Harry Potter Baby Shower The Prudent Homemaker

I hosted a Harry Potter themed baby shower this past week. I had several people ask me if they could bring anything or help in any way, so I assigned out several things: paper plates, cups, and bowls; salad; soda (and she went the extra mile and made butterbeer, which was delicious!), and a banner.

I made pumpkin soup (a mixture of acorn and butternut squashes plus the mini pumpkins I had bought in early fall for decorations; the butternut squash was from my garden), rosemary olive oil bread, salad dressings, chocolates, mini cupcakes, mini treacle tarts, and cookies. I sliced a lemon from the garden to add to the water.

I sewed a bib for the baby shower, and also gave a free print (the Walgreen’s offer) and a rubber duck (bought on sale plus the extra 15% off last week) .

I mended the pocket on a cardigan.

Winter and I took a trip to Goodwill (a thrift/charity shop). The store opened up a little over a year ago, I believe, and it was our first time there. They mostly have women’s clothing, but we managed to find several like-new shirts and sweaters that I can use for Christmas gifts for three children. I found a couple of items for Winter, and a dress and two cardigans for myself. The prices were above what I pay at garage sales, but lower than the thrift store we usually go to. The dress was $6.99! It’s a bit too cold to wear it now but it will be nice to wear most of the year here.

My mom has continued her quest to find Christmas gifts at garage sales. She found some things Saturday morning, and some of them she gave to us already, including clothes for my girls in the sizes they need (she has a copy of my garage sale list) and a pair of brand-new jeans for me. The jeans fit perfectly, and she paid $2! 

I made a double batch of laundry soap.

I added a free one pound container of dry roasted peanuts to my grocery store shopping card (a one-day only coupon that needed to be added on the 5th but can be picked up anytime through the 19th).  I also downloaded the Free Friday coupon for some free candy, which I’ll use as a stocking stuffer for my husband. I’ll pick up these items next week.

I combined coupons and a cartwheel offer at Target to purchase a few stocking stuffers. 

I used Duolingo to practice my French skills. 

Winter used a free 5-day trial to prepare some more for the ACT test, which she took on Saturday. I canceled the trial in time to not be charged.

We went to a Christmas party at church. Afterwards, we were offered some leftover pasta to take home, which we ate the next two days.

I cut parsley, beet greens, basil, and oregano from the garden. We still haven’t had a freeze (despite predictions to the contrary). I picked 2 figs from our Mission fig tree. It always comes close to giving a third crop of figs, but it always freezes before that happens. This year, it looks like we may harvest at least a few more before a freeze!

I sowed seeds for arugula in the garden.

Winter Urn Detail The Prudent Homemaker

I used a $5 off coupon for the local nursery to pick up some annuals that were on sale for the white garden. While I was there, I also picked up some free tree trimmings, which I used in the urns in the garden (along with some of the pinecones we had gathered).


What did you do to save money last week? 



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  1. Janet, in our area, snapdragons, stock, primroses, ornamental kale and cabbages, cyclamen, pansies and violas do well all winter. We only get light freezes here and they are short-lived. However, I know that pansies and ornamental kale will make it in colder climates. I have seen pansies winter through in northern Utah–the snow falls on them, it melts, and they perk back up without a problem. Snapdragons are a summer flower in cooler climates. Cyclamen are an indoor plant in colder climates. Primroses bloom in early April in colder northern hemisphere climates, but here they bloom December through April. Your local nursery may have some selections that work in your area, depending on your zone.

  2. Hi Brandy, I love your snow flakes. Did you use a pattern? The baby shower sounds very simple and nice. I prefer to keep things simple and I wish more people did. Three or four items to eat and a drink is plenty. We have a work party coming up. The shared document of what people are bringing is way past long. I doubt everything will get eaten and I hate to see the waste.

    I saved on many food items this week including apples at .49 a lb and meat (pork, chicken, and beef) at 1.79 a pound. I’ve been making a point to buy larger quantities when prices are low. It has taken some time, but the pantry is starting to look pretty well stocked. We also drove an hour and a half to do a little shopping at a discount center. We were able to buy gloves for everyone for $3 and less a pair. We also got many boxes of gf crackers for .50.

  3. I cut my snowflakes freehand, but my eldest daughter made these ones and she prefers to use a pattern. She found several on Pinterest and drew them on her folded paper before cutting, and then ironed them before hanging them. I think I may try drawing some myself next year before I just start cutting; hers turned out really well.

    I had to laugh at your keeping it simple comment; my mom described my party as “going all out”! My daughter said, “Well, compared to other parties that [i]you[/i] have, but not compared to other parties I’ve gone to.” It was a lot more work than I usually do, but I had the children help and had others bring things, which made for a lot less work.

  4. We also went thrift shopping and did great. I hit the motherload of cookie tins for about a quarter each. My son told me he’d like to give cookies to his teachers as a holiday gift and then he said he’d like to do it for every teacher at his school. Well….it’s a small school. I was also lucky to find some free butter and flour for 50% off. I’m making some more expensive cookies because it is Christmas after all and making them is so much cheaper that even with the pricier ingredients like glaceed cherries and almond paste, I am still doing good. He is helping ( mostly sampling hahah). Today I made ginger spice cookies, chocolate orange biscotti and petit fours ( I made un-rainbow cookies. The layered Italian ones). Later tonight I’ll do more. My friend told me about a sale on kindle fires and we ordered one for our angel gift, along with a book and I’ll get some candy too.

  5. My frugal accomplishments for the week were:
    *Stayed home a lot last week, which saved on gas and wear and tear on the car.
    *got my free peanuts with Ralph’s one day coupon.
    * got free jimmy dean sausages and free Thomas muffins with coupons from Ralph’s i got in the mail.
    * got free dove ice cream bars from Ralph’s one day coupons.
    *bought challenge butter for $1.99 a pound and bought 10lbs since I could only afford that much.
    *bought 20lbs of brown sugar it was 2lbs for .99 cents.
    *my mom had gone to Costco and bought us some 5lbs of stew meat, 9lbs ground beef, and 10lb pork loin. As well as she got us some shredded cheese and a few other groceries. Which was a surprise for us. I used my food saver (was a gift from our wedding 4 years ago) to bag up the meat we received. I had put the stew meat in 2 bags, ground beef in 9 bags and the pork loin I cut two roasts from it, as well as 10 pork chops from it. Those chops went into 5 different bags and the 2 roasts into two bags. This will do us for 26 meals. The roasts and stew meat will last us at for least 2 1/2 meals each bag.
    *my Costco membership is up for renewal and my folks told us not to renew it and just to go with them if we need to go. So that saves us $55.
    * made a container to put my dryers sheets in so I can reuse them since they are good for at least a few more times.
    * worked on this months budget. I’m still trying to figure out this whole budget and what can we do to cut back. i had to quit my job August 31st to stay home since we couldn’t afford childcare. My parents and my hubby’s parents were watching while we worked but with the health issues they could no longer do it. So we had to have me stay home.
    *ate all of our meals at home except for one and that was a lunch meal my parents treated me and my son too.
    *went and saw some model trains at a train hobby store and the worker there put a few different trains on for my son to see. It was train day as my son put it. My parents wanted to take him to show him the different types of model trains.
    *spent a few minutes each day reading different prudent homemakers posts on different things about living on a tight budget.

  6. The baby shower sounds lovely! When I was pregnant with my daughter we kept mine simple as well.
    I took advantage of some excellent sales and purchased sacks of flour (5 lb bags) for .99, brown sugar for .99 a bag (typical size), 2 dozen eggs for .49 cents each (the flier had the price as .59 each but the store was .10 cheaper 🙂 ) marked down organic chicken thighs and a whole chicken that worked out to $1 per pound. I also restocked some pantry items we were out of or low on: powdered milk, baking soda, tomato paste. My mom came with me and as a thank you for helping us out with picking up our daughter from school and babysitting I paid for her purchase ( it wasn’t much) and gave her some items from my stockpile. I also gave her some money for gas for her car.
    I made bread, milk, yogurt (but it didn’t set up, not sure why), muffins using the last bit of cinnamon applesauce and leftover cooked 5 grain cereal, meatloaf and mashed potatoes, potato pancakes using the leftover mashed potatoes and rewarmed meatloaf (turned my husband’s portion into an open faced hot sandwich with brown gravy). I was blessed with some free pears, a couple handfuls of free grapes, and some eggplant. I canned the pears in slices in simple syrup, canned the grapes, sliced, blanched and froze the eggplant. I added maple flavoring to the leftover simple syrup to make “maple” syrup for pancakes or sweetening so it wouldn’t go to waste. I saved the water from the water bath canner and reheated it after supper and used it to wash the dishes that night.
    I had ordered the free 8 x 10 from Walgreens and used a free golf picture from the internet. I put it into a free frame we had in our storage for a free present for my husband for Christmas. I wrapped it in paper that we inherited with the house.
    I ordered my cat’s prescription dry food from chewy.com, but the price was $20. I figured it was a trade off for saving me an hour of driving to pick up a bag myself. When the bag arrived it was double in size than the bag I usually buy from the Vet’s office! THAT’S why it was more! So with free shipping I actually saved money and won’t need cat food for a couple of months.
    Due to physical issues I was unable to continue in housekeeping at the hotel I was working at ( management would not work with me to put me into a different position that was easier for me). I obtained a part time job in a gas station. Truth be told, I don’t like it, however it is a paycheck so I choose to do my job as cheerfully as I can. I was invited to test for a business in the next city over (about a 20 minute drive on the highway) that does data entry for various companies but has a contract with the VA department 🙂 I have been trying to get in with this company for 2 years (it’s very difficult). I test on Wednesday and have to pass a federal clearance (which I should, I had to have one at the job I lost in October 2015). Please pray for me!!! 🙂
    Did the usual: used less water in the bathtub/shower, washed full loads only, line dried all but a couple loads of laundry, washed and reused ziptop bags and jars, kept all lights off when not needed, stayed home when we didn’t HAVE to go anywhere.
    Have a great week everyone! I cant wait to read everyone else’s lists!!

  7. No thrift shopping for me this week.

    I made lentil soup and defrosted some rosemary bread I’d made before. I got some good deals at the grocery store. We seem to run out of veggies on Thursday. There were good prices on carrots, peppers, zucchini, and cucumber.

    I attended a potluck on Friday and went home with homemade jams and some persimmons. I crocheted some more snowflakes, trees, and snowman for gifts. I biked to work 2x this week.

    I found pork loin on sale and it’s in the crockpot.

  8. The hit to my frugalness this week is due to my husband having tooth problems. We stayed indoors and he is only eating soft food. I had cooked split pea soup, black bean soup and meatloaf, since he has to eat soft food. But it turns out hot foods are causing pain, so everything I cooked went into the freezer. We are left to eat yogurt, applesauce and cottage cheese, all items I don’t make from scratch (at least not yet). So i had extra spending on that as well as prescription drugs. I hope next week will be better. I made a batch of Brandy’s laundry detergent and refilled my homemade fabric softener (vinegar and essential oil).

    I thought the baby shower looked incredibly complex ;). And really lovely looking in the photo!

  9. Rachel,

    You sound like you are doing wonderfully learnig how to make it work on one income! Stockig up on butter on such a sale and then only buying what you have the money to buy is exactly how you keep a budget in check.

    There are some great sales this month. The ads came this week and the meat sales are fantastic. It’s tempting to buy some more meat from the freezer at such great prices. However, I know that sales will come around again, and I want to stay in budget, and so I will pass on them.

    I made black beans and rice last week. I had made a lot more beans that we could eat in one meal, and we ended up with leftover beans (but no more rice). In eating up our leftovers this week (over several lunches at the end of the week) my son put a bit of mozarella on the leftover beans, warmed it in the microwave, and topped it with ripened tomatoes from the garden. I followed his lead and tried it, and it was so good that both I and a daughter chose it as leftovers for 2 other days! Ofttimes we are fine, just using what we have on hand.

    Also a hint for the dryer sheets, once these are used up: You can skip them completely. I didn’t belive my husband when we first told me this when we were first married, but it is true. I used the timed dry seting on my dryer and make sure to not overdry the loads. If they are not over-dried, they do not get static! You will no longer have the perfume from them on your clothing, but that is not so bad. Also, you will find that you can dry most loads for about 20 minutes less than you had been doing, saving extra on energy bills. Test it out and see how long it works with your washer and dryer (and plan on a bit longer drying times for heavier loads, like towels and jeans, than for things like sheets and shirts).

  10. It’s always so hard for me to finally go back to the Thrift shops after saving so much money at garage sales. I will though soon. It sounds like you found some great deals!

    We were offered free tomatoes from the local habitat for Humanity store when we visited.
    I will be using these in stews, chili, and Blt’s!

    Here are the rest of my frugal accomplishments

  11. Yes, I feel the same way! I have a hard time paying more than garage sale prices for items!

    My mom has been shopping garage sales every week! She found us a bicycle last week (I paid her for it) for $20 for one child. She also found several clothing items on my list that I thought she was going to give us as Christmas gifts (as part of her goal to buy all Christmas gifts at garage sales) but she ended up giving some of them to us now. She found a pair of jeans for me that look brand-new, and they fit me perfectly!

  12. We sold my husbands miter saw to the friend of a friend within an hour of posting it on our Facebook status! That plus closing out an extra checking account at work that we no longer have a need for and another $6 in pinecone survey money gave us almost $200 in unplanned income this week!

    We also got an order from one of our wholesale clients (from our woodworking side business) for another $100 worth of product with several more things she also wants to have us make right after this! Now, to many people this may seem like little dribs and drabs of income, but this is a sideline that is done only when and if we want to and the materials we use are recycled and completely free! Working together is also like free dates with each other too because we thoroughly enjoy being in the shop together and get into a rhythm as we both use the different power tools!
    I made 18 sausage mcmuffins today for easy breakfast grab and go options!
    I took dinner to an elderly man Friday night whose wife is in the hospital. He is wheelchair bound and lives in a tiny single wide trailer. It made me grateful to have a full pantry that allowed me to serve him so easily.
    We have eaten all of our meals at home this week without take out and without having to supplement any recipes with a trip to the grocery!

    I finished my fifth Christmas quilt top for a granddaughter yesterday! I have sandwiched the batting and backing with it and am currently marking the quilting! I hope to have it finished by Tuesday! Only 1 or 2 more to do after that!
    I have started making the Christmas candies and cookies for family gift baskets this year for our 11 children!
    I have another big trash bag filled with clothes to donate to Goodwill! We are trying to declutter and minimize our household “stuff” every single week and we are excited to see the progress!
    All in all, another good week!!

  13. Oh Brandy, the table and decorations for the shower look beautiful! The paper snowflakes with the curly white ribbons is gorgeous and I love the way you used the cake stand for displaying the white pumpkin. Are you planning to share another post on what you did for the event? I’d love to see photos of the bib you made, if you thought to take one. Your gifts are always so lovely and inspiring!

    Another relatively quiet yet busy week for me. This week, our frugal accomplishments included:
    *Meals made at home this week included tacos, breaded chicken burgers with choice of potato wedges or sweet potato fries, hot chicken sandwiches with carrots, hamburger helper, chicken bacon ranch pasta, and chocolate chip pancakes with breakfast sausage.
    *I worked 3 days this week. Took my lunch all three days, including my insulated bottle of ice water. We also enjoyed free cookies left over from the Christmas event one day.
    *Sewed 4 drawstring shoe bags for Christmas gifts from some of the drapery panel fabric I bought at a thrift store for $2. Also started embroidering a tea towel for another Christmas gift.
    *While I was working with my sewing machine, I repaired 5 pairs of underwear where the stitching along the elastic had come apart.
    *My mother has been working on baking some treats for Christmas. I plan on doing some baking as well. I’ve just been too busy between work and trying to sew Christmas gifts, but hopefully I’ll get to my baking soon.
    *Grocery deals this week included a bag of clearance bananas for $1 (half the bag are only good for baking, but that is fine by me), a 20lb bag of potatoes for $3.44, 4 tubes of Pillsbury crescent rolls for $0.97 each and a box of chocolate cheerios for $1.50.

    Always love to read everyone’s comments…so inspirational every week. Wishing you all a wonderful, festive, joyous week ahead!

  14. I love how you decorated your urns. It’s great to see frugal/free examples that are creative and so lovely. I found some good deals at the Salvation Army thrift store, mostly sleeveless tops I will use as camisoles this winter for .49 ea. I used Duolingo for Italian every day. I sure could learn a lot about setting a beautiful table from you! Joining in here: http://abelabodycare.blogspot.com/2016/12/holiday-cheer-quilt-frugal.html

  15. Vickie, it is that way for my mom and I after enjoying our local Goodwill’s $1 Sundays for specific colored tags. We find the prices at inexpensive regular stores shockingly high unless things are on sale for 75% off or more. But we haven’t yet made yard sale shopping a habit. After your comment, I will spend more time checking out yard sales next spring.

  16. We went to a local tree farm and cut down a $5 Christmas tree. The tree has a flat side where it was growing too close to another tree. The flat side works even better for us since the tree is pushed into a corner of our LR.

    Butter was finally on sale for $1.98. I bought 10 pounds. Kleenex was also on a good sale plus I had manufacturer’s coupons (downloaded from Swagbucks) so purchased 10 boxes. On top of all this, the local grocery store had put a spend $100 get $20 off coupon.

    Celebrated a good friend’s birthday on Saturday. My gift was two-fold: two very nice chocolate bars and a word document with images of my birthday wishes for her i.e., a “sold” sign on her front lawn, time to paint, etc.

    Late this afternoon a local church hosted Elisabeth Von Trapp in concert. Her grandmother was Maria. The concert was phenomenal and was a free will donation. It was so peaceful and a beautiful Christmas season event. I took my 80+ year old neighbor and after the concert we drove through neighborhoods looking at Christmas lights.

  17. I consider myself frugal, but I have not been paying attention to how much I have been spending on groceries. I looked by at our YNAB budget for November. What a shock! We spent $736 at the grocery store! Yikes! We did stock up on some things and actually bought things to make Christmas gift baskets and we hosted for Thanksgiving, but, wow, that is way too much!

    I am going to be paying close attention this month and try to keep out budget around $200. We went shopping at Aldi and Kroger yesterday. We have spent $132 so far in December. I made a meal plan before going to the store and bought items to go with what I already had on hand. I have at least two weeks of dinners planned out. We will use leftovers for packing our lunches for work.

  18. Sounds like a great week! I LOVE the baby shower photo! Must have been such fun!

    My frugal accomplishments include:
    – made my own peppermint patties (3 ingredients! 2 minutes!) and then covered them in chocolate. I’ve added them to my Christmas cookie containers that I am giving out. I’ve only added non-baked goods, as it’s easier to make them without scenting the house with delicious calorie-laden temptation from baking. Also, candy stays fresh longer than cookies, so I can do my non-baking over the course of the month, and not get stressed out trying to make 10 different cookies on the same weekend. And I made the peppermint patties using pantry ingredients! Cheap, preservative-free, and very importantly, yummy!
    – got medication dispensed at the hospital department where I had my appointment today, and saved myself the dispensing fee from a regular pharmacy.
    – received a free sample of Nescafe from samplits website (freebie website). I’ll keep it in my work bag for those days when I need some caffeine to keep me going. Free is even cheaper than brewing your own!
    – took note of an offer for a free Big Mac/McNuggets when one signs up and downloads the new McDonald’s app (in Canada). I’m vegetarian, so it’s not something I’d use, and I’m not a big fan of processed fast foods anyway, but hey, free food is free food and maybe somebody else can use it. I believe the offer is only good in Canada.
    – made 10lbs of pickled beets. Seems to help reduce my IBS symptoms, plus they’re yummy and inexpensive (10 cents/lb for the beets). If only I had more canning jars, I would totally make more, as I ate through about 4 lbs in 3 days already!
    – I took a leaf that had fallen off from my Christmas cactus (which I had received about 10 years ago from an appreciative client), and sprouted it in water. I planted it in some purchased dirt (despite amending the soil on my balcony, it’s still lacking in so many nutrients so it won’t grow lettuce or any other plants very well, so I had to purchase dirt.) I plan to plant some bulbs outside to over winter, as well as force some bulbs to bloom inside for fresh indoor flowers in the winter. Don’t tulips and hyacinths in deepest, coldest February sound nice? Those bulbs are currently chilling in my fridge. I’m slowly adding to my collection of indoor greenery, while spending as little as possible!
    – My workplace had a Christmas party at a restaurant, and I took home half of my dinner, and ate it the next day for lunch.
    – one of my colleagues bought too much icing sugar, so she gave a bag to me. More Christmas baking supplies!
    – used $5 of free points at Indigo/Chapters when buying Christmas gifts (books) for friends kids. I plan to make granola and/or embroidered towels for the adults, and I give the kids inexpensive paperbacks during our Christmas equivalent of Friendsgiving.
    – I talked the DH out of spending on several items. This is indeed a frugal accomplishment!

    Looking forward to learning from everyone else’s accomplishments!

  19. I have to chime in on the dryer sheets — you totally don’t need them! I haven’t used them in years and don’t have an issue. Do what Brandy says and don’t over dry, and you’ll be fine. That said, I know it’s also possible to make your own (search on pinterest), but cutting them out completely is totally doable! Best of luck in your frugal adventures – sounds like you’re off to a good start! 🙂

  20. How inspiring! 11 children! Making several quilts before Christmas! Helping an elderly neighbor!

    I am envious of how you are spending your time. I work as a nurse in a management position and work many hours. I work in surgery and this time of year is our busiest. I have been a surgery nurse for almost 30 years and, this time of year is always hectic.

  21. Good luck with the test on Wednesday! I’m sure you’ll do great! Re: the yoghurt, personally I’ve found that my yoghurt won’t set if I do any of these things: don’t put enough starter culture in, don’t keep it at the right temperature to culture (it need to be warm enough for the bacteria to multiply. Too hot or too cold will kill the culture.), or didn’t heat the milk to the right temperature before adding in the culture (the milk needs to be heated to change the structure of the proteins). That said, if you have runny yoghurt, try draining it in a cloth-lined colander over a bowl; the excess whey will drain out and you should be left with firm yoghurt (this is also how to make Greek yoghurt). Or, just use it as you would buttermilk, or blend it in a smoothie! Hope your next batch turns out the whey (ha!) you want!

  22. My husband tuned and waxed our skis, saving us $50 over what the shops charge.
    We drove to the National Forest near our home and cut our Christmas tree. The permit to cut the tree was $8 and we came home with an absolutely gorgeous, 12-foot tall fir – the kind of tree that goes for well over $100 at local tree lots. Plus we had a fun day out, snow-shoeing and looking for the ‘right’ tree.
    The mom-and-pop pet store where we buy all our dog food (great people and great prices) had their big annual sale — $10 off big bags of food, limit 2 bags, and 20% off everything else. We got two bags of dog food, a couple of toys for the puppy and some treats. Then we hit up City Market for 3 bags of sugar at 99 cents each, a big bottle of canola oil for 99 cents and a free bag of Craisins. We stopped at Safeway and picked up 4 bottles of cranberry-pomegranite juice for 49 cent each with a rain check I got from last week’s sale.
    I mostly cooked at home, but we did eat out tonight after my choir concert. We split an entree and drank water, so it was an inexpensive, but delicious treat.

  23. I hit the thrift store this week for the first time in a long time. I spent less than $3.00 a really nice (like new) picnic basket. I love the basket. I could not believe it was less than $3.00. It will be a big part of a Christmas gift.

    I found blue jeans for the boys at the $5.00 and below store. Name brand NEW jeans for $5.00. Each grandson is getting 3 pair. The boys are getting so tall, the knees are out of most of their pants now, and it is nice to get new jeans for them. The brand is Wrangler. I was surprised to find the brand…the ad just said “name brand” jeans so when I went into the store I did not know what brand there was.

    We cooked at home. I made lunch for my husband everyday.
    I got my new washer Thursday. My old machine was less than 3 years old but it was recalled and I got an offer for replacement and took it.

  24. I roasted a turkey purchased at the sales before Thanksgiving. (Daughter asked for a ham rather than turkey for Christmas dinner.) I used the carcass to make broth for about 20 servings of soup – 2 kinds -white chili and turkey rice. I froze all the sliced meat to use later in shepherd’s pie, enchiladas and anything else. I made a double batch of cranberry pumpkin bread and made 24 muffins as well as 2 loaves for breakfasts. I enjoyed leftover slow cooker sweet potatoes, made with unsweetened applesauce, left from a healthy potluck at work. We had a lunch at work – soup and bread – for which I provided a gluten free apple crisp (made with oats). I had baked and frozen a Queen’s Cake – colonial recipe of loaf cake made with currants, butter, lemon and orange flavorings. This week I enjoyed eating it with home assembled chai lattes, using Tazo Skinny Chai syrup. Dinner on Friday night was a holiday meal provided at work – and a chance to eat beef brisket. I only eat beef once a week. At church coffee hour for the last two Sundays, lunch was provided. (Usually it is just snacks.) Last week it was chicken and egg noodles. This week it was beef chili that contained chunks of sweet potatoes.

    The lights on our artificial Christmas tree (only it’s third Christmas), were not working. We could tell the problem was a connection in the adapter where it plugged into the power outlet. My husband took the adapter to an electrical supply company. They told him this type was only sold in China and was cheap and unreliable. However, they told him how to replace the adapter with something from an old calculator, he followed the directions and Voila! the lights work now.

    I enjoyed three free community events – a wonderful holiday concert from the community chorus, an open house at the nearby interpretive center at a Japanese internment camp from WWII and a free holiday concert by a local chamber ensemble at the library.

    Happy holidays, all and stay warm. It is COLD in the Rockies right now.

  25. Mandy, I used the same unset yogurt to remake it and it turned out great. Also, i’ve discovered that the cultures i buy for yogurt and kefir are the same. One was a bit cheaper, so that’s the one i buy, no matter what i make.

  26. Gardenpat, A sister of mine has 11 children, too. Most have grown; there are four left at home. Her house is always busy. It makes me tired to hear what she has happening on any given day. Plus, she home schooled all of them. (Still) There’s never a dull moment and i swear she can do six things at once!

  27. Before my thrift list, I have a question. I have a coupon that would give me one free cream cheese for every one I buy. I use cream cheese for a few things, but I would like to stock up. Does anyone have any experience with freezing and then using cream cheese for cooking or cheese cakes? I don’t want to freeze it and then find it inedible/unusable. Thanks in advance for any help.

    1) a neighbor moved and offered me two unopened one-fifth bottles of rum and two of vodka. My husband and I don’t really like the taste of alcohol, except Bailey’s, but I took it anyway figuring I would find a use. Then it hit me! I make vanilla and peppermint and almond extract so the vodka can go for that. And I have a friend who makes rum cake for every potluck/holiday/gift. For Christmas I am wrapping each of the rum bottles in a new tea towel from a stash of brand new ones I found for 60 cents for a pack of two at Goodwill, and giving them to her as her Christmas gift. Liquor is expensive and she does not have a lot of money to spare so I think she will really appreciate this.
    2) I live in Alaska and our 80% hamburger is usually $4.99 a pound. This morning I stopped by the grocery store to pick up a prescription and met the butcher as he was marking down the packs to $2.99 a pound. That is the best price I have seen in literally years. I had received a gift card from a relative for this very store, for $100. I used 2/3 of it for hamburger and the rest for half price cheese that I also ran across. A one day manager’s special! Honestly, our stores of meat and cheese were pretty much gone so this was a blessing beyond belief. This amount of meat will last us months and months.
    3.) Stopped by Sam’s to get a replacement for a bag of apples that had had about a third rotten once I opened the mesh. They let me keep the good ones and gave me an entirely new bag, too. Right next to the produce area they were giving out samples of yummy rolls that were on sale. I reminded myself that I could make them cheaper and I left the temptation behind me.
    4.) A friend of mine is driving a large truck back from Washington state, for his workplace. He called and said the back turned out to be covered and lockable, so did I want him to bring anything back. I called around and found dog food at a store near him, for almost half of what we normally pay, so he is bringing back 500 pounds of it. (Our Danes eat about 150 pounds a month) This week I got paid for several mystery shops I had done, two of which paid $75 each, so I will not have to go into savings to pay for the dog food. I am going to make my friend a loaf of Babka to repay him for his kindness and thoughtfulness. Babka is sort of a pain to make but I usually make some for the holidays so I will just double the recipe.
    5) My gloves are wearing out in the fingertips, or rather the down insulation is getting flat, and not keeping me very warm. I spent $7 on a pair of liners, which is less than I would have spent on new gloves. Right now we are experiencing temperatures in the 25 to 30 below zero range, so I can’t just buy any old cheap gloves.
    6) Took some books to the used bookstore and earned enough credits to buy two as-good-as-new books for Christmas gifts.
    7) I must confess that I don’t understand the coloring for relaxation craze. I detested coloring even as a kid. But in the bathroom of my workplace someone had left a pile of “Free for the taking” magazines. (This is how we recycle them, in the female employees bathroom. I don’t know, maybe they do the same in the men’s room!). Anyway, in the pile were two adult coloring books, still in shrink wrap, so totally new. I salvaged them for a Christmas gift for my coloring fiend of a sister in law. Left a note thanking my benefactor. The next day she came by my desk with two more brand new coloring books. Apparently her mother keeps sending them to her, ignoring my friend’s statements that she doesn’t color, so now that she knows I can put them to use she is going to pass them straight onto me. I am also gong to make some Babka for her.

    As I write these, I am struck by how many, many kindnesses have come my way. Free alcohol that I could recycle, half price burgers purchased with a gift card, cheaper dog food, enough credits to buy new books for Christmas gifts, free coloring books for another gift. Until I listed them for this blog, I felt like this was not a very special week but it most certainly was. How many times have I failed to realize how blessed I am? Thanks for the opportunity to remind myself.

  28. I want to get to my local Goodwill, but it seemed like this weekend was all about catching up at home. Maybe next weekend. I need to look for new scrub clothes for work, but i don’t want to spend new prices.

    Come by and visit me!

  29. Placed the butternut squash seeds I dried, from the squash I cooked for the Thanksgiving pies, into a glass jar for storage.

    Baked fresh cinnamon rolls for the “treat” when my in-laws came for a visit. Used the remaining dough to bake dinner rolls for later & froze them so they wouldn’t get “snacked away”.

    Bottled another 5 pints of turkey & duck broth, then made a turkey stew using the rest of the broth & most of the rest of the meat.

    Kmart sent me an email announcing that I had $16.10 in reward points, so I bought some OxyClean I needed for storage there. I looked for more G2 Gatorade for my husband, but they do not carry the G2, so I bought chocolate with the rest. Free chocolate is always good, especially right before Christmas.

    Took another batch of items to donate in to the thrift store & picked up a receipt. Brought home an empty popcorn tin (to safely store more of my wool yarn stash), a tin scout cooking kit to add to the emergency bag & 2 more half pint jars. The scout kit was missing the clip piece that holds it together, so I sewed a bag to slip it in, to keep all the pieces together. These little kits aren’t great for cooking a wide variety of meals, but they work well on things like oatmeal, or scrambled eggs – i.e. fast “emergency meals” that don’t take much time on the fire.

    I have been working on learning to save & then use duck, goose & turkey fat (schmaltz) more routinely. This week I used duck fat in place of the butter in dinner rolls, & turkey fat in the stew. Both turned out fine.

    Completed a pine cone survey & requested the cash reward as a check.

    Talked with our daughter in the PNW – starting on Thursday, they had sleet storms that covered the roads. She is a physician & had to call in to cancel clinic 2 days in a row (not that any patients were willing to travel on ice- covered roads, where cars are sliding sideways down the hills!) She had bought groceries before the storm, to make sure they had whole milk for the toddler, etc, & was glad that they were sufficiently prepared that she did not need to leave the house at all. For her, part of preparation is making sure she has sufficient days off left, so that she CAN call & cancel.

  30. Just don’t cut them in half to save money. I tried that and the half sheet fit perfectly in the vent filter, blocking air flow and overheating the dryer. It cost us $75 to get the dryer working again. I haven’t used fabric softener sheets since.

  31. Mable,

    Cream cheese usually has a 6 month out expiration date. I keep mine in the meat/cheese drawer in the firidge, and I have kept it and used in the fridge up to a year from purchase (6 months past the expiration date) and it has always been just fine. I understand if you freeze it is is fine for baking but not for using fresh as it tends to crumble.

    I shared your stories of this week with my husband this evening. What great blessings you have had!

  32. Holly, that must depend on the make of your dryer, because I tear mine in half & it works fine for my husbands work shirts & dress slacks. Those are the only 2 loads for which I use them.We haven’t had a lick of trouble. However, my mother used to reuse the dryer sheets at least once, & sometimes twice (but then she put in two per load). She kept them in a little tub on the top of the dryer for reuse.

  33. I just use a ball of foil about the size of a golf ball..it started out as a tennis ball sized one and over the years has gotten smoothed and beaten down. The foil removes the static or at least neutralizes it. In the Deep South where I’m at our clothes, especially our towels must be dried fully or mildew can become a smelly problem. I also add a few clean tennis balls to the dryer loads that are heavier. They seem to help the dryer dry faster. Although those bounce dryer sheets do help keep Mosquitos away. Especially helpful when babies can necessarily doused with OFF.

  34. Instead of using yarn with the glue, you can also place the waxed paper over top of the pattern, then just fill in the snowflake design with the white glue, straight from the bottle. Let it dry for a couple of hours, then go over it again & sprinkle with glitter lightly. Let dry over night & peel off the waxed paper. You may have to let the “back” dry for a day as well, but then the snowflake is good to go. One of my friends in Idaho used to make them this way & I thought it was so frugal & easy.

  35. We have to dry our clothes thoroughly here too Heather or we will have the same problem. It’s just the difference between being dried to the point of done versus being overdried (going an extra 20-30 minutes around in the dryer after they are dry) that creates static. When we had to buy a new dryer I made sure to get one with a timed dry setting rather than just a setting that had a named load.

    You make an interesting point about dryer sheets and mosquitoes! I had read about putting them in your pockets when going for walks. The clothing itself being perfumed is a good point. My husband is very sensitive to perfumes and we don’t have many mosquitos here.

  36. Brandy,
    Those snowflakes are so sweet and the table turn out so beautiful. I love that you had a Harry Potter, how fun and original for a shower.

    I bought more pasta at 50cents. We can very rarely get pasta at the price in my area. I hear about prices in different parts of the county and am amazed at pricing. Then I remember sometimes I find some pretty good prices myself.

    Stopped by my favorite fruit and vegetable stand to check out the marked down table. They had 2 flats heaping full of organic bananas that were a little bruised and brown for $1.98. I pulled the peels back and was able to salvage about 15 pounds of perfect ripe bananas to freeze for my husband smoothies. I used the remaining to make 2 loaves of banana bread and froze the rest for banana bread later. A good price here for banana is 79 cents a pound for reference. Also found cucumbers, zucchini and apples for about 20 cents a pound in the bargain bins.

    I cooked every meal we ate last week including lunches. I made a basic schedule for meals and notice it has helped tremendously for organization and shopping. Monday is Italian, Taco Tuesday, Wednesday is soup night, Thursday is an Asian dish(we made curry this week) Friday is leftovers, Saturday homemade pizza night and Sunday I make something special.

    -Made a conscious effort to turn off lights after leaving the room. Kept the thermostat low during the day when everyone is at school or work.

    -Funny, I stopped by Value Village this week too. Scored a Soda Stream, after a 30% off card, for $6.99. I have been wanting one for a couple of years but could not justify paying $70 to $150 for one. I also found a beautiful oval tart dish with lovely blue ribbons on the side.

    -Purchased Tomato puree #10 can for my daughter’s basketball team dinner(I learned this tip from reading your blog). I could not find this size at Costco so dropped by a local restaurant supply store and was able to find them for a good price(Same price as Sam’s club). While I was there I picked up potatoes, onions, salad mix and some root beer syrup for the kids to use with the soda stream.

    -Worked in shopping around my kids basketball schedule to save on gas.

    -Pulled out our artificial Christmas trees. I bought them for $20 dollar and $30 dollars about 8 years ago. I just have never cared for the idea of cutting down a tree every year for the extravagance of a holiday. I also love not buying a fresh one every year as it is expensive where we live.

    Feeling very grateful to have a warm home so live in, especially during the colder winter months.

  37. Rachel, it will certainly be a joy to you that you can stay home with your children. Sorry that your parents are not in good health though. I agree on not using dryer sheets. They are not healthy anyway. Line dry outside, or inside on a drying rack or string a clothesline in a cellar or unused room. Certainly for heavy items…towels, jeans, etc. Then, once dry, just put them in the dryer for a couple minutes to soften them up. You can save greatly on utility costs.

    Brandy’s blog is wonderful and there is a wealth of information out there on other blogs or the internet regarding living frugally and saving money. I would also highly recommend one of the best books ever on frugal living…The Complete Tightwad Gazette, by Amy Dacazyn. Now a bit dated but well worth the effort to read…. hopefully available at your local library. Best of luck to you in all of your frugal endeavors!

  38. YES you can freeze brownies. I used to do 3-4 batches at a time (lg family) and cut them, then freeze on cookie sheet and then bag them.Also would turn some into Baked Alaska.

  39. Blessed Be Brandy,
    I check here every day to see if there is something I can learn or remind me to start doing again. Every day I write down what I am doing that is frugal or saving money in some form.
    My son was told there was going to be some MREs thrown away due to open box that couldn’t be placed in storage so he asked us to check with our local group that works with Homeland security that Hubby volunteers with. They took them and was very thankful as it will help provide meals when they are on emergency calls.My son also bought a new coffee maker (on sale for half price) but it takes a special size filter. He was going to pay $8 for 10 of them and called me to complain. I found the same filters through a restaurant supplier for $20 for 1000. He makes 712 pots of coffee a year. I am finishing my last of my doctor appts for the year. I was able to squeeze everyone in even though that means I will be buying more gas for my car due to me driving to them.I have to drive 2-4 hrs round trip for appts due to having specialists. A friend gave us our Christmas gift early , it had pickled beets(Her hubby and I eat them as she and my Hubby don’t) crackers and a sausage log for Hubby while he watches the games, some apple butter and a can of candy she knows we don’t eat but it means Christmas to her. I pass it to a friend that does eat it but can’t afford it. My cell phone was dying (been carrying one since I had a heart attack while driving and there was no houses around me) and I’ve dragged out replacing it. Son checked out several for me to make sure I was getting a decent phone that will last several years for the best price. I use Straight Talk and Hubby uses Net10. We finally broke down and went to Walmart to check out the phones Son suggested. Hubby talked me into the better of the two I had chosen because of the length of talk time available. It was $139.99…sigh He went to pay for it and the lady had to go to the back to get it and found one …out of over 2 dozen that was still listed under Black Friday price. $49.99. SCORE. Hubby told me Merry Christmas LOL… even though this is “sock” Christmas. My youngest daughter gave me a recipe for dog treats, it was a can of fruit with liquid pureed and 1 cup of oatmeal cooked together and then scooped out on a cookie sheet and froze. She keeps them in a canning jar in the freezer. I am going to try it with a can of cooked carrots (going to measure how much liquid is in it so I can just cook my own carrots next time) as Miss Kira needs to eat carrots but she struggles eating anything hard at her age(12-14 yrs old). This might end up being a Christmas present for our friends as they don’t buy treats for the dog after it got sick eating some store bought. They have been dehydrating chicken breast slices for him.
    The rest of what I have done is here http://chefowings.blogspot.com/2016/12/finishing-garden-and-staying-frugal.html

  40. Hello Brandy and everyone from Australia 🙂 .

    Our frugal accomplishments for the week are –

    In the garden –
    – Saved seeds from our chives to replant in the garden without purchasing any.
    – Picked many kilos of brown onions which are curing on the veranda saving $2.50kg over purchasing them.
    – Picked a lot of ripe garlic also curing on the front veranda saving $30kg over buying it in the supermarket.
    – Mulched a few more vegetable garden beds with raked leaves from our yard and reclaimed hay from finished vegetable crops.
    – Picked garlic, onions and capsicums from the gardens.
    – Planted some more parsley seeds in the garden.
    – planted a 9mt row of carrot seeds.

    In the kitchen –
    – Cooked all meals and bread from scratch.

    Household –
    – Turned off all power points to unused appliances.
    – Used solar lanterns all week for lighting at night without turning on any mains lighting.

    Water preservation –
    – Used grey water from our showers and washing machine all week to hand water our house paddock lawns.
    – Used vegetable washing and blanching water to water new seedlings planted in the gardens.

  41. Our Goodwill’s offer 50% off EVERYTHING in the store on Black Friday, 4th of July, and New Year’s Day – not sure of any other holidays.

  42. I have two thrift stores I shop at first, when I need something. The quality and prices are usually decent. However, in our area, the facebook yardsales have really high prices, so I avoid those.

  43. I love your table, Brandy! The snowflakes, food, decorations, everything is beautiful! I was visiting my sons and shopped at Aldi while up there. I purchased Mayo for $1.89, large salsa for $1.69 (I usually make my own but I really like their salsa), peanut butter $1.49, 10 lbs of potatoes for $2.49, 69 cents for a dozen large eggs. I forgot to purchase condensed milk for 59 cents a can…sigh. I enjoyed a lovely Christmas program at the LDS church in Tuscaloosa, while I was up there visiting my sons. It is always fun to attend different wards. I talked myself out of buying pants with the $10 off 25 coupon for J.C. Penney’s. Fifteen dollars goes a long way, and after you wear them once, they are used anyway. I think I will stick to my thrift store shopping. I enjoyed the drive back home, through the national forest. I love the forest!

  44. I found two sheets of flannel sheets on craigslist for $15 each- our bedroom doesn’t heat well in the winter, and flannel sheets and fleece blankets are much cheaper than a space heater! I bought 20 lbs of ground beef for 1.99/lb, and canned it, and bought 2 more hams and another turkey on sale. I also stocked up on eggs, flour, sugar, and peanut butter -Krogers had a mega sale event, and these were 99 cents each. We are supposed to have a very cold snowy winter here, and I’d much rather eat from the pantry and freezer than fight the snow to get groceries. I finished a no sew fleece blanket for my son with fleece bought on a 50% off sale at Joanns, and used a 5 of 15 giftcode to get some books from Amazon.

  45. Wow, that baby shower looks gorgeous! I’m in awe of your frugal decorating skills. 🙂 We’re hosting Christmas at our new home this year and now I have the itch to make butterbeer. 🙂

    This week:

    1. We used our home warranty to repair our plumbing issues. It was $75, which was cheaper and quicker than it would have been to do ourselves.

    2. Over the weekend I made caramel-filled truffles, fluffy yeast rolls, potato leek soup, and homemade yogurt. Most of this was frozen for eating later.

    3. We went to a grocery store that was a little further away, but it meant we saved about $15. This store has a bulk foods aisle, so it’s worth the drive on some occasions.

    4. I made a homemade toy for our kitten, Zap. I duct taped a bunch of boxes together along with fun little tunnels. I used clearance-rack ribbon to give him a few things to play with inside of the box, too.

  46. They have the same sale on Canada Day, and Family Day in Canadian provinces that have that holiday.

    They aso have 20% off on Wednesdays for seniors.

  47. I put out a few decorations for Christmas in the living room, all from what I had: a nativity scene I bought at a garage sale a few years ago, a bowl of pine cones (some sprayed gold), and a string of lights around the front window. The upholstery and carpet in that room are dark red, and the wood furniture is dark, so even the smallest amount of glitter and lights makes this a Christmas-themed room. The lights will stay up until Candlemas (Feb 2). They take the edge off the long winter nights (it is dark at 4:30 pm now) and with them being LED, they don’t add anything noticeable to the electricity bill.

    I put together a box of used paperback books to send to my sister for Christmas. She can’t get to the library and buys books at her drugstore, so this is always a treat for her. I have been going to the library for my books this year, instead of buying second hand or discounted and getting books through exchanges, so this may be the last year I am able to do this. The postage is expensive ($20), but she get 10 books this way.

    I ordered good chocolates online for Christmas. While online, I saw a box of specialty chocolates for $10, which is perfect for our gift exchange at the library party. (I’ll be baking something for the potluck too.) Then I had a choice between paying $10 for shipping or $10 for another box of the specialty chocolates and getting the shipping free. More chocolates, needless to say. I’ll set them aside for a gift in the new year. They are also sending a two-praline pack for signing up for e-mail notices. This order wasn’t frugal, but I am definitely looking forward to it.

    I needed to see my doctor in the city for a prescription refill, but she isn’t able to see me until January, after she gets back from holidays. I was able to get an appointment two hours later at one of the doctors in my village. It is less than a five minute walk across my backyard, as long as the snow isn’t deeper than my snowboots! I’ve saved the $25 cost of the trip to the city. I like my doctor in the city much better — she takes plenty of time to listen and work on my long-term health, but for a simple visit like this, it was good.

  48. Your story about cookie tins reminded my of our own family story: My mother had always kept a large supply of cookie tins, and one day while decluttering my dad took it upon himself (unbeknownst to my mother) to take a full garbage bag of tins to a church-run thrift store that was at the end of their street. A couple hours later my aunt was going to see my parents and stopped by the thrift store first. She was so excited to tell my mother about the great deal she’d gotten on cookie tins. Yes – it was the exact same ones that daddy had hauled down there:)

  49. Brandy,
    Your table setting is exquisite, there is no other word for it. The snowflakes seem to float in the air. What an inspiration!
    I am struggling a little with gifts. We are just doing stockings for everyone now but there are eleven guys on my list and only two females. Any ideas on stocking stuffers for guys, anyone? Claire’s earring store did have a sale on their tiny silver earrings. Buy 3 pairs and get 3 pairs free. So that was perfect for my girlfriends to whom I wanted to give a little something.
    A local grocery store had a coupon for 2 free pounds of heirloom oranges. We went to a big family holiday dinner and got to take home a big container of Chocolates of the World (Costco carries them). I will put them in stockings.
    I have been making all my own candy and cookies . I just made some rocky road fudge and the English toffee recipe from Tightwad Gazette. I made an embroidered felt ornament for a friend. I, also, made myself a cute skirt from some teal and cranberry print material that I found at a thrift store. It looks fairly holiday like.

    This is not frugal at all but my husband just told me that he is going to take me to France for a few weeks this coming summer. I think it is because I have been through so much with the surgeries I had at the end of the summer. He wants me to have something fun and inspirational to look forward to. I saved all my Social Security checks for a long time because I thought my dad might need the money. Now that he got on Medicaid, I won’t need to spend the money for him, so we will use it to pay for our trip. We will go to Provins, France where they have a fantastic medieval faire each year. I am sort of a fanatic about medieval history and can spend the winter making our costumes, probably from linen and velvet drapes that I have found in thrift stores. You get a discount at the faire if you come in costume. My niece works for a well known travel guide. She told me to get tickets through ‘Scott’s Cheap Flights’. Apparently you are sent notices everyday about inexpensive round trip flights. Also, I will be back on Duolingo for the winter, brushing up on my French.

    I have been reading library ebooks on my kindle and watching free shows on Amazon Prime. I loved Poldark and am now watching the Vikings. I feel a little guilty watching the Vikings because there is a bit of violence in it. That being said, I’m fairly addicted to this show:)

  50. Brandy, I love the snowflakes! I might change up my holiday decor a bit and keep it up later in January with some snowflakes like these. Its always so festive, and I never feel like the lights get to stay up as long as I’d like.

    We had a really frugal week last week, which was nice. Several community/shared meals and free holiday activities at church. We topped off the chili cook off at church by taking the boys pjs and driving through some of the fancy neighborhoods in town to see the Christmas lights after we left the meal.

    Linking up here: http://liveandsave.blogspot.com/2016/12/frugal-accomplishments.html?_sm_au_=isVT05Qf83j4FRDV

    Hope everyone has a safe and happy week before the holidays begin!

  51. Holy Hanna!! – How many and how big are your Danes?? We only go thru about 70 -80 pounds a month with our 100 pound male, 130 lb female and the little 30 pound beagle. All are fixed and I know that makes a difference as well. We are spending somewhere close to $100-120 a month – basically, I am working to keep them and the cats fed since we tried cheaper food and they all got sick. They are worth it though 🙂 and are my reason to get out of bed every day whether I want to or not 😀

  52. Melissa: They are 145 and 160 pounds and both neutered. Both are underweight for their height. When they stand on their hind legs, they are both over 6’2″. They are expensive but I waited for many years before we got them and they have been a great joy in my life. There is not a day I am not thankful for them—not so much in the middle of the night when both try to sneak into our king sized beds!

  53. Wool dryer balls are fabulous. They are a bit of an upfront investment, but mine are 3 years old and still work great.

  54. Your decorations and your table look so pretty for your party. The menu sounds wonderful too!

    There are always so many opportunities to spend money at this time of year. My husband and I are really holding to our budget. Staying out of the stores is helpful too.

    I finished the blanket I was knitting. I’m now knitting a Christmas vest for my granddaughter. The yarn (red boucle) was 75 cents at the thrift store.

    My husband is a good amateur photographer and we are framing some of his prints for gifts for our parents. It’s been fun to select the prints and purchase the frames (55% off at Michael’s).

    We’ve enjoyed going to school holiday concerts, two last week including a lovely program our son was in where they sang Scandinavian Christmas carols, and another this week for our middle school aged son. I’m also working with a group of young violinists (12 of them) from our congregation who will perform two numbers at the service this Sunday. I think I enjoy music most of all at this holiday season!

    Found a good deal on flour last week and I’m ready to start baking now. I hope everyone has a great week!

  55. I made wool dryer balls. I got pure wool yarn with a 50% coupon at JoAnn’s and made them by winding balls, tying them individually inside a leg of hosiery (insert ball, tie knot, insert next ball, tie knot, so on), washing them in hot water, drying them in the dryer, still in the hose, repeated the wash and dry process once more, and voila, dryer balls. Don’t neglect separating them, when washing and drying them, or you’ll have them felted together. I gave some as gifts.

  56. Hahahahaha. I’ve never been able to train anyone to return tins or jars. I’ve thought about scratching a mark into one like you do on a turtle shell to see if I ever am reunited.

  57. Frugal accomplishments for the week at our house:

    We ate all our meals at home. This has been a huge thing for us and a big frugal accomplishment! It has been several weeks since we have eaten out. It was always just so easy for us to go out to eat after work on the weekends. Now we plan our meals better and have something more special to cook for the weekend. Its working out real well.

    For our meals during the week, I made ahead of time spaghetti sauce, chili with leftover pork roast I had stashed in the freezer, and turkey potpie. I also made cookies for our office building’s Christmas potluck on Thursday. They provided chicken and drinks and everyone else brings a dish.

    Two months ago we had to buy a new washing machine and have seen a lower water bill as a result. We are very happy about that.

    I am very happy to say that all of my grandchildren will now have pajamas sewn by me. I finished the last pair for my grandson who will be 6 on Thursday. It has been hard to find the time or energy to devote to sewing since I work full time and have a rather long commute.

  58. Brandy! Is it possible to post more pictures from the baby shower? It sounds lovely and I would love to see the decorations and food.

  59. Elizabeth, did you know that if you are sending only books in your box (no letter or anything else) you can ship them media mail? This is a much cheaper way to send books. I send books to my MIL this way and it saves alot of money. I will email her that the books are on their way.

  60. Rachel,
    I agree with L.D. about this site (the best!) and the comment on the book The complete tightwad gazette. I have an extra copy of the book and will send it to you for free. If you are interested, let me know on the blog and we can figure out how to communicate.

  61. LOL Our Danes sleep in our room at night on a twin bed that is surrounded with one of those puppy enclosures ’cause they’re naughty when they’re loose AND I already sleep with a bed hogging hubby AND 2-3 cats on me. The beagle has her own crate which I turned into my bedside “table” with some boards on top. When we leave the house though the Danes are crated separately because they have occasionally gotten into fights. Since the crates are so enormous, they get the spare small bedroom LOL – yes, I have a “crate room”. I agree – everyday they make me laugh and so very thankful we were able to get them when we did. Unfortunately, we didn’t plan on hubby getting cancer and not being able to work (so no income) so it is very hard to keep them fed and vetted and I pray every day that no serious health issues show up with either of them. When you can get ahead of their food needs it is such a huge help for the budget – I am so glad that worked out for you!

  62. My frugal accomplishments:

    I stopped at CVS on the way home from work and picked up my prescriptions and earned $5 bucks.

    On the way home from work, I stopped at WaWa 4 days and got 2 free bags of Chessmen minis (they were out of their regular free offers), a Dr Pepper, and a package of Nutter Butter cookies.

    I completed a Pinecone Survey. I cashed out for $24 Paypal which will go into my gift fund.

    Plus all the usual – washing out baggies, bringing home leftovers from work, hanging about half our laundry to dry, exercising at home instead of joining a gym, combining errands, checking books out from the library, drinking the free drinks at work.

    Have a great week everyone.

  63. Hi Everyone:

    The shower decorations look gorgeous!

    It’s been a busy week here. My husband finished enclosing our chicken run with netting and pvc. It has been a two weekend long project but now we won’t have suicidal chickens that roost on the top of our 6 foot fence (3 deaths to predators in one year has been the genesis for an enclosed run) . It is really high up so it feels no different but is safer than before. I defrosted the children’s chocolate advent and Christmas candy that I bought on after Christmas clearance last year (at 80% off) and froze in our chest freezer. As the kids have been diligent about working through their advent days, they haven’t complained about the chocolate tasting different.

    I need to start wrapping gifts…I also bought paper on post holiday clearance. I found some terrific fleece remnants at Joanne’s at a very cheap price. I will use them to make tunics for my girls. I also have some fleece that has been put away for awhile to make sweatshirts for the boys. I purchased the Made everyday pattern for sweatshirts. Our house is chilly and children’s sweatshirts are usually expensive or not very attractive. It’s time to bust out my serger. i also finished an embroidered pillow for our living room couch using linen from my stash. The initial pattern was a free download and I made it larger using word. This has been a good week for cheap deals..I bought breakfast sausage for a 4 for $10.00 deal (froze two dozen for Christmas morning), chicken thighs for $.75 a lb. It should help round out vacation meals.

    This week I’m teaching about Hanukkah in my sons’ first grade (with another mom). My aunt and uncle contributed frozen potato latkes so between us we will have enough latkes for 50 kids (we are teaching for 4 first grades)! We are also doing a story and dreidel math (percentages).

    We had some free entertainment..it was luminara night here on Saturday. All the luminaras proceeds benefit a local ministry and shelter. We bought 6 kits (10 per) for $30.00. My sons are carolling this week with their cub scout troop at a retirement home and participating in Wreaths Across America. We also have the church Christmas Pageant Saturday night. This year we have 2 shepherds (boys) and 2 sheep (girls). There is also a sing along Messiah (with professional soloists) for a free will donation Sunday night.

    Thanks to all of your for your thoughtful comments on my question regarding sport participation on Sundays. I appreciated your insights. Today was our first snow of the season, so I posted about winter: http://www.dollarsandsensetimestwo.org/2016/12/winter/

    Have a wonderful week!

  64. My husband suggested those head lamps for guy gifts. I got him one a few years ago for his early morning walks. However, he loves it for doing repairs when he needs more light…especially in the dark or under the sink. I just sent my brother one and he was nearly giddy over it. I’ve seen them on sale for as little as $3.

  65. Love the table and urn. Beautiful!

    I completely enjoyed reading about all the great deals and blessings posted. Mine are pretty boring in comparison!
    * Meals were vegetable barley soup, bean enchiladas, potato soup, hot dogs, tuna melts, leftovers, and a meal at church.called My So-Called Life as a Proverbs 31 Wife. Enjoyable enough, but probably better suited for a working wife.
    * Did the market survey for 50 fuel points.
    * Sent in 2 rebates for 12% back on Christmas gifts.
    * Plus the regular stuff like catching water and hanging laundry.
    * Made my own body cream by whipping coconut oil and Vitamin E.

    Can’t wait to read more next week!

  66. One of the best, frugal things this past week was a snow day. Now, those of you where it really snows, don’t laugh too hard. But, our few hours of snow was enough to close the schools, cause me to need to babysit my nieces and nephew, and for everyone to have a perfect snow day with each other, snow, crafts, hot chocolate, and more!

    There are pictures here: https://beckyathome.wordpress.com/2016/12/11/snow-day/ and a post about saving money
    here: https://beckyathome.wordpress.com/2016/12/13/saving-money-december-12-2016/

  67. It’s like jam and apple butter. You want more, you have to bring the containers back. My aunt and grandma give them back. Grandma gives me a lot of her tins that she gets. She uses some for storing. She’s got one that she puts tea bags in. She knows I really like it. So if she decides to use something else, I get dibs.lol She even gave me a neutral white cookie jar this year. I may fill and gift to someone. I’m just not sure who.

  68. My favourite male gift for those over the age of 18 is a pocket knife, which can easily fit into a stocking. Other ideas that I thought of that will fit into a stocking are a watch or pocket watch, wallet, tie and/or a tie pin, a nice handmade handkerchief with their initials embroidered on it, t-shirts, dog tags or manly looking necklace or bracelet, aftershave, a key chain that is appropriate for their interests (might even be able to make these yourself), a memory stick for the computer, cell phone or camera, socks (if you live in a colder area, you could buy them a pair of warm thermal socks with the fuzzy inside lining), tools, travel mug or reusable water bottle, movie tickets or gift cards, bungee cords, sunglasses, note pad, pens and lots of food! Some of these ideas are cheap, some you might be able to buy cheaply in bulk or use coupons to make them cheaper and some you might be able to get through various rewards points.

    For future Christmases, I’d suggest to start collecting or making small, generic, “manly” items throughout the year, as you find great deals or ideas, and tuck them away. Last year I bought my 4 nephews (all currently in college) their Christmas gifts for this year on boxing day! So much easier than scrambling last minute! I also buy candy, chocolate or treats after various holidays when they are seriously discounted and save them to use them when needed. I just look for things that can be used for any holiday or taken out of holiday packaging to use for another. My stash currently has caramel filled Easter eggs from last Easter that I bought on sale. The expiration dates on chocolate are long! Thinking ahead will make you life so much easier!

  69. He could probably eat meatloaf as a cold sandwich. Try a broth w small pieces of veg and small pasta. Just swallow whole. Drink luke warm. I’ve had dental surgeries and this worked well. Oatmeal and cream of wheat isn’t as good luke warm, but they are filling. I did not starve or lose weight, like some people I know.

  70. Each store is different. The main thrift store has senior Mondays, each day a couple colirs are half off…and last Friday of the month is half off for the whole store.

  71. I had used one for years. Never really thought about it. If I remember correctly I had enough for a couple $25 giftcards(I used for gas money.) and a week or so of free beverages. It was a nice treat that year. I was laid off and had a newborn, when I had to restart and found a pt job.

  72. I like to color. I don’t do it often, but I can’t justify the cost of an adult coloring book. I’ve picked up some $3 Anne Frank for gifts, but I definitely won’t spend $5-10 on a book you color. And they aren’t usually think. Dollar store kids books are just fine.

  73. My frugal accomplishments this week:
    *My husband changed the oil in our car.
    *We hand shoveled our driveway instead of getting it plowed saving a good $40. We had 9 inched of snow fall this weekend!
    *I pulled out snow pants for my boys to play outside in. Both pairs were given to us from family friends who did not need them anymore.
    *I found a shirt at Salvation Army that I needed for our Christmas program.
    *I did not grocery shop at all this week and we ate out with whatever we had at home.
    *We cooked our meals at home using many items I preserved and canned from my garden in the summer.
    *I made yogurt
    *I went through some clothes and added more to my garage sale pile. I will be having a garage sale in the spring.
    *My husband accepted a couple extra jobs side jobs for pay.

  74. I am so so so proud and had to come tell you because you’ve inspired me!!! I just made the CUTEST double sided apron for my daughter and it looks pretty good! I can’t WAIT for her to open it Christmas Day. Hoooooray!! Thank you for all the posts and inspiration and tips!!

  75. Thanks. There are many good ideas here. Last year I started using real hiking socks for everyone . You can get them inexpensively in packs at Costco and then everyone gets to take a pair of socks home. Only difficulty is that you are limited to a bit smaller items (although they stretch amazingly well). Your replies have given me lots of things to consider.

  76. Our dollar store now carries adult coloring books as well – I use them when I have been stressed during hubby’s hospital stays and chemo treatments. I am putting some in my daughters stocking as well.

  77. I was in our local dollar store looking for children’s superhero coloring books and lo and behold, they had adult coloring books too! I bought one for my mother to use because they have a regular coloring group up the senior center each week.

  78. I found a groupon for a local (as in 1 mile away!) butcher shop that had $30 for $17 offer. Bought 4 of those groupons which should last us a couple months for most of our meat. They get their food from local farms – yum. I found a couple sweaters at Goodwill. Hubby goes to the oncologist every 2 weeks right now. SO thankful that it is covered through the Veterans Administration. Can’t imagine where we would be after 2 brain surgeries in 2 months and now chemo etc. We get reimbursed for our mileage, so it doesn’t cost us any extra gas money to drive up there all the time.

  79. I had previously used a top sheet, blanket and comforter and sometimes a second blanket on our bed in the winter to stay warm without turning the heat up, but the weight of all that was heavy and I was wishing for something lighter. I also wanted to buy some sleeping bags and found a great sale on them from llbean combining a mark down sale with 20% off, a credit and some llbean dollars I had earned paying less than $10. The sleeping bags were oversized and in a beautiful cranberry color. I decided to try one on the bed as just something to add a little warmth on top of the covers and was surprised that when unzipped completely and opened up and spread across the top of the bed that it completely covered a queen size bed with a little hanging over both sides! It is lightweight and so warm that all that is needed under it is a top sheet!

  80. Kim,

    Can I ask how cold it is in your house in winter? I see a lot of photos of beds with all of these blankets like you have, plus flannel sheets, and I am wondering how cold it is in these homes where so many blankets are needed in winter. I have the heat at 63º right now and all I have are regular cotton sheets and a very thin quilt. My husband, who is always warm, says the quilt is too much and he is too warm. I run colder and am sleeping in flannel pajamas and socks, and I have an additional thin throw blanket (another thin quilt) on my side of the bed.

    It’s too hot at that for just one comforter on top of a sheet. We bought a comforter before we got married, and it was beautiful, but we quickly found that it was too hot to use, even in winter.

    I’ve lived in colder climates but I’ve never been cold enough to need quite so many layers, so I’m curious what temperature needs so many (and I’m happy you’ve found a solution!)

  81. We live in Northwestern OH. Wind chill tonight will be around -15 to lower. In a very old drafty farmhouse out in the country (BOONIES LOL) furnace set at 64° …our bedroom even with the vent open and the door open will drop to 50°. That’s with insulation against foundation of house and heavy curtains along with plastic on windows.
    I have flannel sheets, thermal blanket, heavy comforter and another thermal blanket on top. Upstairs with no heat other than what goes up the staircase has dropped to below 30° We have Army sleepbag for the bed up there thanks to a son that gave us one when during the first year here. Luckily we grew up without heat in the bedrooms (talk of glass of water freezing and finding ourselves covered in snow while still in bed in childhood happens when we think about being cold ) Flannel pj bottoms or sweats, sweatshirts, long sleeve tees or even old sweaters get worn to bed along with socks. Even my dogs cuddle under their blankets curled either against me or on the couch in the corners. My dad who grew up with a coal stove and used coats for blankets has went to flannel sheets and an electric blanket that heats the bed until he gets in and then he turns it off and uses a comforter.Flannel pjs with tee shirt under long sleeve flannel pj top and wool socks.His bedroom drops to 55° as he doesn’t heat it at all. He is in city (wind block) and has STEEL siding.

  82. Juls,

    Thank you so much for answering this question for me!

    I have three rooms on the north side of the house that are the last rooms on the heating system, and they are colder than the rest of the house (one is a bedroom and we have thin quilts plus a blanket on those beds). One is a bathroom, and the water is rather cold in there, but never ice. I wonder how many others have it that cold in their homes. Probably quite a few, if people need so many blankets.

    Most of the year here, I don’t even need a quilt. A thin top sheet is plenty (and often too much). I have a ceiling fan over the bed, and in summer, the house is 79º. I only bring out the quilt in the winter months. Last night I turned the heat off completely and the quilt was outside drying still. My husband said he was much more comfortable without the quilt!

  83. Our house is set at 65 F at night for the colder months. It is well insulated–we built it ourselves and we put in all triple glazed windows. We also have evergreens planted as windblocks on the N and W side of the house. We use eiderdowns on all the beds in a flannel duvet for winter-Oct through April. We use flannel sheets, no heavy quilts. We don’t use the eiderdowns in the warmer months, just lighter weight quilts or comforters and regular sheets. We have flannel pajamas and nightgowns. It is supposed to be -6F overnight. Not much of a wind right now. Too heavy of covers and you do not get the insulating layers of air that keep you warm.

    Both my husband and I grew up in houses with coal furnaces. The upstairs could get pretty cold. My twin sister and I shared a room and double bed until the night before her wedding…we used to put our clothes in bed at night under the covers at our feet and then get dressed quick in bed in the morning. I don’t know what the temperature was but it was pretty frosty.

  84. We don’t do Santa stockings as we do (did 12-5) St Nicholas and put out shoes. The children still like this and my husband too. My brother in law Pauli especially likes this when he happens to be living with us this time of year.

  85. Thank you for the hints!! I will try the dryer going less time. And try no dryer sheets. That can save a bit money.
    I like that idea for the leftover beans. I will have to try that out.

    Thank you for the encouragement!!! I needed that today. You are a mentor to me. I really look up to you and how much you have done on so little. Thank you so much for all that you do.

  86. Brandy,

    I set the thermostat in the living room between 66 and 68, but our bedroom is on the north side of the house. You got me wondering just how cold it does get in there, so I put a large thermometer in there to find out and it is 56 right now! We heat with an electric heat pump which doesn’t do well in cold weather, but that is what a lot of the houses around here have. It usually feels like cool air coming out until the emergency back up heat kicks on when it gets really cold. We also have a woodstove that we use to supplement the heat with.

    Neither my husband nor I like flannel sheets so I just use regular cotton sheets on the bed and I don’t like to wear anything on my legs or feet when sleeping under the covers and just wear long sleeve, knee length nightgowns in the winter. That is what is so amazing about the sleeping bag keeping us warm with nothing else but a cotton sheet! It is not even the sleeping bag for extra cold weather, it’s just the first level normal sleeping bag.

    I am in northern Maryland near the PA line and it is 28 degrees out right now and expected to go down to 17 degrees tonight (those two temps are without the wind chill factor) and tomorrow is supposed to be 0 degrees with the wind chill factor.

  87. Thank you for bringing up Duolingo again! I’ve been offered a job in France recently and need to practice my French skills. After I had read your post, I went straight to the Duolingo homepage and practiced for a good 15-20 minutes (partly with my 11month old son on my lap :D); the only thing I haven’t found out yet is how I can see where they track my activity – I can’t see any “results/progress column”?? Any ideas? – Have a blessed time of Advent! Greetings and blessings from Germany, Daniela

  88. My son loves his refillable lighter and pocket knife. Both were past presents. He usually gets some different jerkies in his stocking. Sometimes a magazine makes in in there if I need to fill it up more. He likes funny socks so I always get him a pair. Headlamps are great. We keep one in each car incase we have care trouble at night. Small bike parts have made it into his stocking also. It would depend on the guys interests. My husband loves to cook so little bottles of hot sauce or jams have gone in his. Basting brushes and rubber scrappers or a wooden spoon.

  89. They have several different ways to track your progress, including a percentage amount that they show you on the right. Also they have a cell phone app, I’ve heard, so you can practice it other places. The little circles will go down after you fill them, if you haven’t practiced something to strengthen them. As you use the site more it will become more obvious.

    Another site that you might like is Comme Une Francaise. She has a lot of great videos with expressions and ways of saying things that will especially help you if you are going to be living in France. She talks about a lot of cultural situations as well that should help you as you work in France.

    I have also been watching a YouTuber named Cyprien who is the number one YouTuber in France. He has comedy skits. It’s a good chance for me to practice my understanding. I watch the video, then watch it again with French subtitles to see what I am missing (because French is so fast it’s easy to miss things).

    There is a 2 minute or less comedy sketch called Vous Les Femmes which is on tv every night at 8:30 in France. On their Facebook page on Mondays they share one of the sketches (probably from the previous week). These are usually pretty funny, but sometimes I miss a few words and they aren’t as funny then (and being comedy, some jokes are better than others). If you go to their Facebook page you can watch several of their old videos. There are a couple of there that are downright hilarious.

    Congratulations on your new job!

  90. Our new weather system arrived last night. The wind blew all night and still is. We are to get 12 inches possible of snow. It is -2F and sunny and bright. The wind chill is -18F. Not bad at all, if you are dressed for it, and don’t have to spend too much time outside. The churches have warming shelters set up though this time of year for those who find themselves in need of a place to stay, get a meal, do laundry. They will be full now.

  91. our house is set to 63* F day and night. Hubby can sleep with just a comforter and sheet in his skivvies – I am in long johns on top and bottom with a fleece sweatshirt and sweats over those + 3 blankets LOL. I wear long johns 24/7 all winter unless I am at work in the deli – then I get HOT from all the hot cases. We do have a wood stove as well but we burn wood more to keep that one room most comfortable (tv, reading and crafting) and to keep the furnace from kicking on during the day time hours. It has definitely made a huge difference in our bills – $65 a month on the budget plan where it used to be around $90. It also reduces our electric bill if it keeps the furnace off (no fan running). However, in the bitter cold we’ve been hit with the last day I am still freezing in here! Makes no sense to me that 60 degrees in the spring feels downright hot but in the middle of winter it makes me feel terribly cold!!

  92. Since I didn’t participate in the last few weeks this will be a recap of my frugal accomplishments since the beginning of the month.
    I made an advent wreath using branches from the garden and decoration that I already had on hand from last year. I only needed some new candles which cost me 3,50€ in total.
    I created an advent calendar for my children using an old calendar that I used to have as a child. It is supposed to be filled with sweets or small toys, instead I filled it with notes containing Christmas activities each day like listening to Christmas songs or baking cookies.
    I finished sewing the presents for my godchildren for Christmas as well as two presents for my daughter. All the presents my children will get this Christmas are either purchased used or made by myself.
    My daughter and I made Christmas cards where she painted a picture and I cut out a Christmas tree from it and glued it on a card.
    I mended three items of clothing.
    I continued line drying the laundry in our basement except for two loads of towels, sheets etc which go in the dryer.

  93. Not quite the frugal week I envisioned. We had to do an emergency replacement of our water heater. Thankfully my husband had enough overtime that at least half is already paid for.
    Kids made teacher gifts last night. We made homemade bath salts and packaged them in little decorated takeout boxes I fo’und at Target. So ended up being about $2 each.
    Talked parents into paying for karate club at school instead of toys for my son’s birthday.
    Lots of leftovers.
    Tried on everything in my closet. Found some things i didn’t know fit!
    Have a blessed Christmas everyone!

  94. Cream cheese lasts a long time in the refrigerator. I keep it at the back, along the wall, usually 10-12 blocks. I used one this past Fall that had a 2014 expiry date on it. Normally, I don’t go that long but I missed one. I checked it carefully, the outside was intact, the foil was sealed and there was nothing weird in appearance or smell, so it went into a recipe. It can be frozen and re-used successfully…I have frozen by mistake when one would get pushed into cold spot in old refrigerator. Just let totally thaw wrapped up, then mix up to reblend. Most of our cream cheese goes into a recipe…we are not plain cream cheese on a bagel people. We usually mix something into the cream cheese when we use as a topping…honey and nuts, or chives etc.

  95. Head lamps are wonderful. We have been using them for probably 15 years, started with camping. They last forever. Our older ones are still usable and we keep them as extras for company, in workshop, etc. The newer ones are LED and even nicer. I keep mine in the table drawer next to my chair. So much handier in a power out than a handheld.

  96. Bungee cords are great! We all have them in our cars. You never know when you need to fit something into the trunk or hatch that is a tad too big. This happened to me 2x in just the past year.

  97. Is your dog going to be able to eat frozen chunks of carrot if she can’t eat anything hard? Can you just steam chunks of carrot and sweet potato and keep in the refrigerator? We just use pieces of fruit or vegetables for treats.

  98. I think the snowflakes and curling ribbon idea is absolutely gorgeous and so simple to reproduce! It’s lovely….I’ve had a good week of savings and enjoyed it immensely. I always do enjoy it when my brain ticks right along and notes ways to save. I too got the roasted peanuts and candy Free. I was well pleased with that. You can see all I did this week at my blog:http://bluehousejournal.blogspot.com/2016/12/frugal-friday-little-nearer-christmas.html

  99. Brandy our temperatures here in Georgia are a little lower than yours. I do keep the heat turned a smidge higher at night and it is set to 65f. We as a couple are opposite of you and your husband. I have cotton sheets and a thin quilt on top of the bed (think 650 count sheet weight quilt). I sleep in a thin nightie. My husband has a blanket doubled on his side of the bed and sleeps in pajamas socks and polo shirt, lol! I often put a foot out from under the cover in order to tone down the temperature for me. I have awakened without any cover at all because I’ve thrown it all off. However during the day I run cold and am most likely the one with the most clothing on at that time.

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