Winter Cake The Prudent Homemaker

We celebrated Winter’s birthday with a simple meal at home, to which we invited her grandparents. I made an eggless chocolate cake with cream cheese frosting. 

Chocolate Cake

Her gifts were simple: I gave her the two thrift store sweaters that I recently purcased ($10) , two sizes of knitting needles that I bought for .25 a pair at a  garage sale (.50), 2 skeins of yarn that I bought 50% off ($5.41), and the button bobby pins that I made for her. Her grandparents bought her this trilogy that she had been wanting. She was very happy with her gifts. I loved that such a simple birthday brought such smiles to her face. 

Herb Garden The Prudent Homemaker

I cut chives, lemongrass, parsley, and oregano from the garden. I picked a couple of tiny alpine strawberries.

My husband gave Cyrus a haircut.

I took another Pinecone Research survey. A few weeks ago, I switched to every day notifications of surveys. While I am not getting one every day, I am getting significantly more than I did before I changed my settings. I chose the cash option through Paypal. I redeemed my points for $21. I will use this money to order garden seeds.

The children downloaded several songs for free from our library, which participates in Freegal. 

I sold two baby dolls that are no longer played with at our house via a Facebook garage sale page.

I rolled up some towels to put in front of our front doors. These tend to be drafty, and I’ve found that blocking them during the winter keeps the house much warmer. So far, we haven’t needed to run the heat this winter, as temperatures have been a bit warmer. 

What did you do to save money last week?

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  1. The bottle brush trees on the cake are so cute!

    Taught my youngest daughter to make my mother’s recipe for homemade scalloped potatoes with onion, ham & peas. We made it together for Sunday dinner, & ate all meals at home.

    We enjoyed our family Advent together.

    Cashed my $3 check from pine cone, & took another pine cone survey.

    Baked two butternut squash grown in our garden, & saved the seeds. Later in the week, I baked one of the Boston marrow squash from our garden, & saved the seeds, since Boston marrow is also an heirloom. We tried Boston marrow specifically because it was another heirloom, & did not cross-pollinate with butternut, so they could be grown next to each other without pollination issues. Since we both liked it, we will grow it again this year.

    Pruned the climbing roses.

    Bottled more turkey & turkey broth.

    Wrapped the Christmas presents using paper bought on steep clearance after Christmas sales, recycled ribbons & bows, & recycled gift bags.

    Used a $15 “wallet credit” from points at the grocery store, which reduced my out of pocket expense to under $3.

    Our son in Georgia mailed us their Nest thermostat. They had to replace their furnace earlier this year, & the new one is not compatible with the Nest, so he asked if we would like it & we installed it this week. Our old thermostat had a few issues, so a free replacement was timely as well as frugal.

  2. Marivene, I had never heard of NEST before, but in the last 3 weeks HULU has been running ads for their products and the ads are quite humorous.

  3. Took a bag lunch for the day hubby had a 11:40am Dr. appt at the VA 45 min away – would have messed with my diabetes controlled by diet

    Started putting 3 items aside daily for a yard sale in Feb – even tho we clean out regularly we still have too much stuff

    Hubby put all scrap metal into a large container, will turn it into the metal recycle station tomorrow for a small amount of cash

    Harvested mizuna, purple tatsoi, 2 types of lettuce, green onion tops, society garlic, and radishes, Did not have to buy lettuce or radishes this week. Replanted the radishes I pulled and used the radish tops in salad

    Crocheted a neckband on a sweater I made last year that I didn’t like how it fit around the neck so now it’s fine. Sewed on buttons from my very meager button stash – they are 2 different designs but white so they go together. The yarn I bought in a big bag at a thrift store for $3 – bag had about 10 skeins and I used 2 1/2. Will make fingerless mitts with the remaining 1/2 skein now that I like the sweater

    I use a natural no sugar added peanut butter that has the oil on top – drained the oil, had 2 tablespoons worth, and used it for sauteing onions and mushrooms twice

  4. I went grocery shopping on Saturday at the very nice Aldi store. They had almost everything on my list, including whole wheat flour and coconut oil. I saved at least $50 by shopping here. I did not shop for the previous two weeks.
    I also did not spend any money until this grocery shopping trip.
    I made my swag bucks goals for three days last week.
    I earned a $25 gift card from the wellness program my health insurance sponsers. I don’t remember if I posted that last week.
    We made and ate all meals at home except one, which was on Friday night and planned for out of my husband’s paycheck. I purposely ordered to much to have leftovers for the next couple of days. This only cost $2 more.
    I made veggie broth using veggie scraps from my freezer, a “fruit drink” using saved fruit scraps from my freezer (apple cores and peels, peach peels, grapes that were past their prime). I read about the fruit scrap drink on penniless parenting. It tastes like sweet apple cider and is really good. I also made whole wheat bread. I used the almond flour I made last week with the leftover almond pulp from making almond milk, and wheat flour. I also processed and canned the pumpkin cubes I had saved in the fridge from our Halloween pumpkin. I also canned the fruit drink. I made a sugar scrub as Christmas gifts for the women in my family. I also made peanut butter cookies that use pureed chickpeas instead of flour. DELICOUS!! Even my daughter gobbled them up!
    Stayed home all week when not at work.
    Borrowed library books for free
    Requested books from my Amazon wishlist from my library rather than buy them. My daughter played with their puzzled and toys for free while we were there.
    I received a $25 and a $30 Amazon gift card from two different people.
    My Director gave my daughter two scarves that she made. My daughter always steals mine. I also received a sugar scrub and homemade lotion from my boss, that is organic and homemade so I can use it!
    Started another jar of vinegar with lemon peels and put the “done” lemon vinegar in my spray bottle to use.
    I have been using the saved shower water to rinse the bath tub after baths/showers
    I started doing the “no poo” thing, using baking soda to wash my hair and apple cider vinegar as conditioner. So far so good. I still use shampoo/conditioner once per week.
    Turned the heat down 1 – 2 degrees every day. I continue to turn off lights, unplug as much as possible.
    Used scrap paper at work to print recipes or coloring pages for my daughter.
    Have a Merry Christmas everyone!

  5. * hosted a family gathering at our home; made a peach crisp using all items I had on hand
    * meals at home and using what we have on hand
    * daughter made gingerbread cookies (yum!) also found recipe using items on hand (no molasses)
    * got some DVD’s from the library
    * won a garmin and a $50 gift card
    * convincing myself to not buy any additional gifts. It will be a small christmas but that is just fine 🙂
    * picked up a free 2 liter of sierra mist that was also used at the family gathering

  6. This week Halos were on sale here. We bought 2 extra boxes for 3.98/5lbs for our neighbors as gifts.
    I asked my daughter what my grandson would like in new books and he said NO, David books. I checked out our local book store and they didn’t have any. My youngest daughter said she would check her book shelf and there was 2 books!! Free to pass down.
    We are making coupon books for him to redeem. He loves to play hide and seek, take a ride with his grandpa, do crafts with his Aunties and other fun stuff. We plan on spending more one on one time with him.
    My girls love the library. We try and go every week to pick up new books and videos. My older daughter meets us there to choose new movies for the week.
    I cooked all meals from scratch this week. I fixed a ham in the oven, then in the crockpot and then ham and beans. Three meals out of a ham for .99/lb in the freezer. Tomorrow we will have company and I’m making a large pot of chicken and dumplings, green beans, salad, and lemon cake. It’s a very frugal meal and filling for less than $10.00 for 4 adults and 4 teens.
    Christmas will be breakfast made casserole and cinnamon rolls. We only gifted gifts to the grandkids this year. Our girls didn’t want any gifts this year as they feel they have everything already.
    After the new year, we will be going through our house and selling anything that we don’t use. I plan on having the first garage sale of our neighborhood this year! It will be huge and a relief to rid ourselves of things we don’t use. The money will be used to stock up our pantry. Have a great week with your family, everyone:)

  7. – I renewed all my library books online in order to avoid fines. I usually do this a couple times per week, but noticed it had been ten days.

    – I baked three loaves of pumpkin bread last night using the puree made from our last Halloween pumpkin than never got carved. I’ll freeze the rest in two cup portions.

    – I cut my husband’s hair.

    – I outsourced a couple of expensive gift ideas for my husband and sons to my mother. She likes to spend around a hundred dollars per person and is always asking what the family wants. This way my family gets great gifts and I can stick to my budget.

    – I was making a mixed bean chili in the crock pot for last night’s dinner. Unfortunately the larger beans were still not soft at 6 P.M. I’d already made a pan of cornbread, so I needed something that would go well with that. I heated up two cans of very nice cream of crab soup I’d picked up at The Dollar Tree. These can normally sell for $4 apiece, so I’d bought a few to keep on hand.

    – I was going to treat my son to a delicious Mexican food cart lunch yesterday, but it turned out to be closed on Sundays. Instead we came home and heated up some leftover Japanese curry that I’d made the night before. Yummy and frugal and without complaint.

    – I was able to include my sister’s family’s NYC holiday gifts with my mother’s package. This saved probably $20 in postage. I know this sounds moochy, but my mother had offered and insisted.

    – Today was garbage/recycling/yard debris pick-up. We hardly put out any garbage, so we share the service (and split the bill) with our next door neighbors, which saves up BOTH a ton of money.

    – I bought both sour cream and milk at 50%-off as they were close to their sell-by date. We’ll easily finish both before they go bad.

    – I needed to buy pajamas for my sons as their very easy Christmas present, (they always receive a new pair on Christmas Eve to wear that night.) I was able to find two pairs at Goodwill. One pair was new with tags and the other pair was the half-off color.

    I love reading everyone’s lists, very inspiring!

  8. Jacki, our family is planning on doing the same thing this year, purging everything and having a huge sale. I can’t wait. I love how you are making coupon books of time for your grandson. Kids really do have too much stuff but can never have enough time from the ones who love them! I wish my mother would do this. She buys and buys for my children and I spend forever trying to figure out where to put it all, I am not trying to sound ungrateful, so please don’t think so!

  9. Brandy I have been following you for a bit now but never written in…I find your site calming, peaceful, and inspirational. I have taken many of your ideas and your readers and incorporated them into my families life. Thank you all :0)

    This week we enjoyed a wonderful turkey stew with fresh farm veggies, homemade stock I had frozen from Thanksgiving, and the meat I was able to glean from the carcass. I recently joined PineCone Research and was pleasantly surprised to find I already had $18.00 in my account; I cashed out and plan on using that money to pay down debt. My husband and I have been paying cash for items that are needed avoiding the use of credit. However, we are a large blended family that combined both families and debt when we married. The good news is we are very blessed that we have found each other and support each others desire for a strong family that lives debt free.

    Christmas will be small but all gifts purchased were for a purpose and will be cherished by their respective owners. Luckily, my husband supports my desire to not pay full price for anything. We use coupons, rebates, checkout 51, etc.

    My best bargain of the holiday was a flannel jacket that I “purchased” for my husband; it retailed for $54.99 but by saving my rewards certificates and combing them with sales and a coupon I paid NOTHING! I think my husband will love his gift as he recently tore his beyond repair while making repairs to our home for the winter so it would be more efficient.

    Wishing everyone a wonderful holiday season with their families!!!

  10. Bellen, in case you didn’t know, another neat part about that natural pnut butter is that it doesn’t need to be put in the fridge!
    I called the manufacturer. I store mine upside down so the oil doesn’t get messy, but the pb still stays nice and moist.

  11. I received an offer from Audible for 3 months for $1/month. I use audible quite a bit as I commute, so this was a great deal.

    Our coop had canned vegetables on sale. We bought 3 cases, 1 each of peas, corn, and green beans. My husband works at the coop, so we got them for cost plus 10%.

    One of my favorite kid’s clothing stores is havin their semi annual sale. I never buy from them full price, but the offseason clothing was on clearance. I got my son a few shirts and some pull on shorts for summer. I used Pinecone rewards to pay for the majority of the cost.

    I also found out from a friend that vintage concert t-shirts are worth money on eBay! I have listed 2 of my shirts from the early 90s and have gotten quite a few bids already. If it goes well, I have about 6 more that I will list.

    I have a cold, so I made homemade cough syrup using items from my pantry. We also used on-hand items to make some pretty ornaments as gifts for some of my husband’s staff.

    I hope everyone has a wonderful Christmas!

  12. Got 72 inch wide felt for $2.40 a yard after sale and coupon at Joann Fabrics. I make banners and table runners for gifts with felt.

  13. My husband loves sushi. We found a new fish market with beautiful fish, including ahi tuna. Slicing a half pound very thinly, I was able to make 4 servings. I also looked on the Internet for that tangy flavor sushi rice has. Turns out it’s just rice vinegar and a bit of sugar. With seasoned brown rice, wasabi, pickled ginger, and homemade carrot ginger dressing on lettuce, we had a delicious meal for 4 for a fraction of what we would have paid in a restaurant.

  14. Your cake looks delicious! Happy Birthday to Winter!

    I had another mystery shopping assignment at a grocery store. I got the smallest ham they had and a few other things I needed for the holidays and English muffins, bread and bagels for while my kids are here. My daughter and her boyfriend are here for Christmas for a week and then my son will be here for a week over New Years. I spent over what I will get reimbursed, but I was glad to at least defray the cost of the holidays a bit.

    We had a quiet Chanukah with just the two of us. We discussed it a while ago and decided not to exchange gifts this year for Chanukah or Christmas. I made a small brisket for SO I had in the freezer I bought with coupons, Brandy’s potato pancakes, peas, challah bread, sour cream and applesauce. Homemade mandel bread for dessert and the chocolate coins I got mystery shopping last week. Everything bought on sale of course and from scratch. I made a double batch of challah rolls and froze some. I cooked the latkes on my griddle with cooking spray so I wouldn’t have to use so much oil.

    I made cream of broccoli soup with the stalks of broccoli.

    I worked 5 hours of overtime.

    I wrote my resume and started looking for a new job.

    I had a mystery shopping assignment for dinner while SO was at work. It was only 2 miles from home and I combined it with another errand in the same shopping center.

    I did 4 Pinecone surveys.

    I did all the usual – washed out baggies, composted, used the rain barrels for watering, was careful with electricity and water, took a shower in the morning with no lights on, finished the last bit of cooking with burner/oven turned off, made foaming hand soap, met my Swagbucks goal every day.

    Have a wonderful week – I hope everyone is enjoying the holidays!

  15. Love the trees on the cake! Simple yet elegant! My husband was able to win $300 in gift cards from work this week, so that paid for our groceries and all of Christmas!! I was pretty excited about that 🙂

  16. Marivene,
    I enjoy comments and have learned a lot from them. Please keep them coming:) Wondering what you think of your Nest.

  17. I love your winter cake! It looks just like the weather here in New England. You are so creative. I’ve never eaten an eggless cake and I’m wondering how it tastes?

    I had a very frugal week with tons of deals: free body wash, free Excedrin, and free Ivory soap, plus $0.49 organic carrots and $0.99 Oreos. My best deal was finding Victoria’s Secret underwear for $0.25 each! These are normally $10.50 a pair, so it was a huge savings. Full details of all my transactions and pics here:

  18. First time to comment. I have been making infinity scarves as Christmas presents. I bought the material at Joann’s after Thanksgiving on Black Friday with sale price and coupons plus my teachers discount (home school parents get a discount card with a teacher ID which can be used on sale items). I saved a total of $159. Did spend about $129 but bought material, thread, interfacing and several presents. My husband and I wrapped presents we bought at the thrift store with wrapping paper we have had for years bought at a discount. I had to drive 6 hours to pick up my mom to bring her back to our house for Christmas. The kids and I ate sandwiches we made at home. Unfortunately, due to bad weather, we had to buy dinner out.

    Can anyone tell me how to work the Facebook garage sale. I do have a Facebook account but I am not on it a lot, ok, hardly ever. But, I do have things I could sale. Thanks.

  19. Hello all,

    Beautiful cake! Yummy looking!

    Biggest frugal accomplishment:

    I saved postage by posting Merry Christmas to readers instead of mailing Christmas cards. 😉

    Other frugal accomplishments:

    I have not turned the heat on as yet. Electric bill cut in half this month.
    Used wrapping paper and Christmas bags from bought when on clearance.
    Got 2 outfits for older girls spending very little.
    Got 2 $10/$10 coupons-used for an upcoming birthday gifts.
    Avoided the mall.
    Attended free Christmas activities.
    Worked a part time job.
    Finally made Christmas goodies.
    Made coworkers gifts from items bought last year.
    Received many little gifts from coworkers including a calendar (always need one).
    Gas is $1.83/gallon so have been keeping tank full in case gas prices go up (is that stockpiling?)
    Got 2 body washes from CVS for 88 cents.
    Made 5 wide bands to cover ears for winter wear using old t-shirts, fleece and quilting already on hand.
    Made one last Christmas gift-a colorful shawl for my kiddo-her request.

    MERRY CHRISTMAS READERS and their families. 😀


  20. Oh, also won a Kichen Aid mixer at my husbands Christmas party. I have been wanting one for years but could not see spending money on one.

  21. I bought gas for $2.11 a gal when I went to visit my sons, which I do almost every weekend. I made Cuban bread from the Tightwad Gazette. My mother’s birthday was last week and I went to my mother’s grave and put a Christmas wreath and red plastic flowers on it. The flowers and wreath were one-half price so I paid fifty cents a piece for the flowers and the wreath was five dollars. I then sang Happy Birthday to her. I can just hear here saying I had better sing out because of all the good money she paid for my music lessons….lol. I think the birds were impressed….I was just thinking about how we pass things down from generation to generation. Mother made sure I had all kinds of music lessons (some were thrifty such as the piano lessons from the lady up the street for a $1.35 per lesson, and some were not such as the professional oboe lessons) but I was expected to excel and practice hard. I made sure my daughter had music lessons (and she was much better than me). She went to college on a full music scholarship, majored in saxophone performance, and is now a professional musician with the Navy….. because of my momma (and my grandmother) and their encouragement and sacrifice for us….for that, I am profoundly grateful. Now as for my sons, that is another subject….lol This is sorta off subject, but mother was very frugal, lived a very simple life, in order to pay for my education and my music lessons. We all have goals in life and we all just do the best with can, with the hand that we have been dealt. Some things work out, and some things don’t work out at all like we planned and are beyond our control (illness, death, divorce, job loss, economy, being victim of a crime, wayward grown children, etc.)…just keep trying and being grateful for what we do have….. Y’all have a blessed season.

  22. – Lots of crochet gifts: Hooded scarfs, boot cuffs, infinity scarfs.
    – College Son received a large ham from his employer that he said I could cook for Christmas dinner.
    – A stranger slipped a $100 bill in my Army son’s hand at the airport. (wow – what generosity!) He was so humbled.
    – Had a special meal with my 2 sons home at a fancy steak house. Both of their birthdays are in December so we signed them up for their birthday club and they each ate free.
    – Meal planned and grocery shopped so we don’t have to eat out any more over the next 2 weeks. (Including lunches at work).
    – Received a $25 gift card from my boss which I used for gifts.
    – Used wrapping paper bought last year on sale.
    – Used Kohls cash with gift cards and sales for several nearly free gifts.

    We haven’t been as frugal as we have in the past. Husband and I talked and agreed to be more diligent. We are not in need right now but are saving heavily for emergency and retirement. Your thoughts and encouragement are a source of accountability and motivation for us.

  23. We are still getting used to the Nest. Our previous thermostat was not programmable – at least not reliably so.

  24. Mandy, could you provide a link to the peanut butter cookie recipe? I’m always looking for healthier baking recipes for my family to snack on. Thank you.

  25. I have been so inspired by Brandy’s ideas and everyone’s comments recently, and I was able to put the ideas to good use when making Christmas presents for my husband’s family. I bought some fuzzy fleece fabric online in our local football team’s colors (they are all big football fans) with the intention of making fleece socks and hats. However, when I sat down to make the items, I realized the fabric didn’t have enough stretch to do this. I didn’t feel like buying more fabric…..So I brainstormed, and came up with the idea of making pillows, using stuffing from a bunch of old pillows I had. I made some simple fleece ‘quilt’ squares in three designs, and sewed pillows from them. The final product turned out great, and the family members will love these football fan pillows.

    Thanks Brandy and everyone for your great ideas. I wish you all Happy Holidays! Merry Christmas! Happy Hanukkah!

  26. Since this is the week of Christmas, not exactly frugal buying gifts for my son, nieces and nephew. Although some of what I gifted was taken from stuff I already had on’s all brand new items (Bath and Body Works, Scentsy [Im a Consultant so have lots of bars/warmers oh hand], Scrapbooking kits) It will be well received.

    I got a free bottle of Bath and Body Works lotion with the coupon that came in the mail—a $12.50 value Their lotion is the best and it smells SO good!

    Took the carcass from the rotisserie chicken and made chicken stock..put sage that I’d had left over from Thanksgiving dinner, plus celery and a few carrots and let it simmer for like 15 hours in the crockpot. SMELLED amazing!!

    Stayed home as much as I could last weekend—with my son and husband getting over sickness, there was no other choice. This saves on gas.

    Got fitted for a new pair of glasses. I’m at that age where I now need bifocals 🙁 thankfully we have vision insurance through my husbands job. My prescription is bad -10.25 in one eye, -10.00 in the other eye. So my glasses are more expensive than most and why a place like Zenni Optical would never work for me. The lenses would be too thick. They ended up costing me $120 out of pocket, which isn’t bad….when I didn’t have vision coverage, I was paying close to $450 for a new pair of glasses from WalMart Optical.

    I worked every day last week. Wednesday we had our little Christmas party at work..everyone brought in food to share. I brought soda and plates…total outlay was less than $5.

    Hope everyone has a Merry Christmas! I’ll be at work :{

  27. This week I tried a couple more of Brandy’s recipes. I made the chicken fried steak on Thursday and it was really good! There is just the 2 of us so we ended up with 4 meals from the recipe. I also made the bagels and we are in love with these things! My DH said that from now on he would help with the bagel making because we are no longer interested in buying bagels from the store! The taste of the homemade are so much better! I ended up with 18 bagels and we’ve been having them each morning for breakfast. I also made 2 loaves of English muffin bread and a dozen corn muffins for the freezer.

    I found mandarin oranges on sale for $1 a can. I had 3 coupons for $1 off 3 cans so ended up with 10 cans for $7, which is really good around here.

    I was in need of a haircut but did not want to spend the money. It’s great what you can find on youtube! I found a video on how to cut your own hair in a simple layered cut so I tried it. I’m pretty happy with the way it turned out and my DH likes it better than any cut I’ve ever had done professionally. The savings of $30 was nice too!

    We made a run to Sam’s club for a few things and “splurged” on lunch at their cafe. We each got a large Nathan’s Hot Dog and a large soda for $3 total! I added a small bag of potato chips to share which put the total with tax at $4 and some change. Talk about a cheap date!

    Now that my MIL is in a memory care facility we have been cleaning out her in-law suite so that we can prepare it to rent out for extra income. We’ve found several toiletry items that we can use since all of hers are provided with the exception of some special lotion that she likes. We’ve gotten bottles of shampoo, conditioner, hairspray and hand cream that she forgot she even had.

    We are still heating the house with just wood and have not needed to turn the oil furnace on yet. I also continue to hang all laundry inside to dry and cook almost all meals at home. I’ve started taking the time to figure out how much each meal costs for me to make at home. It’s a real eye opener and gives me even more motivation to make as many meals at home, from scratch, as possible!

    Have a great week everyone and a blessed holiday season!

  28. Made french bread
    Cleaned a “junk” cupboard. Found losts of foil, plastic wrap, ziploc bags, etc. won’t need to buy any for quite awhile.
    Brought breakfast and lunch to work each day
    Made a gift basket for sister. she was coming for a visit, so didn’t have to mail. Reused a basket (we trade it off each year. this is about the 10th use) added homemade pickles, Home made taco seasoning, made Italian herb mix (parsley, oregano and basil from the garden)black beans and garlic from the garden a crochet dishcloth and a dishtowel.
    Got gas for $2.12 a gallon – they were out of regualr and mid-grade so premium was at the same price.
    Shared a costco membership with sister. Out DHs never go without us, so we share the membership.
    found cream cheese for 77¢ and olives for 58¢
    Purchased 20 lbs of potatoes at 99¢ for 10 lbs.
    Got 2 dozen eggs for $1.00 a dozen.

  29. Happy Birthday to Winter! The cake you made looks really nice with the trees on top…very wintery! How old is she now?

    As for my frugal accomplishments this week, they were not as plentiful due to purchasing extra groceries for Christmas. But here are some of what I did accomplish:
    *I tried to stay away from all non-essential shopping so the temptation to buy stuff was thwarted.
    *I only went shopping for a few minor grocery needs this past week. I did find a great deal today on Ice Cream – 2L blocks for $1. I bought 4 blocks as Ice Cream is a huge favourite for my family (I can take it or leave it personally) – For those in Canada, I found the deal at Giant Tiger today, Chapman’s Ice Cream 2L blocks, various flavours. I also bought extra large bags of store brand chips for $2 per bag at the same store which is their everyday low price.
    *We did eat out a few times this week, which is not very frugal. However, one night we bought Chinese food take out at a local restaurant. They had a deal for 4 people which cost us $35.00. There was so much food, we had enough for a second full meal of left overs the next night which I added only some spring rolls from our freezer to stretch it a bit further. I was really pleased how far it stretched and a huge treat for my family to have Chinese take out for two nights!
    *Made up goody bags for everyone in the family and for a few neighbors with the home made baked goods we made. We don’t buy for everyone in the family, so this ensures everyone gets at least one gift to open.
    *I was surprised to receive two $10 grocery store gift cards ($20 total) in the mail from my employer as a Christmas Gift. These are given in lieu of Christmas Turkey’s to their employees. I am truly grateful for the gift and will use them in January with the sales to purchase some pantry stock up items.
    *My husband has purchased a gift for me this year. Usually he gets me a gift card, but I complained that it was not very personal. He said he spent over $200 on the gift and it is “useful” (I like useful gifts). I’ve been having a lot of fun trying to guess what is in the big box under the tree and my husband is all smiles as I am completely baffled over what he bought me! I can’t wait to see what it is!!!
    *I thought I would share a frugal tip of something I do all the time, since my list is shorter this week. I have been purchasing shampoo and conditioner in the larger containers that have pumps attached for a few months now. I find that using the pump ensures that we use less, as one or two squirt does the job. Traditional bottles that are poured into your hand are not as easy to control quantities. I have also reused the pump bottles by pouring in smaller bottles if I happen to find a good deal on shampoo/conditioner. Perhaps this tip might be helpful for someone else.

    That’s all for now. I hope everyone enjoys time with their loved ones. From my family to yours, we wish you a wonderful seasons greeting!

  30. First of all, Merry Christmas to everyone!

    We have had a fairly frugal week. I work for a large church, so this is my busiest week of the year. I will work through 5 PM Christmas Eve, and then we are closed the rest of the week, which will be a nice break. I have also been working a lot of hours at my second job, which paid for all of my Christmas gifts, as well as a good contribution to our regular household budget. I am proud to say that we did not go into any debt over Christmas, it was all paid in cash, so that was nice from what seems to be the norm for a lot of people. I won a few items at our office Christmas party which will be used as gifts & stocking stuffers for my husband, so that saved a bit of money. My husband was also given a couple of gift cards.

    We were able to skip large scale grocery/supply shopping due to our stockpile at home (we jokingly call our house the “beaver lodge” after we watched a documentary about beavers & how they stock up for the winter), so we only spent about $40 for December between Aldi & Sam’s Club for necessities & holiday items. We’ll need to do a larger Sam’s/Costco run probably in mid-January, though.

    We have eaten the majority of our meals at home, and taken lunches/snacks to work. We’ll be cooking Christmas dinner at home – a spiral-cut ham from Sam’s (they are SO good!), homemade macaroni & cheese, roasted Brussels sprouts, yeast rolls.

    I usually get my hair cut in a salon every couple of months, but after a bad experience the last time I went in October (new person, cut it too short!) I decided to skip the salon for several months until it grows back out. I needed part of my neckline trimmed to keep the shape right (short bob) so my husband did it at home with his clippers. Pretty easy, since it was just a straight line across the back, and saved some money.

    Brandy, I hope you and your family have a very Merry Christmas! I am so looking forward to reading your blog and more of your ideas & experiences through the new year.

  31. This Christmas is more about what I have not done that what I am doing. I am not buying a ton of gifts instead I made each person in our family something and gave them a gift card of service one hour for each month. I know one of those hours will be spent in the attic working on ham radio wires for one of the folks who received some of these cards. One will be washing a car . I just figured the gift of service was the best gifts of all since I was so low on funds. The home made items were all just something small that each person wanted. For the men of the family I made leather wallets for the glove boxes of the car to hold the important documents. For the girls I made tote bags and for the young one pj’s the little ones got story books as well. I will not be baking unless someone hands me back a service card and ask for a specific item to be baked. I will not be pouring hours into elaborate meals and celebrations. Instead I will turn on music and show them to the tiny stack beneath the tree. It is very small. We will be going to services several times. Jesus is the reason for the season. The gifts are just a nice added touch. So Happy Holidays to all how ever you celebrate.

  32. Hi Paula,

    I am going to tackle sushi over the holiday break. It is so expensive at the one decent place near here. When I was at the Asian Market I bought the Nori sheets, rice vinegar, wasabi powder and pickled ginger. These totalled a little less than two orders of sushi! And of course I will have a lot to use in the future. I bought some miso so will make miso soup. Could you share you carrot vinegar dressing?

  33. I’m just curious, as I’ve never bought from Zenni Optical, but I have “window shopped” and put in my prescription, which is bad and needs a prism, etc. They had options for the same type of lenses that I buy from the eye doctor, and it was vastly less expensive, even for the extra $25ish for the special lenses. Did you try looking at the other lenses option or know anyone who has? I certainly don’t want to buy and be burned either. Thanks!

  34. Merry Christmas…such a wonderful series of posts and comments.
    This last week was filled with the anticipation of Christmas.
    Brought home leftovers from a hearty breakfast for work, there was enough for another meal for my husband and I.
    Used brown paper lunch bags to hold 9 different gifts, attached buttons as fasteners, string, and recycled decorations.
    Returned a gift from a co-worker because it was something I would not use or value.
    Enjoyed our meals at home.
    Returned paint that I had picked out that was the wrong color, so luck the store would take it back. Choose a more appropriate color.
    Finished reading a library book.
    My husband replaced a taillight bulb in the van…our van with 203K miles, running strong with our fingers crossed.
    Reused Christmas cards that we got in the mail, cut out some of the decorations and they make our Christmas packages look pretty festive.
    Make a meal for our daughter and our son-in-law and we all sat together and ate and socialized.
    Have been making my bottle of foundation last beyond the simple pump thats in the bottle, scrapping and saving it.
    Thanks for the opportunity to share.


  35. For the most part a frugal week. Worked on projects at home and combined all errands when out. I met a friend for coffee/tea at a little local place then did errands – dropped off library books, stopped at my favorite thrift store, shopped at Albertson’s and then one frugal fail (later about that).

    I found a great long deep purple sweater at the thrift store – it is double breasted and the sleeves are just right (hard to find the right size for the middle section and the right length of sleeves;)). It was $1.50 as their women’s sweaters were half off. I’ve really needed something that was long enough and warm enough to wear inside as I am keeping temps down. I also found a brand new – still in plastic bag – coffee grinder. It was $4.00! We have a big bag of coffee beans we purchased at CostCo and forgot to get ground.

    Went to Albertson’s for their 10 pound for 99 cents potatoes. I could only get two bags but that will be enough for the two of us for at least a couple of months. I found one ham for sale at $1.49 a pound. Not quite the $1.29 that they had earlier in the week (a deal that was good as long as they had supply). However while I was there they announced that they had whole chickens for 79 cents a pound! I picked up four and put them in the freezer. I will roast them and each one will make at least 3 nice meals for the two of us and then make stock from the bones. I’ve been saving veggies (ends of celery, carrots, onions, etc.) to make soup/stock.

    The frugal fail was for a Christmas present for the 8 year old boy who is the fourth generation of family friends. Our local university won their NCAA Division Football championship. L and his mom were able to use our tickets for the last playoff game here and he was so excited. I stood in line at our local store that sells high school and college clothing and gear to buy him a Championship Tshirt. It was more than I would normally pay but we are really encouraging him to get excited about doing well in school and even going to college. It was Brandy’s post about exposing her children to their parents alma mater that had me thinking about how to create that kind of energy for L. So sports and we gave him a lot of chapter books and books about airplanes guess that is the balance!

    Best wishes for a blessed holiday season!

  36. Cooked from scratch and ate all meals at home, except for 2 of my husband’s lunches. He had taken lunches from home to work with him, but often his bosses will ask him to go to lunch, and I encourage him to always say yes to this “face time” with his network. I think it’ll be better for us in the long run for him to spend on lunch once or twice a week, in order to strengthen his professional network.

    Cooked baby food from scratch.

    Continuing to nurse twice a day, even though she’s almost a year. I like the cozy connection with her.

    Bought Christmas Eve turkey for .69/lb. Bought “cheese ends” for $2/lb. Has anyone else heard of this? I just found out about it! My husband LOVES cheese, but it’s just so expensive. Apparently, at the deli, when they slice cheese, they can’t get it down to the ends, so the hunks that are left, along with anything that didn’t slice beautifully, gets sold at $2/lb. I had to ask for it at the deli, I never would have known about it had I not seen it at a little boy’s house that I tutor. The package she gave me contained several kinds of cheese, which was a fun and different thing. We ate some with crackers, and I used some to make baked macaroni and cheese.

    Wrapped all gifts with paper bought last year after Christmas at 75% off.

    Continued our very frugal “advent calendar” of reading a Christmas book a day together in the evenings after dinner.

    Painted my own nails. I really enjoy doing it. I didn’t paint my nails or get a manicure for about 8 months after she was born. It’s just a little weekly (or sometimes bi-weekly!) pampering that makes me feel prettier, costs very little when I do it myself, and is a nice little 45 minute, relaxing block of time. I love that I’m not so tired anymore, where I need to either rest or be productive when she sleeps. She sleeps through the night now, and I’m able to get housework done even if she’s awake, so her nap time is now more flexible for me.

    Wore clothing I already own and resisted shopping for myself. I realized I’ve been wearing the same 3-4 dresses for family parties for several years now, but I figure no one notices but me. It;s best for me to just stay out of the stores. It’s amazing how window shopping breeds discontentment in my heart. Best to stay home and be thankful for my closet full of clothes.

    Listened to Dave Ramsey show online via his website. I find him very encouraging and love the debt free screams.

    Kept the house at 58 at night, except for the baby’s room, which we keep warmer with a space heater. Her nursery is tiny, so it takes very little to keep just that room warm.

    Our oil tank needed to be replaced this week, it was leaking and not something they could fix. Our oil company quoted us $2500. I called around and found a company in NH to come and do it for $1650. They seem to have done a good job; our oil supplier has to come and inspect it before they’ll deliver our oil again, so we’ll get the assurance from them that it’s been done sufficiently.

    I automated withdrawals for our Roth IRA accounts. Those will start January 1.

    Watched Christmas movies we had on DVD or on Netflix (we use my dad’s account). Still no cable, we have a satellite for the TV and get about 10 channels. PBS comes in well, and that’s good for the baby.

    We’re refinancing the house, it should go through next month. We’re getting a 3.75 interest rate. Before, we had a 4.25% rate, and we were paying PMI. Our monthly payment is going down about $425/month. We live just north of Boston, it’s a very expensive part of the country.

  37. At the grocery today, was able to get 8 liters of pop for $2. We aren’t big pop drinkers any more so these will last a long time. Sadly, we don’t have health insurance this month (a long story) so family prescriptions were almost $1000! But looking at the bright side, we have over $5.00 off per gallon of gas. This will mean 60 gallons of free gas!
    Still gathering things for our bath remodel. Asked the supplier if the items I had chosen in October were still same price. As it turned out, the faucets I loved were discontinued. Each faucet was $611…good taste huh? Anyway, went on line….got one faucet on e-bay for $200 shipped. Purchased the second faucet, 3 towel bars, 1 round towel holder, 2 robe hooks and a toilet paper holder for $248 shipped. So being discontinued was a great thing for me!
    Am asking my Amish furniture maker to give me an estimate for 2 very small French doors. His prices are usually very good and the work is extremely high quality.
    Was told that Kohls would no longer accept expired Kohls cash. I am very bad about using the Kohls cash in time so was very upset that I was sitting on $90 of expired Kohls cash. Decided to take a chance and try using it. To my delight, they accepted it. For $10 out of pocket, I purchased 1 pair of pajamas, 1 pair of sleep pants, and an OSU shirt for DH. For DD, a pair of jeans. 8 dish cloths and 4 dish towels. Seems like I am forgetting a couple of things…but they are already wrapped. So glad I tried to use them.
    Found a Lands’ End gift card from a return for $117 that I had misplaced several years ago….still good.
    Needed more vitamins….got BOGO at CVS.
    Not a frugal accomplishment but a feel good moment. I was in line at Honey Baked Ham store. There was a service man also in line. After we each received our hams, I went to the check out line. A store employee called the service man over to the side, and told him the ham was free and thanks for his service. The service man tried to decline but the employee insisted. Made me feel so good to be supporting a business that would do that. I was so blessed to have witnessed that!
    Blessings of the season to all!

  38. I think I was so sleepy last night that I forgot to hit the “submit” button:) So, here I go again.

    My husband was very involved in organizing a large church turkey dinner on Sunday after church. He lined up men to use a large Traeger barbeque and they cooked/smoked 8 turkeys in it. Others baked or barbequed some at home. Our church is mid-sized and to get the dinner catered it would be $3,000 (for 300 people–the amount we guessed would come). Some people were really pushing for it to be catered, but the voice of reason prevailed–whew! He was able to organize things so the church bought (and ladies/men prepared) the turkey, potatoes, stuffing and gravy. People were supposed to bring salad, rolls and desserts. It was just a few hundred dollars this way.

    An elderly friend gave him the barbeque. The man has used it for years to do meals for servicemen, groups, etc. and decided he wants to step back from that. Of course, he can use it whenever he wants to, but knows my husband will find good ways to use it. It is large enough it pulls behind our van on it’s own trailer wheels. It’s an amazing gift. The man has kept it up well, and knows my husband will clean it properly as well so it should last a good long time.

    We went to a free noon meal yesterday that was provided for foster children to have a Christmas meal with their birth parents. The caseworkers wanted close supervision for our granddaughter, so my husband and I went with her. I had not attended an event like this in the past with any of our other children, because we went straight adoption almost every other time. The church where it was held did a wonderful job making a meal, providing rooms with crafts, a room where the birth parents could choose toys and wrap them for their child/ren, and another room where a beautician cut hair for those who wanted that done. Both our daughter and granddaughter got their hair trimmed. I’m so glad it went well. It was, however, bittersweet in many ways because every single one of those children in that huge room were not living with their moms and dads and that sadness was not able to be completely covered up, or ignored by the good food, presents, etc. I was glad to go home, but, very grateful my granddaughter could see her mother so close to Christmas in a holiday setting.

    Last Saturday night, 2 of our children attended Foster Parents Night Out. They keep the foster child and any siblings for 3 hours, once a month, for free, so the parents can go out. They feed them dinner, and give them a really good time. The kids love to go, and we love to have them love to go. They never had any of these kind of things way back when our other kids were small. It’s a real treat, since we don’t leave them home alone. Most of our kids have never been comfortable at home alone, due to many reasons, often from their past. Our 18 year old does stay home now that she is older, but she was working that night.

    My husband made homemade carmel corn tonight. He is cooking/smoking a turkey that he raised on our small barbeque to take to Christmas at my sisters. We ate leftovers today and yesterday.

    I made my niece a nightgown to add to her Christmas present yesterday. I know this one fits better than the p.j. set I made, so she will get both.

    I have some yarn I was given quite a while ago. I got it down from the attic, got a pattern off the internet, and made a hat. Now that I have a little larger hook I had my husband get last night, I am making a second one that is a little larger. I have enought yarn for a really lot of hats, so I might make something bigger once I get the hang of crochet back. I’ve done some in the past, but not a whole lot. I sewed a couple of headbands from scraps. Mostly, I do not have to work for 2 weeks, so I’m just having some fun making things I don’t have time to make often.

    I spent a $10/$10 at Penney’s. I used a good coupon on some bargain clothes at Macy’s for myself. We got my husband 4 shirts for $15 each at Penney’s, which is amazing for a big and tall size. We got my daughter 1 very on sale shirt at Penney’s for work and 4 shirts at a thrift store. She can only wear black or white collered shirts–either woven or polo will do to work at her new job. She has been washing the one she got over and over and over each night. Now she has several. I used a Bath and Body Works coupon to buy 1, get 1 for free. I got my husband some body spray for his stocking.

    We stayed home today for the first time in a really long time. No one had to work. It starts up tomorrow for daughter and husband, but today was nice:)

  39. Robert, I get the sense that this is a really tough financial year for you. I know how hard it is to have so little to give when everyone expects you to. I remember years that I just wanted to just curl up and cry. It wasn’t fun or joyful. But I made it through, as I’m sure you will too. The gifts you’ve made sound lovely. I especially like the leather wallets for the men. They are so hard to make things for, but your idea sounds like a great idea! I’m sure everyone will love what you’ve made for them and the offer of your time.

    I hope you find some joy and happiness this season. There is always new possibilities for a better New Year. So, please don’t loose faith!

  40. That is a wonderful prize! When I was 23 years old, had my first great job out of college, I saved up and bought a Kitchenaid mixer. It was 128 dollars, which was about what my one bedroom apartment cost, and I lived alone, it was 135 a month, in 1976. Kitchenaid did not have the media exposure and marketing it does today. I took a lot of razzing at work, because I came back from lunch and put it under my desk! Why would I want that? It is a white standard, I still use it today, and it was a wonderful investment. I do also have a 6 quart, blue I got a few years ago. I have the shredder, the meat grinder, pasta maker ( old one with the discs) and those attachments are great gifts that my family bought me. It has served me well, and I am sure my coworker, who spent 100 dollars on a pair of leather boots in 1976, those boots are long gone! I am getting ready to make homemade cinnamon bun dough in a few minutes!

  41. Thanks Mandy, I really appreciate the link. I can’t send them to school with my daughter, because of the nuts, but we sure love peanut butter cookies at home!

  42. My best received gift for my husband was also a gift certificate book. We were so broke we could only get one thing for each of our boys and nothing for us. My gift cards were for a favorite cake, a favorite meal, washing his truck, a free day of fishing ( no complaints or comments!) etc.. He loved it and used every one (12 total). In exchange, he got a small, unexpected bonus from his new job and bought me a bacon rack for the microwave and a small set of microwave bowls. I cried and my kids thought I was disappointed until I explained the love that went with those two wonderful gifts! It was a great Christmas!!

  43. Love to read the frugal accomplishments. Is it possible for commenters to add their state? I love to compare the differences in prices and weather to mine. Thanks. A Wisconsin Cheesehead.

  44. I’ve done Zenni and Goggles4U and likes Goggles better–the glasses fit better. My husband also tried both and like Goggles better, too.

  45. Robert.
    I love a couple of you ideas for gifts but the one for the leather wallets for the glove box sticks out. My important stuff for the car is in an envelope that’s always getting lost in the mix so I love this idea!
    I’m going to turn on my music as soon as it’s a decent hour and enjoy this Christmas! I hope you do too!

  46. Hi! I hope Brandy, her family, and all readers had a wonderful Christmas yesterday–full of fun, warmth, magic and good cheer! I also want to compliment Brandy on Winter’s cake, it’s so frosty and festive!

    For this post, I’ll concentrate on last week’s frugal accomplishments. I brought all my lunches, snacks and coffee for work. My husband and I finished up Christmas shopping at Walrt and got some wonderful bargains…green plates and plain white napkins for the Christmas luncheon I was going to host for my side of the family. Plain white is elegant, and will go for any holiday or occasion. Found some warm flannel pajamas for my mom, ten bucks. Got a pair for myself, since I only have two pairs of pajamas; both are satin and I’m getting cold at night. This way we can keep the heat down more. I wanted to also get pajamas and a sweater for my darling husband, but I don’t like to guess around on his sizes, so yesterday I told him we would go shopping next month. Now that circumstances have eased up a bit since October, I want to get some of the things we need and have gone without for the next month or two, then start saving for an emergency fund again.

    A trip to San Francisco done right wasn’t in the budget, so we decided to take a stroll in the mall to soak up atmosphere, decorations, and do some people watching. We had a great time, and brought home two delicious cupcakes for dessert. That was our date out for the week, and very enjoyable, very festive.

    My sister recently had some big vet bills, so she wasn’t able to treat us to the Nutcracker this year. However, the local movie theater was showing the live version from Russia on the big screen for $18.00 as opposed to $50.00 for balcony seats in the opera house. What we saw on the big screen was fantastic, so much detail, and the version put on by the Bolshoi Ballet was just gorgeous! I really felt blessed to have experienced this! It was like what I imagine having orchestra seats would be like! Plus you didn’t have to dress up, and we could have popcorn, candy and soda, ha ha! While I love the beauty and glamour of live theater, I enjoyed myself every bit as much this way and appreciated the whole experience very much.

    For work, as a treat, I brought in a gingerbread cake (Betty Crocker mix purchased on sale in November.) With chocolate chips and dusted with powdered sugar. It tasted great, but the powdered sugar got all over everybody’s black slacks, what a mess! And my desk looked like a snowball fight happened. Not doing that again.

    My husband was short of funds for his asthma meds (will share more on this issue in another post.) so I helped him by giving him the money I’d squirreled away for getting bakery cakes for the two Christmas celebrations. I love to bake, anyway, so I decided I’ll make some simple chocolate desserts instead, no big deal. As I told him, he is my everything, and his meds take precedence over making my entertaining a bit easier.

    Many blessings on all, and I would also like to let Anna know she and her family are also in my prayers.

  47. I am a little late reading and posting this week…the cake looks wonderful…it makes me hungry! We will be doing lot’s more research….we want life to be much more simpler then we have already worked to make it over the last year or so…I need my husband home…he just works too much. Our kids will only be small once……how do you guys do Pine cone surveys? It looks like you have to be invited? Or did I find the wrong thing….

  48. Mary, your taking that little boy to the championship game and buying him a sweatshirt was not a frugal “fail” — I see that as a wonderful frugal WIN! It was because you have economized in other areas that you were able to splurge on this event that he will remember forever and, yes, maybe you even fueled his vacation ambitions! Score!! I see living a frugal life as being about saving where you can so you might be able to do the things that matter most. What a wonderful gift!
    Pauline in Ithaca

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