What a busy week! 

I am finding that my new schedule means school all day with my children who are at home, and then just as we are done, I am helping with homework all afternoon until late into the night (10:45!) The baby nurses at 11, 2, 3, and 4 since school started (before that it was 11, 2, and 5), and I have to be up at 4:45 to make sure my two oldest get out the door by 5:20 a.m. for their 6 a.m. class, so I am still not getting much sleep at all and I am awake from 4 a.m. (and often 3 a.m.) on. Finding time to make meals from scratch for 10 people is a challenge, let alone doing laundry and cleaning. I usually start making dinner at 4:00 to eat at 6:30 p.m., and now I am trying to help with homework at that same time and supervise before-dinner chores as well. I had hoped Saturdays would be at least easier, but my children still have a lot of homework.  Consequently, accomplishing all that needs to be done is extremely challenging. I am striving continuously to be more efficient with my time; I’d certainly like us to all get back to getting to bed on time!

To that end, I have been using my solar oven to cook several times this past week. 

While my husband held the baby on Saturday, I cut up an old burgundy sheet of my mom’s to make new toddler-sized bibs for my 2-year-old. I used one of my old, worn-out bibs as a pattern. I had previously made them from the pillowcases from the same set and other old pillowcases that she had given to me. I cut out five bibs from a queen-sized fitted sheet, which I hope to sew up this week. I will use buttons from my button jar to close the bibs.

I cooked a quadruple batch of banana bread into mini-muffins to use at breakfast and in lunches this week.

Despite my time being very limited lately, I have had the chance to do one thing for me, which is to read e-books while I am nursing the baby. I started reading a new series of e-books from the library that a reader just recommended to me called The Darling Dahlias. It’s a mystery series set in the 1930’s that includes gardening, cooking, making do during the depression, and of course, 30’s clothing and car descriptions. (It’s like this series was made for me!) Recipes are included at the end of each story as well as interesting information about the time. I used to read news and blogs while nursing, but changing to reading stories in e-book form has been really wonderful for me. It’s also been easier; this baby tends to kick and squirm while nursing, making it hard to read the computer at my desk, lest he bonk his head or feet on my desk. I can put my phone down on my bed and read it while I sit on my bed to nurse him or put it on my ottoman while I sit on a chair in the living room. I nursed babies 5-8 while often working on my website, but I haven’t been able to with this baby, so I am happy to be reading something still.

(A note to those who asked: my older children are already helping, I am making doubles of things (which means cooking for 20), but that is something I already did, and there is not much more that can go; the house has been let go quite a bit but schoolwork cannot be ignored. My husband is helping my children with homework and so am I. They just have a lot of it and the curriculum is different than what they are used to. I like the assignments that I am seeing come home from their teachers, but they are challenging!)

I download a free e-book on growing dahlias. They’re a challenge to grow in our climate, as they are prone to being sunburnt, but I grew a few earlier this year (now all fried in the sun, they are attempting to grow back from the tubers) more successfully than past years, as they are in a place with afternoon sun.

I ordered some dresses for my daughters using a 50% off coupon code for the entire order and also got free shipping. My second and third daughters wear the same size, and I really needed more clothing in that size, so now they have a couple of casual dresses in a knit, in a solid color with short sleeves that are also knee-length. Finding dresses that met those specifications this year was no easy feat, as the styles are very different. I found them as uniform dresses from Land’s End, and the sales code made the price reasonable. As a bonus, they have pockets, which thrills the girls to no end! I only wish they came in a few more colors. My girls have been loving jeans for a few years (and in that size, my eldest daughter wore jeans all the time) but since Winter has switched to wearing beautiful dresses every day, they all want to wear dresses more often, and as a dress-lover, I couldn’t be more thrilled. Since my time has been so limited, I knew I needed to buy something rather than make it right now, so these were perfect. I went through Ebates first to get cash back on the purchase.

I purchased some Aveeno lotion on sale at Sam’s Club for around 40% less than I could buy it on sale and with a coupon elsewhere.

I purchased a few pairs of pants, including thin sweat pants/pajama pants for the baby at a used children’s clothing store that is next door to my husband’s office (so I didn’t have to make a special trip).

I set up free Duolingo accounts for my two elementary-school-aged children who are homeschooling with me so that one can learn French and one can learn Spanish. Duolingo is free to use and has lots of language choices from lots of language choices. If you use the classroom option, children who don’t have an email address can still have an account (you need to create a classroom for each language).

I continued to open windows between 5 a.m. and 8:00 a.m. to cool the house, making sure to turn off both a/c units while the windows were open. It was 5-7 degrees cooler outside during those hours. It’s still quite hot here (106°F/41°C) during the day and I expect to run the air conditioners until at least the middle of October, if not longer, but I am grateful that the mornings are cool for a short while, not reaching 80°F until 8:00 a.m.

I looked over my budget for the rest of the year. It looks like I will need to make some large cuts to the budget (home sales are down all across the country, including here), so I’m evaluating where they can be made. I’m also trying to figure out if there is any way I can find time to make Christmas gifts this year, using what I have on hand. I already have the supplies for several things for my girls, but I have no idea yet how I can find the time to sew those gifts. I am taking every moment I can to organize things at home that have become disorganized since school started in hopes that I will be able to spend less time picking up and more time doing some needed sewing.

My daughter who started school needs black pants for two orchestra performances (which are part of her grade). Rather than purchasing pants for her, I took out a pair of her brothers’ outgrown pants in her size from the clothing box, which she can wear for those few hours.

We put up outgrown children’s clothing in boxes in my closet.

I harvested green onions, New Zealand Spinach, red noodle beans, basil, and mint from the garden.

I used the water from steaming the beans and collected from the shower while the water was warming to water potted plants in the garden. I also used shower warm-up water to rinse the shower floor after I scrubbed it with borax.

What did you do to save money last week?


Just a note: I would like to thank all of you again for your well-wishes on my new baby. I received a few gifts a few months back but had no way to contact some of the senders. I just want to say thank you.

Also, I appreciate everyone’s prayers for me. In addition to having my days change to being much longer than normal lately, I went to the doctor’s this past week for a biopsy to see if I have skin cancer. I’ll know the results in a couple of weeks; in the meantime, I have stitches and some places of missing skin that are rather large and deep. It’s been an interesting learning experience; I was about half the age of the people in the waiting room, but I’ve since learned that many people develop skin cancer starting in their late thirties and early forties. Last year I learned that a childhood friend of mine, who was a year younger, died a few years ago (in his 30’s) of skin cancer just 4 months after being married. I had been putting off having some questionable spots checked, but no longer. This is one cancer that can be removed rather simply if you find out early. Wear sunscreen, wear a hat, wear long-sleeves when you can, and garden in the early-morning hours when the sun isn’t yet high in the sky! And please–go to the doctor if something doesn’t look right. 

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  1. Dear Brandy,
    I will be praying for you in all aspects of your life!!! You are an inspiration to me and I read and re-read so many of your posts. God has blessed you with a beautiful family and will continue to do so. I pray for health and healing for you. God bless you, robyn

  2. Good luck! I love you´re honest about your experiences with school. However it will turn out, you´ll have wonderful comparing material out of your own experience and it´s priceless!

    I´ll suggest a novel to everyone: Rosamunde Pilcher “The Shell Seekers”. Read it many years ago (I read a lot) and it left a lasting impression.

    Happy week!

  3. … I did one tiny thing I remember on frugal front I remember – saved orange and lemon seeds and dried them – they are said to contain pectin and can be used while making jam (just take them out when jam´s ready – can be in tea sieve etc).

  4. I’m praying for good results on those biopsies. I had one skin cancer removed several years ago (squamous cell, so very curable) and have had other suspicious spots checked over the years — it can be nerve-wracking, but good for you for getting them checked. Living in the west and being fair-skinned puts us at higher risk.

    I dried celery leaves to use as seasoning.
    The nights are much cooler now (we’ve even had fires in the wood stove a couple of mornings). I harvested the last of the squash, pulled up the plants and planted green peas in their place. I froze several packages of shredded zucchini.
    In addition to the squash, I harvested tomatoes, peppers, celery, chard, mint, carrots, and basil.
    I purchased a half bushel of tomatoes from a farm stand and put up 8 1/2 pints of tomato sauce and 6 ½ pints of picante sauce.
    I attended a conference out of town and took my own food for the meals that weren’t included in the conference.
    I knitted a Christmas gift with yarn a friend gave me.

  5. Hello Brandy,
    I have been a long time reader of your blog, but I don’t believe I’ve ever commented. I just wanted to wish you peace during this season of so many changes and challenges. Take good care of yourself!

  6. That is an incredibly busy schedule – but wow! You are handling things so well. I love how you are always trying to improve things for yourself and streamline your schedule as much as possible. That can be hard when you have littles (and teenagers). I think you are doing such a lovely job – you are a wonderful wife and mother.

    -I did some small batch canning of tomatoes this past week. It’s easier for me to do small batches. I got 4 quart jars of romas. I did see a new way to get the skins off that I might try – cut the tomatoes in half and place on cookie sheet (cut side down), broil for a few minutes, let cool and then the skin comes right off. I haven’t tried it yet – but I have another big bowl of tomatoes do can this week. I will try it and see if it is easier than the hot water/ice cold water method I usually do. I hope this idea works because I can fit a lot of tomatoes on a cookie sheet.

    -I made all meals at home. We had a turkey breast (marked down in clearance to $5) with mashed potatoes & gravy, hamburger soup (which was delicious) with homemade bread, quesadillas with fresh garden veggies and fruit, homemade french bread pizza, big salad with lots of hard-boiled eggs, garden veggies and lettuce with homemade bread.

    -Framed my finished cross-stitch myself. It was a lot harder than I thought it would be to get it centered. I’m still not happy with it. I used fabric and thread I already had on hand. I did buy the pattern. But it was wonderful to work on and I love the finished project. It’s perfect for Halloween.

    _Was under my grocery budget when I went shopping. I put the extra $$ into savings. There is a case lot sale going on right now at Kroger. I plan on going today to buy just a few cases of things we are out of – but I have the money to use for the items.

    -My daughter attended a birthday party. I made a gift using all items that I had on hand. Didn’t buy anything out of pocket. The mother told me that the gift was her daughter’s favorite. I love how items that I don’t need/want can be such a blessing for someone else.

    Good luck with your skin cancer screenings. I should get things checked out as well. I don’t see anything suspicious but one never knows. I hope everything with you is ok.

    Hope everyone has a wonderful frugal week! Thank you for all the wonderful comments and ideas that continue to inspire me!

  7. I am still harvesting zucchini, tomatoes (large and cherry), green beans, green onions, and fresh herbs. The a/c isn’t having to come on as often as the temperatures are beginning to drop. I am also getting less water for potted plants from the a/c now. I’ve started doing garden clean up in some of the boxes and they look so much more tidy.

    Mostly I have been cooking and eating out of the garden, freezer and pantry. Yesterday I cooked up a pot of pinto beans and divided it up into 2 cup freezer containers for future meals. Since I still have a lot of last years canned fruit I have been trying to be creative with it. Last night I made a canned fruit cobbler using some of last year’s home canned plums. I’ve also made a yummy plum chutney to serve with curry and roast meat.

    I continue to make meals and snacks at home, carry my thermal cup with a cold drink when I go out, always shop with a list, and plan my errands and shopping to make the best use of time and gas.

  8. I don’t know how you do it all, Brandy! Sending you good wishes for the results of your test.

    My frugal accomplishments for the week:
    – I made a double-batch of my Café-Style Broccoli and Feta Pasta Salad (http://approachingfood.com/salads-i-have-known-and-loved-cafe-style-broccoli-and-feta-pasta-salad/). I brought one batch to a potluck BBQ. I also made a macaroni and cheese casserole and baked several dozen peanut butter chocolate chip cookies and gave those, along with the remaining batch of pasta salad, to a friend who lost her mom this week. Except for a few ingredients in the pasta salad, I had all over the ingredients at home already. I did buy a foil container at the dollar store so that my friend didn’t have to worry about returning a dish on top of burying her mum, and for the other containers, I used some large take-out containers that I had traded for months ago.
    – I redeemed Swagbucks for a $15 gift certificate to Old Navy. I had a coupon for $10 off a $15 purchase, so I was able to combine the gift certificate and the coupon to get $25 worth of children’s clothing (a dress and two long-sleeve tops) for $1.27 OOP. I’ve set it aside to give to family friends closer to the holidays.
    – There was a (free) pizza lunch at my work one day, so I saved the lunch I had packed for the next day. Another day a full lunch was provided, so the lunch I packed became my dinner, plus the next day there were enough leftovers at work to have another lunch, and even bring a sandwich and some cake home to my husband. My workplace is pretty great!
    – My sister gave me some green cleaners that she no longer wanted. I was happy to take them – they’ll be nice to have for after the baby is born, so that there aren’t harsh chemical cleaners around for the first few months at least. (I currently use homemade concoctions so I’m not exposed to chemicals while pregnant).
    – My mum gave me a coupon for a free flavoured rice item, so I picked it up at the store today when I went grocery shopping. I’ll serve it alongside a curry this week for dinner.
    – I applied (and got the job) to do free-lance transcriptionist work at Rev.com. I used to do medical transcription prior to grad school so I’m used to transcribing, my colleagues are always commenting on my typing speed, and I thought it might be something to consider during my mat leave. I still have to check out if I can earn money online from a US company while on mat leave in Canada without it affecting my benefits, but it’s nice to know that it’s an option if I ever need to earn money quickly. If you need some extra money, have good English skills, and have a laptop at home, check out the website. They pay weekly and you can work as much or as little as you wish.

    Looking forward to learning from everyone!

  9. Brandy,

    I will be praying for you concerning your new schedule, for you to get more rest, and for your health.

    Last week I stayed home as much as possible, took walks for exercise, and cooked a big batch of chili the we ate for three days and shared with friends.

    I also signed up for two vendor events and turned down one that is not in our budget right now.

    I baked two loaves of bread for a meal with friends and more bread just for us.

    I sent out electronic invitations to a fun pampering event I am hosting for women.

  10. Hi, Brandy, thank you for sharing the new book series that you are reading, my library has the first two available for e-books and the rest at the library so I’m excited to find more free books. Praying that your health is okay and for your schedule to ease up a bit so that you may all get some rest. Thank you for sharing your tips and for this community. Best Regards, Cari.

  11. Prayers to you, Brandy. Immensely, grateful for your blog, and the varied sisterhood it provides. May God bless you.

  12. Lands End was started in Oakham, UK. I used to work next door to them about 25 years ago (a small firm then). Best wishes for your health.

  13. Went for a massage at a massage school. Cheaper price for me, and students there don’t pay student loans because they “pay their way” with the massages. Used a giftcard found in my purse for groceries. Did a pot luck meal with my lady friends on Sunday and, like usual, each of us took home a couple of meals of leftovers. A colleague cut my bangs. Dyed my own hair. Put off a pedicure for an extra week. Ate from the fridge most meals. It rained, so I didn’t wash my car. Picked up some super cute Snoopy holiday hand towels, but used a coupon to get them for almost half price. Attended a Women’s Veterans Conference at the BFW. Very informative, and they provided both breakfast and lunch.

    Filled by car with diesel once the prices went down from Labor Day, but before they went up for the hurricane. Score! Bought gift cards with my credit card (and then paid it off) so I could get both credit card points and gas points. Then I used the gift cards to purchase a generator that can run my whole house and a very large propane tank… just to have the hurricane turn northward this morning. Its ok, I’m sure there will be another one.

    The new house jacks come in today so they can start fixing our foundation. I am on the schedule to get the AC replaced this week (Thank you Florence for turning) and my new washing machine should arrive the same day.

    The skylight in the RV leaked (where my husband is living for school). He fixed it with items on hand, but needed a new mattress, so he went to Ikea and got a good deal on a return (still in the plastic).

  14. Best blessings to you while you wait for results! Waiting is so hard.

    (This has been a tough time for blogger-women. Mrs. Frugalwoods, at The Frugalwoods, just wrote in depth and very descriptive detail about her postpartum depression and anxiety. I had not realized that it can also affect fathers and adoptive parents. As you did, she reminds everyone to act quickly to take care of their health, and that cannot be done alone!)

  15. I honestly don’t know how you do it all Brandy – you are amazing. I have had a few friends who have had bouts of skin cancer but all got in to the doctor quickly and all had good results so I pray that your results are just as positive. Once your children are more into their school routine might it be possible for some of the older children to assist with homework – just to give you a bit of a breather for an hour or two?
    I have also started reading “The Darling Dahlias” and would like to thank the reader who recommended these books – just finished book 1 and the next 3 are all sitting at the library waiting for me to pick them up tomorrow.
    After doing my stocktake last week and realizing how many servings I had on hand I stuck to not buying any meat last week and I am rotating my way through what is on hand,
    I froze more peppers and think that I now have enough on hand to get me through the Winter.
    I “saved” 2/3 of a bag of carrots that had started to turn slimy – I had no idea as it was a new bag and normally they last for ages but the heat & humidity got to them. I cleaned and cut up the saveable bits, and cooked a large batch with some brussels sprouts and then wrapped the remainder in paper towels and into a ziplock bag for the fridge and they seem to be fine. If I’d waited one more day I’d have lost the lot!
    I found nearly $3 in change when going through some clothing and purses while starting my seasonal changeover.
    I used a $3 off for every $10 spent coupon at The Bulk Barn store – needed nuts & almond extract.
    Found mouthwash at the lowest price I’ll see just as I opened my last bottle – stocked up for the next few months.
    Can’t wait to read everyone’s comments – but please take care of yourself Brandy.

  16. Brandy, I’m glad you had your spots checked. I have had several pre-cancerous spots (the operative word here being PRE-) removed, so I kind of know how you are feeling right now. Also, hope your schedule relaxes a bit.

    The good news is that I didn’t spend anything on or for the house this week! I cooked cheap and did all of the usual frugal stuff, plus the following–

    Didn’t renew my subscription to Consumer Reports, saving $20. I don’t need to buy anything (new house, new car) so I don’t need it.

    Gratefully received a hydrangea and a few perennials from a friend who over-planted and now has a jungle to clear. I also divided my peonies to make more plants.

    The raised planting bed was finally built this week with leftover and salvaged lumber = $0. It’s 4×10 with a 4×4 L. We were able to fill it completely with half-done compost, soil from my fencepost holes and all that alpaca poop = $0.

    My credit union is giving members $1 for every day this month that they use their debit card. I’ve made $5 so far.

    Made a batch of Miracle Spray, which is the best and cheapest cleaner I’ve ever used. I used it to pre-treat some spots in my laundry last night and it worked.

    Returned two items to Costco for a refund.

    I am using up duplicate products. I’m alternating some half-bottles of shampoo with the regular stuff. Haven’t noticed any difference.

  17. Oh, Brandy, my heart goes out to you. I, too, fought cancer a few years ago. The diagnosis was devastating. My world stopped turning. It felt like a death sentence but it is no longer so. The medical breakthroughs are amazing and it appears you have caught it in time. You are doing great, making wise choices, and changes as necessary and will do great. No one will complain if you cut back on the time you spend on your blog. Do not feel guilty. Take care of yourself. We all understand.

    As for money saving this past week I chose to keep a list of my activities because I haven’t felt as if I was making any progress. It seemed the more I worked, the more there was to do. I also copied the style of others posting here and it helped me see even more money saving accomplishments.

    *Took glass jars to be recycled while running errands.
    *Composted all leftover kitchen scraps (what Scooter won’t eat) in the garden compost pile.
    *Organized garden seeds and put the “too old to plant” seeds in the bird-feeder.
    *Raked grass after mowing and put it on the vegetable garden.
    *Recycled aluminum foil by washing and reusing some pieces again.
    *Washed out baggies.
    *Re-perked coffee by adding one spoonful to the pot. My husband refuses to drink it because he can taste the difference – I can’t – so FREE pot for me!
    *Added more things to the “donate to the thrift store” bag. I add things as I clean.
    *Our county sponsored a hazardous waste day on Saturday. We took a load of old paint, light bulbs, and chemicals.

    *Paid credit card online to save stamps.
    *Charged two new cell phones on husband’s Bass Pro Shop credit card so he can earn points and buy bullets for free. (Used quite a few bullets this week)

    *Made a trip to the Amish to get milk ($2.00 a gallon) and eggs ($2.00 a dozen). It isn’t frugal after driving 50 miles one way but it’s for our health. Shared pictures of the houses and fields on my blog. No face pictures since they don’t allow it.
    *Bought miracle grow potting soil to try and use to start seeds for the winter garden. I haven’t been pleased with any other brands so this is a first time trying this kind.
    *Got 5 outdoor cushions for chairs on the porch on clearance ($6.99) from Loews. Don’t like the color, but for the price, I can live with it especially since my swing sits much more comfortably.
    *Bought two new cellphones since we are dropping our landline. It will be about the same cost each month.
    *Filled up the car at the cheapest place, which was Kroger this week, and used my preferred customer $.03 discount. I didn’t have any points because we haven’t bought many groceries. I am still cleaning out the pantry.

    [u]House maintenance[/u]
    *Repaired front porch roof: tall son Dustin power sanded the ceiling, I stood on a ladder and caulked, tall husband, painted it.
    *I painted the porch floor using leftover paint from last year. There wasn’t enough and I ended up needing to buy more. Of course, they didn’t have the same kind so I had to buy another new can and start over. Very irritating
    *Hubby made a dump run. We don’t pay for trash pickup but choose to haul our trash away ourselves. Scooter did NOT ride with us because he threw-up on me in the car the last time.

    [u]House organization[/u]
    *Cleaned and sorted another small part of the basement pantry. I have managed to pull most of the canning jars from all of the closets, under the beds, and throughout the house. Every time Dustin walked up or down the stairs this week, he had to carry jars. (He is young, strong and has good knees.) The entertainment center in the living room is still stuffed. We don’t have a TV in there so it is fine.
    *Sorted one drawer which held odd paperwork – it is the place to throw paperwork until it is handled or filed. Evidently, I haven’t organized it in two years according to the oldest dates.

    [u]In the kitchen[/u]
    *Packed lunches and coffee to be used when running errands.
    *Cooked all meals at home.
    *Received even more food from my Mom’s pantry. Evidently, we didn’t get it all when we cleaned her house when she moved in with my sister. She came back to visit her house last Labor Day weekend and there was more food stuffed in other places I didn’t know about. Now I see from whom I inherited the trait of storing food in empty spots all over the house.
    *Focused on using expiring food from my pantry, food from Mom’s house, and the garden.
    *Canned salsa and green beans from garden produce.
    *Took Scooter’s canned dog food away from him. He has gotten snooty, picky, hard to please and is turning his nose up at everything except bites of meat from Pack Leader (my husband, Scooter’s hero). He will get dry dog food only until he learns to be more cooperative. Everyone is frugal in this house and that includes him!

    [u]In the garden[/u]
    *Harvested: WATERMELONS!!!, tomatoes (Big Beef, White Ox Heart, Aunt Ruby’s Green, Yellow Stuffer), green beans, Yard-Long Beans, Lima beans, bell pepper, a small handful of potatoes, a few carrots, lettuce, Rat-tail radish, kale, cabbage, unknown Chinese something from saved seeds, wild dandelion greens (for high blood pressure).
    Herbs: lemongrass, lemon verbena, parsley, chives, dill, thyme, oregano, basil (assorted kinds)
    *Began seeds for winter garden in cups using leftover or saved seeds. I will only need to purchase onion sets for this winter’s garden.
    *This week the garden was first invaded by a groundhog who wiped out half of my green vegetables in less than an hour. One of these can completely destroy a garden in no time at all. We set up a stakeout, rotating turns, it returned and Bill (my hero) shot it!
    *The next night hubby continued checking the garden and at midnight caught an armadillo churning up the dirt under plants looking for grubs. This time Dustin shot it! His first kill and what better prize than a dangerous armadillo. Their blood may carry the leprosy virus which can be transferred to us. It died in the middle of the garden, now that area is quarantined for a while, may lose the food, but no chances will be taken.

    *Collected herbs and vegetables and gave a gift basket to a friend.
    *Gave extra quart jars discovered while cleaning out pantry to another friend whose family is growing. We are downsizing.
    *I accepted kitchen towels from a friend. I don’t care if the colors don’t match my decor.

    *Cut the hooks off of a bra that fits horribly, tossed it, and will use the closure to repair an old one that does fit comfortably.
    *Ironed Dustin’s suit for a job interview this week (fingers crossed). Yes, I know he should do it himself but that would require me letting him touch my precious (expensive) sewing iron.

    *Husband and son both gave themselves a haircut.
    *Dustin’s computer got hacked with a dangerous virus. He does online banking and was worried. He traveled one hour, spent the night with his brother in Nashville where he took advantage of a friends expertise in computer repairs (He is as a professional computer repairman.) Dustin could do the programming himself but didn’t have the reboot disc keys or super fast internet to download updates. All it cost him was take-out meals for everyone – pricey, but much cheaper than paying a technician.

    *Purchased two new hummingbird feeders (paid full price, didn’t wait for sales). It appears we have a large flock migrating through and I can’t resist feeding them all. They are emptying at least one feeder every day. I suppose I should put this in an entertainment budget since I love watching them while washing dishes.

    *Received our phone bill and it appears since Mom moved to another state, our calls are now long distance!!!!!!!!!!! I ran over the free minimum last month and, oh dear, we will be dropping our landline and going to unlimited cell phones.

    Shock! After diligently keeping a time consuming a list all week, it appears I am more awesome than I thought! I have accomplished quite a bit, saved an abundance of money, and will not feel guilty anymore when I sit down to rest. Way to go self!

    Pictures of the houses on my trip to the Amish.

    An older post of a successful, non-throw-up-in-my-lap trip to the dump with Scooter.

    I look forward to hearing about others successes. It encourages me.


  18. Good luck with everything! Definitely take care of your health, you don’t want to wait until chemo is the prescription. That is difficult for everyone! Hopefully school will settle in to a routine that won’t consume your entire day very soon. As a mom of 9 I can empathize and know how difficult, overwhelming and most of all, WONDERFUL this crazy life is!

  19. There have been a few times lately when I feel God has laid you on my heart to pray for, so I have each time. It makes more sense now. I will continue to pray for you–both for your skin, and also for your daily life.

    I agree that going to school and homeschooling is not for the faint of heart. I have walked that road several times. It is daunting enough to get dinner on the table for such a large amount of people, cooking from scratch because it’s so much more economical, and then the dishes…..not even to mention the laundry, tidying, sweeping, and yard work. Then you add evening homework when it used to be done by afternoon…..yikes!!! It’s brutal. I didn’t even have a baby. Ever. All mine were older when I got them. So, I feel for you. Hang in there.

    I love Land’s End. For many years, I have bought my swim suits there, as it is the place I found that they fit me correctly and modestly and lasted for a long, long time. They run great sales during off season for swim things, and probably other things as well. I hope you can find some more great bargains for your daughters from there or elsewhere, because I agree, it’s just not sustainable to sew it all or even spend enough time at yard sales. When you are that busy, something has to go.

    This week at my house both my husband and I worked many, many hours with my niece and nephew. They went on vacation this week, so we needed to get in 2 weeks worth of hours–busy, busy. My husband took my niece to her volunteering and I took her to the zoo on another day, using our zoo pass. That was a super frugal trip, as we could re-fill previously purchased cups with soda for $1 each and one order of fries was consumed. Otherwise, we took our food. We spent several hours getting them into the school routine, which means going through a list of chores and activities in the late afternoon/early evening. Although my niece is done with school, routine is still her friend. I still needed to get some canning done, so I did it early and late. Thankfully, that project is winding down a bit. The garden is, too.

    We went camping at the beach for a very short time, and was able to take one of our daughters with us who really wanted to go, but has had to work during our other camping trips. She took us out to lunch, which was really nice of her, and the rest of the food was cooked ahead at home to make it easy. We used our park pass, so it was very economical, again. I did some extra cleaning in the camper, while I was there, as I don’t anticipate taking it out again for quite a while.

    Some friends dropped off a trailer of firewood for us while we were gone. It is cut and split. We are very thankful, as we need to burn that during the winter to save money.

    We, too, are looking at a reduced budget this coming winter. There are some health issues that my husband needs to have addressed (his left hip is shot and he probably needs surgery). We have 9 doctor’s appointments in the next 2 weeks between 3 of us, and most are his. He’s going to be working part time, as I am, and between the two of us, we will be living off what amounts to 1 fairly small income. I’m quite excited to have him home more, and am praying that they can find a way to fix this issue in a timely fashion. He’s in tremendous pain, which is getting worse and worse, so now’s the time. It cannot be put off any longer. Sometimes things are what they are, and I feel so blessed that God has provided a way for us to still make it and still thrive during this tough time. He has gone through the budget with a fine-tooth comb and found some ways to reduce it. I’ve been working with the grocery budget, and it’s lower than it was, and we are doing fine. It will be exciting to see how the next year unfolds. Hopefully, he will be a much healthier man in a year.

    I put pictures on my blog: https://beckyathome.wordpress.com/2018/09/09/thriving-in-my-thrifty-week-september-9-2018/

  20. I’ll be praying that your biopsy results come back with good news. We’ve begun getting much needed rain, ahead of the storm, and were finally able to open windows last night after several weeks of being closed up. Fresh air is so delightful. I made an amazon purchase through here last week. I know you only get pennies each time I do, but hopefully other readers who enjoy this wonderful blog and community do so as well, and the results will assist you in buying needed items or Christmas presents. https://abelabodycare.blogspot.com/2018/09/the-september-garden-frugal.html

  21. The garden is about done as far as canning, I’m still getting a few things here and there I use in salads. Apple season won’t be in full swing for a few weeks, so I have a bit of a break from the canning. I worked both Sunday and Monday nights, so I as able to get the full 12 hours of holiday pay ( which is double time- yeah) and will put the extra into savings. I did duck into my favorite thrift store on my way home Monday morning for their 50% off holiday sale, and was able to get some fall and winter sleepers/playsuits for the youngest grandchild.

    A series you may enjoy is “The Hangmans Daughter” by Oliver Potzsch. It is set in Bavaria in the middle ages, and gives a good glimpse into beliefs, practices, social structure of the time. Tony Hillerman is also very good, his mysteries are set in New Mexico, and incorporate a great deal of Navejo culture detail.

  22. Good luck with the new schedule, and I hope the biopsies are all negative. You have a lot on your plate at the moment. Sending good thoughts your way.

    My week was busy. On Tuesday, I had scheduled a carpet cleaning, but I got a call 20 minutes before they were due to come that the truck was double booked. This was after I had spent an hour moving everything out of the way. They came Thursday instead, and I got a 5% inconvenience discount, so I was happy about that.

    Frugal accomplishments:
    – I made a sunflower wreath out of burlap I had purchased and a wire form I already had. It looks great on our front door.
    – I met my sister for coffee. I am still using a Starbucks gift card that someone gave me months ago, so there was no out of pocket cost.
    – One of the patients at my work brought in a bunch of tomatoes from her garden. I made a huge batch of tomato soup and froze it for my work lunches.
    – I made bone broth, baba ganoush, a huge batch of meatballs (which I froze), and a half gallon jar of fermented jalapenos. I also froze 3 quart bags of sliced jalapenos. My husband loves spicy food and we enjoy these all winter. I ran out last year.
    – Someone else gave me a bag of Italian prunes (purple plums) from their tree. I love these and they bring back such good memories of my grandparents.
    – My mom gave me some fruit and a few magazines she had already read.
    – I picked green onions from my patio.
    – I have a CSA share at a local farm, and they also allow you to pick herbs and flowers. I have been doing this every week.
    – I mixed up neti pot solution (a mix of salt and baking soda).
    – I used boric acid capsules to deal with a yeast infection. I am including this here because I have never seen anyone list it, and it is a great money saver. You can fill the capsules yourself once you have the supplies, which are not expensive. Two different doctors have recommended this to me, and I have used this remedy for years without any issues.
    – Using a pattern and fabric I already had, I spent an enjoyable afternoon sewing a top for work. The pattern used a technique I was not familiar with, and the instructions were confusing, so I found a tutorial online for this pattern.

    Hope everyone has a great week!

  23. Praying for you, Brandy! My husband has had issues with skin cancer also. They’ve always been able to remove it all. He is hyper vigilant about keeping an eye out for any irregularities.

    My accomplishments this week:

    • Used free tea and toiletries, washed ziplocks and used ½ dryer sheets and ran only full loads in the washer and dishwasher during off peak times.
    • Ate dinner in 6 times, including hamburgers, Hawaiian coleslaw, corn on the cob; bratwurst with baked potatoes and sauerkraut; homemade soup from a recipe I tweaked according to what I had to use up (twice); pork stir fry; steak, baked potato and asparagus. Had my Grandson overnight on Friday, so we ordered a pizza in. Usually we would order a couple of medium pizzas and some wings, but this time I only ordered 1 large and it was just enough.
    • Worked 12.5 contract hours, working from home again.
    • Found another pair of capri pants in my closet that are brand new that were too small that I can now wear.
    • I continue to use up things from the freezer rather than buy anything. I have been good about tracking everything in a spreadsheet so that I use up the oldest items first.
    • My sister had to take my Dad to the hospital Friday night (he’ll be ok), so I drove out to be with him on Saturday. I packed a lunch instead of buying food at the cafeteria.
    • Used the library.
    • Got a free container of yogurt for the Friday Freebie. Gave it to my Grandson for breakfast after he spent the night.
    • Had a recipe for low point Weight Watcher pumpkin muffins. It called for sugar free cake mix. These are normally $2.59. Was very lucky to find 3 boxes on the clearance rack for only $1.29 apiece! It also called for a can of pumpkin. I had some in my pantry that was past date, but it worked great.

    I hope everyone has a wonderful week!

  24. Prayers that your biopsies come back negative. I do my annual check-up with my physician and have her check out any unusual skin patches that I may be concerned about. For frugal things, a friend gave me a large bucket full of cucumbers. I processed 8 quarts of dill pickles. She has told me she has more to give me, so that will be either more dill, bread & butter or sweet pickles that I will be continuing to process. I have 6 large ziploc bags full of cherry tomatoes I placed in my freezer. I plan on making salsa out of these, unless I decide to make tomato sauce/spaghetti sauce out of those.

  25. Phew, what a busy week! My hopes are that things will settle down as you get into a routine with your new schedule. I’m wishing you all the best in regards to your biopsy; thank you for sharing this and passing along the importance of getting those spots checked!

    This week, I finally dealt with a large pile of mending that I’d been meaning to get to for ages, including sewing a button on my daughter’s shirt- I found one in my button jar, which I started thanks to you, Brandy! 🙂 I also sewed up a very ripped shirt that I’d bought at a thrift store (but didn’t discover the rips until I returned home), so now I can wear it. I discovered a rip in the arm of a sweatshirt this morning, so I’m going to have to get on that soon! I continued sending burritos made from leftovers in my son’s lunches (they’re in the freezer, and he LOVES them), and I made him a batch of breakfast sandwiches from cheap biscuits in a can and on-sale-eggs.

    I added six boxes of whole wheat lasagna noodles and four packages of fruit cups to my pantry; they were all on sale for fifty cents a package in my grocery store’s clearance rack. I was pretty excited about that! I hung laundry to dry inside, made pierogies out of potatoes that were getting a bit wrinkly, read library books, baked four loaves of homemade bread, and ate tomatoes from the garden (and made another large container of sauce for the freezer). I’m still working on knitting a Christmas gift out of scrap yarn; it’s slow going!

    Have a great frugal week, everyone!

  26. What an exhausting schedule. Your littlest sounds feisty! Hopefully he is going through a growth spurt and will let you get some more sleep soon. Thank you for continuing to keep the blog active while your energy is stretched so thin. Sending you prayers that the biopsy is benign. There is a lot of skin cancer in my family and it is no joke. A few years ago I started having an annual dermatologist appointment for a full body scan to be pro-active.

    • Used the “What’s Up” App and talked with friends in Europe for free
    • Worked my side hustle and inspected my friend’s house after their tenant left. Tenant left a note saying please help yourself to food in frig & freezer. I got a huge bag of frozen blueberries and another huge bag of frozen mixed berries, 10 frozen hamburgers, frozen package of organic hot dogs, orange juice, organic milk, eggs, sliced ham, apples, lemons & limes, an unopened bottle of cranberry juice, an unopened bottle of wine, an unopened package of graham crackers, and condiments.
    • Made two batches of blueberry lime jam using the tenant’s fruit
    • Made homemade pizza, made rice pudding to use up milk from the tenants.
    • I also went through the tenant’s recycling bin and removed all cans & bottles which have a $0.05 redemption value in my state.
    • Went clothes shopping at the Talbot’s outlet as all clearance items were 70% off the lowest marked price.
    • Took down my bedroom window shades, which had mildew on them. I washed the shades in the bathtub with bleach and then hung out to dry in the full sun.
    • About a month ago I had the brilliant idea to clean my computer keyboard using the vacuum cleaner. All was going well until the vacuum sucked a key off the keyboard. I’ve tried living without the key but it just didn’t function very well. I finally took the bag out of the vacuum, opened it up, and sorted through all the dust, cat fur, human hair, and goodness only knows what else while trying not to gag. I did find the key, washed it, and it clicked right back into place on the keyboard, saving me about $85, which is the cost to replace the entire keyboard.
    • I ordered gravel and insulation on the Lowe’s website, going through Swagbucks to earn points. I paid for home delivery. When the pallet of gravel arrived, it was short by seven bags. The delivery truck driver took a photo and I noted the shortage on the receipt. Next day Lowe’s delivered the missing bags. So far I’ve spread 50% of the gravel across my driveway.
    • I ordered 11 pounds of Arborio rice from Amazon and used a Swagbucks $25 gift card to pay for the majority of it.

    Hoping Florence treats the Carolinas with kindness.

  27. I can’t believe that you didn’t think you were doing well – this is a very impressive list.
    The photos of the Amish are lovely. We have Mennonites who live in communities just northwest of the city and I used to see families in the foodcourt when I worked right downtown. The used to bring produce and baked goods to the St. Lawrence Market – their baked goods were very popular!

  28. I too was wondering Brandy if there could be a redistribution of some of the chores in your household to ensure a nursing mother gets her rest. Is there anyway to alternate late homework nights and early morning get the children out the door with your DH-or are the older children old enough yet to get them selves out the door for the early class. On a side note perhaps I am old fashioned( and need my sleep) but it does seem quite a lot for children to have classes at 6 a.m. and homework until 10:45 p.m. JMHO. You are amazing in all that you do-including this blog. Blessings for a more restful week. I do hope your test results are negative for skin cancer and that real estate and your family income pick up. Take care.

  29. Brandy, you can be even more brief…your readers are still here, and we can wait. I’d rather you got more sleep, than give us long entries.

    My first thought, while reading, was that making doubles on meals would help you right now…store the extra, then have it later in the week. (Have one of your kiddos heat it up, while the others do what I’m guessing you already have them do — set the table, clear table, wash dishes, etc.)

    This has been — and will be — a hectic time for a while. I taught in North Platte, NE last week; some little dear on the plane passed around their flu. I am fighting that while packing for the next gig — judging in Creede, CO, a six-hour drive away. Fortunately, the Brick and the dogs will be going with me this time; we’ll pull the trailer, then camp for a few days afterward. (It’s maximum fall color time in the mountains in Colorado right now.) Then after we get home, I have a much longer commitment for the Higher Ground Fair in Laramie, WY! It’s nice to have the extra $$…but exhausting. Lonnnggggg days, much like yours. I do the bare minimum to get by at home, and Husband fills in.

    Whoo hoo, I am glad to report — this second batch of chocolate mint and geranium cuttings is rooting nicely! Guess I was too impatient. Will plant them when I get back from Creede.

    Oh Brandy, please don’t feel you have to be supermom and take care of everything yourself. Your kids are old enough; in return for your helping them with homework, they can certainly pick up a household chore or two. You need to stay well and strong to supervise and keep the household going — and you can’t do that exhausted and/or sick. Especially right now, until everyone gets used to this new schedule.

  30. Thank you, Brandy, for telling us about your biopsies. It encourages people to get these health issues checked out themselves. I had a large spot checked by a dermatologist a couple of years ago that even my GP was frightened about, but all turned out well.

    I was interested to read about your new schedule. I trust you’ll continue to find ways to simplify it. No doubt the kids at school will get more used to how things are done there, and be able to find more of their own way through homework as a little more time passes. I was wondering how you had so many pairs of jeans to turn into shorts, but now I understand that several of the girls were wearing them!

  31. I worry about you not getting enough rest. But the baby will not need as much attending in a few months. When they are newborn I just sat on the couch nursing most of the day, so i cannot imagine trying to do many other things. Relax your standards a little and get those older ones to help.:)

  32. We already do all that–making doubles and having the children do chores. But I lose four helpers during two chore times and sometimes during a third chore time, leaving me with the dishes after breakfast if my daughter doesn’t finish that chore before it’s time to catch the bus.

  33. Kim, my older ones help as much as they can. Everyone has regular chores before and after every meal. But some of my older ones are now gone during the day and can’t help like they used to. I rearranged the chore schedule at the beginning of school to account for four people being gone at lunch time (My eldest goes to work with my husband and does her schoolwork there and the others are at school). Dishes still have to get washed, and cooking for 10 from scratch is a lot. The dishwasher has to be run after 2-3 times a day with dishes for this many.

  34. Hi, Brandy!
    I’ve been so busy working that I haven’t had time to comment much. I’m at my daughter’s waiting for the birth of her first child. (She’s in Fl. while we’re in the U.P. of Michigan.) I wanted to send good thoughts and prayers your way. My husband just had malignant melanoma removed from his arm. He brought it to the attention of the Dr. who poo-pooed the possibility of it being cancer. We know our bodies best! Sometimes we need to insist on testing, if nothing else, just to ease our own minds. They are human and make mistakes. Blessings to you!

  35. Hi, Brandy,

    Unfortunately I don’t have much in the way of frugal accomplishments to report; last week we had sickness run through, so days were spent either in bed with the sick kid, listening to Adventures in Odyssey, or back at work trying to get through priorities as quickly as possible before I had to go out with a sick kid again.

    I just wanted to say that I totally hear you on the helping with homework thing. I only have four. My oldest, my only daughter, is a self learner and I never ever had to help her with homework or help her study. Now that my two youngest are in school, it’s a totally different story. The teacher said to study with your parents, so that’s what we have to do! Teacher said! Ugh! I’m trying to teach them how to study on their own, but it’s still a work in progress. And my 3rd grader has this Timed math thing at least twice a week that he has to have someone do with him. It’s definitely taken a lot more of my time and energy. And I do it, lest my kids are scarred by “Mom never had time for me and thus I flunked” (oh the guilt!) (Dad helps as he can, but has poor eyesight, so some things just don’t work for him)

    On top of that, my oldest son is doing online homeschool, so I must spend several hours a week with him.

    Oh, and my daughter just told me that she needs help with college admission applications. Eeek!

    These are the overwhelming moments that we absolutely love and will miss when they are gone.

    Right there with you, girl. One moment at a time. You’re awesome!

  36. I’ve always been impressed by how even your young children are part of the regular routine for taking care of the house. When I find myself procrastinating on a household task, I remind myself that at Brandy’s house, a six-year-old is taking care of this.

  37. Your story of vacuuming up a keyboard key sounds made me laugh, because that’s totally something I would do. And I would have gone through the vacuum cleaner bag too! 😉

  38. Thanks for the recipe for the pasta. I have lots of organic broccoli that I need to use up. I’m going to blanch some but
    then would love to use some in your pasta dish.

    I found your comments about rev.com really interesting and was going to try it out myself but I decided not to do so.

  39. Our public library subscribes to Consumer Reports so perhaps yours does too. If you need to look something up,
    perhaps go through your library.

  40. I’ve worked for Rev.com for 15 months now. It adds a few hundred dollars a month to my income, and I find the work really interesting.

  41. Good for you to get screened for skin cancer. I started having precancerous spots removed in my 30s. I go to the dermatologist for a yearly screening. She also told me to wear an SPF15 lotion even when in the house. That one surprised me.

    I also wanted to say LandsEnd is fantastic. They also have a great return policy should you need it.Also, once you start shopping with them, they’ll send some great offers to you.

    My greatest savings this week came from eating from my garden and cooking all my meals at home.

  42. Brandy, Prayers and fingers crossed for a good biopsy result! When you were homeschooling the kids, I used to wonder how you had enough hours in the day to homeschool them all. Now, it is still a push for you to have enough hours, and, understandably so. I am wondering if you sit with each child while he or she id doing homework or if you only answer difficulties? I think it is useful only to address difficulties so the children learn resilience and self-reliance. My mother used to dictate my spelling list each week to me for practice. Something like this might be delegated out to older children to help younger children. Just curious as to how you organize this? You are such a whiz at organization, I am sure you have a great system figured out! Take care of yourself!

    Momsav is right on about pursuing and insisting on tests. And that doctors make mistakes. Better safe than sorry.

  43. Brandy,

    Wishing you the best. Reading all that you do makes me exhausted. It’s very tight here as well so had to cut my Christmas budget by 2/3. Finding that God is helping me with a few “once in a life time” deals makes me know I can do this. I went to a store to just see what I could start getting for Christmas and found a new shirts on sale for $6 but then finding out it’s addition 30% plus a special day promotion so walk out of the store with 3 items and that shirt only cost $1.48:)

  44. I’m praying for you, Brandy!

    Frugal Efforts for Us:

    * Ate mostly home-prepared meals (Hubs and I did have one lunch date). Meals included hot dogs that were left over from a scouting event, grilled chicken w/ Greek pasta salad, Chinese chicken salad, black bean burgers w/ homemade buns, quesadillas, and lots of leftovers.

    * Shopped w/ a list and kept to it. The only spectacular deal was a free can of whipped cream. Fortunately, I didn’t need to buy too many things.

    * Son had been mildly pestering me for dessert (it’s been too warm to bake, and the freezers have no room for ice cream so we’ve been going without dessert for some time). While looking for something else in the pantry, I noticed some boxes of Jello that I had purchased ages ago, so I made up some Jello and served it with whipped cream.

    * Harvested two lemons, two small heads of cabbage, parsley, and a yellow honeydew.

    * Cooked up a huge batch of black beans and froze them in 2 C portions.

    * Made sun tea a couple of times.

    * Hubs washed our vehicles.

    * Hubs repaired his bicycle and rode it to work at least a couple of times.

    * Son rode his bike home from a friend’s Eagle Project. (He and his bike got a ride to the project, then son rode home when he was finished.)

    * Paid bills online.

    * The weather has warmed up again, but we’ve been using the AC only when absolutely needed. So far our electrical usage is down 21% compared to last year. I’m so thankful that the weather was cooler earlier in the month.

    * I needed to get some blood work done for an upcoming medical procedure. I had a choice of either having it done at the same facility as my doctor’s office for a $5 charge or driving about a mile to another lab to have it done for free. I chose the free option.

    * Have been using up the little sample/travel toothpaste tubes that have been taking up space in the drawer before opening up a new full-sized tube from our stash.

    * Have also been using up a couple of lotion bottles that made it home from our vacation, and added some water to a nearly empty full-sized bottle of lotion before opening another full-sized bottle from our stash.

    * Son’s piano teacher gifted us with two soaps and some chocolates when she returned from her home in Brazil. I’ve been enjoying one soap in the bathroom, and the other is lending its lovely scent to my closet while we wait to use it. We’ve been savoring the chocolates. 😉 I saved the gift bags to use in the future.

    * Continued to save rinse and warm-up water.

    Thank you to those of you who sent congratulations to my husband. Getting his degree was truly an exercise in hard work and perseverance. Now we need to use that same diligence to pay off the debt that was accrued.

    Have a good week, everyone!

  45. Hi Brandy,
    I always look forward to your updates. I am amazed by all you do! I’m sorry the adjustment to the new school schedule has been so challenging for you. Do you ever use a crockpot? There are some great options for freezing fresh meals ready to dump in your crockpot and cook for the day. Maybe Winter could prep them for you on the weekends? I don’t recall you mentioning ever using a slow cooker – thought you might want to add that to your garage sale list. I have 7 kids (5 in school) and find the crockpot to be a sanity saver when trying to help with homework during “dinner prep time”. Just a thought. Also, did you look at Target for dresses? Just like Land’s End, they have several cute short sleeve, knee length dress options in the school uniform section. If you get Target emails or have their app or just check the website regularly, you can watch for flash sales. They often will do a 1 or 2 day promotion where all school uniforms or some other item is 30-40% off. https://www.target.com/c/girls-uniform-dresses-uniforms-school-clothing/-/N-5tdww
    Thank you for the reminder about skin checks. I’m 45 and have a few spots that I need to have checked. I’ll make that appointment this week. You’ll be in my prayers that it all comes back with negative results for cancer. I’m also praying that you find a good new groove for the schedule and can get more sleep. Change is hard, but remember that you’re doing what you think is best for the kids – so keep up the good work!

  46. My goodness, Brandy, that is quite a schedule. I know that the baby will take less of your time eventually, but I know what you mean about losing your helpers — when my kids moved out as they went off to college, I suddenly realized it was all mine again — all the cleaning, laundry, shopping, taking pets to the vet, getting an oil change, gift shopping/wrapping, painting projects, gardening work, cooking — all mine, because my husband worked across the state and only made it home on weekends back then, and not even every weekend. The kids used to help me so much when they were tweens and teens! I worked (and still do) full-time outside the home, and I was exhausted with my new kid-less schedule, even though only taking care of me, the pets, and my home and garden, not an entire large family. I pray you will be able to take care of yourself as well.
    I had a skin cancer removed from the bridge of my nose about 3 years ago. I now wear sunscreen under my makeup all the time. I had a bad burn on my face when I was a teen — a cloudy day and reflective water, with an unprotected face, giving me painful blisters for a week — and I suspect that burn helped create the conditions for skin cancer. It was just a little dry patch of flaky skin that wouldn’t go away but turned out to be cancer. Luckily, it was not melanoma. Good luck with this biopsy! I’ll pray for the best there, too.
    This week, I was able to use Swagbucks to buy two small Christmas gifts.
    We finally dropped our home phone. We have pretty much everyone trained to call our cell, now. I’ll save about $20 a month, and I’m also looking for a better price for internet, since I’m no longer getting the bundled price with my home phone.
    I got a little mending done this weekend. I still have several items waiting on me, but they aren’t critical.
    I’ve managed to stay out of the thrift stores lately — they are a real temptation for me, but I don’t have anything specific to look for now, so I need to just stay away.
    Not frugal, but yesterday I was going to water my potted basil plant on our open porch, but I had to wait — a fledgling wren was hopping about the pot, trying to get up the courage to make the flight to the trees. Somehow, the wrens hid a nest on our porch that we had no idea was there. Normally we see the parents flying to and fro. The little guys are so cute. I immediately shut the cats inside until the fledgling was gone.

  47. I meant to mention I love Land’s End! I wait until after Christmas and then buy snow boots on sale. I have a hard time getting boots to fit but Land’s End has them. One year I bought 4 or 5 pairs cheap and have a supply for a long time! Great to watch their sales.

  48. Thank you Brandy for continuing to post on your beautiful blog; your writing style encourages us all. Sending you all the best.

    Accomplishments this week included:

    Made an extra $108.00 selling items on local FB selling site;
    Stayed home 3 days (No driving & No spending)
    Made Alice in Wonderland Birthday Banner out of an old storybook that was falling apart. I will use this for a tea party I am hosting for a friend;
    Made SB goal 4 x
    Redeemed SB for $50 Amazon gift card which I will use for Christmas gifts
    Returned recycling ($20.80)
    Cut up some clothing into rags
    Linked up gas rewards with drug store/grocery store to optimize points

    Wishing everyone a happy frugal week.

  49. I kept a written list this past week of frugal things I did to bless my family, and was amazed at how many things I was really doing! I think often we do not give ourselves “credit” for all the day to day stuff that we are already doing! I do not say this to brag, just to realize that all of us here are probably truly doing quite a bit but we may be feeling like we are not doing anything at all. Some of the things I did were:

    *cashed in Office Depot rewards to use on needed items
    *sold a few books we were done with and took trade credit at the store
    *fixed our shower faucet ourselves
    *ordered through a food co-op
    *took a free online class through our library
    *cut dog nails myself
    *found an inexpensive place to have my daughter’s homeschool “back to school” pictures taken.

    Details on my blog! http://tnquiltbug.blogspot.com/2018/09/frugal-friday-week-of-september-2-9-2018.html
    Looking forward to reading what everyone else did!

  50. I am praying for you, Brandy.
    Used a $5 off $35 at the grocery store, and rode my bike to do the shopping. Also earned a bonus $5 off that was a special Monday promo.
    We had to replace our daughter’s cell phone that was broken. We bought a new one through Consumer Cellular. They sell brand new iphones for about 20% of the cost of any store. They have been the BEST cell phone provider-cheap, with absolutely first rate customer service.
    Sewed gifts and a quilt this weekend, all from scraps. So frugal gifts, and no gas needed for the cars.
    Found drawer pulls for 40% off at Orchard Supply, which is going out of business near us.

    We continue to check our budget every 2 weeks. We have an old-fashioned paper and pencil method, every dollar is allocated and every 2 weeks my husband gets our bank and credit card statements up on the computer, he reads off each entry and I check it against the receipt. Then I subtract all the entries in each category of the budget. This has saved us an enormous amount of money over the 8+ years that we have done this, since we are very aware of every dollar going out and what is left to spend. It has made saving for large purchases easier, too. We also have good conversations about where to give money, and long term financial goals.

  51. Brandy! I missed your post last week. After reading this post I totally understand. Life can be so overwhelming at times. I wish you rest, grace, and health. Praying for you. I wish I had savings to report but no an out of control spend week. News I need a dental crown….life just doesn’t let up sometimes. But I keep swimming.
    Until next week

  52. I don’t know about in your state but in many locations, there are limits on the amount of homework that can be assigned. Around here and many surrounding states, depending on age, it ranges from 5-10 minutes to 90 minutes for an average student. Gifted and accelerated classes are excluded. If the late nights continue regularly, I would consider talking to the teachers. Some teachers can be overly enthusiastic early in the year. Sleep is just too important for growing children.

    Most things are the same here.
    I was extra careful about shopping around on mail order prices for household items.
    We continue to eat all meals at home.
    I haven’t bought any groceries in 6 weeks.
    I’m batch cooking, every chance I get, to be assured the home meals stay budget friendly. It’s easy to “overspend” when I am too tired or work too late.

  53. I am praying for you and your family. Hopefully the new schedule will become smoother and a little less time-consuming. I’m hoping your test results are back quickly and are negative for skin cancer.

    I shared the grapes from my garden with a neighbor who adores grape juice. I don’t have the time/energy to deal with grapes this year. I was feeling bad about them possibly going to waste until I remembered this neighbor’s love of grape juice. I reminded myself that I have successfully preserved apples, peaches, tomatoes, and cucumbers this year for our family. Gotta focus on the positives! The garden is winding down, a bit earlier than usual. I’m thinking an early fall may be on its way from how my garden is responding. We’ll have about a dozen pumpkins for carving or painting for Halloween, which is something my grandson really enjoys.

    I cooked all breakfasts and lunches this past week as well as four dinners. My daughter-in-law cooked twice and I ate dinner out with friends one evening. A friend asked if we could make bread together on Friday; sure! We made a loaf of bread for him as well as a batch of rolls that we split. I enjoy sharing my breadmaking skills with my friends and neighbors.

    I found hard white wheat on sale and replaced the 100 pounds I’ve used since I retired last November. We use wheat or other whole grains for most of our cooking and baking. My son brought the bags of wheat into the kitchen so now I need to get it prepped and put away. I am using the last of the wheat I bought in 2010. I’m grateful I have it and have a place to store it. After the canning/preserving it’ll be time to inventory the pantry. I know I need to replace the oats, but I need to know how much to buy. It’s a busy season, but I like knowing what’s in my food.

  54. The pasta salad was perfect timing. I have been looking for a simple pasta salad with ingredients I like to eat on Pinterest. This one will be easy to modify to my liking and sounds delicious! Thanks for posting the link!!!

  55. Natalie, Lands’ End has been here in the Midwest USA since the very early 1960’s. I have been buying swim suits from their catalog for at least 30 years as I am able to find modest swimwear from them. I know they started along Lake Michigan as a sailing equipment company and then expanded into clothes. Possibly your 25 year old store is an expansion? It’s a nice store for everyday, not fad-ish clothes, like the dresses Brandy picked out for her girls. They also sell adaptive clothes. They have good customer service, too.

  56. I have not posted for several weeks, some time. This summer was challenging due to high smoke volumes from a fire burning close to us, and high temps combined with drought, which made it difficult to be outside for long enough to properly water. On the frugal side, we saved $ on the water bill. We picked 3 bushel of peaches from our tree & shared those out with family, being processed in multiple ways. We picked 2 bushels of apples from our CandyCrisp tree, & also shared those out within the family. I was not able to properly thin the trees this year back in April after my gallbladder surgery, and so many of the apples were small & wormy, but our oldest daughter took those to be “training treats” for the steer calf they are raising for beef. Come to find out, apples can also be a regular part of the feed diet for this animal, which is good since hay prices are sky high this year due to drought, & the farmers only getting 2 cuttings instead of 4 from the fields. She had also taken some of the Maypole crabapples, but there are plenty more on the tree, which will go back with her in the next week or so, since they are 2-3” across, & will also work for feed. Converting small wormy apples to beef is quite frugal in my book. One of the neighbors shared some vine ripe tomatoes that us that were delicious. In my last post, we had picked a bushel or so of the green pears. Those have since ripened in the box inside the house. I dehydrated quite a few of them, made a little pear sauce, & we shared out the rest among family. The “new” Concord seedless grapevine bore for the first time this year, & we were finally able to harvest some grapes from the 4 year old vine. They are delicious, with a very different flavor than the Red Reliance grapes we pick from the mature grapevine over the arbor. I would expect that in subsequent years, when we have more volume, they will also produce juice & raisins with a different flavor than the Reliance grapes.

    My husband had back surgery 6 weeks ago, & I continue to receive chemotherapy for appendiceal cancer. With my greatly reduced energy levels due to chemo, I have been quite pleased to see that the fruit trees & berry bushes we have planted continued to produce fruit at nearly the same capacity, in spite of much lower watering. We do not have a sprinkler system, & dragging a hose around has not been within my energy levels this summer, so we decided that this would be a “Jubilee” year for our garden, where we would not plant, but would pile up the grass clippings, compost, coffee grounds from Starbucks, & leaves, allowing the soil to rejuvenate. That has worked fairly well.

    In dealing with these health issues, we have both been grateful to have excellent insurance, which has minimized the cost to us. We have also been thankful to have a deep pantry. I have learned just how valuable potatoes in any form other than fried are with a compromised gut. A decade ago, the WHO used to send potato flakes to areas where people were starving, because they could be absorbed by a severely compromised gut. At present, what is now sent is an Ethiopian porridge mix called Atmit, containing finely ground oatmeal & milk powder, with added vitamins & minerals. After spending 3 of the last 4 weeks unable to keep anything down, and spending 3 days in the hospital, I have learned that a chemo gut is similar to a starving gut, and that oatmeal & potato soups are actually absorbed better than clear liquids, which took a while for a retired RN to wrap her brain around. Having plenty of both oatmeal & potato everything in the pantry has made our lives both easier & more frugal.

    My prayers are with you & your family as you await your biopsy results, Brandy.

  57. Prayers for you! Sometimes life is just overwhelming, this sounds like one of those seasons for you. I think you are doing an amazing job of balancing everything on your plate. You are quite an inspiration, thank you.

  58. While I don’t have little ones at home, I still admire all you manage to accomplish in one single day. You’re truly an inspiration to to all of us. I wish you well and hope all your tests come back with good news. My husband has battled skin cancer for probably close to 30 years and were only 52. He’s had to undergo the photosynthesis treatment at least every other year due to him having so much on his face. This year he had to have a double dose within 3 weeks and glad we did catch his early and are able to at least keep from going malignant. Praying for you and wishing you all the best. PS: we’ll be visiting Vegas next week. Wish we could meet in person

  59. Jeannie, hummingbirds are indeed entertainment. We are keeping the feeder full right now as it is recommended to boost them on their way to migration.

    I did not know that about armadillos. Very interesting. We don’t have those up here.

  60. I’m so glad you wrote, Marivene! I have been worried about you and now I know it was with good reason. I pray for a quick and complete healing and your strength to return quickly. Blessings to you and your family.

  61. Ms.Brandy,
    My prayers are with you and your family. I know our youngest is senior and we are to point we cant help her with her homework. Her algebra was what I did in college. When our oldest was in high school she ask me for help. I show her how to do the problem. She got them all wrong. I went to the teacher. I as why. He said her answers were right but the steps she did was wrong. I said how it the steps be wrong. You taught me that when I was in high school. He said back when I had him is was correct but the process is different know. Still don’t make sense to me. Good luck with the school year.
    Our local salvation army had 50 percent off store wide. End up getting some glass baking pans, juice cups and hubby some clothes.
    eating out of the pantry and freezer.

  62. Marivene,
    I’m sorry to hear of your health issues this summer. It sounds like you are getting an amazing amount done when you and your husband are both laid up to some degree. I’ve never heard of potatoes and oatmeal being the best food for stomachs like yours, but I’ll remember that for the future. I did know that potatoes always go down easy when I don’t feel good for any reason:).

  63. I forgot to add that I ordered a photo book from Shutterfly, using a free coupon code good until midnight on the 11th September: FREEAND40 It will be a Christmas present for my grandson. All I had to pay was the shipping, which was under $9.00, so well within my budget per person for Christmas.

    Also, when I make up dehydrated potato soups, like Bear Creek or Auguson Farms, I add a 1/2 teaspoon of bacon fat from my jar in the fridge to the boiling water, which adds just the hint of bacon taste to the soup, making it even more yummy! When I am done frying bacon, I always strain the grease thru a paper towel into a half pint jar & put it in the fridge for this type of use.

  64. Wow…just wow. Brandy, you certainly have your hands full right now. I hope you find balance and some peace soon. In the mean time, the comments about sunscreen jogged a memory of a “song” that came out when I was in my 20’s. You may remember it, too. I listened to it again and thought you might feel inspired from it as well. Here’s the link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?reload=9&v=MQlJ3vOp6nI.

    This morning, we watched for about a half hour as the twin fawns helped themselves to a feast in our garden, then romped and played around our back yard in the pouring rain, without a care in the world. Wasn’t sure if I should laugh or cry. One good thing…it was cold enough to wear jeans and a long sleeve shirt this weekend. After such a hot summer, it was pure joy to feel fall arrive!

    This week, our frugal accomplishments included:
    *Meals made at home included breaded chicken burgers/strips with choice of onion rings or sweet potato fries (made a homemade spicy mayo for hubby and I), hamburger helper, BBQ hamburgers & hotdogs with potato chips, baked chicken smothered in cheddar cheese soup with loaded potato skins (used up the 5 left in freezer) and corn,
    *Since I have been working quite a bit, and extremely busy on my days off, I hadn’t been able to go grocery shopping for a few weeks. With school starting this week, I needed to come up with lunch ideas that came mostly from our pantry supplies. My mother was panicking, but I knew we would be just fine. I baked a dozen chocolate chip banana bran muffins (recipe link: https://amyshealthybaking.com/blog/2015/01/01/chocolate-chip-banana-bran-muffins/) to use in lunches this week. DD requested chocolate chip muffins, so I made healthy ones that used up 2 very ripe bananas, and some of the large quantity of bran that I received for free about a year ago. I also mixed up a box of chocolate pudding from the pantry and divided it into enough reusable containers for DD’s lunches. We have lots of preserved fruit, tortilla wraps, crackers, canned tuna, frozen hummus, and eggs (for egg salad and/or deviled eggs) on hand, not to mention potential leftovers or other pantry items like canned soup. I did skip out to buy bread and yogurt just to balance out our potential needs. I’m very confident no one will starve!
    *Despite my confidence in our food supply for lunches, my mom still ran out on Monday and bought bananas and a few other supplies “just in case”. Apparently the massive amount of canned peaches, pears, pineapple and applesauce were not reassuring enough for her liking.
    *Found out on Thursday that DD’s friend doesn’t have enough food in the house again. She was given $20 and was told she needed to make it stretch over a week for buying lunches in the cafeteria. So, on Friday, I sent 2 lunches with DD, 1 for friend and 1 for DD. Just doing some calculations in my head (Canadian prices), if her mother had used the $20 to buy a dozen eggs, a loaf or 2 of bread, a jar of mayo, a bag of apples and a pack of a dozen containers of yogurt, she would have been able to make her daughter healthy, filling lunches for 2 weeks, with some extras left over!
    *Our freezer meat stash is quite low at the moment. This made it a perfect time to defrost both our freezers. We shuffled everything around between freezers while we defrosted and cleaned them. I also purged some items that had been in the freezer since 2014/2015, mostly some pumpkin and zucchini which went into the compost. I won’t replace the zucchini, as DD was not a fan (even hidden in baking), and pumpkin is cheap and not hard to replace. As we enter autumn season, I will be slowly shifting my focus from preserving in-season produce for winter, to restocking meat and other pantry items that are low.
    *On the weekend, I finally did a big grocery shopping trip. Highlights included buying a total of 18 kg of peanut butter (12 were $3/1kg and 6 were $3.77/1kg), 6 cooked/smoked hams ($5.99/800g ham, 4 original and 2 black forest) and a package of hotdog buns for $0.39 (short dated, so put directly in freezer). I will cut up the hams into steaks and shaved luncheon meat for the freezer sometime in the coming week.
    *Bake a pan of applesauce snack cake (recipe link: https://www.chef-in-training.com/applesauce-snack-cake/) to use in DD (and possibly friend’s) school lunches this coming week. I used a jar of homemade raspberry applesauce, to use it up, and omitted the nutmeg, as that is a nut and the school is nut free. The cake has a delicious hint of raspberry flavour!
    *Received the sweetest thank you note from my co-worker that I have been mentoring this summer. She’s really embraced all the ideas I taught her and is finding great joy in it all. Made me feel really good I could help her out!
    *Hubby and I went to an auction on Wednesday evening and ended up buying a microwave. It is a barely used, large, stainless steel Panasonic microwave that retails for around $200-$300 new. We got it for $80. Our existing microwave was quite small, older and questionable on how long it would hold out.
    *Bought 2 new, very good quality bras that were on clearance and used the last of a gift card to pay the majority of the cost, with only a few dollars OOP. They have been put aside to take on our trip.
    *Not so frugal: Hubby and I attended a charity event at our local mall. My mom bought the tickets for $5 each and this money goes to support one of the charities on the list for that year (the Autism Ontario chapter for our city was on the list this year). In return, the stores in the mall offer various discounts in their store. We bought several Christmas gifts for DD, including her main present, 2 t-shirts for hubby to take on our European trip, a packing cube (which has a dirty and clean side) for our trip, and a new purse for me (very rare that I actually find a purse I like, and my old one is getting quite worn). I entered a few draws, and we brought home 2 cupcakes we received free. It was an expensive shopping trip, but everything we bought was on our list of needs already and I’m happy we have some more Christmas gifts bought!

    Than you all for your inspiring comments. May you all have a gracious week of frugal living and find joy in many simple pleasures!

  65. Hi Dear Brandy,
    I pray that you get the all clear on the skin cancer front, it is a very scary thing to go through, you gave excellent advice regarding sun protection. I am in awe of your strength and loving care of your family. You so inspire me to be more patient, giving and kind.
    Kindest regards

  66. Hello Brandy..
    First I want to say how great of a job you are doing with the changes in your days. I stopped and prayed for your skin cancer test! I had a regular mammogram this summer and they found something. Had a small surgery and no cancer. Always good to keep check on ourselves.
    I know you organize so well so as your re grouping things they will soon fall into place.
    I love how you love and care for your family and home.
    Just a few frugal things in my life.
    Bought eggs .80 Dozen. Bought 10
    . Making meals somewhat simpler healthier
    . Make ahead breakfast egg muffins.
    . Bought a few things from dollar store for Fall decor but mostly use what I have to create warm n cozy.
    . Organizing my home more creating peace.
    . Baked some Fall things to give.
    . My daughter took several dresses from thrift and we made for my younger grand daughter. Pretty
    . Went to library for free books to read
    . Still enjoying fresh tomatoes from plant and picking lavender n roses from my garden

  67. I do things then forget what I have done. I look ahead and only see the future, or what needs to be done. My son Dustin and husband Bill, both look backward and see what has been finished. I base my decisions on what I think will happen in the future, they make choices based on what has worked for them in the past. We realized this when we were once making a big decision together and explaining our reasons for what we thought would be best. The same thing has happened over and over. We are very different personalities. A long explanation to say, I have felt like I was not doing anything productive. Now I feel better.

  68. Brandy, you seem so busy and sorry to hear about your health problems. You will be in my prayers. Is there anyway that you can rejuggle things? Can your eldest help her siblings with their homework, for example?
    We aren’t having a frugal week as we are away. However, we are making our own food which is so much cheaper than eating out. Back to proper frugality next week!

  69. Brandy, I also started on the Darling Dahlia series and have really enjoyed what I’ve read so far. I had such a giggle over the story of Lizzy, her mom, & the house across the street! I can imagine how beautiful all their gardens are.

    Add me to the long list of your readers that have had skin biopsies. I’ve had several since my 30’s. Growing up in Southern Cal, it almost seems unavoidable. We spent so much time in the sun at the pool and at the beach. There were summers when we were out by the pool from 9am until 5pm every single day. Plus, my family loved to go boating and water skiing. And I know that I wasn’t careful about sunburn at all and I’m a redhead.

    I’d love to offer up some ideas to make your life a little smoother, but you know much more than I do. So, I’ll wish you well!

    I got my porch in the mood for fall. The cooler weather really helped get me in the mood. Lowe’s had mums for 5/$5 last weekend so I got five. We had rain all week so I just left them in the border garden all week and I can’t believe how much they grew! I took some time yesterday and put them all in pots and put those in baskets & such. I have a wreath I made with painted wood apples & sunflowers on the door.

  70. Brandy… boy do I remember the years going without sleep with my youngest that nursed every 90 min…she was a preemie with the other 5 kids.

    I have had a couple rounds of skin cancer, worse was on my nose even with 100 SPF sunscreen, ended up with plastic surgery to fill the hole in. I started seeing a doctor for it when both of my parents had treatment for it.

    Tonight we had potato soup and lunch meat ham with cheese grilled. I’ve only went to the store twice in last month. Once was for milk,bread and a few veggies.

    Still not completely in our new home but don’t ever go over to the old place without filling the car completely to bring back. Still checking gas prices on GasBuddy for the lowest prices.

    Ordered fabric through Joann fabric using coupons,sales and ebates to fabric to make the winter curtains. I couldn’t find anything in the size of the windows that wasn’t running close $40 for one window.
    Rest is here…

  71. Thank you for your prayers, Linda & Becky. Much of the work has been done by my daughters & the picking has been done by grandchildren. I have been blessed to feel,very supported by our family.

  72. Marivene, sending thoughts and prayers to both you and your husband. Two comments – when I am sick I only want potatoes – any form but fried! Sometimes just microwave baking one and adding a little butter and salt and pepper. Second – when I was in jr. high (many, many years ago – lol) we lived on a little homestead. We had a cow, Caboss, that my dad milked. She was the sweetest little Jersey who was in total love with my dad. One night he came in and called to my mom that he was afraid Caboss was really sick. We all went out and she was literally weaving her way to the barn to be milked. She made it and my dad milked her and as he milked her he said “her milk smells odd”. We took it in (no pasteurizing or homogenizing – just used clean jars and bleached out cheesecloth) and when it was a cooled off my dad took a sip. He said “it tastes like apple cider!”. He went back out and she was heading back out to under the apple tree that was on the side of the pasture. She was apparently eating dropped apples that had fermented and was a little tipsy! He called the vet who said that it was very possible as cattle love apples. Dad fenced off the area under the tree and all was well afterwards!

  73. Rhonda, I thought of you while I was getting 10 lb. of peaches ready to freeze. I’ll use the peach slices in oatmeal and muffins during the winter. I am impressed with the energy you and the other readers have who preserve so much more than I do.

  74. Athanasia, I have 4 feeders up at the moment. I think there are so many because my next door neighbor is selling their house and has moved. She always had a feeder up so I think her hummingbirds have “migrated” to my yard. I don’t mind feeding the whole neighborhood.

    Tennessee didn’t have armadillos either until a decade or so ago. They are moving north. I hate how they easily destroy a garden during the night. You wake up to find it churned up like a construction zone. It is heartbreaking. I will give them our whole woods and fields and won’t care at all. Just leave my garden and the lawn alone!


  75. Hello Brandy and everyone from Australia 🙂 .

    Brandy you will be in our prayers for a good outcome to the biopsies they took for your skin lesions 🙂 . Such sound advice on keeping yourself protected from the sun and yes I encourage everyone to get checked by the doctor if they see a skin lesion. Being a redhead myself with really fair skin I tend to do all of my outside garden and other work in a broad brimmed hat, jeans and a 50+ UV rated long sleeve shirt.

    I hope Brandy that the housing market picks up in your area so your budget can increase. You have done so well in all that you do and are an inspiration to many of us here. We all have seasons in our lives some busy and some not so I hope and pray yours will settle down for you so you can have a little more “you” time.

    Our savings for last week added up to $485.97 :).

    Here is what we did and accomplished this week and how we saved –

    Blessings –
    – A friend had too many eggs from her chickens and gave us 3 dozen free range eggs saving us $12.

    Finances & free internet listings –
    – Banked more money into our saving for our home bank account bringing us to 28.49% of the way there.
    – Listed 58 free listings on eBay taking advantage of a free listing and final auction value fee promotion saving $95.70 on usual listing fees.

    Earnings –
    – Earned $35.35 from the sale of dried thyme picked and dried from the gardens and a handmade A4 notebook cover which we banked some of and purchased other needed items for the home with.

    Purchases –
    – Purchased 123 x 50ml unused glass amber bottles from the tip op shop for .10c ea saving $61.50 on usual prices. We will save some for us to use for vanilla extracts and other extracts as well as essential oils and sell the rest on the internet so ours will be free.
    – Whilst at the op shop I picked up a lovely book on herbs and herbal remedies for .20c saving $4.75 on the cover retail price.

    Firewood and in the gardens –
    – Cut a cubic metre of Ironbark firewood from a friends farm saving $200 over purchasing it locally.
    – Divided off 4 new thyme plants from thyme in the gardens saving $18 over purchasing them in the local nurseries.
    – Harvested lots of French and English lavender from the gardens to dry for home use and for sale.
    – Planted 2 x 2 mt rows of turnip seeds in the gardens.
    – Used saved dish rinsing and shower warm up water to water fruit tree pot plants and newly planted vegetable seeds in the gardens.

    In the kitchen –
    – Made a double batch of choc chip and coconut queen biscuits weighing from items we had here saving $11.77 over purchasing the same amount and similar quality in the shops.
    – Made or started 600 ml of vanilla extract from vanilla beans I purchased on a 16.66% price discount using our $240 for $200 Woolworth e-voucher saving $46.90 over purchasing it in the local supermarket.

    Hope everyone has a wonderful week ahead :).

    Sewingcreations15 (Lorna).

  76. Good luck Brandy. Sending you prayers and hugs. My mom had skin cancer on her leg and my dad had it on his head on his bald spot. Both had it removed and are fine now. I am super aware and always take precautions.

    Does your library have online homework help? Ours does and it is wonderful. The kids can go online to the library and ask for help with a question. It is great.They do Math much different then I did in school. I took french and my kids took Italian. It has saved us many times. Great for older kids when the homework is very hard.

    I have been using the garden produce up. Tomatoes in everything. I also canned more sauce, made more pickles and made hot sauce for the first time. I have cooked all meals at home except for a lunch date Hubby and I went on. Work on our new driveway started and my youngest daughter started back to school. She has her licence now so I am no longer a chauffeur and she can run herself where she needs to go. It is very strange. The rest of my list is here: https://mcoia.blogspot.com/2018/09/my-frugal-list-week-of-september-3-2018.html

  77. Picked another gallon freezer bag full of blackberries (this time at my husband’s work)!

    eBay sales this week = $0. Hopefully this coming week will be better!

    Had leftovers or quick thrown together meals a couple of times when we were tempted to eat out!

    Went camping (RVing) this weekend and took snacks/drinks for the two-hour drive (normally we would stop at the gas station on the way out of town). While at the KOA my husband decided he wanted mustard (which he had said to not bring while at the house). I went to buy a bottle in the camp store, and they were out. But they gave us some to-go packets and wouldn’t let me pay for them. Worked perfectly for what we needed! Used my KOA membership to get 10% off each night’s space rent and then our rewards to discount the bill by $10.

    Hoping everything comes back as healthy with your test results Brandy, and that you get some rest!

  78. According to what I found in the beef magazines, all cattle love apples, and they also like the alcohol from fermenting apples as they spoil. As long as the volume is controlled, they can digest it just fine. It does make me curious as how the meat will taste, tho.

  79. I wish you all warm wishes and hope you find a calm among the storm. I also hope you do not have skin cancer but as you said it is very treatable if you go find out. Continuing to pray that you all get back to your schedule or find a new norm. Take care!

  80. Hi Brandy! I don’t have any frugal activities to add. Just wanted to stop by to let you know that I’m praying for your family with the new routine and also that your skin biopsy comes back benign! Many prayers from me to you!

  81. Brandy sending prayers for your health and support for your efforts! You are doing so beautifully, as always, balancing and prioritizing – you’re always an inspiration, even in your honest struggles

  82. My goodness, you have so much going on and yet always seem to get so much done for your family. So glad you are taking things seriously and not ignoring them. Will be hoping for quick results for you and that you heal quickly.
    I am having to put on my frugal hat now more than ever. My husband and I are about to sign on our first home together. While we have calculated out the numbers every way possible and purchased a modest home for far less than what we were told we could afford, it’s still such a large purchase and we want to be smart about things.
    We have been living in an rv and traveling for his job for 4 years so we have almost no furniture so that will be an expense as well. The good thing is that neither of us are in a hurry and are perfectly ok taking our time to shop around at garage sales etc to find deals and what we like.

  83. Brandy,
    I hope your test results come back healthy. I said a prayer for you.

    Made all meals at home and when we went to town brought our cooler with food in it and water in a mason jar to eat and drink. Used internet for recipes. Buying only things we absolutely need. Nothing extra.

  84. Rhonda,
    We did some freezer cleaning this morning and I found one package of broccoli from 2012 and a zucchini from 2011. Yikes! They clearly got shuffled during the moving a couple of years ago, and stuffed down into the bottom of a larger plastic bag where smaller bags were corralled. They, and a couple other items got sent right to the compost pile, and thankfully, there is no shortage of fresher food, especially frozen zucchini! This was a banner year for that.

    I’ve been slowing down on buying things like bananas right now, as there are other fruits to eat, such as an occasional jar of fruit that did not seal, and berries from our bushes. Still, they are used to bananas, like bananas, and want bananas, so I’m sure it won’t be long before I buy some more:). Hopefully, your crew was happy with the bananas.

  85. What a hectic schedule-hopefully, things calm a bit as the school year goes on! I hope your test results are clean!

    Dahlias aren’t easy but worth the effort.In Minnesota, we have a good climate for them. My mother belongs to a group of women who collect and trade coveted dahlia tubers and call themselves the dahlia daises.:) The display at the state fair was beautiful. Some of the displays and winning flowers: https://www.facebook.com/pg/MinnesotaDahliaSociety/photos/?ref=page_internal. I love the variety and colors.

    Lands End frequently has great clearance/off season sales (when you have a promo code). If you need more dresses for the girls, it might be worth checking back.

  86. The sheep at the pioneer village I work at also got drunk from the fermented apples that had dropped from the apple trees in their field. Who would have guessed livestock liked to booze it up and have field parties! Haha

  87. Rhonda,
    I think nutmeg is a seed not a nut. No harm in being super safe and omitting it for school lunches, though.

  88. I think the hardest year of my life was when our oldest left for college. She was 8 years older than the next child ( I had a hard time carrying and lost a little girl to birth defects between my oldest two. But as she was so much older she did all the driving for years for the other girls. She also took care of much of the house work and could help me entertain when I needed to. When she left I had to do all the driving and I realized I had never cleaned or dusted my front room. I gave up having any fund raising parties. I know that your children are well trained to help, but again the new baby will take less time in a few months. Take care of yourself and ask the church for help if you need it. I wish I lived close. My husband and I watch two babies once a week for our young neighbors. They had two less than a year apart and the day care was killing them. This saves them $400.00 a month but it runs us ragged. Our children were very far apart and we never had two babies at once. You should see us after they go home. We are wiped out. We just sit and stare into space and laugh at each other.

  89. I had a basal cell carcinoma cut off my neck/shoulder in August. It was really deep with a lot of stitches and it still hasn’t healed I have taken a round of antibiotics for infection it is finally healing after about 6 weeks. My doctor saw the growth and immediately told me she was 99% positive it was basal cell she cut it all out so now I get skin checks every 6 months.
    My mini daschund she is 3 years old had to have emergency surgery last Sunday she had a herniated disk and was suddenly paralyzed. We picked her up 6 days later and she isn’t in any pain but still paralyzed. The vet said it can take several months for her to get back to 90 % function. We drove her 2 hour away to Texas A & M in College station they were the only surgeons available over Labor Day weekend. They charged us $3400 where Austin vet clinic said $6,000 but there doctor was on vacation. We have to tighten our belt for sure now but I couldn’t imagine my life with out my baby Charlee.

  90. I love modern technology. The Army base has photographers that take endless photos and post them according to company and platoon on Facebook. My skills have become advanced. I stream Facebook to the large screen tv and search for my son. I then can download photos and take them to the drugstore and print them. I have collected quite a few great photos of him and I am one happy mother. I have had no letters or phone calls from him so this makes my heart swell with joy. Of course I used a coupon for my prints. There is no savings left due to medical and car emergencies this year. I have been collecting swagbuck s like crazy to cover our trip to see him graduate. I will use my gift cards to pay my utilities and take the cash allotted for that to travel. The trip will be very hard on my recent back surgeries. I have booked the cheapest hotel available so I can recover a day before and an extra day after the two day event. We will pack food and the crockpot. Puppy will happily travel with us. The best thing about this cheap place is that the dog is welcome. My worries are heavy. I will just be able to cover my property taxes in 10 weeks. We have everything we need but the stress and pressure is constant. It is very tiring. I constantly am on high alert. I am so sorry to hear that so many others are also enduring rough times. My thoughts are with you. Brandy, I think I sent you an email.

  91. Schools are so different from place to place. I am a retired 3rd grade teacher. Students were encouraged to read daily at home and do one page of math (that was an extension of that day’s lesson) 4x a week. The math took maybe fifteen minutes and could be completed independently most of the time.

    At my granddaughter’s school as a policy no homework is ever assigned, other than reading.

    Family life is so important and kids are already in school the majority of the day.

  92. Marivene, I didn’t realize you were on chemo. I hope it goes well and that you’re back in the saddle again soon. Interesting about potatoes. I have severe gut issues resulting from a failed surgery for a hiatal hernia. I had found on my own that I could eat potatoes or oats with minimal discomfort. I might add that ice cream has never made me sick! I was never a big ice cream eater, but this summer I have become addicted to Breyer’s butter pecan. Think butter-flavored ice cream (yum!) filled with pecans. In case anyone here is interested, bread is very hard to digest. When I get sick after a meal, bread is usually the culprit.

  93. We made a new recipe that was so delicious and frugal. Chicken Adobo–a Filipino recipe our hospital cafeteria makes and I asked for the recipe.
    -4 to 5 pounds of chicken thighs
    -1/2 cup white vinegar
    -1/2 cup soy sauce
    -about 5 garlic cloves, crushed
    -3 bay leaves
    -some grinds of black pepper
    Place all ingredients in a big pot with a lid and simmer on low for 4 hours, or until the meat is falling off the bone. A slow cooker or instant pot would work well too. Serve over rice.

  94. Rhonda, here is a contrary thought for your trip. Instead of taking all new clothes, take old ones that you can leave behind to make room in your suitcase for things you buy on the trip. The people you see will not know if you are wearing old or new clothes. When I finish a guidebook, I also leave it behind. I don’t have a Kindle, so I take a few paperback books with me and leave them behind, too. Regardless of what you wear on the trip, I hope it’s wonderful.

  95. Marivene, I am so happy that you’re back!! I look for you every week here in the comments and got so worried about you. I always love your comments.

    I’m so sorry you’ve been sick and will definetly be praying for you.


  96. Praying for you! I think wives and moms need a 36 hour day sometimes.

    Penny at Penniless Parenting had what I think she called a “child helper”, she hired a neighbor’s older girl who kept the younger kids occupied so she could work around the house as needed. Any way something like that could happen with you? It’d free up some time maybe.

    Praying for God to lighten your load!

  97. Brandi I hope the results come back ok and that family life settles soon for you. And a timely reminder I need to book in for a skin check. Australia has the highest rate of skin cancer in the world. Not a statistic to be proud of.
    I finished planting out my new veggie garden on Friday afternoon and then 2 hours later we had a very heavy hail storm. I have lost half of my seedlings but will wait a few weeks before I re- plant.

  98. Frugal Accomplishments at our house:

    With cooler temperatures we have been able to turn off the air. We opened the windows and enjoyed the fresh breezes.

    I stayed out of the stores except to go to Aldi for groceries and to Walmart for a couple of needed items.
    I took out only the budgeted amount for the week in cash. I am determined to stay within our budget and not overspend by using cash only.

    I made chicken vegetable soup from bits of this and that I had stashed in the freezer. I made homemade french bread to go with our soup. I also made two pizza crusts for the freezer for when we want pizza but now won’t have an excuse to buy a frozen pizza or order out. I also made a large pot of pinto beans and brown rice. For our breakfasts I made muffins and granola. I also made a frittata to put into our lunches.

    My husband found some jalapenos for 10 cents each and bought many. I roasted them, chopped them up, and froze them thereby avoiding waste.

    We took our lunches to work every day.

    We are still harvesting tomatoes, basil, and mint.

    I mended a tablecloth.

    I took in a blouse that never fit me correctly but that I always liked. Now it fits much better and I have something new to wear to work.

  99. If you enjoy time period mysteries the Bess Crawford series by Charles Todd is fantastic (and clean) and the Gaslight series by Victoria Thompson is clean and I think there are almost twenty books in that series, so you will have plenty to read for sometime:)

    1. Rooted plant clippings to start a new plant for my son
    2. Found a cute dog costume in the Target dollar aisle…it was a hot dog
    3. Chase sent me a message telling me that I have earned $206 in reward points so far this year…so Christmas is paid for:)
    4. Found free study guides online for Frankenstein, so I will not have to buy or make one…thank goodness!
    5. Stocked up on dollar tree toys to refill my homeschool reward box

  100. You are certainly juggling a lot at the moment, Brandy. You are doing an amazing job of fitting in everything that needs doing. We had a quiet week with back to school here. We only went out on essential trips and stayed in the rest of the time. It was finally cooler at the end of the week after record breaking heat in S. Ontario so we could get out for walks again comfortably. I made all meals at home and packed my husband’s lunch every day. My mom was once again generous and send home leftovers as well two bricks of cheese. Cheese is quite expensive so I was pleased as this will stretch for quite a while for us. I hope everyone is having a great week.

  101. I do that old clothes bit when I travel Maxine and recommend it to everyone. Even for 2 or more weeks in Europe the largest case I use is a 20″ one, along with a tote bag. I save old t-shirts (to wear under sweaters and then toss them. Whenever I do a clear out of worn and grubby undies I simply wash them and then put them aside in my suitcase. I take a couple of good pair for the first couple of days, wash those but then use all the old ones and throw them out as I go. I keep those good ones for the flight home and a couple of pairs for the suitcase so, just in case I’m stopped by Customs it doesn’t look weird. I have even taken old PJ’s and tossed them as well. It leaves lots of room to bring home items. I don’t buy a lot of souvenir type of things – I prefer clothing, scarves, gloves & shoes – I prefer European sizings. I learned to pack light a number of years ago and have never looked back. When I was leaving Budapest a few years ago a couple of the women on the tour kept looking at my case and finally one of them asked me if that was all my luggage. When I replied, yes, they both said that they couldn’t believe it as I always looked so well dressed throughout the trip. I have always maintained a relatively small wardrobe but have learned to mix & match and use accessories. I urge everyone who has an upcoming trip to think about the old clothes option.

  102. Laurie, hurricane Florence is turning into a monster. I hope you will be safe and take no chances. My youngest son Reese is in Charlotte and is far enough inland to be fine. I have a close cousin who is in Wilmington, only a few miles from the water. Last night I googled her address and her house is 29 feet above sea level. It will not escape destruction. This morning she is evacuating and returning to Nashville. She moved there last year to be close to the grandbaby, renovated the house and now this has happened. Do be very careful.

  103. Funny you should mention that. Hubby just said he thinks he should just bring a couple t-shirts to start out, then buy new ones as we visit different areas. He wanted to buy some Canadian t-shirts to bring, though. Most of his current t-shirts are from the various places we visited in the states. Sorry, but Trump has made it that most countries are not fans of Americans right now, and he didn’t want to be mistaken as an American tourist.

    As for myself, I take a larger, plus size. In my experience, it is difficult to find my size of clothing in touristy areas. I’m better to bring my own clothing. It’s much more comfortable and will be much less stressful. I will be taking some of my used clothing. I’m just buying a few things that are new, so I have enough nice looking clothing to last between laundry days. Since we are going for a month, we will have to find time to do laundry all while keeping up with a very busy itinary.

  104. Yeah, 50lbs of peaches was a lot to process! Yet, I see other people who can so much more than I do and wonder how they do it. It’s definitely hard to do when the temperatures are soaring and you work full time during prime canning season.

  105. I knew these had been in the freezer for a while, but didn’t realize just how long. Good to start fresh sometimes. The bananas didn’t all get eaten. However, I can use the ripe ones for baking school lunch treats. It will all work out. Just annoying that I make the efforts to ensure we have lots of food in the house, only to have someone say there isn’t enough to their liking!

  106. It’s definitely in the allergy inducing family. I learned about this from a teacher who brings her class every year for our Christmas program at my work. The teacher is severe, life threatening allergic to all nuts, including nutmeg. We now omit nutmeg from our gingerbread cookie recipe and no longer have it in our baking supplies there, because of her request. Our historic houses have nuts on display, as this was a common treat they would consume at Christmas time. She refuses to even step foot in the houses that have nuts. I think that is a bit extreme, but I don’t live with a life threatening allergy, so I don’t have a right to judge.

  107. Jerri, I, too, buy wheat in bulk but I get 50 pounds. Mine comes from a feed store so it is extremely cheap. It isn’t treated since it is for animals but does contain chaff. I winnow it on the porch poring it from one bowl to another in front of a fan. Then I freeze it to kill anything else I might have missed. It has saved us a fortune and tastes much better than anything store-bought and it keeps forever.

  108. Brandy, I continue to be amazed at all that you can accomplish in a week. Please be gentle with yourself and remember that it’s ok to let things slide a bit during the hectic seasons of life. Praying for you!

    With school back in full swing, we had a fairly frugal week last week. Over Labor Day weekend we went to the beach for a free family fun day at a state park. When we were finished there we went a few miles down the road to a national historic site. Had a fun tour (and my daughter did their Junior Ranger program and picked up another free patch for her patch blanket) and got her “Every Kid in a Park” pass since she’s a fourth grader now (https://everykidinapark.gov/), so admission was free there also. This past Saturday my daughter and I attended a free evening at a national historic site near my parents’ house – we stopped there for dinner beforehand and they joined us as well.

    I canned apple pie filling. I’m trying Clear Jel for the first time so we’ll see how we like it. I did a small grocery shop – originally my plan was to only shop every two weeks but my husband ran out of salad dressing at the same time Safeway sent me a coupon I couldn’t refuse (I can only get his salad dressing at Safeway), and I wanted to use my last $10 off $40 coupon at Fred Meyer. Funny thing was, I sat down to plan what I was going to get at Fred Meyer and I had trouble making a list because I really didn’t need that much! I think that’s the first time that’s ever happened to me. Usually I’m so impulsive about grocery shopping. I quickly planned out my menu for a couple more weeks and bought some nonperishables I knew I’d need for those meals.

    I volunteered in the school lunchroom and got a free meal. My daughter and I both took leftovers in our lunches.

    I hope everyone has a wonderful week and Brandy, I hope you get some rest!

  109. Brandy, I haven’t commented since you shared about your schooling changes. I always wanted to try to home school (many of my close friends did), but we never felt completely convicted for our family so I supplemented and stayed very involved as our children moved through the public education system. I currently teach 120 8th grade students every day and I understand the new pressures you must be feeling right now. These children are wonderful, but sometimes my heart just hurts for them. I think they are just moving so fast through everything and it is difficult for them to slow down and appreciate what is around them. Your children know how to do that and they will certainly be a blessing to others. I pray that you are able to find a good balance over the next few months for all of your family. My humble and best advice for those working through the education years is that there is no certain formula for each child. Society’s expectations of homeschooling, elementary, middle, high, college or career and the timing involved are just that….society’s expectations. I stress to my students that they have to find what works for them in order to become the person they were meant to be.

    While I’m sharing, I would like to make two comments that might save money for some of you. I also like the quality of Lands’ End and have found a great outlet that sometimes carries their merchandise for next to nothing. sierratradingpost.com (like the outdoor version of TJMaxx) has a good online site and they do have some stores out west. To find the Lands’ End merchandise, you have to search for “specially made”. There you will find closeouts from all kinds of store brands. I generally can spot different store brands but if you read the reviews on items, sometimes reviewers will list the store in their comments. I have scored some very nice Lands’End fleece and Thermaskins there. If you sign up for emails, sometimes you can get free shipping or an additional 25% off codes.

    My final comment is an idea for Christmas gifts. Years ago, at a craft sale, my mom bought a heating pad/bag of cherry pits for me. You can freeze them, or heat them in the microwave. I have seen them many places for as much as twenty-five dollars. They are amazing because they are so flexible and can mold to whatever place you have that is hurting. I found a great supplier, The Cherry Pit Store, that sells dried pits for crafters. The shipping is high because of the weight, but with a piece of fabric the size of a fat quarter and two pounds of cherry pits, you can make a very nice gift for around $5.00, even after incorporating shipping costs. I have even had my fabric embroidered/monogrammed with names to make it extra special. I print up a nice little tag with instructions for heating (1-2 minutes in the microwave). They smell the first few times you use them, but that goes away. These have also been a great comfort for some of our friends who suffered in their last days of cancer. (sadly, this has been too frequent lately) I buy the big box every five years to make gifts. This year, my daughter and I are splitting a box so she can share these with her co-workers for Christmas gifts. She has a friend who will do our monogramming for us.

    Brandy, you are an inspiration. Thank you for taking time to nourish this community. I’m praying that you have good health reports! Have a wonderful week!

  110. Lynne,
    Now, that is disheartening to lose your garden seedlings only 2 hours after planting them. I’m so sorry. I’m glad you will be able to replant, and hopefully a few things will survive to give you some early produce!

  111. What an exciting time for you! You will feel like you are in a palace after living in the RV, although I know from experience that can be fun, too. (We only lived in ours for 3 months, but there were 5 of us, so even though we moved into a small house, it felt good to stretch out). Congratulations!

  112. Almost all southerners (95%) are immune to leprosy and “”Most people are immune to becoming infected with Hansen’s disease, and most armadillos don’t have the bacteria that can cause” the illness, said Dr. David Scollard, director of the National Hansen’s Disease Program Laboratory Research Branch, who was also involved in the study.” (https://www.livescience.com/52792-armadillos-leprosy-bacteria-spreading-southern-us.html)
    no need to kill them as they also eat bugs that can eat your vegetables.

  113. We have a pear tree that sometimes over-produces so we let some of the drops stay on the ground, and we can smell them ferment. We’ve seen wasps crawling all over the fermenting pears, then flying off in lazy, crazy, patterns, with occasional minor crashes. It looks like even wasps get drunk.

  114. Brandy, we are praying for you and a good outcome to the biopsies.

    I was wondering, since you mentioned the homework situation, if your older children were in the habit yet of making full use of class time to do as much as they can and study hall, should they have one. That could cut back on some night time work, possibly. Here it is an unwritten rule in the public schools that homework is not given out, or is kept lighter, on Wednesday nights. That is considered church night across the board. I’ve never heard of that other places, though.

    I always liked the after school schedule of them working at the kitchen table while I made dinner. The younger ones could ask the older ones for help too in areas they had previously studied. Kept more of the evening open once the homework was done.

  115. Prayers this morning for all those facing the hurricane.
    We left on vacation August 28. Visited two of our daughters and their families and then spent two days camping on the coast. The last day before coming home we rented an inexpensive motel room with the ocean view from our balcony. Friday was a 10 hour drive home. We were tired but happy to go pick up our dog from our grandson’s house. We used our credit card rewards to pay for more than half of our vacation. There was enough left from what I had budgeted to buy the new microwave we needed.
    Our garden exploded while we were gone. Far more than I could process before it turned bad. We picked everything and boxed it up. I drove it to the mission yesterday. Also shared with my mother in law, her neighbor and her dog walker. The neighbor graciously allowed me to pick a bouquet of cosmos to deliver to my mom in her care center.
    From there I picked up a few groceries and stopped at the thrift store where I found a nearly new microwave, a winter jacket for myself, a fleece pullover for hubby and a small candle to use in a gift. All for 13.00. I think everyone was blessed yesterday.
    Since arriving home I have been canning and trying to get all the things from the trip cleaned and packed away. I’m starting a collection of clothing to donate.
    Today it’s back to the garden to pick beans, zucchini, cucumbers and tomatoes. I have a canner of applesauce cooking now.
    Prayers for everyone to have a healthy and frugal week

  116. Dear Brandy,

    Thank you so much for sharing with us. I will be praying for you and your family. Life seems to through so much at us but we get threw it all with Gods help. You continue to inspire me with your life.

    We have saved by only buying what is on sale and make all our meals from scratch. Apple picking is starting this weekend. We will pick some apples to put away in the cold storage for the winter and dry some also. I sewed some of my daughters bibs so they will last longer.


  117. Jeannie,

    I did not know that the armadillo carries the leprosy mycobacterium. I was inspired to research that a bit. As it is not a virus, it is highly treatable through a special class of antibiotics and sometimes the same drugs used to treat tb are used to treat leprosy. I read a lot about leprosy when I was treated for tb (although it turned out I did not have tb). My mother for most of her life donated to the leprosy foundation. I’m not sure why as we don’t have it here. How did you or Dustin dispose of the carcass? I believe the leprosy mycobacterium may be able to live in the soil. Vinegar might be useful to spread on your soil. I’m not sure it would work against it but vinegar is a good germ killer as would alcohol be. Even o, I would wear a mask and gloves when drenching the soil… I too am impressed by all you did!

  118. I agree. I just wish the school did.

    My 3rd grader has homework 3x week: a math paper and some form of spelling, always. Then, several times a week he now has the timed math assessment that someone must help him with. On top of that, he usually has a least two quizzes or tests each week that he must study for. This is his first year studying for tests, so I assist him with that. If he’s on task, the whole process takes about 45 minutes.

    My 5th grader is about the same. For one kid, it’s not that bad. When you have multiple kids it compounds.

  119. Jeannie, I read a bit about the armadillo. Said they used to be hunted for food when they were still down in South America and they just keep migrating north by changing their habits. They might need to be hunted again. They have even made it to southern Wisconsin apparently.

  120. I did the same thing when my boys went to summer camp. All year I would save their worn clothes, ratty washcloths, and towels. They were instructed to throw everything away when they showered. It was wonderful. I didn’t have to sew their names in everything, write their names on all the towels plus the horrible smell from their suitcases no longer gagged us in the car on the way home.

  121. Loved the story about the tipsy cow. When I was in jr high or high school, my dad had some piglets that we were raising for the summer with the plan to slaughter one for our own use and the rest were to be sold. One elderly man in the small town that we lived close to had an apple tree that each fall he would pick up the apples that had fallen and would give them to us to feed the pigs. By the time we would get the apples, they had already fermented. Let’s just say that a pig with a hangover is NOT a very nice pig.

    Haven’t thought about that in years. Thanks for reviving that memory. The last few days have been hard on me emotionally and I needed the giggles.

  122. “Winter Solstice” by Rosamunde Pilcher is another good one and I also love the “Blue Bedroom” short story collection.

  123. Oh Brandy hello. I am praying for good news on the biopsies. Having been in your shoes all that can really be said is to take time for yourself! Not that long ago it was get up all night with the baby (had feeding issues and could only eat a couple ounces every hour) get the other child ready for school, get husband ready/out the door, clean house (not the priority but did try to keep it uncluttered, my darling sister would come over frequently after work so I could clean/shower/nap), child came home, dinner, husband home, dishes and homework. Then do it all again. Truly it does get better and what I wouldnt give to have that time with my little one. There is a light at the end of the tunnel promise.

  124. I love your blog! In the last two years, I have strayed from the super frugal ways I used to practice when I was raising nine children. As they moved out, things got easier and it was nice not to have to be so frugal. For the next year, my husband will be away on assignment and I am determined to return to my frugal ways. I will be eating out of my freezer and pantry as much as possible. I planted an over abundance of tomatoes and peppers this year, forgetting that it is only the two of us now. I have been busy chopping and freezing tomatoes…so far, 20 bags, t throw in chili, stew and soups. I ground up all the baseball bat sized zucchini and froze that…fifteen bags. I still have many tomatoes to do and my daughter came over and took one bag already. I also will be canning jalapeños for the men in the family who like it. My plan is also to start in on all the craft and sewing bins and start projects, including Christmas ornaments. Reading all the comments here has given me so many new ideas and motivation. Thank you.

  125. My relative were farmers who also worked outside the home. In summer they always had a “hired girl” to help with things. Often a high school or college student, she was literally an extra set of hands for my aunt. My uncle worked on repairing roads, kept bees and gathered the honey and was also an accomplished harness maker. He had to make time for fishing also! The hired girl helped with harvesting, canning, and housework in general. I could use one myself this year!!

  126. My school district also has homework guidelines based on their grade level. The HS sets aside time during the day to work on homework so they do not have much left to do at home. My daughter spends more time on homework since she has traditional classes, vocational ed classes in the afternoon and college classes. This year is a stressful one for her since she also works. My 4th grader reads 15 min daily & sometimes a worksheet. I mostly just help her understand what the instructions are and help if needed. I have, in the past, emailed the teacher to find out how much time they estimate the homework should take from their point of view (I had an overthinking perfectionist in my bunch). At the elementary level when the homework was too excessive I stopped my child from going further and included a signed note that Mom is responsible for the incomplete homework since it went way past the allotted homework guidelines for that child’s grade. I have always said that the teacher could contact me if there was any questions etc regarding my actions. This only happened 2 or 3 times with 6 children. It was no use frustrating the child.

  127. Best wishes for your Charlee! Many years ago, my little Doxie mutt went into heart failure and our vet told us it was beyond his skills, but he knew where to send us and it wouldn’t be cheap. An hour later I was sitting in a waiting room at a Doggy Cardiologist in Beverly Hills!
    First time I ever saw a vet’s office with valet parking. Probably one of the few times they ever parked an old Ford pick up with a little mutt for a patient! It was worth every penny. 🙂

  128. One more thing to do with zucchini: grated zucchini is a great thickener for chili. It cooks down & disappears into the sauce as it thickens, & it does not alter the taste. I would guess it would cook down even faster if it were ground. Same thing with pumpkin purée. Zucchini or pumpkin are always part of our chili now. It increases the nutrition & no one even knows or cares that it is there except me.

  129. Wow Brandy, what a busy schedule. I’m glad you can treat yourself a few minutes here and there by reading while nursing. I am sure as the kids get further into the school year, they will get into a routine and things will smooth out a bit for you. My prayers are with you and your family during this challenging time of life.
    I have extra praises to God this week as my daughter got good news about her health issues. However, she also found out that her bio-dad has pancreatic cancer- this has been a real shock to her and very upsetting. She, like you is in a very stressful time of life right now.
    I think taking a time out from writing about my frugal activities this week and focusing on praying and praising is a good idea.
    Take Good Care,

  130. oooo I make these for my family. I use field corn for the big heating pads and rice for small ones. I’ve never heard of cherry pits. I’m interested. How long do they stay warm? And what a great idea to Monogram them!

  131. Another thanks for a timely pasta salad recipe! I need a side dish for a potluck lunch meeting later this week and was thinking pasta or fruit salad. This is going to be it.

  132. Thanks Becky funnily enough the kale ( which I don’t really like but thought I should plant) is the one that has survived! And I think I was having a senior moment as I put an I on your name Brandy.

  133. The article said that armadillos dig their food out of the ground and will seldom eat a surface big or insect. So ripping up the ground under your plants to get worms, grubs, nematodes etc is not going to be beneficial to the plant in question.

  134. I’m a little late this week but I’ve read with interest how your family is doing. I’m so glad you found the questionable marks on your skin and went to the doctor. I’ll be praying for you that it is all well. I know you will be a little nervous waiting on the results of those tests. I’m not sure why things take so long.
    I’m glad you found the dresses for the girls -yes pockets I’ve found out are everything. I’m not sure how you do all you do Brandy as I find I can fall asleep on the couch after a long day.
    I’ve been harvesting the garden here quite regularly here. We are almost done with the season with just some mustard greens and pumpkins left. Oh yes there are three small watermelon out there but I’m not sure they are going to ripen.
    You can read the rest of my frugal ways here http://www.vickieskitchenandgarden.com/2018/09/my-frugal-ways-this-week-9918.html

  135. Oh Melissa, I so identify with you. We adopted a little doxie that had been dumped on a country road. She was limping (and continues to limp) and the initial vet exam had them thinking her front paws had been broken at the “elbow”. We took her to a specialist and it turns out she had poly-arthritis. So she’s on a special med and doing so much better! Yes, it is expensive but I have to say I just adore little Cara so much. She’s the sweetest little dog and has a sense of humor (yes, it is true!). So, some fun things planned have been put on hold and we’ve battened down the hatches.

  136. my son joined the marines last year and I, too, was grateful for all the pictures online. I was part of a facebook group for marine moms while he was at boot camp. I did not hear from him for most of his 3 months at Paris Island. He got some of my letters but not all and not in the order that I sent them (I numbered them). I’m glad you are going to his graduation. I was unable to since my husband did not want to go. I did not want him to be alone while others were surrounded by family but we were blessed that my SIL and her husband went down to share in his celebration (they are his godparents). I will continue to keep you in my thoughts & prayers during this difficult time.

  137. Glad you commented, and hope you are feeling better each day! We are an online group of friends and I especially look for comments from those who are always here.

  138. I hope you and your husband are doing better soon. I knew you had surgery but didn’t realize you needed chemo. I am glad that your family is able to help out. That is what family is for, good and bad. I will be praying for you and Brandy that you are both well soon.

  139. I remember (dare I say fondly) those busy days with children, school and life all jumbled together. I am a always so amazed by everyone here. It is a rather frugal throwback to remember how I was able to get free or bartered tutoring for my children. Our neighbor, a retired math teacher, tutored our children in math. Our daughter struggled in math and needed daily help. It was a great savings for us and provided company for her. I also exchanged tutoring with another parent. French exam prep in exchange for SS and English exam prep. Worked well for all of us without financial cost to anyone! The school I currently teach in offers a free after school program with late bussing for academic help.

    It has been another frugal week. We celebrated my son’s birthday earlier this summer when we were all together, but my son didn’t like his present. I returned his present and asked what he would like. He asked for an electric tea kettle and socks. As we avoid plastic, I looked for and found a stainless steel electric tea kettle on sale, with an extra 5% discount and free shipping when ordered with the socks. Saved half the cost of the rather expensive socks, and my son will have the kettle to take with him when he moves out after college! Win-win.

    I went to the thrift store looking for an item I didn’t find only to come out with two presents for my daughter’s Christmas stocking. She probably will not have enough time off this first year out on her own to make it back for Christmas, so I’m planning to mail her a stocking of presents and a gift card. I’ve cut the stocking out and just have to stitch it up.

    We did the typical money saving things this week that keep me sane. And, we finally have a clothes line up!

    All of our frugal endeavors are beginning to pay off. Breathing room is here. God is good and we are blessed.

  140. Brandy,
    I am sending my prayers out to you regarding your biopsy results and also for the homefront. There was a time in my life where I had 4 little ones 5 and under. There were points in time where I was just overwhelmed! What worked for me was to make a “minimum list”. This list included ONLY the things necessary to be done to make it to the next day. I had an additional list for items I would Really like/need to do if I had additional time. I also tried to make my life as simple as possible. I did this with extremely simple menus, I only decorated the house at Christmas time etc–whatever worked for my family. I look back at pictures of my kids during this time. There seems to be a mountain of clean, unfolded laundry in the background in most pictures. I guess washing made my short list but not folding–haha.
    The garden at my house is down to only carrots. My kids picked the last 30 some odd of cucumbers on Saturday which was good since the temp went down to 35 degrees that night and the next. We also pulled the string bean plants after my harvest last week. The onions are in my garage for now. I usually chop & freeze them but I need to defrost my chest freezer before Oct (We are buying 1/2 a cow and I need to defrost before). I need to put all my frozen string beans in the freezer over my frig so we are busy eating from the freezers to make sure it all fits. Now that the kids are in school I am fall cleaning. I want to clean the living room, kitchen and hall before the kids are on vacation. They will be off for 2 weeks for potato harvest. During vacation I plan to clean the upstairs bedrooms with their help. Continuing to be frugal in other ways but not keeping track. Working more on organization for the time being.

  141. Fiona – I just found the recipe last week on ourbestbites.com. If you go to the site and type in the search engine “Easy Hamburger Vegetable Soup” it should bring up the recipe for it. We really liked it. I ended up using a different vinegar because I didn’t have the one the recipe called for. And I didn’t add the corn. But everyone liked it at my house. Hope you enjoy it 🙂

  142. It is great that you respect her allergies and recognize the seriousness of anaphylactic reactions. People can wrongly be dismissive of the gravity of the allergy and just wrongly think it is like hay fever. She undoubtedly is allergic to all nuts and also to nutmeg. Most allergists will say nutmeg is not technically a nut but she can still be extremely allergic to it. I am severely allergic to tree nuts and to peanuts (which aren’t nuts) but I’ve never had problems with nutmeg. I will not go to any restaurant that serves peanuts and bread is a problem because of cross contamination of the slicing machine withe nuts and peanuts. Alas, now the flour used at certain bakeries can contain traces of shellfish of all things and peanuts. My favoutie Cobbs has a few products like that and I can no longer go there. I don’t think it is extreme at all for her for not to go into the houses where there are nuts. very, very wise. I myself am extremely allergic to ginger. I don’t go out to restaurants because of the severe reactions I have. Another problem is that in some cities (not in Italy) restaurants like to put Worcestershire sauce in the pizza and lasagne sauces. I feel sorry for your teacher and really sympathize with her.

  143. I had something non-frugal happen. My car was stolen out of my driveway Saturday night–a huge shock as I live on a dead end street in a quiet neighborhood. However, I still had the farm truck, a little Chevy, that I always have for hauling. I am grateful my father told me to always know how to drive a standard, and I am grateful I have that to get to and from work. I am determined to not let this ruin my week (I am a high school teacher). I also came home today and canned salsa. I love your blog, Brandi. Thanks for the inspiration from you and your readers.

  144. Just sending my best wishes for your biopsy results. And I think you need more sleep! It is not something to take lightly. Any way you could check in with the teachers at school for tips – sometimes they have ideas re. online resources, for example. That amount of homework seems excessive for their ages but maybe that is due to adjustment? Would your parents be willing to have the children over after school for supervised homework time? Or, until a routine for school is in place, can they go stay with your parents overnight on school days and have your parents get them up and out in the morning? If you were my daughter I would be worried about you right now and happy to do this. I could only wish for so many grandchildren and to have them live so close by 🙂

  145. We travel with one small roller bag each. It can be carried on, but some airlines will allow you to check luggage free if you have their branded credit card. I highly recommend this–getting the suitcase into the overhead bin gets harder every year. In Paris, I found a coin laundry right around the corner from our hotel. I had packed some laundry detergent tablets and a few dryer sheets in a zippy sandwich bag. This was a godsend as we had already been traveling for 10 days and everything needed washing. A few years later, traveling through Italy, I washed out a few items every night in the bathroom sink and hung it to dry in the shower. I just used whatever bar soap was there. We always had clean clothes. Washing clothes when traveling isn’t a big deal–there is always a way. Also, I always have a couple of plastic grocery sacks stuffed into my bag, and a few safety pins pinned to the lining. Learned that one from my late MIL when I inherited her luggage (really ugly flowered bags that absolutely won’t wear out, LOL).

  146. Brandy,
    I have two in school and two little ones at home so I understand a little bit where your coming from. I struggle to make dinner in the evening and I was shocked when I visited a friend and she made dinner after breakfast. She made everything and just re heated it later or got it ready to pop in the oven. Now I do the same thing as soon as I get the big ones off to school and it makes the evening rush so much easier. Another friend of mine told me that when I’m tired and defeated to put a smile on my face and not be tired. Im wishing you all the best during this transition.

  147. Brandy, what a full schedule you have! It must be a challenge to find just that right balance of getting chores done, spending necessary time with your kids, then finding time to rest.

    As I read a couple of your responses to some readers about finding the time to do dishes at breakfast, and perhaps at lunch too, and that you need to run the dishwasher 2-3 times a day for the dishes, I was wondering if you would consider using paper plates and plastic cutlery at these 2 meal times? The extra cost would be offset by not needing to run the dishwasher as often saving hydro and water. Only pots for the breakfast oatmeal etc. would have to be washed but then even those pots could be postponed being cleaned until the lunchtime pots and pans need to be washed. Any little change you do at each mealtime can add up to extra time doing something else.

    Also, when I know that I’ll be short on time during the week to cook, I’ll make a large batch of muffins, granola bars, biscuits or scones, pancakes and the like, on the weekend when the hubby is around to watch the younger ones (and in your case, you have extra hands from your older kids too.) Freeze the food, and use it for the breakfast meal on weekdays saving on having to cook anything during the week. Add your homegrown fresh fruit or fruit preserves/jam, or yogurt to round out these meals. If served on paper plates, they go into the recycle bin – no time loading or running the dishwasher required. Also, on the weekends, your older girls could help you make these foods, or even prepare them for you saving you from having to do it yourself, and freeing up your time.

    The same could be done for batch cooking soups, spaghetti sauces, chilis, bean and rice burritos etc. Freeze them in ziploc bags then defrost as needed to use for some of your lunch/dinner meals throughout the week. What about making a couple of casserole dishes on the weekend and set aside for Monday lunch or dinner? Or what about prepping vegetable sticks, boiling eggs, cooking/slicing cold ham, slicing cheese, making vegetable dips, making a large batch of crackers etc. on the weekend when your girls are home and can help you cook? Bake bread as well and freeze the loaves for throughout the week.

    The point is, perhaps using the extra hands available on the weekends can help make your life, especially during the week, a little less hectic for you at this stage. You can’t create more time, but changing the way you use it, changing the way you do some things (like using the paper plates for example) and having others help you, might be the key to getting you some much needed time and rest right now. Once you’re over the hump, you can rearrange the changes back to your normal routine and way of doing things. Just food for thought!

    Patricia, Canada

  148. Frugal in the Netherlands:
    I had a baking/cooking day last week and made an apple pie, a butter cake (that is the translation from google, it is not really a cake…more like cookies but then a large one) ( dutch: boterkoek), flour wraps to put in the freezer and lots of apple sauce.
    We got a ride to a funeral from my sister so a gave her the boterkoek and a pot of apple sauce.
    I watched an apisode of Victorian farm on youtube. Its a show from the BBC, I read about it on the blog, the ‘make do’ homemaker.
    My sister gave me some stewed pears, she got them from a friend and since it takes a long time of coocking, she cooked some for us at the same time. They where delicius. Made cucumber pickels and peeled more apples to put in the freezer for later use.
    Thats it for this week.
    Greetings from the Netherlands

  149. My parents don’t do things like that, but they have done something huge, and that is that they are taking our children to the bus stop in the mornings when they are available to do so. The bus stop is a half mile away. This gives me the chance to start school right away with those at home. They are also taking my 2-year-old several mornings so that he can help grandpa. They have never done anything like this before and it is wonderful.

  150. I have done 4 under 5 before, and just the other day was thinking fondly of how much easier things were when I had only 5 little ones instead of 9. It’s a whole different situation this time. Schoolwork is harder and more involved, and the meals involve making a lot more food. I am struggling to get the minimum stuff each day–laundry, food, and schoolwork. It’s a lot more of all three of those!

  151. We bought good quality backpacks that have a detachable day pack we can use as we explore the different cities. We will be moving around quite a bit with this trip and needed something we could easily slug on the buses, trains and airplanes as we travel from city to city. I anticipate I will find a way to wash clothes as we go along. I’ve already considered the possibility that I may need to wash some items in the hotel sink. Considering taking some sort of “clothes line” that I can hang them on, but haven’t decided if I will do that or not. Might take too much precious room in the bag. I’m pretty innovative, so I’m sure I will figure out something as we go. I ALWAYS take Ziplock baggies when I travel, as well as a couple plastic grocery or garbage baggies. We use them for packing lunch/snack items for the day and/or fill with ice for ice packs to keep food/drinks cold. The grocery/garbage bags are perfect when we need to pack up wet/damp items, like swimsuits that are not quite dry. I do like your idea of safety pins, though. I hadn’t thought of it, but will be using that idea in the future! I’m a pretty seasoned traveller…I’m just not familiar with these countries, so don’t know what will be easily available.

  152. Thank you for the Rev suggestion! I had recently tried driving for Lyft or Uber, but my car isn’t up to their standards-it’s over 10 years old and has 205k+ miles on it- although it’s very safe and reliable still. I am working through Rev’s application process today, and very grateful for a side gig I can do for home. This work will pay for our homemade and on sale Christmas gifts this year (we have BIG families). I’m also really enjoying your website and recipes as well!

  153. I do understand this is a life threatening allery, that she needs to be mindful of. However, I also have a daughter on the Autism spectrum that has limited food preferences due to all her sensory issues. Limiting what we can send to school also creates a bit of a headache for parents like me who deal with these issues. Yet we often don’t get much sympathy for what we go through. Always seem to be fighting these double standards in society.

  154. Prayers to you! Eventually you will get into a good new normal and I hope until then you are able to rest. I had a spot removed a few years ago that was suspicious and it ended up being the type that would have turned into skin cancer if left much longer, and the removal was deep. I get checked yearly now and I’m 43. And have fair skin. Keeping you in our prayers.

  155. Lillianna and Lisa from Maine – Please thank your sons for joining the military. If it were not for the service men and women, we not be enjoying the freedoms that we enjoy today. Also, thank you to the parents, spouses and other family members who wait at home for their loved ones. The military personnel and their loved ones never seem to receive the recognition and respect that they should. Just know that every time the military is mentioned a prayer goes up that the person is able to return home safe and sound.

  156. We have a dachshund named Lulu and she is wonderful. Things to know about this type of dog is to always keep their weight at ideal. The roly poly dog is not a healthy dog. Also they damage their backs very easily and even jumping off the sofa or bed should not be encouraged, or even out a high SUV or truck. Doggy stairways are useful for them to get on and off your bed if they sleep with you. Lulu is a senior dog now but she is just as perky as Freya, her little sister German shepherd. I am so glad you rescued Cara!!

  157. Tanja – I love to have a day just to cook & bake and I’m looking forward to having one soon as the weather finally cools down. I eat pears but they aren’t my favourite fruit – but – I love pear jelly & pear butter – I live in the city so no garden but I’m going to watch for pears on sale and see if I can get some done for the freezer.
    I loved the Victoria Farm – I’ve watched those episodes many times over. YouTube also has the “Victorian Kitchen Garden” series which you might enjoy as well.

  158. Hi, I am in Australia too and love to garden. Mine is so tiny, but I still make and sell things from it. How big is your garden? It sounds huge. My growing area is only 2 raised beds, each 2 meters by a meter. I added up what I sold last year and it came to about $1,100 of which about $700 was profit.

  159. I looked up the dutch name you gave for the butter cake on Pinterest and several pins came up (they do in fact call it a butter cake on there, too!). It looks so delicious and very simple ingredients. So I pinned one of the recipes to try sometime. Thank you for sharing, Tanja!

  160. I hired a 14 yr old to help me for 2 hours a week housework, 2 and a half years ago. She is now nearly 17 and at a local college. She is fantastic. As well as going to college, she now has 5 cleaning jobs (4 off them through my high praise of her) and has nearly got the money together for her first car in 3 months time. She is now part of our family. We all love her and that 2 hours is a big help.

  161. You are in my prayers, Brandy, Don’t know your family’s allergies, but it helped me tremendously that my kids could make their own lunches. For the past 30 yrs., unless there is something special going on, lunch is always peanut butter sandwiches. Maybe veggies, or fruit, maybe not. Kids could do it themselves. Few dishes required . By dinnertime, they happily ate what I made. For breakfast, how about crockpot oatmeal? Kids only have to bowl theirs and add a topping. Pan biscuits are simple, too. I use my homemade biscuit mix, add water, stir, pat into pan. Using floured knife, cut into squres or rectangles and bake. When done, cut through again, perfect biscuits, no hassle. Once I discovered pan biscuits, I have never gone back to roll and cut. Anything you can do to cut back on constant cooking and washing dishes will help. I only had 5 kids, but they were spread out over 18 yrs.

  162. I have been reading your blog for a long time but I have never commented. When I read the account of your day it reminded me of something one of my acquaintances said to me when I told her that I had some kids in school and was also home schooling some. She said, “We’ll, that is the WORST of both worlds.” I had to laugh. It is really quite true, but we also felt that it was best for some of our children to be home and some of them to be at school. I can encourage you by saying that after they get use to the school routine they will be able to do more of their homework by themselves. Hang in there!

  163. That’s awful! That happened to a friend of mine many years ago. Even more baffling was that they had a circular driveway so it was out in front of their big living room window….with the drapes open. and my friend asleep on the sofa! The police figure they released the brake and just rolled it out of the driveway and hot wired it around the corner. It was found a week or so later in a nearby store parking lot. The tires and bumper were gone, but everything else was okay.

  164. It is good to know leprosy is treatable but I don’t like the idea it might live in my soil! Bill carried the carcass on a shovel to the far back corner of the yard, a place Scooter never visits. The buzzards arrived at sunrise and enjoyed the buffet.
    This morning I avoided the area but I wonder when it will be safe? Vinegar would ruin the soil and make it too acidic. When we killed one last year, I waited about 2 weeks and threw all of the vegetables away into the burn pile, not the compost.

  165. They also dug up my carrots. They didn’t eat them but left them broken into small pieces on top of the ground. I think it might have gotten tangled in the netting I have over the tomatoes to keep the rascally racoon from eating them. If another returns, I might get more netting and use it to make the garden irritating to enter.

    It is always something.


  166. UPDATE: My cousin arrived to Nashville safely. Also, I was FINALLY able to reach Reese. He had been in a conference and had his phone turned off!!! He said what I expected him to say, “There is a hurricane coming this way? Really Mom? I didn’t know that.”

  167. Sounds like you are doing the best with everything you can right now and doing a very good job of it as usual.

    Only thing I can think of from my busy days is maybe making more absolutely huge batches of food on Saturdays (like 40-60 servings) and freezing more easy reheat one-pot or no pot meals in advance. That 4:00 to 6:30 (and beyond) time sounds exhausting when you add your sleep deprivation in. If you could be spared some of the cooking on some nights that would be something. We’ve done batch cooking with burritos and pasta sauce very successfully. Also baked good in batter form – I take them out the night before and just cook in the am and use for sides for breakfast and lunch for two days (muffins being a good one). If I was in your area (I’m in Canada) I’d offer to help with some cleaning because I know how stressful it can be when things get disordered and you are busy and tired and I only have four children – now teens/young adults.

    I also wonder if it makes sense to drop sewing projects for now until you feel like you have things more in order and have more sleep? Maybe wait for two weeks and hope you get to a homework routine that is shorter or maybe one less night feeding and then plan for Christmas gifts? Sleep deficits can really impact everything.

    And finally, you really are doing a remarkable job with great efficiency. It will come together for you soon I think.

  168. Thank you, Jeannie. The latest update has changed the path to a more southerly route. We’ll still get wind and rain, but not as scary as it was sounding. I hope it will not be as severe a storm as predicted.

  169. Brandi: I am hoping you will try to do this: after Octavius is off to Grandpas, and the others are occupied (hopefully!) if not call for silence.
    take time for Brandi, go outside and look at the sky, breathing slow deep breaths, empty your mind. Hold the baby if you must.
    Stretch yourself before going back in, reminding that you are going back to help create loving, kind people, who love you in return.
    10 minutes. that’s all, just 10 minutes. for you.
    Ann Lee S

  170. Prayers for you, Brandy. And your family, too.
    After a month or two, the homework situation should become less or easier for the children, both of which will be helpful for you, and the baby will sleep longer soon too. I was grateful to read in the comments that your parents are taking the children to the bus stop in the morning, giving you a bit more time in the morning to do other things you need.

    We had a year where the children had SO much homework (up to 3 hours a night in elementary school!) and we did eventually end up talking to the teacher and finding out there was a miscommunication about what needed to be done and when. If things don’t improve in a month or so, please do speak to the children’s teachers.

    Our family loves Lands End clothes and our daughter continued to request the dresses you bought after the school discontinued using them as part of the uniform. They are very comfortable and wear well. They also have excellent sales!

    I haven’t posted a frugal saving post this week on my blog, so here’s a few things we did this past week:
    Picked watermelons, winter squash and tomatoes from the garden.
    We used a sale combined with a coupon to purchase 3 pairs of much needed shoes for two members of our family.
    My husband and I each enjoyed a free meal at work one day.
    I froze zucchini, beets, peppers and tomatoes for later use.
    Pickled cucumbers – 4 quart jars to add to the pantry. YUM!
    We attended a 50th wedding anniversary party for some friends, enjoying the meal provided and the company. It was very lovely!

    I’m hoping to get a two week post up this week with more to share.
    Blessings to you and yours, Brandy. We will be praying for you all!

  171. My Oldest Daughter was a mother’s helper at 12. The mom had a 2 year old and 6 week old. She couldn’t function. She had had a very bad c-section and it took her a long time to recover. My daughter would go over and the mom could do laundry with help from my daughter, shower, cook. It was summer vacation so she was able to go for several hours a day. Then she started back to work so my daughter would come over and play with the boys while she did dinner and dishes in the afternoon. She lived 2 blocks away so my daughter could walk there and back by herself. She ended up babysitting the boys until she went away to college. We still talk to them all the time.

  172. Thank you Debora for your kind words. My 19yo son has wanted to join the military since he was 4. He wanted to follow in the footsteps of his grandfather who was in WWII and his 2 uncles who were in Vietnam. I am proud of him. He deploys this November so all prayers for his safety will be appreciated!

  173. It is tough to have life and death allergies and which are activated almost instantly. It is bad enough to react to something you’ve eaten, but it is awful to react just from being around something. I am grateful that I only developed really serious food allergies as an adult. When I was growing up, there was no awareness of the seriousness of the peanut allergy.

    I can sympathize with how hard it is to find food for your daughter to send to school. There is a lot more awareness of the autism spectrum now than several years ago but undoubtedly there’s a long way to go..

  174. You are right. I have 3 in high school right now and I’m more busy than than I thought I would be at this point. I only began my family when I turned 30 and had my youngest (she’s 9) at 44. At 44, I definitely did not have the same energy level. Continue one day at a time–I will continue with prayers.

  175. A friend of mine visited me with her granddaughter when I was in the hospital. The child was only in grade 2. Her grandmother asked me to help with her arithmetic homework. I figured it would be adding, subtracting etc. Instead it was very advanced and complicated. I asked her grandmother if the child could divide, add, subtract, etc. No.
    I was shocked.

    I sympathize with you that schoolwork is harder. I wonder if I would even pass school if I had to go today.

  176. Jo, LOL! I saw a bumblebee drunk on something fly into my glass door, hit the ground. I felt so sad for it but about 10 minutes later he picked himself up and flew off!

  177. I love boeterkoek! I love it so much I actually developed a recipe for it myself: http://approachingfood.com/boeterkoekjes-two-bite-almond-blondies-dutch-style/. I know authentic boeterkoek is slightly different, but this version holds me over until I have a chance to find some at the local Dutch imports store every few years. Mmm…such good memories associated with boeterkoek, such as tea time with my grandparents. Thanks for the reminder, Tanja!

  178. Yay! Thanks so much for the website feedback, Samantha! Am glad the rev.com suggestion helped. While the on-line transcription tool isn’t second nature to me yet, I’m sure with time both you and I will become very proficient at it. Best of luck earning your Christmas money! 🙂

  179. I didn’t save money this week. I finally got a renewed government identity card but was appalled it was $49.00. No-one really noticed (nor did I) that the old one had expired 3 years ago. I joked with the woman that I would only pay for it if I liked the photo. So she laughed when she saw the first photo and retook it! I gave up on making applesauce as it was murder on my arm and I could not do it with my good arm. So I have been washing and cutting the apple crabs and putting them in the freezer above the fridge. I will make sauce from them in a few months. I am looking at the bumper crop of mountain ash berries and am sorely tempted to stash a few of those away for jelly. I have never made jelly from them before.

    The forecast is for snow. I picked the pears from the tree. They are unripe but will ripen off the tree.

  180. The pears I am talking about are special stewe pears, I don’t know If that is Dutch or anything……The longer you cook them the more red they become.

  181. Hi Signerjack and well done on making so much money from your gardens too, it all helps with the budget 🙂 .

    We have 133 square metres of vegetable, herbs and berry gardens planted here currently and we grow enough vegetables for us to feed us all year round as well as sell our herbs and lavender which we dry on the internet too. There is another 50 square metre garden bed we don’t have planted at the moment due to the drought and water restrictions.


  182. Laurie, thank you for the recipe. I too use the lite Hellman’s. I mostly use canned pineapple as the fresh is seldom less than 3.99 per fruit. I like to buy fresh for a special occasion, though. I have all the ingredients and I will probably make it for an upcoming church potluck this coming Sunday.

  183. I read your blog fairly regularly, but almost never comment. I am often inspired by your posts and I love your photography skills. Thanks also for your periodic book recommendations. I share your enjoyment of mysteries.

    I am constantly astounded by what you accomplish every day, and your days only seem to get busier (and sleep rarer!). And yet you never seem to be rattled by your very busy life. I am sorry to say that there are moments that I have been less than gracious amid such busy-ness! I know these days you probably have precious free time, but I would be genuinely interested in a post sharing how (or even if) you practice self-care such as carving out moments for private/quiet/contemplative/prayer time, exercise, and so on. I get the sense that you are quite creative and that many of your hobbies are also quite productive (sewing, gardening). But how do you periodically create time out for you?

  184. Brandy, you mentioning all the dishes reminds me of a gathering on my husband’s side we went to last Fall. It was outdoors after the church service and they had many tables set up with those oilcloth tablecloths over them. All the food was in the center in platters and there were stacks and stacks of cloth napkins. The napkins looked to be made out of sheet material. Everyone sat at the tables and served their food either right onto the tablecloth in front of them or some used the napkin. It was all finger food; things like pickles, pre-made sandwiches of peanut butter and jam or ham spread, cookies and bars, whole apples and apple slices, grapes, cherry tomatoes and celery and carrot sticks, hard boiled eggs. Nothing that needed spoons or plates. Of course the men and older boys sit on their own and the women and girls and younger children sit together. The little children just sat in laps and ate right off the same “plate” as mother or older sister. Now I have been to other church lunches there and those were more normal, if you want to use that word. Just an idea for saving on dishes and dish washing. And it was fun!

  185. Long story short, I tripped at work last Friday, fractured my toe, hit my head, have two black eyes, and had a lovely trip by ambulance. I have always been clumsy but geez. None of the medical bills will be frugal. On the bright side, I got lots of rest while off from work three days and could not spend any money. My headache toe, and brain are slowly getting better…..lol. Hope you are able to get some rest soon!

  186. Amy, I went to ourbestbites.com and got the recipe, improvising a little to use up some leftovers, and it was really delicious. Thanks!

  187. We had unexpected last-minute guests for a long (Friday – Tuesday) weekend. This was not frugal [i]per se[/i]; but it cost nothing to have the extra room/bathroom ready, and in appreciation they graciously paid for meals for all of us, including extended family members who stopped by on several evenings. I asked if they wanted to do anything “touristy” and they didn’t at all – merely wanted to relax and visit with the family. They also asked to see pictures from our recent trip, which was awfully nice of them (they may have just been being polite, but if so they hid it well. 😉 ) We connected the laptop to the TV (the New Millennium version of setting up the slide projector) and spent lots of time looking at pictures, reliving a great vacation, and enjoying each other’s company.

    One of the evenings they were here, remembering one of Brandy’s recent posts, I put together a “baked potato bar” using what I had on hand – it was quick and frugal and people absolutely loved both the idea and the food. I got all sorts of raves for something that was quite easy. Thank you, Brandy, for the suggestion (and many others I’ve integrated).

    Since they left, I’ve made meals using up leftovers as well as what’s in the cupboards/’fridge/freezer. One success was the hamburger-vegetable soup mentioned by Amy S in earlier comments on this post (https://ourbestbites.com/easy-hamburger-vegetable-soup/), using ground beef, carrots, celery, tomatoes, onions, and cubed baked potatoes all left over from the potato bar. I am going to bake bread this afternoon with ingredients I have on hand – using my 25-year-old bread machine that is still going strong.

    I used water from warming up showers and rinsing produce to water the herb garden and potted plants. I cut herbs from the garden and used them for cooking as well as in bouquets around the house. I composted produce clippings and eggshells, etc. My husband and I consolidated a number of errands, saving time and gas (and stress). I used a Shutterfly “freebie” code to make a photo book that will be a gift to my husband. I began decorating for autumn using what I have in storage, instead of leading myself into temptation in the form of “just popping into Michael’s to look around”.

  188. I had no idea that mountain ash berries were edible and you coud make jelly from them! We have a tree in our back yard that my mom brought home from my grandparents house many years. They had a huge mountain ash tree in their front yard which resulted in tiny sprouts all over their yard. Our tree doesn’t have any berries this year. Now that I know about this, I will watch for them in the future and my have to try making jelly from them just for fun!

  189. I have had the combo where some are homeschooled, some in school. It’s a strange schedule, I felt like I was busy doing the “real” school day all day for the homeschooled one(s), then I would kind of start another whole “day” in the afternoon, when the other kids got home, and just be non-stop all evening also. I actually couldn’t handle it, having those schedules that are both so demanding, one following the other. Now, all my kids are in traditional schools- so I get everything I want done (and more) during the day, and gear up for when they get home, which is my busiest time, from like 2:30-10pm. As I type this I just finished dinner and cookies and they’re all trickling in. On the days I work (part-time), I’m now using the day before to prep for that also. I hope things ease up a bit for you. Kids will probably “get it” more as they get a few more weeks under their belt too- it’s a big change, regardless of the reason, good or bad- for any kid. Best wishes to you and the family!

  190. I also send up prayers for you, Brandy.
    That homework sounds like a real bear! I agree with others it will get easier as they get used to it. I guess they never have had after school homework before. We virtually never helped our children with homework, except with asking if it’s done or dictating a spelling list practice or occasional review questions the teacher gave out. We probably just lucked out but three of them achieved the top three rankings and the others were in the top 10 percent (classes of around 400). Maybe you could say, “I’ll help you with this subject tonight but you don’t need help with this one because I know you can do it on your own.” It’s so good that your husband helps too so it’s not like they’re just asking because they still think of you as their teacher.
    When you need more clothing for the girls, maybe they’d go for skirts, which could be the proper length, with the advantage of a variety of tops.
    Guess this sounds like a busybody but it’s not meant that way.

  191. There certainly hasn’t been much time for me lately! But that comes with having a new baby. Reading is the one thing I have been doing while nursing and getting to do that is nice. I am up early and when the baby is asleep during that time, I get a few minutes to be on the computer. I used to have afternoons free to sew, garden, and cook, but lately, we are doing schoolwork well into the afternoons. I’ve lost most chances I had to get work done for myself.

  192. Shirley, when you are homeschooled, it’s ALL homework 😀 You get it done during the day (unless you goof off) and your afternoons, evenings, and weekends are free. There’s no time wasted taking role, walking to classes, explaining to a classroom of 36-45–you just work with each child. Plus there’s no time going to and from school every day, which eats up a couple of hours each day all by itself.

    The curriculum is different than what we’ve done (besides the fact that they are learning new things this year) so they have to get used to learning what all of their teachers want. The history class that my daughter in has a LOT of homework; it’s a lot more work than we did in history each day, with tons to fill out. Their math program is very different than what they are used to; it’s not just new stuff, it’s totally different material. English is different, too–the curriculum is different. My son has to find pictures for every vocabulary word online and paste them into his work in addition to defining the word. He had a hard time the other day finding an image for “grimace” because all he got was Grimace, the strange purple McDonald’s character! His geography class has similar requirements with online photos and multiple examples, and links to websites are required. He can do that on his own but it takes quite a bit of time. My daughter is taking orchestra and has 30 minutes of practice as well as her regular homework.

    It’s school all day and then school all evening and night, during the time when I am cooking for 10 from scratch. They’ll get more used to doing it on their own and understanding what they are supposed to do with such a different curriculum. I like what they are doing and it’s actually less homework than I had at their age. I actually love my daughter’s history assignments, even though they are long.

    Plus, I have a 4-month-old nursing baby, which makes it pretty impossible to get dinner on the table without any other influences.

  193. Just got it back. It was filled with dirty clothes, and a terrible smell. It was left in a Walgreens parking lot across town. We are kind of sad, though, because it was filled with children’s clothes, empty wallets, and I am sad because it smelled of poverty and despair. I really tried to not feel anger about this situation. I was almost more concerned that people are driven to do this.

  194. We spread our kids out over 18 yrs. The older ones had afterschool until late evening extra -curricular sports, music, dance, theater. If I had a dollar for every hour I sat in a parking lot, nursing, helping middle kids with homework, I would be rich! I found that my kids needed intensive homework help in grades 1 &2, 7 &8, and then only occasional help with papers in high school. I am sorry you are burning the candle at both ends, but I did see it coming, with your kids’ public school homework. On the frugal front, I finally got around to shortening, narrowing, and re-hemming 6 great quality brands jeans I got from the thrift store for 50c each. I am slightly petite, and when buying regular pants, I have to cut 2 1/2-3 inches off, then re-hem. It is a pain, but who can pass up dollar jeans with my senior half-off discount? Continuing to pick and freeze bell peppers. Baked 2 big pans of vegan, pumpkin chocolate chip bars for a retirement party at hubby’s work. Everyone loved them. When he didn’t bring even a crumb home, I had to make more for us. I am so ready for cool, fall weather!

  195. Rhonda, I believe that mountain ash trees are called rowans in Great Britain. While reading a back-to-the-land book about Wales, I learned that rowan berries are used for jelly that is usually used as a condiment for meat.

  196. It sounds like they are already getting the hang of what’s needed a bit. Hang in there! I think sometimes people don’t realize, unless they’ve done it, how much actual grunt work is involved in having a large family and cooking from scratch. And, that if the children are to do a good job on their school work, they have to put in the time to do it–and that often means NOT helping with household chores to the same level as they would if they had more hours in their day at home.

    In the past, there have been some people who thought that because I homeschooled I had all day to do just what I wanted and expected me to have lots of spare time to “go to lunch” or “take time for me”. They did not realize how many hours I spent doing school. It never worked for my kids to be handed some books and told to “just go do your work.” We mistakenly tried that with the first 2, years ago, before homeschool was popular and mainstream. (In those days, you really didn’t even talk about it much, as it was very frowned upon in many places, and some people were getting in trouble for it in some states.). Boy, did those kids teach us:). I think one of the most helpful things my husband ever told me once, when I was lamenting that I couldn’t get my laundry/dishes/etc, done during school hours was that he had never heard of a teacher who left the room and was not available to the students when they needed instruction or help, or tried to do chores while teaching, and that it probably wasn’t going to work for homeschool, either. So, over the years, it ended up that when we did school, I just stayed with the kids and we did school. Occasionally, I would leave the room and do a small chore like change the loads, but mostly, I stayed and was involved with them. I agree that it takes less hours in a day to do homeschool, then public school. I love how when you are done, you are done. I found that focusing on school hard for a few hours a day was usually sufficient, but I never had the kind of kids I only read about who grabbed their books with glee, and ran off to the other room to teach themselves math, science, or whatever they were studying. Mine always needed guidance and direction, and often, to be read aloud to, or to take turns reading out loud, and then there was discussion of the material. Correcting is another things that has to be done that takes a lot of time. The more grades that are being taught, and the wider the age span, the harder it is to get all this done. For many years, I did not have much “me” time. It simply took every spare minute to meet the needs of my very large family, cook, do school, and whatever part-time work I was doing at the time. Years ago, when I was cooking for 11 (extended family like my 2 grandmothers who needed daily meals, plus family), I would often spend entire days baking, putting together casseroles, shopping, preparing meats and picking, cleaning, and maybe canning garden vegetables, only to have it all gone in 1-2 days, and then I needed to do it all again! In those days, we always said there was no bad food decision–any new recipe I tried got slicked up by someone. I still love cooking for a crowd, and struggle to keep the amounts I cook reasonable for this small crew. I wouldn’t trade that part of those days for anything–I have many good memories from those times, even though sometimes it felt like a blur!

    Every person is different in the way they handle things. Brandy, I just want to encourage you again, that you seem to be handling things beautifully, but doing the right thing is not always the easy thing, but it is often so rewarding:) I’m glad you are getting to read some books in your spare moments. I’m glad you are getting to give attention to the ones that are doing school at home, and the ones that are going to school. I’m glad you can pursue some of your passions of gardening, blogging, and reading even in the midst of these busy times.

  197. Brandy, I appreciate your lengthy answer, especially since your spare time is so limited. I can certainly see how there’s no simplistic answer such as “do it yourself.” That homework involving an online picture for each word and also in other subjects plus links to websites sure sounds excessive. Do they figure each child has their own computer and are not tying up the family computer? Or maybe they do give out computers, but millions of us have learned the language without illustrating each word. Maybe there will be conferences soon giving you a chance to address your concerns.
    I sympathize with you and am continually amazed at all you accomplish. It’s just bound to get somewhat easier as time passes. Wishing you and your family the best!

  198. The school issued each child a computer. I don’t love the search assignment, though–every time you are doing an online search for something, no matter what it is, there are always unsavory images that have nothing to do with what you are looking for. The school computers block a lot of sights, but I know whenever I’ve looked for things, it’s always a risk.

  199. Funny which grades you mentioned; the ones in school are in 1st, 7th, and 8th!

    Our children are not as spread out as yours; I have 9 ages 16 and under.

    I honestly don’t know how people fit in lots of after school things and get homework done. I know some people who do that don’t have dinner until 9, in two separate cars after each of their three children have finished sports every night. I am glad we still sit down at the table together for dinner.

  200. No, I fell in my office, which is in the courthouse, but I did go to court yesterday, limping, with two black eyes. The judge, jokingly, told the defense attorneys to quit beating up on me…lol.

  201. We had snacks in the car, but most of the time we managed to get the vast majority of us sitting down together for dinner. In fact, my 28 yr. old daughter just recently thanked me for how we made that a priority, no matter the schedule. I don’t think most families do eat at the table anymore. And thus, most kids these days have no clue what good manners are. Family life has changed so drastically in the last 50 yrs.

  202. LOOK UP TIP–For that assignment that requires the child to look up a picture for every word, try using different tenses of the word as search tools. For instance, try “grimacing” for a picture of “grimace,” not of Grimace!

    Good luck, Brandy. My money’s on you for making this work!

    PS There are some great pictures of President Trump grimacing or grimaced, LOL.

  203. We had bugs and such eating the roots of the plants, so once they came into eat once I didn’t have a major bug problem for several years after that.

  204. I was reading comments…someone fell at work and said the bill will not be frugal. Please know your employer is responsible for that injury! I worked in workers compensation for years.

  205. Hi Tanja, I have a pail of tiny pears but with thick skins. Are your pears stewed with the skins on and then put through a mill?

  206. Rhonda A.
    Don’t eat the raw berries as they contain a toxic substance which is converted to a non-toxic one when boiled. I was always told not to eat them (which is right, raw) but in looking on the ‘net and realizing that, as Maxine says, they are called rowan berries, I realized I could make jelly from them. Most recipes say to add apples. Other things that I have read say to let them have a day or two of frost before harvesting as that will make them less bitter.

  207. Becky – your words ‘doing the right thing is not always the easy thing’ really resonate with me today. It is so comforting to know that we are not alone in trying to do the right thing even when it costs us emotionally.

  208. Brandy if you want basic dresses in solid colors maybe check out primary.com. Their basic clothing items like pants and shirts are unisex and can be handed down to both boys and girls.

  209. This week’s frugal accomplishments. I’m not as frugal as I used to be, but I did find a nice Baker Milling Road chair on Craigslist that has been recently, nicely recovered in my favorite neutral cream with dull gold dots for $40 plus the gas to go and get it and bring it home, which admittedly, was substantial, but so worth it. I was thankful our grownup son was home to help load and unload the chair. I am grateful to the family who “gave” it to us. It is already making a huge difference in our living room. Even though it looks immaculate, I still want to clean it thoroughly though. Fortunately, we have a carpet/upholstery rug doctor machine we found on Craigslist a few years ago that needed only the huge amount of dog hair cleaned out of it. I want to crochet a chair set for the new chair, if anyone has any ideas for a pattern. For now, I will put a prayer shawl a friend knitted for me over the back, and cut a cream and black toile print kitchen hand towel in two for the armrests. I am still looking for other furniture pieces and would love to find some real art for the walls. My son helped me can some peaches, some I picked and some I bought from a fruit stand. They were high-priced, but we love the flavor. We made juice with a borrowed Champion juicer from a relative to can the peaches in because one person has diabetes, but the flavor is so much better. I also borrowed an electric canner from the extension office. I like it because I can set it by the sink and turn the knob to drain the boiling water from it without lifting the canner. This time I used the Ball brand canner that can also be used to cook in, but it holds only seven jars. I think I prefer the Weck electric canners the extension office also loans. They will hold nine jars and smaller jars can be stacked two levels high. I am canning in pints now; we tend to waste part of a jarful when we open a quart. A few more pint canning jars for $.69 found at Goodwill were added to my stash. I also found a silk blend turtleneck and a red jacket that is washable for myself at Goodwill. One item was half off, and I try to shop on Wednesdays for the Senior discount. Since the jacket has black buttons, I think the two items will go with the black pants I already have. My husband and I started taking a Diabetes Undone seminar in person. We found the seminar awhile back online, but didn’t sign up because it was not free. By going to an in-person class, our insurance will pay for one of us to go, so we have to pay for only one. It is good to know that Type II diabetes can often be reversed. We shopped for some items to add to what we have at home to make recipes found in the class recipe book. My husband and son carpool to work together because they work in the same town. My son drops my husband off and then goes on to his work. My son got off work earlier than my husband, so this summer he picked wild blackberries at some publicly owned property. I put the berries on a cookie sheet to freeze without washing them. After they are frozen, I put them into freezer bags. I rinse the frozen berries lightly in a wire mesh screen colander before using them. I like the way the berries stay intact and retain more flavor this way, and the picking area is not near a dusty area or near the road where exhaust, etc. would be a problem. A favorite recipe of ours is Blackberry Buckle which has flour, sugar, baking powder, milk and berries in it. I substitute Stevia granules for half the sugar and leave out the other half of the sugar for one batch. Another way we like blackberries for pancakes or waffles is to thicken the juice off of canned pears with tapioca in a pan on the stove, and then when the juice is thickened, add the blackberries, put a lid on the pan, and turn off the burner to let the berries thaw. We also have, in the past, tutored children till late. It was really exhausting to keep those kind of hours even though we were not up in the middle of the night with tiny babies at that time. I really feel for you. After our daughter grew up, she told me that she had saved all her work at school and brought it home to have my husband and I help her with it because sometimes she didn’t understand the teacher’s explanation and was too shy to ask the teacher for help, and also the noise in the classroom bothered her, and she could not think or concentrate on her work. She said, “Maybe I had a little bit of an attention deficit or something.” I don’t think so; I think she was used to having things quiet at home. I have to have it quiet if I am going to learn something totally new or difficult for me. I wished I had known what was going on with her while she was in school. The teacher might have been able to help her. Well, best wishes to you. I think you are amazing.

  210. Brandy,
    I am praying for your schedule. I completely understand having to rearrange family stuff at the begging of the year. My oldest son is doing running start(colleges classes at the local community college) and he has no transportation. Two of the children are practicing basketball at 6:30 in the morning, 25 minutes away from us, so we had to hustle to figure out the schedule. It will still be a couple of weeks until we get into a rhythm. Since I work in the same industry as your husband and my market is down too, I am really working hard to get our budge lower. That said, here is what we are doing to save money:

    -Made Brandy’s delicious black bean burgers from beans we buy in bulk at a local restaurant supplier.
    -Repurposed tomato juice into tomato soup.
    -Accepted a gift of a 6 months scholarship for 3 basketball teams and training for my youngest son, who loves to play basketball.
    -Cooked most but not all meals during the week.
    -A company I work with is sponsoring my lunch and learn class next week by providing lunches for my guests.
    -Taking advantage of points I have for a free bag of coffee from a company I order from, we paid for an additional bag to get free shipping.
    -Tried to use the Electric Car as much as possible because it is far cheaper than the Large SUV
    -Was able to negotiate and almost 20% discount for work on our gas vehicle. The radiator blew out and we had some other long over due repairs to the brakes, thermostat and the front springs. I shopped it against a smaller repair shop and with the extra oil changes, the rental car and the 20% discount the dealership was about $1,000 lower. Pays to shop on the bigger items that you cannot do yourself.
    -Turned a homemade muffin recipe into protein chocolate chip bread. The kids ate it quick.
    -Accepting a volunteer job to learn how to do taxes. Really excited to get this skill for myself and to provide a service for the elderly.

  211. The early morning class is likely seminary–a scripture study class for high school students. I’m pretty sure it’s an admission requirement for the school Winter is going to, and her siblings may follow her there. It’s also a church obligation that Brandi and her family feel is important. I did it myself. It is tough, but it was worth it for me. I stayed up very late finishing homework in high school as well. It’s hard to say what the answer is to the sleep dilemma, because it will be different for every family/child.

  212. Clark County policy is supposed to be 10 minutes of homework per grade, so 20 minutes for first grade and middle schoolers would have 90 minutes of homework at most. Except special projects and high school, there is not supposed to be any homework on weekends and holidays. If they have significantly more than that (that is not clearly related to using a new curriculum), I’d contact their teachers.

    I second the suggestion of inexpensive paper plates for the short term (perhaps you can use Swagbucks to buy them on Amazon?). Another idea is DIY instant oatmeal “packets”. You make up a big batch with quick oats, powdered milk, cinnamon and brown sugar (Google for recipes). Store it in a big canister/glass jar. Scoop out a serving into each bowl and add boiling water (or microwave). You can add raisins or canned fruit. Heating up a tea pot would mean no cooking dishes from breakfast.

  213. We have been home from vacation for a week. A very busy one.
    Our garden produced abundantly while we were gone. I boxed up what we didn’t need and shared with others then donated the rest to the mission.
    I have spent the week canning peaches, salsa and filled green beans. Made apple juice and sauce for the freezer as well as many packages of peaches for the freezer.
    Today I picked tomatoes again. I’ll make bread and butter pickles and can tomatoes tomorrow.
    I spent all afternoon today mending and hemming clothes for my widowed brother. Next week we plan to use his vacation house at the lake for a few days if I can get my canning finished.
    We only eat from home. Laundry washed in cold water and hung on the line to dry. Hubby has been doing yard work and finishing a new roof on the chicken coop. My girls have teased me in the past for my thrifty ways but as long as I can keep them up we get a treat like the lake house trip now and then without worrying about how to pay for it

  214. My first-grader is supposed to be at a homework-free school. Her homework is: 4 pages of math problems (not very many per page) for the week. She is supposed to learn 25 sight words each week, which means significant studying time. She is supposed to learn an additional 10 phonics/spelling words. Those words are supposed to have an activity every day, which takes significant time. Each week the list of things are different, but they are things like write all the definitions of the words (she can’t read yet, so I think this one is odd), write the words with pasta/cereal,beans/shaving cream, etc.) and so forth. Then she has a reading page that she is supposed to read each day with 6 words at the top. She is also supposed to read with us 15 minutes a day, plus spend 10-15 minutes on two websites doing math and reading activities. She also has an upcoming speaking assignment.

    Here is what we are doing with her: Sight words every day morning and afternoon, going over them several times. We read the page with her each day and sign it off. I have her do all of the math problems Monday afternoon. Each day I continue to give her a reading lesson from the reading book I would have been using anyway to teach her to read. I am not doing the websites as they require log-ins and usernames from the school which they did not give us. I am having her write the spelling/phonics words five times each. It takes more time than I was spending with her doing school each day at home–and when we were having school at home, she had 6 pages of math each day with 10-20 problems per page that were much harder math than she will do at all this year. It’s different, but we’re trying it out.

    My middle-schoolers have more homework, too, plus studying for tests. Perhaps the policy thinks they can get it all done in class, but my children are not finishing in class, and my daughter says it is almost impossible to concentrate in history class, where 35 students are yelling during the entire class period. She has the most homework in that class. I like what they’re being assigned, even though it’s time-consuming.

  215. Part of teaching assignments using the computer is teaching children that they need to learn what sites/information is appropriate to look at and which are not. The reality is most jobs these days use computers and most companies have policies that ensure the computers are uses for appropriate, work related activites. They can and do get fired if they are not following these policies. I know they are just children, but they have to learn how to navigate the internet at some point. You’ve taught your children well, Brandy. Now it’s time to trust they will do the right thing with on-line assignments (with you checking randomly that they are;))

  216. One time visiting the garden, I could handle, every night is devasting. Another one has appeared and is tearing up the ground every evening. Jennifer, imagine finding about 20 holes one foot wide and one foot deep scattered throughout your garden. Then imagine it happening every evening – that is the destruction I am facing. If only they would stay in the woods behind my house or in the fields or if they would only dig in the garden area that is lying fallow. They are welcome there but instead they prefer the soft, tilled soil under my vegetables. I would prefer the grubs and bugs to armadillos any day.

  217. Could your son just take a picture of something if he can’t quickly find an example on the web? (I’m sure someone in your family could easily grimace for him. 😉 ) It might not work for every vocabulary word, but it could save some precious time in situations like the example you gave. You might have him ask his teacher.

    You might also ask the teacher if he/she has any prescreened websites that the students can go to first in their research as opposed to just “googling it.” (You may even have some website resources from your homeschooling that the kids could use.) That might help in terms of both unsavory images and the time lost as kids invariably go off on numerous rabbit trails. It also helps students to learn to recognize reliable resources.

  218. Snow flurries and snow! Time to rescue the hoses. I went to the Rock Garden Society meeting and heard a great talk and slide show on Wildflowers on the Silk Road. I won one of the raffle draws and received a small pot of succulents. The really nice thing is that it fits perfectly into a terrarium I bought on sale a couple of years ago and which I’d had problems finding a pot that would fit. I also came home with 2 lovely home grown apples which were part of the refreshments. A friend brought me a little sweetgrass from his garden which I will give to an acquaintance as a thank you gift.

  219. Yes, exactly. I thought the same and it was the total opposite. Hope that homework load lightens up for them. That would help them AND you. Best wishes!

  220. Another set of Land’s End Dresses you may wish to check out for your daughters’ Brandy:

    These have more colors and do come to knee length (or you can order the long/tall length rather than the regular, if you’re not sure how long they are). I have purchased the adult version several times and just love them for casual wear.

    I hope your week has gone well! Still praying for you all.

  221. My mother used to freeze her spaghetti sauce in metal ice cube trays then pop them out and put them in a ziplock bag. It was a really convenient way to do it as you could use only one or two cubes if you needed to do so. I’m sure sure knew exactly how many she needed for her usual dinner.

  222. Margie,

    All you need to do is find a senior who has a pear tree in the yard who would let you pick them. Here, there is a bumper crop of fruit, mostly crabapples. Someone has a cider making company and they were offered hundreds of pounds for the picking. the company then donates a portion of the cider back to low income or seniors. Ann

  223. My husband’s car was stolen 4 days before we got married. He question every one in the house did they hear anything. His step mom said only the garbage truck. His brother said there was no garbage pickup that day. We laugh about it now. They did find the car 6 months later. It was really bad but the guy was arrested.

  224. If you got hurt at work it should be fully covered under workmen’s comp. You personally shouldn’t have any medical bills. They will also pay you for any days you missed if you don’t get paid days off. This is if you live in the USA. Sorry you got hurt. Feel better.

  225. Most people I know that do lots of after school activities are eating takeout 4 nights a week. They are giving their kids lunch money and ready made breakfasts such as Eggos. You cook everything. Give yourself a break. You are doing an amazing job. Also on the music lessons. Most kids I know did not practice 30 minutes a night.

  226. Brandy,

    Just a thought, but I was wondering if your kids would qualify for a homework lab or tutoring after school where they could get help with their homework, or at least get some of their major questions answered? Some schools offer this for free. That might help you be a little more free in the evenings.

  227. That seems like an insane amount of homework! I have kids in 12th, 9th, 7th, and 4th grade and have never had them have that much homework.

    You have probably already done this, but I have found it helpful to meet with or email with the teacher about concerns. Most teachers are happy to talk and help. Sometimes the teacher doesn’t realize how much time homework is taking and they may make some adjustments or give some helpful pointers.

  228. Hi

    Pinterest is great for free crochet patterns. Also the website-Yarnutopia ( her story is also inspiring). Don’t know if she has a chair set though. You could also check Ravelry.

  229. Hello

    Very late this week. I wish you all the best for the biopsy results Brandy. Haven’t commented for a while so this is me catching up.

    With regards to schooling- I think that everyone has the right to make their own choice. I pay fees and have had to fend off overt and covert criticism of that for years. Could go on about this but actually made the decision some time ago that I did not have to justify my choices to anyone so now I don’t engage. I think the overwhelming majority of parents have their children’s best interests at heart and make the best choice they can.

    Just also wanted to say that I love reading the comments from people all over the world, the more detailed the better. I really enjoy reading about aspects of your lives that are so different to mine. I can’t imagine having to protect my veggies from an armadillo! In a way these sorts of deatails not only confirm to me how varied our world is but also how similar we all are when you get to the important things. I find it fascinating. Please tell me about your life! I enjoy these almost as much as the blog posts.

    Brandy with regards to the homework- my 6 year old gets reading every night. Teacher was very clear with us at the ‘curriculum evening’ ( I find that funny when talking about a 6 year old) that 2-3 pages read well was much more important than the number of pages being read. She also gets 10 spelling words, 5 of which to be used in sentences ( with capital and full stop). She gets 2 pages of maths sheets ( easy this week) and online maths ( don’t have it set yet- is set on Mondays). The spelling and maths is per week ( given out Fridays returned Thursday). They have a weekly spelling test ( have had these for last 2 years). I have 2 older children so have knocked round the schooling system for years. If teachers inadvertently give too much homework ( usually problem happens if someone gives homework on a day that is not ‘their’ homework day or if 2 people get a little over enthusiastic on same day) or something big happens at home then a clear note from a parent in the homework diary solves the problem ( with a promise to do it by a certain date). Another thing parents in a year can do is form a parental WhatsApp group- very useful for homework issues. If a lot of people are having problems usually a parent at drop off or pickup will approach the teacher who can explain the homework ( to the parent who shares it/explanatory photo with the group) or listens to the issue and offers a solution( also shared). I assume there are also parental reps for year groups who can raise issues if they become significant. Parental WhatsApp groups are very good for teachers end of year presents- we all donate to buy vouchers for them. Everyone giving a little usually gives a very nice amount for vouchers. We also buy a plant/ flowers and a big card everyone signs ( can send in note or email it to whomever is organising who sticks it in the card). Usually someone volunteers to organise this. You don’t even have to see each other for the money- can transfer to the person online.

    With regard to frugality- horribly unfrugal time. Big bills and then 18 year old car needed a lot of work to get through the MOT- which cost a lot of money. I have a second 20 year old small car which I am keeping for my son ( worth less than £100) which I used to get to work while the other one was in the garage. I have thought about getting rid of this car a few times ( petrol I would use anyway in driving but it is an extra MOT/ Road tax and insurance cost every year) but it is times like these I am glad I’ve kept it. I also prefer driving it in the crowded London streets. It would not hold up to being used for the longer faster work commute regularly. The mechanic ( whom I have known for over 10 years) has told me that the bigger car is showing signs of age. He appeared doubtful it would last the 4 years longer I would like it to last. So I’m cosseting the bigger one and using the smaller one as much as possible. I really don’t want the expense of a new car.

    I am proud of myself as I have used my pressure canner for the first time! I made 10 pints of chilli con carne which are now sitting on my shelves. I did also make jam but had to buy the fruit for that. My garden did not produce well this year.

    I have also bought foods in bulk and we are living off this with just fresh veg and milk being bought. Hopefully this will keep costs down. All 3 of my children are taking packed lunches. My son was very clear he wanted to do this again. He has not had a choice for the last 3 years and did gain a lot of weight which he is losing. Previously he took packed lunch. He is easy as he likes to have the same sort of items. I freeze ham or cheese on pitta bread for them and put the frozen sandwich into the bag where it defrosts ( staying fresh that way) and is ready to eat at lunchtime. They take water and schools have previously mentioned frozen juice / water bottles are great ‘icepacks’. Don’t fill them too full as water expands when it freezes. Their lunch bags are either these sandwiches or warm leftovers/ bulk cooking in an ancient thermos ( goes through dishwasher although an pretty certain wasn’t on the care instructions). I add the water and fruit/ veg and homemade muffins. Going to try to make homemade granola bars as well. I also freeze burritos for my son’s breakfast. I estimate that I save £500-600 a term by giving them packed lunches. This is a winner for me.

    Well that’s all from me. Thinking of you Brandy.

  230. I have very rarely posted, I think the last time was over on blogger, but I have been following your lovely blog for years, it inspires me and you inspire me. I want to send you positive thoughts in what must be a stressful time. Stay strong Brandy x

  231. Hello Elizabeth,
    Do you have to have previous experience as a transcriptionist? I need to earn a little extra income as I am right now a stay at home mom.

  232. I don’t know if this would work for you or not, but we have a fairly simple way to make applesauce. I slice the apples (skins still on), cook them, and then put them in the blender (you do need to be careful to let them cool a bit before blending). Then I process them in their jars. It saves me from having to peel and mash them all. Best of luck with your arm.

  233. Tina S.
    I too love Italian prune plums and wonder what you do with them? I stew them. I wash them, pit them, and freeze them. On a cold winter’s day, they are great warm and stewed.

  234. When my kids were younger, I would pack a cooler full of food on nights we were going to be out. If it was soccer practice, scouts, whatever, we’d find a park somewhere. (If we were at the soccer field, we’d arrive early.) We ate dinner together at a picnic table, and then help the ones with homework while the younger ones played. Husband and I would alternate who got to play and who got to help with homework. We were close by where everything was going on, met a lot of other parents who ended up bringing coolers of their own and we’d watch each other’s kids. It was a fantastic opportunity! It was crazy, but now that my kids are all grown and out of the house, I really miss it!!!

  235. Brandy, I have had skin cancer. The good news is, it’s treatable if caught early. I’ve got a nice scar running the length of my nose from the last bout of skin cancer. I’m proud to have it! It means I’ve survived, and I’m still here! Waiting is scary – no doubt about it – but you’ve got this. Don’t think about the “what ifs”. Concentrate on the “I’m gonna’s”. (Things I’m gonna do that I’ve always wanted to do.. as soon as I can.)

  236. Hi Brandy! You have a lot on your plate and I will be praying for you! Your comments on the homework brought back so many memories…..as a working mom I would be so exhausted at the end of the work day and need to make dinner and do laundry, but my boys (both college graduates now) had SO much homework that I needed to help with and my husband could not help due to a very lengthy commute to and from LA each day. Both attended top rated public schools for our state, but it was relentless and (to be honest) I sometimes found myself feeling resentful but it was what worked for our family at the time. Wishing you all the best in this new chapter of life….stay positive as I know you can! XO!

  237. Hi Brandy,

    I will pray for you during this extremely busy time. I know you are uber organized, and probably don’t need any suggestions, so please disregard if you want to. I am recouperating from surgery, but before I went in I prepared crockpot meals for the freezer. Basically chop everything up, add seasonings etc. and place in large ziplocs and freeze. I got alot of recipes from the New Life Wellness blog. It sure makes evenings easier. Also, after being up every night with my first born ( for four years!), I decided to schedule all subsequent children’s feedings. I used the schedule/ideas in ‘Babywise’ book. It’s not the only was of course, but worked for me at the time.
    God bless,


  238. I have also used shredded zucchini in stew and shepherds pie for just that reason, It adds to the nutrition, the bulk of the dish, it thickens and it does not add any flavour. I add zucchini whenever possible. The teenagers in my home feel that chocolate zucchini cake is the best and only way to eat zucchini. While I love the way it makes cake moist I love adding it to our meals more, in ways where they can’t even recognize it. I feel so sneaky!

  239. Brandy..
    I was laughing while reading your comments about not having time. I love your blog cause you give me an insight to being a stay at home mom, (which I always wanted, but have never been able to be) I think it is funny when you say you do not have time to get stuff done and being up late helping the kids with school, cooking etc. Welcome to my world. it is very refreshing to heard this.

    When it comes to things like school concerts, we need a white shirt black pants. dress shoes ETC. My kids wear mine, it is only for a couple of hours and I am not buying some thing they are going to wear sitting down for 2 hours!Schools here can be insane with some of the “rules” and ” things they need” I had to send in 6 boxes of tissues this year for one child.
    Will be sending some prayers up for your test results. But I know that it will all be fine.

    Sue in NJ

  240. I am a state employee. There is a different system for us in this state, but you are correct about that regarding private employees.

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