them over pasta.

      You can also dry them in your oven or in a dehydrator. I love them that way as well.

        1. I think I probably put them in at 350. I just cooked them until they looked wrinkly and a little brown, and then I took them out. I love them in the fall when I still have fresh basil to throw on top.

    2. Kim I quartered my whole tomatoes and froze them. Did nothing to them before I froze them except wash them. I just pulled out 2 bags of frozen tomatoes and made yummy crockpot spaghetti sauce. While I got the other ingredients ready I put the tomatoes on 2 sheet pans to slightly thaw. Before I put them in the crockpot I squeezed out the excess water with my hands and them just dropped them in the crockpot. Simmered on low for most of the day. Used an immersion blender right in the crockpot , unplug pot first, to blend up all the bits and skin. Delicious.

      1. This is another great and easy idea. Thank you so much. Would you consider sharing the crockpot spaghetti sauce recipe?

    3. Kim,
      Last year, my husband and I just washed and froze our tomatoes in freezer bags. Then I pull them out and make sauce or soup or anything that calls for tomatoes, I use them.
      Tammy

  66. Sorry to post under another comment. About your soil, Brandy – could you check its pH? It could be done at home. Also, from soil like yours organic matter and all good (sorry i have lack of English) will be washed out fast and it mineralizes fast, too.

    1. The problem is, the new stuff I bought is half sand, half wood chips. I dont know why they mix the mulch wood chips in and call it topsoil, but that’s what it is. I have seen them mix it. There is NO nutrition or organic matter. It’s still just dirt. Soil is a living thing, with worms, fungi, microorganisms . . . . I have added manure, but I can see that I didn’t add enough. It takes time to build soil. It’s better than the lime rock we natively have (with a pH of 8.3–the water still has that). I’m working on adding more manure in and getting worms for the garden. I bought them before, but now, with new beds, I need new ones. It takes time. Where I did add a lot of manure, the garden is growing well. So I plan to do that. I was so afraid to overdo it that I ended up underdoing it when it came to adding manure.

      1. Sand and wood chips does not topsoil make! At least, not for awhile. I think you are headed in the right direction toward improving it, but it might take a long time.

        Let me tell you about what I have learned the hard way about wood chips in soil, and it may help you decide what to do about yours. When we built a house 32 years ago, every bit of topsoil had been scraped off the level part of the lot. We hired a landscape architecture student from the University of Idaho to do some grunt work and put in a lawn. We were agog (and not in a good way!) when he told us how much good topsoil would cost for a lot the size of ours…and assured us we’d never have a decent lawn with what was there. As an alternative, which we took, he said we could order bark mulch (wood chips) which he spread 6 to 8 inches deep, next spread 16-16-16 fertilizer to help break down the mulch, and then let it sit for a year (once the weeds started growing in it, I can’t tell you how nice it looked, LOL). We did this. A year later, he came back and tilled and my husband and I laid a sod yard. I always go by the house when I am in that town and I have to say, it still looks good. The grass is good and the landscaping plants have done well. When I planted ornamentals, I realized we had made pretty nice soil. You are right to add worms, because we never had very many (but some).

        Now, my takeaway from this (which may be different from yours) is that you need to break down the wood chips. If I had already planted some areas, I’d aggressively side dress them with commercial compost about every 6 months until things improved. If there are areas that haven’t been planted, I would either fertilize with 16-16-16, or if I was being politically correct (and I am, sometimes) I would till in a lot of commercial compost. A LOT. I’d look for a nursery or producer where it is sold by the cubic yard or trailer load. I would then let these areas sit fallow for awhile until the soil improves. (I am afraid that if you planted anything before the wood chips break down that you would lose it all). The town where this house was located was as dry as yours (less than 7 inches of rainfall annually, but most years were less than 5 inches). You might be able to speed up the fertilizer/compost breakdown by watering (remember, it took us a year), but I don’t know that, and I’d ask somebody before I used that much water. I’d also ask HOW MUCH water. (Does the University of Nevada have a soil science department? If not, try the University of Idaho in Moscow).

        After we moved from there, I got into seed-starting and made the mistake of getting my potting soil in bags from Wal-Mart. I noticed what appeared to be wood chips in the “soil.” Let me just say that while it wasn’t a total failure, this was the least successful year I ever had with seeds. It didn’t do well with container plants, either. I made it a point after that to buy more expensive soil, which was much lighter and did not include wood chips, and both my pots and seedlings have been vastly better..

        I am not in any way an expert, but I have lots of bad experiences to draw on, LOL. Use your judgment.

        1. We took away 40 dump trailers worth of bad soil, so we had to buy quite a lot of new “soil”, and this was our best option. I know it takes time to improve the soil; it always has been an issue when making a new garden.

          There is no bulk compost here for purchase.

          There is another place in town that sells “topsoil” for more than twice the price of what we paid. We looked at it. It’s pretty much the same thing, with a bit of compost in it (including human waste), but truly–not much more. It is extremely expensive and we were not really impressed with it. Better to buy manure and worms. It’s just going to take time to break down, and we will have to keep improving it to get it to be where it needs to be.

          I had hoped to have better success this year in the garden, but it is what it is. The tomatoes are a total waste as they will not grow.

          We have addded an in-line fertilization system, which delivers nutrients every time we water. This won’t build soil, but it will give some food to the plants.

          I plan to do in-bed vermi-composting, which should greatly help to improve the soil over time.

      2. I’m very fortunate to have good soil but it’s been 30 years in making it. I have a source for compost that costs $4 for a 5 gallon bucket, when I go I fill my SUV with containers to fill to make the trip worthwhile, and I go about every 3 years. Everything I plant goes into a compost hole, either the stuff I buy (which is richer than mine, lots of cow and horse manure) or compost I produce. Over the years of doing that has improved my soil a good deal. The compost I make compost I use to layer around established plants and consider it mulch. I save my eggshells, wash and crush them and use them around my roses. All my garbage (which isn’t a lot but it all helps) is buried throughout my gardens to feed the worms which I find are one of the most important help in the garden. I compost everything from my garden, clippings, annuals that are done, even weeds after removing the roots and seeds. I have worked diligently for over 30 years to get good soil. As a result I never have had to use fertilizer as everything is 100 percent organic. I will admit we have about an acre of land, about half in grass which has never interested me. My husband took care of the lawn and as he has passed it doesn’t look as good as it did when he was here. I live in New England where lime is used to sweeten the soil but my compost takes care of that for me.

        1. Our ground IS lime, haha.

          I am planning to do in-ground worm composting. I have ordered worms and have been burying scraps in the garden every couple of days so they will have something to eat. I have a set-up for the worms to go in for each bed where I can feed them regularly.

  67. We had the same problem with the topsoil we bought this year. It was mostly wood chips. It looked like mulch. I was sure my husband had bought mulch instead of the topsoil, but the bags definitely said topsoil. I added bagged manure with it but nothing is really growing in those boxes. We even added some bags of “made for raised garden” soil and mixed it in. Still no success. I was hoping to grow some lettuce and winter greens in these boxes while we redo the main garden area this fall, but I guess we will have to come up with plan B.

    1. While I’m sorry to hear this is happening to you too, I’m happy to confirm my issue, hearing your stroy. My plants are not growing well at all, save a few. I am going to mix in more manure, worm castings, and buy worms as soon as it cools down a bit. I did this in the past, and I di mix in manure, but I think I should have mixed in a lot more. In addition, it is not yet SOIL. There are no things inside to breakdown the manure and garden scraps to turn it into good, loamy soil. It always takes time, but I am very disappointed in the length of time it is taking this year. I added worms right away in the past, but we were too late to do that this year, so I can’t help but think that that will make a huge difference. Composting woms can live here in the soil (I have done it before, and I have watched videos about it) and that is what I plan to get. I continue to bury scraps in the soil so that they will have something to eat, once I get them. I’ve decided to buy direct from Uncle Jim’s worm farm. https://unclejimswormfarm.com/

      I am going to go out and mix in more manure into the top bit of soil for the lettuce. I would have done it this weel but was too ill to do so.

      1. Be careful not to mix the wood chips into your beds — they should stay on top just at soil level. If they’re mixed in, the wood binds up the nitrogen that the plants need for growth.

        1. The soil IS mixed wood chips and sand. It’s half and half. That’s it, and yes, that’s exactly the issue that I’m dealing with. I don’t know why this is considered as top soil. This is why I added manure. Unfortunately, I did not add enough. I know it will take time to break down, which is why I am anxious to get worms and am working on adding materila into the garden for the worms to have something to eat and break down (kitchen scraps).

          It is better than the solid lime rock that is natively here in which not even weeds will grow. It will take time.

          1. Sand and wood chips, oh my…
            I put my tomatoes into sheep manure (couple of yrs old) last year (nothing else but manure which wad naturally mixed with some fallen-in hay) long story and they did not do well. This year same place excellent. You say you are scared to use too much manure. Seems no threat to me but i have not done my research.

            1. In the extension service classes that I took here, they warned against overdoing it with manure because it is high in salts, and our water is also high in salts. I have had great success with manure in the past (usually the year after adding it as well, once it has broken down). I added manure throughout the garden and mixed it in, but I should have mixed in much more. I will be working on it now.

              1. I started a raised bed last year and used the same kind of terrible topsoil. I did a bunch of research and ended up doing 33% manure to 66% topsoil by volume. I mixed in 1/4 bag of mycorrhozial fungi and several handfuls of organic fertilizer which had good bacteria in it. For my bed which was 64 feet square and 18 inches deep it came to about $200 to buy everything. I could only do it because it’s a small area. I’m sure you are looking at thousands of square feet. From what I read adding any organic matter and then the living things, fungi, bacteria and worms is the key. I added heavy layers of chopped leaves in the fall, but I doubt that’s an option for you. Manure and coffee grounds is probably your best bet. Have you ever tried picking up coffee grounds from a Starbucks or local coffee shop? They give it away free, it’s very slightly acidic 6.2-6.5 and full of nitrogen and worms love it. It’s considered a green for composting purposes. Don’t put it near your tomatoes though unless it’s mixed in and fully decomposed. It has a bad effect on them. I forget why. I’m sure we all wish we could snap our fingers and get Mississippi River delta silt to farm in. Man oh man! What amazing things come from those gardens!

              2. I added in mycorrhozial fingi with each planted rose or tree, and the in-line drip fertilization that I am using adds it too.

                I had horrible luck with getting any coffee grounds from my local Starbucks. They would say yes, then I would return that night (they said I had to come right at closing, and no one had ever asked–they didn’t even know this was a thing that Starbucks does. That tells you how few gardeners are here; everyone just grows rocks). Then they had thrown them all out. The next night they wouldn’t let me in when I arrived 5 minutes before closing, saying they were closed. The third time they said they had no idea and basically told me no.

                We took 40 dump trailer loads of lime rocks to the dump, so I spent about $2000 on this “topsoil.” I knew it would take time, but I think I was impatient and so I didn’t add in more manure. That was my mistake. I will have to keep adding it in.

                There are no works here naturally, so I have ordered some.

    2. I used bags labeled for raised beds as well and it included fertilizer that is supposed to last for 6 months. I planted in 5 gallon buckets – NOTHING but the marigolds is growing well. I don’t know what is wrong with it but it is missing something the veggies need. :/ So this year was also a total bust for us as well.

  68. Hi there, Brandy! We’re staying in your neck of the woods this weekend (at the Oasis RV Resort here in Las Vegas) and I had to come to the blog and say, you’re welcome for the rain, lol! We’re from the PNW and seem to take it with us everywhere we go. We were just at Capitol Reef National Park and the ranger said that that day’s storm was a record rainfall and brought on waterfalls that only occur 3-4 times a year. I wasn’t surprised it happened while we were there 😆

    Anyway, hope the rain landed in your garden and thanks for the blog posts!

    1. We saw clouds but no rain here! I don’t know where that resort is, but it usually rains in the south part of the valley, about 45 minutes away from us.

      This is our monsoon season. We usually get half our 4 inches of rain a year in July. Last year there was no monsoon season at all. No clouds, no humidity.

      You came at a nice time of year. It’s going back up to 110 on Wednesday. It’s been beautiful the last two days.

      1. Oh no! That’s a bummer the rain didn’t get to you! That’s terrible about last year. Hopefully you get some more storms that reach your area.

        The RV park is in the south, so that makes sense. My husband loves the monsoon weather—the lightning is really beautiful. We’ve loved Utah’s state and national parks. The thunder is pretty wild in all of the canyons.

        1. Any rain that falls somewhere in the valley is good. I’m grateful for the clouds and humidity that are good for the garden. Usually we don’t get rain in our part of the valley. It goes to the mountains around us or it falls at the south end. I have seen a lot of local people saying it rained, and other people saying, “Where? It didn’t rain at my house!” in the city. Everyone who is saying it rained in local Facebook groups are in the southeast. It’s a common thing here for adults to call one another when it rains to see if it is raining at the other person’s house. Unless they are on the south or west side of the valley, the answer is usually no.

  69. I’m sorry you have been ill Brandy. Your soil will be so much better next summer. This year is just a building year. If you don’t spray your lawn, grass clippings are a good addition to your soil. You can mulch plants with it, so it’s a double win-improving the soil and retaining moisture. If you know anyone who raises rabbits, their manure is very good for the soil. Chicken manure is higher in nutrients than horse manure. But really it’s just the addition of a lot of organic matter that’s going to make the difference.
    Having just got a commercial sized garbage bag full of spoiled greens from Wholefoods, it makes me wonder if any stores near you would give that away. It would provide a lot of organic matter for your trench composting.

    1. The grass clippings would have to be buried. They are not a good mulch here as our high winds just blow them all over the garden. We had 70 mph winds last week. The grass hasn’t grown enough yet to cut, but I may consider that as there is a lot less grass now.

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