I cut Thai basil, euonymus, and lavender branches from the garden to enjoy indoors.

December Arrangement The Prudent Homemaker

We collected pinecones to use as Christmas decorations.

Green Tomatoes The Prudent Homemaker

We harvested basil, tomatoes, chives, oregano, and Thai peppers from the garden. I heard there was going to be a freeze and so we harvested all of the tomatoes and brought in most of the basil. The freeze didn’t come yet, but we are enjoying our ripening tomatoes inside and I’ve left some Thai basil and Thai peppers out in the garden still.

I made 2 large batches of pesto from our basil.

I planted seeds for spinach, snow peas, arugula, mache, carrots, and larkspur in the garden.

I saved warm up water from the shower to water potted plants in the garden.

I rolled up towels and put them in front of the doors to block the cold draft that comes in at this time of year. I also added some rolled towels to a few windows to block the draft.

I mended the buttons on a coat.

I had a date night at home with my husband. We played a card game together and had a treat.

Ezrom The Prudent Homemaker

We cut my husband and the boys’ hair at home. My husband said, “Well, that just saved us $50.” It saved us time, too!

I said yes to some leftover food at a Christmas party I attended, and received baked potatoes, sour cream, rolls, and a huge bag of spinach.

Winter is preparing to take the ACT test on December 10th.  She is using this book and also has been printing free ACT practice tests. This week she found some more free tests online to help her practice.

Winter modified a dress to fit her. My mom bought the formal dress for $1 at a garage sale. She gave it to Winter, who took it in after I pinned it for her. The top is lace and the sleeves were unlined. I bought a piece of fabric for Winter to use to line the sleeves. She used half the fabric (I’ll use the rest for another project) so it cost us $1.50 (plus the time for her to alter it) for her to have a formal dress. She is going to a winter ball in January and is happy to have a dress to wear.

I played Christmas music on Pandora for us to enjoy. 

I went to Target on Monday for their 15% off one-day only sale and bought some new socks.

My husband and I went over the budget for the next 4 months and discussed what we could do to keep our expenses down.

What did you do to save money last week?

Similar Posts


  1. I love these photos as always! Your son looks looks so happy, Brandy!

    My frugal accomplishments for the week:
    – Bought a Christmas tree for $20 from Ikea, which then gave me back a voucher for $20 off a $50 purchase in the new year. The DH and I do plan to purchase a piece of furniture in the new year, so it works out well!
    – Saved my leftovers from a dinner out with my parents last night, for lunch today. Leftovers are awesome!
    – Made myself fancy Starbucks-style drinks at work – for free! I was craving a nice hot drink and made myself a cup of tea from loose-leaf vanilla orchid tea, sweetened with ginseng-infused maple syrup (the tea was gifted from a client and the syrup was gifted from a supplier). Fancy drink at zero cost to me, and I’ve been doing this all week! It’s equally nice hot or cold, which is great, as I never get to drink an entire cup of tea while it’s hot!
    – Made a batch of yoghurt, using 3% MF milk for the first time. Was extra-creamy!
    – Earned a $10 Amazon gift card from a survey
    – Redeemed Swagbucks for a $5 Amazon gift card and a $5 Starbucks card
    – Got a small bonus at work and applied it straight to the mortgage
    – Got a free lunch from Subway today – redeemed a survey coupon for a free cookie, and got a free sub when I bought a $25 gift card (I will definitely use the card over the next few months, so it’s worth it to me to buy it)
    – Made my granola recipe and packaged it up for a few Christmas gifts (red from cranberries and green from pepitas, so very seasonal). I used canning jars from my stash, Christmas-themed fabric that was gifted to me years ago to decorate the top of the cans, ribbon from my stash, and labels from my stash (received free from parents de-stashing years ago). So a very inexpensive, but very pretty Christmas gift!
    – Made lasagna using mostly pantry items. I made the sauce from scratch (canned tomatoes from pantry, frozen chopped onions from when they were on sale for $1/10lbs) and threw in a little cooking sherry (from years ago. But it was still good!), used lasagna noodles from at least a year ago, spices (always purchased in bulk), and mushrooms (from a sale last week) and cheese (purchased on sale a few weeks ago). The DH loved it! 🙂
    – Sewed a Christmas tree skirt using fabric gifted to me years ago. From that one small bag of fabric gifted to me, I have made two quilt tops (and bindings), two stockings, a wall-hanging, two wine holders (to fancy up re-gifted wine) and now the Christmas tree skirt. I even sewed the scraps of the fabric in a pattern, and then used that to create bias tape. And I’ve still got a bit of fabric leftover!
    – The DH and I went to his work party and took public transit there in all of our finery (we did have to take a taxi back as I wasn’t feeling well, but I was pleased that at least one way was by public transit).
    – Redeemed $60 worth of drugstore points for a 3 month supply of iron pills and some IBS medication.

    And that’s my list. Looking forward to reading everyone else’s accomplishments!

  2. We put up the artificial Christmas tree that we’ve had for several years as well as the decorations we’ve had for longer.
    Our oven is finally fixed!!! We made corned beef and cabbage, cabbage soup with leftover corned beef, leftover carrots, tomatoes (free), chicken broth (free), and ground beef, pizza, brownies, and had breakfast for dinner a couple times. I mixed whole milk with reconstituted powdered milk when the whole milk ran low.
    I did not shop at all.
    I have kept the thermostat at 67 degrees and have diligently kept all lights off that we don’t need.
    Washed and reused zip top bags and glass jars
    stayed home when I wasn’t working
    Ordered my son a Christmas present when it was 70% off making it less than $15 with free shipping
    mended two items of clothing
    I am on episode 3 of Wartime Farm on youtube. It’s a BBC show, not sure when it originally aired but I LOVE this show!
    I gave my mother in law some items from my stockpile as a thank you for letting me use her vehicle while she was on vacation in another state for 2 weeks ( I also filled up her gas tank). These were items she needed.
    I made sure to wash all laundry in full loads only and hung them all to dry on my racks and hangers.
    I watered the house plants with water leftover in cups at the end of the day.
    Have a great week everyone!

  3. Ate leftovers & stayed out of the grocery store. Lots of leftovers. Turkey, duck, gravy, pie, cobbler, clafoutis, potatoes, sweet potatoes, & cranberry sauce.

    Cooked down both the turkey & the duck carcasses for more broth to bottle, then put up both chunk turkey & turkey broth in pint bottles.

    Made a beef stew from a $3 package of nice thick steaks I found in the bargain basket. Cut 2 of them into stew sized chunks, & browned them, then moved them to the crockpot with cut potatoes & carrots from our garden, & a little onions powder & salt. The 3rd steak was about 50% longer than the other 2, so I froze it for another batch of stew later.

    Pulled the Christmas tree out of the cubby & set it up, then put on the lights. The “top” strand had quite a few bulbs that were out. It is a “terminal” strand, that can plug into another strand, but has a bulb at the other end, so it has to be the last strand when they are linked. I had a couple of small, 35 light strands that I picked up at yard sales for 50 cents, but they were also terminal strands, & shorter than the one already linked up, which was the length the tree needed. I ended up taking out the bulbs that were burnt out, & replacing them with bulbs from the spare strands, but since the bases were not compatible (of course!),I had to take out the bulb, remove the base, take out the replacement bulb, remove the base, then switch the bases & plug everything back in. By putting the spent bulbs back into the now “spare” strand, it will still light, so I can see which bulbs are still “good” for future replacements. Took a good bit longer than I had planned, but the tree is up, lit & decorated, with the present beneath it.

    Bought a new pre-lit “pencil” Christmas tree, that is only 19 “ wide, to replace my “nativity tree” that was past worn out. In the past, we have had a tree in the library upstairs, & one in the family room downstairs. With the recent move in furniture, the “family room” tree, bought specifically to fit the space in a corner of that room, moved upstairs to the now “front room”, where it fits in the corner between the piano & the loveseat. Besides being worn out after 20 years, the “nativity tree” is too wide to fit anyplace other than between the 2 chairs that used to be where the loveseat now sits. There are 2 spots where the new thinner nativity tree can go, & it was on sale for 30% off. Put that tree up as well & decorated it.

    Stocked up on Dove Dark chocolate at Kmart. They had it marked $2.88/package, so I bought enough to fill a half gallon jar. I use 2 in a cup of steaming hot milk to make hot chocolate on cold mornings., & my supply was getting low.

    Kept the heat below 66 degrees in the house, even when it was snowing outside & put on a sweater, or my shawl.

    Bought a Fisher Price nativity 2nd hand on eBay, for my youngest granddaughter to play with while she visits over Christmas. It did not come with all the figures, but several summers ago, we picked up a Little People Farm, at a yard sale for a couple of bucks, for the next oldest granddaughter, specifically for the farmer & animals that were with it. That granddaughter lives in Georgia & already had the “farm” (bought at Goodwill there), but not the animals that were with the yard sale one. When she flew back home, she took the animals, & the little barn has lived in my cubby for a couple of years. Since I was buying some of the missing figures for the nativity on eBay, I kept an eye out for mixed listings that also had the figures for the farm.

    My neighbor on the north side got 3 free blue spruce trees, about 4 ft tall each. Her mother-in-law bought a new house & two that size had just been planted in the back yard. The other 3 were still in the pots, stuck in a corner of the back yard. The sellers just left them there, so it looks as if that neighbor will plant them 4-5 feet on his side of the property line. They can’t go ON the property line, because the gas line runs there. He may have to plant a little further in on his side, depending on what the 811 paint markings show. Beautiful new trees on one border of my front yard for free, that will be a nice windbreak & privacy screen.

  4. I love that you are collecting pine cones to decorate with, Brandy. It always amazes me when people come to visit our living history museum at Christmas time and are blown away by our decorations. All of our houses are decorated with natural materials found around our property (evergreen boughs, pine cones, dogwood and clusters of red berries that grow wild in the area), and handmade decorations on our trees (many are very simply made using paper). If anyone is wanting inspiration, I suggest looking up Victorian Christmas decoration ideas on the web. I’m sure there are plenty of beautiful pictures to inspire you. We do a craft with our school Christmas program that is a paper bird (body and wings printed on white card stock) the children cut out, then use a push pin to punch a pretty design before attaching the wings to the body and put a string on it to hang on the tree. They are very easy and look beautiful hung on the tree!

    This week I’ve been so busy with work that I haven’t had much time to do much else. I had one day off which I ended up shopping the whole day. At least I’m pretty much done with buying Christmas presents. Now I need to get done some of the gifts I’m planning to make and do some Christmas baking. It will get done all in good time, though. This weeks frugal accomplishments include:

    *Meals made at home include chicken souvlaki with tzatziki sauce, rice and carrots, crockpot meatballs in Diana’s sauce with mashed potatoes and green beans, chicken baked smothered in cheddar cheese soup with noodles & sauce sidekicks, and corn, breakfast sausage “piggies in a blanket” with salad, and sub sandwiches (made with sub buns from the clearance shelf and cold meat from our freezer).
    *I worked 6 days this week. I took my lunch from home, including a insulated travel cup with ice water, every single day. Some of my lunch items included chicken and cheese wraps (made from leftover cooked chicken), leftover homemade soup, leftover rice & sausage, and leftover piggies in a blanket. I also took home canned peaches in a reusable container several days instead of fresh fruit.
    *This weekend I worked at our Christmas by Candlelight event at the museum. On Sunday, the village hosts a live Nativity, including live animals. I was able to slip over and watch it this time. Although I know this is about the birth of Jesus, I have to admit the baby goat completely stoled the show in this one. It was so small, the person was holding it in their arms like a puppy. The little thing cried the whole time, which sounded just like a little child crying…so cute!
    *I attended a volunteer quilting group through my work before I started working on Sunday. I am slowly learning how to quilt through this group, which is a frugal skill to know and a fun frugal way to learn it. I also was given some free fabric from one of the girls that brought in pieces she didn’t want. They’re not big pieces, but I could still use them for quilting or for small projects.
    *Received a lovely plush throw blanket as a Christmas gift from my work. I’m disappointed it wasn’t the $20 grocery gift card this year that we normally receive, but at least they gave us gifts.
    *Repaired broken hooks on 2 bras to extend their usefulness.
    *Amazing grocery deals this week included a large bag of clearance clementines, a slightly smaller but still good sized bag of clearance apples, and a bag with 3 clearance cucumbers for $1/bag, 5 boxes of cereal for $1.50/box, 4 containers of ice cream for $1.77/2L container, 2 loaves of cinnamon raisin bread for $0.97/loaf, a box of vanilla pudding for $0.25, a 24 pack of yogurt cups for $5 and 4 packages of flavoured rice for $0.77 each.

    Looking forward to more inspiration from everyone. Hope you all have a wonderful week filled with the spirit of the holidays!

  5. I always love seeing your pictures, Brandy — and reading everyone’s accomplishments.
    I made turkey soup from the turkey carcass leftover from our Thanksgiving bird.
    We ate lettuce from the greenhouse and the last of the greens from the raised beds. Overnight lows in the single digits have sent the greens into dormancy for now.
    I replaced the collars and cuffs on two of my husband’s flannel shirts with coordinating solid-color flannel purchased at JoAnn’s Black Friday sale. Mended some of his underwear. I re-made a top for me so that it fit better.
    I knitted two more pairs of mitts (fingerless gloves) to give as Christmas gifts. Made homemade gift tags and bags and made a beaded bracelet for a Christmas gift.
    My husband replaced the rear wheel bearings on my car. He estimates he saved $400 to $600 by doing this himself.
    I needed a binder for a project and instead of buying a new one at the office supply store, I dropped by the local thrift store and found exactly what I needed for $1.
    Car-pooled to choir practice with a neighbor.
    Hung laundry on a rack in front of the wood stove – this dries the clothes well and adds humidity to the house.

  6. This week, we decorated for Christmas very simply and frugally. I cooked lots of food at home, including a large batch of spaghetti sauce, which various people ate as part of at least 10 meals the past week. It has been a great item for Rob to take in lunches, as well as for the ones at home to eat for lunches, along with the dinners we ate from it. It will be gone after today. I also have a very confused iris blooming for me today–what a treat!

  7. This has been a good week! I found a manager’s sale on ground beef for $1/pound so I bought 50 pounds! Cooked up 6 pounds and packaged in freezer ziploc bags for easy dinners! I baked up 4 pounds into meatballs and packaged and froze those too!
    Made all of our dinners at home and was able to “recycle” some of our leftovers into new meals- turkey went into 3 tortilla/turkey South of the border casseroles- 2 of them were taken to families in need and 1 was our Sunday dinner!

    I got 5 dozen eggs for 69 cents/dozen! I finished another Christmas quilt for a granddaughter. I got another $6 check from Pinecone surveys. I made 5 pounds of brown sugar from the sugar and molasses in my food storage!

    I bought 8 pineapples for 99 cents each and canned them into 19 pints of pineapple chunks! The way I pack my jars, there are more chunks in them than in the 20 oz cans and so my cost is about 41 cents a jar and they taste so much fresher than the pineapple chunks in cans!
    I made plans for the Christmas treat baskets I’m making for each of our 11 adult kids and their families. Amazingly, I had to buy very few ingredients and will have 10 different kinds of candies/cookies in each basket!
    We took photos of a nice bike that we’ve had just sitting in our basement and my husband’s miter saw (he bought a bigger one on sale this summer) and are putting them up for sale online. We will offer them at great prices and declutter and get some cash at the same time!
    Our electric bill continues to go down- this month it is as low as it was about 5 years ago even though there have been several rate hikes since then because of our conservation efforts! Our level pay gas bill amount is also $14/ month less this winter than last so we can tell that the 2 new furnaces that we put in have been worth it in their energy savings!
    Harvested enough peas from the garden for dinner tonight and my Swiss chard and beets and onions are still surviving the colder temps! We are also eating tomatoes that we brought in to ripen a couple weeks ago!

    All in all, a very good week!

  8. I too have been collecting pinecones, as well as greenery to decorate with, and have begun listening to holiday music on Pandora. Now that a big show I participate in passed over the weekend, I intend to begin writing cards, wrapping and baking. That really is a frugal accomplishment to have a formal dress for $2.50! Winter is a wise young lady. We watched our very first free Amazon Prime movie, The Christmas Candle. Our internet was not fast enough to stream until very recently, & we were happy to find the movie played without a glitch. Joining in here: https://abelabodycare.blogspot.com/2016/12/seasonal-pleasures-frugal.html

  9. How do you make your chicken souvlaki? We love the dish, but I’ve never made it and would love to have a tried and true recipe for it. Would you be willing to share?

  10. This week included a trip overnight to the city, which was not frugal. However, I did take advantage of the chance to get some deals:

    I bought 3 whole chickens at $1.88/lb (Cdn). The best price I’ve seen in years. I also bought 4 boxes of fish sticks, which were $3.50 off per box of 28. I will use these between now and March, so this will help keep the food budget down for the next few months.

    I found another pair of pants at a thrift shop for $8, which will be perfect for wearing to work. They are very comfortable and warm, though, so they may get worn at home more. The only other clothes I need now are socks!

    Canada’s National Parks are celebrating their 150th anniversary in 2017. They are giving free annual passes this year, which cost $67.70 normally. I’ve ordered mine online. It will be used on the trip I am planning for this summer/fall, since there are four national parks in the area I’m going to.

    The temperature is going to be well below zero (-4 to -7 F) for the next couple of weeks, so it will take some time to get used to that again. We have had a couple of mild winters, so we are out of practice!

  11. We enjoyed leftovers this week, used existing items for decorating, and enjoyed some holiday parties with friends. Probably the most frugal thing was my deciding not to purchase new glasses, since it wasn’t a necessity. I had found some frames I really liked, but thought the money could be better spent and saved elsewhere. I hope you’ll stop by and check out our other accomplishments!


  12. * Kept the furnace programmed at 63F – it is running more frequently now as we’ve had a significant change in weather lately, but certainly less than most folks’ in our area. During the day I wear several layers plus a heavy fleece of my husband’s (it’s supposed to be cold weather outerwear for his uniform, but they changed patterns/colors so he has several he can’t wear any more). I’m still cold and my rheumatoid arthritis has been flaring up, so instead of turning up the furnace, I’ve added a heavy blanket to the chair I sit in to keep my hips and legs warmer. The rest of the family says the house isn’t too bad at this temperature; they’ve acclimated well, so one still runs around with no socks and short sleeves! (Which makes ME cold & makes our family joke “Put on a sweater – Momma’s cold!” haha)

    * Bought half a tank of diesel using my folks’ fuel points to receive $1 off per gallon – paid $1.5999 per gallon.

    * Went to lunch at my folks’ for our usual Friday visit; I made baked ziti from food storage the night before, and we only eat half a pan at a time (and save the leftovers), so I took the other half with us. My mom made a loaf of garlic bread and we reheated the ziti, which saved them money also.

    * My husband taught an introductory pistol class for some seniors from my ward. Everyone has some sort of military affiliation, so we all got the lowest rate at the range. One couple supplied a box of ammunition in one of the calibers we were using, and gave us some cash toward the other box, supplied by my husband. My parents loaned us hearing protection for the folks who didn’t have any, so they didn’t have to buy anything. We had several hours of fun, especially cheering on the lady who had never shot before. During the class, my son was looking for a snack; rather than buying a candy bar and soda at the range office, he was able to drink juice he’d brought with us and eat some food I had in our vehicle emergency kit. (We keep snack foods in it as well as emergency supplies.)

    * I finished knitting a cowl for my sister-in-law for birthday + Christmas – our investment was for one skein of yarn; the pattern was free and the labor my own. I have a small ball of the yarn leftover, which I think [i]might[/i] be able to make one pair of donation baby booties.

    * I started my third pair of donation baby booties last night, using sock yarn leftover from a shawl knit-along from this summer. The pattern I’ve been using was free.

    * Last week we learned that my husband is on assignment to move to another duty station. I’ve been researching the area online (free) and have already planned our route, found lodging and priced a car trailer, plus I found everything from church location and a new orthodontist and veterinarian to a new rheumatologist and food co-op. My daughter will turn 16 during the move, so I already have a list of places where she can put in job applications (and volunteer opportunities to build her resume while she tries to get a job). This is a wonderful reminder of how much military life has changed since I had to move as a child, thanks to the blessings of technology. All that in just a few hours on the internet!

    * Once we knew our primary route and our potential secondary route (depending on weather), my parents used their AAA membership to get us tour books and maps for the states we’ll travel through, as well as a map of the metro area closest to the new duty station. All told, the items supplied by their membership would have been over $150 if purchased retail; it was all included in their annual fee.

  13. Rhonda, I always enjoy reading your comments as I know you live in Ontario as well. The Christmas by Candlelight sounds wonderful

  14. Well………I haven’t done much to “save money” since we have no money to spend. We’ve been here in Florida for about a month and well, we didnt plan things out very well. ::sigh:: you live and you learn! Dh finally found a job and started this past Thursday. Yaayy money!!!! However, its also $10 less an hour than he made in PA. We have a rental contract for people to move into our house on January 1st. As long as they do, we won’t have to tap into savings for the mortgage and then we should be ok. We arrived here with 7 tubs of pantry items and we’ve been using that up. DH and I went and donated plasma twice, and we each earned $100. I’m not really wanting to go again but when we need the money I guess I’ll have to! I’ve been using all my apps and rolling the money to buy more groceries. Instead of touching our savings to buy groceries, we just do without or do something else. Last week I finally downloaded the flipp app to my phone and I love it. If you need to know where eggs are on sale, you can search for eggs…..see that Winn dixie has it and go to walmart since either you are using a walmart giftcard or its under the walmart tab on ibotta and you know savings catcher will pick it up. I have been loving the 77¢ eggs and a gallon of skim milk is normally $2 at the closer walmart! I do have to ask……..how can any of you Floridians afford to buy food!!!!!!! I’ve been following “couponing at publix 101″……but…….its great to find deals on this and that, but when you need stuff too eat….my goodness the prices are outrageous. I have been reading and rereading and rereading all of Brandy’s ideas. DH absolutely won’t eat beans. I did buy a lower quality ham yesterday for $1.19lb and portioned that into several bags. We’ll be having ham this and that all week. With one of the payments for the plasma, we went and bought an air fryer……then I found a deal at a food service distributor. 30lbs of french fries in distressed packages for $7 and change. I am no longer a fan of french fries!!!!!!! We eat them plain with ketchup since meat for chilli or nachos fries is too expensive. There are also well over 100 different facebook yardsale groups here, and everyone is trying to supplement their income, me included………Well, I know this too shall pass. Just have to keep plugging along. and I will keep reading and rereading Brandi’s and everyone elses tips to see if there is anything else I can do.

  15. We had a great week but not the most frugal at times. When I took my two month old in for her check up last Monday I was informed that our health insurance had not covered my middle son’s flu shot a few weeks earlier and was charged $40. I am going to say it was still worth it if it keeps him out of the doctor’s office some this winter. Our insurance covers my children’s well visits completely but we pay a co-pay of $25 each sick visit. My children are young so any illness is usually had by all. 4 sick visits for them plus medication can really add up. I was told my baby will need some physical therapy for tight neck muscles on the left side of her neck. Thankful she can get some help but interested to see what it will cost. Hoping they can teach us exercises to do with her at home and we won’t need to do too many sessions.
    I cleaned out some things from my husband’s closet and around our home and donated them. I suppose that’s not necessarily frugal but it makes it feel like my home can breathe a bit which makes me happy and inspires me to not buy anything extra as I see where things end up.
    I sold an enormous double stroller we haven’t ever used to the consignment store for $100 and then used that money to buy my baby three months worth of formula from a mom selling what her baby had outgrown on a FB sale group I’m part of. Three months of formula would normally cost about $320.
    I used a gift card and bought two of my children new fitted sheets that were on sale at Macy’s without going over my gift card amount.
    Frugal fail of the week….eating takeaway more than once. Going to try and cook at home more this week.

  16. Hi Allyson. My husband is a cook and has learned how to make souvlaki marinade from working with Greek co-workers in the kitchen. So I usually have him mix it up. He doesn’t measure anything, but I did ask him what he puts in it. He said he uses minced garlic, dried oregano, a tiny bit of basil, paprika, lemon juice (we use the bottled kind), and oil. He does not use salt or pepper in his marinade. Even though I don’t mix it up, making this marinade is not difficult. Here’s a like to a simple souvlaki recipe to help you with measurements to start: http://www.theironyou.com/2014/04/chicken-souvlaki-kebabs-with-tzatziki.html?m=1. Once you make it, you can tweak the measurements to your own personal tastes.

    What we do is I buy a large tray or two of BLSL chicken breast at Costco, cut it all up into chunks, mix it with the marinade, then leave it in the fridge for 12 hours or more so the flavour really soaks into the meat (just a note, don’t skimp on marinade time. I’ve tried just letting it sit for a few hours and the flavours just don’t mix together enough. It doesn’t taste like right!) The next day I divide the meat, marinade and all, into family sized servings and freeze it. The first time I made it up, I put the meat on skewers. The skewers punctured the bags and it was time consuming. So now, I just thaw the portioned meat, dump it into a dish, bake it until cooked and each person takes their portion. My family love this so much that sometimes there are arguments about portion size, so I usually have to do the portioning for some of them. We buy tzatziki sauce at the store (at Costco actually because we eat it a lot), but you could certainly make your own following the recipe.

    Just to let you know, you are not restricted to just BLSL chicken breast with this recipe either. Feel free to the marinade with any type of chicken, pork or even lamb. Might even work well with turkey, though you need to marinade it before cooking. This is a peasant dish in Greece, so it’s a pretty frugal way to add lot of flavour to your meat! I like to pair it with rice and a Greek salad. If you have any other questions, feel free to ask. I’d be happy to answer them!

  17. Thanks, J! The Christmas by candlelight it one of our most popular events at our museum. It really is lovely to walk though a living history site all decked out for the holidays!:D

  18. I cooked up a free pumpkin and the seeds…delicious! I also made lentils flavored with Turkey broth, and made Harvard beets. I think I have enough to last five days total, and I am on day three! I mailed my daughter and son in law their Christmas gift..it was a good $25 cheaper than normal, it cost $40. I help my three sons, who live locally, year around, so I am pretty conservative at Christmas. I also did repairs on a car for one of them, and paid the electric bill last month. So, I am giving them each, $1 gifts of soap, deorderant, shampoo, toothbrushes, floss,and toothpaste from the dollar store. I also had found nice books for ten cents a piece, and I will be giving them three hardback books per son. I had bought items I had intended to use, and it turns out, they need them! One son is getting an electric blanket. Another son is getting an alarm clock, and another a nice towel. I also bought them almond kisses, which they love! So, I am basically done Christmas shopping for family….whew!

  19. My frugal accomplishments –
    I worked 8-1/2 hours overtime.

    I signed up to participate in the Secret Santa exchange at work. I was able to use my Discover Rewards to buy a candle on sale, free shipping with Prime, and only had to spend $4 OOP. I debated to participate or not, but in a moment of weakness decided to.

    I completed a Pinecone survey.

    I received a Christmas bonus at work. I took 10% to get some plants for the backyard to make a small butterfly garden. The rest I deposited in our savings account and is earmarked for a bigger project. My SO received a bonus and also deposited it in our savings.

    I worked in the yard clearing the sod out of the side yard we recently fenced in.

    I cut down my holiday baking list. I started some cookie dough and froze the dough balls to bake next week.

    I stopped at WaWa and got a free Powerade.

    I started working on next years budget spreadsheet.

    Have a great week everyone!

  20. Thank you for the recipe – I’m going to try it with homemade seitan. I had never thought of it before until you mentioned being able to use any kind of meat!!

  21. I use IHEARTPUBLIX.COM to find the Publix deals, but only get the items that are just about free, which is rarely. At Publix, the trick is to stack coupons on the BOGO items – you can use 2 coupons even though you are only paying for 1 plus you can also use Publix coupons on top of that. But Publix is definitely the most expensive store and I rarely go.

    Aldi is my favorite. The regular prices will beat the Publix BOGOs and you can find some markdowns even lower. Sav-A-Lot is also cheaper, but I prefer Aldi. We have both just a few miles from my house.

    Welcome to Florida!!

  22. A fairly uneventful week for us, so I’ve caught up on some housework. Cupboards are full and I only bought a few necessary items this week. Went to lunch with a friend one day, which was a nice break, and stopped and bought a couple gifts on the way home to combine two errands into one trip. My husband covered an inside window with plastic to keep out drafts so I whisked away the curtains and washed them. Today he scrubbed the blinds on the two kitchen windows and we put the curtains back up. I was making granola and bread while he did that, and also changed one set of sheets and got those washed. The everyday things still need doing along with all the Christmas related things. The outside lights are up but the tree is not as yet. I intend to start wrapping this week also. Things are perking right along.

  23. Brandy, great photo of your son! It made me smile today when I saw it.

    For last week’s accomplishments, I cooked a turkey and sliced and froze the meat. Then took the carcass and make huge amounts of turkey broth. Half the broth I turned into Turkey Noodle soup, we just finished yesterday, so it lasted a week. The other portion is now frozen and will make an appearance next month for more soup. Ate meals from the freezer a few nights when I didn’t feel like cooking (I made a list of meals to cook this month and whose ingredients are in the house) but sometimes I am just lazy. Last month I cooked quite a few double portions so there were lots of choices in the freezer for dinners.

    Made bread, now sliced and put in baggies in the freezer. Since there are only two of us, I freeze two slices in each ziploc bag and it works really well. Made chocolate pudding and a pumpkin pie during the week. Who knew I could cook things like that 🙂

    Continued working on our 2017 budget based on where 2016 appears to be ending. Thanks again to Brandy for this website and everyone’s comments for helping me learn to spend a lot less on food and eat much healthier and more tasty food!

  24. I haven’t seen ground beef for that price since we first got married over 20 yrs ago! Did you skip all the way home?!

  25. Last week’s savings goal came when I received the benefit from participating in a wellness program from September-November. At work, we could receive $90 loaded onto our staff ID for campus use if we completed a three-month wellness challenge. It involved 3 1/2 hours of physical activity per week for the three month period and attending several healthy lifestyle lectures. These campus bucks can also be used at community businesses that cooperate with the university program – including 6 local gas stations. $90 of gasoline not out of my pocket! Since I commute 48 miles round trip every day to work, this is a huge help. Aside from earning $90 that can be used to purchase gasoline, my A1C levels have dropped back into pre-diabetic range!

  26. I encourage you to read When Queens Ride By on Brandy’s Blog. I think you will find it encouraging and uplifting.

  27. Together with my husband we got a free week long pass to a local NYSC. We went three times each and thought it was great – It also included a yoga class! This probably was the biggest free treat this past week. My muscles still hurt. Yikes.
    Other than that we are doing the usual frugal things, just staying right on track (it is a marathon not a sprint after all).
    My weekly update is up as well:

  28. It was a so-so week around here.

    While we didn’t do anything spectacular on the frugal front, we did continue to save little bits here and there.

    * Hubs used shredded paper (old bills, schoolwork, etc.) as nesting material for the chickens.

    * We also use scrap paper cut into note-sized slips for shopping lists, menus, etc.

    * I turned an “empty” lotion bottle upside down to get even more out of the bottle (did this with a makeup bottle too).

    * Made granola, bread, and most meals at home.

    * Harvested lemons, oregano, and chives from the garden.

    * Hubs put his home-made “greenhouse/cold frame” thing up in the garden (PVC pipes covered with sheets of translucent plastic). He reuses the frame every year, and reuses the plastic as long as he can. We rarely get frost here, but this contraption helps speed along the germination/growth of the winter garden.

    * Saved butter wrappers to grease pans. I just stick them in a bag in the freezer until I need one. It probably doesn’t save much, but I can’t use products like PAM since they contain soy.

    * Went through Ebates to purchase some Christmas presents.

    * Listened to Christmas CDs from our collection.

    * Put together a Christmas puzzle we inherited from my mother-in-law (a frugal pastime, plus it brought back fond memories of her).

    * Paid bills on-line.

    Have a great week, everyone!

  29. This week has been a mixed bag. My husband has worked a tremenduous amount of overtime this past month, which has helped out greatly. I am still being attacked by a vicious migraine cycles that I can’t seem to break. I have changed my diet, gotten a daith piercing and just completeled my third round of Botox. When I am in pain I pray for others and for healing. The Lord kept saying” put your house up for sale”. I told my husband that I think God must have me and a neighbor confused on our street, but double check me. He came back a week later and said “we gotta put the house up for sale”. Now I love my house, we only have 10 years on the mortgage, I love our neighbors and our neighborhood. But in obedience we put the house for sale, no idea where he would put us. Thirty days later…We have our house under contract, the offer was for $5,000 less than our asking price and all our hard worked paid off as there was not a single thing in the home inspection that was a problem. We found a house that will need work updating, the inspection went well for that property and to quote our inspector” it will need cosmetic updating but it is built like a tank. They don’t make them like this anymore”. That was very encouraging to hear and when it all washes out we will make a little north of $100,000 profit. So it’s like getting a 4,000 sq ft house with a 1,000 square foot shop and in ground pool for $52,000!!! We are excited. My hope is that this will be the key that stops the migraines….I live under not one but two large power high lines, you can hear the buzzing when you walk outside. I’m sure not everyone would be affected by them, but who knows. The downside to all this is we are moving at Christmas time..yuck so I’m not really decorating. The church is borrowing my feather tree I had intended to use for the children’s Charlie Brown Christmas play. I put out my Christmas flag and will tuck some pinecones and magnolia around..not even putting out the stockings as they will need to be packed up and gone,

    I also shopped around for the MRI that is scheduled for me. One hospital quoted me $1,000 and that is after my personal deductible had been met. I called the competing hospital still in network and they quoted me less than half that amount. Yes please I will take it. They even knocked off extra as I paid the bill in full right then.

    I cooked one of the small turkeys I purchased on sale during Thanksgiving. It was around 8 lb and I treated it like a large roast chicken. Tucked root veggies around it halfway during the cooking, and as turkey’s get cold in the oven, made a blanket of cheap bacon on the breast and made an awesome gravy with the drippings. I also made potato soup, black beans and sausage balls over rice, peanut butter cookies for school projects, I also plan to make potato, smoke sausage, onion and carrot bowls. I just chunk then all up on a cookie sheet and toss with oil and grill seasoning. It is a Friday or ball game night meal that is fast, filling and when I purchase the ingredients on sale..cheap.

    Our high school has made it to the state football championships. If you are in the south or have ever lived in the south..you know the crazy that football season is. We in the north of Louisiana and the playoffs are in New Orleans at the Superdome(where the Saints play). My dd is a Sr. this year and of course wants to go. I told her to work it out on her own. She did great, asking my father who happened to have business down there at the same time for a ride, even purchasing him a discount ticket as a thank you and asking my uncle who has an apartment down there for work if they could stay there for free. She reworked her flight schedule as she is in flight school in addition to high school and her work schedule…all this tells me she is more than capable of making her own appointments now and is taking more steps toward adulthood.

  30. Thanks Debbie!!! Aldi and Sav a lot were already on my to do list for today. Hoping I can get a big bag of potatoes cheap…..they sure aren’t cheap at the farmers market!

  31. Glad to hear that your husband has found a job, Kim. I’m sure that is a relief to both of you! It sounds like this move has been a struggle. But, you know, this is all part of the adventure of moving. I remember moving to Toronto when I was in my early twenties and sleeping on a mattress on the floor, with only a kitchen table and chairs for furniture. It may be hard now, but years from now it will be a fond memory you will be laughing about. Until then, have fun exploring your new surrounding! At least that is free.

  32. So, so happy for you regarding the house! I thought I got a good deal when I purchased a small old house and yard for $25,000 in 2014. You did much better than me because of the size of your house and property and that would be my dream, to have land surrounding my house! Congrats!!!! What a wonderful Christmas present, and maybe it will help your migraines!. I live in Alabama, (daughter graduated from LSU..Geaux Tigers and my youngest son is at the University of Alabama…)I know about football season…..lol

  33. Wishing you good luck! I have lived in Florida for 40 years, and it still bugs me how low the wages in my area are. I hope your rental contract works out great.

  34. I found the clearance rack at an organic grocery store I frequent, and got organic flour, 5 lbs. for $2.00, fancy-schmancy coffee for $3.50 a package for my husband, and organic soups in cartons for less than half price. I also found a pumpkin for 99 cents that I will cook.
    I weeded my herb bed; here in Florida, some of it will make it through the winter if I protect it and continue to take care of it.
    My husband is propagating more plants from cuttings.
    I gathered evergreen cuttings from our trees, which had been live, potted Christmas trees from years past which we planted in the yard after the holiday. With the cuttings I decorated the three homemade grapevine wreaths on our doors, and used ribbon I had from last year’s wreaths.
    I bought a used dress that had the ribbon loops sewn in to hold it on hangers; loops which I don’t need. I cut the ribbons off and saved them to tie around tiny packages or my granddaughter’s ponytails, whichever I need first. The dress was much needed for church and I couldn’t make it for what I paid for it.
    Heather in LA, I know just what you mean about football! Congrats on your daughter finding a way to go to the game.
    Brandy, my youngest daughter took the ACT three times, but she ended up with a 100% Florida Bright Futures Scholarship, so it was well worth the extra times. Good luck to your daughter!

  35. Season’s greetings, everyone!

    Last week I made many quarts of turkey vegetable broth from the carcass of three turkeys. After picking the meat off the bones, hubby buried the bones in a deep hole in our caged garden. When decomposed, he will use that soil as bone meal. To the picked meat I added chopped celery and apple along with some mayo to make many delicious turkey salad sandwiches for lunch.

    My brother found a large pine cone with no thorns on his walk. It was shaped like a Christmas tree. He stabilized the large end by removing some petals(?) Then I painted the tips to resemble snow. This miniature tree is a centerpiece on our dining table for the winter months.

    I read this on Facebook, and it really resonated with me…”No matter what our financial situation is, we are all granted a free trip around the sun every year.” May we all enjoy many free trips around the sun while practicing frugality together!

    I can’t thank Brandy enough for this venue so we can all come together to share and to learn from her. Thank you, thank you, thank you, Brandy!

  36. My neighbor gets migraines. She has learned that if she eats any gluten or even gluten-free grains she has a screaming migraine. Finding out that she had that sensitivity has helped phenomenally.

    So if the move doesn’t solve it, that could be something to look into. Good luck.

  37. I can’t wait to see Winter’s dress! I loved her pioneer trek dress post.

    We have been struggling with a spiritual issue (church attendance vs. children’s sports) at home. You can read about it here:http://www.dollarsandsensetimestwo.org/2016/12/discover-challenge-tough-questions/
    I’d love your readers views/insights on the topic (Yours too, Brandy).

    I hired a friend and her husband to till out beds on either side of my front path for bulbs. Their charge was actually cheaper than renting a tiller. My friend gifted me some bulbs from her collection that she had divided. I’m looking forward to getting them into place before the snow sets in.

    My husband built me a desk for the kitchen using the leftover butcher block from our kitchen reno (counters) and scrap wood. Now I have a lovely workstation in my kitchen that blends right in.

    We went to an unveiling for my grandmother in New Jersey and I packed all our breakfasts and snacks for the car.

    We attended an Advent dinner at church. We are doing a sacred coloring and advent dinner the friday nights of Advent. We were gifted the leftover chicken mcnuggets from the kids dinner, salad, rolls, and cookies. My children think they died and went to heaven as I never buy mcnuggets. An ironic story about mcnuggets…during the last Fort Hood Shooting (April 2013) I was unable to get to my children at the daycare because of security lockdown. (My husband was locked down at his work at the ER). Hours passed and their fantastic teachers were able to keep them calm and things ordinary so they never realized there was anything amiss. When I finally was able to pick them up at 9 o’clock at night, they were so excited because they were given mcnuggets for dinner (never mind the fatal shooting a mile from their day care…). i will always think of that when I think of mcnuggets.

    Hope everyone has a good week.

  38. Try volunteering if you live near touristy areas! You can see the zoo/museum/memorial/whatever for free and it is a great way to network with established people in the community! Many have pretty awesome “perks” for their volunteers and it will help your job applications stand out. Good luck!

  39. I understand perfectly your situation as we are in it ourselves and have been for a bit of time. Praying for you and your family.

  40. Greetings! What a great picture of your son. He has beautiful eyes.
    *I walked and exercised at home for free.
    *I made cranberry/chocolate chip muffins from leftovers and pantry staples.
    *I made sourdough crackers from the dead sourdough i keep after feeding the main container. So good!
    *I sold several things on ebay. Printing from home gets me a price break on the postage.
    *I listed my weekly allotment of coke codes.
    *Our water bill was 10.00 lower for a change while the electric went up. I guess that means it evened itself out??
    I wish everyone a splendid week ahead!

  41. These are some frugal wins for us over the last few weeks. Hubby has really struggled with the last 2 chemo treatments and had spinal pain so bad this last weekend he almost had his Dad pick him up and take him to the ER. I take my psych meds at night for a reason – I cannot stand without a racing, pounding heart, cannot catch my breath and I have to sit down and crawl….obviously I cannot drive at that time (I did manage to find the heating pad – right where I told him it was LOL). I will be discussing this with my doc when I see him next because it was not this terrible until he upped my med. Hubby also had to have his diabetic ulcer cut back again – the callous keeps growing up over it which can’t happen since it needs to heal from the inside out. He also had a second one develop from the special shoe he has to wear so now he needs to run around on a knee scooter when we are out rather than the cane.
    * Meijer had 5 pound bags of sugar for 99 CENTS on Saturday after Black Friday – I picked up 50 pounds. P-nut butter was also 99 cents – I bought 10. I also bought powdered sugar for .69 cents a pound & choco chips to round out what I needed for Christmas baking (1.50 a pkg). I have everything else I need in the pantry 🙂 Even the nuts left from last year which I was careful to seal and put in the freezer so they wouldn’t go rancid.
    * I finally got the drapes for our 2nd slider door done. They aren’t exactly perfect as I had to piece long sections together to make it big enough to go across the whole door – but it didn’t cost me anything but time since the fabric and the rod were both given to me – I just had to Macgyver a way to hang the rod since it didn’t have the hardware with it. Now I am working on room darkening roman shades for our master bedroom – I am using the old blind hardware to make it and the fabric I already have left from other projects.
    * I used a coupon on Black Friday for a B1G1 free cat food – that brought it to the total needed to also get the manufacturers 13th one free as well – so three bags of cat food for the price of 1 🙂
    * I am way behind on Christmas but there will only be stockings for the kids this year, my sister and I agreed to not exchange gifts and I only need a $10 gift to share at my inlaws. There just isn’t money for more than that.
    * My daughters work gave her a free small ham for Christmas and my work gave us all free zip up hoodies for Christmas.
    * I made all of the food I needed to bring to my extended families Christmas potluck from things I already had on hand and it was wonderful to get out and chat with all my cousins.
    I can’t think of much else – I am struggling with staying positive and haven’t been doing a very good job of keeping track.

  42. Hello Brandy and everyone and hope you have all found ways to save money 🙂 . How wonderful your Mum found a lovely dress for Winter for only $1 and it was able to be adjusted and have the sleeves lined for only a little more.

    Our frugal accomplishments are –

    Groceries –
    – Ordered a whole 15 -18kg lamb from a local farmer dressed and cut saving $21.75 – 26.10 compared to buying it at our local butcher shop.4
    – Purchased 10 tins of corn kernels on special saving $7.70.

    In the garden –
    – Harvested broccoli, strawberries, snow peas, brown onions now drying on the soil, capsicum, cucumbers, garlic and tomatoes from the gardens.

    Household and kitchen –
    – Used solar lanterns & hand cranked torches for lighting at night instead of turning on mains lighting.
    – Cooked all bread and meals from scratch.
    – Took a pasta salad made from pasta in our storage and blanched and frozen snow peas, capsicum, fresh tomatoes and cucumbers picked from our gardens.
    – Watered all house lawns with saved grey water from our washing machines and showers.
    – Made a large batch of orange juice cordial making 5.25lts saving $9.12 over buying it in the local shops for equivalent preservative free cordial.

  43. Laziness is what hit our budget. I sat down and went through the bank statements and the list of what we spent cash on for two months and then kicked my own rear because we could have paid off another bill with the wasted amt. SIGH

  44. Gluten free does help, as does eliminating as many chemicals I have found. The more I research it seems that specialist have reexamined what they believe to be the cause. Originally it was thought that migraines were the result of dilation and constriction of blood vessels in the head. Now they believe it is a series of electrical and chemical reactions in the brain. Which kinda makes more sense when you consider folks have different triggers and take into account peoples unique body chemistry. Sometimes I get discouraged…I mean if we can invent a jelly bean that tastes like buttered popcorn then why can’t this be fixed. Lol I just wish this monkey with ice cleats inside my head would stop dancing the polka.

  45. Thank you. When we spoke to the bank regarding the small amount to finance. They were unsure what exact loan product we would need due to the small size. Kinda made me giggle. When we received the report regarding our own house’s inspection there was nothing..nothing on it to report…I even think our realtor was proud of us. Even if this move does not provide healing. I know I will be one day I will be. this may serve as a testimony to walk on faith..even when afraid and even when it makes no sense and everyone around you(including family) is questioning you and think you are off your rocker.

  46. I was born and raised in Bell County, Texas, Gabrielle, and my daughters went to school on scholarship at UMHB. Love the area; it’s a great place to raise a family!

  47. Thank you and yeah I was being teased last night at my sons basketball game that I am going to be the only one in town with my lights on at home..:D

  48. Gabrielle,
    Any tips or tricks you learned while installing your countertop? I want butcher block for our kitchen redo. Thanks

  49. My rule for Sunday was that we would go to church, if well, and the rest of the day was for family rest at the house. I would not do any other church activities, other than attending church, and spent the day napping and playing with the kids. I would not work on Sunday. I needed one day to rest, as we all did. The kids were not allowed to go visit at friend’s houses, nor have friends over. We would sometimes go on a family walk. I do not judge others, who chose differently, but I had to have a day of rest, or I could not go to work and function on Monday and I have major health issues, where I have to limit my activities to preserve my strength. Basically, all I did was work full time outside the house (divorced), and take care of the kids. I did no volunteering (and that is not a bad thing to do, I just did not have the physical stamina and had to be able to support my kids)… The kids grew up that way, and did not seem to be bothered by it. I irritated folks at church because I would not do church work or activities on Sunday, and I irritated folks at the ball field because I would not let my son’s practice nor play on Sunday, but I did not care, no matter who was critical of me. I do the same today, because it is nobody’s business that I have health issues, or that I have children with health issues. I am blessed to be able to continue to work and support myself, and no one else will, so I am polite at first, but very direct if the issue is pushed. They can mind their own business and not mine because I am not minding their business. Only we can safeguard our health and the health of our family. I did have one child who was well enough to be in a lot of activities, and I supported her efforts, whenever possible.

  50. I did a lot of mending for other people these last few weeks.
    Making cutains shorter for an elderly woman in the village, and also shortend 3 pair of trousers for her. Mended a pair of trousers for my sister and for an other man in our village.
    Our older neighbour brought us an sugarbread (witch is a local delicatesse in Fryslan, our province) as I sometimes mend clothes for him to. He got the bread for some volunteer work he did, but as it is to much for him to eat all, he always takes of 1 or 2 slices and takes the rest to us. (he does that with more stuff he gets)
    I harvested kale and sprouts. The kale I chopped up and froze and the sprouts we will be eating today. I will take a portion of our meal to my brother in law, because he likes it so much and my sister does’nt. So she will have to cook something else for her self.
    Yesterday I went to an Turkisch store in the city (as my daughter has her circus training there). In the netherlands turkisch stores are very cheap with most of there vegetables, mostly you need to use it the same day or the day after. So i bougt 1 kg of paprika’s for 1,99 euro ( 2,14 dollar) and 800 grams of green peppers voor 2,50 euro (2,68 dollar) I don’t know what you pay for that in the USA.
    I also bought 2,5 kg of shoarma meat , that is turkey and prok maet in small paeces with shoarma seasoning. (officially shoarma is made off lam, because of the muslims. But for non muslims there is the cheaper variation with pork meat).
    This costed my 12,50 euro (13,42 dollar).
    the peppers and parika’s I chopped up and froze to use for pizza and pasta sauce. The shoarma I froze also, well 2×1 kg and 500 grams we eat on a (homemade) pizza tonight. Except my daughter, she’s vegetarian.
    We hardly ever used our central heating, always using the woodstove.
    I baked a cake yesterday to bring to a friend who had a knie surgery.
    We sometimes eat an fried egg ( off our own chicken) on a slice off bread for lunch.
    My husband got 2,5 liter milk from his farmerfriends tank , witch I pay back in knitting socks and mending coveralls.
    I always cook from scratsch and my childeren al take there lunch from home.
    Nice weekend everyone!!

  51. We are doing a coloring project at our church for Advent, too! The idea was new to me, but it has been a wonderful time of fellowship, bringing all ages together.

  52. Good luck with your move and with the migraines. You are a wonderful example to me of stepping out in faith — which is hard sometimes.

  53. This week was another week where I did spend much more money than usual but I believe I was able to use the money frugally and wisely:
    *I stretched the protein in all our meals. We had Mostoccioli (1/2 lb ground beef), breakfast for dinner (eggs for extra protein), a roaster chicken (used for 2 meals and a couple lunches), chicken salad, and egg salad sandwiches. I also continue to use the food I preserved during the summer and fall.
    *I used a $12 off shopping trip mperk coupon from Meijer (received from a combination of Christmas and grocery shopping a couple weeks ago) to buy a few needed groceries: mainly meat and some veggies. I was able to combine a few coupons in a mailer to make it stretch even more. 2 of the coupons were actually for a free gallon of milk and 2 dozen eggs.
    *I loaded some digital coupons to my Kroger card as well as used a couple coupons received in the mail and was able to get one free toothpaste, dental floss, and ice cream bars. I was also able to get a carton of ice cream (oh, were my boys SO excited) for $1.25 and a tooth brush for, I believe, $.25. I do not currently have a printer so I try to just be on the look out for digital coupons and utilize the ones they send me in the mail while those items are also on sale. Surprisingly we still have some ice cream left 😉
    *I purchased 6 dozen eggs at $.77 a dozen.
    *I repaired holes in pair of my pants and in a shirt for my son.
    *I sewed to rice heating pads for a get well gift and cheer up gift for 2 friends. I added essential oils I already had to the rice to make the heating pad smell. Both heating pads were made with a clearanced fabric remnant I purchased last year. I believe the fabric was $2. I also added a couple cute mugs I already had and filled with peppermint tea bags to add to the gifts.
    *I also sewed a set of hand warmers for myself with the extra fabric.
    *By stacking coupon codes I found online and a $15 Kohls cash earned from previously using a couple gift cards, I bought 2 pairs of winter boots for my sons and a Christmas gift (outfit) for my young niece. The boots came out to be $25 each (normally $45), the outfit a little less than $10, and I received $10 in Kohl’s cash that I will use to by a Christmas gift for my husband. I chose to pick up in store so that I did not have to pay for shipping charges.
    *My family enjoyed attending the town Christmas light parade, tree lighting and other festivities- all free.
    *An older couple in our church won a one-night stay in a waterpark hotel during the month of December. They had no need for it and offered it to us. We are SO excited to give this as an early Christmas gift to our sons and spend time with family.
    *My husband put clear plastic on the windows to help keep the cold air out of our old, drafty house. We have found that this does actually lower our heating bill during the winter and is worth the cost of the plastic and time to install.
    *I kept the heat at 66 during the day and 62 at night. Blankets and sweaters are my friend here in Michigan!

    Halfway through typing all of this out it truly struck me as to how blessed my family really is. Thank you for the opportunity to not only share all of the ways I saved money during the week, but also the many blessings that come with that!

  54. I often think it would be nicer if Christmas was just stockings, they way it used to be many years ago.

    I made smaller stockings for my family a couple of years back. I don’t feel pressure to fill up a large stocking that way, and the stockings are usually some candy and a clementine, and maybe one small gift. Then they are full.

    I have had many Christmases where I spent $20 for the whole family. We have opted out of gift exchanges, even when extended family would say, “It’s just $10” as $10 was going to go for several children’s gifts (or the total I would spend for one child on a better year) and there wasn’t the money to spare.

    More than one person I know has looked back fondly on those leaner Christmases with thanksgiving in their hearts for all that they received. As they became adults, the more lavish Christmas gifts were forgotten, but the ones from the leaner years were remembered with fondness.

    I think you will have a wonderful Christmas this year Melissa. I hope your doctor can get your medicine straightened out for you right away so that you are feeling better physically too!

  55. We listened to Christmas CDs. We cut our cable in November, my youngest..has been adjusting. We had gotten a great deal but the deal was up. I got a fantastic price on swimsuits for next summer, as well as some blankets for my nieces. I ordered two cases of pie filling from our store, it is 50% off, and I cannot make a cherry or blueberry pie from scratch at that price. The filling is a local company, it is far superior to any I’ve tried and the equal of homemade. I really prefer to make cake but my husband likes pie. Now I’ll have enough for a pie every month, with extra for company or if I make kolache( similar to danish).

    I was very happy to send a box of clothes and a small amount of cash to a young family. I well remember when I first was reading this blog and we were so poor. We are still careful but it has eased some. I was very happy to collect a good amount for the food bank. My husband dropped it off this morning.

    I read a few free books on my kindle. I made my sisters birthday cake and dinner, I cleaned the craft closet and found some lost treasures we’ve enjoyed.

    I’ve been unintentionally frugal as my tire has been leaking and I don’t want to risk a trip to the store. We are waiting til tomorrow to see if the tire can be patched.

    I’m about to prep some leftover pork loin, I’m going to chop it and make BBQ sandwiches.

  56. Have you ever tried Feverfew? A friend of mine gets migraines and she started buying Feverfew capsules at GNC and taking them and they have helped her tremendously.

  57. In my opinion, if you don’t want to attend a different service, then continue to attend church with your children on Sunday and pull them out of the activity and put them in a different one that meets on a different day or time. I think if you let them skip church for one reason, as they get older, they may want to skip church for other things too.

  58. My late mother had told us about a year when she was young, her family was very poor, and she and her three siblings all knew they would not get presents at Christmas. They lived in a house without hot water and they couldn’t even afford to rent school books at their schools, and had to use borrowed ones that the teachers loaned out to the poor students during class. They were lucky to have food on the table. So the four kids were totally shocked to find they each had one present under the tree on Christmas morning. My mother remembered with much love the sacrifice she knew her parents made to provide those four gifts, and truly, she felt that was her best Christmas ever. She never failed to get teary-eyed when she talked about it. You are so right, Brandy, that the leaner years’ gifts can be remembered much more fondly than the big gifts from better years.

  59. I so agree with you Brandy, and I hope you get to feeling better, Melissa. Christmas is more about the food, the carols, the naps, and enjoying each other!

  60. Kim,

    I lived in Florida for 8 years / we finally had to leave because prices were so high. If you have a Bj’s or other food warehouse check them out first . I don’t know what city you are in but clearwater has a free food warehouse no membership fee on gulf to bay near the dmv. I don’t remember the name of it. It is right in the same lot as the dmv. Next learn your coupon policies for all stores Publixs has an excellent coupon policy stock all great coupons. Sweet Bay often runs $3.00 off seafood you can use this at publixs as many times as you like so you can get like $3.05 cents worth of say Bay Scallops or shrimp and then do that like 15 times and you have some meals. Winn Dixie often runs $2.00 to $3.00 off meat you can use these at publixs or winn dixie. Also ask your store when the meat gets marked down our Publixs use to mark things down on Sunday afternoons late I would go in armed with my coupons and get meat for like three weeks. Also any store that has like $10 off when you spend $30 publixs will take these. Always be polite when they have an issue with a coupon and if they don’t want to give the money off say that’s fine but could you please take xyz off of my bill.

    This alone will get you managers that like you and managers that like you will give you deals.
    Publixs also lets you use two coupons when they have Buy one Get one Free coupons so if you have $2.00 off Juice lets say and juice is $4.00 per bottle well that might be high but if you get to use 2 coupons and you pay $4.00 for one and the other is free then they are both free after 2 $2.00 off coupons.

    So it really pays to know how to shop.

    Also if you go out to eat in Florida they have this place called Sweet Tomatoes (mostly salads) they run coupons all the time if you get in right at the end of lunch and right before dinner it is way cheaper and if you have one person in your party many of the cashiers will ring up everyone in the party at the senior rate which is much cheaper.

    Out in the rural areas they have upick farms and some of them do not do that well so they do not charge much for large bushels of fruit also you can sometimes glean food this way. If your really strapped for cash there are a large number of food pantries and some even give meat.

    Best of luck bottom line prices are high and it’s a lot of work to track down free and cheap food items but it can be done.

  61. I love hearing about life in other countries (or even states I have never visited)! I also eat a fried egg sandwich for lunch a lot of times! Have a nice weekend, Tanja!

  62. The stockings are our favorites!!! Seriously, my sister and I always went for them first and my children do also. Years ago I asked my kids what there favorite gift was from the previous Christmas.. It was July and they couldn’t recall a single gift. They had been given large expensive gifts that particular Christmas. Well that changed it all for me. When Santa visited the rule in our house was a gift from each sibling, a gift from mom and dad and Santa brought one gift..and never the largest one. I always said that fat man was not getting my credit!! Also when times are lean if kids have the mentality that Santa will come though it just sets them up for disappointment. Now they receive a nutcracker on Christmas Eve..always a crazy one that serves as a reminder of the past year..this year DD will receive a aviator nutcracker as she is receiving her pilots license and the boys are being gifted Charlie Brown and snoopy as they are in the church play of Charlie Brown Christms. They they receive four gifts each on Christmas Day..one to wear, one to read or watch..one they need and one they want(but a modest want). But still I think stockings are the best.. I love little random giftage!!!

  63. The first Christmas my in-laws came to stay at our house I made stockings for each of them. Imagine my surprise when they both informed me it was their FIRST stockings, ever! My FIL was a big burly man who spoke gruff but was a gentle person. He had tears in his eyes and hugged me like there was no tomorrow. It was SO much fun watching them open each little treat, silly gifts and a love note to each. They were the BEST in-laws ever. Miss them so much at Christmas.

  64. Gabrielle, since you’re are asking for our opinion, this is mine. Find a new sport for the boys that does not meet on Sunday. How can they reconcile that you and your husband are teaching them that Sunday and church are important and their coach is telling them it is not? Maybe not in words he isn’t, but by his actions.

  65. Heather it was pretty easy. My most basic tip was to choose to shellac/poly it as opposed to using the oil. We triedthe oil first and were unimpressed, so my husband sanded it down and we reapplied with the polyurethane and it looks much more finished.

  66. Brandi-
    About the ACT’s…. check the databases from your local public library. Many libraries are now offering a test center online that offers ACT, SAT, AP practice tests for free. All you need is your library card to gain access. They also carry hard copies of the test prep books, but those tend to be checked out a lot. Your local public library would be able to show you the available resources. Good luck to your girl!

  67. Hi Brandy! Not sure about your local library but mine had many SAT and ACT test prep books that could be borrowed. They also sold pre-owned ones at their used bookstore. I wish I had found out before my parents spent hundreds on new books and SAT tutoring (which was not very useful at all since they told me I’d score a 1600 at best but I ended up with a 1980 out of 2400).

  68. Thanks for the suggestion! Thankfully the book was $26 and not hundreds. It was recommended from an ACT tutor who spoke to a youth group here (which my daughter attended). She found an online tutoring site that she is using this week; they have a 5-day free trial (but they charge hundreds if you don’t cancel in time; I will be [i]certain[/i] to cancel in time!)

  69. I went to a prep school that was known where 100% of graduates went on to college – many to big name schools. The school started us taking ACTs and PSATs the spring of our 8th grade year. Back then, and probably true today, colleges only look at the most recent scores. So, fast forward to the fall of our senior year and we were taking the SAT as well as AP tests when it was going to count. I still remember kids in the test room who had never ever taken one of these tests before. My classmates and I were old hands at test taking and not nervous at all. I believe being used to the tests helped improve our scores as much as studying.

  70. That is very interesting! She has taken many practice tests recently and we know she can take the test again later (though depending on her score, i.e. if it’s high enough to attend her choice of school) she may or may not take it again. Our plan is for her to take it at least twice.

  71. It isn’t just the fact that it will be just stockings this year – there is ALOT of other drama going on – a 19 year old that thinks she is an adult and can do as she pleases and a husband and son who have Zip, Zilch, NADA Christmas spirit and have ruined it for me and my daughter (yes, the same 19 year old). I still haven’t brought out the Christmas decorations – my excuse is that that the cats and young dog will destroy is but the truth is family members have ruined any willingness to decorate for myself.

  72. Chiming in a little late, but here goes: I tipped a make-up bottle upside down to get the very last little bit out of it. The color is a perfect match for my skin, but it’s a little more expensive than I typically spend, so I want to use every drop. 🙂 I went back to school in August and have registered for classes for January. I was able to use an Amazon GC earned through Swagbucks and a coupon to purchase the six plays I’ll need for my English class next semester. By combining the GC and coupon, I only spent $10 OOP. Yay! I did some Christmas shopping at Aldi, where I got some spicy almonds and cashews for my hubby. They are an awesome, inexpensive gift. I have pretty much finished Christmas shopping. We’ve spent cash only (as we usually do), but I’ve been very, very fortunate to find good sales. Last Christmas was dismal at our house because I was recovering from major surgery and my husband was extremely ill. Our children were so good about having almost nothing under the tree (from Santa – they did get a couple of things from family members), but we want them to have a really lovely, fun Christmas this year. We’re looking for several fun, free things (or almost free) to do as a family for the remainder of the Christmas season. We have several in mind, so we’re looking forward to celebrating being a family.

  73. Hi, I have arthritis have my sympathy. I have tried serveral OTC fixes and all have helped.

    I like a cream called Topricin, the best price is on Amazon-they have different kinds for different parts of your body, if you have a Whole Foods near you, you can get it there for more money to try it but also, keep the receipt and if you don’t like it, can return it. If you do like it, then you can switch to Amazon. I have also had success taking two pills, one is called Norwegian Gold Critical Omega 1200 mg fish oil, 900 mg omega 3 ( special coating no fish burping) and Himalaya Tumeric with Curcumin. The tumeric does make me smell a little , i can smell it in the shower and on my hands sometimes but it is worth it. I have had almost complete relief and can get out of bed in the morning without pain. I think the turmeric helps the most, but the topricin helps the fastest and I am very pleased not to be taking strong painkillers. I’m sure you can imagine how much pain I was in daily before I threw myself on the mercy of my friend that works at Whole Foods. I said I’d try anything. And to my shock, it did help so much.

  74. The doctor co-pays are no joke. When all three of my kids get sick ( which is EVERY TIME) if I have to bring them in it costs me $75 plus whatever prescriptions. I just spent over I think $160 on some cough syrup we were prescribed that he refused to take and spit out on the rug.

  75. Gabrielle, all 5 of mine did cross country in the high school. It is a good lifetime sport. They all continue to run and do races together whenever possible. Several have done half marathons. The biggest advantage to us was that boys and girls share the season. They could carpool, it was just in the fall and then over for the year. Also, the uniforms, if you call it that, are probably the most modest of all sports. The 3 girls were allowed to wear extra length tennis skirts over athletic leggings rather than the shorts and since everyone wore a tshirt under the numbered tank the tops were covered as well. I think the school only ordered larges as the warm ups they were given were oversized on them, so not tight or revealing. Important to us, maybe not to others.

  76. Here I am, last one again. We have just been busy as usual, with the added doing of cards and cookies for the Christmas season. We are enjoying our lights inside and outside the house. We are dark at 4:15p; I am so ready for the days to get longer again. It is too early for the tree…we’ll put it up next Saturday and then take it down January 7th or so, after Epiphany. We have not cut it down yet…since we moved to this little house we just do a table top sized tree.

    Did all the usual of cooking and baking at home, packing lunches, using up all leftovers, composting, recycling, re-suing. Mended a pair of my tights that I caught on open file cabinet drawer at work. Put patches on elbows of a hooded sweatshirt daughter is very attached too. Used good fabric I had saved from another worn out item. Darned holes in 3 socks. Sewed up a loose thumb end on a glove.

    Attended funeral at church with luncheon after. Was given a Christmas stollen by another church memeber. Had first Sunday of the month church meal and it was our annual soup lunch. Various groups joined to make Nesco roasters full of soups, their choice…there was a chicken tortilla, a vegetable barley, stuffed pepper soup, cabbage roll soup, and chicken corn chowder. I made 4 dozen mini corn and cheddar muffins and a quart of dill pickles. Brought dinner over to daughters one time and ate there, at there once when my mother had prepared the meal for everyone. Her lasagna…I
    have never been able to make it as good as hers.

    Cooked up all the last of my tomatoes that had finally turned green…some were pretty small, but they all still ripened. Used them to make 4 quarts of spaghetti sauce adding celery and from the freezer a container of cooked diced eggplant, zucchini onions and peppers from our garden. There was the pound size box of mushrooms at the store marked down, so less than the 8 oz size. Peeled them and chopped and cooked with garlic and added to the sauce. I am not going to freeze them as the ingredients have already been frozen once. I put them upside down in the extra refrigerator. We used the one already and will use the others up in the next weeks. We have pasta and sauce once a week, every week, for dinner.

    Made German chocolate cake with coconut pecan filling/frosting. Made banana bread 4 small (not mini) loaves, made butternut squash soup (cooked up 2 of our butternuts), coleslaw, lettuce salads with greens from the greenhouse, open faced broiled cheese sandwiches topped with sliced onion, macaroni and cheese (I think I make this almost every week as it is an easy thing to scoop out a bowl for those who are eating lunch at home) Made nacho type haystacks topped with all kinds of leftovers. Blueberry pancakes. Sauteed kale with olive oil, cider vinegar and sesame seeds and husband grilled fish to go with it. Served with onion fried potatoes (home fries?). Baked white bread 2 loaves and 2 loaves cinnamon raisin swirl.

    Brandy, nice picture of your son..what a sweet smile. I hope to see pictures of Winter’s dresses she is making and altering.

  77. Melissa, is there a Christmas program, play, concert or exhibit that YOU and your daughter can go to? Can you plan on Christmas service at your church, even if it means alone? Make candy, but take it to work. Make cookies but give them to the neighbors and co-workers. I bought a small pre-lit tree and added a few candy canes, mini ornaments and two or three of my favorite ornaments. I keep it close to my chair, where I can enjoy it. The trappings are not Christmas, Christmas is in your heart. Don’t let anyone keep you from feeling the joy of Christmas, but remember, you do not have to share that joy with those who choose not to share that joy with you.

  78. We bought a couch through a neighborhood site pre-our daughter’s wedding in August. The person who sold it to me asked me if I was interested in 2 FREE chairs that co-ordinated with the chairs. Of course, I said yes. She even delivered them to us. I sent her a $25 gift card to our local grocery store as a thanks.
    My husband spent 2 days on the phone with our local internet/phone provider. We dropped the local phone service and saved over 50% off the internet bill – yippee!!
    Cooked many meals at home – making sure I use up all leftovers for lunch – planning meals is amazingly cost effective! But you all know that already.
    My husband insisted on joining a local gym after he retired – I begged him not to include me – well you know how that worked out. But for 8 visits a month, we break even on the insurance reimbursement. I basically watch HGTV as I am on the treadmill – no cable at home – so I get my fix! And we have no problem getting 8 visits in – usually 10 plus.

  79. It’s fun to read everybody’s comments and ideas! Some frugal things I have done to save money in the last week are:
    -heating the house with our woodstove
    -making homemade pizza and breadsticks
    -watching movies from the library
    -reading books from the library
    -making homemade bean and baked potato soup and homemade bread to go with it
    -making all meals at home
    -hanging some laundry to dry
    -making homemade cookies and all of our coffee drinks
    -buying some Christmas and birthday presents using coupons combined with sale prices to buy nine children’s shirts costing between .65 and 2.79 each
    -buying some like new presents at the thrift store
    -I also bought new socks! the only kind and style I like to wear that were always so hard to find and found a pack at Sears and then found out that they were discontinuing that style so they were marked down half off
    -put an extra blanket on the bed instead of turning the heat up
    -baked multiple things in the oven at one time to save energy, cookies, rice pudding and reheating dinner
    -using cash to pay for things which helps to limit my spending and eliminates charge card bills at the end of the month

  80. I love to see your pictures Brandi. This last week we put up our artificial christmas tree we have had for several years and our ornaments . Some of the lights were out so I used another extra strand to replace those not working. Looks lovely. I love this time of year when I can bring out our decorations I have collected over the years to display. Today I spent part of the day window shopping in our small town while listening to the sounds of Holiday music in each store. The displays were so pretty and festive. It was a fun afternoon. My daughter will be here next wee from Ca to visit me for a day, so
    we will go to another small town up north to window shop and see the Christmas decorations. I plan to treat her to lunch.
    It’s been very cold here in the Pacific NW this week and we had snow last evening. It was so pretty and lasted only a day since the rain came and washed it away. I have kept our temperature down inside our home by using an electric lap blanket to keep warm along with the fireplace.
    I used some frozen turkey leftovers from Thanksgiving to make a casserole and I have enough still frozen to use for 2 more meals. We have had mostly soups and casseroles for the last 2 weeks to stretch the food budget. It has been so cold here that these made perfect warm cozy dinners . I spent money grocery shopping for fresh veggies and fruits and very minimal on meats since I have some in the freezer. I am no longer able to harvest anything from my garden now so the stored food will come in handy these next couple of months. At least through the rest of Dec and January. My food budget will be low which will enable me to put more into savings for February when I will need to replenish.
    Have a great weekend~
    blessings, Patty from the NW

  81. Practice test are good. It was good for me to take the tests when they really didn’t count for anything. I can’t tell you how little pressure I felt when it was time to take the tests ‘for real’ for my college admissions.
    I applied the same lesson later in life when I sat for the CPA exam. I was eligible to take the exam almost a year before I was finished with my accounting classes. Since accounting was a second degree for me and since I already had a Bachelor’s, I could sit for the exam. For me, it was good to go through a trial run. Taking the CPA exam while still in school meant that I didn’t have to ‘report’ those scores to my employer.

  82. Melissa V,
    My husband is bipolar and has ruined quite a few holidays for my son and I. We just did the minimum for a few years while I was pretty ill, then we got our Christmas spirit back little by little. Just do what you can, ask God for peace and don’t feel guilty. As long as you remember the reason for the season, decorating is really not required.
    May God bless you and yours this season.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *