Flowering Plum Blossom

I spent a good portion of last Monday in back-and-forth voice message conversations with an old friend. If you haven’t spoken to someone in years (apart from the occasional social media post or Christmas card), I would encourage you to ask them what they are dealing with that’s difficult right now, rather than just asking, “How are you?” I had a conversation I was not expecting to have that day, but it was meaningful to both of us, and certainly added to my life. I am grateful to have the chance to talk without paying by-the-minute long-distance bills, and to have a conversation back and forth throughout the day, despite the time differences and distant responsibilities we each have, as my friend sat at the hospital with her child. We post the highlight reels of our lives online, but everyone has their trials and difficulties, and as we share them with close friends, we might find that we relieve one another burdens, and that our own trials might offer insights and solutions to those of our friends, or vice versa.

I harvested lettuce, arugula, green onions, parsley, and lemons from the garden.

I sowed seeds in the garden for lettuce, beets, Armenian cucumbers, Swiss chard, cilantro, parsley, watermelon, millet (just some grain from the grocery store; I’ve never grown it and don’t know if it will even grow but I thought it would be a fun addition to feed birds in the garden), spinach, chives, hollyhocks, poppies, nasturtiums, and radishes. I decided to increase the amount of Swiss chard in my garden as it’s such a plentiful green in the garden, and with the ever-increasing price of food, it seems wise to grow even more than usual. I will sow even more Swiss chard seeds this week.

I have had several seeds not germinate (I think they dried out because of the once-a-week watering restrictions during winter; in March I can water more) or had seedlings die (again, water limitations, I feel). I know it’s late to resow some of these but I figure I would still try anyway. The weather has been cold longer than usual, so perhaps they will still grow for me.

I transplanted lettuce seedlings that had self-sown in the garden.

I moved a rose in the garden and this time I purposely broke off a section of the plant with a couple of canes and roots attached and planted it in another spot in the garden. It appears to be starting to leaf out, so I may just have another plant! The other two canes (with roots attached) that I broke accidentally from the last rose I moved have swelling buds, so I have high hopes that they will make it and I will have three new rose bushes. I buy self-rooted roses when possible; this would not work on grafted roses.


These paths were six-foot wide grass paths in my previous design. Now they are three-foot wide concrete paths. The increased growing space in the wider garden beds is all watered on drip irrigation.

I collected shower warm-up water in a bucket while waiting for the shower to get warm, collected water while rinsing fruits and vegetables, and used water leftover from drinking glasses at the end of the day to water potted plants in the garden. I added some epsom salt to the water several times to fertilize several plants. The magnesium boost helps them send forth new shoots. I am trying to be even more diligent about using water twice when possible in order to deal with the new water rates and fines. I am grateful to have cut so much water usage from the garden with our redesign, but the new rules have made conserving even more water indoors important to save on the expense.

I purchased two small pots on 50% off sale from my local nursery for my garden. I have been planning this purchase for some time and it also aligns with my advertising for the nursery. Thank you so much to all of you who have liked and commented on my posts for them on Instagram and Facebook!

I mended a sweater for my daughter that had come undone along the seam.

I hemmed two pairs of pants for my husband.

I took a teenaged daughter shopping for her birthday. I was able to get two tankini tops and a pair of sandals for her on sale for 20% off.

A library in our city put on a ballet piece. It was a children’s book; the author read it, and the ballet’s second company performed the story. We took the children to see it; it was a free performance. We combined the trip with two errands that were nearby.

We were invited to a luncheon after an event. We didn’t know there was a luncheon; it was incredibly delicious and saved me from making lunch that day. The next day, my mother gave us leftovers from the food she had prepared for an event, and that was our side dishes for another meal.

What did you do to save money last week?

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  1. Such good advice to ask friends about what is difficult for them right now, Brandy. Also, I love the picture of Octavius. I have a feeling this kid is a character!

    It took 3 weeks, but I have finally recovered from extreme exhaustion. I was beginning to worry this was going to be the new normal for me. I hope others that reported the same thing are doing better as well.

    I subscribed to Amazon Prime in my daughter’s name. She is disabled and has a Medicaid card, so it is 50% off the regular price. Now we will join her “Amazon household” for Prime.

    I also canceled Curiosity Stream TV. I don’t even remember subscribing! It’s only $20 year, but 20 bucks is 20 bucks!

    My son and daughter-in-law sent me a $100 gift card to TJMaxx and I ordered a suitcase and blouse. I need the suitcase for a trip I am taking in April. Like many of you, I have a tendency to let the GCs sit around, and this time I made it a real gift!

    My computer died. Would you believe, the first THREE computers I bought didn’t work??? I was about to go out of my mind. I finally bought a small HP laptop at Costco for $449 (the next cheapest of the four) and it fired right up! Still having some problems with Words with Friends. April, I have a new screen name–my own, Maxine. If you’d like to continue playing, please start a game. This goes for anyone else here!

    We still have snow on the ground, but I’m getting anxious to go play in the dirt! I started seeds for tomatoes, bell peppers, lettuce, pansies, echinacea and lettuce. The lettuce, tomatoes and peppers have already sprouted. I don’t have any special equipment–I just grow them on a windowsill and cross my fingers. The echinacea (prettiest variety I’ve ever seen) were saved from a seed head I picked last year from in front of a business. I understand echinacea is hard to start from seed, but I have $0 invested so it is worth a try. About half of my seeds are leftovers from last year, and I saved nasturtium seeds. Some are small and some are large. Anyone know if it makes a difference?

    Also, I have $37 worth of Wal-Mart merchandise credit and GC. I have decided to use them for garden supplies this year. I also have $35 in prepaid Visa cards from my insurance company for completing wellness activities. I’ve decided to also use them for garden supplies, although not necessarily at WM. I’d already spent $13 on seeds. Thus, my gardening budget this year is $85, and I can make this work!

    For dinner one night, we took all of the leftovers out of the fridge and my husband made a salad. No real cooking, less mess, used up food, plus everyone got to choose their faves. Sometimes this works better than trying to make something out of dibs and dabs.

    I read 5 or 6 library books in the last 2 weeks. I e-mailed Susan Albert Wittig about when to expect the next Darling Dahlias book and she replied she was hoping for the end of 2024.

    Hope everyone here is having a good week!

    1. Nasturtiums will grow either way. Mine are like that.

      It’s actually Hamish, my youngest, in the photo. The older children didn’t get to ride in this spot as it was grass, so it’s fun to see the younger ones enjoy it.

    2. That should have been Susan Wittig Albert. Also, for you fans of WW2 historical fiction, Kate Quinn has a new one–The Diamond Eye, about a female sniper in the Russian Army who became friends with Eleanor Roosevelt. I read it last week. Much of the book is fact with a dose of fiction, and at the end, Quinn separates the two. The friendship with Eleanor Roosevelt was fact!

      1. Ohhh – thanks for emailing about another Darling Dahlia’s books, Maxine!
        I love Susan Wittig Albert’s historical series (all three of them!) and had been wondering but was too shy to ask.
        Thanks for letting us all know,

    3. Maxine! Thanks for finding out about the Dahlias!!! Whew! I was worried they had ended. I read the whole series last year, based on your recommendation. Thanks for passing on the good news!

    4. Maxine, I planted echinacea seeds in 4” pots (so I don’t have to upsize them) this year. I barely covered them with vermiculite, have set up heat mats and grow lights, and my echinacea germination rate is about 60%. I’ll take it! Even strawberries were easier—the echinacea have been difficult for me to coax, haha! My biggest tip is to barely cover them with soil or vermiculite, and keep them moist. The ones I’ve let dry out a bit haven’t germinated. I hope that helps and thanks for the tip—I’ll be looking for dried echinacea heads at the end of the summer.

      1. Haven’t received it. Do you mind posting your screen name? It is unusual enough that I’m pretty sure I would find you. I kind of remember it, but I think I am one letter off and nothing comes up. Thanks, April!

  2. Sometimes events happen that mean that our schedules need to be flexible and adjust. You were missed, but it was totally understandable!!

    Last week I froze whole and also dehydrated slices of the 2 flats of strawberries I bought and am smiling as I see them ready to be enjoyed! I had a bowl of fresh strawberries for breakfast too! Yum!

    To use things from my freezers, I took out 3 frozen bananas from a freezer bag and made banana chip muffins. I divided the batter and added butterscotch chips to one half and mini chocolate chips to the other (since Hubs can’t have chocolate.) What a yummy way to rotate things in the freezer!

    The combination of the new feed and Spring coming has upped our egg production even more and now we consistently get 6 eggs a day! So that’s 3-1/2 dozen a week. Every week we give 1-1/2 dozen to our friends with the 6 kids and usually one of our daughters will ask for eggs every other week. So we’ve again been blessed with enough for ourselves and to share with others!

    I got our taxes filed and was pleasantly surprised that the amount we owe the IRS is about 1/3 of what we owed the previous year and it’s small enough that we don’t have to use any of our savings to pay it. It will just be a line item in April’s budget. The state again this year determined that we won’t get a refund but neither will we pay them anything additional (which is just the way we like it!).

    We got reimbursement for about $320 of prescription costs from last year and I promptly put that into our savings account! We also redeemed another $20 this week in cc rewards and added that into our savings account!
    I just totaled up loose coins and some cash a client had given me and found I had $71.28 I could add to savings account! So off to the bank I go!

    I finished 2 client quilts. They are for two sisters and are identical. Not huge, but didn’t take long to quilt up and every 1-3/4 cents per square inch adds up!! https://pin.it/6zuNA2B. My daughter also had a client quilt this week that she quilted: https://pin.it/5OEpqZh. I also finished making the large lap quilt top using only 2-1/2” scraps/strips. https://pin.it/4tvRp9P

    Hubs and I continued work on the fancy brick walkway the other day when it was a balmy 58 F degrees!! We used all of the bricks we had stacked by the garden and now we are using some of the 600 we were gifted last summer! I shudder to think what the cost of the materials and labor would have been to construct this! Still more to go, but we are loving it!! https://pin.it/3w65nVT and https://pin.it/3gtToY8. The rest of the week got chilly and Sunday morning (yesterday) we woke up to a dusting of snow outside!

    For $3.75, using Flashfood, I got 2 packages of boneless steak which made 4 incredible steak dinners for the 2 of us! On clearance, at Meijers, I found peach yogurt 4 packs for 99 cents instead of $4.49. I also found shredded as well as sliced cheese (cheddar, Mexican 3 cheese, mozzarella and Swiss) for less than $2/pound. I immediately texted my daughters and they each purchased some of the yogurt and cheese I got.

    I got a call from a friend in a town about 30 minutes from my house offering me a bunch of shelf stable foods that she had been given that day from another friend’s wholesale deal. They had all just passed their sell-by date or were quickly approaching it. My friend had already taken what she and her extended family could use. She gave us the rest to keep or distribute. There were: 131 cans of Spaghettios, 70 (48 Oz) bottles of vegetable oil, 110 cans of greenbeans, 108 boxes of chicken Stovetop Stuffing mix, 18 boxes of Kashi cereal, 22 jars of creamy peanut butter, 20 boxes of Annie’s GF cheesy rice, 7 boxes of Annie’s Vegan GF cheesy rice and 99 pouches of assorted just add ground beef dinner mixes. All told about $1096 retail for free. I immediately sent out a message to our Church family and our local children and got everything distributed to: a single lady not quite retirement age on a shoestring budget, a 96 year old WWII vet and his wife, a neighbor of one of our friends who lost his job unexpectedly who are using their food money to pay bills, 3 of our adult children and their families, a family with 6 children (including 3 teens) with a single income and a couple who just bought a home and are learning about all those “homeownership”expenses. We kept some cans of Spaghettios for me (my nostalgic comfort food! 🥴) and a few boxes of Stovetop stuffing. But our pantry is abundant and we felt like it was a blessing to be able to share with so many others! Our muscles are sore and aching from the loading into and out of our van with all these groceries, but our overflowing hearts made it worth it!

    I also pressure canned 6 pints of sloppy joes, using a 5 pound chub of ground beef (Flashfood – $1.45/pound), some leftover bell peppers and onions. There was a bit of leftover and it tasted amazing!! https://pin.it/4tbUki2

    Prices are rising here as they are everywhere, but I think we have been insulated from much of it because we live in such a large city with so many buying options! And then, if we can’t find a good stocking up price,we just don’t buy it and live on our food storage. I know that this is not an option for many people and I try to share as much as possible with others who don’t.

    I’m looking forward to Spring actually getting here and staying so that we can get started with planting in earnest!

    Hope everyone is safe and secure and able to find joy in the sometimes overlooked blessings around us!

    Gardenpat in Ohio

      1. Pam B in Texas- we were blown away with such a remarkable gift and opportunity to share!! I’m still convinced that for all the mean-spirited things we see people doing in the news that there are even more people who are caring and kind to those around them and that’s what I choose to focus on. ❤️

        Gardenpat in Ohio

      1. Mari in SC- Everyone was truly grateful, including us, especially since it came unexpectedly!! It was like a surprise gift!

        Gardenpat in Ohio

    1. My comfort food is Chef Boyarde (sp?) ravioli. It disgusts my friends and family but some days I just like to eat a can of it…no accounting for taste.

      1. Mable- the Spaghettios as well as Campbells chicken noodle soup and Vernor’s ginger ale take me back to my childhood. If I was sick and had to stay home from school, those were what I was given to eat. So now, 60+ years later,if I am feeling unwell, those are my go-to foods!

        Gardenpat in Ohio

  3. Allô Brandy,
    tu fais un travail remarquable dans le jardin. Et ta façon de tirer partie de ce que tu as est magnifique.
    Quand je te lis, je pense au Proverbe 31. Ta famille a de la chance.


  4. Thank you for always proving encouragement, options and a sense of community. I’ve been following you for at least 10 years and have learned so much!

    This week I was able to find a second water bath canner for $5, jars for 25 cents each and a 55 gallon water barrel with a syphon pump for $15.

    I recycled food for a send meal, ate meatless twice, started our small hydroponic garden for herbs and lettuce and began inventory of my food storage.

    I bought needles and thread while I was out, used digital coupons where I could and did a lot of “re thinking” before making purchases.

  5. My son’s Kindergarten used to make risotto with millet for their ‘little lunch’ at 10.45am each day in the winter and top it with various toppings both sweet and savoury – maple syrup, fruit compote, tamari (similar to soy sauce) and marmite spring to mind. My sons are 18 and 21 now and speak fondly of this dish. If your millet grows perhaps you could try making this!!

    1. I can buy it in bulk to eat. I just remember buying it as a treat for a pet bird as a child and I thought it would be fun for the birds. If it doesn’t grow I only spent a few cents on it.

  6. Great to know everything is mostly okay with you! I love the flowering plum blossom photos!
    We have had snowfall after snowfall. Our city has a new standard for its bylaw for snow removal from city sidewalks.
    We now have to clear the snow down to the ground (the concrete) within 24 hours of the snowfall ending. This has become very difficult for me because there are so many pedestrians walking past that the snow gets compacted fast.
    With my damaged tendon, I cannot chip compacted snow off without hurting the tendon. I can shovel my own driveway – I can push the snow aside but I can’t lift it.

    Anyway, I tried to do the city sidewalk one day but couldn’t. I have learned to ask for help so when a strong young couple passed by they cheerfully chipped away the snow.
    The next snowstorm, my friend down the street sent her husband up with the snowblower (I didn’t know they had one). In addition to the city sidewalk, he would have gladly done my driveway but I said not to as I fear the asphalt would be damaged by the snowblower. Then for the next snowstorm, I raced to shovel my driveway, left for an appointment, then when I came back three hours later, found the city sidewalk was already so compacted but I tried anyway. At a certain point, I leaned on the shovel to rest when two fellows came along, saw how exhausted I’d looked, and they said they’d do it. We were supposed to get heavy snow Friday and while it was a fierce storm, it did not leave much snow. My usual snowshoveller had broken his back but he sent his thirty-something son – unemployed, without cash, doesn’t want to get trained for anything etc. “doesn’t want to try anything new”. Anyway, I didn’t cancel it and do it myself but when he came I offered him two premiums
    (above the usual rate for mine) if he did my neighbours’ sidewalk and their long driveway. I suspected my neighbour had been ill. I was right as I got a thank-you phone call, explaining my neighbour had had covid. My snow-shoveller’s son is definitely not like his hard-working father as I later found out he only did half the neighbours’ sidewalk. When I explained the plan, he informed me that my neighbour was responsible for his own city sidewalk. I said it was a kindness. Well, he jumped at the money and I also gave him a bag of food (mostly items that I am allergic to).

    Anyway, I spent $78 on groceries at Safeway, stocking up some chicken and beef on the buy-one get-one free sale. I saved $60.00.
    My friends have lent me some small freezer space.

    I am invited to go to Italy to stay at a friends’ house. It is unlikely that I will go as I don’t think I can get valid travel health insurance and for a few other health-related reasons but we’ll see.

    For fun, I have been trying to take photos of snowflakes. I got some interesting ones with my telephoto lens.
    At the next snowstorm, I will use a close-up lens. I’ve been watching Youtube vlogs to learn how this is done.

    When the temperature goes up by the end of the week, there will be a huge melting. I will be sorry to see the snow go as it is o pretty but it will be nice to see crocuses in bloom.

    1. I meant to mention that I received an unexpected refund so I used it to pay for the shovelling of my neighbors’ sidewalk and driveway.

  7. I’m also happy that I can talk to people easily and for no cost no matter where they are. Considering that we used to write physical letters when I was young, this is a major bonus to me. I hope your friend’s child is doing better and is now home from the hospital.

    I used $100 in Lowe’s gift cards from credit card points on a $131 purchase of everything from fire ant spray to a handheld shower head. I also bought a reblooming azalea, one pink stock plant and two 12 packs of snapdragons. The stock and snapdragons were in perfect shape but on the clearance rack to make room for a huge delivery they were expecting in 2 days.

    I picked violets twice and sent a thank you text to the friend who brought a bunch of the plants from my old yard when she visited me a couple years ago.

    I had a checkup with my optometrist and donated my old eyeglasses to the Lions through his office. I was afraid they would not want them since the lenses are -7.0 and -7.75 but he said the people who go on mission trips LOVE strong glasses because they can give them to very nearsighted people who have never been able to see clearly before.

    I worked several days in the garden and my body is telling me i might be too old to do 8 hours of yard work at a time. I collected four 5 gallon buckets of weeds and dried leaves (Marivene would be proud), planted the stock and snapdragons, planted my first three tomato plants (tiny babies that they are), sugar snap pea and mache seeds in multiple small empty spaces, and spread lettuce, spinach, sugar snap pea and basil seeds in front of the tomatoes knowing the first three will be done and pulled by the time the tomatoes need the growing space. These plants are in the ground along the side of my house interspersed with various lilies, a drift rose and Mexican petunias (MPs), which I had to thin out (they spread a lot and it is my firm belief that the purple and pink plants are vying for superiority in my garden and could perhaps achieve world domination if they worked together…) I planted four yellow pear tomatoes in pots. I divided the remaining tomato starts into keep for planting when they get bigger or take to the swap stand (I have only so much room in my garden and pots). I also thinned the dill and gave one pot of it, two pink MPs and several tomato starts to the vet tech who accompanied the vet when he did a house call for blood work on two cats.

    I scheduled a plumber visit for later this week to replace the outside water shutoff valve for my house. I discovered a very slow drip when I was weeding and was able to get the cost of the service in advance by emailing two pictures of the valve to my plumber. There are advantages to technology. I’ll also be using the $10 off coupon they have online.

    My daughter, son-in-law and I replaced the screen on the screen porch door and will be replacing one panel of the screen later this week/month as schedules and weather permit (it’s gotten “cold” here with highs only in the 60ies and I’ll be covering some plants the next several nights when it’s going down into the high 30ies). I paid them with a $50 restaurant gift card I obtained by using credit card points.

    1. He came home from the hospital today.

      Thank you for letting me know about the strong eyeglasses donation. I will look for a place here. I have a child with a strong prescription and think there will be another soon.

      1. Happy to hear he’s home.

        If your children have eyes that bad, has their eye doctor ever suggested they might be better off with contact lenses? My vision deteriorated a LOT when I was growing up to the point that when I was 13 and my parents were hesitant about getting me contacts both due to cost ($300 plus $25 per fitting and it took 8 of them; this was 1967 dollars for a new product) and fearing I would lose them, the doctor told them if they waited until I was 16 that at the rate I was going they would not be able to correct me enough to avoid me being legally blind and dependent on them for the rest of their lives. My father was horrified enough at that prospect that I got contacts! What we all found when I got them was how much I had been missing. Corners were no longer fuzzy but looked as sharp as they felt. My sister, who remembers nothing, distinctly recalls me staring at a tree because I could see individual leaves from 60 feet away, not just a big green blob. Suddenly I had peripheral vision. It was life-changing for me. I know contacts cost more than glasses but if their eyesight is deteriorating rapidly, if you’re able to afford them, they might really benefit.

        1. They have not made that suggestion to us.

          I do know that once my eldest son stopped growing, his eyes stopped becoming worse, which is what the doctor told us would happen.

          1. One daughter had bad eyes. Contacts were better at correcting it than glasses. However last year she had “pmk laser eye surgery” (I don’t know what the pmk stands for). It cost her CAD$4000 (that would be about USD$3000) all in, minimal discomfort. Given that her glasses and contact lenses cost so much, she thought she’d break even with costs after a couple years. She has 20/20 vision now and is absolutely delighted at her sight. No more waking up in a blur and her headaches have resolved.

          2. That’s great that they stopped changing. Mine did not do that and I’m extremely thankful that contacts were an option back in the 60ies – you know, before you were born. 😁

        2. Mari, your eyesight story is almost identical to mine. My limited vision was picked up at school with the annual eye exams. I began with glasses and in about a year transitioned to contacts for similar reasons of increasingly poor vision. Like you, I was mesmerized by seeing individual leaves and grout between bricks when my vision was first corrected. My mother cried, thinking that she had missed signs. I never knew what I wasn’t seeing, thinking that everyone had blurry faces from a distance! After wearing contacts for about 5 decades, very curiously, my vision is now great. For the first time ever, I have no restriction on my driver’s license and can see near and far. I wear neither glasses nor contacts. I sometimes use cheap “reader” glasses for very small print. Not sure why, but I am enjoying this unexpected vision change!

        3. My vision experience was like yours. I can remember the first time I saw leaves clearly. Then I went on a medication that caused cataracts in my 30s so I had cataract surgery. I am so thankful that the medication ruined my vision because for almost 30 years now I have had 20/20 vision. No glasses even when all my middle aged friends had to get reading glasses. I have one eye for near and one for far sight and together I can read or drive. I am not sure how the brain puts it all together, but it does. I used to reach for my glasses before I even got out of bed. Now, no glasses at all!

  8. Wow, great tips from everyone, thank you! I made the frugal decision to stop eating savory breakfasts like eggs, bacon and toast and instead, use those items for dinners. For breakfast, we are now making smoothies with all of last year’s frozen garden greens (mainly kale) and fruits. I look to my pantry to add: oatmeal, chia seeds, nuts, matcha powder, protein powder, jam, powdered milk, water, etc., so I just toss in a bit of this and that and make wonderful smoothies. My favorite thing to add is a frozen slice of orange or tangerine with the skin. Delightful! I participate in a monthly produce swap, gratefully received many avocados, eggs, and herbs. One of the participants was giving out liquor bottles, and there is a particular desire for Patron tequila bottles to put pothos plant cuttings in as they are so pretty. (Of course, you remove the label). I’ve been ordering seeds from local libraries here in northern San Diego county. You can order 3 varieties to be sent to you each quarter. Just google seed libraries in your area and see if you come up with any. And last, I have always enjoyed fresh flowers but don’t always treat myself due to the cost, so recently I bought a beautiful fern and that cost about the same price as a bouquet and it’s lasted much longer and I think it is elegant. Something I am interested in learning about is how any of you make reuseable paper towels, toilet paper, or tissue, and how to clean them. That would be very helpful.

    1. I agree with you on the breakfasts!

      I buy bulk washcloths from Sam’s Club and hand towels rather than paper towels. The only reason I use paper towels is when I drain something fried, like potatoes, so they last a long time at my house.

      1. Brandy, I use old newspapers under a paper towel to drain grease when cooking. It takes less paper towels. I used to use brown grocery bags, but with reusable bags for shopping they are harder to come by.

        1. I have tons of rags. I wash them after every use. I drain bacon and other greasy foods on a clean rag (old T-shirts are great for this) and throw them in the wash. Works great. I don’t worry about sterility because none of the other options are sterile, either. For those wanting to use newspaper, you should know that newspaper ink has been soy-based for about 35 years…thus no concern about the inks. (In England, chippies serve fish’n’chips in newspaper). The only disposable I buy at present is TP. Not going there, LOL.

          1. Hi British chip shops aren’t allow to use newsprint now so they use plain white paper. I think it was due to a change in the ink.

        2. I use brown paper bags for frying and bacon too. Friends and family save them for me. They also save me all small plastic bags and I use those to clean up after my dog.

    2. For rags and tissues, I use clothes and linens that are so stained or worn out that they just aren’t wearable anymore or I don’t want to put them on display. Used up flannel sheets are my favorite.

      I drain fried items on brown paper that is used by Chewy when they send out packages so a roll of paper towels lasts around a year in my house.

      I still use toilet paper and I’m well past the age that I need any monthly products so no advice there.

    3. If you go on You Tube Rain Country has a whole video on reusing and making homemade cloth TP. I do it myself with flannel sheets I buy at the thrift store cut to a length I’m comfortable with fold the fabric inside out sew up 3 sides ( I hand sew) turn it inside out and sort of tuck the fabric inside to make a seam and sew it together they aren’t pretty but it gets the job done. I only use for #1 but we females use a whole lot more than the guys do so it saves quite a bit of money. I buy cloth dinner napkins at the thrift stores and a wonderful friend in Oregon sent me some of hers when I told her how hard it was to find them here in my part of Ohio lately even in the stores they are hard to find Walmart had them 4 for $8 and I did at one point break down and bought a pack before my friend surprised me with the ones she mailed. After Christmas Krogers had in their clearance section red white and green wash cloths in a pack of 12 for $2 I bought 2 packs these I use in my kitchen for kitchen towels. All my wash cloths are mostly vintage patterned that I have bought in the thrift stores so we know which are kitchen and which are bathroom. As for washing cloth TP? I wash them with my towels. I have Rubbermaid containers in the bathroom the tall ones you use for chips, cereal, etc. one is for clean one is for dirty ones. Its just my husband and I so I don’t know how well it works for a larger family but after doing a lot of research they are zero waste and much healthier for our bodies than bleached paper TP and no worries if theres ever another TP shortage. We do have paper TP here just my preference is the cloth. Hope this helps.

      1. I purchased both my napkins and handkerchiefs at the thrift store. I launder them with the rest of my laundry.

        For cloth TP, I bought ‘shop rags’ at the local hardware store. I found them in the auto section. They are unbleached cotton for the most part and cut in interesting shapes. I used a covered gallon sized ice cream tub and put a splatter of bleach and a little water in the bottom as my container. I put my used cloth TP in the covered tub until full. Then would wash the whole batch on hot in the washer. I don’t have any small kids in the home so didn’t have to worry about curious little hands opening the tub.

        1. I am loving the thread about cloth products! We keep paper towels around for grease and if the dog gets sick, but switched to cloth years ago, so a case of paper towels lasts over a year. (We’re actually still working on a case bought early in 2021 – I think that’s my record. LOL)

          I’ve purchased cloth napkins on clearance and been gifted some; same with cloth dish towels. For handkerchiefs, I cut up some worn T-shirts, and when I mentioned that to my mom, she bought me some handkerchiefs for Christmas. Then when my grandparents passed, she saved my grandfather’s, and found some lovely embroidered ones that had been my great-grandma’s.

          For cloth TP, I went to the dollar store and bought several 10-packs of baby washcloths. As another commenter mentioned, I only use them for #1, but that makes a big difference. My girls are grown and gone, so with my husband and son not using much, I’ve been the main consumer and have cut that quite a lot.

          I have a trash bin with a flip lid that I use for the hankies and cloth TP; I line it with a mesh lingerie bag and just drop used items in. When it’s time to wash them, I can just grab the sides of the bag and carry it to the washer. This is especially important to me if there’s a bug going around, just to cut down on handling the hankies again. I wash them on hot with the kitchen cloths and use vinegar in a “Downy” fabric softener ball; it serves dual purpose for germ killing and fabric softening, particularly with our hard water. I got the mesh bag idea from cloth diapering – it works very similar to a “dry bag” but isn’t waterproof material.

          Hope that gives some folks ideas – I’m loving seeing that so many others are using or considering cloth around the house!

      2. During covid and the crazy toilet paper shortage, we installed bidets on our toilets. I then just cut up white hand towels and zigzag ed the edges for a toilet paper alternative . I have a basker in a cabinet next to the toilet that I put the little used towels in. Then I wash them in hot water and bleach. My husband still prefers tp but I really love the little cloths

    4. I approach reusable cleaning cloths as many have already mentioned. But, just wanted to suggest asking local thrift stores for unsellable T-shirts or sheets. We have one that sells logo T-shirts and other things too stained or torn to sell otherwise for $1/bag. You can cram a LOT of T-shirts into a shopping bag for $1. My parents also bring me all the unsellable towels, washcloths and sheets from the thrift store where they volunteer. and, of course, we use our own old clothes for rags, as well. My husband uses them for working on engines and other things around our farm so we use them a lot in addition to household tasks. Worth asking around. 🙂

    5. I’ve been using cloth TP for about a year now (for#1 only) and it’s really cut down our paper TP usage. I just cut an old pair of flannel pajamas into squares, didn’t sew the edges, and didn’t make perfect squares even. I keep the clean ones in a bowl by my toilet and toss the used ones straight into my regular laundry hamper. I figure it’s not any dirtier than underwear, which often has a few sprinkles on it, and urine is supposedly sterile, so no extra care needed. Also, they don’t take up a lot of room in the washer load, so it hasn’t really contributed to more water use, etc.

  9. Oh, Brandy … the photo of the plum blossoms against the crochet is absolutely gorgeous. Thank you for “taking my breath away” this morning. I also so appreciate the story you shared about talking with your friend. It’s a “frugal” thing to give the gift of a listening ear, yet absolutely priceless.

  10. I bought gas at SAMS because it was the cheapest place in University town at $2.95 gallon. While I have multiple black skirts I wear with jackets at work, I only have two dresses for church/weddings etc. they are over ten years old. I went to thrift store in University town and got two dresses for $6.48 a piece and they fit perfectly. I was stocker shocked at thrift store though bc the last time I bought a dress a decade ago, it was $3.00. I don’t feel like I have any savings on groceries bc of high prices but I continue to take a sandwich for lunch at work. I walked in neighborhood for exercise.

  11. My grocery budget is holding up well this month. I was able to get an excellent price on russet potatoes, frozen corn and fresh asparagus from Mexico. The grocery store has started to stock 1 kilo (2.2 lb) bags of frozen vegetables in the store brand, which are priced much better than the 750 g (.825 lb) bags. The corn I got ended up costing $2.25 for 750 g, compared to the best sale price being $2.50 for the smaller bag. Even the regular price for the larger bag gets me the equivalent of the best sale price of the smaller bag. I’ve replaced quite a few of the items I was running out of. I have a few more to get, and then will start to buy an extra of each. I’ll do one more shop before my pension month starts on the 27th.

    I had a call from someone at the SHARP office (Seniors Home Adaption and Repair Program) to go over my application for a low-rate furnace loan. She is forwarding it for final approval, so I should get a call later this week to let me know when the money will be deposited.

    My electricity bill was $55.50. Last year, the bill for the same month was $206. We are getting a provincial government supplement, which was $75 this month. I am also benefiting from signing up for a fixed rate 10 months ago. My usage had also gone down from 610 to 491 kWh. The bill last year had really scared me about potential prices this winter, so I really focused on getting ready for the winter in terms of stocking up and lowering expenses. It is good to see this payoff. We are about to be weaned from our electricity supplement, so it is also good to see the pre-supplement total being more affordable.

    Your flowering trees are so pretty!! They make me believe spring will come here too. The weather is getting milder, so I’m hopeful we will ease gently into spring.

  12. Loved the thought-provoking comment at the beginning. It’s definitely too easy to fall into the “How are you?” trap because we don’t know how else to start a conversation sometimes (esp after a long time apart), but I liked hearing your experience.

    On a gardening note, I’m curious about whether you have a conscious, meticulous plan for succession planting everything to get the most yield, or if you just do several successions to fill in the inevitable holes when everything from the first succession doesn’t make it. Thoughts?

    Here are my frugal wins from last week:


  13. We have officially begun the preparing/planting process for the garden. Last week I had 15 cu ft of composted screened topsoil and 15 ft of screened compost delivered to my driveway. This was a tremendous saving as I called several locations around town to get estimates that were well over $3k!! Prices of everything have gone sky rocketed. We were able to get what we needed for less than 1/4 of the prices we shopped. I consider this money invested and well spent as I strongly believe that the health of the dirt that you grow your garden in is directly tied to the abundance of harvest.
    We needed to fence in the garden to keep the pups from eating the tomatoes and basil that we grow right off the vine! Again we priced this out and found that quotes were well over $1K. My husband bought the necessary material and will build it himself for less than 1/5 of that cost. The materials that we used in last years small fence will be taken down and repurposed in our yard as trellis for peas to climb and materials for other trellises to be built for green beans, cucumbers, etc.
    I ordered lots of flower seeds from Johnny’s Seeds after going through the seeds that I had on hand to see what was needed. The items that I purchased are perennials and I will be using them in locations throughout the yard to provide color as we as cut flower arrangements for our home. God willing they will return year after year strong and healthy. I used a coupon code for this purchase and got 5% off and free shipping.
    My tulips are blooming despite being planted late in the season. They are shorter than they normally would be but I expect that next year will be different and I am so glad that I did not waste them because I was late. I sowed seeds for petunias and verbena in pots on my back porch – two flowers that I love but have never been able to grow from seed. My ranunculus are sprouting as are the allium bulbs that I planted. Spring is such an exciting time of year and I love to see things green and growing!
    We do have a freeze coming this week and I plan to head to Goodwill to purchase some sheets to cover tender growing plants. Goodness know that everything is my yard is well watered given the constant rain we have experienced lately.
    We enjoyed a family celebration at the company my husband works for and were treated to hot dogs, cake, soda, fruit and some ice cream.
    I continue to work on eating down the freezer and we are almost there. With prices so high, I am not looking to clean out my stockpile and have added a few items here & there if I see sale prices. I am relying on batch cooking more & more these days to make sure that we have meals on hand even when we are running back and forth. We enjoyed a fire in our fire pit and I took the opportunity to grill several items to prepare for the week. We enjoyed a batch of turkey chili, homemade waffles, grilled zucchini, baked fish, egg several different ways, chicken and rice, roasted vegetable pasta salad and tacos over the last couple of weeks.

    Enjoy the week ahead everyone!

  14. Such a good reminder to ask about what people are dealing with Brandy. I will keep this in mind. And how nice for you to be there for your friend at such a trying time for her.
    I made a batch of yogurt and mixed up a jar of hot cocoa mix.* I made a dozen English muffins.* I re-covered the seats of the bar stools at our kitchen island with some upholstery fabric given to me by a friend. I used the leftovers from this to make cushion covers for two throw pillows on my living room sofa.* I started seeds for tomatoes, peppers, celery, broccoli, chard, and lettuce. We still have a lot of snow on the ground, but I will be able to transplants all of these to my greenhouse in a couple of months.* My husband made some repairs around the house, saving us the cost of having someone in to do them. *I used a $5 off $25 coupon at the natural food store to stock up on some bulk beans and grains. This is also where I buy eggs, as they consistently have the cheapest price – and the eggs are local and cage free. I also used coupons from the Kroger affiliate to get a free package of cream cheese and sliced cheese for B1G1.

  15. Hi Brandy, did you hire someone to do your backyard or did you do it yourself? It looks so wonderful! If you did it yourself, did you share any DIY projects here on the blog? Would you recommend any books/ websites/ YT videos for this? Thank you.

    1. We did the work!

      Are you on Instagram? I shared a lot of photos and videos of the process there on my account. I can also send you suggestions that way if you would like.

      I made Pinterest boards and also Instagram folders with images of ideas I liked.

      The DIY projects are welding projects, so my husband made them. He did watch a lot of welding videos on YouTube as he only had a small amount of welding experience prior to that. I did share a few photos before but to make it simple you can see them on Instagram along with a few short videos. It’s easier to see them that way if you scroll back to September 2020, when we started taking the garden apart.

  16. Glad to see your post this am! During the pandemic I reached out to two college girlfriends and we have chatted maybe once a month since then, it has been really wonderful. Just hearing them laugh is priceless since they sound the same as in 1974! And all of us have/had husbands with health adventures so we can share the ups and downs of that topic. Otherwise, last week I continued to go through my house and garage in anticipation of its sale. I don’t have much enthusiasm for the tasks…but once I finish a project, I am happy to add an accomplishment to my “to do” list ;). The real estate market here in Phoenix is confusing everyone, no real changes in price but very few homes for sale and few buyers (with mortgage rates at 7%). Speaking of that, I hope your husband is making progress in his new career. All the best to you and good luck with some rain this week.

    1. Wishing you well during a hard time, Hilogene! I hope you can continue to feel the accomplishment of quickly crossing things off your to-do lists.

  17. My husband retired a week and a half ago due to his health. We are eligible for Short Term disability through his job but it’s very small so we are definitely watching our pennies and thankful for a stocked pantry and freezers as we make this transition and debt free except our mortgage. We have stayed home and not spent much money had to buy a new toilet plunger yesterday as our old one had broke and unfortunately about once every few weeks we get a stopped up toilet very old house. This week someone gifted us a 32 oz. bag of coleslaw mix which we wanted to use along with a turkey we were cooking yesterday but I did not have coleslaw dressing. A quick google and Allripes… com to the rescue found one that had all the ingredients I already had and it was delicious. So no more buying ready made dressings in for us. While its sad that my husband had to retire I am enjoying the time we have together and looking forward to him being able to sit on our porch in the warmer days to come while he watches me plant my garden. We planted seeds last week.. Cayenne, Banana peppers and few varieties of tomatoes including Romas which I plan to make Tomato Jam I am told it is a perfectly good substitute for ketchup so one less thing I am dependent on the grocery stores for. Oh I forgot to mention I planted these in a starter kit in the house with a grow light all have sprouted except the Cayenne peppers which I’m guessing may need a heat pad which I also have. I wish I had a extra tray and dome as I’ve heard you can put them on top of the refrigerator for that added heat. Today I have wicked up old punch bowl cups in preparation for making candles with leftover wax from candles we have bought that have wax but no wick left in them. I do have wax left and hundreds of wicks from back when I had a candle business years ago so will start making more of my own candles this year. I still have fragrance oils as well it was just more convenient buying Aldi’s candles but the goal is to be even more careful with our money as we work through the disability which was approved today and sign up for Social Security Disability who knows how long that will take.. while life is tough we have been incredibly blessed. I am still using the library for our books and DVD’s which is another blessing. I grew 1000 head Kale last year from Bakers Creek I did it in the fall just to see what it would do it grew well for such a short season and amazingly it is growing back I did not know it was a perennial. I will plant more of it from the same seed packet and as someone else mentioned I will grind it up and use it in smoothies this summer for a power punch of nutrition. Blessings to all and thank you for sharing your frugal money saving tips.

    1. We are in the process of applying for disability for my husband. It took about 2 months to get an appointment, and 60-90 days before we expect a response.

      1. Robbie, thank you for last week’s comment that you would be willing to offer information for my son who has just moved to Indy. We will be needing information. He has found a Kroger, Aldi, and a Goodwill store that wasn’t impressive. Right now he is trying to get unpacked.
        Could you email me privately so I can give you his location?

    2. Anna, you can cover your seed pots with plastic wrap. You can put them on cookie sheets or even styrofoam meat trays. I only use stuff I have around the house for seed starting (except for soil) and I sprout them on top of the fridge and then put them on south- or west-facing windowsills. I have sprouted most of my seeds in regular potting soil, but I do have a bag of seed starting mix. I just spread a thin layer on top of potting soil. This probably isn’t the best way, but it is A way that works for me.

    3. I had to apply for Social Security disability in my 50’s. It takes a while and is quite fiddly. My advice to to hire an attorney who specializes in this. The cost is a fixed amount and is taken from your initial award (if you succeed you get back pay to the date you originally applied) so there is no out of pocket expense. The definition of “disability” is very different regarding Social Security. Ordinarily people are turned down and must appeal. Mine took almost two years…that is not unusual. An attorney is really important.

  18. Wise words about reaching out to others and talking about real life and not highlight reels. So very true. Also, I especially love your pictures this week — so luminous!

    My frugal accomplishments for the past little while, although I know I’ve missed some:
    – redeemed loyalty points for $10 worth of cheese (yum!) And $10 worth of maple syrup, which I may use as gifts in the future.
    – I baked a pan of dinner rolls, and used it and the free cheese to make cheese sandwiches to stick in the freezer for quick lunches for me (I have mini muffins, pizza muffins, and sandwiches in the freezer for on the go lunches for the kids, but needed to remember to feed myself too!)
    – made a batch of my toaster pancakes to stick in the freezer for easy breakfasts ( http://approachingfood.com/sour-milk-toaster-pancakes/) and finally remembered to update the pics! I had borrowed my mother’s griddle to be able to cook a batch quickly.
    – I also made a batch of French toast and froze the extras, using my mum’s griddle.
    – meal prepped some Greek pita bowls (more Mediterranean, actually, as I used roast chicken for my husband and kids, but falafel for me). Instead of buying or making hummus, I used leftover homemade tahini dip for the dressing.
    – I froze some of the roasted chicken after a few meals of roast chicken, and used the carcass to make homemade chicken noodle soup. I canned the leftover soup, and then used the canning water to rinse dishes in.
    – I baked flourless quinoa brownies, using leftover quinoa from a meal a few days prior. No food waste! Plus, brownies!
    – did a fun Easter craft with my daughters, salt watercolours in Easter shapes, using supplies I had at home. Extra watercolours will be sent to relatives as Easter cards. I also made homemade puffy paint using items I had at home.
    – as usual, borrowed both paper and e-books from the public library, and attended library programming.
    – bought a 10 lb bag of onions, which I usually do twice a year, and sliced them up and froze them. Easy to toss in a dish when cooking, and significantly cheaper than buying smaller bags at higher prices throughout the year.
    – dehydrated the cranberries from the homemade cranberry juice I opened, a trick I learned from a poster here. Thank you!
    – reused plastic bags numerous times.
    – made a quiche for a quick dinner one time, and used milk powder in place of milk or cream. Not sure if that made a difference, but it was extra light and fluffy! I sprinkled chopped ham on top instead of stirring it in, so that it looked more plentiful but stretched the ham, and added grated ends of cheese and the last of my frozen balcony grown green onions/chives.
    – ordered two packages of seeds from a local seed company, using monies earned online from surveys. I’ve grown both cucamelons and ground cherries before on my balcony so I know they grow well plus they’ll be a great way to add a handful of fruit and veg to my daughters diets throughout the summer. While I have lots of seeds for beans, I haven’t been able to find any lettuce seeds at the dollar store (most affordable lettuce seeds, as I can sow thickly and continuously). Luckily, I was cleaning out a cupboard this week and found some lettuce seeds a friend had given me back in August. So I have some to start with at least!
    – I saved the crumbs from a bag of purchased chicken tenders, and mixed it with homemade breadcrumbs when making chicken schnitzel. No food waste, however small! I also reused some oil that my husband had used to fry a snack in, to fry the schnitzel in. One chicken breast ended up servings two adults and two kids.
    – I turned a package of tofu into soy ground round, and froze it for future use. About 1/3 the cost of purchasing it ready-made.
    – am regrowing green onions in water. I expect to be able to grow at least two extra bunches from that one grocery store bunch.

    Looking forward to learning from everyone else, as always!

  19. We are still in Winter here in Toronto – more snow arrived last night and there is more on the way tonight and tomorrow. Have to say – I am ready for Spring! All the gardening that you do is amazing Brandy and how nice that you got to speak with your friend in such an in depth way – it is certainly a time to really check on how everyone is managing and what their concerns may be about life at this moment in time. We don’t always have to offer a solution – sometimes just listening is what is needed.

    How lovely that you were able to enjoy a wonderful and free performance with your children and that some extra food came your way – always handy.

    My grocery shopping has been mainly milk, bread, fruit & veg for day to day meals and then some items to be added to the long term pantry. I decided to do some errands after church yesterday since more snow was expected. I did a drop off and pick up at the library, then picked up eggs, bananas and salad greens at the little fruit & veg shop near the library. Then I headed to No Frills as they had some sale items (and points opportunities) that I wanted to take advantage of – got a few jars of pasta sauce at $1.50 below regular price – plus I got 750 points per jar (.75 cents) – English cucumbers were on for .79 cents – and these have been up to $2.99 – cottage cheese was on sale plus I picked up carrots and onions – now carrots are rising in price! I did manage to get 2# of butter from one company, for the cost of 1lb of my favourite butter – no longer brand loyal! I then used $20 in Loyalty points at the drugstore to stock up on paper towels and a box of q-tips that will last me over a year.

    I was really annoyed that I lost 2 red peppers and 2 carrots last week – they had gone bad before I noticed – and they were fairly new purchases! I also have to keep a really close eye on onions right now – they just seem to go soft so quickly! I have processed the rest of that bag of carrots and will eat a lot of salads this week to ensure that there is no further waste! I have also been eating a lot of odds and ends out of the freezer to use things up. I made a couple of HM pizzas using some small corn tortillas from the freezer and topping them with a sausage, a piece of chicken, cooked onions and peppers from the freezer, along with various bits of cheese that need to be used up. Tasted delicious!

    It will be another week of using up bits & pieces plus a few things on toast with soup from the freezer and salad. It’s a busy week so quick meals will do just fine. I’ve cooked Kasha for the first time so that will be added to the salad bowls – want to try some different grains just for a change of pace and there are two bags in my pantry! I am trying to eat more vegetarian meals and more fish – fish is very expensive here but I’ll alternate with fresh, frozen and canned to mitigate the costs a bit. I still have quite a bit of red meat in the freezer (along with some chicken) so I can concentrate on the fish and seafood purchases for now.

    Picked up a couple of prescriptions last week and only paid $1.96 for the processing fee. The new dryers in the apt. laundry room aren’t working properly so got $10 in change back from the super! I have now managed to save enough money for my new glasses and my dental appointment at the end of the month. The insurance money that I will get back for both will then go towards the Ipad that I want to buy instead of a new laptop – should have that saved by the end of April. I have also already put away more than half the amount I plan to save for Christmas this year. This will be a spendy year but it will all be paid for in cash, step by step.

    Continue to take lunches & snacks to the office, wash and reuse foil and ziplocs, do some hand laundry, do some mending as needed and stay out of stores! I look forward to reading about everyone’s adventures for the past two weeks.

    1. When you start looking for an iPad, it might be worth looking at second-hand ones on eBay. I’ve been really happy with the laptop I bought there in September, and it was a fraction (30%) of what I would have had to pay for a new computer. It has a one-year warranty, too.

      I’ve been eating fish more often, too – twice a week is the goal. Though lots of fish is too pricy for me, I can usually find frozen sole or fresh or canned salmon at a price I can afford. I find the Independent store (part of the Loblaw chain) in the next town over has an especially good selection of frozen and fresh fish, though I don’t get over there very often. I feel especially well on the day after I eat fish, so that’s motivating.

    2. Wow Margie, your plan for the ipad is great. What company do you use for the eyeglasses? I saved a lot of money by going with Bon Look but if you have multi-focals I think it’s better to go to a brick and mortar store. I’ve Costco does great glasses. And it’s impressive you’ve saved half for Christmas.

      1. Ann 0 I get my glasses from my optometrist – he always has a great selection and I’ve always found it cheaper in the long run. I have a very complicated prescription so I feel more comfortable with him – can’t believe he hasn’t retired as yet – I’ve only ever saw him – since I was 9!

        Elizabeth – I may take a look at E-Bay – thank you for the suggestion. Fish is so expensive but then – so is meat right now! I was at St. Lawrence Market yesterday and the price of seafood is eye watering! I will have to add in more vegetarian meals to balance it out.

        Margaret – glad you got to take advantage of the sale prices! I have a lot of items on my “to buy” list this year but I’m determined not to use a CC so I will have to be patient (hopefully it will make me appreciate things more when I do buy them).

  20. I am thankful for all the preparing we do for the unexpected. A week and a half ago in the middle of KY we got hurricane force winds without the water. Totally unusual for us. We got hit with 75 mph winds. Thankfully our only damage is missing shingles so we will need a new roof and we have insurance with a low deductible to make that more bearable. We were without electricity for only 6 hours (others were without for 5 days) and had flashlights to make that easier. Last week my husband was out of town and the kids and I all came down with a cold. We were able to eat yummy foods from the pantry that brought us comfort. Lists and schedules also made it easy for me to make sure what had to get done did- so no late fees on paying bills late.

    1. The “Kentucky Hurricane” was something! We only lost part of a tree, but there are huge trees down all over town (B.G.). Between this storm and the tornado in December of 2021, our area has tragically lost thousands of beautiful trees.

    2. What part of KY? The trucks were out cutting limbs the day before the storm and we didn’t lose power, which is shocking as we could lose it a full week at a time many times in the past.

      1. Didn’t realize so many central KY readers on this blog 😁. I’m actually in Glendale directly across from the new Ford battery plant coming in. We call it the new mini city 😂😂. Was glad they decided to cancel the schools that day so I was babysitting grandsons. we only lost 7 big trees but they went away from our house and and any neighbors homes so no one had any structural damage. people across street from us who were in direct line of winds lost their shingles.

    3. Southeastern KY here. 75 mile winds as well. No damage, but was without electric for 48 hours. Both freezers are so full that nothing thawed and lost nothing! Being prepared for bad weather, used the propane fireplace, had battery lanterns and head lamps, cooked on the Blackstone. I have a battery pack and a Halo that I charged up before it hit and had to recharge in the car only 1 time to keep cell and laptop battery charged.

  21. Hello all. I remember sometime in the past there was a discussion regarding ways to increase a mother’s milk supply. Since that in no way applied to me, I did not take real notice and have no idea when that was. However, now my dear DIL is struggling with milk production for our newborn granddaughter. I would love to have some of those ideas to share with her. Thank you for any and all suggestions.

    1. What worked for me was pumping twice a day, five minutes each side, then ten minutes each side, and drinking an insane amount of water. I tried all kinds of other methods and this is what worked for me. I had to really work at it with each of my babies. I met with a lactation consultant on the third and she had me do the pumping. It is important to put in the time even when nothing is coming out, which is usually what happened with me. I would be lucky to get half an ounce at once.

      I persevered and nursed the two youngest longer than the first nine. It was hard work but it did help.

      1. Thank you, Brandy. I think that’s what she’s experiencing-minimal milk after pumping. She said she gets maybe an ounce. I will pass along your advice and encourage her to persevere. Fortunately, I always had plenty of milk so had little advice to give her. She met recently with a lactation consultant again though I don’t yet know the outcome. Thanks again for your response. I hope it will be helpful to her.

    2. Oatmeal really helped my milk production. I struggled with my daughter and when I switched to eating oats for breakfast (usually with berries or peaches and a little cream), is when I saw a big difference. Adding flax also helps, but I did not always do that. I also worked very hard at staying hydrated (tough in my climate here in the Rockies) but drinking lots of water or vitamin water with extra electrolytes did help. Sometimes just adding a little fruit to my water made it easier to drink huge volumes. Good luck to your sweet DIL and blessings on the new grandbaby!!! ❤️

      1. Thank you, Melissa! We are totally thrilled, especially since it’s our first grandchild. 🙂 I will pass along your suggestion regarding the oatmeal. I have blueberries from my bushes in the freezer so I can take some of those as well when we go this weekend. Those are good strategies for drinking more water. I know she is trying to stay hydrated, but your ideas may make it easier to consume larger amounts. Many thanks again!

      1. Thank you, Marybeth. She has been trying to rest as much as possible. She has been anemic so has needed to rest a bit due to that as well, though she is doing better of late. I will continue to remind her about remaining hydrated as that seems to be a common recommendation. Thank you again for commenting.

        1. If she is taking iron supplements for anemia, some side effects might be constipation, diarrhea, etc. So drinking extra fluids for the iron supplements as well as for the breast feeding might be important. Any supplements or medications could be discussed with the lactation consultant.

          1. That’s a good point, Heidi Louise regarding the iron supplements. We will see them this weekend and I’ll have a chance to talk more in depth with my DIL regarding her meeting with the lactation consultant. I’m going with some of the suggestions from here in tow-blueberries for oatmeal, beverages with electrolytes. flax meal and moral support for rest and increased pumping as well. When we’ve gone previously, DIL’s been able to nap while we watched/held/loved on the baby 🙂 Thanks for your response.

    3. Lynn,
      I struggled to produce milk after the birth of my first child. I was able to get a hospital grade pup on loan from my lactation consultant. If your daughter does not get positive support from her hospital’s lactation consultant look for another! I went to a hospital that I did not deliver at and it made all the difference. I was extremely anemic also. My days revolved around pumping, drinking, resting, and baby care. My husband stepped in an handled the rest. After a month I was producing enough milk to exclusively breast feed. It was a lot of hard work. My son was easy going enough to take formula when necessary. Prayers that your daughter in law has success!

      1. Thank you, Deanna. Your situation sounds very similar to my sweet DIL’s as well. That’s a good point about switching consultants if she feels she isn’t being well supported. She reports that my son has been quite helpful, and when we’ve been there, he has been very “hands on” with the baby and performing the household chores, which I was glad to see. It has allowed her to rest more. Thankfully, the baby has taken a bottle with donor milk and formula as needed and is gaining weight. Thank you for your prayers.

  22. Gosh! Thank you for your generous and helpful suggestions on reuseable TP, tissue, and paper towels! You are so kind and these are all wonderful ideas I will use! You are all brilliant!

  23. Your garden is lovely ,mine looks bare and outside planting won’t start for 2 weeks.

    I was unwell for a weeks so no shopping was done and nothing was purchased. This is the most frugal thing I have done. I am going to Aldi in the morning, I am dreading the prices.

    Since I felt better I have planted a little more garlic, done the laundry and dried it on the airer and read library books. It has rained most of the last week so all the water butts are full and all the watering cans and buckets that I stood outside are also full. All my seeds are now in the greenhouse, pea seeds are soaking and will be potted tomorrow.

    Have a good week everyone

  24. Minnesota is now having its 8th snowiest winter since 1980 with 80 inches of snow so far (average is 50 something). We’re getting snow every couple of days… so no thoughts of spring planting anytime soon.

    I’ve decided 2 meals and a snack are enough for me. I have fruit in place of breakfast and then eat lunch and dinner and that feels right.
    I’ve found many gf recipes, among the normal and vegan ones at http://www.Skinnytaste.com I love that all the recipes list calories, protein etc. I’ve been stuck in the soup section for awhile and have several individual containers of soup in the freezer. Everything I’ve tried I’ve been able to customize to my tastes.

      1. If you can get a subscription to the NY Times through your library, you may want to check out their recipes for soups. I have found several new-to-me soups that are not part of our regular rotation. Sometimes there are some unusual spices used but I find substitutions for those on the internet and the soups still turn out fine.

        1. I can. I just need to figure out how to set it up. Thank you for that reminder. I have been wanting to do that.

  25. I’m glad you got to help your friend, Brandy. That’s an important thing to do!

    I’m getting my raised beds ready for planting, but one still has carrots growing in it, so it will wait a bit longer. I’m topping with fresh soil and adding some compost from my local food co-op. I’ll throw in some worm castings from my worm buckets, too.

    I found enough scrap material to make a small sewing project without purchasing anything.

    I pruned my citrus trees, cutting off freeze damage. I’m so relieved to see that all four of my small fruit trees and all of my berry plants survived the series of four nights with hard freezes.

    I earned more money on my Capital One shopping app and will purchase a $10 gift card with it.

    The grocery store had $2 coupons (!) on a brand of mayonnaise that I use, so I made sure to buy some.

    Another store had a good sale on the face cream I use and I snapped up some of it, too. I try to remember to watch for sales on things I know I’ll use.

    I gave myself a manicure, less polish.

    I had one lonely chicken breast in the freezer, so I used a crock pot recipe with lots of vegetables to stretch it.

    The photos are lovely, as always, Brandy!

  26. I keep thinking of you Brandy, and others in the arid and drought stricken southwest, as the rain and snow accumulate. It is unbelievable all the snow and rain that has fallen, but I remember snowpack was important for water out that way as well as rain. Sure hoping all of that precipitation will be helpful, despite the awful floods.

    We continue to eat from the freezer and pantry, using up items that have been in there a while. After 2 ½ months, I’m making good headway. I’m picking up loss leaders, but it is getting harder to stick to my budget. I used a rain check for 4 dozen eggs @ 2.97/doz instead of the current price of 4.49. I used a promotion to get a box of free pasta and a free smoothie. I picked up some frozen BLSL chicken breasts for 1.79 lb and used a rewards promotion to get $4 off my order at another store.

    I fixed roast beef and gravy and remade the leftovers into new dishes on additional nights. We had sauteed broccoli leaves that were tasty. I had canned chicken, and it says the can is one serving. I made chicken salad with it, adding celery, craisins, nuts and mayo to stretch it to make several sandwiches for DH and me-more than 1 serving. I made scratch biscuits for breakfast and picked my resilient lettuce for salads-whose leaves are growing big now with the warm, unusual late Feb/early March weather we are having.

    We usually go out to dinner to celebrate our anniversary. We decided this year that we would eat sale steaks from the freezer as well as other items available. It was a delicious meal, and we were content to be at home. We made our own coffee and tea and the other usual second nature things that many here do as well-full dishwasher loads, line/rack drying laundry as possible, watching water and electricity use, using cloth napkins, reusable grocery bags, recycling, composting, etc. I try to remember to plan ahead so that I have items defrost naturally in the refrigerator without having to use the microwave when I forget until the last minute.

    We traveled to see our beautiful little newborn granddaughter again. She’s a month old. I took my son cookies I made from puff pastry that had been in the freezer. We used a gas promotion and paid 2.91/gal. We drove the new car which gets great gas mileage which comes in handy with all the travel to see the baby. My dear SIL invited us to stay with her as they live nearby so we didn’t have to stay in a hotel.

    We took sandwiches to eat on the road for our trip. We typically do this, but recently had to pick up food 1 time while traveling. I was shocked at the cost of fast-food meals now. We took water with us as well as some snacks to avoid purchases along the way.

    Following all the discussion here regarding eBooks from the library, I signed up for that service and have read 2 books thus far. I’m enjoying it. I read Cooking Scrappy. Thank you to whoever mentioned it here. I hope everyone has a wonderful frugal week!

  27. I love your counsel to ask deeper questions when speaking with our friends. Connection is so important, especially in times of difficulty like we are in now. And now bank failures!? I just found out that the company my daughter works for used Silicon Valley Bank, so this far-away happening, sure isn’t very far away anymore. Yikes! She said they used a different bank for payroll and the employees have been assured the company will get it’s money out, but very scary. Hoping it’s not the beginning of a pattern like last time. * My birthday was last week and I felt very loved and seen with thoughtful gifts that I love and can use. I got 3 -One Pound skeins of yarn, a grown up coloring book and new colored pencils, an indoor herb garden kit (I can’t do the big outside garden anymore), a warm hat and glove bearing the colors of my favorite football team (but not logo’d so much less expensive), and some holiday decor I find delightful but would never buy for myself. I also received a Joann’s and Culvers gift card from a friend. Fun ahead for me!* It continues to snow. And snow. And snow. Hoping this will help our drought (without dangerous flooding). Hoping all that are in the path of destructive weather are safe and hanging in there. * Still read, crochet and knit for fun. *I’ve been coming in within the food budget, but only by buying less, which I can only do for so long. * I wish everyone a safe, thrifty and happy week!

    1. The company my husband works for remotely uses SVB, too. They have been told to look out for fraud as the potential for nefarious people pretending to be the new banks they are routing customers to is high. Unsettling to say the least.

  28. As usual , I am prowling around like a country opposum. I brought home a new in box small fan and a space heater. 15 pounds of ground chuck and a crate of greenbeans . I was happy to get 8 boxes of mucinex and prilosec. Lil Henry’s grandmother has confirmed they are in need of food. Through carelessness the daughter has lost her enormous amount of foodstamps. Blessings should not be taken for granted. As I collect food I will collect for her. Honestly I get so much I couldn’t possibly post it all. I do try to stick to meat and vegetables and a few fruits for us. I found a 30 day trial of Paramount. I turned off the auto renewal and it gave me another 30 days. I tried new makeup and returned it. It definitely didn’t live up to its sales pitch. They sent me a 50 dollar giftcard. I’m going to try a primer. Meanwhile today is pretty. I’m going to go through my food and pull items for lil Henry. I’m fighting the pollen and grateful for having all the products I need. We are spending less than 5 dollars a week on food items to round out our weekly menu. I visited my dad and had a lovely visit. He shyly requested a book. I explained that buying him books was my blessing and we ordered two. I’m so happy I’m in a position to get them for him. Our needs are few and our blessings great. Have a great week.

    1. Lillianna, “prowling around like a country opossum”! You made me chuckle. It is amazing what all you find. Lil Henry’s family is lucky to have such a generous friend as yourself. That’s great you can indulge your father’s requests as well. I hope you are having success in getting your daughter’s A1C back down to a safe level. Take good care.

  29. Hei from Norway! Your garden looks lovely! It inspires me to plan for the spring, which still sleeps deeply under a fresh cover of snow. But even here the sun had some triumphs as we had two lovely weeks full of hope and promise. Here is what I accomplished in that time:
    1. The soil in my unheated glasshouse thawed then and I used Brandy´s advice and buried foodscraps there. I also had my son throw some snow in every morning, which melted in the heat of day and watered the dried out dirt.
    2. My husband was able to chop some wood. We were also gifted 4 bags of wood by my dad in law who bought it on sale. We are still in the energy crisis here as the costs of electricity rose from our usual 0,13 NOK kilowatt an hour to about 140 NOK kw|h (some days were 118 NOK, some others 180NOK). Warmer weather made it possible for us to turn down the heating indoors and prepare the wood for the much expected return of winter.
    3. We are fasting as it is the season of lent. We do not eat meat, sweets and snacks. (My kids also gave up TV, unless we would watch a documentary for home school.) This brings the cost of groceries significantly down. It also makes us be more appreciative of the simple meals we make. Since this is 40 days period, we get to really explore meatless meal ideas. I use up my canned beans from the pantry which also cuts down the cooking time(energy needed) of every meal. I gave up cofee and watching korean series.The only exception to the fast is on my youngest boys birthday.
    4. We celebrated Julius turning 4 yo this Sunday. I baked for a couple of hours at night which helped me do it in peace and pay less for all that electricity. My husband had to work late on a work asigment so we chatted and had some time together like when we were students. I baked brownies which I cut up and decorated with nonstop to look like lego pieces. I baked a chocolate cake which takes 25 minutes. I also made grisini which baked along side cakes. On the day I served tapas and finish-baked 8 pizzas. My son made pinata for his brother with the materials he had in his stash. We also picked up a free birthday pack from KIWI shop, which included baloons, candles, paper straws, paper cups and plates, crown for birthday child and invitations. It is available for kids until the age of 7. We used the paper plates for cakes which cut down on washing. My son has never seen single use cups and plates and was so upset when we started throwing those to the trash. We decorated with our usual birthday decor- garlands of flags (made 10 years ago from my husbands old shirts and yet still I get compliments on them) and birthday ring which I bought second hand in Vienna.
    I froze leftovers for further use.
    5. I am astonished at food prices. I bought some produce from too good to go bin. I baked banana breads with some overripe bananas(on that baking night, from that produce bin) and was just so grateful for all the meals which were delicious and nourishing.
    I see how much we are saving in the fast, but produce is just so expensive! I am determined to grow more food no matter what. I regrew green onions which I bought at sale some weeks ago and grew some sprouts. Just those simple things can help me put more greens into our diet. I will keep on finding ways! I wander if someone here uses hydrophonics? I wonder if that could be an alternative here. I also have seen some salad towers on peoples vlogs in the past, maybe that sort of thing could help me get more greens to my kitchen. I just am not sure how economical is it really. Anyone knows?
    6. Inspired by last week´s comments and by the spring weather I cleaned out my box of seeds. I made some mistake when storing my seeds and many got spoiled! My dad took pity when I wined to him about it over whatsapp and send me a pack with some seeds from Poland. I love my dad.
    5. I used the hours I gained from not watching korean dramas (3 hours a week!) to organizing my home. Last week I got all the clothes under control. Mine and kids´. I don´t really like to do it but I LOVE it when it´s done. A week before that I organized our storage in the garage. I am happy to use my time better.
    Thank you all for sharing your victories and ideas!

    1. A friend of mine who gardens hydroponically recently commented on a gardening group to which we both belong that building your own system is less expensive than buying a pre-made one.

    2. Hi Kinga,
      I bought a garden towers a few years ago to grow strawberries. I wanted my raised bed space for other vegetables and thought this might be a good solution. However after the two year trial, I will be adding another raised bed for the strawberries and selling the tower. They have not grown as well, or produced as much fruit, in the tower as compared to the bed. The tower I bought is self-watering, but I don’t feel it does a good job of even watering and much water just drains out the bottom. I don’t know how lettuce would do, and it may be worth a try depending on your space, but I’m going back to the raised bed. Good luck!

      1. I try to keep my eye out for free strawberry pots. The way I get even watering is to put a scrape of screen or broken pot piece to cover the hole in the bottom, then use a cardboard paper towel tube up the center as I plant, fill it with pea gravel, then top off soil and cover/plant the top of the planter. This works as to yield just as well as my in-ground strawberries, but keeps them up off the ground.

    3. Kinga,

      Happy birthday to your son – I love that his brother made a piñata. How creative!

      I purchased some hydroponic gardens from a company called Aerogarden in 2020. We have been happy with them. They use LED lights so do not take much energy. I watched the website for the best bargains, but looking on sites like Amazon might be an option too. I’m not sure if they are available in Europe, but perhaps if you look at the site you’ll have ideas of energy usage and what to compare for other companies if they are not selling there in Norway. The other thing we found is that, because the lights are so bright, when we have a crop going we do not need table lamps or kitchen lights on (depending on the layout of our house – we moved in 2020 and 2022 for the US military, so at one house they were in the dining area which was closed off from more rooms; now they go on the kitchen peninsula and our floor plan is more open). When they come on at 0600 the whole living area and kitchen are brightly lit and the light shines down the hall to the bedroom and wakes us! So I’ve counted it a savings as no other lamps are on from 0600-2000 while the lettuces grow.

      The inserts and fertilizer cost a bit but can also be gotten on sale, and the inserts also have the option of using your own seeds and just using their little peat pellet in it, vs their seeds and all premade.

      I hope that helps a bit! Their site is http://www.aerogarden.com to give you ideas to look at.

      1. Maria, Thank you for this useful idea! Strawberries are our national pride as we get the nicest berries due to long hours of light and low heat, so I am always looking for more ways to grow bigger crop.

        Melonie K.
        How wonderful that you shared this with me! I love to hear from someone who actually tried this. I love to think of it as doubling for the normal lights. It is just so helpful to have a place to start from when looking into those systems, otherwise it can become overwhelming quickly which is what happened to me in the past! Thank you!

        1. I’m so glad it helped give you a starting point, Kinga – looking forward to hearing more when you find something that works out for your family! Happy growing! 😀

        1. Most everyone is in Oslo with one cousin in Alta. My great-grandfather built a home on Hanko which was in the family until recently. I haven’t been to Norway since I was a teenager but the beauty of it has always stayed with me. I have always thought where I live in the Appalachian Mountains of western North Carolina looks a lot like Norway without the fjords. 🙂

    4. Kinga, I hope you will help me with a translation! I painted an entire bisque snow village when I was single and my husband is in love with it. For 30 years he has set it up. He wants to name it and I suggested he name it from his father’s Norwegian name. His family is from Flekkasfjord ( no idea how to spell it!!!). He loved that idea and we want it to be something like “Smith Village”, but in Norwegian. Can you help me translate the ‘village’ and how it would be written? His father passed almost 20 years ago so we can’t ask him. I would so appreciate it!! I’d like to paint a little village sign for my husband’s Christmas present. Thank you!!

      1. Hi Debby! What an interesting story! I love it! Smith Village would translate to ´Smedbygda´. Smed is Smith and Bygda is Village. Smedbygda would be written as one word and pronounced something like ´Smeh-Beegdah´, (´d´in Smed is silent). I hope this helps. Flekkefjord is a lovely place down southern part of Norway, I haven´t been there but it looks very charming on pictures 🙂

    5. Hej Kinga!
      I just don’t buy or grow salad greens anymore. In winter time I buy cabbage and slice it thinly (with a cheese slicer, I guess a mandoline works as well), drizzle with olive oil, ACV, salt and black pepper. I add something else if it’s a meal in itself (cheese, boiled eggs). I also make sauerkraut (fermented cabbage) which I love 😀 Cabbage is reasonable cheap even now. As to growing greens we have been blessed with plenty of wild bunnies so in summertime I pick wild greens.

      1. You are right, Miriam! I also make shredded cabbage with shredded carrot and apple, which my kids love. I will use more cabbage in general I think. Such an underrated veggie. Thanks for sharing a new idea to use it.

  30. Your flowering plum blossoms are lovely. I also like the borders of onions!
    Pages from telephone books and income tax guides make good grease absorbers for fried food.
    When I sew or discard old clothes I like to cut the fabric into squares of about 6″. Kept under the sink, they are handy to get all the grease from pans before dishwashing. Keeps drains clean.
    I agree with you that chard is a very useful plant. I have some little magenta sprouts showing from chard seeds that I’ve started indoors. I still have over three feet of snow on the garden but gardeners are optimists. Right?
    I was disappointed with Bernardin canning lids that I bought last year particularly for pressure canning as I wanted the best and have had the rubber from a Chinese brand soften terribly in the past. Unfortunately the Bernardin lids are not what they used to be. Half of my canned corn was spoiled and some jam. I could reboil the jam but the corn was tossed. I’m going to stop pressure canning as it’s cheaper to buy canned or frozen veg than waste with defective lids.
    Nice to catch up with the news from ‘the regulars’. Also noting that prices are coming down on some things. Hoping for a sale on butter soon!

  31. I didn’t know you can use epsom salt in water to fertilize plants! I can’t wait to try it.

    The past 2 weeks:
    *received quite a few gift cards for my birthday plus was treated to lunch and a pastry!
    *scoped out Barnes and Noble for book ideas and then reserved them all at the library
    *found a cute shirt at a thrift store for $1.50
    *spent a lot of time shopping around for temporary health insurance. Think we found an option that will save a few hundred a month (compared to Cobra)!
    *one of my favorite British shows has new episodes on Britbox so I signed up for the free 7 day trial subscription
    *lunch & dessert provided at work – enough to last 2 meals
    📍Grocery Store: 99 cent blackberries, bacon $2.99/lb
    eggs were 1.88/dozen at my Walmart and 1.99 at Aldi!
    📍Buy Nothing Group: tortellini soup mix

    Have a great week ❤️

    1. Don’t use very much! It’s magnesium, and plants don’t need much, but it’s particularly helpful for roses. It helps them to produce new canes. It can also be helpful to citrus.

      1. I also put a small spoon of epsom salts in the holes when I plant tomatoes. I dissolve it in the water before putting the plant in. My FIL said it helps to prevent blossom end rot on the tomatoes. Have not had that problem since I started with the epsom salts.

      2. I wonder if you could use the Epsom salt water from a bath for fertilizing? I sometimes do an Epsom salt soaking bath, and it just occurred to me that you might be able to reuse some of that water this way.

  32. It’s always inspiring to read about all the things you’ve done. I hope the millet will work out well for you. Lots of our wintersown plants are coming up, with the marigolds and zinnias being especially robust. I started tomatoes and peppers, with six varieties of tomatoes and five of peppers. Instead of using a heating mat, I tucked them under the woodstove for germination. The range hood and filters were scrubbed, and the stove and oven were cleaned. Some cabinets were wiped out. I picked up sticks in the yard, and began cleaning flower beds. Frugal fail: I went through more of the pantry, and found things that were long past sell by dates, and other things I can no longer eat. Some very old granola bars were composted, a couple of things were given to the pups, an apple/berry sauce cup was added to the chickens mash, a few sodas my husband will use, and a few were thrown away. As I’ve been able, I worked on the cross stitch piece that will be a gift. Never much at one time, but I’m making progress. Laundry was dried on the line. Early in the week, our temperatures were a bit of a roller coaster, which meant the woodstove did not stay consistently hot. I ended up dumping the pot of veggie scraps that I’d had on the stove to simmer, as I wasn’t sure it would be safe, even after canning. When temperatures got consistently colder, over the weekend, I put a fresh pot of scraps on the woodstove, and canned broth today. Two bills were paid online, saving stamps. With yesterday being raw and rainy, I wanted to make soup for dinner. My husband suggested potato leek, and harvested the leeks for me. I made the recipe from one of my first and favorite cookbooks, The Enchanted Broccoli Forest. During the week, broccoli, lettuce, oregano and asparagus were harvested. Library books were picked up, and are being read. https://abelabodycare.blogspot.com/2023/03/groovy-boots.html

  33. I rather erratically keep some amaryllis bulbs going, (currently six, has been as high as fifteen, from clearance sales and gifts), by rotating them between the basement, outside, the window sill, etc. I just brought the rather-forgotten pots up from the basement where they were supposed to be dormant and unwatered. Five have little slit starts, and the sixth has an eight inch stem with a flower bulb! I look forward to it opening.
    When we had our water heater repaired, I think the temperature got reset to a higher temperature. I used my candy thermometer in a glass of hot tap water to get a baseline temperature. Because the dial on the heater is near the floor and has small print, I need to take my husband’s iPad downstairs and take a photo of it so I can look at it, enlarged if necessary, before I start turning knobs. That will be easier than sitting down on the floor and having to get back up.
    One of our double-pane windows is foggy on the inside and from what I’ve looked up online, it means a seal has broken. Has anyone ever dealt with this?
    Good week, all!

    1. I’ve had seals break twice. I called a glass company and they came out and changed the glass. I don’t think it is a DIY job, and paying someone to replace it was cheaper than a new window (which we could have done ourselves).

    2. Same as Maxine-the glass company came out and replaced the window pane, not the entire window unit. I was so relieved as it had happened on 6 of our windows (older home).

  34. It seems like we were decidedly un-frugal the past couple weeks. I’ll be honest – I’m still dealing with the loss of my mom, and sometimes my husband will take me to stores just to get me to get out of the house and encourage me to spend money. It does give me a brief spurt of happiness, but then it’s gone, I’m still sad about my mom, and then I’m worried about the budget. Plus I have no interest in cooking, so I will suggest ordering something just so my husband doesn’t have to cook, and I don’t feel guilty about not cooking.
    I did ask him to help me plan meals for this week, something he hates doing, but we did. We went through our two freezers (one in the fridge and a small chest freezer) to inventory what we have in it to better plan, and we have a meal plan for the week, using up older meat before it goes bad.
    I’m hoping the weather decides to stick to spring soon so that I can get outside more, walking and just enjoying the sunshine, which will hopefully help my mood.

    1. Alice, I am so sorry for the loss of your mother.

      The world wants us to all be okay, but the truth is, we need time to grieve.

      I’m glad your husband is being helpful.

    2. Alice, my sincere condolences in the loss of your mother. Give yourself plenty of time for the grieving process. Perhaps spring will come soon and lighten your mood. ((hugs))

    3. Alice I lost my Mom in2012 and there are still days….. be kind to yourself and you will slowly get into a groove
      Outside will definitely help
      Sending encouragement and understanding
      Take care

    4. Alice, Minnesota author Louise Erdrich wrote poignantly about grief. She wrote, ´´Sorrow eats time. Be patient. Time eats sorrow.´´ This quote from her book LaRose comforted me when my father passed away. I hope it brings you comfort too.

    5. Alice
      I am so sorry about your mom. Give yourself time to grieve because there no time limit on grief and everyone grieves differently. I still miss my mom and she died in 2004.

  35. My youngest moved into an apartment with a friend. We have been going through things in the house that she wants/needs. The friend already lived in the apartment so there was already a living room and kitchen set up with some items. My son is still looking for an apartment. He would prefer to live alone so he has a smaller budget to look at.
    Thrift finds this week was an entire HP softcover collection. The kids take their books with them and I love HP so for 50¢ each I am happy to have my own set. I also got a very cute t-shirt for $1.
    Buitoni fresh pasta was on sale B/1/G/1 free. They are $3.49 each for 9 oz. Ibotta had $1.50 back up to five so I got 4. It cost me 98¢ for 4 packs.
    I found out that I can get 9 seed packs at a local library even though it isn’t my library. A friend and I are going later this week. I am getting ready to plant my seeds. My son and I pulled out my little green house, grow lights and seed starting trays. Hubby got me a bag of potting mix when he had to go to Home Depot so it saved me a trip.
    One day when my daughter came over we made 2 batches of banana chip muffins. One was GF for her and the other was for us.
    Hubby and I went to see my dad. He is doing much better. My sister stopped over and gave me 2 bags of clothes. Some are my style so I will pass them onto another sister.
    Hubby needs special orthopedic shoes. The doctor recommended several brands. We bought 2 pairs of insoles that he will use in shoes he already has. We also got 2 pairs with a get 2nd pair 50% off. He has been doing his feet exercise everyday. I started doing them too figuring it couldn’t hurt.

  36. I really appreciate your mending moments. I have been doing a years worth of mending this week. Always something I never find time for. God saw fit to slow me down. I was chasing 4 roosters with a broom who were aftery rescue cats I tripped on a paver and broke my foot. First beak ever and I’m 47. I’m very lucky it’s just the front bones of my foot and am able to use an air cast but doctor ordered me completely off my feet for 10 days. I can’t even sit still normally to watch a movie! I have tackled mending clothes,rugs, and even a mattress pad. My husband brings me things to chop at the table I froze another 200 bananas in slices from our latest bunch. I won’t be able to drive for 6 weeks I have a manual clutch. Looking forward to working on lots of ” sitting projects”

      1. Thanks Brandy I really appreciate it. I found a book on stretching today on Amazon it’s a kindle unlimited book so I was able to get it for free. I also picked up a book that’s older from 2010 called The Art of Eating In how I learned to stop spending and love the stove. We don’t eat out but it’s always fun to read these sorts of self discovered frugality books.

    1. I m sorry to hear you broke your foot and wish you a quick recovery. I understand how you feel, as I broke my leg last summer – it was so hard for me to ask for help ! Once I did, many were happy to help.

      1. Thank you Mary for the kind thoughts. Hope your surviving the rain/snow. My family is in Northern California.

        1. Thank you Natasha! It’s been interesting weather wise here but we are safe! We are in Central CA.

    2. Take care Natasha – it is amazing that you are still managing to do so much from a sitting position.

      1. Thank you for the good thoughts Margie. Hope your not getting to much snow with this latest storm.

    3. Natasha – I love that you have looked at the unfortunate fact of a broken foot as an opportunity to catch up on seated tasks. The power of positive thinking! Hope you heal quickly and gets loads of things done. 🙂

      1. Thank you Dawn. I’ll admit I’m tackling tasks that have gone undone for a while. The next is to organize my many recipe binders.

  37. The lines in your garden are so clean. The hyacinths are gorgeous.
    Quite a bit happened over the last two weeks, considering we are not yet into gardening season.
    I found 2-pound bags of clementines for $1.98. Over the course of the two weeks, I got 6 bags. The DH and I love them, plus I brought a bag to work to put out for the office. Being tax season, people are always bringing treats. I decided to bring a healthy treat. They were gone in two days.
    I had a coupon for a free pound of Jimmy Dean sausage. That was great. Went into the freezer.
    For meals I made chicken fajitas, using chicken and peppers from the freezer, onions we have stored, and seasoning mix that my sister gives me each year. I also made lasagna, Spanish rice, chicken tortilla soup, chow mein, cauliflower soup, pizza, baked potatoes, porcupine meatballs, corn with thyme butter, and asparagus.
    Cooked three cups of white beans in the instant pot that were from last year’s garden. Used two cups cooked to make Brandy’s white bean dip. Had with carrots that were 49¢ a pound in a two-pound bag. Put the other 4 cups in the freezer, in two cup bags for future use.
    Made two batches of blueberry muffins. Didn’t have enough blueberries, so stirred in some huckleberry jam, that was nearing its end. Also made 2 dozen herb and cheese muffins.
    Worked nine days the last two weeks. Was treated to lunch once by a client who I helped get through an IRS audit. Another time I had a gift card for a free lunch that had to be used by March 15th, so used that. Otherwise, I brought breakfast and lunch all days.
    Had popcorn for dinner twice.
    Visited my son, his wife and my darling granddaughter. Brought them a lasagna, chicken tortilla soup, Spanish rice, and a dozen each of the blueberry and herb and cheese muffins. I had been wanting to go down and help them (they live about 100 miles away) so the DH and I left early one Saturday morning, and spent the day, coming home Saturday night. I was able to help around their house, doing laundry, folding clothes and towels, doing dishes, and of course holding the baby. My DH and son had some time during the day to just hang out.
    Best deals, other than the clementines and free sausage, were two bags of potatoes in the ugly produce section of the store for $1.00. The bags had a total of 13 large potatoes in them. Also got avocados for 48¢ each, 93% lean ground beef for $2.88 a pound in 3-pound rolls, bagged salads for $1.00 per bag (got 2 coleslaw and 2 spinach) – I had a $4.00 off produce coupon for those, red peppers for 78¢ each and more sausage for $2.49 per pound. Our favorite pizza topping is sausage, so those all went in the freezer.
    My other son is getting married in August, and his bride-to-be was pretty specific about what she wanted both of the mothers to wear. At least the color – it had to be lavender. I have been looking for a dress for the last three months, and finally found one that I like and she does too. I am glad, as I do not like to go clothes shopping. Now it is done, and I don’t have to think about it anymore. It was even under my budget.
    Hope everyone has a good week.

    1. Nancy, our lives seem to be mirroring yours right now. Our son and daughter in law have a baby girl as well! They are 200+ miles away, so a bit farther away-sadly-though it could be much worse. It breaks our hearts when we leave. I too take food when we visit. We are heading that way this weekend and I’m trying to decide what to take. You gave me some ideas. They are quite appreciative of prepared food. We try to do some of the household chores too and hope to give them a chance to grab some lunch or coffee while we babysit and hold the baby too. 🙂 Congratulations to both of us on our new darling little granddaughters! 🙂

      1. I’ve found that meals like breakfast casseroles or baked oatmeal go over well. These can be served most any time and are usually pretty nutritious for a nursing mother. I know that I personally struggled to maintain weight while nursing, so having some snacks with healthy fats, like homemade energy bites or copy cat aussie bites were great. (I realize not everyone has this problem, but for me having snacks filled with healthy fats was really huge.)

        1. Alysson, I took a breakfast casserole for our last visit and it was well received. The idea of baked oatmeal is a good one and I think my DIL might like some of the energy bites. My son is quite thin, so he could stand to eat some of those as well! I think I’ll add those to the list of foods to prepare before we head that way on Saturday. I also received from my sweet mother today a recipe for cookies that are supposed to help with milk production. Even if they don’t, they have lots of healthy ingredients so would be good to eat for snacks. They have oats in them as well. Thank you for your comment and suggestions.

    2. Nancy, I’ve been buying those .78 red peppers, too! My husband eats them like fruit. Where do you find ugly produce? I asked about this at Fred Meyer and the produce guy looked at me like I was nuts! Thanks in advance.

      1. Maxine, it is Fred Meyer where I get the ugly produce. Mainly at the one in Spokane Valley.

      2. Hi Maxine. The Fred Meyer here has a small (about 30 inches wide by about 4 feet tall by my estimation) rack that looks like a bookcase that is green colored. It is near the bananas in our local store. Apparently, when fruits and/or vegetables start looking past their prime, the employees make up small bagfuls of it. They use mesh bags and usually put four fruits, etc. in each bag. There is a tag with a barcode on the bag, so that when you scan the code, the sale price of $1 will scan. (Each small mesh bagful costs $1 at our store.) You may not have noticed the rack because it probably was empty. The rack at our store is frequently empty, and sometimes the four pieces of fruit when weighed cost about the same as the regular priced fruit, but I have found some great deals there. Another thing I look for at Fred Meyer is over in the salad greens and mixes section. Often I can find greens like spinach, spring mix, and sometimes leaf lettuce in plastic boxes with stickers on the top of the lids with a marked down price. Those salad making greens seem to last pretty well. I especially get them when I have all the kids home to eat salad. There are several other places I get produce here as well. Well, I hope you are fortunate enough to find some things you like.

      3. Maxine, that reminds me, when my friend goes to Krogers she looks for the crippled meat. She always finds good food. I’ll ask her if she looks for ugly fruit too.

  38. Hello, frugal friends from the cold, snowy Appalachian Mountains of south west Virginia. Our weather has been up and down but soon should be nice enough to work in the garden. I am recovering nicely from my bypass surgery and hope to be able to do some light gardening by April. Because I am staying home for the most part it has been easy to be frugal. We were able to turn the heat down a degree or two because we put more layers on and I sit under a blanket when I am resting. We have a a small cuddly dog who likes to sleep on my lap which keeps me warm as well. We stopped at the grocery store on our way back from my doctor’s appointment and bought $50 worth of food, mostly milk, a loaf of bread, fruit, and the sale sausage. I bought the limit of 5 sausage chubs because that is about a year’s worth for us. In the freezer they went until company comes and for Thanksgiving stuffing. We have used very little gas since I got home from the hospital. Our friends and family have kept us fed for the past month. We have frozen any extra servings. We are walking for exercise. I am up to 1/3 of a mile. I am hoping to be up to a mile by the time I start cardiac rehab at the end of the month. I have been sewing and quilting to keep busy. I checked out the book Cooking Scrappy which was recommended here. It was an interesting read with some good ideas. I am waiting for a couple of other books I requested for purchase at the library. My goal is to be back to my “normal” life by Easter. Again, thank you for the thoughts and prayers during my adventure.

    1. Marley – Glad you are recovering so well. Sending warm thoughts from our side of the Appalachians! It’s snowing as I write this. 🙂

    2. Hi Marley. I’m happy you are doing well and are able to get back to normal soon. Thanks for keeping us posted.

  39. Hi Everyone!
    Thanks for the reminder to check in with old friends, Brandy. You are so right about the social media highlight reel being deceptive about how people are really doing.

    I’m glad that I started my seeds late this year. Our weather has been harsh this winter compared to most and I can’t plant anything outdoors yet. On the positive side, we are getting the rain and snow pack that was desperately needed! On the downside, we lost power for the third time this winter over the weekend and may lose it again tomorrow with the incoming storm. The wind was like nothing I’ve experienced here before. We lost a few panels of fencing that will need to be repaired with our neighbor. We don’t know yet if the cost will be covered by insurance yet. It may end up being out of pocket, but at least it will be a shared cost.

    One sunny day last week, I took advantage and started some garden clean up. I weeded, pruned and collected snail treats for our hens. LOL! I also harvested kale, carrots, turnips and radishes. I have some nice cabbage heads that I’ll need to use soon, too. We harvested most of our lemons before the storm. I canned 7 pints of lemon juice and dehydrated the zest. This makes usage so easy! I’ve been thinking of searching for some tea recipes that use lemon zest too, but haven’t gotten to it yet. If anyone has a link, please share!

    Also before the storm, I made some lemon poppyseed muffins. I tried a new recipe, but didn’t like it as it was too dense and not lemony enough. I made sure we had a loaf of homemade sandwich bread on-hand as well. I purposely did not have a full refrigerator before the storm and we had to throw some leftovers out, but not much was lost. We were better prepared this time, had free firewood on hand and did laundry in advance. Fingers crossed for tomorrow’s storm! Our area is getting drowned with overflowing rivers and flooded roads and freeways.

    I had a movie gift certificate on hand. I went to see the Jesus Revolution with a friend, without out of pocket cost. I wanted to see it before it left the theater and I’m glad we went. It was very well done and quite inspiring.

    Have a blessed and beautiful week. : )

  40. I love the photo of your son on his scooter. Your thoughts about communicating with our friends and family resonated.

    This week I shopped at my new to me grocery store and got several clearance items including packs of crumbed whiting fillets for 41c each x 8, roast chickens for $1.36 each x 4, hazelenut chocolate cheesecakes for 50c each x 2, packets of cut up pumpkin pieces (cubed) for 55c each x 2, 500grams (1.1pounds) of mince meat for $1 x 2 as that’s all they had left, 3 x large sized ham off the bone and cheese pizzas for 50c each. I also bought eggs, milk, butter, tea bags, garlic, pasta and bread. The cheapest cheese I can find is $10 for 1kg (2.2 pounds). The price used to be $7. I have been sparingly using our existing $7 cheese for a long while and won’t be buying more at these inflated prices.

    Meals consisted of using the above bought items plus fruit, salad and vegetables from our garden, boiled eggs, toast, sandwiches, yoghurt and oats.

    We gratefully received some madelines and cookies. We ate some for morning tea and I froze the rest for the childrens school lunches.

    The birthday party we attended provided snacks, punch, a late lunch and a few hours later dinner for my family. The snack was an assortment of cheeses and crackers which I loved. The children were excited to be given a bag of goodies to bring home.

    This weekend we are attending a childrens festival with free rides, activities, stage shows, animal encounters and sports. My daughter is hoping to do a canvas art class whilst there. I will pack drinks, snacks and lunch.

  41. Hi everyone.
    I brought two case of strawberries ate some in a bowl, made juice and jam out of them. A co- worker brought in hand soap and Mr clean cleaning rags all for free. I got three cleaner and three boxes of hand soap from her. My husband has a job interview on Tuesday he been off work since November. My checks just stretch so far. Not buying much groceries eating from my pantry. Your garden Brandy looks awesome.

    1. Lisa, I hope your husband’s job interview will go well and he will be employed soon.

  42. The shop teacher at my husband’s school did a small welding repair on my Instant Pot lid. I was very thankful as a new lid is $40!

    I’ve gotten into the habit of washing the shower curtain liner twice a month, in with a load of towels. It is keeping it looking much better, saving me by making it last longer.

    I’m working on a t-shirt quilt for my son (only 10 years after he graduated high school!!). I’ve used scrap fabric for the sashing, and his old bedroom curtains for the border and part of the back. It means that I will only have to buy 1.5 yards of new fabric for the whole quilt. I’m also doing a modified “quilt as you go” so that I don’t have to pay someone to machine quilt it.

    We are eating swiss chard, collards and kale from the garden, gifted lemons, cabbage for $1.89 (A HEAD) at Trader Joes (I picked the largest head!). I got cheese on sale for $3/lb, free baguette, and Progresso soup for $0.75 a can (kept for emergency meals) at Safeway. I rode my electric bike to get all of this, which my husband charges at work when he rides it there.

    I’m thankful for simple but tasty meals, a job to go to part-time, and seeds coming up indoors!

  43. Like many people this week, I used up the bits and pieces of gift cards for staples.

    1. Going into Target, I walked right pass all the displays. I haven’t been to a “regular” grocery store in a long time. I stay almost exclusively at Grocery outlet and plan meals from their 50 – 90% reduction items. I was pretty shocked at Target “Sales.” Heavens. So I bought a half gallon of organic milk which was a usual price and some other this and that food fillers. I bought 5 lbs of Calrose medium rice for $5.00. I honestly don’t know if this is good or not. I have mentioned before my hubby is a farmer. Once a year we get bags of rice for free. Last year we did not grow rice because of the drought. All that is left of my stash is brown rice which is not as attractive as white rice to the fam. So I will mix the white rice and the brown rice to use things up.

    2. I had 12.00 left at Marshall’s. I bought thicker peds for my work shoes to keep them more comfortable and some new daily sunscreen. I am addicted to Aveeno SPF 30. I am almost out of my $1.00 a bottle super stash. Drat! I am going to try a Nutrigena with a citrus smell. Cross my fingers. Lot cheaper than the 3.50 an ounce regularly priced Aveeno. Did not look at the clothing sales racks.

    3. Spent the $170 I had earned from a credit card going to Italy to buy prizes for my students. Usually I just pay out of pocket.

    4. I donated a pair of very uncomfortable jeans in Rome. Why bring them home? I was researching best fit for me (high rise, curvy, dark wash) to wear to work on Fridays. They were in the $100s of dollars. I found the name brands that looked good; looked up in Poshmark with a filter “New With Tags”; and got a great brand new pair with tags for $35.

    5. Forgot lunch for school today. There is no time to pick anything up during lunch. I looked tentatively up on Uber Eats. Wow! $24.00 for 1/2 sandwich and salad at Panera. . Nope. I went to the school cafeteria for a taco salad, fruit, chips and water for $5.00.

    6. Hubby wanted sushi. It is one of his rare request. We went to a Poke bowl place and spent $35.00 out the door and it was delish. The last sushi bill was $80.00 at a sit down restaurant and it wasn’t even that good.

    7. FYI i bought airline tixs to visit my son at school in Michigan. I bought the cheapest seats. After I put them in the cart they gave me an option for $90 to make each refundable. I said no. Then I was offered a $28.00 for travel insurance. That save $240 for roundtrip for the two of us.

  44. I earned a mug from our library winter reading challenge

    I also printed stuff out at library. I don’t print much, so we don’t have one at home, so at .10 a page, it’s the cheapest option.

    Redeemed a free 8×10 print at Walgreens

    Earned $13.25 from Amazon shopper panel rewards

    Used 20% off McDonald’s code, also used points for a free breakfast sandwich

    Returned a cage to Petsmart I ended up not needing

    Ate breakfast and lunches at work

    The teen got her first job. We purchased her shoes and pants she needed, with her agreeing to pay us back half when she gets paid.

    Thursday was my last day until the 20th, so I shouldn’t be driving too much.

    We got another dog. While they aren’t exactly frugal, but a friend needed help downsizing her puppies (she breeds French bulldogs) and she offered one for free because she knows we take care of our animals. We brought home a 18 month old cream color female on Wednesday, she’s just the sweetest. The boys took a couple days to warm up to her, but all is well now. She weighs 6 pounds more than my mini pin mix, but is shorter 😂 We named her Ahsoka(we like Star Wars) but I call her gremlin, my daughter calls her piglet, and my husband calls her McChunk 😂

  45. -I cooked a ham I bought in the fall on sale. Froze the extras and the bone for another day. Bought a rotisserie chicken for a quick last minute dinner, and made a big batch of chicken and dumpling soup with the leftovers. Treated my parents out for my dad’s birthday at his favorite restaurant. Also grilled steaks, then made taco bowls with the leftover steak. We hosted a community dinner event, unfortunately we forgot the leftovers. I also made pumpkin muffins, chocolate zucchini cake, pumpkin date bars and sourdough. Still have tons of pumpkin and zucchini in the freezer from last summer. I keep throwing meals together at home even though I just want to get takeout after a few exhausting weeks.
    -I started some lettuce, kale and beets.
    -I’ve spent a lot of time working on my taxes, and after buckling down over the weekend I have my info to give to my accountant. It’s a new to us accountant, which should be a saving of several thousand dollars.
    -Found a good deal on cereal, dates, clearance lettuce, snap peas, apples and oranges, natural peanut butter, and even eggs.
    -Continuing to workout at the gym and running with friends. Fitting into more clothes from before babies.

  46. My frugalish week
    Went to winter farmers market. The coffee shop gives away used grounds for gardening. Picked up some free seed that is expired technically but will try winter sowing with.

    Bought ground beef at farmers market. For 50c extra per pound compared to grocery store, but I’m sure quality will be better. We will look at buying more if it’s good flavor as my husband digests it better than steak.

    Picked up herb seeds for the marinade for the dish my daughter wants at her graduation party. It takes a lot of fresh herbs so I’ll start growing now to save some money. A friend is offering to host and we will cook dinner for the family in town and guests that day.
    Got other seeds at the seed library at our public library. There’s not a huge variety but got some carrots and broccoli.

    Made a vegetarian stirfry for lunch. Just used a bit of oil, a sprinkle of salt and a splash of sherry to deglaze the pan and no one noticed there wasn’t a heavy sauce or meat.

    Son volunteered at church fish fry again and brought me home an amazing piece of salmon.

    Making beef broth today, using the carrot ends etc in it.

    Tried sprouting radish seeds. Largely a bust and not sure if it’s method or seed age. We will try with a sprouting pack and see what happens. We have tried several sprout types at the farmers market to see what we liked before we committed to trying.

    Ground up some expired vitamins that were years past due for fertilizer when I put in my plants.

    Inventoried my seeds and offered up ones I won’t use up to friends on Facebook. Will use scrap paper to make seed envelopes if I don’t have enough “bill” envelopes at home.

    Made pizza with pesto and roasted tomatoes from last summers garden. I typically prep and freeze them in containers because I’m nervous about canning. I only bought sausage and cheese and made a crust. My daughter said it was the best pizza she ever had.

    Scored on the Meijer strawberry deal and kids ate 5 lb already!
    Have a great week.

    1. Robbie, (or anyone else who lives in Indianapolis, Indiana) my son who just moved to Indy would be very interested in the winter farmer’s market. Could you pass along their name or location to me? He also is an avid seed sprouter and would be interested in purchasing expired seeds for that purpose.
      He is also looking for a new church home and could use recommendations. He said he is looking for a place with unmarried pretty girls in their 20s. I told him to choose a church according to their doctrine. I’m sure I will be ignored.
      He is also looking for thrift stores and discount groceries.
      Anyone’s help would be appreciated.

  47. Your encouragement last week to reach out to a long-time friend was so prophetic. Just the day before, I was able to speak to my Godmother for the first time in several years. She has had some health problems that caused her to gradually retreat from pretty much everything and everyone. It had gotten to the point that my mother and I would send Christmas cards and call her and leave lengthy messages on her voicemail never hearing anything in reply. We just kept doing it anyway as her daughter told us she did read them and listen to the messages. That day was her birthday and just as I was about to call and leave my annual birthday message, my mother called me and said her card had been returned undeliverable and calls wouldn’t go through. At this point, we got very worried so I called her daughter. Turns out my Godmother had moved recently to be closer to her daughter as recommended by her doctors. She gave me her new cell number and encouraged me to call. So, I did and she answered! It was the most wonderful conversation and it was as if no time had passed. This woman has truly been a second mother to me all my life and it was so hard not to be in touch with her but I respected her privacy and just always hoped we would get back in touch one day. She told me she had just had so many health concerns she didn’t feel like being part of the world and once so much time had gone by she was embarrassed and ashamed to call. I assured her that with all our families have gone through together, there was no room for shame. It made my day to talk to her and I warned her it would be a regular thing from now on. So, your advice was spot on and very timely. Glad you got to catch up with your friend. Such a good feeling. 🙂
    *The chickens have decided it is Spring and have kicked into high gear with egg production allowing us to sell and share more. Offsetting the cost of grain is certainly helpful.
    *My youngest son and I moved two of our kitchen garden container beds to a location that gets a bit more sun (it was shaded by the house for a couple of hours in the morning) and is more aligned with the other beds. Doing so creates room for two more beds of the same size which we will make out of the same reclaimed materials as the others. More garden space is always a good thing, especially now.
    *We are eating out of the pantry and freezer the rest of this month after only one shopping trip to fill some holes. I have never enjoyed grocery shopping and certainly don’t now. My lettuce and Swiss chard finally succumbed to the last frigid spell we had. Can’t wait to get things growing again outside. That’s the kind of grocery shopping I like!
    *Much of our time the last 2 weeks has been concerning my husband’s uncle who entered hospice care and passed 9 days later. He never married or had children. My husband has always been the son he never had and was made his heir and executor several years ago. He lived a simple life, rich in experiences and relationships as a result of an inborn frugal nature. Everything was organized and so far has been very simple to take care of. We are so grateful we were able to travel the 2 1/2 hours to see him twice in those last days and take care of needed things. It really does feel like an honor to have someone entrust such things to your care. It is at times like these that our day-to-day frugality really pays off as we didn’t worry about extra gas or food expenditures as they are part of the process and we were certainly willing and wanting to do all we could. My husband and I have been together since we were 16 so I certainly feel like he was my uncle, too, since I had known him for so long. He served as a great example of a rich life that had very little to do with money and I am grateful for his role in our lives.
    *Wishing all of you a lovely week! I am grateful for all of you, as well! 🙂

  48. Brandy, the plum blossoms are gorgeous. Congratulations on your contract being renewed with your local nursery; I’m sure your posts will bring them lots of new business.

    Our winter has been mild with above average warmth; we had 4 very cold days before Christmas and several cold days in January followed by lots of rain and no snow. However, our heating bills (natural gas) have been double last year’s due to our gas company doubling their delivery rate. The gas company does not make a profit on the cost of the natural gas, as we are charged what it pays for the nat gas, it makes a profit on the delivery charge. In the garden, daffodils and crocuses have been in bloom for nearly 2 weeks now, forsythia is blooming; hyacinths are in bud, the rose bushes have new leaves. The lemon balm, Greek oregano and sedum all have new growth.

    Traveled to FL to visit my parents at their winter home last month as I had not seen them since Thanksgiving — the cost of airfare was not frugal but did save money by not renting a car while there and instead borrowed their only car to get around (car rental would have cost more than the airfare!). While there, checked out houses for sale as in the next few years we will also buy a home in FL. Home prices are crazy high; the real estate market is booming and according to an agent I spoke with, over 1/2 million people have relocated to FL in the past 2 years (many from NY, NJ, MN) and they do not see their market cooling anytime soon.

    We have a nor’easter today with lots of rain all day and the flooding it brings, so did not leave the house (I usually go to exercise class and shopping on the mainland with 3 friends on Mondays) I had time to check the guide on my cable service for future programs – here are some to share: Season 12 of Call the Midwife will air on PBS on Sunday 3/19/23, I recall that you enjoy watching this show. The third and final season of Sanditon (based on an unfinished Jane Austen novel) will also be airing on 3/19 on PBS. And for The Seaside Hotel fans, season 9 is available on Passport now, and season 10 is currently being filmed. The movie “Cross Creek” will air on PBS on Saturday 3/18/23; it stars Mary Steenburger and Rip Torn. Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings moves to backwoods FL in 1928 and writes the book “The Yearling.” This movie was filmed in 1983; I have not seen it so have set it to record.

  49. Our weather has been all over the place…rain, snow, sun, windstorms, thunder snow. But my bulbs are starting to come up in my flowerbeds even through all the crazy weather. Nice to see spring in your photos.

    We’re preparing for another sons wedding. I’m using a dress I already own. I found one for a daughter on sale for $20. My husband will wear his suit and a tie and shirt he already has. The tie matches my dress.

    I had a bad cold and did have to buy a stronger medicine that was in the pharmacists supply. He recommended I also I use generic breathe right strips for the congestion. I got the generic and with coupons and sale got them for free. They helped immensely in helping me breathe and I rested much better at night since I could breathe through my nose. Adding those to my medical supplies.

    My daughter had our newest grand baby… a sweet little boy. She needed another package of newborn diapers and wipes. I found a really good sale/bundle deal. I had been freezing leftovers from our meals in
    plastic 16 oz cottage cheese/sour cream containers that I had saved. I brought them to her and put in her freezer. She loves the smaller “meals” because she can pull them out, defrost and heat quickly in the microwave and eat. It’s enough for two people, she doesn’t get sick of a larger casserole dish and no waste. I froze taco soup, chicken and rice casserole, layered beef roast casserole, white chicken chili, Mexican chicken and rice, ham & bean soup. I also took popsicles and homemade bread that was sliced and frozen so she could out slices to toast.

    I’ve been able to have 2 family dinners and use things I had on hand in my home. That’s priceless to me. I have also shared snacks and canned food from my pantry with my children. I had frozen banana bread that I shared with a neighbor as a thank you.

    Because I’ve been sick, I used grocery pickup to get needed food/groceries. Only shopped sales. That saved money and I’ve continued to zero out my grocery account each week and transferring the saved money into my savings.

    I have turned off the heat for several days, opened the blinds to let the sun heat the house. Kept the blinds closed on crazy weather days and dress warm in the house. I’ve been reading lots of library books – Laura Childs, Charles Todd, M.C. Beaton.

    Have a great week everyone.

    1. Congratulations Amy on your new little grandson. It seems that several of us here have recently newborn grandchildren. I’m so glad to finally join the “Grandparents’ Club”! 🙂

  50. It’s been a busy time for us. We spent time babysitting grand-littles; fun, exhausting, and our backs start to hurt from the guestroom mattress! Frugal for their parents!
    *Then we travelled to the US for a short holiday and to go to the opera our daughter was leading in! First time as the lead soprano, and we were likely more excited than she was! (She sounded lovely!)
    * I use felt pen to mark buying details on all my pantry items. For example, $2.99WM Ap22 which is the price, store (Walmart), date (April 2022). It helps me keep things rotated. Anyway, that is the date and price of 3lbs of margarine I bought last April. I just about fell over when I saw at the same store the price is now $8! For margarine!! And that’s my cheapest price— it hasn’t gone on sale now for over two years. On the bright side, dried beans dropped in price by 20%, regular price not on sale.
    * And I did spot a whole chicken in markdown section for less than half price and even cheaper than the deli rotisserie chicken. We had two suppers, plus a lunch, and then the bones made 8 pints of broth which I pressure canned.
    *I had a deal on a gallon of maple syrup, but it was close to its best before date and in plastic. I knew we wouldn’t use it that fast and I have heard of maple syrup getting moldy when in plastic. I did some research and decided to can it. Hopefully it’ll do the trick! The jars are more easily handled and smaller, which is good for us. I did buy a plastic lid with a spout and handle that screws onto a regular mouthed canning jar to help with the pouring.
    *A daughter works at a local grocery store. The manager puts foods at their sell-by dates in a special area for the employees to take before the food gets tossed away. My daughter came home with 3dozen eggs and some sauce packets, for free. It’s a lot of eggs so I’ll give a carton to our elderly neighbour who keeps an eye on our place whenever we’re away.
    *The usual household things, like baking, hair trims, soaking laundry stains, eating at home, etc. were all observed. The usual. Hardly worth mentioning as it’s normal. But I will say I tackled the mending—because I’m not a gifted mender and I find every excuse to put it off, so I am proud of myself when I have everything repaired and in use once again!
    * Our town lets all residents get a free load of municipal compost each spring. So we did.

    * Have a great week, ladies!

    1. Oh how wonderful to get to see your daughter perform like that! It sounds so rewarding.

      1. Thank you, Brandy. It was a surprisingly multi-layered experience as a parent. There was the music/show that everyone sees. But I also saw the proverbial “10000 hours” of practice that went into the voice sounding effortless. I’m glad we were able to go. (Haha, we got complimentary tickets, of course!)

    2. I put maple syrup in canning jars with a lid and freeze them. It keeps forever. It gets very thick when frozen but you could still scoop it out with a spoon right out of the freezer.

  51. What beautiful plum flowers! Plums are so nice to eat.
    We made homemade bread. Two loaves at a time. That is how many loaf pans I have. My husband is enjoying taking it to work for his sandwiches. My son is gluten free. Sometimes I make sandwiches using corn tortillas for him. Otherwise we make things without wheat flour for him. We cooked up a pumpkin and I will make soup tomorrow with it. We had eaten part of it using spices that I would put in a pie, but no sugar. It was yummy. We are using things out of the freezer. Today we had leftover buffalo chicken that had been frozen. It was good, just cooked it in the oven. I ate oatmeal many days this week. Pork burgers and kraut. We returned library books on time so as not to incur a fine. Our electricity was two dollars cheaper than last month and I was very happy! We entertained ourselves at home with the internet, musical instruments ,writing, my son’s dog and our chickens and we enjoyed looking at the stars in the evening. We love just gazing at the stars on a clear night! We also enjoyed sunsets and sunrises, absolutely beautiful where we live! We enjoy learning new things from Youtube. My husband fixed his truck light himself. I’m so happy he is so smart and not afraid to try to fix things himself! He also fixed our toilet flush handle! I was grateful that we could enjoy seeing deer and that we did not hit any with our vehicles when driving. We have green onions growing in our window along with some lettuce. We continue to use cloth napkins and handkerchiefs. We just wash them with the laundry. If we were sick I would wash them with the towels or sheets with some bleach. We are washing full loads. We bought pizzas from Aldi to cook for our grandchildren along with some strawberries and carrots instead of eating out. My son cooked the pizza and his wife cut up the strawberries. They loved it! And we loved the savings and spending time with my son and his family. We played board games for entertainment and had a wonderful time! I’d like to think of some science projects for next time we get together. My grandson loves science projects! My granddaughter enjoys them too! Getting together with family members this week was very nice.

    1. This is a flowering plum, so it males tons of flowers but does not fruit, unfortunately. Most of our trees fruit, but these are just for looks.

  52. Hello Everyone! I have missed posting the past few weeks but it has mainly been the same regular frugal things that I always do. I found clearance meat items at the store: ground turkey, bacon & deli style roast beef. I froze the turkey & bacon for the future and made sandwiches with the lunchmeat. I continue to go through the house and donate to the thrift store as well as list things for sale. I sold another item on Mercari & listed quite a few more. I won 2 auctions on the Goodwill auction site that will be gifts for upcoming birthdays, I saved a significant amount of money by doing this for these 2 particular gifts: Pampered Chef stoneware new in the box for my son and a “hen on nest” dish for my daughter, she collects them and this is in a color that can be pricey on ebay, antique stores, etc.
    My biggest win is that I found a new job! My current position in healthcare management is stressful with long hours. This new role is in public health (very different from corporate for profit health care) and I am looking forward to a new challenge. And, I will get a significant raise at my new job! Wishing a happy, healthy & frugal work to everyone.

  53. I continue to keep grocery spending low by reverse meal planning using food on hand first and limiting purchases primarily to dairy, produce, and loss leaders. I am still adjusting to shopping and cooking for two to avoid food waste.

    We are finding low cost fun things to do during the long winter. Last week we attended a weekend college baseball tournament. Tickets were $15/day for three games/day. We used hotel points to stay at a hotel within walking distance of the stadium which saved us additional Uber or parking fees. We packed refillable water bottles to use inside the stadium. We enjoyed a complimentary cocktail in the hotel lounge. We took several walks throughout the weekend to do a little sightseeing of the beautiful bridges and mix of modern and historic architecture in the area.

    I walked multiple times with a friends at the local indoor track.

    I met friends for an at-home pizza and movie night rather than an expensive restaurant dinner and movie theater.

    I purchased a fuel gift card through a figure skating club fundraiser which awarded a 9% rebate to use towards ice time for our youngest daughter.

  54. Brandy: your insight and commentary about your friend and her child struck a nerve. We get so wrapped up in our own world that we miss what’s going on in our friend’s lives. Thank you for the gentle reminder.

    Have continued cooking and trying to achieve zero waste. Made enchiladas, ravioli with marinara and reasonably priced steaks with baked potatoes.

    Have finished watching “Your Honor” and reading Patricia Cornwell’s “Livid”.

    The prior weeks thunderstorms and high winds were scary! Dogs don’t like the “wind monster” and neither does my son! We had a window blown out and lots of downed limbs, but, thankfully, no trees down!

    Our projected weather for March is to be much cooler than average. That coupled with the never ending rain has put us behind on our garden prep and organization. Much work needs to be done. My starters are growing rapidly. Our sunroom looks like a jungle! Hope I can keep them going until they can be put into the outside garden!

    Just returned from an extended weekend in The Highlands of NC for our Grandson’s wedding. It was lovely and a great family experience. It was wonderful to get away from all the stress and drama of our lives and just be together with loved ones. For our part, we did things as frugally as possible. It was a beautiful place! However, the road to the top of the mountain could be the focus in any action movie! Pharmaceuticals should have been dispensed for that endeavor! 😱

    Hope everyone stays safe and surrounded by hope and love throughout the week! Onward, y’all, by all means!

    1. Cheryl – I laughed out loud at your comment on driving mountain roads. Those of us who live in the mountains up winding narrow roads with sheer drop-offs in places forget it is a bit unnerving to “flatlanders.” We have learned to warn people before they visit us for the first time and are prepared with motion sickness tea when they arrive. 🙂 Highlands is beautiful. SO glad you enjoyed the area and the special day. 🙂

      1. My Mother’s family was from the Asheville, Hendersonville, Mills Creek area. I spent my early life in Charleston(my father’s home) and Upstate SC. The Mountains, for me, were beautiful to look at, but held no interest. The roads! People must hold fundraisers for brakes!

        As God always does, he put me in the Tennessee Valley for most of my married life! He has a sense of humor! Told my daughter that I was a “flatlander”. Made her laugh! I am most grounded in Charleston. My heart has always been there.

        But yes, Highlands is gorgeous! 🙂

        1. Fundraisers for brakes would be helpful! We definitely make use of downshifting a lot which lets the engine do more of the work. 🙂

      2. Long time flatlander here, though I did live in the Piedmont of NC for 20 years, so some hills there, but not mountains. Whenever we visit the mountains of NC, I am always reminded how thankful I am that I don’t have to contend with the white-knuckle curves and drop offs on a consistent basis. I am especially thankful that my children didn’t have to learn to drive in that terrain. And add snow in the mix? Perish the thought. I would have been terrified for them-and me!

  55. Brandy, sorry to hear about your friend’s daughter. A sick child is so sad.
    Millet for the birds – not so! It can be ground into delicious flour and fed to your family. I have successfully made crackers but granola bars were a failure. My family revolted and said it was like biting into BBs.
    *Learned another new money-saving skill this week. I did the online estate auction I mentioned two weeks ago instead of letting my husband handle the bidding. I discovered I am not good at it. My calm husband said, put your highest bid into the computer ahead of time and let it bid for you. I didn’t. Emotions got the better of me. When you bid on an item the page would flash bright green lights “WINNING”, “WINNING”, “WINNING”, but if you were outbid it would switch to red lights screaming “OUTBID”, “OUTBID”, “OUTBID”. It was a page full of flashing lights and countdown clocks! I felt like people were snatching things out of my shopping cart at a Walmart Black Friday sale. I wasn’t prepared for how frazzled and irritated I would become. In spite of my out-of-control emotions, I did well: two floor lamps for $3 each, six cookie sheets for $2 total, three muffin tins for $2 total, two straw hats for the garden for $2 total, four piles of cookbooks for $2 each and three canning cookbooks for $5 total. I wanted those canning books and had to fight to get them! Everything else on the long list was let go. My family says I am too cheap. Overall, I’m pleased with how it went and will do it again. It is another way of finding items we need at deeply discounted prices.
    *This week’s newest skill was making my own wet wipes. I keep the large cylinder sized in the car. It was running low so I checked the stores and was shocked to see them for $4.50 at the dollar store! No! I took a half-empty paper towel roll, cut it shorter to fit the container, tore out the cardboard roll, shoved it into the empty container, and added soapy water with essential oils. It works well enough but would have been better if I had used better quality towels; however, it was what I had on hand. My husband complained when the first one tore apart in his hand – I replied $4.50 saved.
    *Sorted my mountain of mending into different piles to make it more manageable. Discovered two top window curtains at the bottom of the rag pile. I ironed and then hung one up in the laundry room and another in the upstairs hall. They look fine for free. There is a big pile of used sheets picked up from random places over the years. One was used to recover two bed pillows. Others will be used to make pillowcases, handkerchiefs, linings for new cushions, and quilt squares.
    *I drug out all of my tablecloths and began hemming them to fit the new table I bought at an online estate sale (my calm husband handled the bidding). We removed all the leaves since only Bill and I are living at home now and no tablecloths fit. This is the past post showing the table with all the leaves when we bought it. Getting it home without a truck was a big ordeal.
    *Spent 1 1/2 hours last Friday at the bank trying to get funds moved around into safer places. It was slow and tedious. When we invested money years ago, it was immediately deposited into the companies. Now that we want it back, they will only accept requests by snail mail! Who knows when we will get it back? We are closely following the news of this past weekend’s bank failures and are holding our breaths. They are trying to contain it but I fear it might be the first domino falling.

  56. My vision experience was like yours. I can remember the first time I saw leaves clearly. Then I went on a medication that caused cataracts in my 30s so I had cataract surgery. I am so thankful that the medication ruined my vision because for almost 30 years now I have had 20/20 vision. No glasses even when all my middle aged friends had to get reading glasses. I have one eye for near and one for far sight and together I can read or drive. I am not sure how the brain puts it all together, but it does. I used to reach for my glasses before I even got out of bed. Now, no glasses at all!

  57. We got married this past weekend. Everything was so beautiful. We saved as much money as we could with friends and family helping out.

    We have been buying seeds and getting ready to garden. It is currently 40 degrees in Tennessee so ot will be awhile.

    1. Congratulations on your marriage, Donna. So glad all went well and that it was the day that you hoped for! Wishing you many happy years together.

  58. Earlier this winter I was gifted a large scented candle in a stylish jar (about 5 inches diameter). It had burnt to an end and there was still plenty of scented wax on the sides. I finally figured out that I can just put a cheap unscented tealight on the bottom. It isn’t strong enough to melt the wax but it warms it and that releases the wonderful scent I enjoy.

  59. Brandy I know what you mean about asking old friends how they are. Last weekend I emailed a friend to ask how they were and she divulged that they were going through a divorce which shocked me. Not that I have any personal experience with divorce but I was still able to listen and imagine what she must be going through. 2 children are grown but there is still one of 16 at home so it won’t be easy for her. I hope they can work amicably together to make it as easy as possible on everyone. And also to keep more money in their pockets and less in the lawyers.

  60. We spent quite a few hours in our greenhouse, up-potting tomatoes and peppers. They are slow-growing this year, due to the cold weather, but are growing a little. Pictures are on my blog: http://beckyathome.com

    I was able to check out tickets for a local children’s museum from the library. The pass is rarely available, so I snatched it when I saw it and we were able to go with our 2 grandsons. For the 5 of us who went, we saved way over $50.

    I had grocery money left over in February because I used so many pantry items (my goal in Jan-Feb). My main goal is to rotate foods so none are wasted, but I can always find a use for extra money:). Because my grocery budget is modest, I just tucked the extra into an envelope and will use it for stocking up when a good deal is found. I still look for good deals and get them when I find them. Today, my husband got 2 huge packs of pork chops, a cabbage and 4 containers of peanuts for under $8. He used digital coupons and then found an additional coupon just sitting on the shelf for the peanuts, which made them 17c/container.

    My goal for March is to use lots of freezer items and make room for a frozen angel food cake with rainbow sherbet inside, for Easter. There’s no room now. I’ve been pulling out lots of veggies and meats and cooking them. Then I got out a chicken and made broth and froze some. Hmmmm. Then there were those pork chops. We froze one package and are going to eat one. Hmmmm. Seriously, it was not a good idea to pass up 67c/lb pork chops, so I’ll find a way to open up more space in the next few weeks. Beyond the goal for making room for the cake, the bigger goal is to rotate items so they don’t freezer burn, and to make space for all the garden veggies I will grow this summer.

  61. I haven’t posted in a while but read weekly and love hearing all the money savings tips and tricks!

    In the past few weeks:
    -We had an issue with our dishwasher and after some troubleshooting, and online research were able to fix it ourselves with a $15 part from Amazon. In our area, we pay almost $200 to have the appliance guy look at your problem, then whatever parts and labor to install the new parts cost. I’m grateful for my handy husband and YouTube videos!
    -Our oldest turned 16 and started driving, which has been a huge help to me. The auto insurance bill increase has been really awful, our insurance was increasing anyways so we shopped around and changed some coverages, increased deductibles, and managed to save nearly $100 a month.
    -Gave haircuts to 1 husband, 2 sons and 2 daughters
    -our oldest was awarded a flying scholarship to a 3-week college aviation camp this summer that includes all expenses, he is excited to explore a potential future career in aviation and possibly the military
    -My husband was determined by the VA to be 100% disabled, which includes an increase in his monthly payments, but also college tuition benefits for our kids (and me and him if we want to use it, I’m not sure I could find the time for anything else)
    -I filed our taxes this year using freetaxusa. I usually use turbo tax but the cost for us has grown to more than $120 to file since I own a business so I need additional forms. I’m in accounting and found the freetaxusa software was just as good as turbo tax and you can’t beat free!
    -Handy husband purchased an old fixer upper boat for cash at a great deal a few months ago and has been doing the maintenance himself, it’s almost ready for its maiden voyage on the ocean
    -My husband wears a uniform to work and is required to wear a jacket in winter. He recently lost a button, so I called the manufacturer to see if I could purchase extras and they sent 3 buttons free of charge. I sewed the button on, good as new. Tackled some other mending items at the same time.
    -We have a neighborhood beach and boat ramp that we renewed our key for $250 this month, we spend most weekends there playing with neighbors and enjoying the water, we had a stingray swim into our beach this last weekend. It’s by far the best $250 we spend each year!

  62. I am over budget for groceries this month but the freezer has been well stocked with meats bought on good sales where it was getting quite bare. I plan to take some extra money this next week or so and restock pantry supplies. I am quite low in so many areas and I just feel I need that food supply to be topped up sooner rather than later. We’ve really relied upon the pantry these last few months but haven’t taken time to restock as we normally do.

    Husband had some health issues, serious enough he noticed he was not doing well and voluntarily called the doctor. This had me more concerned than his symptoms. I was convinced more was going on than he was saying. He got several new prescriptions following his visit (paid for out of pocket which is cheaper than MCR deductible for visit). At the pharmacy we discovered that three drugs were quite high. As in “Oh my gosh!” high, lol. I was so blessed to have a pharmacist/assistant who knew how to save the customer money. When he was done with us, I saved nearly $400 that day! I was so very grateful.

    We went out for breakfast this past week for our sanity saver weekend date. It was very pleasant and the food was good but husband commented on cost. I reminded him I’d assured him earlier that I was fine with a fast food breakfast eaten in a quiet spot. He wanted to be waited upon, lol. I told him I had budgeted for weekend dates but would appreciate a few less expensive dates.

    I ordered a vacuum seal attachment for jars so I can vacuum seal items to preserve freshness.

    Made up my mind this week that whether or not I can garden I will do all I can to insure that I harvest something in my home for the future. Those harvests may simply be avoiding all waste, making my own jam or seeking out the lowest prices/best quality I can find.

    1. I hope your husband’s health issues are resolving, Terri!
      You used the word “harvest” in a way I hadn’t considered before, in your last point. I like that.

  63. Lost power for 12 hrs Tuesday in the big wind, but mostly been keeping no fridge items around because of so many storms, so didn’t lose much except more fence and shingles. Hopefully, insurance will cover. Power is still out all around me and trees down so glad I have a well stocked pantry, because it will be several more days at least till power on/all roads cleared. * My best frugal this week came by surprise, my current (state) insurance contacted me because I now also have Medicare, which was a big confusing mess to me, adding prescription plans with telling me, etc. My current plan can take over Medicare coverage to manage it and it will both lower my costs, and give me more perks – like a free to me membership to the Y and $30 per month coverage for over the counter needs. I’m so excited as this will mean a big difference for me. * Still grouping errands to save on gas.* Reading a library book I planned specifically for if the power went out, Alice Hoffman’s, The World That We Knew and thoroughly am enjoying it. I also got Home Comforts: The Art and Science of Keeping House recommended here. * Learned something new I wish I’d thought of before our power outage: freeze a big bowl of water before a storm you might lose power in. A large block of ice stays colder than cubes and it’s a no cost ready for your fridge option when after four hours without power it’s turned into a cooler. * Brandy, your garden has so inspired me over the years I finally sat down to try to create an entire vision for the backyard. I was always stumped by the L shape house blocking line of sight/focal point, but I think I’ve scribbled out a long term plan that still incorporates a Potager garden (my favorite look) in one area. It’s difficult to create a look that draws one into a garden, when it’s around the corner, but I’m trying!

    1. Oh, how exciting! Best of luck with your garden design! My new design delights me every day.

  64. Because my mom never lost her language skills (she just didn’t talk as much), nor her short-term memory, I did not realise how severe her dementia was. It eventually stole her ability to swallow. So dementia and three different heart problems stopped mom three months shy of her 100th birthday. Mom died last Monday in home hospice. It was the end of three truly awful weeks full of concern for her, family drama, hospital drama, more family drama, and then six days of home hospice where mom died where she wished, in her cozy bed. I had mom go to the ER Wednesday to see if anything easily fixable was causing her decline before signing her up for hospice, which in 20/20 hindsight should have started in December when mom stopped eating her favorite pureed-texture foods. My sister finally flew in the Saturday before last after a middle-of-the-night phone call from me in mom’s hospital room while four or five doctors were planning how to (very successfully) stop mom’s a-fib with medicines alone. Her blood pressure was dangerously low for a while but it improved tremendously as her heart’s rhythm normalised and she was given more fluids via IV. The rest of that Friday was a very difficult and painful day for mom in the ICU with blood pressure checks every 15 minutes and being treated like a pin cushion to monitor the heparin. Her arm was swollen and bruised. But by Saturday she was off the heparin temporarily (then on again and then off permanently-dueling specialists) and she was rewarded for her very bad day with nearly perfect vital signs on the monitors and often being alert enough to enjoy her two grandchildren and my sister and her husband Saturday through Tuesday. It was strange seeing those wonderful numbers on mom’s monitor that Saturday but knowing she was soon to be a goner if she could not start swallowing again. Her swallowing reflex was tested and tested again. Tuesday evening she was released to home hospice. My sister stuck around Wednesday, but despite knowing mom could not last long, decided to fly home Thursday morning and leave me alone to care for mom (Like why did I assume she would change?) as she was dying. Mom hung on until Monday afternoon and her last words to me were, “I want a drink of water.” Poor mom. If I had given her water against the doctor’s orders, she would have choked. We had just the right visitors at the right time during those dark days. And the hospice nurse was the last one to see her alive and the first one to know she was dead while I was chatting with a friend in the living room. If you knew one of my nieces and what she had been up to to make things so indescribably more difficult after I told her I had been thinking of signing up her grandma for hospice the same day she learned two friends had died, you would know having me be in a different room was good and probably saved me from even more family (and perhaps legal) drama-mom’s final act to make caregiving for her as easy as possible on me. I wasn’t with mom all the time. One daughter alone couldn’t be. But I was with her in her room much more each day while she was in hospice than I usually was while she was in that bed 12-13 hours a day sleeping and resting during the past year. She knew she was loved and safe and comfortable in her own cozy bed. She stayed at home in her very old age and died at home as she had hoped to do. I have been totally and completely exhausted ever since. I arranged the least expensive direct burial I could without involving a crematorium or a funeral home in a high-crime area after having told mom about a $2195 direct burial option several months ago. (Plus $350 to set and seal the vault plus cost of death certificates plus $850 for the sexton for the township where the family plot is located) I told my sister and her husband of my plans when they were in town and they thought they were okay. (And I added, please select the $795 direct cremation option when my time comes and bury my ashes in the family plot and buy a flat mow-overable grave marker for me. The sexton doesn’t charge as much for ashes and a vault is not used.) After paying for two sets of last-minute airplane tickets, they were not in a good position to turn right around and purchase many more sets of last minute airplane tickets for a funeral. But after I thought the arrangements were finalised, the adult grandchildren got bent out of shape about the idea of grandma being laid to rest in a cardboard casket, imagining a kraft shipping box. One, especially, wanted to be graveside for the internment and have his grandma be in a very nice casket. I asked the funeral home to give me a link to share with them of what a fabric casket actually looks like-very dignified with grey felt outside and the usual fabric lining and bed linens on the inside-and to provide a cell phone photograph of the internment by email that I could share with them. I told my nephew he was welcome to call the funeral home and pay $2006 or more for an upgrade to a more expensive casket and to pay for a funeral director so he could be there. But I added there are better ways to spend $2000 to help the living and suggested two charities and a possible volunteer activity he could do at a local-to-him long-term care facility to help him grieve. He is a gifted fiddler. A service is scheduled for June when the family can gather and the youngest grandson and oldest great-granddaughters will be preparing a multimedia presentation about mom to be shown after the memorial talk. Today, I arranged with mom’s favorite restaurant for an early dinner after the service for 25-72 of her friends (and some relatives), mainly as a thank-you for those who helped us along this journey. Mom knew of my plans. Her concerns were to be buried by dad and to not be cremated. Our township has a newer National Cemetery and the restaurant has a room that used to be mainly used for breakfast and lunch meetings of community groups but which in recent years hosts many, many meals for mourners. They’ve raised their prices a lot lately but a buffet dinner with vegetable trays, breads and rolls trays, two hot entrees, hot starch choice, hot vegetable choice, two salads, and beverages totals $1700 including taxes and tips if we feed 72 people. At first we were wondering if we would get to the minimum 25 number. Now I am almost afraid to add up the number of people who said they were coming. I have four more people I hope to invite-the wives who had been caregivers of their fathers with little support from their siblings helped keep me sane by phone calls and text messages while I was caring for a very frail, very old mom during a global pandemic. But I have to make sure first that we won’t have to feed people sitting at a few tables in the main dining room too to keep the fire marshall happy.

    1. Holly: You have written about the challenges of lovingly caring for your mother. I am so glad that you can know she was at home at the end as she wished. Greatest sympathies to you, and may you be able to recover yourself as you grieve over the next weeks.

    2. Oh Holly, I am so sorry about your Mom. It seems you did an excellent job of taking care of her and ensuring her last days were what she needed. My Mom recently passed, and it was a horrible time of hospital/family dramas. I feel sadness for all you went through because most of it was unnecessary and could have been avoided if only people had shown compassion. You did the best you could with what you were facing. Taking care of your Mom and is what really mattered.

    3. It is an exhausting process Holly – no matter how well we try to plan. And yes – family can be wonderful or very difficult.
      You did your utmost for your mom when she was alive and I always think that is the most important thing. Try to give yourself a bit of a break and a chance to grieve and ignore everyone else. All the best.

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