Helping Grandpa The Prudent Homemaker

We had the most beautiful weather all week: temperatures of 70-75ºF/21-24ºC. I opened the windows and we enjoyed fresh air in the house all week.

We enjoyed lemons, Swiss chard, oregano and parsley from the garden.

I enjoyed working in the garden in the record highs for this time of year. Usually, I’m still sporting long sleeves and a jacket while I do the busy work of January and February in the garden, but this year I’m in a short-sleeved t-shirt.

I used stakes and concrete mesh wire that I already had to add another vertical growing space to the garden. I planted Armenian cucumber seeds under it.

I planted seeds for alpine strawberries and poppies.

I opened the house up to air it out for several hours each day.

I stocked up on pasta (I bought 96 pounds) at the lowest price it gets here ($0.49 a pound). This price only comes around 2-3 times a year. When I was leaving the store, I picked up a dime I found in the parking lot.

I redeemed 2200 Swagbucks for a Target gift card. I’ll use this to reduce my out-of-pocket expenses for February’s shopping trip.

I read two e-books from the library.

My two eldest downloaded a combined 12 free songs from the library through the Freegal program.

We enjoyed watching the last bits of the lunar eclipse early in the morning.

I gladly accepted a hand-me-down infant car seat and matching stroller from a reader who lives very close by.

Nap The Prudent Homemaker

What did you do to save money last week?


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  1. Sounds like wonderful weather. I can’t believe how big your little boy has gotten. What a cutie!
    We received over 5 inches of snow last night and it’s very cold (Michigan). I wish I could garden like you and I would love to see your vertical creation when you get done! Right now I’m concentrating all my time on sewing and crocheting. I usually let these go by the wayside in the Spring/Summer season so I can be out in the garden. Here are my frugal accomplishments for this past week:

  2. Your pictures are precious. That young man looks like he had a busy day. Children that age are just too cute.

    I did all of our normal things to save money. At Aldi this week I made an extra 50 cents because I put two baskets back where they belonged and collected the quarters. (some one left them in the parking lot) I have kept to my no spend plan, just buying milk and eggs at Aldi. We are going to eat down the freezer and pantry this month.

    We are having nice weather too. I hung out the sheets and pillows on Saturday. I washed the pillows and let them air dry in the sun. We have had no rain, my rain barrels are empty. My grandsons and I had to re-stand the barrels. (our soil moves with the drought and the barrels had started leaning away from the house. We have them re-blocked and under the down spouts as they should be.

    We cooked all meals at home and I made some double casseroles to freeze.

  3. My oldest son has an old MacBook to do his schoolwork on. The charger broke this week. A new one from Apple costs $80 so I called the repair place we bought it from (used) a couple years ago and they had one for $35. When we got to the store they were able to replace just the prongs and then told us there was no charge! What a blessing!

  4. I guess all that hard work in the garden really wore out your little one! Thanks for sharing the cute pictures with us. I’m glad you finally were able to restock your supply of pasta in your pantry. You’ve been waiting for that sale for a while now! As for your weather…I’m totally jealous! We had some warmer weather that melted most of the snow. Then yesterday we had a huge dump of several inches of snow, which will be followed by temperatures dropping to well below freezing again all this week. Did I ever say how much I hate winter!?!

    Anyways, the cruddy weather really makes me rethink going anywhere. I guess that is somewhat of a positive. Here are this weeks frugal accomplishments for our family:
    *Meals made at home included homemade cream of broccoli soup with homemade french bread, gourmet grilled ham & cheese sandwiches (used homemade bread and garlic butter) with salad, pasta with choice of red or white sauce and brownies for dessert, waffles with bananas and strawberries (from the freezer), and meatballs in gravy with mashed potatoes and carrots.
    *I made 2 loaves of French bread this week, 1 made with white bread flour and 1 made with multigrain bread flour I had picked up @ 50% off recently. DD is not a fan of white bread, so this was a first time try with multigrain. It rose a little less than the white, but tasted amazing!
    *DD baked healthy peanut butter chocolate chip oatmeal bars (recipe link: for her school lunches this week. I will be having her make her school treats as part of her chores from now on, to further develop kitchen skills. She also learned how to vacuum this weekend and will be responsible for cleaning her “play room” as part of her weekly chores as well.
    *Hubby celebrated his birthday this week. We went out to dinner at the restaurant of his choice, as is our family custom. Last minute, my MIL was invited to go (she is always welcome to come, it just happened we didn’t tell her until last minute). After dinner, she insisted on paying for all our meals. Not expected, but much appreciated!
    *DD had a friend sleep over at our house on Friday night and she stayed until after dinner Saturday night. The first night we enjoyed a frugal but very tasty meal of homemade waffles. We watched the original Jumangi movie on our Android box as entertainment. On Saturday, we decided to splurge and buy pizza for dinner as a treat before her friend went home. I think DD had a really wonderful time with her friend and is in good spirits to start the new school semester on Monday.

    [u]My reflections on January[/u]:
    Over the month of January, I restricted my grocery budget to 1/2 my normal amount, in order to help replace money borrowed from a saving account to pay off a larger credit card bill from some necessary car maintenance. Here’s an update on how it went and what I learned:
    -I was able to stick to this budget, with the help of gift cards and grocery store loyalty points. I was still able to add to my pantry/freezer stock, which is very improtant to me. Going forward, I am going to try reducing my monthly grocery budget by $100.
    -To help me make it through the month, I created a list of 38 possible meals (more than I needed to ensure flexibility) that I could make just from pantry/freezer stock I had at the beginning of the month. As we ate a suggested meal, I crossed it off the list. Couldn’t believe how well this worked for my family!!! Almost every day, I would discuss what we wanted to have for dinner with my autistic DD, using this list, and she helped decide what to have that day. I had things on the list that I questioned how I would get the family to eat it, but somehow those meals were incorporated with no arguements. DD even shocked me by eating things she normally refuses to eat (like sausage!). We did repeat 1 meal during the month, only because I was exhausted one night, it was super easy to make and a family favourite. So, from now on, this is how I am going to meal plan.
    -Past experience has taught me that some of the recipes I use makes too much for our family of 4. I end up eating the leftovers for days, with no help from the family. Eventually I get sick of eating the same thing for lunch and we end up throwing out food. So with this in mind, I split these recipes by preparing a second pan (unbaked) to freeze for future meals. I now have several freezer meals ready to cook on days we have no energy or have appointments that restrick our dinner prep time. Will definitely continue to do this as it makes a huge impact on our food waste and future meal prep.

    Looking forward to learning and being inspired from everyone’s comments. Hope you all have a wonderful week full of frugal adventures!

  5. Your little boy has gotten so big. It is so nice to know and see that spring has sprouted somewhere in North America.

    We have the same 5 inches of snow as Vickie and I am wondering where she found a farm still selling apples in February in her part of Michigan. She mentioned in her blog that she had just bought a bushel of apples.

    I gave up on the WW2 clothing ration points exercise I started months ago because we have only purchased for money one pair of support hose and for a Kmart promotion with zero out-of-pocket several pairs of undies. We haven’t even been making the rounds of the local Goodwill stores to take advantage of $1 items on Sunday-and inexpensive used clothes required zero ration points anyway. I consider the exercise a success because it raised my consciousness about consumption
    And no, I am not planning a clothes shopping spree. We still need nothing. About the only thing on my wish list is a pair of non-binding socks for mom.

    We spent about $55 on groceries this week. I still have not stocked up on hamburger and chicken. The local grocery store was out of the specially priced family pack when we shopped at dinnertime one day. We learned the butcher always leaves by three so there was no 6 pm restocking. The chicken at that store is not visually appealing so we passed on that too. There is a small chicken and egg farm about a mile east of us. Buying from them won’t be frugal. But it certainly will be local. I told mom we should give them a try to see if the meat is of higher quality.

    Dollar Tree carried popcorn kernals in the fall. But neither they nor Dollar General have it now. It is a seasonal item. News to me. I priced it at our local Kroger online (nice tool for comparison shopping) and their two pound bags are either $2.19 or $2.29. Air popped popcorn is so easy to make. I am surprised at the popularity of microwave popcorn. When we venture out of our village for groceries, we’ll stock up on old-fashioned popcorn. Does anybody else love popcorn and milk for breakfast? My dad loved it, and only recently did I learn my maternal grandpa loved it too. Mom leaves the breakfast popcorn to me, but she enjoys it as a snack with butter or cheese powder.

    The snowy weather has been keeping us at home, saving us money. I installed several Swagbucks video-viewing apps on my Android phone during the last few days. I can only earn 10-12 cents per app daily. But I was able to watch tv (our small screen in the living room) and earn a few dimes (in Swagbucks) on my cell phone yesterday. Occasional Swagbucks and Bing gift cards come in handy.

    I hope you all have a lovely and thrifty week.

  6. I made pizza using the Tightwad Gazette’s recipe for the crust. I made a much easier version of tomato sauce than the one she uses, although hers looks fabulous!. I just use tomato paste, water, spices, and a little sugar to cut the acid. I cooked my 49 cent lb chicken. I used the leftover chicken in a casserole, which I combined with leftovers from my $1.00 turnip greens (which I sauteed with leftover onions, added a bunch of spices) cooked rice, added cheese. The key word here is “leftovers”…lol. I took my lunch to work, as always. I cut my hair. I keep it at chin length so it is easy to trim. I did my nails. I made mulberry “tea” for my free mulberries (I think it is probably more of a fruit drink, with sugar and water, but whatever….lol). We received two inches of rain over the weekend, and my back yard is a floating mess. I slogged out to my car this morning in the front yard, which is higher ground than my back yard, by about an inch. The water table is very high here. I did go walk at the local park by the river during a window of time when it was not raining. I just keep on keeping on……

  7. After you tip last week, I looked for the pasta at that price, and it wasn’t in our store:(. Oh, well–we use gluten-free pasta for our house-hold use, but I was hoping to get some regular at that price for times when I take food places. I’m glad you got so much at that rock-bottom price.

    Your son is SO cute! Of course, you already know that, but thanks for sharing his cuteness with all of us:)

    This week, I went and got groceries using a $10/50 coupon, got 69c avacados, Tillamook cheese for $4.99/2-lb brick, 18 egg for 99c, and a lot of other groceries.

    My autistic niece decided unexpectedly to spend the weekend with us rather than go out of town with her parents. Part of the hours are paid, part are auntie/uncle time. But, it’s a really good thing I will be getting a little extra money because….my oven broke completely, with a Big Bang, a smell like burning electrical makes, and a blown fuse. My husband said it was non-fixable. It was an old one that came with our house, and has been on it’s last leg for quite some time, but we were using it up. I guess it’s used up:) He went out and got a new one the same day. He just went back to the same little hardware store out in the country where he bought our microwave a few weeks ago (when it rains, it pours) and got a middle-of-the road oven/stove. Our entire family has bought appliances from that store for years and years, and they have great prices and great customer service, such as giving him $50 off because he hauled it himself in our van.

    Rob finished our greenhouse. It was so nice that he was feeling better from the flu that knocked him flat for almost 2 weeks, and could get out there and finish it up. He was able to use some free, reclaimed boards to build most of the planting bench inside. I only had time to plant 3 kinds of seeds, but I will be planting more this morning. It’s time to get those peppers going! They take so long to grow, as do onions. All of the seeds I ordered are here, and what I do is plant about 1/2 of the packages of each kind of pepper, and save the rest for next year. That way, I don’t have to order so many seeds each year, and I’ve had great success doing this in the past. If I need a great many plants, then I will plant them all, but things like pear tomatoes, Serrano peppers, etc. are not items I use very many plants of each year.

    We were able to have a little Super Bowl party for the family and a few kids my niece brought along, using things I made myself. Everyone that came brought chips and I had bought some….the kids were delighted. It was just another example of how it doesn’t have to be fancy or expensive to be enjoyed. I made turkey hot dogs, home-made chili, raw veggies, chips, simple dip, guacamole, and some brownies from a mix I had. I arranged it in a simplified “stadium” on the table and everyone loved it. Some of the ones on Pinterest were outstanding and amazing, but mine was quite simple and did not require me to purchase any special pans or anything to build it. They were touting “make your stadium for only $25 or less” and I decided to go with the less, and use pans I already had on hand. (I had not seen this idea before, although I’m sure many of you have, but you basically were supposed to buy lots of tin pans, and tape or glue them together into a football stadium and serve your food from your “stadium.”)

    My oldest daughter and son-in-law were coming for dinner when the oven broke. It’s really hard to cook dinner without a stove or oven. So, my daughter and I got on the computer and figured out how to make baked potatoes in my Instant Pot, and after that, we made carrots in there. The meat was BBQ’d, and by the time it was time to sauté the frozen green beans, the new stove was installed! I’m sure going out to dinner would have been fun, but it was much better to have our home-made food, and the peace and quiet to visit in at home. Our son-in-law joked that he was sure we had invited them that day because we knew we would need his help installing the new stove:)

    There are pictures on my blog:

  8. I love my air popper! It is decades old, but still makes a great inexpensive snack.
    A friend used to serve popcorn topped with roughly equal parts of lemon juice and melted butter. Unusual but very good!
    (I thought it appropriate to write this with all the talk of lemons on this website).

  9. I’ve been gone or sick almost the entire January. In some ways I spent more than I would have but in others I saved a lot. I did have to pay for some meals out but I didn’t go to the grocery almost the whole month. I now need to do a big stocking up on meat so that will be expensive. I was able to find some odds and ends in the freezer than I’m thawing out for my husband to eat this week. Hopefully the stores will have some good sales this week.

    I am going to start some seeds indoors. I have eggplant, tomatoes and peppers to begin. I can’t wait until it warms up so I can garden outside.

  10. Your son is so precious! It will be a couple months before we can open the windows and air out the house, but I am looking forward to that day. Your blog post last week made me start thinking about planting and I looked up the last frost date for our area and it is right around the corner in March. So I started my seeds indoors last night, just herbs though since we live in a condo and don’t have much gardening space.

    I’ve been blogging the things I do to save money every day at my blog:

  11. We are living in an isolated town of 200 people until next summer. There isn’t much reason to leave the house, because there isn’t much here! So, 5 of the 7 days last week were no-spend. That was the biggie!

    We also cooked and ate all meals at home, per the menu plan I wrote last weekend. Doing the same this week.

    Accepted a 7-day trial of PBS/Masterpiece streaming in order to watch all of the episodes of Bletchley Circle, which would have cost $6.95. I am canceling the trial todayr

    Saved $4 at Hobby Lobby with a phone app. I didn’t have it, but the lady in line behind me did!

    Got a good deal on airline tickets for a family trip to Hawaii in April (celebrating our 50th anniversary).The next morning the Honey app notified me that I had earned 998 points on the tickets. Only 1,000 points and you get a $10 GC. I checked my account and I have over 2,000 points pending.

    Brandy, do you ever buy trees from mail order nurseries, and if so, which nurseries?

  12. Those photos are adorable! Such a fun age 🙂

    This week I decided it was time for me to give up soda (I’m admittedly a bit of an addict). I switched to seltzer water, and it has been great! I had to drink a few of them before I could finally get over the lack of sugar in them, But wow- now I like it quite a bit. I guess it’s the bubbles I like, not the sugar. I only buy unsweetened, I can’t stand artificial sugar. Hopefully this will be a little bit of a money saver for us.

    Still working on amending my garden soil. Saving my coffee grounds to add to my raised beds, and will clean out the chicken coop again in another two weeks to spread in the garden.Im in Southwest Virginia, so I won’t till it in until the first few weeks in March. It’s still a wee bit cold out there 🙂

    Made a big pot of chilli this weekend using leftover ground beef, dried beans, and stewed tomatoes with spices. Was very inexpensive and fed us for three meals. I have been trying to shop for 2-3 weeks at a time and it seems to be working okay. Our food/household budget for our family of 4 is $250 per month. Avoiding the stores helps me stick to that.

    I met a family through the course of my employment who were complaining about the amount of their food stamps- they are a family of 7 and receive $1250 per month. I about fell over- I thought the $1250 was quite generous for only 7 people. We do not receive anything like that- it’s no judgement for those who do- but I was still pretty shocked.

    We adopted a small dog this weekend. The kids fell in love and they have all been playing and having a great time together. Not frugal, but the little fluff ball sure adds some love into our home.

  13. I want to thank Rhonda A for all the encouragement she left me last week. I am trying hard to focus only on the beautiful things in life as I am feeling particularly low. I have skipped several visits with my elderly father due to the gasoline expense. I went and saw him yesterday and had a wonderful visit. I also saw my nephew and was so happy to see him. I wanted to make the most of my trip, so I went by Aldi’s to exchange some mushrooms that looked like they had cream cheese on top of them. Bizarre! I ran into the Dollar Tree and bought my daughter a six pack of Hansens soda. She had requested soda and cans do better as I can ration them out. I cooked up some heavenly bacon from Costco that have off the clearest grease I have ever seen. I saved it and will use it for cooking selected items. I took all the fresh vegetables I had bought and cooked all of them. They were packaged and frozen for future use. I often mean to cook them and don’t and they go bad. There will be no more of that ! We loss three of our six Siamese cats last week. Sugar cookie was heart broken. These were rescues we took in about 8 years ago
    and bottle fed . I have made a list of all kind of things to try at home this month. Sugar cookie will be very unhappy that we have no money to do anything with this month but it doesn’t take much to make her happy. I have a few ideas that should help. Here’s to wishing everyone a great week. The photos of Brandys children always make me smile.

  14. Rhonda, I often meal-plan that way, too — take inventory of everything I have, then write down all the possible meals I can make using ingredients on hand. I find it really helpful!

  15. The week started with a trip to Costco for my husband’s hearing-aid check. They cleaned and replaced filters and batteries for free. While there we did a little shopping and had lunch — $5.50 for both of us, which was a cheap treat. We got home late and resisted the urge to eat out. Instead, we had homemade tomato soup and grilled cheese – an inexpensive and really good meal.
    We spent a morning at the local hot springs, using free passes from a friend who works there.
    I made homemade bread and cooked meals at home. We ate all the leftovers. I also made a batch of waffles, homemade pancake syrup, and taco seasoning mix.
    I sewed a wide band of lace around the bottom of a tank top to make a top extender. These normally run $35 and up. I got a yard of the lace fabric at Jo-ann, using a gift card I received for Christmas and I still have over ¾ of a yard left to use for something else. (The tank top was an old one I already owned.)

  16. I always love seeing pictures of children learning new things in life that will help in their future lives. Glad the weather has been nice for you to get outside. It snowed on Tuesday morning again – about 1/4 of an inch with a thin sheet of ice then rained all day yesterday (Sunday). It has been a pretty frugal week here except for haircuts for all of us and highlights in mine. I tried to do it at home several times but the color does not come out as I like, so I let this fantastic lady do it for me because she understands my hair.
    But here is my frugal activities for the week:
    – Cashed in points on Checkout51 rebate app for a $20 check that is coming in the mail.
    – Transferred $20 from Ibotta app into PayPal account.
    – Received a $20 rebate check from Duke Healthcare from doctor’s appointment that shouldn’t of been charged.
    -Received a $2.99 cereal rebate check in mail.
    -Found a lost GC for $2.55 for a local coffee shop that I won at work last year.
    -Received in the mail coupons for $8.50 worth of free yogurt.
    -Received another raise at work due to the cost of living in our area.
    -Grocery freebies= 3 bagels, 1 snack bar (bison jerky), 2 pourable brown sugars, 1 pk of tortillas, 7 containers of yogurt, 2 lg containers of ricotta cheese, 1 lg container of salad greens, 2 pkgs of frozen egg rolls and 1 can of enchilada sauce.
    -Gifted freebies= cheese, baby carrots, chili pinto beans soup, carrot curry soup, EVOO.
    – I ordered vitamins from due to they had a very good deal and got $12 in free stuff from one of their suppliers= a roll of tp, a box of Kleenex, a snack bag of roasted almonds, 2 laundry pods, pk of flushable cleaning cloths, 10 0z bag of ground coffee, 4 pk of AAA and 4pk of AA batteries, several samples of lens cleaner cloths and 2 sample pkgs of organic coconut butter. Not bad for $19.99 worth of vitamins (2 very large bottles) and free shipping.
    I hope everyone has a great blessed week!

  17. What a cutie patootie Octavius is! I was thinking that when you are part of a large family you learn to sleep anywhere:)

    • Made swag goal x 5
    • Hung a load of laundry up to dry inside the house x 3
    • Cut forsythia branches to force inside
    • Shoveled driveway by hand – the guy who plows my neighbor charges $40 per time so even though shoveling snow is so not my favorite thing to do, it saves a huge amount of money. I do pay to be plowed when we get more than a foot in one storm.
    • After two hours on the phone I think I straightened out unemployment/income verification for health insurance on the exchange and then paid the health insurance premium. I’m so relieved that I will have health insurance while unemployed.
    • Traded books with a friend.
    • Watched a DVD from the library and read library books
    • Applied to many jobs online
    • Used $20 off $100 grocery shopping coupon and before going to the store, I planned meals for the entire month of February – among other things, I bought 21 different fruits & vegetables (snow peas, sugar snap peas, grapefruit, oranges, lemons, lime, potatoes, sauerkraut, cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, apples, bean sprouts, leeks, zucchini, cucumbers, spinach, lettuce, arugula, and carrots). This shop should last me three weeks.
    • Roasted a whole chicken from the freezer at same time roasted a sheet of carrots, potatoes, and grape tomatoes. Baked oatmeal raisin cookies. Made chicken broth in slow cooker. Made Masaman curry, homemade pizza, couscous with cucumbers, feta, and lemon dressing, and baked raspberry muffins (using Brandy’s recipe for blueberry muffins).
    • Tried a new recipe – pad Thai – from the cookbook, “Cook’s Illustrated the New Best Recipe” and it was delicious! I used leftover chicken rather than shrimp and used lime rather than tamarind paste. I had bought the rice noodles a long time ago and they have just been sitting in the pantry.
    • My son came to visit for a night and woke up feeling like he had a cold. After he left, I opened the window in his bedroom to air out the room, even though it was below freezing outside, and closed the BR door so all the heat in the house didn’t get sucked out the window. Also wiped down all the door knobs, faucets, and light switches with rubbing alcohol on a rag.

  18. 1. Refilled my downstairs bottles of conditioner and moisturizer with product from my upstairs bottles. (I am lazy and like to have duplicate bottles up and down stairs) This saved me from buying new bottles:)
    2. Found bags of four large apples for $1 on the discount rack at Kroger
    3. Redeemed coupons for free food from Zaxby’s and Whitts bbq
    4. Made do with homemade cookies for a Groundhog Day treat…
    5. Having a no spend week to kick off Frugal February

  19. My Grandmother fed popcorn with fresh raw milk to my mom and siblings during the Great Depression. Growing up anytime we had left over popcorn without butter on it we would eat it for breakfast the next morning.

  20. Bobbie, I don’t think your comment about the amount of $1,250 for food stamps for seven people was judgmental. We are not on any assistance and budget. Our groceries, including toiletries, paper products and cleaning products is $440/ month for 4 people. We eat very well and rarely go out. Making food from scratch, shopping sales is very doable, but takes time most people don’t want to spend. I was in line at Walmart recently and amazed at the cart-fulls of processed and pre-packaged foods. Expensive and unhealthy. Its a shame few younger people cook from scratch anymore or attempt to, saying they dont have the time. I have a full-time job and im only 43. It has saved us a lot of money and we are healthier for it to.

  21. Good for you giving up the soda habit. I drank 2 Dr. Peppers a day for 20 years. I had a patient that lost his leg to Diabetes. His Doctor attributes the Diabetes to his soda consumption. That did it for me quit cold turkey with bubbly water. Never looked back. Lost weight and feel better.

  22. I have to do a no-spend February if I want to make my extra mortgage payment this month of $563. My deep freeze is full to the brim as well as my kitchen freezer. I’m hoping to clean these out by summer.
    I’m dieting again and have been using my DVDs I purchased used online to exercise.
    I’m thawing out my last turkey this week to cook next Sunday. Last time I froze 3 quart bags and just used the last one. It makes meals easier as I just add a whole grain and veggies and cook on the stove all together.
    My frugal task today was remembering I had popsicle molds that I bought for $1 at Goodwill. I had never used them but now that my girls ate 3 and 2 they can eat popsicles better. My eldest had fun and love the banana/orange juice popsicle!

  23. love your posts of money saving ideas, When I find mac/cheese boxes on sale .19 each but have not seen them at that price for a long time I buy several boxes and don’t especially use it for mac/cheese, but cook the macaroni for anything and save the packet of cheese, for which I can use for any number of things, cheese sauce, topping for pop corn etc. the macaroni is cheap and the cheese is a bonus.

  24. Brandy, you mentioned the Target deal on diapers spend $100 get a $20 gift card. That is on their app now through 2/10. I might get some size 5!

  25. Last Wednesday or Thursday, I walked into Aldi and walked out without buying anything. 1lb of carrots was $1.99, uhuh I was not going to do it. I then went in Walmart looking for inexpensive meat. I found a marked down 2lb package of 1/2 lb hamburgers for $3.99. I bought them and pulled the burgers apart and used the meat for a pot of chilli, and a pot of unstuffed cabbage rolls. I decided that I am putting $50 aside each week and I will only spend that on groceries. If I have money left over, it will go in an envelope and who knows, maybe one day, I can pay the hospital bill!!! I also made a mealplan. I decided what we were having for 7 dinners. Breakfast is never a problem for us.
    Its either eggs, oatmeal, grits, and other breakfast foods, (sometimes people here will eat leftovers). Lunches I can see becoming a problem, I’m worried that if I am planning on the leftovers to make another dinner, someone may eat it all for lunch! I guess I’ll figure that out as we go along. A few weeks ago dh and I both started drinking coffee black. It took a little getting used to but it saves on milk and artificial sweetener. It also saves me a few weight watcher points each week!! My sister was in Florida for a visit and she showed me a few more swagbucks apps and perks apps that I should have on my devices. I downloaded them and vamped up my efforts to earn points. Dd has 4 ipads, and I have one. When hers are not in use, I run an app on wifi. I will probably be redeeming points for walmart giftcards that I can use to offset the costs of food. I also found a new app called fetch rewards. All you need to do is scan your receipt. Sometimes you get bonus points for buying the items on the list. I’ve already redeemed for 3 $5 walmart giftcards. I walked down to the bus stop a few times last week to save on gas, its only half a mile. (to pick up daughter). I’ve been walking as much as possible. A few days last week I did have to drive dd to school, 7 miles across town, so we stopped at Sams and grabbed breakfast on the way out. They put out apples, banannas, pastries and coffee for early shoppers. I brought the “breakfasts” home and we ate them throughout the week. I cant think of anything else we did to save money.

  26. Brandy,
    Love, love the photo of your little guy asleep in the chair- what a treasured memory that photo will be.
    I was able to purchase a couple really nice coats for Christmas gifts on clearance. Each coat was only $16 and they were regular price of $79. At the same store I purchased a Peanuts Christmas t-shirt for $1. I plan to use the t-shirt to make a Christmas pillow for my son. I already have the pillow insert and red thread.
    I have been making homemade hummus and taking flour tortillas and cutting them in triangles and heating them in the oven and serving with the hummus and some dipping oil I got for Christmas. My husband is really enjoying this snack idea. It is far cheaper and probably healthier than chips and salsa.
    I checked out some books at the library instead of giving in to my desire to purchase a design magazine. I found some nice gardening books that gave me some frugal ideas. One suggestion was to purchase whole carrots with tops and roots from your local grocer and plant them in the spring in your flower beds and by summer they will create a nice flower- it is far cheaper than purchasing flowers at the nursery. I am going to try this idea and will let you know how it goes. The suggestion was to use as a fill-in for bare spots.
    I was really wanting some fresh flowers in the house so I was able to purchase 3 white roses for $2 and then cut some of my white winter flowering heather and some of my boxwood to make a nice flower arrangement for my coffee table. Fresh flowers in a nice clean room just make me feel so much better.
    Great buy on the pasta Brandy. Thanks to everyone for the inspiration.

  27. I thought Rhonda did a great job with all of her encouraging ideas, as well! It sounds like your situation is temporary, so that’s the good part! Blue sky is in sight.

    It’s amazing you can get Hansen’s soda for 6 cans for $1. I’m glad you can get your daughter a treat. I know sometimes that’s what it takes for me to feel ok inside…getting a child something they really want. What kind of fun things does she like to do that are low-cost? (I totally understand about special needs kids–they want what they want and can’t always just turn their thoughts to a different scenario–I have a handful of my own, plus a niece and nephew I spend a lot of time with–so it’s GREAT that she likes some things that are low cost). So, it’s worked for me, as well, to fill the time with low-cost, fun things, and then point out that we really don’t have time for ……because we did……. And, then talk about the fun we did have.

    I’m sorry about your cats. I’m sure your daughter is heartbroken.

  28. Your boy is so adorable, Brandy! And it sounds like lovely weather and a productive week.

    I had a productive week as well:
    – I made two traditional Dutch dishes this week ( , ‘Stamppot’, and ‘Hutspot’, using organic curly kale traded for last week, and some carrots from my freezer (also organic, also traded for). It’s essentially mashed potatoes with a leafy green (or a root veggie or two), stirred in. It’s a great way to add extra nutrition, colour, and flavour to liven up mashed potatoes.
    – I put together a Pesto and Portobello Pasta Bake (, except I replaced the portobello mushrooms with some shitake mushrooms I traded for last week. I also used homemade breadcrumbs (made from bread crusts from Thanksgiving that my mother gave to me), pasta bought on super-sale, and so on. The only thing I had to buy was a jar of pesto, which I used half of. I then made another pesto pasta bake using the remaining pesto and stuck it in the freezer for future meals.
    – I also made 10 peach and raspberry individual pies, using a shortening crust (cheaper than butter). I traded the pasta bake and 6 of the individual pies, nicely wrapped in professional take-out boxes (which I previously traded for) for a BNIB 16-piece set of porcelain, worth $40. By making individual pies in my muffin tin, instead of buying a tin-foil pie tray, I saved between 25 and 50 cents, so I was pleased I thought of that work-around. I estimate that I spent about $5 on ingredients. I plan to give the porcelain set to family friends. They will appreciate it, and I will enjoy giving a v. nice gift that cost me $5 plus labour!
    – For the mini pies, I priced it out, and it was cheaper for me to use a can of peaches from my pantry (bought on sale, of course) and a can of raspberry filling (I purchased it at 50% off) than to use fresh fruit and make the filling myself. It would have cost me almost the same price to purchase the cheapest fruit (apples) and this way I saved myself the prep time. I didn’t use all of the peaches or the raspberry filling, so I stirred the remainders into a quart of homemade yoghurt, and ate it for breakfasts for the week.
    – My work lunches for the week were quite frugal, as they consisted of salads using the organic baby lettuce mix that I traded for last week, topped with homemade orange balsamic dressing (Brandy’s recipe), served with swiss chard and preserved lemon soup (most ingredients also from the veggies I traded for last week). I’ve definitely been making that box of produce (that I traded for) last for many meals!
    – Using my local trading app, I was also able trade a cake layer leftover from baking a few or two ago (I had had an extra cake layer, so I had frozen it), for two packages of baby-blue and white twine, and a spool of white cloth ribbon with blue polka-dots. I sliced up the cake into wedges, sprinkled it with icing sugar, and packaged it in a professional take-out box previously traded for, as well as a re-used clear bag from my workplace. It looked great! I was happy to clear out my freezer and stock up my craft/gift supplies at the same time.
    – My husband and I celebrated our wedding anniversary. As a gift, I went to the website, and got some ideas, then created labels on my computer to stick on fruit, saying things like, “you and I are a great ‘pear’”, which I then stuck on the corresponding fruit. I arranged all the different fruits in a pretty white box, and made a label as well. We would have purchased the fruit to eat anyway, so I was pleased to be able to create a gift that didn’t impact our budget, and corresponded with the traditional anniversary gift (apparently fruit is traditional for a 4th anniversary). I also printed out several sheets of anniversary trivia questions (from the same website), cut them up, hole-punched them, and then strung them together using a metal chain re-purposed from an old-keychain. We had a very nice evening going through them, and reminiscing. Cost? $0 OOP, but the memories were priceless.

  29. I really liked the flexibility with this type of meal planning. If something came up, like an appointment, we would choose a meal that was quick and easy or could be made around the appointment. I was careful to save the “quick and easy meals” for those days, too. Otherwise, we could choose from the list what to have according to what we felt like having that day. It flowed nicely with our moods instead of constraining us to a rigidly set weekly/daily meal plan.

  30. Oh my, that photo of your son asleep in the car is marvelous! Made me smile for a long time. Thank you for sharing it.

  31. Aw he is getting so big!
    I made chicken in the crockpot, white bread. Banana muffins, homemade cup o noodles using food I had on hand for work lunches, beef noodles and homemade chicken broth.
    I received a set of Little House in the Prairie books for Christmas from my husband and have been enjoying reading them.
    I used saved water to flush the toilet. I also used water left in cups to water house plants.
    I only purchased milk, smoothie drinks for my daughter, yogurt, and bananas two weeks ago. No shopping this past week except new Zero pitcher filters for my big zero water pitcher.
    I took my daughter to the school sponsored Fun Fair. She played games and won prizes with her 2 besties.
    We had a quiet week. Have a good week everyone!

  32. My sister has a photo collage of her kids sleeping in the most unusual places/positions. Maybe you have enough pictures like that for a collage, Brandy? Hers is so cute. The photos of the little man working, followed by sleeping, are great.
    I’m using up leftovers this week, pruned my grape vines, gave away some clutter, and I’m planning a yard sale. I haven’t found any great deals at the store lately, but I got a good one on a new kind of organic apples that were so delicious, a week ago. I split large bags of cat and dog food and froze one half of each, so it won’t go stale. I pack my lunch to work every single day, including drinks.
    Our weather is warmer, but not that warm yet, which is good, because my crepe myrtles still need pruning. My husband kept my mint alive in its pot over the winter, and fresh mint tea has been delicious.

  33. It looks like my comment got cut off, so here are the rest of my frugal accomplishments for the week:
    – I brought home some bubble wrap from work that was going to be thrown out. We’ll use it to pack breakable items in, when we send our next package to my MIL.
    – I received a small bonus at work, which I applied straight to the mortgage principal.
    – I threw out a dying pointsettia plant and added the dirt to my balcony garden.
    – I redeemed Swagbucks for a $10 giftcard to Old Navy.
    – I cooked and baked a number of things in addition to what I wrote about: sweet potato fries (using potatoes previously traded for), kale chips (kale also traded for), the lemon pudding cake another commenter posted last week (I used frozen zest and bottled lemon juice), beans’n’gravy mini pies (using beans from my freezer that I had cooked from dried previously), and a chocolate loaf cake (vegan, so no eggs needed). I sprinkled the loaf cake with chopped up mini chocolates I received at a conference previously. I also made pepperoni pizza (using pepperoni from my freezer that I had traded for previously) and stuck it in the freezer for an easy dinner one night.

    Looking forward to learning from everyone else as usual!

  34. Brandy, your precious boy is too adorable 🙂 And so glad that you were able to get the pasta at the sale price you were waiting for.

    – Enjoyed warmer temps so was able to lower thermostat to 67F during the day.
    – Walked on the boardwalk nearly everyday. I love the ocean and walking is not only exercising but a walking meditation to me.
    – Best healthy & frugal buy of the week was Hass avocados for $0.79 each, reg. price is 3 for $5. And 16 oz container of organic spring mix for $3.49; reg. price is $5.99.

    I buy a fresh bunch of organic radishes each week to use in salads; I don’t use the greens. I’m curious if you or any of your readers use these radish tops in their cooking?

  35. The photos of your little one are just perfect! He looks like such a “little man” now.
    Not much accomplished this past week as I’ve been sick since Wednesday (cold/flu and I’m a bit worried about pleurisy) but I did manage to get all the bills paid and money budgeted for February. I haven’t been eating much and I haven’t been out in days so that has certainly saved money. I’m not going to push it and if I have to I could stay home all week – we’ll see. I’ll try to get up to speed slowly.

  36. I like the bubbles too and have a non-electric Seltzer maker. I’m the only one that uses it; however there are ways to hook up a larger tank if it were to be used more. Lowers the cost more and more.

  37. Hello Brandy and everyone from Australia 🙂 .

    Here is how we saved money and increased our future food stocks in the gardens for the week –

    Finances –
    – Banked more money into our saving for our house deposit bringing us up to 23.85% of the way there. We took out our at home emergency kitty so it was not reflected in our house savings.

    eBay free listings –
    – Took advantage of a free listing promotion on eBay and listed 25 homemade items saving $41.25 on normal listing fees.

    Sticking up for myself savings 😀 –
    – I purchased 6 lip balms off eBay from an international seller in October that never turned up so I had been eBay messaging this seller for an eternity to get a refund. They kept mucking me around and telling me that they did not have enough money in their PayPal account to refund me and I was out of time to give them negative feedback. I purchased 1 more lip balm from them knowing that in 7 days I could give them negative feedback. After contacting them and telling them I was going to leave negative feedback unless I got my refund they suddenly decided to refund both the purchases in October and the one lip balm I just purchased. Rightfully regardless of whether the last lip balm turns up or not I will be leaving them negative feedback to warn others not to deal with this seller and also for the abysmal way they treated me too through their lack of honesty and integrity. It wasn’t much money but it was our hard earned money and it was the principle of the matter to us.

    Purchases –
    – Bought 14 x 4pkts of coat and garment vacuum seal bags at Aldi on special saving $294.15 over buying them in other local shops. We can now vacuum seal all of our winter clothing, blankets and quilts and have more room in our dressing room for the second pantry we have started in there to increase our food stocks.

    In the kitchen-
    – Cooked all meals and bread from scratch from items we had in our pantries, fridge and freezer. All our vegetables for dinners used were preserved and frozen from our own gardens.

    In the gardens –
    – Harvested 2kg of beetroot and 1.143kg of cherry tomatoes from the gardens saving less our garden hay purchase $3.81.
    – Used the free hay we got with our jumbo hay bale purchase to mulch a 10 x 5mt, all our front yard herb, berry and vegetable gardens and another 4.5 x 2mt section of another garden bed.
    – Picked rosemary from the gardens that I have drying for household stocks and some to sell on eBay as an added income stream.
    – Thinned out and transplanted carrot seedlings growing too close in the gardens making 2.5 x 7mt rows of carrots in our newly amended garden bed.
    – Thinned out and transplanted beetroot seedlings growing too close together making another 5mt row of beetroot in our newly amended garden bed.

    Water preservation-
    – Hand watered the house paddock lawns all week with saved grey water from our showers and washing machine.
    – During recent rain that was overflowing our rain water tanks we were able to save another 110lts by bucketing some into a barrel which we just used to fertilise the front yard gardens with.
    – Worked out our washing machine washes clothing perfectly well with a 1 rinse cycle instead of 2 saving 11 mins of electricity per load and around 20lts of water per load.

    Electricity savings –
    – Saved $7.50 in electricity costs by using our solar lanterns to light our home each night and by only turning on our hot water system on once this week.

    Have a wonderfully frugal and wonderful week ahead everyone 🙂 .

  38. Just delightful pictures…thank you for sharing. My son was such a blond boy too.

    I found 20 cents, ate all meals at home even when we wanted to eat out, and avoided the grocery store. I did go to the thrift shop looking for something and found a LLBean wool plaid scarf for 50 cents. We are always on the lookout for warm scarves and hats here. I also found a quality German made China set in a more modern pattern for my daughter at a very reasonable price at the thrift store. There is a complete set for 8 as well as a coffee service, cups and saucers and serving platters and bowls. Although not engaged, she does have a serious boyfriend and is graduating from college this May. We have been “window” shopping. I was just tickled that I had the money for just such a purchase after not even having enough money for necessities last year. It will make the next two weeks tight, but didn’t come from the emergency fund. I don’t need to shop for anything and am feeling rather blessed. It will be an amazing present and DD ok’d the pattern. It gives me hope that our family will be able to recover from these setbacks when I am able to plan ahead and not always seem so far behind.

    Paid off another of my daughter’s medical bills. Yet another one is expected to be paid off this month. Only a few more bills to go!

    Determined to eat the wrinkly apples by dipping them in peanutbutter. I ate one banana that had accidently been left in the car and froze. It started to thaw and was actually a tasty treat. I also had a left over peanutbutter sandwich one day for dinner because it needed to be eaten. Drinking lots more water. I’m aiming for no food waste while not overeating. Some days the two are diametrically opposed.

    I spent some time taking care of my nails and filed them nice and short. They are finally uniform with a clear coat of polish that I had. I’m determined to focus on these little things.

    Winter doldrums are here…happy frugal-ing!

  39. Congratulations on the pasta stock up, Brandy!

    We have 5% off every Tuesday this month at our local co-op. I’m ok to re-arrange my shopping day to receive the discount. 🙂

    Last week I scheduled most of my appointments on Monday back-to-back in a couple locations and was happy to make good use of my time, vehicle, and gas that way.

    I doubled a recipe gladly to take a meal to my parents shortly after a surgery in the home. (We both had the same meal.)

    I used Facebook messenger to video a prospective client in another state. We talked for free that way. 🙂

    I used natural remedies I already had at home to feel better after catching a bug.

    My husband joyfully took my home-cooked meals for lunch every day to work.

    We used a gift card given to us for a birthday to purchase some needed items for both of us.

  40. Brandy, your boy is precious!

    Had a pretty good week. Below are my accomplishments.

    • Used free tea, coffee and toiletries, washed ziplocs and used ½ dryer sheets and ran only full loads in the washer and dishwasher during off peak times.
    • Made date nut bread to take to work as snacks for the week. I had received free dates a couple of months ago and chopped and froze them. I ate the date nut bread as my morning snacks and peanuts that the office supplies for my afternoon snacks.
    • Planned out the menu for the week.
    • Used refillable water bottles.
    • Hubby brought lunch 2 day and got free lunch 2 days at work, plus 1 free dinner out paid for by work.
    • I brought my lunch to work the 2 days I was in the office. One was leftover au gratin potatoes with cut up ham that had been leftover from a dinner a few weeks ago that I saved as a single size leftover. Another was leftover turkey & gravy and potatoes. My lunches at home were leftover roast beef and gravy that I had frozen and I mixed that with 1 c. of leftover rice I had frozen. This made enough for 2 meals.
    • Hubby needed a new fish basket for the grill. Still had $ left on the Amazon gift card he got for Christmas, so I used that to purchase it. Ordered it through Ibotta, so will also receive a small rebate on it.
    • Dinners were grilled pork chops with spicy rice (cooked rice mixed with sautéed garlic, onions, bell peppers and tomatoes with a little tabasco added to taste); leftover chili I had frozen in December, served with leftover spicy rice; steak & baked potatoes; leftover turkey & gravy with boiled potatoes and green beans (I had this twice, as Hubby went out for a work dinner on one night); spaghetti & sauce with Italian sausage; a free pizza from the Welcome Wagon packet we received when we moved into our new house; and Cajun spiced catfish and chicken with pasta that I served for a birthday party I threw for my Dad and my sister. The other guests brought a veggie tray, bread and a green salad.
    • Had smoothies for breakfast most days made with fruit that I have had in the freezer for a while.
    • Last week when we went out for dinner for Mexican food, I had only eaten ½ of my chimichanga. I also always ask for all beans instead of beans and rice. I never eat the beans with my meal. Brought home all the leftovers and Hubby and I had tostadas for lunch on Sunday with the beans and I took the shredded beef from my chimichanga and added it to my leftovers soup container in the freezer.
    • Sewed a button on a pair of pajamas.
    • Hubby got a free calendar from work a couple of weeks ago. My Dad needed a calendar, so I gave him that one.
    • Hubby had a few flights that he hadn’t gotten his frequent flier miles for business trips he’s taken over the year. He took the time over the weekend to get it all sorted out. He ended with over 54,000 points. Since it is on an airline we don’t use for personal travel, we will most likely use these miles for gift cards.
    • Worked 19.5 hours contract work.
    • Got about 30 lemons from someone at work with a tree. Used some to make lemonade for the birthday party on Saturday.
    • Ordered my son-in-law’s birthday gift from Amazon via Ibotta, so received a rebate.
    • Got free enhanced water from Friday’s Freebie, which my husband will take with him hunting.
    • Got $3.50 in Ibotta rebates from grocery. Plus had coupons for $3.50. Also sent away for a rebate on razors, making them free.
    • Got strawberries for 97c/lb. Bought 4 and froze. Before I froze them, I cut the tops off. I assembled our weekly smoothies bags and used the tops in those.
    • Went to Total Wine to buy the booze for the birthday party. Forgot I had a $10 off $50 purchase coupon in my purse. Made a point of going right back and saved $10.78 because of less tax also. For my Dad’s gift, I gave him a bottle of nice vodka that we received at Christmas. For my sister’s gift, I put together a breakfast gift basket. I made lemon muffins, put in hot chocolate packets, an individual overnight oatmeal (that I had received free) and homemade strawberry jam I already had. Already had a basket and cellophane and ribbon. The only thing I purchased was a package of coffee and a couple of miniature bottles of Irish Cream.
    • Got $100 credit from new credit card. Had to pay $69 annual fee, so that makes a profit of $31.

  41. Found a free code for another year of ePocrates Plus, which is a medical app I’ll be using when I start clinicals to become a Nurse Practitioner(NP) at the end of August. This is $175/year app. There’s a free version too but the Plus offers more. The code added another free year on to my account so I now have access to it through August of 2020! I shared the code with other student NP groups I belong to.

  42. Sugar cookie is very quiet and low maintenance. She loves to draw for hours every day. I usually buy her cases of copy paper but was gifted about 50 reams of busted paper from the salvage store. I just had to collect it from all the boxes it was scattered in. I was extremely grateful to that store owner. She loves movies and has hundreds of them. The family buys them for her each holiday. She still has a few Barbies tucked away and often cuts up her shirts to make them clothes. ( so many of her shirts are from the thrift store that it is not to much of a problem} The sweet child cannot read but she loves to cook. Some of her creations are interesting and some of them are great. She requested cable this week for her birthday. I found her a special on for 10.00 for three months. She will have several childrens shows and the cooking shows. She has been given 60.00 a month in SNAP benefits, so each week, I will take her coupon shopping. She loves this. We will buy a special treat each week and then whatever is a loss leader or free with coupons. That 60.00 will go a very long way shopping like that. I am grateful that she does not have any behavioral or emotional problems. Over time, many of these children like her have psychiatric problems but thankfully she has not exhibited any symptoms. She always tells me that God gave her to me because he knew I would keep her forever. She really is my sugar cookie.

  43. Still spending most of the time at home, since the weather has been either cold or wet or both. Windy too. Today wasn’t too bad, and my early morning doctor’s appointment went fairly well. Saw the doctor who took over the practice when my primary retired at the end of the year. After almost 40 years as his patient, it will take some getting used to a new doctor, but he seemed all right to me today. I also got so much ahead on my laundry (ahead of my regular laundry day) that I had time to spend part of Saturday at the fabric store. I looked at very much more than I bought, but I did get everything I needed for the moment. Hoping to put together and quilt a wall hanging for my daughter for her birthday–if I can stop her from “popping in” and seeing it ahead of time! I know when she has a couple appointments this week so can work on it then!

    Cooking went fine this week also–homemade pizza, goulash, chicken stir fry, spare ribs that I got on sale and were delicious (another package is in the freezer) with yellow rice; we went out one night for BBQ with a gift card, and also ate leftovers another night.

    I spent all of $57 on groceries this past week, including the two packs of budget priced spare ribs. They have been so expensive we hadn’t had them in a while. Also had to stop buying fruit this week as it was getting ahead of us. I had bought six of the really huge oranges when on sale for 88 cents each–husband has been eating only half at a time. I was hungry this afternoon and found that 1/3 of the orange was enough at one time. Really good ones but enormous!

    Messed up a payment online somehow last month and paid by phone when they called me to say they hadn’t received a payment. I made sure I paid this month’s payment very carefully and noted that it was taken from my checking account already today, so that was a relief. I really need to be more careful on my payments. Still, not as bad as the time I misplaced the decimal point and sent $7000.00 to pay my $70 bill. Took a few weeks to get a refund on that one! Emergency fund came in handy that month.

    Christmas gift cards are great, aren’t they? Planning on getting my hair cut after yoga tomorrow with another gift card! I love saving money.

  44. Mari, I sometimes chop up the radish greens and add them to the salad but most often will saute them quickly as a side dish to dinner on another night. I wash and freeze them if we aren’t going to use them within a couple of days.

  45. I just looked up and it said it was a place to share and edit your files from anywhere. Could it be called something else?

  46. Wrinkly apples make the sweetest applesauce, no sugar needed, which is perfect for eating or can be used in baking.

  47. Lilli, I’m glad you and maybe even a few others, found my comment helpful. I have experienced deep depression and I never want to face those feelings again. It was one of the most difficult times in my life. But I truly believe what helped me come out of my depression was finding things that made me feel good about myself when I accomplished them. Those little moments of happiness helped me build up my self worth, one step at a time. So, if you can fill each day with small accomplishments that give you even a little bit of happiness, it won’t be long before you feel a little better about life.

  48. Lilli, since your daughter loves to draw, you may be interested in the free drawing program that my daughter uses on her computer. It’s call [b]FireAlpaca[/b] which can be downloaded onto a computer for free. You can google it, then follow instructions on how to download it onto your computer or laptop (it is not an app, so won’t work on tablet or smart phone. However there are free drawing apps available as well). The program not only allows you to draw on the computer with a mouse, it also can do fun and easy animations. One of the great things about using a computer to draw is that it requires no paper! Also, your favourite pictures can be saved and shared with family or friends through email, or printed to use for a gift or craft project.

  49. Kim, a really simple lunch item that I’ve been eating lately is black bean burritos. I cook the black beans in a pot with taco seasoning and a little water, until the beans are slightly mushy, then put some in a tortilla with your favourite cheap toppings that you have on hand (salsa, cheese, sour cream or greek yogurt, lettuce, chopped tomatoes, etc.). They are cheap, healthy, very tasty and quite filling. A can of black beans makes about 4-6 burritos, possibly more depending on tortilla size and how full you make the wrap. I can’t eat up the whole can in one sitting, so I just put the leftover beans in the fridge and reheat what I need the next day. However, if you wanted to, you could assemble a bunch of burritos to use up the beans, wrap them up and freeze them to use as desired. Just micorwave to reheat before eating.

    Another cheap option is to cook chick peas in BBQ sauce and use to make wraps. I like my wrap made with lettuce, cheese and a bit of ranch dressing, but you can make it with whatever toppings you like or have on hand. Again, I just keep the leftover chick peas in the fridge and reheat what I need the next day. You could make pre-made wraps, but lettuce does not freeze well, so choose your toppings accordingly.

  50. She sounds very, very sweet. I’m glad God blessed you with a daughter like that:)

    I have found over the years that there is just nothing like a pure hug from a special needs child. My niece is very loving, and when she loves someone–she loves them. Unconditionally. It’s a special kind of love, for sure.

    It’s nice she likes to shop with coupons. I agree that $60 will go a long ways for a little treat, a soda, whatever she loves, and you are very wise to stretch it out for several outings. You do have a lot of great ideas to keep her happy! Those cooking shows are great. My nephew likes them, even though he really cannot cook. He occasionally wants to make something, and will stir for a couple of minutes, then I finish, but it’s a start.

  51. My husband is always arguing that gardening costs more than just buying the produce from the store. (we only buy on sale). Can you offer any insight? I see your posts and wonder if he’s wrong but he is so numbers oriented I figure he knows more than I do in that respect.

  52. I use seltzer to cut my soda drinking too! I agree with you – for me, it’s the bubbles! My family jokes that I am that fish from Finding Nemo, swimming around yelling “Bubbles! Bubbles! MY bubbles!” 😉

  53. Brandy, I love the picture of your little one asleep in the chair! Those moments are so precious. It’s enough to make me want another one!

    This past week the best thing we did was to save on groceries through gleaning at the food pantry and participating in Harris Teeter’s super doubles coupon event. We spent about $50 and saved $80. This is about half of our monthly budget, so we’ll only be purchasing necessities such as almond milk, produce, etc. for the rest of the month.

    The boys were sick, but we made it through at home with essential oils for congestion, pedialyte popsicles for nausea, lots of rest, hot tea with honey, and homemade soup and oatmeal. We only had to use minimal Tylenol for fever, and thankfully little one didn’t develop a fever (likely because he’s still nursing).

    Here’s what else we did this past week, so I hope you’ll stop by!

  54. We love air popped popcorn at our house. My favorite is with salt and a little cayenne pepper. The boys like it with butter and cinnamon sugar (kind of like kettle corn). We’ve enjoyed it as a breakfast cereal as well, when it’s leftover.

  55. Oh, Lilli, I am so sorry to read of your loss. ((HUGS))

    Your sugar cookie sounds like such a delightful young lady. In your description of her in the comments, I just picture you smiling big describing her. So glad you were able to make it over to visit your father, as well as your nephew. I’m sure they enjoyed seeing you.

  56. There are definitely costs involved in gardening! It really depends on where you live and what you have to start with. Here, you have to buy dirt, as our ground is so hard that it has to be jackhammered to dig holes (or soaked for 4 days before a backhoe can move it). The dirt is white and doesn’t have enough nutrients. Dirt is a large expense, but SUPER important.

    Water–well, if you live where it rains, you may not have that cost (especially if you also use rain barrels or have a well). Rain is rare here (4 inches a year) and I water my garden on drip irrgiation, which uses less than half what a sprinkler would use and delivers water right where you need it.

    The general setting up of the garden is where most of the cost lies. It takes several years before you you break even if you have to put lots in. But, if you’re just building inexpensive wood raised beds, or gardening in the dirt you have, you will make come out ahead the first year.

    For me, I would have a garden of flowers even if I didn’t have food (so same water and dirt needs). I like that I get water back in hundreds of pounds of fruit from my garden.

    There are lots of things where you really make money from the garden. Fruit trees are one of those. Look how costly lemons are (and Meyer lemons, the ones I grow, are considered a luxury item and cost much more). But even if you bought regular lemons on sale for $0.49 each, I have HUNDREDS of lemons on the two trees in the back every year. (The same goes for peaches). These two lemon trees cost me $20 each a decade ago. My peach trees (the ones we are now replacing) cost $15 on sale a decade ago, and they gave me hundreds of pounds each each year.

    Lettuce seeds are [i]well[/i] worth it. Looseleaf lettuce is rarely on sale here anymore. It’s usually $1.99 a head–and my family can use two heads in a meal. For less than two heads, I can grow hundreds or heads of lettuce from one packet of seeds. If they’re open-pollinated seeds (which is what I grow in lettuce) you can collect your own seeds and never have to buy seeds again. Plus, looseleaf lettuce can be harvested three times (essentially producing three heads each) as you pick outside leaves and let the plant continue to grow.

    Swiss chard is very pricy at the store, but super easy to grow, and VERY inexpensive. You can harvest it again and again, as the plant will continue to produce leaves. It can grow in extreme heat as well as in shade, making it very versatile.

    Herbs are very inexpensive to grow and not cheap to buy.

    Homegrown tomatoes are not only cheaper per pound to grow, but they taste SO much better. The same can be said for home-grown grapes (also very inexpensive to grow). The ones at the store are tasteless compared to homegrown, just like tomatoes. So you get a better tasting fruit for less money.

    There is no way I could afford to buy blackberries here. They are super expensive, even on sale, but I can grow them year after year from the same plants, and they are wonderful!

    The first few years you aren’t going to come out ahead if you are landscaping your yard and buying fruit trees, berry bushes, and vines (and especially dirt) and putting in irgiation or building beds. But after that, your trees, bushes, and vines are going to be producing, and you’ll come out ahead.

    I’ve got some new trees in my garden: pistachios and almonds. Those are more per pound to purchase than beef (even bought in bulk), and once they start producing in a few years, I will definitely come out ahead.

    The same thing works for flowers. I could buy two dozen roses at the grocery store (on sale for $14 a dozen) or I could buy a rose bush for the same price and have flowers for years and years.

  57. Oh my….that has got to be the sweetest picture. I am an only child and only have a daughter so no experience with really little boys but learned when my first grandson was born how special and dear they can be.

  58. I decided to really look at my habits this month after it felt like an excessive January. I realized I do a lot of frugal things so routinely that I don’t even think of them anymore!
    I washed out regular ziplock bags, used my silicone Ziploc bags (reusable), reused some clean tin foil, used a silpat (rather than tin foil), and used my beeswax wrap rather than saran wrap. Used my wool dryer balls. Saved vegetable scraps and stale bread for the chickens. Took my breakfast and lunch to work every day (in glass reusable containers). Took my morning tea (in my travel mug) and a reusable water bottle to work, the gym, and on my errands every day. Saved my tea bags for the garden. Ate leftovers. Turned off the heat, as it wasn’t that cold 2 nights. Attended Zumba and yoga classes at the base (free). Refilled a glass spray bottle with homemade all-purpose cleaner. Used old towels and t-shirts as cleaning rags.

    While on some errands, went to the day old bread store. Scored 50 cent bread, donuts, and tortillas. Made bread pudding as my Sunday dinner contribution and have enjoyed the donuts as snacks/breakfast all week. Found fabric I wanted for a gift quilt and used a 50% off coupon on it.

    A friend loaned me a book to read. I gratefully received part of a bag of dog food and treats from colleague whose son’s dog died. Gratefully received free collard greens from the school’s garden and scrap vegetables for my chickens. I was gifted some vanilla beans. I will use them to make a large bottle of vanilla extract.

    I avoided buying a new cell phone for another month.
    Did the 1st of the month items (cleaned the dishwasher, washer, dryer and drains, turned all of the shut off valves, changed the ac filters, checked smoke detectors and lightbulbs, and bleached the AC drip line.

    Went out to breakfast with a friend. Breakfast is cheaper than dinner, but the fellowship was equally sweet.

    My husband’s computer got broken at work. He bought a new one, but they are reimbursing him since it was their fault.

    Bought a new couch at a local rent-to-own place (mine was atrocious). They give a nice military discount, free delivery, and it is 120 days same as cash (which we will take advantage of). I know a used one would be less expensive by far, but I wanted black leather (with recliners) and haven’t seen one on resale after many months of looking.

    Shopped loss leaders to restock pantry and planned meals off sale flyers. Received coupon for $10 off my grocery order if I buy $10 worth of produce – which isn’t hard for me to do.

    Ordered some stickers for my classroom. I haven’t ordered stickers in 10 years and I ordered enough (with free shipping and a coupon) that I probably will never have to order them again before I retire. It is amazing how high school students in a college class still go gaga over a sticker.

    I went home sick from work Friday (the flu caught me) and had to cancel a dinner date at a friend’s. An hour later, there was a knock at my door and on my doorstep was a basket with a quart of homemade chicken broth, some crackers, and flowers from my dear friend. Due to my illness, I skipped my usual movie night out($4 at the base plus gas to get there) in favor of a Netflix marathon snugged up in bed.

  59. Sarah, I totally understand where you’re coming from. My husband is also a numbers guys (MBA) and what I invested in my balcony garden last year was definitely not worth the amount of food I got out of it. That said, what Brandy said is absolutely accurate: after a few years I will break even, and then I will come out ahead. The cost really is in the setting up. So if you know that you will continue to work away at your garden for the next few years, it IS worth the investment.

    Because I was starting from scratch, and with some disadvantages (ex. no covered balcony, so pouring rain from the top of the building hits hard on any plants, people tossing cigarette butts onto my balcony from above), I had to invest a bunch. I did a number of things to offset the cost. I bought containers from the dollar store as opposed to pretty ceramic planters, I bought additional planters from amazon using swagbucks gift cards, I bought dollar store seeds, and I requested that for birthdays/Christmas if my family wanted to give me a gift they purchased, a $20 gift card to a local nursery or some seeds would be great. Then when I got a gift card, I waited until items went on sale to buy them. Plus of course, I had to buy lots of dirt. And I had to learn a lot; there is no super bright sun due to a lot of buildings around me, so lettuce doesn’t grow well for me, but Swiss chard will grow about the size of lettuce so I use that for salads. Tomatoes grew well, so I plan to plant many more this year. Radishes grew well but not carrots, so I planted lots of radishes. I also did what Brandy does (thanks for teaching me, Brandy!): I grew up the wall on a trellis, grew down using English breakfast radishes, and did succession planting (so much Swiss chard). I also purchased a metal bookshelf type rack from IKEA and planted in containers on that so that I could get more out of my space. My husband now calls the balcony ‘Las Amazonas’. I also learned that if people see a balcony full of plants, they are less likely to toss their gross cigarette butts onto my balcony. 🙂

    If things grow very well this year, I will break even, and next year will profit since I will only need seeds, and very few at that. The thing that made my numbers guy husband a believer in my garden? The TASTE of the produce! He loves fresh tomatoes off the vine! If your husband is anti-investment, start small, such as re-growing celery, lettuce, green onions, or carrot tops; grow your own sweet potato starts from a single sweet potato; or grow a single tomato in a pot (you can buy a tomato plant for a few dollars, reuse an old bucket or container for a planter, and scrounge some dirt from somewhere). I think the taste of a freshly picked home-grown tomato will win your husband over! 🙂

  60. Vickie and Sarah – I’m from Michigan as well. A transplanted Yooper now, and boy do we ever have snow. So far for the winter, our snow total exceeds 100 inches (I’m between Marquette and Escanaba, the U.P.’s banana belt).


  61. What a sweetie. He is so adorable.

    I have some older vellux blankets that are starting to shred apart. My elderly mother resides with me due to the start of dementia. Anyway, I have been looking for a good blanket. I went to Meijer for some groceries and decided to check what a new blanket costs. They had their $29.99 blankets on sale for $14.99, plus there happened to be another 40% off, so I paid $11.25 for a new blanket for mom. The vellux blankets are like foam and when they start shredding, you have all of these little foam pieces floating around. It wasn’t frugal, but it was needed. I have items from 3 friends, my sister, my niece and a few from my mother that no one wants or needs, so I take all freebies. I’ve been selling these items and clothing on local FB sell/buy sites and ebay. I get to keep the profits as no one wants the money or takes the time to list them, so I guess I could say that money has actually more than paid for a new blanket.

    Cook from scratch – had beef stew last evening and leftovers for today; bring my lunch to work daily (getting ready to retire at the end of June).

    I have always had a garden, but now I can expand it and take more time with the produce that I will be getting. I have a lemon balm plant that I have sold sprigs from or a piece for someone else to plant. It has helped keep away some of the invasive bugs and beetles from a lot of my garden.

  62. I agree with all of the above comments. Gardening costs money, but the payoff is worth it to me. Last year was the first year at this new house, but the previous owner had a good garden spot, so I still got a great harvest. However, this year is more expensive, because I needed to buy all seeds–every single kind–because it had been a while since I started my own seeds. The taste, the quality, the fact that I grow organic once I get the seeds planted (the seeds themselves are not usually organic)…it all factors in for me. There are berries established here, raspberries and blackberries, and I put in strawberries last year and got a few.

    I like to try new things, so I’ll admit, sometimes I buy something I don’t really need, such as a new kind of pepper to try, just because it looks fun. I look at it as a useful hobby. Learning more and more skills is worth time and money to me. The skills I’ve learned, such as gardening, canning, freezing, sewing, etc. have served me well during tough times throughout our 36 years of marriage. It does take time to learn a skill, and I was terrible at gardening at first. But, I got better at it. So, I am sure I didn’t break even financially at first. I am also sure I do now.

    Here are some ways I save money gardening:
    1. When I start seeds, I order a packet of the variety I like and only start 1/2 of it one year and the other 1/2 the next year. If it’s something I only want 2 plants of, like pear tomatoes, I may stretch the pack for more than 2 years. When the seeds get older, sometimes you have to plant more than one to get a viable seed, but it still saves money.
    2. I take gifts of starts of things when offered. Or, I move some things around to make better use of them. Examples: Strawberries make runners, I’ve often re-planted a whole new bed from the runners off the old bed. Blackberries and raspberries are always sending up extra “babies” and just yesterday, a relative stranger offered me some blackberry starts from her bushes. I have enough, but if I didn’t, I would have accepted.
    3. I let things re-seed. For example, my green onions bloomed and dropped seeds, and I have encouraged them rather than tilling them up. Brandy has it down about saving lettuce seeds–I’m not as on top of things as she is, but still find a lettuce packet to be a great money saver. I have saved lettuce seeds on occasion. I’ve planted potatoes that started in the compost heap and grown a fine crop of several pounds from those volunteers. I moved them into a row. I notice that there are peas coming up here and there in the garden right now. I will encourage those, and hopefully get a few snow peas, as that is what I had there.
    4. Some things are cut and come again, such as chard and lettuce. I can whack off the row of leafy lettuce mix and it will regrow more leaves by the time I am ready to eat them. Just don’t take it off too low down–leave a bit of the heart to grow back. Cabbage will grow tiny little baby heads if you leave the plant after you cut off the main head, and broccoli grows many, many side shoots. In fact, my broccoli was giving us little broccoli pieces all summer, way into fall.
    5. This sounds like a money spender, but I buy the bulk of my seeds from catalogs. They are expensive. The reason I do this is because I usually want a variety for either a)disease resistance (I lost all my tomatoes to a blight one year, so I buy blight resistant kinds now), b) heavy production and c) short season until I get the crop. In our area of the Pacific Northwest, we have a mild climate, but it rarely gets super hot. So, if I want a melon, for instance, I need to have one that makes melons in a short period of time, and handles cooler temperatures. Each region has it’s own needs, and I like reading the descriptions and getting something that gives me a greater success rate for the most production.
    6. That being said, I do buy a few packets for 4/$1 at the Dollar Store. These are things like marigolds, some lettuce, pickling cucumbers, other flowers, etc. There are only a few seeds in the packet, and some varieties are not as productive, but the price is very low. I did not buy very many there this year, as our garden is much smaller, and I have to carefully plan what I plant.
    7. I succession plant. I put lettuce in about every 2-3 weeks and we have it all year, unless we have a heat wave in the middle of the summer. Then it gets bitter and bolts. I put in cool-weather crops in the spring to get something early, such as boc choi, spinach, etc. After I pull up a crop, I try to put some compost back into the ground before I plant another crop. I also get my husband to till there, to fluff up the soil.

    Those are a few things I do to save money on the garden.

  63. I am so sorry to hear about your cats. It is so hard to lose an animal that is so much a part of the family.

    Glad you’re seeming in better spirits this week. Know that my thoughts and prayers are with you, and it does seem like there’s great support and understanding here.

  64. We love quesadillas or baked potatoes for lunch. They are a great way to use up little bits of leftovers like roasted veggies or a small amount of meat. When I’m taking it to work, I just take leftovers.

  65. You also have to take into account the health benefits. I know what I am putting on my fruits/veggies. Store bought lettuce has recalls almost yearly. Droughts happen and the prices go up. Bugs/rodents destroy crops. Plus I love to garden. I put the radio on and weed away. Its my therapy. If I need lettuce I run outside. Its save gas going to the store and who runs to the store and actually leaves with one item. I grow my veggies from seeds so it is much cheaper then paying for the plants.

  66. Debi, I’m in the U.P., too, Munising. We’re at about 12 ft. so far. It wouldn’t be so bad if we got sun more often. We’re like the walking dead, here!

  67. I’m in OH and I found it worth me growing a garden. Especially if you are looking at organic. I grow lettuce, spinach swiss chard and other greens, radishes(eaten raw and fried) tomatoes, bell peppers, etc . I would say if you have to spend $5 for 1 plant, it might not be worth it. I grow some sweet potatoes and white potatoes but not enough to supply us through the winter as that would take up to much of my ground even though they are a hands off crop.

  68. Marcia R, Adding an extra zero or two is my worst nightmare! I always wonder why we have to find and correct it. It seems to me, that the company should have something in place to find it first.

  69. What wonderful pictures of your little man! He’s growing so fast!
    This week, I listed a few things on eBay and sold an item.
    I’ve been working on embroidery and really enjoying it.
    I gratefully accepted some organic, frozen corn from a co-worker. (5 lbs.!!)
    I traded in CC points for a Target gift card.
    I had an aha moment. I got our yearly bill for insurance. As I was making plans to go and pay it, I called to see if I could put it on the CC to get the points. I had to call the main office to do that, so I did! Easy, peasy! We’ve only had this card for about a year so I have to remember to use it for the big bills, if possible. Those points add up.
    I paid a bill at the bank saving time and postage.
    Have a wonderful week!

  70. I don’t post much…..mostly read. I very much enjoyed this post Rhonda. Gives me some things to think about incorporating here. Thank you!

  71. Thanks Nancy for your input. I don’t use them fresh as they’re too too bitter for us. Never thought of sauteing them. Thanks so much!

  72. Brandy, your son is beautiful! I miss having a little one around.
    We had a normal week around here. My son started back at college. It really is the day to day things that add up.
    -Everyone brought lunch/dinner to work/school.
    -Only washed full loads of laundry. Hung most of it up.
    -Cooked from scratch. Used items from my pantry.
    -Used sales, coupons, Ibotta to pay the lowest price for our groceries.
    -Batch errands to save gas
    -Froze leftovers so nothing goes to waste
    -Got a free calendar at work.
    -Found 73 cents at various locations
    -Wasn’t feeling well Saturday(lack of sleep) so pulled food out of freezer that I had saved for that reason
    -Husband brought home items headed to the garbage from work
    -Son brought home food headed for the garbage from his job.
    -Kept the heat low. Wore extra layers.
    -Cleaned out closets and cabinets.
    -Listed more items on EBay. Sent sold items in boxes that were headed to the trash at work.
    -Washed Ziplocs, used reusable containers, poured extra water from cups into plants, used cloth products instead of paper.

  73. Hello Frugal Family-

    What a wonderful weekly update, Brandy! And a big thank you to all of your followers for taking the time to comment on their successes and failures.

    Today completes a week of “no spend” for our family. Cooking is my therapy so all of our meals were prepared at home. Even made a pretty nice Super Bowl Sunday spread (I am not a football fan but my husband and brother are). It was fun to see what I could come up with from the freezer and pantry and the boys gobbled it up! Who doesn’t love meatballs?
    My dear in laws cleaned out some of their magazines and asked me to get rid of them. I was able to gift a year’s worth of two different mags to two different people. They also had a magazine I was interested in so I kept those for our family and made a recipe from it that EVERYONE ENJOYED. Unheard of!

  74. Your son is adorable. They are so much fun at that age!
    I combined my errands and did them all on one day when I went out to breakfast with my youngest daughter. The only other times I left the house was work twice and to babysit one evening. I work part time and it is less than a mile. I’d walk but it’s in a business park, it’s freezing in Nebraska and it is dark.
    Ate all meals at home except said breakfast. Ate leftovers or packed them in my husbands lunch. I started baking bread and have tried a new recipe. It was pretty good. I decided to get all the lumpy bags out of my upright so I made broth out of beef scraps and processed my tomatoes from the garden into sauce. Only have 2 bags of chicken scraps to go. I emptied a shelf in my upright! The door is full of the jars tho. I made a double batch of pumpkin chocolate chip muffins–took some to my son’s when babysitting and kept some for use and put the rest in the freezer. My grandkids look forward to the muffins!!
    I turned down the heat while the sun was shining in the windows. I shoveled snow twice for exercise.
    Only ran the dishwasher once this week at bedtime. Did full loads of laundry.
    That’s all I can think of. I love reading all the comments and always seem to learn something.

  75. Awww! Octavius is just too cute for words.

    Frugal Efforts:

    * Continued w/ the pantry challenge. Came in at about $134 for the month (which is less than half of our average monthly spending for 2017). The freezers are still packed, so I’m continuing on into February. Clearly, I’ve been overbuying.

    * Made hamburger buns, cranberry-pomegranate compote, and a big crock pot of black beans to freeze (there’s just barely enough room for them).

    * I ordered a pair of shoes for my son and a T-shirt for myself (went through Ebates, used an additional coupon, and used a cash-back credit card which we only use for online purchases and pay off in full each month).

    * Accepted produce for our chickens.

    * Paid bills online, and paid a little extra on the mortgage principal.

    * Comparison shopped for the groceries I did buy.

    * It’s been really warm, so the heater has been off most of the time.

    * Continue to save warm-up and rinse water.

    That’s all I remembered to write down.

    Have a great rest of the week, everyone!

  76. That nap looks like it was just happened as peacefully as he looks.
    This week has been good. I am feeling a little road worn, but I think it is mostly a case of the winter blahs.
    I have some small pieces of soap, collected a few and put them in a small mesh drawstring jewelry pouch – now I have a soapy loofah to bathe with.
    I made skinnytastes pinto beans (I made with a crock pot) for a new beans dinner. They were very delicious.
    I exchange valentines gifts with my mom. This year I “splurged” a little by using SYW dollars on a free starbucks bottled drinks for her and my dad (they like having them a few times a year as a treat) and I made her a quilted heart pot holder from fabric scraps. I can’t wait to see what she made me.
    I used gray water to hand wash the salt off my car. I just filled the bucket with about 3″ of water and dunked a rag, washed and repeated. It rained a few days later, so that took off any faint streaks left behind.
    I stopped at a discount grocery where I spied bird seed on sale for about 2.50 for a 5lb bag. Expires in 6 mos. I asked a clerk if they usually have bird seed year long for that price and was assured they did. I will go there closer to the holidays to fulfill that gift with the previously bought bird feeder. (I wouldn’t care if the bird seed was expired, but the receiver would.)
    My boss told me my hours will stay decreased for the next few months. I am thankful for the heads up to plan appropriately.
    Finally, I finished sewing a set of 6 placemats for a Christmas gift. I have 2 brand new kitchen towels (plain white) that were given to me that I know I won’t like – so I will add a little matching fabric trim to those and consider that gift done.
    Hoping everyone stays comfortably warm this week!

  77. We love the radish tops sauteed with onion, Sometimes on top of pasta with a little Parmesan cheese. Also sauteed radishes are wonderful, Slice and saute in butter.

  78. I wondered when that happened why they would accept a $7000 payment on a $70 bill without questioning it or calling me or something. They simply posted it and waited for me to catch my own error. Lucky we do have an emergency fund, as that really did mess up the cash flow for the month around here!

  79. We incurred a lot of unexpected expenses this week and will have more charges next week… Luckily, we were able to pay for everything but will have to tighten our belts for a little while now.

    The heat element in our oven broke. I had already mixed up muffin batter before finding out so I froze it instead of throwing it out. My husband ordered a new element online and was able to do the repairs himself.

    My friend invited me to her house for lunch one day. I took the frozen muffin batter, baked muffins at her house and provided dessert. 😉 I also made some frosting using leftover cream cheese, provided some leftover wine and took the leftover muffins home.

    My friend asked me to be her bridesmaid! 🙂 She gave me a beautiful fabric bag containing all sorts of office and craft supplies and a bottle of nail polish.

    My MIL finished sewing curtains for our house and my husband and his parents spent a day putting them up. We are so grateful for these as they would have cost a fortune otherwise and make a considerable difference in our utility bills. My husband bought cheap hot chips for lunch for everyone.

    My in-laws invited us for dinner one night and we contributed some of the aforementioned muffins.

    It finally occurred to me to dry chilli seeds rather than throwing them out when using fresh chillis.

    I picked up free plums, grapes, cucumbers, tomatoes and a giant zucchini from the local produce carts.

    We avoided watering twice due to some unexpected rain.

    I kept working in the garden to clear some more spaces.

    I received a free pair of pants via a local FB group which will be perfect for my volunteering activties. I volunteered once this week and will be reimbursed.

    We made most meals at home (except when invited out) using free items and substituting ingredients to avoid going to the shops. Leftovers were frozen or taken as work lunches. One night it was too hot and too late to cook so we bought pizza with our recycling mone. I remembered to boil eggs in bulk to use for lunches throughout the week.

    I made yoghurt in the slow cooker. Topped with free fruit from the produce carts it makes an inexpensive and healthy dessert.

    I found a recycling bottle and added it to our bag.

    We had been nursing our hot water system along for a while but it finally broke for good. There were a few different options but we decided to have all elements replaced at once to avoid repeated call-out and labour charges.

    I ran a short dishwasher cycle while it was empty to disinfect it with vinegar.

    The air-conditioner ran for 12.5 hours last week and we turned on the ceiling fan in the bedroom for two nights.

    Plus all the usual frugal habits… Wishing everyone a wonderful week!

  80. I have learned gardening can be done cheaply… and I’ve spent a lot as well. Here are my best tips:

    Build raised garden beds using free wood. Post to local community Facebook sites to see if anyone is wanting to get rid of scrap wood. We picked up a bunch of wood that included cedar and my husband built our new beds out of free wood! We put down several layers of cardboard saved from boxes over the course of the year at the bottom to prevent weeds and grass from growing up. I then bought organic dirt from Costco for $8.99 for 60lb bag. I bought three bags. I bought one bag of potting soil and mixed this with the dirt for better drainage ($18). I bought open pollinated and regular seeds.

    I purchased two 55 gallon rain barrels several years ago for $60 each on clearance from Walmart with $10 hoses. It saves on watering but not a necessity to garden.

    I start my seeds indoors using egg cartons and place them on window sills (no grow lights or fancy seed starting containers needed). You can get a good start for little investment! For three new beds this year, I spent $45 dirt and $18 on seeds.

  81. You continue to amaze!
    Every time I try to build up Swagbucks, I never get anywhere close to the quantity you have… surely there’s a secret trick or something?

  82. I’m from Michigan as well but just North of Grand Rapids. We are [i]only[i] at 55 inches – although we are supposed to get quite a bit more over the next few days. I am sooooo in need of sunshine right now – this day after day of gray is really wearing on me right now! (I also up my vitamin D and C in the winters)

  83. Hit send too soon. Meant to also write I’ve not shopped with and don’t know anything about them.

  84. Marcella Hazan had a radish leaf soup with 2 or 3 things that I’ve made in the distant past, and it was delicious, simple, and quick to do. She was one of the 1st Italian chefs, popular through her cook books in the 1960’s. This recipe may be on-line…

  85. Shop Your Way points through Kmart and Sears savings program. I got an email stating I had $20 worth of free credits, went to the site and actually had $30! I bought an Procter Silex waffle maker regular price $39.99 on sale for $36.39 free shipping, $30 credit, shipped for $5.36

  86. Hey everyone!
    What a cutie!
    Brandy, I don’t know if you’ve seen them or any of your readers have told you, and if so this will just be old news but, I found New Zealand spinach seeds at Walmart on Friday. 2g of seeds for .50. I grabbed a few to see if they grow well for me like they do for you, since we are both in zone 9. I was so excited to see them as I like to be able to buy small quantities of seeds until I know whether or not I have any success with them or not. I have NEVER had good luck with regular spinach. Thanks for the recommendation, wish me luck!~ TJ

  87. I am also enlightened and had the same question. Despite our very unusual two snowfalls here in the south at the beach (first 7 inches and then 10 at our house) I discovered that my radishes were alive and well in the garden and with such pretty green tops! Crazy. I dug some up and wondered about how to use the tops. I composted them the first time, but thought they could probably be eaten in some fashion. Thank you all for the ideas!

  88. Quick question Brandy, do you nick and then soak the NZ spinach seeds for any length of time before planting? The seed put instructions suggested doing so and I am curious as to how much of a difference that makes, or if it’s a step that could easily left out. TIA!~ TJ

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