We put out our Christmas decorations this week. For us, that means pulling out a faux Christmas tree, a nativity, a bit of faux greenery, stockings, and three wreaths. This year I added to those things with three new wreaths–the one I posted over the bed last week, and two that I made this week for the front doors (detail above; I bought supplies 50% off several weeks back).

I moved the wreath that used to hang on our front door to above the stove. I made that one the first Christmas that I was married. My mother-in-law brought over the wreaths and decorations for the wreaths to our apartment for all of my sisters-in-law and myself. We made them together and it was a great way to feel part of my new family.

For the past several years I’ve had to hot glue parts of the wreath back on. This year was no exception. I added two pinecones to it this year to replace a broken one and a missing one.

I made some new smaller stockings using dropcloth that I already had. We now have enough for the family.

My daughter had her birthday this week. I made her a dress using fabric that I had on hand and I made a doily bunting for her using ribbon and doilies that my mother-in-law gave to me a few years ago.

I watched a large part of a Creative Live free rewatch of a food photography class. I had been able to see some of the class earlier this year but I was able to watch a lot that I had not seen. Some of it was just listening as well. I was thrilled to be able to have a laptop to take with me near the sewing machine; I listened while I made Winter’s bunting.

My husband worked from home several days this week. I cut Swiss chard from the garden for the soup.

I cooked a turkey and a ham this week. We sliced the ham for sandwiches. I made French bread twice this week (8 loaves) and we used that to make our sandwiches. I also used homemade Italian dressing on them.

I also made soup, balsamic orange vinaigrette, pasta salad, crepes and cookies.

I ordered a picture for Wren’s room using a free downloaded image from The Graphics Fairy and using a free 8 x 10 code from Walgreen’s. This will be a Christmas gift for her.

My husband and I watched a couple of shows together on Hulu. We also had a date night at home after the children were in bed; we played a card game.

I didn’t buy anything last week.

What did you do this week to save money?

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  1. we are in the midst of a big and quick decision move to Florida. The biggest frugal thing we have done is cut the cost of our truck rental from 1200 to 340.00. We are literally saving every penny we can to cover expenses to get there. We will live with another family for a bit. pop pop is taking my son to get his hair cut and paying for it!!!! We were also as a parting gift….given 50.00 to put towards the cost of our trip. We were also treated to a McDonald’s lunch date by a friend that we gave some things to Other than that we have been packing, and giving a way what we can. We have done our best to avoid paying for boxes. These last two week have been hard, we pull out the Saturday after Christmas. To be honest I just want to buy dinner out…with all the stuff we have been doing, but we have avoided doing that.

  2. Haven’t posted so have a couple of weeks worth of accomplishments!Bought a large canister of peanuts from Sam’s to make our own peanut butter. It turned out great, but everyone enjoyed the peanuts, too so will have to buy another canister to make more peanut butter soon.Found eggs on sale (manager’s special) for $1.49/18 ct. so purchased 4 cartons. Equivalent to $1.00/doz. Not a steal, but a good price.Bought pineapple for .99 each! Went on sale again this week so plan to buy more. Bought a tool off of Amazon a while back that makes it really easy to core and slice the pineapple. The kids love fresh pineapple and this tool has been well worth the $5 investment!Gleaned 2 reusable grocery bags of oranges from a generous freecycler who wanted help harvesting her tree. There were so many, but we kept to 2 bags so there would be some for others. Grapes were a pretty good price, .98/# for the black seedless variety. Also bought 4 small containers of raspberries for .99 each. Split a 50# bag of oats with a friend. Had a coupon for $5 off purchase of $30 or more so got the 50# bag for just under $30 including tax.Broccoli was .68/#. Used fresh veggies to make a relish tray for youngest daughter’s birthday party (carrots, celery, and broccoli). Was going to make a fruit tray as well, but the kids had eaten all the grapes and raspberries! Didn’t think a fruit salad with pineapple and oranges would fly so just kept to the veggies. Made cupcakes from scratch for the party.Made more baked beans, spaghetti sauce, bread, and black beans (found these at our new Winco in their bulk section for .99/#).Found ham for .88/#, bought 3 for freezer. Hope to make some good recipes in the crock pot with it. Also bought boneless, skinless chicken breast at the new Winco for $1.08/#. I haven’t bought boneless, skinless in a long time because of the price, but this is about what I would pay for the bone-in, skin on variety! I think I’m going to like having this new store nearby! :)Saw a steep reduction in the water bill this month, too. Hoping the hand washing has helped contribute to that as well as a little rain for the garden.I think that’s about it…Merry Christmas and God Bless!

  3. Becky, I don’t know your situation but I want to know what a wonderful thing you’re doing by taking in foster children. Being a teacher, I’ve seen my share of children removed and placed in foster care and some of the time the foster homes are not much better than where they were taken. It’s nice to hear about a family who is doing so well 🙂 God bless.

  4. A co-worker was telling me how his wife was placed in foster care when she was 11. It changed her life completely for the better. We all hear the horror stories about foster care, but it is awesome to hear the good stories. You are doing an amazing service.

  5. OK, grungy jars….I don’t get it. I googled and found multiple sites and tutorials. Like I said I don’t get it. This is popular? Cover jars , candles and other objects in what looks like dirt? I guess I am just so out of it. Is this the country look? Is that even still it or is there another term now? I am going to ask everyone I see over the next week if they have heard of this craft. 🙂

  6. Due to the awesome encouragement of Brandy’s blog, I have really been trying to use the things we have instead of buying new. In order to even see what we have, I’ve been organizing a lot! Seeing it is half the battle, and I find an organized neat house quiets my mind. I found wrapping paper that was partially crumpled because it had been through a few moves, so I used the crumpled part to wrap soft stuff where it wouldn’t matter and the good part to wrap boxes. Now I have used all the old paper, and will look for better options next year. I was inspired by Brandy’s post about A Christmas Carol to find some other free audio books through an app on my phone, and listened before bed. I am putting back any money and gift cards I get for Christmas to use on my container garden this spring. We have been focusing on the religious and family aspect of the Christmas season this year as we re-evaluate the role of material things in our lives. I am enjoying stepping back from the busy crowded stores and I can’t wait for my family to open their homemade presents!

  7. Thank you for your words of encouragement. This is the first time in many years that we have done straight foster care. We tried it early on, and we just had such a hard time giving the kids back that we went to straight adoption from kids out of the system. Some of the kids do well, but many of ours do not. They just have so much trouble with the effects of the drugs and alcohol their mothers injested, plus many have suffered abuse as well along the way. Some have had significant special needs. We feel like we give them a chance to see a different life. It breaks our hearts when they don’t do well, but it is also very rewarding to see some take that second chance at a better life.This little girl is a child of the 2nd girl we adopted years ago. Her mother does not do well, but has moved around enough that they have just now removed our granddaughter, who is now 9. She did not know us at all, so we did a slow transition all summer, and she moved in at the beginning of August. Of course, our hope would be that our daughter would do better and she could return home. If that doesn’t happen, we are willing to keep her here. In any case, we are very thankful to be able to get to know her, and to let her know that she does have grandparents who care deeply for her. In the meanwhile, we had pretty well decided that after 7 we were done, but always said if God brought one to the door, we were open to taking another one. I guess He has a sense of humor. I will say there have been a lot of adjustments, especially for our youngest daughter who has been our youngest since she came before she was 2. She is 13 now. Both girls that still live at home have been great. We discussed it with them at length before we said “yes.” They have been willing to sacrifice a lot so she could have a home here. It has also been very meaningful for our oldest daughter, who does do very well, to be able to visit and see her biological niece, who is the only blood relative she knows how to find. The wonderful side of it is that we have gotten to introduce her to so many things for the first time she and I have been referring to this as “the year of firsts.” Like: First time to get to know the “aunties” (my sisters). First time having large family gatherings at home. First time having cousins over to stay during the holidays. First live (real as she says) Christmas tree. First time hearing the Nativity Christmas story. First time being an angel in a program. First time seeing Charlie Brown Christmas. First candlelight Christmas Eve service last night. (I’ve tried very hard to explain things ahead of time, and was informed that I forgot to mention the candles, but she loved them!) And on and on it goes. I feel so humbled much of the time. And so blessed to have this opportunity.

  8. Athanasia, I think grungy jars/candles are like the “rusty” look that is popular on bell ornaments & buckets, etc. It is just a look that is in fashion. I personally prefer my bells to be silver-plated, or brass, not rusty, but there are plenty of people who like “the old look”, & want it. At least it is inexpensive! For me, it is just another fashion & it will pass.

  9. Basically grungy jars are made to look old and rusty. They do have a country or primitive look to them and fortunately everyone I know these days have that style in their home….at least where we live. My daughter’s teacher loves primitive(I already knew this) and said the jar would be perfect in her home. Using mod podge the saved jars are covered in a blend of tea, coffee, and cinnamon..two or three times. They smell great! When finished and dry I add homespun fabric and a rusty bell.

  10. As we continue to clear the house of clutter, I am packing items up for folks that I know will appreciate them and as we go around and visit folks for the holidays I am delivering these items to them (not as gifts but as small extras) It seems to be very well received. I also am using items and gift cards as thank you’s for folks who are helping us out. This seems to be working out better for “gifting: the items. Two weeks ago I was trying to gift items to needy families (many seemed offended by used rather than new items) Friends and Family seem way more appreciative!

  11. Yes, another fad I guess. Where we are located (rural) we get regular “lost” folks, just “wanting directions” but “oh by the way, I saw some old” wagon wheel/weathervane/bench/barn wood…goes on an on…and “are you interested in selling it?” They’ll “take it off our hands” for us, where I am sure it will make its way back to their shop to be resold for way more than what they would pay us. We have real rust and dirt, we don’t have to fake it!:)

  12. Oh, I’m sure that’s what they do! My father(who has now passed) has a barn full of old things and we sometimes have people stop to say “We saw this or that from the road would you sell it?” There’s no way it was seen unless they were poking inside the barn. We actually had to bring some stuff to my house for fear of it being stolen. We live in the country and while I love country stuff my house is pretty much decorated in everything. No particular theme, just things I love..:) I love making and trying new things, and I’m glad when people appreciate it.

  13. Haha, I am sure they were snooping . We have to be careful hanging quilts out…I only put them so can’t be seen from road. A number of years ago my uncle was walking back to his house from his fields, happened to have his shotgun and dogs with him. Came upon a car on his road by his house,so he stopped to lean in and see if they needed help. He saw two quilts in the backseat and recognized his wife’s handiwork. They claimed they must have blown off the line as they are flying around loose and they were just driving from house to house to find the owner. Really? He wonders if it hadn’t been for the three dogs and gun whether they might just not have chanced it and taken off with the quilts.Well I am glad your recipients liked their gifts and thanks all for further explanation.

  14. I did meal planning for two weeks based first on what I have on hand. I cut my own hair. I figured out what was causing my daughter’s forehead to get a red rash on it all the time. I remembered that both her and I are allergic to sulfa-based medications and most shampoos have sulfates in them. I bought a new shampoo with no sulfates and the rash is gone. That saved a dermatologist visit. Woot! I kept to my Christmas list budget and resisted the urge to buy more for the only daughter as she already has plenty. Stayed home and celebrated a quiet Christmas with just my little family of three and this saved on travel and gas expense. Made some homemade crafts with daughter and had a blast. Attended a free event at our local library with a holiday theme, free crafts, cookies and punch. We met friends and had a great time. We received free passes to our local roller skating rink so we are sharing with a friend and her daughter for a free skating playdate this coming Sunday. Made a difficult decision to leave my Mom’s group that I have been in since 2010… it just didn’t seem like a good fit for me anymore. There was a yearly fee, but also I felt the need to host playdates or events and it would end up costing me for supplies, time, and energy. With a limited budget these days, that was not going to be possible anymore. So, I really feel a huge relief from that decision. I realized that one of the most frugal things I do is try to repair items first before replacing them. The storage bag for the Christmas Tree had a strap break off and the hubby was going to head out to buy a new one. I explained that I have some strong duct tape for just this situation. It worked and saved us money. I have started noting much more often how I think about a situation and choose the more frugal option. It makes me feel so proud of all the little ways I save us money. I remembered how to get a grease/butter stain out of an item of clothing after it had been washed and dried. I tried it and it worked! I received a $25 Toys R Us gift card from taking surveys on My Survey. I am saving it for daughter’s bday in April. Hubby rec’d a $5 Starbucks gift card from his boss and gave it to me (treat for me when I meet a friend). Participated in a gift exchange at my part-time school cafeteria job. I spend $12.00 on the gift and I rec’d a Walmart gift card for $15.00 in the exchange. My hubby’s parents (who live in town, but do not visit, call or anything despite our invitations) sent my daughter a $25.00 Mastercard gift card. I am going to sit on it and decide later what I can get for her. Maybe registration for a dance or gymnastics class. I was approved for PineCone Research and I earn $3.00 per survey. I have already completed five. $15 dollars! My new year goal is to get out my sewing machine and finish one project in January. Feeling inspired by this blog and all of you who post.

  15. I can’t really remember any more what I did last week, this is such a busy time. I did grocery shop once and bought 4 gallons of milk at 2/5.00 due to expected extra company and for making potato soup and rice pudding. I finished up making cookies, 11 different kinds, but that flour, butter, sugar etc was all bought previously during sales. I did buy 2 containers of pickled herring at 3.99 ea on sale, for Christmas and New Years. Also the large size of triscuit for 2.29 after sale and double coupon and rye crisps for 2.19, according to my receipt. I bought large size container of FF onions for 1.77 after double coupon and sale.All I can think of…we kind of have non-stop company these 2 weeks around Christmas and New Year, what with everyone’s relatives home and visiting. Lots of folks stop by to say hi, we do the same, all the cousins and extended families visit back and forth. There has been lots of skating going on at the pond, some hunting, so I always have a crockpot of apple cider going to warm people up.I hope everyone had a blessed Christmas and best wishes for a happy New Year.

  16. Hi everyone!Brandy, I have been reading your website and blog for years. I am always impressed by the amount of things you can do in a day, or a week! I would be glad to see a post covering how you manage your time. I know your children and husband are very helpful, but you are definitely busy and fill your time with so many good things. Thank you for sharing your life, thoughts, and talents with us! I appreciate your posts and the comments that follow.Happy New Year to everyone!Beth

  17. It has been awhile since I last posted. I am currently pregnant expecting our second in May. We also know this one is a girl so the clothes I have saved up from my son may only be appropriate till a certain age. However a lot of his other big ticket items(crib etc) were also saved so I will not be taking advantage of a lot of savings there.So def. be reining in the strings on our budget otherwise esp. since just before Christmas we had to change the 26 year old dying furnace and a/c unit. We did not choose the best of the best something a lot of companies want you to do these days but rather what seem adaptable to the age of the home and it’s current efficiency.my advice is to go with a company that you can really ask the questions and them you about your home and how it’s being used. Example:Do not forget things like your double paned windows do make an overall difference to the heating and cooling units you choose.We did tone down our Christmas spending not gifting myself or my husband though I did have to get some new sleepwear and maternity clothes on heavy discount. Christmas Day was potluck and not held at our house so it was a relief.My husband and I contributed a trifle which I was able to make out of items from then thanksgiving sales and an Indian fish dish.All the gifts for my son this Christmas I was able to use gift cards that I had been saving up and points from my National Consumer Panel Online to get him things and that too things he needed like a new school bag, an almanac etc.A huge help as per clothes was that a friend of mine called to say she had clothes for 5-7 that she was chucking away which were all my son required and more for the forthcoming two years.She dropped off three large garbage bags and since we are in a shortage of space I had to give away some to other families.I took advantage of some freebies online, esp.loved the $5 giftcard from Dominoes, some free calendars, a perfume sample etc.My husband and I also changed our health insurance plans begin inning Jan. to suit what we could afford and what would be available for this baby.Something we overlooked when we had our son and struggled to pay for when he was born. we learnt our lesson well handling the bills and negotiating with the hospital almost everyday till my son was 3-4 months old.In the coming months I know I will be stocking up on diapers and miscellaneous things as well as organizing my son into our current study/bedroom.Yikes overcome with “that overwhelming feeling”here…Wishing everyone here a wonderful New Year…Sheeba

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