Blackberries in the Garden The Prudent Homemaker

I picked 9 cups of blackberries from the garden.

I picked the first of the figs, apricots, and apples from the garden. I picked two small tomatoes from the garden.

I picked lettuce from the garden.

I collected green oni0n seeds from the garden.

I saved water from the shower, from rinsing garden produce, from the final rinse of pots and pans, and from water glasses at the end of the night to water potted plants.

I opened the windows early in the mornings to let in the cool, fresh air for a couple of hours before I had to turn on the air conditioners around 8 a.m. 

I cut flowers from the garden for the house.

I ordered two new pairs of glasses for Cyrus from Zenni Optical. I went through Ebates first for cash back. (The week before last, I ordered a pair of shoes, on sale,  for myself from, going through Ebates first for cash back.)

I gave Cyrus a haircut.

We put money in savings.

I read 8 books last week that were borrowed from a friend.

I squeezed the last of the oranges from the fridge (that my mom brought me a few months ago). Before I squeezed them, I zested them. I dried the zest to use in recipes later.

I went to Winco to buy milk and potatoes. Potatoes were .20 a pound. I bought 50 pounds. (I may go back this week and buy more at that price, as we can easily use 40 to 50 pounds in a week.)

Winter made a prince shirt for Ezrom as a costume, repurposing a dress shirt, some old brass buttons from my button jar, a old sheet, a tassel and cord, and a graduation sash. I haven’t taken a picture of it yet but it’s pretty fantastic.


What did you do to save money last week?

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  1. I did a whole lot of baking. I made bread, pluckit (monkey bread), cocoa muffins, two chocolate cakes, and fruit cocktail cake.

    I did a lot of cooking with beans. We have a lot of beans in storage fortunately and they are so frugal to eat.

    I haven’t been able to get into our garden because of the rain but this week we are expecting drier and warmer weather so hopefully I’ll have some lettuce, spinach, and greens. Still waiting for blackberries to ripen. They are ripening slowly.

    I’ve kept the AC off because of our cooler weather. We are expecting upper 80’s this week though. I’m still hoping not to turn on the AC until July or until it gets into the mid to upper 90’s. I hope I can get my family to hold out that long. Right now we are using fans and the nights are cool so we are getting along fine.

    I’ve been reevaluating our food expenses and have discovered that peanut butter is too expensive. We can go through a two pound jar in a week. (I have six growing kids – ages 17 down to 5) But at 3.49 a jar, I really can’t afford it when spending only $100 a month for groceries. So I am going to have to start making soups, stews, and more beans. I’ve been looking at your recipes and have decided on three soups that I will try. I’m saving bread ends to make the tomato bread soup. It looks so good! I’m also going to have to figure out our milk purchases. We already use powdered milk for all baking and cooking but the kids and dh won’t drink it. And they love milk. So I am going to have to teach them to do with less or make cuts somewhere else. I realized that nearly everything I bought last Saturday is really a luxury. I have to focus on basics like flour, grains, beans, and veggies.

    I’ve been following the church employment website and have good leads on jobs. I hope I get something soon.

  2. Brandy, do you use the zest of regular oranges or did you buy organic? Is it possible to eat the zest of regular oranges? I make my own lemon curd and have trouble to find organic in my area sometimes. Thanks! love your blog so much!:D

  3. Hey friends. Happy Monday.

    Last week before returning from SC, I stopped in a discount store that they have and found cartons of chicken and beef stock on clearance for 65 cents each. I stocked up with 10 of each kind so now my pantry is full of stock again. I ran across a sale here last August where cartons of chicken stock were on sale 3 for $1 so I bought a ton then too but I was down to my last carton. I like homemade chicken stock when I have bone-in chicken on hand but cartons of stock are good when I don’t.

    I stayed home most of the week and only left on Thursday to run errands. We ate leftovers all week, so I didn’t even really have to cook anything.

    Unfortunately, my fiance was laid off on Friday. He, his boss, and 2 women that had worked at the company for 10+ years were all let go Friday afternoon. The boss was already interviewing with a new company and has an offer letter so this layoff doesn’t really affect him but it absolutely is dire for us. We were just getting to a point where we were catching up and feeling kind of okay after last September when the fiance was laid off from a different job. He was unemployed for 2 months and finally found a job late November and now this has happened.

    I am about 95% certain we are going to lose the house we’re renting. I am torn between focusing on packing everything we can and renting a storage unit and starting to put boxes in there OR focusing on selling off my vintage inventory on Etsy and Instagram. I don’t know how we are going to cover bills for this month.

    I found a job online yesterday that is perfect for the fiance and he meets and exceeds all of their very specific qualifications but the job is 2 hours away, in another state. Please, please say a prayer, cross your fingers, think good thoughts that he gets this job, or any job, soon. I cannot even describe the state of panic I am in at this point. At least the pantry and freezer are stocked, though that’s little consolation if we’re going to be out on the streets in a month!

  4. You can wash the outside of any citrus and use them, whether they are organic or not. I grow citrus and they are not plagued by pests; they are not a crop that needs to be sprayed. These oranges were growing at an RV park, where the owners were just tossing them all in the trash, and they allowed visitors to take what they wanted. The trees were not maintained at all, so they were not sprayed.

  5. Brandy-
    Thank you for another great post. You accomplish so much each week, it is just amazing! Would you please share with us how your fit so much reading into your busy days? We do a fair amount but not 8 books worth. Wowsa! Thanks!

  6. We had a dinner out last weekend and my husband was the one to actually pay the bill. (Normally I do, even though it all comes out of the same bank account). He was astonished at the final price. I’m grateful because I think it finally sunk in how expensive it is! We haven’t eaten out again this week, and he has actually cooked dinner a few times when he got home before me (these are night we are more inclined to eat out normally)!

    My step-MIL treated us to dinner out last night. (My husband and I both invited her over to our house for dinner but she insisted on treating us). We haven’t seen her much lately so it was fun to visit and so generous of her to take us out. (We tend to pick up the tab when we eat with other people or at least dutch treat, so this was really nice). She picked on of my favorite restaurants that we don’t eat at often, so yummy!

    Doing a yard sale at a friend’s house in a few weeks. They do a massive neighborhood yard sale each year, so this is a great opportunity! She may not even be putting stuff out but said I can use their yard/driveway regardless. I’ve been boxing stuff up since Christmas and have at least 8 boxes full of already priced items (I price them as I decide to part with them so I don’t have to price the morning of)! It’s ridiculous how much stuff we have that doesn’t get used much, but that I know I need to keep.

  7. I am looking forward to your post showing off Winter’s sewing skills. I am a (very) beginner sewer and so far the most advanced project I sewed were pillow cases. They came out well and I am really encouraged.

    I love all the frugal accomplishments updates from everyone. Especially garden related. I don’t have one but it is my number 2 on the ‘dream list’ (right after having a baby or two (or three!)

    My list is here:

  8. – used the solar light in the bathroom during the day

    -made a whole chicken with veggies in the crockpot, broth using the chicken bones and skin, Brandy’s chicken enchilada recipe (delicious!), banana bread, chicken stir fry using leftover veggies/rice.

    -line dried or rack dried all laundry

    -found a free budget website that is simple and exactly what I wanted,

    -purchased a gift from ebay very cheaply from for my daughter’s birthday in Oct. If I find a great deal I will purchase early. She’s been wanting the green care bear, Good Luck Bear. I found it and haggled the price to $6.50. Other sources had this same bear of the same size for a minimum of $4o.

    -we continue to NOT have cable or dish network!! Every month I do not pay this I think “another $80 in the bank”. Makes me sooo happy!

    -I took all meals to work and ate leftovers. I drank water and tea.

    -I made more ” family cloth” in hopes that it will help with some issues. this has also saved us several rolls of t.p.(we only use this when we urinate, sorry if its TMI).

    -We didn’t do any unnecessary driving.

    -My son and daughter in law finally came and picked up the crib and swing we gave them that were our daughter’s. They also took her old dresser. It is perfectly good, except COVERED in stickers lol. They didn’t care and said it would be a “gift” from his aunt lol This didn’t save us money but saved them A LOT of money, over $400. This makes me very happy. I also gave them a receiving blanket we had and a crib sheet. Her parents came along because it was their truck moving the stuff and we had a nice visit. I have never had an opportunity to sit and visit with them.

    -I sewed a rip in my daughter’s bedroom screen. it was almost the length of my forearm and no one knows how it happened. It isn’t pretty but hopefully it will keep the cat in and the bugs out. I also put a temporary patch on a hole in our front door screen. Eventually we will buy the materials to replace both but for now it works.

    -My husband cut my hair and his own hair. I received many compliments on my hair and people were shocked when I told them (just a few people) that he did it and not a salon. I told them I refuse to pay $30 for someone to cut a straight line lol.

    -washed and reused baggies and glass jars.

    -we only created one small bag of trash last week. This bag was an empty and saved cat food bag, the small size.

    -I saved the large bags that the t.p. came in. I will use these in our tiny kitchen garbage can, which is a repurposed popcorn tin from Christmas.

    -Weeded the garden, removed a not producing bush of thyme. Planted bell pepper, basil and tomato seedlings in the garden from our little green house.

    Have a great week everyone!

  9. Sounds like a great week – lots of fruit! (I was going to be punny and say you had a fruitful week, but I refrained…er…until now.) I am continually inspired by your lovely gardens…and I am afraid that our cold temps a couple of weeks ago mean that I have to replant all of my beans, because when I went to look for the seeds that still haven’t sprouted, I found very few of them, and some little worm was eating those. It would be a lot of them, but I am seriously considering sprouting them indoors in paper pots, just to get them past the sit-in-the-ground stage. Ugh.

    We had a good week too – I’m getting radishes, asparagus and a few greens from the garden. My whole list of accomplishments is here:

  10. Lori,

    From personal experience of having months where we didn’t have income ( we can have months of no sales for us and with very few sales for our agents) I can tell you that selling everything you can, right away, is a great start, done as soon as possible. Local Facebook garage sales are another way to sell anything you’re not using (like kitchen items, clothing , furniture), and I can usually get a bit more per item there than I can at a garage sale (about double on low-priced items). I have done garage sales to pay the bills more than once, too. We have also sold items on Craig’s list to pay bills.

    If you have to end up moving/paying for a storage unit, the less you have to move and store, the more money it will save you (smaller moving truck and storage unit), so selling items blesses you in two ways. If you’re certain you’ll need to move, consider any furniture you can sell.

    You can definitely focus on just eating from the pantry and freezer. Again, if you have to move, it’s less to move.

    Are there any bills you can eliminate or lower? Even getting rid of a $5 a month service is a help to your bottom line. Can you get rid of call waiting, caller id, a phone line altogether, any cable/Netflix accounts, etc.? Can you use less electric, water, etc. to lower those bills this month?

    I would start photographing and listing items for sale today. Set a goal for a number of items to do each day this week and make a goal to make enough to pay this month’s bills.

  11. Sandra,

    I always find at those temperatures that having the windows open mornings and evenings, but closed during the way once it starts to get hot, I can put off using the air conditioner for quite some time.

    Try more water in the hot months. We keep bottles in the fridge and fill them with tap water, so we don’t have to run the water waiting for cold water than will never come. We love milk too, but drinking more water has been the best thing for us.

    The tomato soup is also good served cold, so if you are feeling like you want something cold, it is great that way, too!

  12. Thanks for the tips Brandy. I will definitely use them. I have pored over your site again and again and again trying to glean every tip I can. I am so grateful for your site! It’s helped my family tremendously!

  13. So sorry about your situation! Prayers for you and your fiance. Definitely sell everything you can as quickly as you can. It will make you feel better immediately!

  14. I’m looking forward to when we’ll be picking blackberries and figs here. I’m usually able to pick a good amount of blackberries over the 4th of July holiday, if we get enough rain between now and then, which hasn’t happened the past several years. We have a few thornless blackberries, but most are wild here. We’ve been propagating figs the past few years. They all died back to the ground after our hard winter, so not sure how much they’ll be fruiting. I’m really looking forward to seeing Ezrom in his prince costume! Joining in here:

  15. Not a very frugal week this week. While out stocking up at Canadian Tire, we came across a big ticket item we had been saving our money for. This big ticket item will allow us to use one of our tools more effectively and help maintain our property. We don’t get to this store often as it is about an hour away over mountain passes making it unlikely we would return before the end of the summer. The cash was there for it – but I still feel so guilty letting the money go.
    Finished piecing and began hand quilting a new table runner while watching Downtown Abbey on Netflix. I had one patch left over so I made a pillow. I washed and recycled old down pillow to make the form for the new pillow
    Took ranch popcorn as a snack when I went into town. I popped the popcorn using my air popper, added butter and a tablespoon of ranch dressing mix made from a recipe found online I am finally getting the message that if I keep a snack with me, I will not succumb to the urge to eat out. Who said you couldn’t teach a dog new tricks!
    Have a great week!

  16. I’m so glad I’m not the only one who looks at those big bags the t.p. comes in and thinks, why would I throw this away when it’s the perfect size to line my office and bathroom trash cans?? 😀

  17. Brandy is right about selling everything NOW. Also, talk to your landlord, it is expensive and can be time consuming to get a new tenant, they might be flexible. You can also look at emergency housing assistance. Also, if the two hour away job is available, there might be a room he can rent so you do not have commuting costs. When it comes to it, try and move as close to his job as you possibly can, it will be cheaper for commuting.

  18. So sorry to hear about this job situation – prayers said for you and your fiance that things will work out with the new job option somehow.

  19. All sorts of things going on at our house – my daughter will be getting braces soon and our insurance only covers half of it, so I’m looking at every way to cut costs or earn some cash. I so need the inspiration from these posts and comments, every week this is one of my favorite parts of Monday. 😀

    I’ve decided to come back from my blog sabbatical, so my list of various things from May is here:

    Thank you to everyone who shares tips, ideas and accomplishments here!

  20. I’m so sorry to hear that. I hope he can find something quickly.

    Looking at what you can sell is a good start. I have had luck on our local garage sale sites.

  21. Sandra, Brandy’s tomato bread soup is a true gem of the internet. Far easier to make (than other tomato soups), and it cans really well.
    We also have used it for tomato sauce (I added 2 slices of bread to thicken) on pasta.

  22. Those blackberries look good! We have berries in our yard but they aren’t ripe yet.

    * my husband had the opportunity thru his work to participate in a group buy for cherries. We were able to pick Rainer or Bings for $1.12 per pound. We bought 25#’s and purchased add’l for family that will buy some from us. We never buy Rainers as they are always $5 per pound or more.

    *Got an insurance bill for our old home that we moved from in July 2014. A quick call to the insurance company revealed they had us paying of for 2 homes. They quickly refunded our money from the cut off of July 2014 which was a nice amount for savings.

    * My son had an end of the year track party which was $10 per family for pizza, cake, drinks. Not too bad for a night of no cooking and all the athletes being celebrated.

    * sold an item on a local garage sale site

    * won some “movie cash” which we will combine with the discount Tuesday day at the theater for a treat 🙂

    * my Grandma is turning 99 this week so I sent her a nice box of mixed chocolates using a gift card I had gotten from points. Celebrating her and no out of pocket cost for me 🙂

  23. Last week, my savings were: 1) Loaves of Italian bread at Wal-Mart for .39; put two in freezer for later and used for meals, sandwiches, and made breadcrumbs with rest of loaf; 2) Put all my trips and lists together and went to town once to save gas and take advantage of grocery savings in town; 3) pulled 2 gifts from gift stash for small party for a preschool graduation; 4) Dollar Store: $1.00/pkg. of sausage hot dogs (meal for 4), $1.00/pkg. of pepperoni/pizza for 4 — will use a pizza crust mix to make crust — .59; also bought .50 birthday card for family; 5) Pulled cash out of bank for 2 week period for groceries and running money (trying to use only cash); 6) Picked up books from Library reserved on-line for me and elderly mom and delivered her books to her; 7) Came up with 2 week menu plan — actually, this was first so I could make sure I had all the items on my lists; 8) put together small bagged lunches for event w/grandkids at park, 9) hubby still planting garden (today, celeraic, Derby beans, squash, cukes, okra). More to plant this week.

  24. I was able to score brand new (still wrapped) Christmas gift wrap and a large square frame from someones trash pile. This is great since every bit of Christmas wrapping paper was used last holiday. The frame will become a memory board.

    A friend made too much simple syrup and gave us a pint in exchange for a ride (her car is being serviced) – made the best lemonade!

    Family visiting us this week suggested a cookout. A meal was decided and then they needed a ride/trip to the store, so I sent my husband with a list and told him not to purchase anything that wasn’t on the list. He gave me a look like “don’t worry” but sure enough our guest started loading the cart with “extras” – at the check out my husband gave cash to our guest to cover what was on the list. This might seem odd, but this guest has a habit of doing this, and literally breaking our grocery budget for a few months. What makes me cringe even further is the food is not always eaten and wasted. Later that night, my husband told me he was grateful for the list, because it really did save a lot of stress. By the way, the meal was delicious.

    I have opted not to buy candy anymore and instead will ask for it for gifts. This makes for an inexpensive, well appreciated, and won’t collect dust gift!

    The garden is producing spinach, lettuces and a few radishes so far. I am letting a few of each got to seed to collect for next year.

    I hope everyone has a fabulous week!

  25. Hi Sandra, You might also try using 1/2 milk and 1/2 powdered milk (reconstituted) for drinking. I did this for my children as they wouldn’t drink powdered milk plain. Also, you could try stirring a teaspoon of vanilla and a teaspoon of sugar into your reconstituted milk. It makes it a little easier to drink. Just a thought. Teri

  26. Been harvesting more lettuces from the garden and my first broccoli head!!! Have also used chives and green onion tops from the garden as well!
    On Sunday, after Church, I realized that I needed to bake for the upcoming week and made 2 of my one hour (start to finish) 9 grain flax seed bread as well as oatmeal coconut cookies for brown bag lunches! I mashed 3 over ripe bananas for bread and realized I was out of brown sugar! We don’t shop on our Sabbath, so I couldn’t just run out and buy more! I discovered online the recipe to make my own brown sugar with only 2 ingredients- white sugar and molasses!
    I have in my food storage a GALLON of blackstrap molasses that someone gave me a long time ago but never used! Put 1 cup of white sugar into my mixer with 1/2 to 1 Tablespoon molasses and mix together completely! Could it get any easier than that? I went ahead and made up a batch with 8 cups of brown sugar as a result!!!! It will be a long time before I buy more brown sugar again!!
    Went through my books and found some that will give me almost $40 as a gift card from Amazon trade in!

    Made banana chocolate chip and banana butterscotch muffins as a breakfast option!
    Cooked up one of the 10 bags ($3.49) of chicken leg quarters and had 3 meals with leftovers.BBQ chicken drumsticks in oven, Santa Fe chicken over rice in crockpot and BBQ shredded chicken on buns! The leftovers from these three meals made 3 more leftover sack lunches/ dinners at home!
    Watched Miss Potter (movie) for date night free on our Amazon Prime! It was quite good! Got 3 new books loaded on to my kindle that were free also on my Amazon Prime!

    Stopped at Starbucks and got a free 5 gallon bucket full of “Grounds for the Garden” to help fertilize my garden! They were so nice about it!!

    Made so many meals and baked goods from scratch! Sure is a blessing to have so much food storage!!!

    Hope it’s been a great week for the rest of you too!!!

  27. Hi Sandra! When my boys were at home, we limited milk to just breakfast and dinner. The rest of the time we just drank water. Best wishes with your job search!


  28. Hi Brandy! Here’s what we did this week:
    Cut down a dead tree in our yard. Sawed up enough wood to last for a month this winter.
    Canned asparagus and strawberry-nectarine jam.
    Cleaned a thrifted purse with saddle soap and it looks like new.
    Harvested lettuce, spinach, and asparagus from our garden.
    Ate from the pantry and hung our laundry on the line, as usual.
    Bought 3 Le Creuset saucepans and one frying pan for $30 from an estate sale.
    Mended some pillows that were coming unsewn.
    Painted our guest cottage with paint that we bought at the Re-Use It Store and from leftovers in the basement.
    Finished planting our garden
    My husband trimmed my hair (six inches).
    An important thing we did is to live trap and relocate seven groundhogs that were destroying our vegetable garden.

  29. I’m not the only one!! 😀 Any bigger size is fair game. Why pay for trash bags, especially small ones, when so many sneak into my house!

  30. After losing my tomato seedlings TWICE (once to my husband’s “help” with weeding and once to a bad storm) I started mine indoors. I just transplanted them to the raised bed yesterday. I did the same with basil and bell peppers. Keep your fingers crossed!

  31. Sandra, have you checked to see if the children are using more than the serving size? I’m looking at my jar of PB in my desk drawer and it says 2 Tablespoons is the serving size. I know I am guilty of sometimes taking more than that myself so possibly the children are being over generous with their servings. Especially if they really love it they may want to cut back in order to keep peanut butter in their diet. I personally would cut back on anything and everything just to keep peanut butter!

  32. My happy and frugal accomplishment of the week was being able to ride my bicycle again after three years. I have an ongoing knee injury that has finally healed enough for me to ride my bike. Yay! I was able to run an errand by bike, and then rode to a local park and had my lunch (which I had packed from home) under the trees. I missed being able to do this so much. I even managed to push my bike up the steep hill where our condo complex is located (it’s a quarter of a mile uphill) without completely exhausting myself. That bodes well for a summer of running errands by bike. 🙂

    I spent time in the sun, which caused my rosacea to flare up. The best way I have found to control this is to wash my face with Selsun Blue shampoo at night. I read about this in an article, and it really works. And it’s far cheaper than using what doctors prescribe for this.

    Other frugal accomplishments:
    – I bought a new kind of yogurt at the store that was a good deal. It tastes fine, but it won’t ever be my favorite. However, it turns out I am eating a smaller serving of it, which is making it last longer.
    – It was warm and dry enough that I could dry some clothes on drying racks indoors with the windows open. I am washing my winter clothes before putting them away for the summer.
    – I am making a top using fabric and a pattern I already had. This is the first time I am making this particular pattern, and I am in between sizes and hard to fit. So I cut the bodice out from a piece of scrap fabric first and sewed it together so I could check the fit. I was glad I did, because it needed several alterations to make it fit correctly. I found a tutorial online about how to fix one of the issues.
    – While I had my sewing machine out, I mended my husband’s bathrobe, and hemmed a pair of thrifted pants.
    – We listened to our favorite radio show and several baseball games on the radio. I read books from the library.
    – I cooked from scratch. Some things I made: homemade mayonnaise, fermented cauliflower, chick pea flour pancakes, green bean salad, tomato salad, bone broth, herbal iced tea, kombucha and water kefir.

    Now I am going to read about everyone else’s week.

  33. I wondered how you got to read all that! I was so jealous thought you must be a speed reader! Love it!:)

  34. Wow, 9 cups of blackberries from your garden! Around here, they would cost about $2 for around one cup worth. They look delicious too! I hope some day I can plant some blackberry and raspberry bushes in my own garden. I’m also looking forward to seeing your daughter’s sewing project. What a fun way for Winter to practice her sewing skills.

    Here are my frugal accomplishments for this week:
    *Had to take a day off work to go to a follow up/recheck appointment from my Abdominoplastic surgery in another city. We didn’t have to leave for the appointment until 1:30pm, leaving time in the morning to do other things. I received an email that there was a 50% off sale at one of the local thrift stores on the same day as the appointment. I used the time in the morning to go. I found several shirts for my daughter and myself, 2 pairs of dress pants and pair of shorts for myself, a pair of yoga pants for my daughter, some flannel fabric pieces for my sewing stash, 3 canning jars and a cook book all for just over $31!

    *Did a bit better this week with eating at home. Meals included Sheppard’s pie, fish sticks and baked potatoes, perogies, BBQ hotdogs & hamburgers, and left over’s. As always, I took all my lunches to work. Also cook some extra food when preparing dinner for my daughter to take in her lunches (she’s getting sick of the normal suggestions, and is resulting in frustration in the morning).

    *Tried a new dinner idea this weekend. I still had some Pillsbury crescent rolls in the fridge that I bought on sale which needed to be used up. So I tried rolling the crescent dough with shaved ham and grated cheese (both from freezer stash bought on sale), then baking them. The meal was rounded out with scalloped potatoes and green beans I blanched and froze from last years garden. The meal was super delicious and it was a creative use of our pantry food stock!

    *Some of my spinach must have been touched by the frost we had, so I picked the “flawed” leaves and gave them to the Guinea pig. She enjoyed them! I should be able to harvest some of the spinach this week for us to enjoy.

    *My bean seeds appear to have not been affected by the frost. Most have sprouted now that the weather has warmed up again. We’ve been having a bit of rain nearly every day, so we have not had to water the garden too much either.

    *Attended an open house at the camp my daughter will be attending this summer (she is on the autism spectrum). It is her first time sleeping away from home so there is lots of anxiety (both her and us). Fortunately, this camp is specifically designed for kids on the autism spectrum. We enjoyed a free lunch and were given a tour of the camp facilities. My daughter really liked the camp and connected well with one of the camp leaders. Here’s hoping she does well and doesn’t get sent home due to uncontrollable behaviours (a constant reality in our lives).

    *Weather is still crazy. On Saturday it was super hot when we visited the camp. Then a cold front rolled in and we received torrential rains across Southern Ontario on Saturday afternoon. By Sunday we were back to wearing winter clothes. It was so cold we finally broke down and turned on the furnace in the evening. Just when I thought we were done with all of that, too…this is nuts!

    *Not my normal week to do grocery shopping, but couldn’t resist a great sale on eggs, $1.49/dozen (normal sale price is $1.99/dozen). The store ran out of the dozen size packages and was substituting the 18 count packages @ $2.25. I bought 2 packages of eggs as well as 2 cucumbers for $0.66 each, 2 tomatoes @ $1.00/lb (to have with the BBQ hamburgers we’ve been eating a lot lately) and 1 two-pack of romaine heart lettuce for $2.00/package. All really great prices for this area at this time of year.

    *Trimmed my bangs so I can continue to grow out my hair over the summer. I have to put my hair up in a bun for my work. It doesn’t make any sense to pay for a hair cut or bang trim at this time.

    Looking forward to reading all the comments! Have a wonderful week everyone!

  35. Love the blackberries. A blackberry and peach cobbler was always one of my Mother’s special deserts. I grew up on an orchard that also had a huge blackberry bramble.

    Brought lunch to work each day.
    Made a turkey that was from the B1G1F sale at Albertson’s at Thanksgiving.
    Picked lettuce from the garden to make a salad to go with the turkey.
    Cut DH’s hair. Easy – Just use the clippers and the 1/2 guard all over. Former Marine, so he likes it short.
    Planted peppers that we grew from seed in the house, into the garden.
    Hung most of 2 loads of laundry on the line.
    Went to Grocery Outlet and was able to get avocados for 50¢ each, watermelon for $2.99 and cantaloupe for $1.25.

    Seems like there was more, but that is all I remember for now.

    Have a good week everyone.

  36. They are $2 on sale for 6 ounces here, regular price $4 for 6 ounces. I definitely am ahead growing my own, and they’re in that little space on the side of the house with the a/c units that most people just concrete or have rocks in.

  37. Lori, your situation sounds so difficult. Everyone’s advice is good. I like the one about negotiating with your landlord…maybe your fiance can do work on the property while he is off. Property always needs maintenance or touch ups.

    I would worry about moving to another state…what about your own job? Moving expenses? Interview expenses? Is he in high demand for what he does? What if that results in another lay-off?

    Seasonal work is big here right now due to tourism and our upcoming , one of these days, summer. The strawberry farm just advertised for pickers starting mid June to mid July. The grocer has an ad up, I saw an ad on the marquee at the fast food drive through for help. Hopefully he could find a fill-in job until his real job comes through.

  38. Brandy, I wanted to see your reading list, so I clicked the link but I only showed one book, the LEMON TART by Kilpack. Of course I am curious about what others find interesting in books…as if my own TBR list is not long enough already.

  39. Sandra, my family LOVES peanut butter, so cutting it out of our diet is just not an option (there would be mutiny, with possible death and dismemberment…I wish I were kidding). In fact, I’m pretty sure we eat more than one jar a week and there are only 4 of us. I agree that $3.50 a jar is a lot. To make it more affordable, I usually wait to buy it until there is a sale ($3.00 or less/2lb jar) then I stock up big during the sale. If it gets eaten up before the next sale, then they are out of luck.

    Remember to compare this cost to that of other protein sources. What other meat or alternative source would provide protein to a family with six growing children for an entire week at just $3.50. It’s just my opinion, but I’d say that is pretty cheap!

  40. Lemon Tart is the first book in the series. Underneath that you can see the other books in the series where it says what people bought with that, or you can go to the author’s page. There doesn’t seem to be an easy way to link to the whole series.

  41. Rhonda,

    If you buy beans in bulk at around .65 a pound, and then they cook up to 2 1/2 times that much, they are a much less-expensive source of protein than peanut butter (plus no added vegetable oil and sugar). Obviously the cost on beans will vary on type and how much they are in your area, but if you can get them in bulk, you’ll pay a lot less than the cost of peanut butter.

    I agree that $3.50 a jar is too high. Sales, combined with coupons, can keep the cost down, as can buying the store brand on sale. Where I live, the store brand goes on case-lot sale a couple of times a year. Before school starts in the fall, there are lots of sales and coupons for peanut butter, too.

    Every family has their own preferences–no one in my family loves peanut butter; it’s just an okay thing to everyone here. Neither my husband nor I liked peanut butter sandwiches as children. Thankfully, my children will be happy with a bean soup and some homemade bread, and I can put several other vegetables in the soup, like onions, tomatoes, and chard, without any complaints, and it costs me less than peanut butter sandwiches.

  42. I look forward to seeing Winter’s sewing too!
    I also love reading the comments. It is nice to know we are not the only ones trying to stretch the budget.
    Here it was the first day of winter yesterday. So it is lovely reading about fruit and harvesting! But the last few winters I have made the most of our season by turning my attention to making things for my present cupboard. Due to loads of winter crafts, sewing and crochet I have made it to Christmas with a huge number of things made. Plus evenings are happy and busy making things! Making my own gifts is a big saver.
    At the moment I am concentrating on making warming foods and using my crock pot a lot. And building up my pantry.
    Have a wonderful week.

  43. Hi Sandra – I used to top up the milk jug with reconstituted dry milk. When the gallon milk was about half full, I’d combine the dry milk and filtered/cold water to make a 1/2 gallon. Then I’d refill/top up the milk jug from the store. I made sure the milk sat overnight in the refrigerator to get really cold before it was served. I also made sure to give the milk jug a good shake before anyone took some. No one in my family ever noticed.

  44. This was a week when we were glad we’ve been frugal and have extra funds set aside for emergencies without needing to go into our IRA’s. We had already paid my husband’s expensive yearly bar dues (for attorneys, not for drinks!) when our area was hit by floods and storms, one after another. The storms that have been raking Central Texas fortunately caused only a little damage to our house, but that “little” damage cost $550 in repairs. Neither of us is capable any longer of making those repairs on our particularly steep roof, which would have made the repairs much less costly, of course. We had a leak around one of our roof vents, but the roofer found damage (verified by my husband) on two others. We paid for those to be repaired, too, as well as some other repairs that would be needed in the next year or two. We had two hailstorms, though, and our roof is still in good shape other than these repairs, so overall we were satisfied. Other neighbors had leaks, too. The roofs were just too beat up during the storms not to sustain some damage.

    On Wendy Gower’s site, she and Maureen, someone writing a comment, mentioned a tip they had picked up from a recent Cheapskates workshop in Australia. (Thanks!) It had been suggested that you squash or flatten the T.P. rolls before putting them on the roller. That way, the T.P. doesn’t spool out so easily when you tug on it, causing you to use more T.P. than you would otherwise. I felt a little silly thinking of how guests might look at those lopsided rolls. However, two of my five grandchildren were visiting for three days. We were already low on replacement rolls, waiting for the next shopping trip to stock up. I tried the tip. I can’t quantify how much of a savings we achieved, but I KNOW it worked and worked better than I expected. We still have T.P. left. We’re comfortably waiting for the next grocery shopping trip. Knowing how much T.P. we had, I can guarantee that would not have happened with the freely spooling rolls.

    I’m vegan, so it’s been a long time since I’ve had butter. I also don’t typically add extra oils other than what occurs naturally in the foods we prepare. However . . . well, sometimes, you’re just craving a brownie and not a date-based, fava-garbanzo flour brownie! Those are fine for most of the time, but sometimes you just walk around for days with a real brownie craving. Not long ago, I found a recipe for a vegan butter that was getting great reviews on The total cost of the 1 lb. (2 cups) of coconut-oil based butter was approximately $1.90 for the 1 lb., and it was easy to put together. I am estimating the cost since I’d had some items since before I’d made out the rock-bottom price list. I had to estimate how much those ingredients would cost, and it does require a few specialty items (that I already had on hand). Since I don’t use oils that often–almost never–I haven’t been as diligent as I could have been about searching for the best prices for coconut and canola oil, used in the vegan butter, and it might be possible to get the cost lower.

    Before I was vegan, I always used unsalted butters, so this tastes too salty to me when I tested it on toast. I’ll be tinkering with the salt levels when I make it again, perhaps around holidays. However it melts like butter, and I thought about all those who were dealing with high butter prices last winter. When eaten on toast, it has a slight coconut aroma, but that might be due to the coconut oil I used. When used in baking, it doesn’t.

    I thought I remembered that many on this site had been snapping up butter to stock up last winter when it was around $1.90/lb. This can be frozen, too, like butter. I also used it to bake brownies from a recipe on that same site, and they baked up like no brownies have since I went vegan, with a fudgy interior and a thin crust. Yummy! I had a couple of them, then promptly packaged those up, too, to go into the freezer for family members or else I would have eaten them all myself.

  45. Not much new this week –

    Free in the mail – Self magazine and Better Homes and Gardens.

    My SO’s father can no longer drive and is going to move in with SO’s brother and his wife. My SO went to help him pack up and go through his things with him. He brought back a car load of things his father gifted to us that he won’t need or doesn’t have room for – sheets and pillows, an office chair, cleaners, sponges, assorted canned goods, frying pans – all things we needed! Also a few things we can’t use but my children need for their apartments (pots, pans, cutting boards).

    I picked blueberries, blackberries and strawberries from the garden.

    I did a mystery shopping assignment on the way home from work at a restaurant. I’ll get my meal reimubursed plus a small shopping fee.

    We went out to eat with a gift card my sister sent me for my birthday. We added up our order before we ordered to make sure the gift card would cover dinner and the tip.

    We are having the house treated for termites under the warranty. I don’t think they wanted to do it, but we had them out twice and collected termites from around the outside of the house, and they are retreating for no charge. Persistence pays off!

    Have a great week ladies!

  46. Thanks, Athanasia. Due to health issues, I only work from home so I am able to continue my job anywhere as long as we have internet! No commuting expenses or anything for me, unless you count the trips from my office to the coffee maker. It doesn’t pay a lot but it does help while allowing me to do 99% of everything around the house, too. 😀

    We moved here in July 2013 after he was offered a job making a good salary. Once we were moved, the company rescinded their offer, choosing instead to hire from within, and it has been a uphill battle since then as far as him finding adequate paying jobs. However, the town we moved from in SC had absolutely nothing in his line of work, so it was no better there. He has been applying for even part-time jobs at Lowe’s and the like trying to bring in at least some money until a full time position comes through. This was really the first day of his unemployment so we are hopeful that the calls will start coming soon!!

    Thanks for the good thoughts and the suggestions!!

  47. Sandra

    Peanut butter is so good for you full of protein.. I would have to see you loose it. Do you have a Aldi’s? Our price for a lb. jar is $1.89. Or maybe you could look into’s website for food or Walmarts. Walmart delivers to your home, maybe you could find it cheaper there. Or also do you have cheap peanuts in your area? You could try making your own I have made it myself a cpl. times with a food processor. I’ll look up the recipe if you want it. It was extremely easy to make but it would only be cheap if you can buy peanuts cheap there.

  48. Thanks so much for the good ideas and suggestions, Brandy. We are already pretty bare bones as it is since we were still trying to catch up from the last round of unemployment. We don’t have any call waiting, house phones, cable, no central a/c, etc. Thankfully our water bill is the bare minimum anyway — only $24 a month which is the lowest amount possible. I don’t use any lights inside until the sun sets so thank the good Lord our electric has dropped substantially from winter!

    I made good progress today in getting listings done. I sold a couple of things but hopefully more will sell over the week.

  49. Our house is rented through a property management place. They aren’t very flexible. In fact, when we asked about locking in our rent rate in exchange for signing a 2 year lease, they told us no — that after the first year was up, they were raising the rent by $60/month. This was after we were told the house was going to be a certain price (which was only $150 more per month than the old house we were renting) and then 2 weeks before we had to be out of the old place, we were informed the rent was actually going to be $300 more than they initially told us! With 2 weeks to go and being unable to extend the lease on our old place (fire marshal wouldn’t allow it to be rented again until brought to code), we were kind of stuck and had to lease this place anyway because rentals in this area are scarce and expensive! So, the house we’re renting is $500 more per month than the old place and while bigger and nicer, that is not what we were expecting when we first talked to them about renting this place but our hands were kind of tied.

    We are trying to do some online searching for rooms to rent or whatever in case the fiance were to get the job 2 hours away. That would definitely be an option, at least temporarily. Another option we’re considering is borrowing my folks 5-wheel RV again, at least for a few months until we get familiar with the area and are able to do some house hunting locally. He was already commuting 40 miles for this job from which he was just laid off. Two hours through the mountains is definitely not going to happen!

    We’re also talking about possibly taking on a roommate which would pay part of the rent each month. We are kind of hesitating on that because we don’t want to bring someone in here and then 2 weeks later realize we have to move to TN or VA or somewhere.

  50. Mandy

    Prayers added here too.. I know how it feels. God is there for you and I know it’s hard to accept right now but he has something better in store for you. I lost my job earlier this year in Feb. and it was pretty scary but 3 weeks later I found a much better for me job and even though it paid 25 cents a hour less because I don’t live in one city and work in another I pay in less taxes so actually bring home more money than I did before and all the hours I want to work there up to 40 hours a week plus OT when we’re in our busy seasons.

  51. I have been saving them too ever since someone mentioned it here…but the ones we buy have a tag for schools…points type thing…so i have to make sure they are opened the right way that I can cut the tag off before we put them in the can. We also did that with the dog food bag but again had to open it upside down so could cut the upc off as when we have 12 of those we get a free bag.

  52. I have used homemade TP still have it but we have a terror of a new puppy who gets into everything besides being a escape artist.. just got done chasing her around the neighbors driveway and our yard. If the shower stall is open she’ll get bars of soap, the shower floor liner thing, razors, bottles of shampoo whatever she can and that is where I was using my homemade cloths in a bucket. Eventually I hope she’ll get past this horrible puppy stage she’s 10 months old and a Jack Russell Terrier. Our bathroom is very tiny and that was the only place I had to put them so eventually we’ll go back.

  53. Jenifer

    You reminded me of a frugal from a cpl. weeks ago. The candy company I work for, for easter and Mothers Day wrapped all our boxes of candy with this beautiful expensive wrapping paper. After the holidays they had me unwrap all those boxe of candy and I ask what they were going to do with the paper.. the mgr. told me “throw it in the trash”. I ask if I could have it.. a large large box full stuffed. She said “yes” so I brought it home, still need to cut it down to smaller flat pieces but so much and we have 12 stores that all did the same thing.. sad. I gave one of my husbands co workers a large bag, gave another large bag to a elderly neighbor who has more grandkids than I could possibly remember and kept a lot for ourselfs. I bought Christmas cloth for wrapping instead of buying but free is good versus it going in the trash. So it’ll be a purple Christmas for our family and friends this year.. a deep beautiful purple will look for some pretty gold ribbon to tie it up with.

  54. I’ve been interrupted so many times today,this is my FOURTH attempt. AUGH.

    I baked cookies, we made almost a hundred dollars on eBay, my husband found a toy my son wanted on eBay. It is cold and dreary here after days of if being almost 90 degrees so the a.c. is off. My husband noticed a coupon reward thingy for our credit card, so I used that while grocery shopping and we will get a ten dollar credit. We are absolutely noticing the difference in buying in bulk and being on a set menu plan. I have five set meals and two wild cards. We’ve been doing it since April and we are really seeing the savings add up.

    I wanted to include my excellent recipe for chocolate syrup. I adapted it from the Scharffenberger cookbook. 1/2 cup brown sugar ( you can use white but I like the added complexity of the brown sugar), 1/4 cup cocoa, teeny pinch of salt, optional splash of vanilla, stir in 1/4 cup boiling water, it’s much better than Hershey’s and obviously much cheaper. It gets a bit thicker as it sits in the fridge. Make sure to stir it enough to ensure the sugar dissolves.

  55. Tina, that was a very nice deal on the cherries! When they have Raniers here they are 5.99 to 6.99 a pound. I don’t know who or how anyone would pay that.

  56. My frugals this week?

    I made a homemade lasagna last Sunday, had a meal of it from the deep freezer tonight. Saturday evening I fried up 6 lbs. of chicken burger and froze for quick easy meals. Last night was Nacho Supremes using a lb. of it. My puppy I mentioned in a earlier post is tearing our furniture to pieces I went to the thrift store Saturday and bought a thin cover blanket (she likes the stuffing in them) that didn’t have stuffing so far she isn’t ripping this one up. Oh the blanket was 99 cents. We are using it to cover our loveseat that she is tearing the stuffing out of the arms. The furniture is over 15 years old and we planned to buy new this year but not till we get her under control. I also found good quality cotton cloth dinner napkins 59 cents each to add to my supply. We never use paper napkins unless they are given to us with take out. Dh commented the other night how much he appreciates our cloth dinner napkins versus these.

    We have met our liability limits on our insurance for the year so dh’s meds are now free for the rest of the year. Each time I pick up his meds. I take the money I would have spent and buy gift certificates for Christmas gifts or store ones to save for hard times. Cash would get away from us but the gift cards don’t. Plus we’ve been getting double or 4X the fuel points if we buy cards certain days of the week at Krogers.

    My 25 tomato plants are growing like crazy so will have a lot to can this fall. My cherry tree in the back yard is producing a decent amount of cherries.. a question for the group. When the cherries turn red I have found a worm in the center where the seed is but if they are just getting a blush no worms. Am I waiting to long to pick the cherries? I took the worms out and froze the cherries. Any idea what kind of worm it is.. a little white worm and if it is harmful in case I missed one.

    I think that is about it so far this week.


  57. This week I switched to what I call the Summer Baking Schedule 🙂 Because we don’t have AC, when the weather warms up (high 80’s into the 90s with scattered 100s here & there) I do my best to only use the oven once a week. Monday was my first designated baking day this year. I made:
    2 loaves of sourdough bread for sandwiches (the dough rests overnight in the refrigerator),
    one loaf of “dinner bread,”
    One batch of cookies (from frozen dough when I have the time,)
    mixed berry muffins using the odds & ends of frozen berries,
    banana bran muffins (I had some bananas beyond smoothie saving)
    a batch of granola
    pizza crust “blanks”
    dinner was 2 roasted chickens, a dozen baked potatoes and a big pan of roasted veggies.
    didn’t turn on the oven again until the next baking day.

    I returned to the grocery store after leaving the store for a $1.30 overcharge. I got a big eye roll for the cashier, but when she sent me over to customer service they refunded me the price of the item plus a coupon for 10% off my next purchase. This is the store I do not shop at frequently; only when the the loss leader is something that fits my price point.

    I bought “ham steaks” for the first time. They look like a cross section of a bone-in ham. Each package was 1.25-1.5lb. They were normally $5.99 each, on sale for $4.59 with a $4 off coupon stuck to each package because this week is their use/freeze by date. I pulled out my “emergency grocery $$” and bought all 8 packages

    At the same store they had bags of beat up bananas which are perfect on the inside for $.29/ lb. I bought several bags. Some went into muffins, some were frozen for smoothies, some were dipped in chocolate and frozen for treats and some will be eaten plain. All the peels went into the compost.

    I combed through the internet for free summer programs for the kids to participate in. Their friends’ lives are filled with swim lessons, art camp, music camp, science camp, sports camps etc. Each one costs $100s of dollars each month. I found the local library reading program, the Barnes & Noble reading program, the Kids Bowl Free program (there is a shoe rental,) and a local movie theater movie program. Some of these places expect that you will buy food or drinks there, so always take our own. Our local parks host free hikes, so I put those on our calendars as well.

    I am sure I will think of more later. Those were just the ones that stood out as being unusual.


  58. Gardenpat,
    Don’t you feel virtuous when you make brown sugar; like it’s a secret that’s been held from you? I learned to make it several years ago when i worked in the kitchen of a restaurant. (The owner was always running out of ingredients to keep the kitchen running.) I’ll never go back to store bought since i always have regular sugar and molasses. I love taking an item off my shopping list!

  59. One gallon of whole milk can be diluted with water to make “2%” or diluted with mixed powdered milk. If using powdered milk to dilute, you can change the ratio each time you mix it, adding more powdered milk each time until its more powdered milk than not.

  60. Husband and I are retired and do as much traveling as possible. We just got back from a week of travel from So Cal to Yellowstone National Park and Mt. Rushmore, with lots of stops at small towns in between.
    1. Lodging – We had one free night coming because we use a certain hotel-branded credit card.
    2. Lodging – At every hotel we asked for the Auto Club discount and got it. Usually it was around $10 so that came to around $60 for the week.
    3. We got into Yellowstone for free because my husband is old enough to get a free national parks pass. Saved us $25.
    4. Food – We had $20 in gift cards from Applebee’s that we were careful to use up. We are also quite happy to have fast food so our meals were often between $10-15 for the two of us.
    5. Food – We are huge Costco fans and usually stop there to fill up on gas as it is always the cheapest around. I think we were only forced to get gas twice at non Costco pumps. The food court is a cheap lunch also and the restrooms are a good pit stop. 😀
    6. Food – All the motels in which we stayed offered free breakfast. I don’t much care for their food, but free is free. You can’t really ruin a bagel and cream cheese, now can you?
    7. We are very careful which credit cards we use as they are points earning opportunities, not to be missed. One of our cards is giving five points per dollar for all restaurants this quarter, and a different one is giving five points per dollar for any hotels used. We rarely pay for plane fares due to the careful harvesting of these points.

    Our trip was 25% under budget, seed money for the next trip.

  61. Made more rhubarb/strawberry/red currant jam, including one batch with my grandson who was visiting.

    Picked a small handful of ripe strawberries over the course of the week. We washed & cut them into pieces & froze them to use in the rhubarb/strawberry jam recipe.

    Extended the blackberry bed with the help of my grandson, then he helped me remove some sod on the north side of the house, to extend the barked bed there. We gave most of the sod pieces to a neighbor who could use them & I used a couple to fill in problem spots on the front lawn.

    Planted butternut & Boston marrow squash in the top tier of the garden, under the glass garden cloches where the soil has warmed.

    Continued to pick up grounds for gardeners at Starbucks.

    Recycled the cans & some metal pieces for the younger grandchildren. This type of income is how they learn to figure out their tithing, & how to save.

    We had half inch hail on the leading edge of the one of the storms that came thru, but it did not last long, & did not do much damage other than shredding a few leaves & some yellow iris blooms.

    Cut 3 of the dry Christmas tree trunks into logs for the “woodpile”. I save the trunks from the live trees we collect from neighbors after Christmas, to let them drop their needles in the acidified beds. I trim off the branches, & let the trunks dry out for 6 months to 3 years, then we cut them into lengths when they are well dried. This is the wood for our future firepit.

    Received a pine cone check for 2 surveys.

    Took some red raspberry starts that had come up outside the bed, along with a pot of spearmint starts out to my daughter when I took my grandson home. We also hauled back 4 of the patio pavers she is using for a walk, & 2 bags of dried grass clippings for her to use in her keyhole gardens.

  62. -Stuck to my list at Costco.
    -Went to a friends birthday party at a winery and someone else bought the wine for all the attendees, I made sure to say a genuine thank you twice.
    -Cut sunflowers, 3 vases in my house and a vase for a friend and neighbor. I planted the Teddy Bear variety from Botanical Interests for the first time and am very happy.
    Ate green beans from the garden twice. Unfortunately gophers got a whole row that we would have eaten from over the next month. I planted new seeds with chicken wire underneath. Almost my whole garden is chicken – wire – protected now.
    -Binge listened to a great free podcast called “Serial”-I could do stuff while listening like cook or do laundry, an ear bud in one ear rather because it is about a murder case, not exactly kid friendly
    -Made lots of french toast for the fridge for easy breakfasts (put in the toaster like a poptart)
    -Did a 2 1/2 mile hike with my 3 and 6 year old–I was so proud of them and they were proud of themselves!

  63. Your right, beans are the cheapest protein. But many of us like a bit of variety in our diet. I believe peanut butter was developed during the Great Depression as a cheap, nutritious protein source. Although the price has increased significantly over time, it is still cheaper than most meat and poultry. You have stated before that you struggle to find meat under $2/lb. If a 2lb jar of peanut butter is only $3.50, that is $1.75/lb and you need only a small amount to make up a serving. If you can get it on sale and use coupons, it will be even less.

    We don’t see the same sales on peanut butter around the start of school as you do. Our primary schools in Ontario are peanut free due to so many allergies, which means there is less of a demand. I also find companies are less generous with coupons here as they are in the U.S. Your advice is really good, though, for those who do live in the states.

  64. tadpole (cute name), What a beautiful photo on your cover page. I live in middle Georgia so the term “mountain passes” caught my attention. Something we don’t have here.

  65. Hi! It’s Rose, your neighbor! I just had a thought. Has he checked at Harrah’s? It may not be his line of work but it’s just over the mountain from where you live and at least it would be something until something else pops up.

  66. I had to laugh at your description of your little pup. It sounds just like “Marley & Me”. Then I read that it is a Jack Russell Terrier. Are you aware that they were originally bred to catch rats on farms? They are specifically bred to be hyperactive and to never stop! I really hope your new pooch settles down with age, but I would suggest preparing yourself for a lifetime of hyperactivity.

  67. That’s why a variety of beans is good 🙂 White beans, black beans, kidney beans, pinto beans, lentils, chickpeas, green peas, etc. all make for variety.

    Eggs are another good source of protein.

    We have meat several days a week. I do find meat under $2 a pound; fewer meats are being offered at this price, and I don’t doubt that meat prices will continue to rise with the bird flu problems we’re seeing. I also find meat under $1 a pound, such as whole chickens or bone-in chicken pieces, and whole turkeys at Thanksgiving. Tuna fish is also under $2 a pound when I find it on case-lot sale.

    Your family loves peanut butter, and I really dislike peanut butter sandwiches. Every family had to do what works for them! (And if you’re getting peanut butter for $3 for 2 pounds in Canada, it sounds like you’re getting a GREAT deal!)

  68. Rhonda, We also live in Ontario, and I would agree that we do not see the same sales on p.b. at the start of school, but just a week or 2 ago one of the stores here in Guelph (maybe Zehr’s?) had a sale on p.b. for $2.88 for 1 kg. I think I have seen it cheaper somewhere once, but I can’t remember where. If I remember where, I’ll update. Where in ON do you live?
    We buy the light version of p.b., but honestly we hardly eat any peanut butter. My husband probably eats the most! 🙂 I have one child that has never cared for it (he’s almost 11 and doesn’t like p.b.), and the other (7 yo boy) only likes it occasionally (on a bagel usually and for a week or so, and then he moves on). I would agree that the demand is probably lower because public primary schools require nut free foods. Have you ever tried the WOW butter? I use the WOW butter myself on occasion, but no one else in this home will eat it!! It is also considerably more expensive than regular p.b., and it is rarely on sale. I’ll have to look at the back to compare the protein w/ p.b.’s.
    And without a doubt, companies are considerably different here vs the U.S. related to coupons. I’m American and spent 30+ yrs in the U.S., so I can speak from experience in several parts of the U.S. (NE, midwest x2 and southwest). (My husband is Cdn, and we have lived in Canada for nearly a decade.) I won’t complain…the lettuce on the deck was wonderful in my salad yesterday 🙂

  69. I also laughed at your dog’s antics but I know they aren’t funny to live with and the dog could end up ingesting something to hurt himself. The leader of our dog training class at the local humane society kept emphasizing lots of exercise and basic training reinforced over and over again. She also suggested a very small number of toys that engage the dog’s mind and fit the breed. Sounds like yours would like one of those that requires figuring out how to get kibble or small treats out of the toy as well as something indestructable to chew on. I think a dog tired out from exercise and play is the best behaved dog LOL. Good luck as terriers are full of energy and need a job/focus.

  70. I have read a lot of articles lately about people moving into RV’s, campers, busses etc for a variety of reasons. Maybe that could be an option?

  71. Oh no! I hope she grows out of this stage, too!
    Andrea – it’s taken about a year to get it down to that little, and once in awhile it’ll be a little more, like if clean out the fridge and can’t compost something or clean out a room and get rid of something that I can’t burn/compost/donate.

  72. Tina, I lost my ability to ride my bike about four years ago, and I was a person who rode mountain bikes on downhill single tracks through the woods. I’m vicariously living through you, enjoying that day you had riding on errands. Hurrah for you and thanks for giving me that moment of imagining the wind in my face again! I’m so happy for you!

  73. Not such a great week here . . . We got our home insurance renewal in the mail. Last year’s policy was a smidge over $500; this year they want over $900! We shopped around and managed to find another policy for just over $700 but what is with the price hike?! I was expecting it to be maybe $50 more, but nearly double?

    I made a valance for the new bathroom. I had a vague idea of the fabric I wanted, but thought I’d go to the fabric store and see what ‘sang’ to me. I found some beautiful fabric; it wasn’t on sale, but I got it anyway because I knew it’d be perfect. And it is. But I bought way too much of it and have more than a metre left over. I should care more; but it really is so beautiful, it’s hard to be that upset about it.

    Frugal wins: I repainted the kitchen using free sample pots. Everything looks so much cleaner and fresher now! I figured since a new kitchen is definitely not going to happen this year, I might as well make the best of what I have. With the renovations last year we went from having a toy room which was really quite large, to keeping all the toys in the hallway between the kids’ rooms. It’s a wide hallway, but it’s just a hallway. Since it’s built into an A-frame roofline we also have bookcases along the A frame wall, and we had, until last week, hung excess clothing on hanging racks above the bookcases. Over a period of a few weeks I’ve managed to clear out the stuff we were storing in the bookcases (it got moved to the storage cupboards in the new bathroom, which were salvaged from a friend’s kitchen remodel) and now the bookcases store toys. Last week I made a concerted effort to get rid of my clothes hanging there – many were donated; what I didn’t want to donate and couldn’t fit in my (small) bedroom closet, I packed away – it’s all summer clothes so I won’t need it for a good 4 months. My husband did the same. By clearing out the clothes I was shocked to discover that the hallway is actually very large indeed, and actually works rather well as a toy room. It’s almost like discovering a brand new room in the house! I keep archive boxes in the hallway to store my kids’ artwork in; they aren’t terribly nice, so today I pulled out a roll of wrapping paper and covered them – now they look much nicer, which makes me like the space that much more.

    While out with my MIL, I found the exact toy that my daughter wants for her birthday, in an op shop, for $3.50 – and it looks brand new. My MIL bought it for her and also found a little toy for my son too. (His birthday is on Christmas Eve and she always feels sorry for him because of it, so she always gives him a little present on my daughter’s birthday.)

    My job tomorrow will be to continue the Great Home Insurance Hunt . . . I’d love it if we were able to knock another $100 or so off the price . . .

  74. That’s probably part of the issue. I need to keep on top of portion sizes much more than I do. My kids eat peanut butter whenever they can for breakfast and for lunch. Plus I have two high school boy athletes who work out hard everyday so they need a lot of calories. I need to figure out how to feed them enough and do so within my budget.

  75. I’m probably not going to cut it out entirely but I do need to reduce it somewhat. I buy it at Aldi as cheaply as I can and while I realize that it’s below the $2 per pound meat price, it’s still more expensive than beans. I think we will reduce pb&j to three to four times a week and use leftovers, soups, stews, and beans the rest of the time.

  76. Brandy, I tried your tip about keeping water in the fridge. I put water into a large pitcher and placed it in the fridge to get good and cold. I’ve never seen my kids so excited about water! Who knew?!? Now they are drinking more water and like it. I hope the novelty doesn’t wear off. 🙂

  77. Update:

    I got into my garden this morning and I am heartbroken. Something has eaten my broccoli plants. There are no leaves left! So disappointed. I never had a problem growing broccoli when I was in MO. On the bright side, I have collards greens and kale growing nicely. I also planted swiss chard but it’s not growing just sort of holding its own. My tomato plants are very small. Not sure why. I wonder if it’s because we have had so much rain and so much cool weather. I’m hoping that the dry weather and warmer temps this week are going to help but I’m not sure. It has been so incredibly wet here that mushrooms are growing everywhere – in the yard too. Maybe I need to fertilize. What do you think?

  78. I worked for hours in the garden. It dried out enough to till again and then we had to work like maniacs to get it planted before more rain arrived Sunday night. I have a few things from a previous planting that I worked on weeding, but there is much to be done still. Because we have such a large garden, between eating fresh produce and preserving, we save a lot of $ this way, besides eating so many healthy vegetables and fruits. So, it’s a priority for us and I enjoy it. I also planted a flowerbed. I used a mixture of dahlia bulbs, zinnia seeds and some marigold and lobelia plants. It should be pretty.

    My husband got 5 lbs of shredded mozzarella for a little over $10. I got $23 worth of groceries in the last 2 weeks and that’s all.

    I’ve been using items from the pantry, freezer and home-canning cupboard. I got lettuce from my aunt and 1 head from our garden. I am still using onions from last year’s garden, but am coming to the end of those at last. The kind that stored the best is “Copra.” It’s amazing to me that they lasted so long. We are trying to clean out the fridge and so I have been serving leftovers a lot. I have announced that I am not cooking more until those items are gone!

    I’m working on a batch of home-made gluten-free hamburger buns. My daughter made lemon-poppy-seed muffins.

  79. Growing boys are a challenge! My boys are only 9 and almost 3, and sometimes they can really eat! I am now remembering when my brother was a teen, and how he could clear out our cupboards in a weekend.

    I’ve also noticed the peanut butter. We can go through a large jar from Costco in 2 weeks (for only 4 people), because I put some in my smoothie every morning.

    I have been encouraging my kids to snack on cheaper healthy foods. My 9 year old loves my homemade bread, and luckily he has the metabolism to eat it, unlike me!

    For cheap and healthy calories, think fats along with any carbs. That’s probably why they like peanut butter. But even being generous with the olive oil on your salad or veggies can help! And when I cook up meats, I rarely throw away the fat. I save it and use it to flavor my bean soups, particularly pork fat.

  80. Can you maybe find a good price on peanuts? I’ve made my own peanut butter in the food processor. Unfortunately, I’ve never found plain peanuts for sale per pound any cheaper than the peanut butter at Costco.

  81. We attended our neighborhood potluck on Sunday evening. This week was a banner week, with great variety except no dessert.

    I often have a hard time deciding what to take – I spend much of the weekend cooking to prep for the week, so this is a bit “extra” on top of that. Of the four families (anywhere from 4 to 8) who go, one of them is vegetarian (or pescatarian?) Anyway, they will eat fish but no meat. And I generally don’t buy fish that often because of the cost (canned salmon and tuna, and the once a month fish purchase).

    Last week my chickpeas and rice were not that popular (don’t know why, it’s delish!) This week I made homemade focaccia and took homemade hummus and veggies. I went to the 99c store, and got 2 lbs of carrots, 7 bell peppers, a bag of snap peas, and a cucumber – all for $5. I figured there would be plenty of leftovers for snacks and lunches.

    Well, that big old container of veggies was SOOO popular there was almost nothing left. Still, bread and veggies and hummus -pretty cheap. I think this coming week I will make black bean and veggie layered enchiladas. (I generally shy away from these types of foods because of the extra prep work).

    My husband and I got a date night. Now, it’s not particularly frugal when you consider babysitting is $50. But we had a free glass of wine at a winery. We did buy a quick sandwich and popcorn at the movie theater. But my husband traded in his “points” from donating blood for our movie tickets. That all saved us $30.

  82. Purple is such a beautiful color! Even wrapping with a bit of twine and a sprig from the tree….hmmm now you have me thinking on what to do with the blue and silver rolls I found.
    I collected 14 brand new rolls. A few aren’t my taste, but I know the local thrift store will be able to sell them!

  83. Water in the refrigerator in bottles has been one of the most helpful tips I have learned. We keep 5 bottles with names on the bottles and extras for those who are thirsty especially when the weather is hot. So convenient to come home to cold water or cold water with a meal on warm to hot days.

  84. This past week was hit & miss for us.

    On the non-frugal side, we had to have work done on my car, plus a $150 towing fee, since it died in the middle of a busy street & was un-drivable. Had to push it into a parking lot & have it towed to the shop. We are a 2-car family (we both work outside the home) so we were still okay – I had to take my husband to work for a week. However, on the positive, it only ended up being around $200 for the repair instead of the several thousand we were anticipating (transmission work). So, that was nice. Just glad we were able to cover it all without messing up our budget.

    We saved $75 on our car insurance by applying a partner discount through my husband’s employer. That was a nice perk! I was finally able to line dry my laundry, after nonstop rain for a month. Wettest May on record in 117 years here! I try to wash & hang a load out before I leave for work in the mornings. That saves a nice bit of electricity vs. using our dryer. We cooked & ate most meals at home instead of eating out. We have also decided to put an additional $500 into savings each month. That will be a little tighter, but I know we can do it, and we won’t be wasting that money at yard sales or extraneous shopping we didn’t need. It’s been warm & humid here, so we’ve been running the central air conditioner, but in the mornings I do open our windows & patio door to cool the house & let some fresh air in. That usually cools the house down enough that the air won’t run until around 4 or 5 in the afternoon.

  85. Rain and cold weather will slow garden growth, especially in plants like tomatoes that need warmth. I wouldn’t fertilize just yet; wait to see if the warmer weather this week makes a difference.

    Are there any animal tracks around your garden or do you think it was insects? Slugs and earwigs love wet weather and can wipe out a small garden in just a couple of days; animals like deer, rabbits and gophers can destroy a garden in a couple of hours.

  86. We also harvested from our garden this week. We cut quite a bit of spinach, cilantro, and parsley. We made frozen herb butter with the cilantro, and also frozen some of it pureed to use later in salsa. We also froze the spinach in blocks to be used in scrambled eggs. The parsley we dehydrated to be used as a spice. We went yard sale shopping this past weekend and found 3 pairs of shorts for our 15 month old for $0.50!

  87. We had a quiet week. My four year old had a dress with layered sleeves that were slightly too short but the rest of the dress was fine so I cut off the long sleeves and voila- a new short sleeve summer dress. We ate at home except one lunch when we went to an Audubon ($2 per person)reserve and saw some friends Morris dance. Other friends from out of state came by for a few hours and left a half gallon of organic milk, cheese sticks and some yogurt in our fridge- they live five hours away and thought it would go bad before they got home. The girls are loving their special school snacks this week. Does decluttering the bedroom count as frugal? As the room looks better I want to spend more time in there and make it look nice. The girls are going through a handful of books every day and anything they are both finished with is finding a new home. The other good news is that medically everyone was concerned for nothing. We have to keep an eye on things but no more daily blood draws. Yay! My husband and I are making a list of free/low cost/or do it while I am well summer things to do and prioritizing them. The whole idea of failure to plan is planning to fail and all that…

  88. I am so happy your health is better! Hopefully it will continue to improve and you will stay well! Prayer and hugs…..

  89. Sandra, it could be a lot of things. You are in Arkansas? There’s good dirt there? If so you shouldn’t need to fertilize much. In past we used Miracle Gro for tomatoes, whether it helped or not, I don’t know. Your soil may be waterlogged. Are there standing puddles in your garden? Too much water washes the oxygen out of the soil. Maybe take a pitchfork and poke around, make sure the soil is loose. Otherwise as long as your tomatoes are in full sun for most of the day they should take off soon.

  90. Lori, glad to hear your job is stable at least. That will help. I pray there will be a good opportunity coming his way soon.

  91. Thanks Janell,
    I grew up on the prairies and living in the mountains has been a change for me to say the least. I’m still a little scared of driving. There are two passes that I have to drive through to get to the next town about 90km away. I like it when I can see the road ahead of me for miles and miles. My heart always rises when I see a prairie sky but I am very happy living here in the mountains, which has its own beauty.

  92. Hi Heidi. I live in Peterborough. I worked for a summer in Guelph many years ago right after I graduated college the first time. The company is no longer in operation, though. I do fondly remember the multitude of thunderstorms that rolled through that summer. Scared me half to death more than once when a loud snap of thunder woke me from a dead sleep in night! Never knew it was possible to jump that high off the bed.:D

    Unfortunately we don’t have a Zehr’s near here, so I didn’t get that sale. I am always on the watch for sales on PB though. When it is on sale, I buy A LOT at one time, even if I have to bring extra family members along to split the purchase and go though the check-out a few time when there is a limit (seriously, buying a limit of 4 jars of PB in my family is a joke:p). I’m not a fan of the light (too grainy), but we eat pretty much any other kind.

    I have tried the Wow butter once as a Costco sample. I thought it was ok, but my 12 year old daughter didn’t like it (picky child on Autism spectrum who doesn’t like change), so it isn’t worth getting. I’ve considered buying it though to use in baked goods for school, but haven’t tried it yet.

  93. My oldest girl has a rat terrier and good thing she lives on a farm, because that dog loves to root around and chase anything and everything.

  94. Rhonda and all others:

    We love her but had no idea she was a Jack Russell Terrier mix. When we got her from the shelter she was labeled Daschund/Hound mix. took her to the Vet, he said “Jack Russell Terrier” so then we did research of what they are Oh My! And we have started as of this evening playing frisbee. My rottweiler loves frisbee and ball catching and will bring them back, the puppy happily followed along trying to get the frisbee from the rotty so they both got some exercise. I forget sometimes that they need that extra energy blast in the evenings and again in the morning so we’l definitely be working on that more. I do walk them but not as many days as I should due to my working schedule now.,. hoping that settles down more when we get more hired help in. I’m only supposed to be working part time 6 hours a day but have been scheduled lately 8 hours tomorrow was supposed to 9 but a co worker from another store who needs hours is relieving me of 4 hours whew! And I guess the good news is we won’t have any rats LOL! That was a problem last year with my shed, spent $200 having a neighbor dig a trench and put metal flashing down under the foundation.. should have saved the money the pup will take care of it.

  95. Juhli

    We are starting more exercise.. frisbee and ball are now on the menu and Kong will be on my list at the petstore this week. I have to buy 3 since I have 3 dogs. I do buy lots of stuffed toys which they love to take the stuffing out of and we have a mouse that you wind up and it runs all over the house with them happily chasing it.. how they have managed to not destroy him is beyond me. He was originally a childs toy, he makes all kinds of chattering noises and bonging noises. Don’t know where my sister got him but would love to find more.

  96. You might want to check with the company that covers your cars. You can get a multiple policy discount that way.
    Good luck with your search.

  97. Hi! I am also from Ontario and not too far from you (in the small town of Palmerston – 1 hour north of Guelph). I recently found 750g and 1kg jars of peanut butter for $2.88 (PC brand and No Name brand) at No Frills. I believe it was either Food Basics or No Frills that had peanut butter for $1.97 6 months or so ago. I stocked up at that price but we’re down to our last jar so I bought 2 jars of the No Name to try it. My oldest would live on peanut butter sandwiches if schools weren’t nut free. Its a challenge for me to make her school lunches as she is an extremely fussy eater and won’t eat meat, cheese or beans (among a long list of other things).

  98. I very much recommend Brandy’s Taco Soup it’s my son’s favourite and I’ve put it into regular rotation in our house. Bean burritos are also a big hit when I can find tortillas for less than a dollar a pack (I’ve haven’t tried making them myself yet).
    Good luck on the job hunt Sandra!

  99. Anne, I quite frequently grab something from the continental breakfast buffet at the hotel to use as a snack or part of lunch later. They usually offer yogurt and fruit as a breakfast options which are easy grab and go offerings. Even a bagel with cream cheese or a muffin are portable. At least your getting your money’s worth if you are not eating much for breakfast.

  100. Hi Everyone
    I’ve tried to be better this week, I rode my bike to work twice, took lunches with me every day (even when that meant cramming it into my backpack for the ride), I made dinner at home everyday and we have been good about eating leftovers (something hubby doesn’t do on his own).

    On Saturday I took my son to the zoo which is free for me since I work there. I try not to abuse that too much so it’s still special for him. We played in the slash pad, rode the train and the carousel twice and all I had to pay for was one popsicle for him.

    On Sunday I took him to the movie theatre for the first time because I had a pass for two tickets and two drinks and popcorn that was about to expire so we had another fun free afternoon.

    My son and I have been going to the library a lot, he is able to play on the iPad (we don’t have any devices in our house) and I have been making my way through all their vegetarian cookbooks to find some new bean and meatless recipes.

    Harvested the first pickings from the garden which was only spring mix so far but it’s the start of a summer of salads without buying ANY lettuce I hope!

  101. Marivene–months ago, you mentioned that you have a dry stack of stones/bricks in your yard that can be converted to a cook stove (rocket stove maybe?) by moving just a few blocks around. Do you happen to have a picture? I’ve searched Pinterest, but I haven’t found much. We’re expanding our garden to make more space for vegetables and I’d like to add some interesting features. Thank you.

  102. Every time I read about the scorpions or the snakes or the 4″ slugs or the termites that other people have to deal with I am so glad I live in the “frozen tundra”. Well, at least until the first blizzard.

  103. Anna, I was just reading in a financial planning magazine that every time one finishes paying an ongoing bill, such as a mortgage or car payment or school tuition, you should just put that same money into your IRA or other savings plan. Too many look at it as Ooh, I have fun money to spend now and end up really wasting it. So your gift card plan is a good idea.

  104. Anne, I am glad you had an enjoyable trip. Was there still snow in Yellowstone? We went there for our honeymoon (years ago) , it was early June, and there was still a lot of snow and it was cold. We were planning on camping, so we decided to go south to Grand Canyon instead.

  105. Becky, I will have to look for the Copra onion. We store a lot of onions, yellow and red, and they (the yellow) usually last pretty good into March. That is when I restock by buying lots at the St Patrick sales so have enough til our own harvest. I do buy a sweet onion now and then through out the year so we have onions fresh for slicing for hamburgers or chopped for hot dogs.

    I think you and I do things a lot alike, just from reading the last couple years. 🙂

  106. Marcia, describe your enchiladas a little more…mashed black beans? whole seasoned black beans? what vegetables? cheese? covered with sauce? red or green sauce? Thanks

  107. Andrea, this is the blog post from which I took the idea:

    I stacked my bricks 4 rounds high on the bottom, & 2 rounds high on the 2nd layer. To convert to a rocket stove, I would dismantle the top, removing the middle patio stone, & turn one of the bricks on the bottom row to make an opening. I would then replace the top patio stone with a grill, like the ones found on a gas stove, over top of the now-exposed empty center of the tower of bricks.

    Decoratively speaking, I have used cement artichoke finials ( bought on clearance from ShopKo several years back) on the top. I have also used a small metal urn that had an open bottom. I had a problem with wasps building inside it until I gave it several coats of black paint, which made it both too slick for them to attach nests, & too hot. The bricks were free from salvage & the patio blacks were also free, from freecycle. I have one on either side of the entrance to the tiered garden/barked area, and one more in one of the front flower beds by the base of the driveway. If you use older bricks, you will likely get yellow jackets or wasps nesting inside. Every winter after the freeze, I open the stacks & spray any nests inside with insecticide. I do NOT remove the nests, since they kill the insects that return the next year. If they are particularly bad during the year, I spray into a crock with the Hot Shot wasp spray, & it takes care of it, but I make sure I spray away from the garden, to keep “drift” off the plants.

  108. Athanasia, a keyhole garden is a drought garden, developed for use in Africa, but also used in Texas & other hot, dry areas. The basics are the keyhole shape, a central tower that holds compostable materials, from which the garden is watered, and a layered bed that often includes wood & cardboard as part of the bottom layers. This link has numerous photos of keyhole gardens, built many different ways:

  109. We also have our house insurance policy through the same agency that insures our cars, & the discount is substantial.

  110. The blackberries look delicious. Ours are wild and have to be hunted out. I let the younger ones do that, but they won’t be ripe until July.

    My school is done for the year, so except for the week right after when there is lots of end of year work to be done, shelf reading for example, and hunting down the missing and unreturned, I go to 2 days a week, or however much time I need. My summer reading program starts 6-7 so we are getting treat bags ready and decorations. I am re-using bug themed items that I saved from a VBS 4 years ago as our theme is Catch the Reading Bug! I have a budget for prizes and rewards so I keep an eye out all year for things I can use…I have 50 bug covered mechanical pencils that I found years ago for 10/1.00 and stickers and I found gummi insect candies, individually wrapped after Halloween last year for .75 for 50, so I have 2 bags of those that I used in the treatbags. I made bookmarks out of green card stock, sketching on tufts of grass and decorating each with 5 bug stickers off one of those sticker packs that have 800 stickers in them, and writing the logo on the back. Well, my helpers did a lot of the work on the bookmarks for me, a woman and her 4th grade daughter. I found some prizes at the Dollar store and that seems to be the only place I can find packs of gum with the 5 sticks in a wide variety of flavors. They also have the cheapest ziplock type bags, that I use for the treat bags.

    Cooked mostly from scratch last week. Made 2 loaves white bread, 4 bean salad, rhubarb sauce, rhubarb-crumb bars, broiled tofu slices, vegetable stir fry, chocolate chip cookies, rice krispy treats, 10 pie crusts to restock the freezer (made one batch of pie crust cookies for a quick dessert that night. Received half a casserole dish of homemade macaroni and cheese from my mother (always delicious). Used up the last of the stuffed frozen peppers I put in the freezer in fall.

    We had another frost-freeze warning but that did not materialize. Picked asparagus and rhubarb, daughter made sprouts with spicy mix from Trader Joe bulk section (two oldest and their spouses went to Madison awhile ago and went to TJ while there and brought me back all kinds of good stuff for Mother’s Day. Chard and kale from garden, spinach and lettuce from hoop house, peas are looking good but not quite, tomatoes all planted this Thurs and Friday, Early Girl, WI 55, Mt Fresh (12 of each) and Sweet 100 (6), in raised beds along with bell and mild and hot peppers, eggplant, sugar peas, some of the beans. The 3 girls (Johanna, the recent grad) is home for a week) and my husband did the planting. Saturday we had 1 1/2 ” of rain so they were waiting for the field to dry out where the cucumbers, zucchini, and melons and pumpkins will go. She (Eliana) had those starts all in the green house but they have been outside for a week or so, still in their flats. She is planting sweet corn today. They had spread all the compost but then it rained so she had to wait to plow it in. I think that is everything. So far.

    Traveled Saturday to a family reunion West of us with husband’s family (combo reunion/wedding of a niece (took a 4 place set of the dishes they wanted from Target–they are collecting enough for 24 settings) / see new babies born the last year). He does not have a large family here, just his immediate family and a few extended families. Everyone is still back East…his family left the Amish (for Conservative Mennonite, some went to Old Order) when he was 16. We did get to meet some new family though…two of his younger cousins and their families moved out here, 15 people total, to take over a farm in the area, so that was nice. I took along a tray of the cookies and bars I had made, for the picnic. We had bear ribs, first for me, one of his uncles got a permit after years and years of trying and got a bear last fall.

    Received a hanging planter right before Mem Day weekend , red white and blue petunias from the FFA group at school for staff end of the year gifts. Put a few items I did not want onto the take-it-or-leave-it table at church. Took a mostly empty spiral note book and a pair of flip flops for me. The pair I have used for years in shower/pool areas when we travel fell apart. Bananas at the gas station went up to .38/lb but still cheaper to buy there. I noticed that the bags of potatoes I thought were 3 lb bags last week were actually 5 lb bags , .88 ea, so with my 9 bags I should be set for the summer with red potatoes for potato salad. Was leaving a doctor appt and was flagged down by a woman and her son who asked if she could give them a ride to their gas station, her husband couldn’t leave work to come and get them (they had been given ride to Dr. by a customer). I said sure, when we got there she said wait a minute and the husband ran out with a 2 L bottle of Pepsi for me. That’ll get used at some summer get together.

    Did not grocery shop except for milk, celery and 2 cannisters of baby powder. Bought 4 dozen eggs from the farm. Hope you all have a great week.

  111. The list of things my daughter won’t eat is also getting longer. She doesn’t like ground beef very much, but will gobble up meat tacos (figure that one out!). Ham now has to be cooked only (no cold ham sandwiches). Any meat that is “chewy” is a huge issue. She refuses to eat tomato sauce, so when I make homemade pizza I have to make a section with no sauce and when we have pasta she will only eat white sauce. Sauces in general seem to be an issue (no dipping sauce or veggies and dip). Recently she decided she doesn’t like cheese unless it is mozzarella or marble. I LOVE old, nippy, flavourful cheese, so we’re completely at odds when it comes to cheese. These are all things she use to happily eat and has suddenly developed sensory issues with over the past year or two.

    To make things worse, there is a child with allergies in her classroom, so I can’t send eggs or anything with coconut on top of the nut free policy. School lunches are pretty much next to impossible to prepare!

  112. Hi there! A lot of good suggestions. I used to be in the difficult position of laying people off (I was in HR) after mgt. made the decisions. I learned a lot and it came in handy when I was laid off! I found that the State (at least in CO) workforce office had a lot of good resources – where you can find emergency assistance for bills, including housing, utilities, etc. (Catholic Social Services – not just for Catholics, other community groups), food (food stamps, food banks, Bountiful Baskets – which is a good way to get fresh fruit and veg and if you volunteer to help the distribution you generally get addt’l produce), etc. Also don’t forget temp agencies for interim jobs. Sometimes those work into regular positions and at least money is coming in. Many employers also get tax credits for hiring people who have been laid off and/or are getting assistance. Your current housing situation sounds like it was not good at best (I hate mgt. companies that are unscrupulous). It may be that the 5th wheel would be a good option – at least for now. Sending you thoughts and prayers.

  113. Hi Brandy. You are always such an inspiration to find other ways to cut money. The rain finally stopped in Reno this week, but that meant the return of high temperatures and watering the garden.

    -My husband and I save our water from the shower warming up, leftover drinking water, etc. to water the garden with. So far we have only had to run the hose once for about five minutes.
    -We ate every meal at home and stayed within our tight grocery budget.
    -My husband was asked to bring a dish for a potluck. He was going to pick up water bottles because they only ever have soda. I convinced him to let me bake a cake with ingredients we have at home instead of spending money. Everyone enjoyed that much more and it helped us stay in budget.
    – We decided to cut the cable and called to cancel the service. When we did so we found out that because of a bundle deal it is cheaper to keep the lowest level of cable and internet ($49.99/mo) rather than just internet ($59.99/mo). It will save us about $50 a month.
    -I raised our deductible with Allstate. We have a perk called vanishing deductible. For every year without a wreck your deductible goes down $100. We originally had a $500 deductible, but because of the years without an at fault wreck it had gone down to $200. So we raised our deductible to $1000 which will really be $700 because of the program. This will save us about $600 a year. We also cancelled our umbrella coverage that my husband no longer needs.
    – We have three plants in the garden with flowers. Every gardening win makes me so excited because this is my first time doing this. I spent about $200 on seeds so if I can recoup that in produce I’ll be extremely happy. I’m learning as I go for sure and seem to have become an expert at growing sunflowers.
    -We installed a clothesline and a vermicompost box. I have hung all clothes to dry for the last week and composted a little bit of food gone bad. I hope that with all of the utility changes we have mad recently that we can lower our bill by at least 25%. Our bill has been pretty steady at $140 I would LOVE to get it down to $100.
    -I have been trying to conserve gas and consolidate my trips into town. I decided to forgo a trip to the library and just read a book at home. I have many I haven’t read yet and decided I will read those before I make any library trips (that cost me about $3 in gas)
    -I’ve found a very flexible part time job helping someone as a person assistant. He allows me to make my own schedule and hours and the pay is great. I mostly organize, sort, pay bills, etc. It will be perfect for me while I am in school. This money is being put aside to help cash flow my education.
    -I’m trying to eliminate the use of paper goods in the house for environmental and financial reasons. We were using almost a roll of paper towels a day! Which is insane. Now we are down to one every two weeks or so. We mostly use them to drain fried foods with now. I think the secret is to make the towels easier to get to than the paper towels. Then you will reach for a towel more naturally.

    I’m considering taking Financial Peace University. I wonder if anyone has thoughts about that?

  114. Anthanasia

    Thanks I am trying.. we won’t have that break forever just till the first of the year and I am trying to get as much saved for things I know we will use or need. I make a lot of my own Christmas gifts but the kids 11, 14, 12 and 16 in the family would much rather have money or gift cards right now than anything homemade. The kids are niece and nephew and 2 grandson’s.

  115. Amber

    Though we have central AC I try not to use my oven much in the summer either.. stove top, roaster oven or microwave as much as possible.


  116. It has been awhile since I last commented, but I have been reading Brandy’s posts and the comments each week. I continue to learn and be motivated, so thank you all. You all might remember that we have been saddled with a lot of medical debt. After my MIL’s passing, the disbursal of her estate allowed us to pay off our medical debts which has been a HUGE burden lifted. Plus, I was able to write a check for the $1,000 MRI scan DD needed last week (routine follow up). At the same time, it is sad that losing my MIL is the reason for it. You know? It has also allowed us to take care of some things that have been long neglected around our house.

    We have not had a garden for the past two years, but we have one this year I am happy to say! We planted corn, beans, sweet peppers, okra, cucumbers, lots of tomatoes, strawberries, beets, lettuce, Swiss chard, grapes, raspberries, leeks, plus a number of herbs and flowers. We do square foot gardening and I tried to basically follow companion planting guides in the book Carrots Love Tomatoes. You can grow a lot of things in our climate (East Tennessee). Our main challenge is wildlife, which we have in abundance. So, DH is in the process of putting up good fencing around our garden to help with that. Everything is thriving in the garden with the exception of the sage plants, which are being attacked by little white bugs. I plan to spray dish soap water on the underside of the leaves in hopes this gets rid of the bugs.

    Many years ago we had to have our field stone (mostly large stones) chimney taken down before it fell over (long story). Since it cost thousands of dollars to have it taken down, we couldn’t afford to rebuild it. Anyway, we used the stones to make a patio and walkway in our garden. We are so pleased with this repurposing!

    We need to replace most of the flooring in our house. We have put it off as long as we can. We would like very much to have engineered hardwood flooring throughout. Do any of you have suggestions for frugal ways to buy this?

    Brandy, thank you for the beautiful photos of your family, food, and garden. You are so inspiring to me.

  117. Rhonda, that is a great idea. I will have to remember that for the future.

    Athanasia, there wasn’t any snow down by the Inn and Old Faithful (though very chilly) but as we exited the park to the east there was plenty. The temp was in the 30s and the fog was so heavy that I was quite nervous.

  118. Wood flooring is sometimes available at the Habitat for Humanity ReStores. You could google to check & see if there is one in your area.

    If there is Home Depot near you, you can sign up for their “Deal of the Day” emails. Every day, they send you an email about items that are on sale for just 24 hours, thru the email link. Flooring is one of the items that comes thru regularly, as do closet kits, security systems & bath cabinets. I receive these & have for the last 2 years. In that time, I have only purchased 3 items, but all were at least 40% off.

    You could also look on your local freecycle or craigslist.

  119. Andrea, that looks pretty amazing. I would love to see the 10 x 10 ft converted sheep shed the author lives in.

  120. Cecile,

    Good for you for attempting to eliminate paper goods from your house. I have 3 children, (9, 7, 3) and we have been ‘paperless’ since around 2007! Once in a while I will still buy paper napkins for a cookout or traveling, but we use all cloth napkins, cloth rags, etc. I have a huge stash of cloth rags, both for indoor and outdoor use. I think the longer you go without paper goods, the easier it is! Also, my husband and I just finished FPU…it is an excellent course…I highly recommend taking it. The great thing is if you take it once, (and pay the fee) you can take the course over again, as many times as you want , with no additional cost.

  121. My frugal accomplishments are for the past few weeks. I paid off my truck. All of my jury trial clothes were looking worn and I have to be dressed appropriately, so I went to the thrift store and found a brand new Sag Harbor skirt suit, with the tags still on, in my size, for $12.99. The original price tag showed it was for $160.00. I was in shock. I also bought several pairs of slacks for anywhere from $1.50 to $3.00. I bought a Liz Claiborne jacket for $3.00. I did several things locally for my “vacation” since I have no vacation money left after paying off my truck…lol. That is a joke because I never pay to go anywhere on vacation, unless it is to visit family, and even then it is usually family within 2 to three hours. I only pay to visit far off family if it is for something like a wedding reception because I just do not have the discretionary funds, nor the time off. I think many people are in the same boat financially because of the economy. We just all do the best we can. I always take in what free/low cost sites are around whatever family member I am visiting. I went to the local state lake for $4.00 to go swimming (it was about 20 miles out of the way but I went anyway.) I also swam at the local national forest lake one day for $3.00. Another day I went and walked at the local free county park. All of these places were absolutely beautiful and I packed a lunch. I estimate I spent about $20 extra on gas, since I had to be in the areas of some of these places anyway, to visit family. As far as food, I made stir fried rice, beans, and ate eggs for protein. My garden was a disaster but, hey, I still have dandelion greens….lol. I eat a lot of those because of the nutrients they contain. I have no way to prove it, but I really think they helped me recover more quickly than most folks from mono. I like to tell myself that anyway….lol. I throw them in my stir fry meals. I do buy tomatoes, cucumbers (a basket is $2.00) from the local farmers, and because I did not make bread, I bought a loaf of bread from Piggly Wiggly for $1.00. My frugal fails are also many. My yard looks like a jungle because my mower died and because of all the rain. I am having a friend mow it before the city says something to me about it. That is costing me $30….ouch. My windshield was cracked by a rock and it spread. I have a $500 deductible and it cost me $300 to fix….double ouch. I also had to go to the dentist and my insurance pays fifty percent. That little episode cost me almost $400 out of pocket. My teeth are awful and that is just the beginning of my dental escapades for the summer….yay..

  122. We are slowly removing carpets and replacing them with (real) hardwood, at the rate of about one room per year. We are doing the work ourselves, which saves us a ton of money in labor, but also in disposal costs. Many of the installers around here make their labor costs look reasonable, but they charge an outrageous amount for removal and disposal of the old floors. We rolled the old carpet and pads into small sections; the smallest sections went in our regular trash pickup a couple each week and we hauled other section to the transfer station in the back of our minivan.

    We purchased some flooring from Lumber Liquidators during a sale event. Flooring for the second room came from Lowe’s, also during a sale. I ordered from Lowe’s online (after looking at the samples at the store) and got a few dollars back from Swagbucks; I think you could probably save some money by going through Ebates.

  123. The cardboard, wood & paper are what help wick the water through the stack out to where the plant roots are.

  124. hang in there i know job hunting isn’t easy….my husband and I are both looking….i have a tentative job offer….it sounds like you have a good storage built up! That is a wonderful accomplishment. I am sure you will find something.

  125. I will say a prayer for you we are in a similar situation…hubby lost his job almost two weeks ago now…i had the same thoughts you are having about moving etc….we applied both of us for many many jobs at least 20 (not an exaggeration) I have a tentative job offer now but it doesn’t start until June 22 and I won’t get my first pay check until the 10th of July. I was able to let my landlord know about the situation and for now he is willing to work with us and even told us about a couple more places that are possibly hiring. I plan to set up at a vendors market to attempt to sell some jewelry I made and some household items we don’t want….I am sure something will work out for you! Waiting is always the hard part.

  126. Congrats on all ur frugal accomplishments!!
    I agree that FPU is fantastic. I suggest u take it w/ur hubby. I took it by myself
    years ago but the true momentum happened when we both did it together.
    Dave Ramsey also has a free budget app(iPhone) and phone app where u can hear up to a wks worth of radio shows.

  127. When my hubby and I bought our first investment house(to flip) we did the same thing w/ a falling fireplace that would’ve cost a lot of money to secure seeing that the weight lifted the slab.
    The patio was repurposed bricks and like you, so pleased w/ the outcome!
    Sorry to hear about the loss of ur MIL but the blessing of an inheritance she left I’m sure is making her smile for above.

  128. Thanks MJ! I sure hope I find something soon. We built up our storage three years ago and moved it all when we moved from MO to AR. That was 4500 pounds of dry food then. We didn’t know at the time we were building our storage that we were going to have problems selling our house (it has since sold) or that our income would be cut. It has been such a huge blessing to have this food. I am probably down to 2500 pounds now. It sounds like a lot and I suppose it is but I still have anxiety about how I will replace it. I’m sure it will work out.

  129. Marivene, thank you! These are all excellent ideas! I did not know Home Depot has a deal of the day, so I will definitely sign up for that.

  130. Andrea, thank you for the suggestions. I will compare prices at these places. We do a lot of work ourselves around the house, but this is something I know we will need to pay someone else to do. I appreciate the info about them charging to take old flooring away. We will watch for that. It doesn’t cost that much to take it to the dump ourselves!

  131. Adriana, glad to hear we aren’t the only people to have that problem! That chimney was beautiful, but like yours it made a beautiful patio too!

    Thank you for the condolences. My in-laws were good people who loved taking care of their children, and yes continue to do so even after death,

  132. Athanasia, I remember you mentioning once that you don’t cut your hair due to religion reasons. I was so curious and wanted to ask you then what religion you practices then, but decided not to. But this time you mentioned your husband left the Amish for the Mennonite. Are you a practicing Mennonite? I’ve always found the Amish and Mennonite communities so interesting, so now you’ve really have me curious!:D

  133. our milk consumption decreased when we started having hot cereal instead of cold cereal. We also made hot breakfasts like pancakes, egg sandwiches on homemade bread, muffins, etc. I bought juice glasses that give a small amount of juice, but look like you are getting much more. They are tall and very skinny. They were two dollars for the set of eight at a garage sale and have saved lots of money from overconsumption in the past.

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