We celebrated a simple Christmas at home. I was able to finish a couple of quick gifts and make some quick candy for stockings.

Meyer Lemons 2014

I harvested meyer lemons from the garden. Because of last year’s freeze, I only had a few lemons, but each lemon is very large.

I cut oregano from the garden and hung it to dry.

I made rosemary olive oil bread with rosemary from the garden.

I continue to collect water while waiting for the shower to warm and using it to water the potted plants and fruit trees in my garden.  I also used the water left in glasses at the end of the day, and the occasional final rinse from a pot that I was washing. I only had to water these pots from the hose twice this year by collecting water in this way.

Our electric bill came; I was successful at continuing to use less energy this month than what I used the same month in the previous year. Nevertheless, the cost per day has increased  by .49 (though I am using less)  as rates continue to go up. I am grateful that by doing more to conserve energy, I have not seen a much larger increase in my bill.

We used extra blankets at night and were able to keep the heat off all week (I just turned it on this morning for a short while; it naturally warms to 68º during the daytime without me turning the heat on. The last few hours before dawn are the coldest hours of the night, so I will program our thermostats accordingly.) Our below-freezing temperatures were late this year, not arriving until Christmas (though we had a night of 34º in November, which killed all but one of my tomato plants). The weather has been instrumental in keeping our utility bills down.

I mended a dress.

I redeemed Swagbucks for a $25 Amazon gift card.


What did you do to save money last week?




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  1. We celebrated with a simple Christmas as well,it was so relaxing and enjoyable.
    This week:
    I made a batch of your granola,using a some gifted dried mango and chopped pistachios
    Used leftover cherry pie filling to flavor plain yogurt
    Made a batch of tomato cabbage soup using homemade broth,frozen garden tomatoes and loss leader cabbage.
    Dried all laundry on racks in the basement
    Brought home a dozen plastic red holiday plates that were going to be thrown out
    Made the budget for 2015
    Cleaned and organized my pantry
    Packed all meals for work
    That’s all I can think of right now.
    Happy New Year to you and your family Brandy, thank you for your continued inspiration,sharing and encouragement.

  2. In years past, I have kept the heat at 65ºF. However, I know readers in colder climates keep it at 55º, and use throw blankets. I never did have a need for throw blankets at 65º while sitting 🙂 It got down to 61º this morning in the house (but 58º in my bathroom, which is always colder) and I turned the heat on and set it at 63º. I’m still using a throw blanket on my lap as I type this. I run cold, though–my son came out in shorts and a t-shirt two mornings ago and said he wasn’t cold at all!

    I programmed it this morning to be 63º when I get up for 2 hours (4:40 to 6:40 a.m.) At night I set it for 61º, which means it won’t likely come on. The sun will warm the house to 68º during the day without running the heater.

    It was 28ºF here last night.

    In the summer we keep the a/c at 79º-81ºF. By keeping it there, I can keep it off for most/sometimes all of April, and concentrate on ceiling fans. I also open windows in the mornings when it is cool in the mornings. We have 5-6 months of above 90º temperatures here; summers can be 112º or higher. So, the electric bill in summer is much higher than the gas heating bill in winter. We typically need to run the a/c into a good portion of October.

  3. Those lemons are huge! Very impressed.

    It’s been so warm here in New England lately, the heating bills are way down for this time of year. Normally, winter is the most expensive, but it’s been over 50 degrees.

    Last week, I was able to use a bunch of coupons before they expired and I got free Loreal hair color, Silk almond milk, and Vaseline lotion. I also got a lemon free with a rebate and green tea for only $0.07 a box! Full details of all my transaction and pics here: http://thejewishlady.com/super-savings-saturday-1227/

  4. We kept Christmas simple as well. Visited grandchildren and went to church on Christmas eve. I was just getting over a stomach bug and still felt bad, so I did not cook a Christmas dinner and we got some take out food a few times. But I did go to Goodwill the day after Christmas and bought packages of pencils and paperback books for the grandkids, a head start for next year! I have been using what I have more. The star on our tree died after about 30 years. Was going to buy a new one, then saw a tree on the Today show that had a bird at the top. I moved a large white bird ornament to the top of the tree and it is beautiful! Used what wrapping paper and bags I had on hand for presents. Did not buy bows, they were around $5 a bag at all the stores I went to! I’m sure I will pick some up on clearance for next year. Have gone back to grocery shopping every two weeks. It seems to work best for us, and I cook with what I have on hand in between these trips.

  5. We have had a much smaller, quieter Christmas. The surprising thing about the smaller Christmas was that the children were just as happy.
    There was one Santa gift. I found dolls on sale for $3.00 less than I usually pay for them. Also if you bought a second doll it was half price.
    I bought slippers for my daughter and her 2 kiddos that live with me for half price.
    We had a ham Christmas day that was a gift.
    We were doing some “small food shopping” right after Christmas, the butcher came out and whispered “You want to buy some of these.”. I bought 2 turkeys at 50 cents a pound. A good price for our store. One was $29.13 and I got it for $8.67. The second turkey was originally $31.77 and I got it for $9.46. A huge savings for us. I wish we could have bought more of them.
    I hope your family had a wonderful Christmas.
    Happy New Year to all of you.

  6. Since it’s just the two of us in our empty nest household, we hand wash our dishes, but use a container of clean water for rinsing, rather than running the faucet. Brandy, our area suffered massive wildfires two years ago, destroying some of the infrastructure for our water district, so our water bills have gone up rapidly the last couple of years, too. We continue to recycle foil wrap and rinse zip-type plastic bags. I make steel-cut oatmeal once a week and divide it into portion sizes, freezing the portions for later in the week. That makes oatmeal prep easy in the mornings and keeps me from grabbing a cookie instead. I baked whole wheat bread, Mexican-chocolate cookies, chocolate-chip cookies and a frosted cookie recipe, all vegan. I also baked spiced lentil, sweet potato and kale whole wheat pockets, using a recipe from [i]the kitchn[/i] online, except that I subbed the leftover Ethiopian lentils I had on hand. These are meant to be frozen and taken out for lunches or travel occasions, thawing by lunchtime to be eaten in hand at room temperature. They’re great warmed up in the microwave, too, I found. This recipe turned about 8 oz. of leftover lentils into six huge pockets! I have some upcoming three-hour trips for medical treatments, so these will definitely be handy for our travel meals then, combined with an apple or other fruit. I always have lentils, sweet potatoes and either kale or spinach on hand. We made spiced pecans to be given as gifts and also to serve in a spinach salad for an informal gathering, along with homemade croutons from the bread I’d baked. When we got an error message on our refrigerator/freezer, we researched the error and possible fixes and tried them. It worked!

  7. December has been a very expensive month, mainly because I had our gas fireplace repaired ($549) and over $2,000 in vet bills for a medical issue that would have been fatal to my cat if not treated. He has to go on a special diet and the other cat will also need to follow it, so their food expense will go from $20-25 $80-85 a month. Both expenses were totally worth it, but savings have taken a huge hit and I’m reworking my monthly budget to build them back up. I’m extremely grateful that I had the money in the savings account, though.

    We had a simple Christmas at home because the major family celebration was taking place several states away and some of us did not travel there. I made three trays of homemade candy for the staff at my Mom’s nursing home (one for each shift) as well as trays for my neighbors and the vet (as noted above, we’ve seen them a lot lately!) I bought a gift certificate to a local restaurant for the neighbor who mows my lawn (because he enjoys it? that’s what he says) and was able to stay on budget for all purchased gifts. I gave my daughter a “recipes of the month” card. She has a full kitchen in her dorm apartment at school and will be leaving off-campus without a meal plan next year. It’s amazing how much more interested she is in cooking now that she isn’t living at home and doesn’t have someone to make food for her when she doesn’t feel like going to the school eating locations, where her current meal plan provides 14 meals a week. I will be emailing her several recipes at the beginning of each month, making sure to include some of her favorites.

    I was on vacation last week, which continues this week as well. I’m working on cleaning and organizing the house this week. I may not be able to afford major changes that I would like, but there is no reason why my house can’t be neat, relaxing, inviting, and comforting. I’m also putting aside a lot of items for a neighborhood yard sale this spring.

    Happy new year to everyone and I’m looking forward to these seeing these posts continue in 2015.

  8. Gathered water from the downspouts during a long rainstorm on Saturday & Sunday, & stored it in jugs, for garden use.

    Sorted the dried butternut & Boston Marrow squash seeds. I store my seeds in Rx bottles that have had the labels removed, & write the name of the variety right on the side of the bottle with a Sharpie. The tinted bottles seem to keep them in good shape longer.

    Finished pruning the rosebush on Tuesday morning, & filled the garbage can the rest of the way full before the pickup.

    Put a goose in the fridge to thaw for Christmas dinner. Made a pan of cooked, beaten fudge & a second pan of the two-tone kind that uses melted chips mixed with sweetened condensed milk. On Christmas Eve, we took small plates of fudge around to the neighbors.

    Saved the 2 cans the clams came in when I made the clam chowder for our Christmas Eve dinner. After the presents were opened on Christmas morning, I cut 1” strips of cardboard from one of the present boxes, across the corrugation, & wound them to fit tightly inside both cans. I have been saving leftover “bits” of candles – those that are too short to use any longer – along with “drips” & will melt those in a jar or empty tin can on my candle warmer, & carefully pour the melted wax over the cardboard to make “buddy burners” for camping or emergency cooking use. I also saved the lid from one of the Blue Diamond cans of smokehouse almonds that my husband loves & that typically are stocking filler for him. I watch thru the year & buy them on the lowest sale for this use. The plastic lids fit the clam cans EXACTLY, & keep out dust & dirt when the buddy burners are done.

    Cooked down the goose carcass for broth & for fat. Goose fat is better for health than butter, & potatoes & goose fat are a marriage made in heaven. I set the bowls of broth in the fridge to cool & when the broth had set up, the white goose fat was still flexible enough to scoop off cleanly with a spoon into a jar. It will keep in the fridge for several weeks & in the freezer for a year or so. An average sized goose yields about a quart of rendered fat, so it’s enough to make the effort to use.

  9. We also had a quiet Christmas at home and it was really nice 🙂

    I cooked lots of simple meals at home, despite the fact that when DH is home with all of us he likes to get takeout. Baked 2 loaves of gluten free double chocolate banana bread with overripe bananas that had been in the fridge for a while. Baked 2 gluten free pumpkin pies–one we had on Christmas day and the other I froze so DH could take it when he and the kids celebrated a late Christmas with his mother.

    Harvested thyme from the garden to use in soup. The children picked 2 small pomegranates from our dwarf tree and picked and ate some snap peas right off the vines. I also found that I have lettuce growing in random places in the yard from when my toddler spilled some seeds, lol! Not sure if I should just leave them where they are or transplant them. There are also some pumpkins sprouting up from the compost pile that belonged to the previous tenants, but I think it’s a little too early for those to be successful.

    A coworker insisted on buying me lunch on Christmas Eve 🙂

    I sewed Christmas pjs for all 3 of my kids, 2 last minute gifts for my youngest son (a pair of slippers and a toolbelt for his toy tools), and am currently making a top for myself. I knit a pair of fingerless gloves for my youngest son as well.

  10. – kept the heat at 68.
    – pot luck Christmas dinner at brother in laws house.
    – visiting Son has been using my car but keeps the gas tank full himself.
    – negotiated a free month plus a $20 reduction for the next 6 months on our cable bill (haven’t convinced hubs to discontinue yet).
    – Hubs and I are figuring out some DIY projects instead of hiring things done. Installed 2 inside doors.
    – puppy chewed a computer charge cable but hubs was able to fix with solder and electrical tape.
    – growing my hair long instead of cutting it. Cut hubs with home clippers.
    – chose NOT to upgrade my cell phone so not bound to a contract any more. Only month to month now.
    – Cleaned and organized the fridge before meal planning this week so I know what leftovers I can make into meals.
    – Guests are all gone so back to simpler meals.
    – changed puppy’s dog food to cheaper (but still healthy) brand that I can by nearby and not travel to buy.

  11. This past week, we were given some devastating news right before Christmas. Thankfully, Christmas day remained beautiful and magical just like previous years. Everyone loved their homemade gifts, especially my nephews (lap blankets). We took leftovers from dinners when offered. We had left over pork roast from our big dinner. After having it a few times for leftovers, we put the remainder through the meat grinder and froze for future hash. I was given a set of sewing/knitting, crocheting… books from the late 60’s – just when I was ready to take a year off from making gifts, I found a lot of ideas that can be modernized with supplies I have on hand for 2015 Christmas gifts.
    I had been saving $5 a week (placing it in a jar) it has been wonderful to have access to this stash of cash,even for a small treat of a coffee (haven’t bought one all year). It is also nice, since I will not be cashing a paycheck in the month of January while still working for the family business. Those $5 quickly add up!
    I hope everyone has a wonderful week!

  12. We are in north Texas where it is very hot most of the year. I believe our house is similar to yours with electric central a/c but gas heat. We set our thermostat to 81 or 82 during the summer months, and only turn it down to 80 or 81 when we are home. Ceiling fans help a lot, but in July & August when it is over 100 and only cooling down to the mid 80s at night, the a/c still runs almost constantly. In the winter we keep our heat around 67 or so and 65 at night. Our gas bills are always much lower even if we run the heat constantly – our highest winter utility bill might be $125. Our summer bills average $350-$450. 🙁

  13. I found frozen turkeys for 50 cents a pound and bought a couple. I wanted to buy more but my budget wouldn’t allow it. Next year I am going to set some money back in case it happens again. Then I will really stock up.

  14. I saved heavy corragated cardboard pieces that was used as packing for an order we received in the mail. I had a super fun time with my friend’s two boys building cardboard ginger bread houses. We cut old necklaces apart and used the beads as candy decorations. I had heavy silver wrapping paper with red and white star candy circles so we cut them out and pasted them on and also hot glued pipe cleaners along the roof and side edges which gave it support. The only cost to me was the price of a couple of glue sticks and pipe cleaners that I already had from a previous project. The beads were given to me and the wrapping paper was small scraps that were too small for wrapping. They were so happy with them and we now have lots of awesome memories!!

  15. We had a nice, simple Christmas at home with a lovely meal cooked at home. Spiral sliced ham from Sam’s Club (using your honeybaked recipe, Brandy – SO delicious!), homemade macaroni & cheese, roasted brussels sprouts, and red velvet cake with peppermint frosting for dessert. Very enjoyable. We also feel great that we went through the holidays again this year without incurring any debt. I know that is a rarity these days.

    We were both off work for several days (we both work full-time) for the holidays, so we worked on projects at home. I also worked some hours at my 2nd job since we are busy right now, and it was a good opportunity to make some extra money for the budget. Paid all of our bills online & on time, so no late fees or postage costs. We did our grocery/supply shopping, and restocked our pantry & freezer. Sam’s Club had their fresh turkeys marked down ridiculously cheap this past Saturday (less than .50 cents per pound) so we bought 2 (all we had room for) to freeze. My husband will probably cook them on the smoker later in the spring. We also found some very nice rolled & stuffed pork roasts on clearance at Albertson’s, so we put 2 of those into stock as well. One will be our New Year’s Eve dinner, using Brandy’s fig pork roast recipe. I received a $30 rebate check in the mail, so I will deposit that today.

  16. I took the leftovers from several family dinners, and by leftovers I mean the things that others were throwing out. I took the ham bone that still had ham on it and made 3 qts of broth to be used in soups and to flavor beans. I took the turkey carcass and made 4 qts of broth. A family member brought a crock-pot full of a creamy tomato soup that didn’t get eaten among all the other goodies. The contributor didn’t want the soup back, so I took it home, added some cooked rice, onions & garlic & spinach (the spinach was leftover as well) and my family enjoyed a lovely tomato-Florentine soup. I took home the random rolls from a big family dinner that were going to be tossed out. I think the hostess told too many people to bring rolls! I ended up with quite an assortment: 3 white dinner rolls, 4 brioche rolls, 6 caibatta rolls, 2 mini croissants, and an unopened package of rolls that was left in the kitchen. I ended up with a gallon sized bag of shelled walnuts from which a couple handfuls had been removed to sprinkle on top of salads and two bags of dried cranberries; one bag had been opened and some used on the same salad as the walnuts and the other bag had not been opened. I got a quart size bag of shelled pecans and a small amount of dehydrated apples. I believe some granola is in order. I was on the “clean up” end of the feast and I packaged leftovers nicely, but most people said they didn’t want them and looked at me like I was crazy for offering them a bag/ plate of “used food.” I even took the literal garbage as there was a big bowl of mandarins on the dessert table and a bowl next to them for peels. I took all the peels home & started a new batch of vinegar cleaner. I also dried some of the peels, ground them in my food processor and added the resultant powder to my baking soda scouring powder. It smells great. My mom (the hostess) added a batch of sugar cookie dough, chocolate cookie dough and a peppermint bark kit to my stash because she thought she’d have the grandkids make these treats to keep them busy, but the kids never stopped playing long enough to need an activity.

    My mom gave me a 3.5 qt crockpot because she knew I was looking for one in that size. It is an older model she found at a yard sale with a plastic lid, but I can find a replacement glass lid at the thrift store for a dollar.

    My December birthday dd wanted a Harry Potter b-day, so we used many of the great ideas from Brandy’s website. Two of my children have been HP characters for past Halloweens so we had various costume pieces I have collected/ made. I asked around for other HP-ish props & costumes we could borrow. All the robes, scarves & hats were hung up on a rack and all the other accessories (glasses, wands, stuffed owl, cat or rat) were set up on a nearby table. This area was the photo booth. For a background my dd sponge painted a dollar store vinyl tablecloth to look like a brick wall and then she drew a large “9 3/4” sign to go on the brick wall. My older dd took “Hogwarts school pictures” of all the party goers. They posed individually and in pairs and groups. I e-mailed the parents their child’s picture(s). We used the headbands out of the game Headbandz to make a Harry Potter version of the game. My dd used index cards from the dollar store and made cards for the people, places & things from the world of Harry Potter. I did help with the game and make sure that the one friend who was not a Harry Potter fan got cards that she could guess like, “broomstick” or “magic wand” rather than “Molly Weasley.” Also to avoid spoilers for those who had not read the series in its entirety the one question that could not be asked was “Do I die?” This was such a hit that ds wants to make a Star Wars version for his party.

  17. We had a very busy Christmas with a lot of family coming in. We live with my father and his wife so it’s not as though I can control that very much. 🙂 we didn’t spend very much on Christmas or on food, but my father bought quite a bit of extra food. We’ve been using the plentiful leftovers to help with our menu plan for the next week.

  18. Three of the grandchildren visited, ages 1, 3 and 14. I never know what to put out in the way of food for the wee ones. Their tastes are so narrow and changeable. I decided I would not go to the store to buy anything, but would make up some things out of my pantry. I made blueberry muffins which they ate. At lunch time I made quesadillas which they just nibbled at. The little ones did snack on cheese. I had plenty of fruit, which nobody wanted. I only had one small apple juice pack in my refrigerator and I worried about that, but no one drank it. The adults ate cheese on crackers.

    I was very happy about it as I usually worry and overdo and then am irritated with myself about the leftovers. I’m going to work on my mindset and try to change it from “perfect grandmother” to “good enough”. 😀

  19. We traveled out of town for Christmas, so there was the expense of gas but I had 6 gas rewards (60 cents off per gallon) which brought our ppg down to $2.20 (yes, I live in California haha). We had to fill up once more on the trip but didn’t spend any more than $50 on gas for travel.

    We received way too many gifts so last night I purged the house and we will be sending things to thrift. I could sell them, but we don’t need the money that badly and it will save me time.

    I bought 30# potatoes around thanksgiving (less than $3) and they are starting to go bad so I need to use them up. I made hash browns this morning and may make more for lunch with some vegetables and ketchup. Potato soup will be on tap as well.

    I have so many sweets I was gifted and since I have no self control those will be going to bible studies for others to enjoy.

    It’s starting to get cold at night here (we have a 10 degree morning forcasted for tomorrow) but we are maintaining only using wood at night. Hopefully the days stay sunny because that helps keep the house much warmer during the day.

    I bought some Christmas decorations at 50% off this weekend (we needed a new tree and I was wanting a wreath). Will hold onto them and if clearance goes cheaper and the items I wanted are still around I may return them and buy them cheaper.

    I received a $5 check in the mail from a survey.

    I cashed out $5 Bath & Body Works GC from InstaGC which paid for my shipping. I will have hand soap for all year and plus some to give away as gifts.

    We saved some gift bags and bows from our Christmas gifts which will be used next year.

    Used a $15 Subway gift card to pay for lunch during holiday travel. We ate the $2 sandwiches.

    Gifting our niece a set of Sofia books which I was able to get for less than $1 using Amazon gc’s from InstaGC. She also will receive two sets of hair ribbons from Children’s place which cost less than $2.

    I made lasagna earlier this past week for a Christmas dinner and there were some leftover noodles. Those were eaten with a bit of tomato sauce and spices.

    Weight watchers magazine in the mail for free.

    I bought my husband a globe puzzle for Christmas (he likes puzzles) and now we have a usable globe for schooling. 😉

    Asked the library to get a book transferred from another branch for me. It’s ready for pick up and will go get it during our biweekly library trip. I was tempted to buy it ($16) but refrained.

    Organized my bathroom cabinets and took stock of what we have and don’t need. I found some almost used up lotion samples which I will cut open and use for probably the next week or so.

  20. In order to stop buying bows. I found a way you make a half circle with a piece of ribbon and then place a pretty homemade gift tag in the middle makes the package look wrapped with a bow let the ribbon also curl below the tag. Ends up looking like a top of an eight with the top and the ribbon curls on the bottom. Have not bought bows for years now!

  21. Those lemons look wonderful!

    * used a coupon, gift card, and sale to stock up on 4 hand soaps, a large candle, 6 wallflowers and a spritzer for my daughter for $7.xx at bath and body works
    * made a turkey for Christmas dinner which fed us for many meals and make soup as well
    * made soda cracker candy to take to a holiday dinner ~ wow, so good, easy and inexpensive
    * my mom gave me a new cuisinart for Christmas as my old one had broke (it was 20+ years old, a piece of the lid had broken off and replacements were no longer available). Very happy to receive this gift.
    * used a free redbox code to rent a movie my daughter wanted to see that we watched together
    * we are keeping are heat low (this is our first year on propane and we were shocked by the cost) and using blankets and a space heater

  22. Brandi I just had to chuckle when I read that you turned your heat on bc it was 61 out. I’m from Northern Indiana so 61 is not cold for us at all & would be considered a heat wave here in Dec :). We start to turn our heat on when it gets to be around 40 degrees out. We can get to 10-20 below in Jan/Feb but I never turn my heat up past 68 & turn it down to 65 at night. We just got back from vacation 2 wks ago from the gulf in TX visiting friends & it was so funny to my husband & I to see ppl running around in jackets in 60 some degree weather. Around here I see ppl wearing shorts & flip flops when it hits 50 in the winter. I actually just saw that bc it was 50 here last Fri. Hope you have a blessed New Year.

  23. Shanna, you misunderstood. I set the heater to 61º at night this morning (I had it off all month before that). It was 28ºF outside here last night. That is the first time I have turned it on this winter, and I only turned it up to 63º for two hours. Our highs will be in the 40’s this week and Wednesday should be a high of 38º.

  24. we had a quiet Christmas too. we missed my mothers on Christmas Eve because we took our son to the dr- bad case of flu and ear infection.. he always get sick the worst, but I am so thankful our pediatrician office was open a couple hours instead of the cost of going to the er. he was sick for 4 days .!

    cut sons hair

    got gas for 1.68…40 cents off using Kroger card

    cooked turkey that I bought after thanksgiving on sale. leftovers used on meals and froze some.

    reused cupcake liners (muffins didn’t stick)

    made my own baby food.. also I am so happy to be six months into exclusively breastfeeding. I wasn’t lucky enough with my other two.

  25. I believe northern climate houses are better insultated. 61 outside would not change the temp iny house much but we have a very well insulated house in MN.

  26. We had a simpler Christmas but the kids are happy. All of the presents were bought on sale even the TV that my husband insisted on (definitely not frugal but he waited through 2 years of everyone only having half a head so I could no longer say no). He made the call to cancel our cable service but when they dropped the price by a significant amount he took the discount. I cancelled our weekend paper subscription, I can print coupons online. I won a free Kindle from a survey I entered.

    We had the families over on Christmas Eve and we used the free ham that my mom gets every year from a friend. I also cut back on the snacks which helped the budget and nobody seemed to notice. I froze the leftover cookies and ham and I also made lunch size portions of leftover scalloped potatoes – that will be nice for lunch in the next couple of weeks. I cooked most meals at home. I am making plans to start a formal budget this year, instead of just generally keeping track of things in my head. I saved the recharging cord for my son’s game after he left it out and I stepped on it. I used pliers to bend the metal back into place and he learned that he will have to buy a new one himself if this doesn’t work.

  27. I like your style. My family operates like you do (waste not) but my in laws and friends are still awestruck when I ask for the turkey carcass or the orange peels.:p

  28. My mother-in-law passed away back before Christmas, and thanks to a generous cash Christmas gift from my Mom, my husband was able to fly to where she lived to be with her before she passed away. We are very, very grateful for that. I enjoyed hugging my husband and children a lot, some of the best “frugal luxuries.”

    I wrote a Christmas letter to include in our cards and printed them out on Christmas stationery I bought a couple of years ago for a fraction of retail. I made gift tags out of supplies I had on hand. I made barn boot insoles for my husband to keep his feet warm out of felted sweaters from the thrift store. I made an art canvas for my sister, an altered clipboard for a niece, and a gnome house for a niece that likes gnomes. I also made earrings for a friend of my daughter’s.

    I put Christmas themed fabric in a very large, old wooden embroidery hoop and hung it on my kitchen wall for decoration. I made crockpot applesauce from a bag of apples bought on sale. My college age daughter made Brandi’s gingerbread pancakes. Yummy!

    Happy New Year Brandi and everyone!

  29. So happy to hear that everyone had a lovely Christmas! The lemons really do look lovely. I wish we could grow lemons in Canada:(

    We had a wonderful Christmas this year. I did not go overboard with buying gifts for my daughter and she seemed to really appreciate the ones she received. Everyone liked their gifts we gave, including the handmade infinity scarves and homemade jam. I did not give an infinity scarf to my MIL and she seemed disappointed that she didn’t get one. So I think I’ll make her one for her birthday or for next Christmas. As for myself, my family was wonderful to me this year. I received a Kitchenaid Standing Mixer from my mother and a Foodsaver from my husband! BEST…CHRISTMAS…EVER!!!

    Here are my frugal achievements this week:
    *I only bought a few grocery items before Christmas to stick to the “every second week” grocery shopping trips. This really helps me save on how much I spend.
    *For Christmas dinner with my husband’s family, we shared the cost of the meal by dividing up what we were having between everyone. My MIL/FIL supplied the turkey with stuffing, my one SIL supplied the veggies (potatoes, carrots and corn) and we brought the treats/deserts (big tray of baked goodies, homemade apple pie and homemade pumpkin pie from freezer), two loaves of homemade bread (made on Christmas eve day) and a brick of butter (from freezer bought on sale). My other SIL/BIL hosted the dinner and cooked the meal as well as supplied the drinks, disposable dishes and other snack type items (veggie tray, chips, etc.). It worked out really well and everyone enjoyed a wonderful meal together.
    *Saved Christmas bags, boxes and tissue paper for reuse next year.
    *Cooked a large spiral ham on Christmas eve which had quite a bit of left over. Ate some for lunch on Christmas day then packaged up the rest in portions with my new Foodsaver and froze it for future use. (that was kind of fun, lol)
    *Also saved the bone from the ham and froze it for future use. I’ve never done this before so not sure what to do with it yet. Need to do some research to find ideas.
    *Santa gave my daughter a new Samsung tablet. My husband decided to download the Netflix app which is free for one month. He is completely in love with Netflix now and didn’t spend any money on buying DVDs on boxing day this year.
    *My frugal ways are starting to wear off on my husband. We went shopping on boxing day and he had expressed that he wanted to buy his own tablet like what my daughter had with his Christmas money. But he was able to realize this was an unnecessary want and chose to spend his money on a new really good quality winter coat instead which was deeply discounted and no taxes (we pay 13% taxes on almost everything, but we also have health care, so it has it’s benefits). I am thrilled he was able to identify the difference between wants and needs.
    *I purchased a few gift items on boxing day for Christmas next year, and some needed Christmas wrapping supplies (gift bags and ribbon) as they were deeply discounted (50% off or more).
    *My brother and his wife are separating and my brother moved into his own apartment this past weekend. So while he was here for Christmas, we were able to give him some needed items for his home from things we already had around the house. It helped us with de-cluttering our home and saved him some money as well. He really appreciated it.

    That’s about all I can think of for now. I hope everyone has a wonderful New Year!

  30. Beautiful lemons!

    Last week I made a list of meals I can make from the pantry while my children are here for 2 weeks over Christmas and New Years. Also free activities we can do together or they can do while I am working.

    I went to Aldi and got the produce sales, 10 pounds of potatoes $1.99, 3 pounds of onions 99cents, 3 pounds of sweet potatoes 99cents, 4 pounds of navel oranges $1.99. Also lots of carrots. The black beans were a lower price, $1.99 for 32 oz so grabbed 2 bags.

    We went to CVS and I got the free body wash from the Facebook offer and free dental floss.

    I spent my day off doing a marathon cooking session so everything would be ready for the holidays. I made 5 different kinds of cookies and pretzel bark. I used the same dough and made smaller dinner rolls brushed with butter for Christmas eve and larger Kaiser rolls with sesame seeds for Christmas day. Granola. Sweet potato casserole . Had potatoes to use up so made knish for the last night of Hanukkah and mashed potatoes for Christmas eve.

    We went to Sams and used some of the coupons we got for free items (French bread, rotisserie chicken, spinach dip) to serve over on Christmas Eve when my daughter and her boyfriend were here along with mashed potatoes, carrots and rolls. I made Brandy’s honey brown sugar ham for Christmas day. I also made green bean casserole since I already had everything I needed in the pantry and dressing using the ends of bread I had been saving in the freezer and the sweet potato casserole and rolls I had made earlier and had in the freezer. I made a tres leches cake for dessert since I had the evaporated milk, sweetened condensed milk and a cake mix in the pantry that needed to be used up anyway.

    I worked a full shift Christmas day.

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

    I requested Paypal for my Pinecone surveys that had recently credited.

    I met my Swagbucks goal every day.

    I am starting to think ahead to the first week of January and how to tighten up our budget some more. Very discouraging the way prices are going up but my paychecks are going down.

    I made a final payment to pay off a credit card.

    Happy New Year!

  31. We too had a quiet Christmas, for our family anyways, and went to 5 places over a 4 day period. This Christmas seemed different in so many ways, very quiet Christmas day with lots of resting but that was Ok. Several people we know have lost loved ones this year, our neighbors dad the day before Thanksgiving, a family friend lost her dad the day after Christmas, and just yesterday morning my husbands co-worker never woke up from sleeping. It has been kind of sad around here! We cut way back on gifts for our children this year, spending less than $100 each but they didn’t seem to notice, they get so much from grandparents, etc. They really have everything they need or want. I am still trying to stock my pantry. At Walmart I took advantage of a 10lb box of oranges for $5, which I thought was a pretty good deal. I went and looked at the Christmas clearance but unless it is 75-90 % off I really don’t consider that much of a deal and really don’t need much in the ways of wrapping paper and bows so I bought nothing, which is very weird for me but this whole year I have just stopped buying and wanting. Now I am just trying to declutter and get my house organized. Last week I came up with a new daily/cleaning schedule that I print off each morning. I am already seeing great results with it! My son made deer jerky again from the deer he got early this season. He is only 13 but can pretty much do it all with a little help from my husband. It makes a lot and is way cheaper than buying at the store. I bought a meat slicer at Rural King and he used it to slice the meat for the jerky. I have been loving these gas prices. My husband’s work is slowing down and it is pretty scary. It has something to do with gas prices so low and importing Russian steel, don’t really understand that aspect of my husband’s job but I am stockpiling food like crazy! Another thing different I did this year is I didn’t make near the amount of food for Christmas get-togethers that I normally do. Just too much stress and it really did help to lower my stress level and there is always so much food everywhere we go anyway.
    That is all I can think of and Happy New Year’s to Everyone!

  32. How do you cook Goose? I have always wanted to eat it, again. My roommates at BYU (almost 38 yrs ago) cooked it and I have not eaten it since. It was delicious!

  33. I worked thru the holidays, which earned me time and a half for Christmas…will be doing the same for New Years 🙁

    Finished Christmas shopping last Monday…got my husband the drill he wanted at Sears because the battery died in the one he had but they don’t make the batteries for them anymore hence the need for a new one. Gifted new items to nieces that I already had but hadn’t used…my youngest niece adores crafting and is pretty much happy with anything you give her….So she got a Scrapbooking kit. Gave away some Bath n Body Works lotions and creams that were brand new as well….teen girls LOVE BBW! If they don’t like the smell, BBW will exchange the items without receipts, or at least they used to.

    For Christmas, I received gift cards to Sephora, Tim Hortons and iTunes. 🙂 My hubby is also paying for my new glasses when they come in for the rest of my present. 😀 Thank goodness for insurance as they’d have cost over $500 without them, I need bifocals now 🙁

    Cooked dinner at home when I stayed home which was pretty much every day after work. Made chicken noodle soup from the chicken that was left-over from last week’s rotisserie chicken and the stock I made. I liked it but I don’t think my husband did..oh well.

  34. We had an odd warm spell last week in the 40’s and no snow for Christmas 🙁 because of it.
    My son in law came over to pick up some items and he was wearing flipflops and shorts. Brrr. But that is not an uncommon sight, anytime the temp goes above normal.

  35. I haven’t bought bows for years, either. But I’m not nearly as creative as you! About 15 yrs. ago- no, not kidding- our Albertson’s had packs of 25 bows for a whopping .10 each. I bought 10….I’m still using them lol. When I lived in a warmer climate, I walked every morning at about 5am so I’d just cruise into Albertson’s and hit the sale on the 26th. I got some great stuff! And I was usually all alone in finding it. I figure I have enough tags, bows, & paper to last me thru’ the rest of my life….maybe longer lol. I think I got them all for about $3. I bought multiples of the same kinds of paper so I often wonder if my family notices that they’ve rec’d the same wrapping & bows for all this time!!:)

  36. There are many fancy ways to roast a goose, & those recipes can be found by googling, but since I knew I wanted to utilize the goose fat that would render, I thawed the goose for 36 hour in the fridge, then used a fork to pierce the skin all over, so the fat would render out better. I added 2cups of water to the bottom of the large roaster that I usually use for the turkeys, & cooked it at 350 degrees for 25 minutes per pound until it was done. Some of the recipes will tell you to salt it all over, or to begin roasting at 425 degrees for an hour, but both of those compromise the storage qualities of the goose fat, & I don’t think the make the goose taste any better, either.

  37. Mari, I’m glad your kitty made it. 🙂 We’ve faced the same kinds of vet bills for our *family*, too.

    I wanted to make a suggestion about the food. Ask your vet or contact a local vet school about being a ….rats, can’t think of the word….but a tester, of sorts. The pet food manufacturers will sometimes do studies on the taste & give away free foods.
    When our dog was very ill, the vet must’ve seen my distress over the many meds & special diet costs & he asked if I’d be interested in participating. It was so simple, I nearly kissed him! Once a month, I picked up a 30 day supply of food at his office, filled out a form, & then the company would send me a questionnaire to fill out & mail back to them. It was about how my dog ate it, the health issue, & such. It was for ONE YEAR OF FREE FOOD at what would’ve cost me $3.50 per day.
    My 10 minutes of work per month netted me more than $100 worth of return. It’s worth a try. If I’m every in that position again, I won’t hesitate to ask! Good luck!

  38. Rhonda, there is nothing like a crockpot full of lima beans with a nice, meaty ham bone on a cold winter’s day. Some homemade drop biscuits and it warms you to your toes. My husband told me he hated lima beans until he tasted them this way. I’m hoping I can hold off until January!

  39. Brandi, Yep you’re right I misunderstood. I reread it a 2nd time lol I did hear on our news the weather guy said Las Vegas could see snow. I think he said this week? That should be exciting for you guys. Have your children ever seen snow?

  40. I grow a Meyer lemon in Michigan. It is outdoors when there is no danger of a freeze and it winters over next to a north-facing balcony door wall. It would be happier in front of a sunnier window, but it is the best I can provide it. I get a lemon or two or three per year. This year, it was blooming beautifully when I had to bring it inside. I don’t think any fruit set. But I have one lemon I plan on picking within the month.

  41. My “empty nest” post sounded so sad among all the details of others’ Christmas celebrations with family. Although we’re empty-nesters, we celebrated the holiday with our five grandchildren, two daughters and their husbands with a day of opening gifts, sharing with each other, and playing games. the grandchildren, young and teen, took turns paying attention to our jubilant golden retriever. All those cookies I had been baking were part of our celebration.

  42. I buy large spools of curling ribbon, cut 10 or 12 long pieces, tie them in the middle and and curl them. This makes those long ribbon cascades that sell for 2 or 3 dollars in the stores. Looks great on packages.

  43. My husband and daughter went goose hunting a couple of weeks ago. He made goose sausage using pork fat with the goose meat. It was very good. My daughter was very excited. She killed a goose with a band.

  44. Oh, those lemons! They look really beautiful. You can do so many things with them, too. I have a mixed fruit marmalade (orange-lemon-grapefruit), but I’m not sure of the Meyer lemons have the same acidity as the ‘old style’ ones. 🙂

    Thank you for all the ideas and inspiration, each and every week. I have my frugal accomplishments posted here: http://quietcountrylife.blogspot.com/2014/12/frugal-accomplishments-christmas-week.html

    Happy New Year!

  45. My MIL purchased gift cards at Kroger when they had the 4x points and put some of them on my points since we live in a small town and don’t drive much and she would not use all the points before they expired. I drive a diesel truck (was hit head-on by a drunk driver and am lucky to walk and be alive so now I’m scared to drive a small vehicle) so I got diesel for $1.89/gal.
    I have made ham broth twice from leftover ham bones at family get together.
    My daughter and I have watched 4 redbox movies for free this past week.
    I had mentioned before how I wish I was able to garden (see above statement about drunk driver) and have been looking into raised beds/square foot gardening for this spring/summer. Hubby agreed to make me a bed to try. I was so excited this past week when a friend of his sent me an envelope full of seeds-lettuce,cucumer, carrots, radishes, squash, tomatoes, and spinach. Just the things I want to try and even some zinnias that I love.
    Not so frugal, but we really needed a new Christmas tree and I ran in Hobby Lobby today to get a roll of 50% off ribbon and they had their Christmas stuff marked down 80%. I purchased a $400 tree for $80.

  46. I just got a Kitchenaid mixer but I’m on my 3rd Foodsaver. You will love both. Word of advice, the non-Foodsaver bags/rolls don’t seem to keep the food as well. And I had to LOL at rubbing off on hubby. My daughter went out to eat for her cousin’s b-day and had me look for her a coupon to use. She said ‘oh no, I’m turning into you’

  47. I have to say, I absolutely enjoy your blog, especially your Frugal Accomplishments. I find them very inspirational and give me plenty of ideas on how to save my large family money (3 young kids, 1 on the way). My husband is the only source of income. Understandably, have all my children in daycare would financially not make sense, so God has blessed with being able to stay home with my kidos.

    Some frugal accomplishments I did during the last week was…
    Went through the Christmas wrapping presents after the kids opened their presents and saved pieces (large and small) for next years gift wrapping.

    There was a great deal at the grocery store in my town of 5 pounds Mandarin oranges, I bought 2 for $6. I canned 5 pound of them.
    I went to our local thrift store and found a hammock for my daughters’ stuff teddies for $2

    I air dried most of my laundry ( I live in Canada, so we’re having cold/harsh snow), so most of the laundry was dried in my laundry room and bedroom

    We went to a free children’s event and the children got to ‘meet’ Santa and was given a gift bag full of candies. I saved the candies and used them to fill their stocking (once they forgot about the gift bags)

    Hmmm….I know I’m missing a few more but these are the ones that stick out.

    Thank you for sharing your accomplishments/blessings.

  48. My little guy’s a Christmas Eve baby, so we had a great day celebrating his birthday and then another great day celebrating Christmas. Then on Boxing Day my in-laws came over with more presents for the kids, so, three days of presents = holy cow where do I put it all?

    I went through some boxes and organised presents for next year. I’ve got quite a nice little collection of presents for the kids for next year for birthdays, Christmas, and Easter; and all the presents I’ll need for everyone else, other than my husband. Actually I’ve got a very good start on 2016 too. All for very little money – almost everything is homemade, bought with vouchers, or was found second-hand in as-new condition for about 50 cents. Alas, I cannot turn away from a bargain – today I found brand new children’s chapter books for 3 for $1, so of course I had to get some . . . We also found some cakes and donuts etc. marked down to unbelievably low prices – about 5 to 10 cents per cake, dozen donuts, etc. I couldn’t say no to those.

    I find this is the best time to buy body wash and items like that. The Christmas sets always get marked right down. I found some sets with 5 different items marked down to $1. So, now our toiletries are restocked. The back to school sales start soon – I always love the back to school sales.

  49. I saw you mentioned the amazon gift card, I think the last time I checked you actually use less swagbucks getting 5 of the$5 cards than the one for 25? Might be something for you swaggers to keep in mind if you never checked before!!

  50. You seem to know something about lentils:) Here’s a question. There are several recipes in a magazine I have that call for lentils. They are calling for red lentils in one recipe. I think those are the orangish-colored ones I have. There are also recipes for black lentils and brown AND green lentils. So, do you know what the regular lentils are considered? My plain, old regular lentils look brownish, but could be considered a little bit dark greenish. And, do you know if split peas could be substituted for green lentils? I want to try some of these recipes, but want to use up what I have, and not buy a bunch more lentils. Can you mix and match with good results?

  51. I’ve taken some time off of work, and so has my husband. Our joke is that he is taking 2 weeks off, except for when he’s working:) He has worked a few days of it, but has mostly been home. We are using the extra time to clean up little area around the house/garage. I’ve been cooking some new recipes to see if we like them. I’m hoping to start next week very organized, both in the food department and the housecleaning. We have a certifier coming next Friday (DHS-foster parent certification), and although they are very understanding, I like things cleaned. This is the one who opens all cupboards and drawers, etc. It won’t be perfect, but hopefully not too awful:)

    I brought 2 bins down from the attic that had yarn in them. Most of that yarn is odds and ends that someone gave us several years ago. I’m going to try to make some gifts from it. I got instructions for a hat from the internet and crocheted 3 so far. I am not proficient at crochet yet, but have made a few things over the years. The first one was really slow, but I got faster as I kept practicing. I also found a huge skein (1 pound) of pale pink yarn I bought quite a few years ago and have started the baby blanket off the back of the label. It will be a gift.

    This past year, I crocheted or knitted around 15 dish clothes and gave them to people for Christmas with homemade zucchini relish I canned this past summer. It made a nice gift for my husband’s co-workers and other friends and relatives. While cleaning, I found the pattern book again and several more skeins of cotton yarn, so I think I will make up some more for the year to come. I have a drawer where I put completed gifts and it is quite empty now.

    I organized the baby items in my gift drawer and chose gifts for 2 new babies that have arrived recently. Tomorrow, I will go to the dollar store and get some gift bags. Last summer, while on a trip, my husband stumbled upon a super clearance sale where 6-packs of baby socks were $1, multipacks of sleepers were $3, and so on. He bought tons. Today, I sorted what was left of it. I want to send some of it to the Pregnancy Resource Center as well, and I chose that out today. I have some left for gifts for occasions that will come up. Now I know what to look for on sale to complete the gifts. Because my husband is a family pastor at a church, you can imagine how many babies we get to know and love, so I like to be prepared! I don’t spend a lot on each gift, and usually tend to send a meal and a small gift, but my husband loves to deliver the food and/or gifts and gets to visit with the family for a little while and congratulate them.

    I received a $3 off $5 of produce at Fred Meyers coupon from the computer today. I printed it and will spend it tomorrow when I take my daughter to work. I bought produce and milk last week (about $20 worth) and that was all I needed. We used food we had to take to Christmas at my sisters and ate leftovers after that. I made broccoli soup from garden broccoli I froze. I boiled the bones of the turkey Rob smoked on his Traeger BBQ. I used some carrots from the garden that have been in the fridge all this time (we got SO many). They are starting to “go” and so I will make a concerted effort to use them up now.

    I browned up a mix of turkey and beef burger with onion, celery and peppers. I seasoned it with Mexican seasoning and saved half out for taco meat for Sunday after church. Then I used the other half for a big batch of chili and added a bunch of chili powder to that. Taco meat with celery in it was a little strange to me, but they were so hungry no one even noticed and the veggies made the meat go farther. I froze 1/2 the chili for later. Some Sundays, we leave the house before 7 and don’t return until after 1. This was one of those days, and many times we grab something to eat in town, especially if we have a busy afternoon. I preplanned the tacos and we ate those this week. We plan to eat out later in the week, so wanted the money for that.

    I was able to find some hand-me-downs that fit my granddaughter in the garage (stored), and she tried them on and they are in her room now. My sister, who loves to shop, found each girl a couple of tops or a dress and they received them for Christmas. We got boots for a couple of them at the $20 boot sale at Fred Meyers on black Friday. In fact, my husband found several other pairs of shoes for extremely low prices (Keds, etc.) and he bought the girls all some. So, they won’t need more shoes for a while anyway. Whew! I even got a pair of low boots for $13 on clearance!

    I bought small amounts of bulk spices for a low price.

  52. Hi Brandy. Merry Christmas to you and your family.

    I haven’t had a chance to comment for a while. Life has been busy. We’ve had our bathrooms and laundry renovated and had solar panels put in. I’ve filmed three stories for tv in about six weeks with one of them I travelled interstate to film. Thankfully I had most of the Christmas presents wrapped and the decorations and tree were up mid November in readiness for my Christmas tv story.

    I posted a link on my blog My Abundant Life to your blog so that other Australians can find you. If you could please take some time to read my post titled Our Year, A Thankyou and Merry Christmas I really appreciate it. I’ve mentioned you in it.

    Frugal things –

    * Purchased lots of plain silver and gold wrapping paper @ $1 a roll for 7 metres.
    * Saved 7 or 8 gift bags from Christmas Day to reuse.
    * Saved lots of tissue paper to reuse.
    * Bought lots of beads at 75% off to make Christmas decorations.
    * Made yoghurt from scratch and saved 9 portions from this to use as a starter for future batches. I’ve frozen these.
    * Made tomato relish for the first time. Some jars will be sold, other will be for gifts and some for us to eat.
    * Made strawberry and apple jam.
    * Made brown sugar.
    * Made Anzac biscuits to give with presents for Christmas.
    * Weve been blessed with lots of bread, bread rolls and cheese.

    May all your readers have a blessed and abundant 2015.

  53. Hello everyone! We had my family over on Christmas eve and had a great time. We ate, opened our few presents and then had dessert. We used my great-great grandmother’s china to eat off of (I’ve had these pieces stored in my closet for years, it was nice to bring them out). My husband invited his family over as well but they refused to come and are now acting like “victims” because we did not go to his mother’s home on Christmas day, even though he had told them for months about all of this. I have never seen such childish adults in my life. All because they wanted their “presents”. We only see these people 2 times per year, typically.
    Last week’s frugal accomplishments:
    – I made a veggie tray and cheese tray with store purchased dip and crackers. My husband baked a ham I purchased at Thanksgiving on sale. We already had potatoes and I purchased stuffing for $1 per box. After Christmas I made wheat bread, hummus, cheese sauce, a weird mish-mash of leftover veggies from Christmas with leftover cheese sauce in a tortilla as a “wrap” – it was delicious. I made a bunch and individually froze them, yogurt, granola.
    -We ate all meals at home.
    – I only worked two days last week, I took vacation time for the rest of the week, saving on gas.
    – I used two gift cards to purchase my husband some meat (I am a Vegetarian), a pair of dress shoes for work (to small on right foot, must return) and some other stuff that is escaping me right now.
    – I went grocery shopping at the Natural foods coop in the next city over. I found some fantastic sales and coupons! I purchased a new kind of seventh generation dish soap for $1 per bottle after sale/coupons, sale apples and leek, some hotdogs for my daughter, reduced milk. I discovered their bulk section has been reduced. That was disappointing. I now officially have no local source of most items want to purchase in bulk/waste free.
    – did the usual, turned off lights, saved warm up shower water, used solar light in bathroom at night, washed and reused zip top baggies and glass jars.
    Have a Happy New Year everyone!

  54. There are “red” lentils that are orange, and green lentils, and brown lentils (which you have; I have those too). The green ones are as green as peas. I have never seen the black ones. I only buy the brown ones, as they are the least expensive and most easy to find.

    There should be some taste difference, but you should be able to substitute.

  55. I saw those Swagbucks gift cards to other places, but since you have to use them on your phone and cannot print them out, I’ve had to pass (no cell phone). Otherwise I would definitely be getting them for places like Target! I didn’t even know they had the options that you chose; that sounds like a nice way to do it!

  56. Brandy,

    I order and print out gift cards for different places through Swagbucks all the time. Target ones are a little funky, I think you do need a smart phone, but most of the others you can print. This Christmas I gave gift cards from Home Depot, Red Robin, Game Stop and Petco that I had earned through Swagbucks and then printed out.

  57. Glad to see that everyone had a nice Christmas! It was a quiet, but very nice one here too.

    I made peanut butter dog bones for the pup’s gift.

    I knitted 2 cat toys and filled them with homegrown and dried catnip for the kitties.

    For Christmas Eve dinner I roasted a turkey that I got for free at Thanksgiving last year. I roasted it using the convection setting on my oven and it was the best I’ve ever made! And it took less time to roast. I should have tried this years ago! I also made stuffing using bread I’ve been saving in the freezer, mashed potatoes with potatoes from this years garden, green bean casserole with home grown and canned green beans and the other ingredients purchased on sale, homemade rolls, cranberry sauce purchased on sale, and pumpkin pie with homemade crust and pumpkin that I had frozen last year. I did a quick tally in my head of the cost and figured the entire meal cost between $10-$15 dollars. And since it’s just the 2 of us we got 5 more meals out of the leftovers plus 2 meals of turkey salad sandwiches! I pulled the dark meat from the bones (we don’t care for the dark meat) and dehydrated it for dog treats. The rest of the carcass I cooked down and ended up with a gallon of stock and 1/2 gallon of turkey noodle soup. Not too bad for a free turkey! With the homemade gifts we gave this year and the savings on the meal I estimate that Christmas cost us less than $50 dollars!

    My DH made a wonderful gift for his mother. He scanned and printed copies of family pictures from my MIL’s childhood all the way to the present. He added the names of the people in the photos right on the bottom of the picture and put everything into an album for her to keep at her memory care facility. That way she can be reminded of the people who have been important in her life and if she doesn’t recognize the photo she might be able to recall who they are by the name at the bottom of the picture.

    My boss gave us a $100 gift card to Longhorn Steakhouse as a surprise gift! That’s in addition to my regular bonus which I’ve already received!

    I was off from Wednesday to Monday so we saved on gas.

    We also did all of our regular frugal activities such as keeping the oil furnace turned off and heating with wood, drying clothes on rack inside, etc…

    I planned out meals for the month of January and hope to be able to cut my grocery budget in half for this year. At least that’s my goal.

    I inventoried all of my seeds for this years garden. I started saving seeds a few years ago so with the left over seeds I have on hand and the seeds I’ve saved I will only need to purchase onion & pepper seeds and seed potatoes! I’m adding some flowers this year too as Brandy has inspired me with her flower photos!

    Praying God’s blessing on everyone for a happy and frugal New Year!

  58. If you have some bits and pieces of yarn that are really too small to do anything with, and you have to get presents for children, consider turning them into a craft kit – “how to knit” “how to crochet” “how to weave” or just “hey, here’s some fun yarn, see what you can make out of it.” My kids are always after yarn for their crafts and since I’m not a knitter, I never have any. It’s amazing what they can do with bits that you’d think were completely useless.

  59. The first couple of years when you change traditions on everyone, it’s really rough. Been there done that! We stopped going to big family Christmases with the in-laws because of some rather serious issues with a SIL and her husband. Her children were always sick with exactly the wrong disease, like rubella when I was pregnant – who even gets rubella these days?! – but she’d still insist they had to go to Christmas, even when the doctor told her to keep them home because they were highly contagious. And believe it or not that was secondary to the issues with her husband! But when we decided (when their kids had chicken-pox, less than 3 weeks before we were due to go on a non-refundable international flight to take our too-young-to-be-vaccinated child back to the US to meet my family for the first time) to just do our own thing, my MIL told my husband that I’d ruined Christmas for everyone. It took about 6 years for the family to stop the Annual Guilt Trip – “Oh, but you know this may be your grandma’s last Christmas” (“Mum, Grandma’s been telling me for the past 30 years she’s going to die”), “Your father isn’t doing so well and he just wants to see everyone get along before he finally passes” (this one was used 5 years in a row . . . .), etc. Hold your ground – it’ll take years but eventually you’ll be off the hook.

  60. Thank you Mae! I appreciate your support. It would be different if we regularly saw his family but we don’t. We see them approximately twice per year, always on “present” holidays. They all rush to open gifts then run off. That’s not what we want to teach our daughter. I am glad to hear there is potential for this to get better lol.

  61. Some more things I remembered:
    I saved gift bags for next year,
    I made homemade broccoli cheese soup with the broccoli stems, some leftover florettes from the veggie tray from Christmas, and leftover cheese from the cheese tray, garlic hummus using dried chickpeas.
    My husband bought me another drying rack as a gift, per my request :). It’s HUGE and I love it! I have air dried all of our clothing this past week.

  62. Kids are notoriously unpredictable about food anyhow. One Thanksgiving, my then two year old granddaughter finished her cauliflower, and annoyed that we weren’t giving her more fast enough, starting eating it from the plate of the person next to her–fortunately, her mother, but she surprised us with that!! Most kids do go for cheese, in my experience, so it’s hard to go wrong with that. I just present a variety (within reason) and it’s up to their parents to decide if they have eaten sufficiently or not. Last night my niece gave her daughter about three glasses of orange juice from my fridge (without asking, although I would have said yes anyhow) but then seemed surprised when her daughter ate none of the dinner I prepared. No surprise to me–she’s only 5, she was probably full by then!

  63. Melissa, what a wonderful gift your husband made for his mother! So thoughtful! Also, it sounds like you sure have a great boss. 🙂

  64. I forgot to mention my almost-ashamed-of-myself-cheapness: Next year we’re taking the kids to Disneyland. We do that thing in my family where we get the kids a new ornament every year, and I just assumed I’d get them ornaments at Disneyland. But when I saw Disney ornaments on clearance at the supermarket, well . . . . I figured paying $1 on clearance would beat whatever price they were in Disneyland.

  65. If you want to really save water, use that container of clean water for rinsing for flushing the toilet once you’re done with the dishes. If you want to really, really save water, only flush once a day (using the container of clean water that you’ve just used for rinsing the dishes.) If you want to really, really, really save water, on those days where you haven’t had anything particular dirty or greasy for dinner, so the rinse water is still clean, tip in some bleach and mop the floors with it and then use it to flush the toilet.

  66. My biggest accomplishment this week was entertaining my family last night. I had 15 people here for dinner and gift exchange. Both my sisters have large families so we don’t do Christmas day together anymore. We take turns hosting a separate party just for family. I only bought meat (which happened to be on sale this week), a couple bags of chips (on sale but not usually purchased–gave the rest of the open bags to my DD to take home, along with another large plate of cookies) , and two, 2 liter bottles of Coke, which we also don’t normally buy. Everything else came from the pantry or regular fresh purchases, meaning that most of it was bought on sale/coupon deals.
    My extra expenditures came to about $30, and we had leftovers tonight and I froze enough leftover meat for two more meals. I need to freeze some Christmas cookies because I received THREE platters of them in addition to the four kinds I made myself. We are only two people–but the freezer is so full that DH says no cookies will fit. Either we will eat something BULKY tomorrow night, or I will have to rearrange if possible. I cannot let all those cookies go to waste, and I can’t eat them all at once either!!
    I am very pleased to have managed this for that much money. It did take two days of cooking, but it was worth it.

    Thank you Brandi, and all others who share ideas weekly on this blog—it helps me to keep focused on saving and gives me lots of new ideas besides. Not to mention recipes!!

  67. Greetings! This is my first time posting here, but i’ve been reading for quite awhile. It’s such a nice place to visit!
    -We’re empty nesters, so it was just the two of us for Christmas. I baked a nice ham with all the trimmings for The Mr. while i ate the trimmings. (vegetarian)
    -We ate most meals at home this week; this happened to be a week that The Mr. wanted a sub, so we bought ourselves one and ate at home with our own drinks.
    -I made mac and cheese, with mushrooms, for dinner today. Two extra servings went into the freezer for later.
    -I walked to several places in town today; paid taxes, Ace Hardware (my second Winter job), returned a movie we rented. I came home and shoveled a TON of snow. Free exercise; at least, that’s what i keep telling myself!
    -Saved water from showering to flush once.
    -Washed baggies etc; as everyone else does.
    -I cleaned the oven today for the first time in my over-a-year-old stove. I put it on the lowest amount of time and it warmed up the house nicely. The furnace didn’t come on for hours, what with that and making mac and cheese. (Our house is 624 sq. ft; so that helps!)
    -We’re off to see our son down state on Friday, which won’t be very frugal, but so worth it! Add in a visit to see the grandsons and you’re talking priceless!
    -Blessings to everyone in the new year!

  68. Becky, we use lentils a lot, but we live in a small town that leans more toward eating chicken-fried steak and barbecue than it does eating vegan. That means we’re usually limited in the types we can find. We just use what we can find or, occasionally, buy different varieties when we’re in a larger city. Different color lentils do differ in both cooking time and in how well they hold their shape after cooking. Brown (or dark brownish green?) lentils tend to hold their shape after cooking and require a bit more cooking time than red lentils, which also get softer and mushier after cooking. Since we don’t tend to make lentil loafs, but rather use lentils in soups or stews or as main dishes themselves in Indian-inspired dishes, what we have on hand usually works fine. A search online for “different types of lentils” will provide you with a more comprehensive explanation. Perhaps others have comments, too. I hope this helps!

  69. Good for you that you spoke up and took the leftovers! I would have taken them! Everything sounded wonderful how you used them up!

  70. Our wrapping is pretty plain. We don’t use ribbons or bows so have never spent money on either, no matter how cheap.

  71. Thanks, Debby. I will look into that. He had a complete urinary blockage so he has to eat a special prescription food. I’m not sure if the manufacturer has that survey, but I’ll ask them.

  72. Thanks! I do have a very thoughtful husband! And very creative too! He is an artist and a couple of years ago he painted a portrait of my great grandfather for my Christmas gift! It is very special to me. Yes, my boss is awesome too! I work for a cardiologist and with all the changes in medicine in the past few years I’ve told him many times that if I didn’t work for him I’d be looking outside the medical field for employment! I am a very blessed woman!

  73. I was on call for work and needed to stay in my judicial district so I stayed at home Christmas by myself and stayed in my pj’s until noon…lol. I had taken my sons on Christmas Eve (who live about an hour and a half north of me) ham, chicken, carrots, rice, mashed potatoes, and cookies for their Christmas dinner (one had to work for 12 hours on Christmas Day, one had to work but different hours on Christmas, and the youngest one was sick with inflamed tonsils, so they could not come to my house). I went on a Christmas Day walk about 2 pm and just rested. The chicken was 79 cents a lb., the potatoes were 25 cents a lb., and the cookies were a gift to me that I regifted….lol. My daughter is overseas and called to wish me a Merry Christmas!! I made a pizza after Christmas, using the dough recipe from the Tightwad Gazette (although I have a very tiny kitchen and do not have a food processor so I hand knead everything), and used some of the ham on the pizza. The pizza cost me probably less than 75 cents, and would have cost less if I had the sense to purchase the yeast and flour in bulk! Brandy’s ham recipe is the best!!!!! I am going to use the leftover ham for my New Years meal of Ham, collards, black eyed peas, and cornbread. My oldest son had a birthday and I made him an eggless cake using soy powder and water, in place of the egg. I cannot tell the difference in baking nor taste. I am curious, Brandy, is that what you used in your eggless cake? Yours looked great!!!

  74. Christmas was nice at our home. I always host the whole family for a brunch. Because we are all so busy we like to do this rather than a Christmas Eve or night dinner. I have only one child left at home whose 10 and it’s his most favorite part of Christmas. My adult kids know that at 10:30 a.m. the brunch will be ready, then we sit around and talk about the year while we watch our favorite Christmas DVD’s.

    On another note, I am excited to get 2014 tucked away and begin 2015! I still can’t believe its 2015, remember Y2K? How time flies! Have a Healthy and Happy New Year!

  75. I am enjoying the sound of rain on the roof and knowing that I will not need to water our plants. We did have to cover some of them because of freezing temperatures. I am hoping our little Meyer lemon that survived the heat of summer will also make it through the winter.

    We had a lovely Christmas season! A double batch of pumpkin bread from items on hand was used for treats for the family, neighbors and included in a basket we took to the staff where I had been for care two years ago. I also loaded the basket with fresh tangelos from our tree, snacks that I had gotten for free or inexpensively, and a card expressing my gratitude for the care I had received. We were able to see the OT and PT who had been instrumental in my going from bed-ridden to walking with a walker and going home. They thanked me several times for coming in. My husband and I were glad we went, while very thankful we didn’t need to stay!

    Our son-in-law and parents shared some of the sweet potatoes grown from the slips I gave them last summer. Some of them were huge! I made a triple recipe of a sweet potato recipe we all like to take to the holiday potluck at church. People seemed to like it, but there was enough to share a bit of leftovers. Although my sweet potatoes didn’t get as large or plentiful in my container garden, they did fairly well and thrived through our AZ heat of summer when much of the garden died off or stopped producing. I definitely plan to plant them again.

    One daughter and I shared wrap and gift items to come up with some very nice gifts. We also shared treats that had been made or gifted. Our other daughter and family had us over Christmas Day for a yummy brunch and exchange of wonderful presents. We also shared treats. We were able to Skype with Son and Family. We enjoyed chocolate covered strawberries they sent.

    A little tip I wanted to mention is to check your grocery store for eggs they repackage there when some of the cartons have broken eggs. I think they discard the broken ones and repackage the good ones. At my stores, they are labeled “grade B medium,” but are usually large or XL and sometimes have name brand logos on the eggs. I recently got a couple dozen for 89 cents each.

    Our wrapping paper, bags, greeting cards and tags were all from previously purchased at deep discounts or saved from previous gifts.

    Wishing All a Happy New Year and enjoying the encouraging comments!

  76. We have a tradition of everyone having their favourite food for Christmas dinner. It’s probably not the most frugal idea (although our ‘favourites’ are all pretty cheap) but at least it means we have no food battles! The table always looks a bit funny, dressed to the nines for crackers and hummus, lasagna, and watermelon; but we’ve come to love our weird little tradition. And like I said – at least there are no food battles!

  77. My oldest daughter and my daughter in law both decided to go with using fabric to wrap presents. Ka’s mother is a
    seamstress so she searched her mother’s sewing stash for usable pieces. Eliana bought sale Christmas and seasonal fabric at Joann. She tied hers with yarn left from knitting projects. It felt nice just folding up the fabric wrap afterwards into neat squares rather than having to throw it away, or recycle if brand allows.

  78. Becky, new slippers for Christmas was always one of my favorite presents, along with the new nightgown and sometimes a robe too.

  79. Becky we use the red lentils for Indian food. I have never seen green lentils anywhere I shop, though have heard about them. I think they are also called French lentils or puy lentils. Not the same as split peas. I use brown lentils for lentil loaf, burgers, etc and for lentil soup. They hold their shape more than red lentils. Split peas pretty much are dissolved by the time they are done cooking.

  80. Janell, I have never had goose sausage. A cousin down the road has a smoke house, I will ask him if he has tried to make it. Goose is traditional for our family’s Christmas dinners, so my sons and their cousins all go hunting to get enough of them to go around.

    Did your daughter call in the band info?

  81. Jennifer, I am sorry you had to receive bad news right at such a joyful time of year, though no time is good for bad news. I pray all is well with you and your family.

  82. Amber, I just did that with all the cuties orange peels (though the brand here is HALO) and started some vinegar. I have never actually done that before, just used the vinegar as is for cleaning. But so many of you mention it that I made a jar for me and oldest girl. I had a 5 pound box of the clementines and just peeled all the leftover ones too and put the peeled sections in the fridge.

  83. Carla, that cash gift was used well in getting your husband out to be with his mother. I am sorry for your loss.

  84. Mmm, Debby, I had a tres leche cake once and it was delicious! My middle girl, nursing student, has spent time in Mexico on missions and has picked up some good recipes. (She also picked up Spanish quickly and that will be useful in work) I liked the almond drink she made too, but can’t think of the name. It was ground almonds and spices and…?

  85. Janell, I enjoyed this past summer the raised beds my husband and daughter set up for me around my front patio. Also the pots. My gardening had become limited as I couldn’t get down the hill to the big garden or walk over uneven ground. These are perfect for us. I know you will be happy too.

  86. Becky, I always add celery to things like meatballs, meat loaf, sloppy joe mix etc. If you don’t use the celery it’ll might just go to waste otherwise.

  87. Marcia, can you just put the cookies in tins in the garage? Is it cold enough there? That is what I do, before Christmas and after. Cookies made with real butter and other real ingredients actually will keep for quite awhile, not just a few days.

  88. Cindy, eggless cakes just usually use a combo of an acid and baking soda. I have not seen Brandy’s recipe.

  89. Sakura, I very well remember the hoopla about Y2K. As we were/are pretty self sufficient under normal circumstances, I wasn’t worried about anything but toilet paper, so I stocked up on that. We ended up with enough for a year.

  90. Hi! Happy New Year to Brandi and readers! Our Christmas was very happy and delightful, and things went quite smoothly since I did a few things differently…after all, keeping my sanity and enjoying the holidays is priceless to me! Especially since my load at work has doubled and there is NO relief in sight due to the company budget. Since I bake and cook year round, my Christmas gift to myself is to NOT bake or cook much at all during November and December. This took some planning and financial juggling, but it was worth it, and my husband enjoyed his relaxed wife very much, and the kids didn’t have a harassed, irritable stepmom, part of my gift to them, ha ha! For the Christmas dinner I hosted, we had a KFC 21 piece feast, and I did make dessert, dark velvet torte with vanilla ice cream. Very easy recipe, it’s like a dense, nearly flourless chocolate cake–very rich and decadent, and my mom requested it for her birthday. I paid for the dinner using money I’d set aside from a little windfall in September. The nice part is that there were lots of left overs, which were divided up, and I put our share in the freezer for another time.

    For gifts, I needed to stick with a ten dollar limit, which was challenging. (I spent quite a bit more on my darling, my mom, and my brother. Each has a heart of gold, and all have led very sacrificial lives…life hasn’t always rewarded them for their goodness or treated them fairly, so I really wanted to do my part in helping God reward them. I was discreet, and gave them these gifts at a separate time.). There’s not a whole lot you can buy for ten bucks, no kidding, so I decided to give gift cards for special little treats. (This is also because I feel a lot of people are already overwhelmed with lots of candy and baked goods. Mine would probably just be lost in the shuffle). I gave gift cards for Mrs. fields cookies, See’s candy, In-N-Out, Starbucks, and Panera. For some co-workers and friends, I gave them IOUs for my baked goods, which will be fulfilled between late January and April. These will be for cookies, toll house pie, dinner ar my house, etc. Now they all have a little something to look forward to once their Christmas booty runs out!

    Chiistmas Eve was restful and happy…I did the final decorating last touches, cuddled on the couch with my sweet doggie as we had lunch and watched The Trailer Park Boys Christmas Special…it’s sort of like a modern day Little House on the Prairie, LOL! My sister picked me up in the evening, and we had dinner, played Scrabble, and drove around for the Christmas lights. It was a very cozy, old fashioned kind of evening, and I really enjoyed something simple after having a tough time at work recently.

    For my stepkids, I gave them movie tickets, and made up boxes of baking mixes for cookies and cakes, and boxes of cocoa…all bought on sale during the fall…and also a few cans of cinnamon rolls. I threw in several bags of chocolate gold coins, a traditional stocking stuffer on my side of the family. My husband loves to cook and decorate, so he did the cooking, and asked me to make a light dessert. I made chocolate mousse pie using pudding mix, cool whip, and an Oreo crust. Topped it with the mini chocolate chips I had in the cupboard. When chilled, it was quite yummy, the kids had a wonderful time.

    God bless, and keep warm!

  91. I have collected a stash of cloth bags mainly Christmas designs. This year I wrapped the presents in tissue and wrapping paper that was not “gift” worthy and put in a cloth bag. Oh my that was simple :)and so quick to do! No late night of cutting and taping. The recipient just opened the bag, sometimes I simple knotted the drawstring so it took a bit longer to open. I wish I had started this years ago:)
    I have some gifts for next year and am planning on sewing cloth bags to place them in and as part of the gift. I already have a stash of Christmas fabric I can use but have begun to look at clothing items I am disposing of to see if any can be recycled in this way. I know I inherited a n assortment of head scarves I think can be made into bags.

  92. Celery dehydrates well, & once it is dehydrated, it also keeps very well. It is easy to toss a little into a chicken noodle soup with a sliced carrot, & make it “fancy” soup. For me, drying the extra just expands the possibilities in my pantry.

  93. Changing traditions is hard on everyone, but some things have to change sometimes. Years ago, when my sons were young I told my mother we would not be coming to her house Christmas Day. ( You have to understand we ate/eat Christmas Eve dinner with her every year.) Instead I invited my entire family to our house for Christmas brunch, so we could enjoy the morning together before traveling to my in-laws for a Christmas night get-together. The first year, it was rough and you would have thought I had sentenced Mother to a life sentence in prison instead of just inviting her to brunch. The next year was better and by year 3 she was thrilled that she could enjoy the grandkids Christmas morning, play with them and love on them, then go home to no mess. Now years later, if I don’t invite them early in December they call me to make sure I am still doing it. I promise it gets better, just make sure that you will not hold this temporary insanity against them!

  94. Athanasia

    That is what we started doing this year too. I found beautiful fabric at Walmarts a cpl. weeks before Christmas $3.44 a yard. Yesterday I went back and the fabrics were marked down to $2.50 a yard so I bought more. It was hard to resist buying all that beautiful Christmas wrapping paper (old habits die hard) but I still have a lot in my storage bin from past years and once it’s gone that is pretty much going to be it may keep a little for dh as he is not into the challenge of fabric though I may make some “gift bags” from fabric that he can fit a item into and close with buttons or velcro. Besides being frugal it is also keeping paper out of the landfills (I have not seen any wrapping paper that is recyclable, if you do it’s probably very expensive) and saving tree’s by not contributing to their being cut down for that purpose. I just wish more people were on board. Where I work I talked to many customers about this and no one had a clue that it wasn’t recyclable (wrapping paper). I also yesterday was able to buy a yard of just plain blue for birthday gifting for dh for $2.44 a yard a Walmarts. And Joann’s while not nearly as cheap on their fabric I did find a adorable Christmas fabric with doggies on it and one that really you are supposed to make a throw pillow from but loved the pattern, this one will be cut for gifting books I think. 2 yards less than $10 and can be used over and over. So while my initial investment was somewhere around $20 altogether I will get many years of use out them.

  95. Kudos to your butcher for sharing with you.. I do that too at work, tell my customers about what is in our clearance area.. a lot of people don’t know it’s even there and also tell them about special mark downs we have. It is heartwarming to be able to share ways to help others save money.. I tell them “We’re all in this together”.

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