White Garden in January The Prudent Homemaker

While most of the United States experienced a really cold week, for us, the weather turned warmer on Wednesday. I turned off the heater, and even opened the windows for a few hours to let in some fresh air.

Warmer weather made it perfect for planting. Even though we can still get a frost for 5 to 6 more weeks (and we will probably get just 1), the warm weather meant it was ideal to plant seeds. I checked soil temperatures with a thermometer and planted early spring seeds from seedds I had left from last year: carrots, radishes, snow peas, leeks, onions, beets, lettuce, spinach, violas, and larkspur. The warmer weather will help the seeds germinate a bit faster, and even when it turns cooler again, the seedlings will continue to grow. This upcoming week will be 5-10ºF cooler than last week, but still the right temperature for these seedlings to grow.

I planted the onions seeds in between rows of lettuce, so that I can get more from the space that I have. I planted the snow peas under the grapes, so that they can grow on the same trellises. They will be ripe and ready just as the grape leaves start to come out, so I hope to be able to help this space also do double duty. I found a place to put in more leeks; I planted seeds between the rose bushes and the hedge in the front yard.

Lettuce and Broccoli Seedlings The Prudent Homemaker

I transplanted Swiss chard (silverbeet) and green onions that had self-seeded into some spots where they were too crowded into some places where they will have more room to grow properly. I also transplanted some parsley from a corner in the front yard into the planters by the walkway, and transplanted some broccoli seedlings that I had missed (they were growing under two jars) earlier; if all of the broccoli seedlings that I moved make it, I will have 12 plants (with lettuce growing underneath them). I hope that we will get heads from these; when I have tried growing broccoli in the past, they bolted in the warm spring weather without forming heads. These seedlings were planted in the fall, to ensure them a long cool growing season.

I divided a rosemary plant to start a new topiary.

I planted more garlic in the garden.

Chard and Green Onions The Prudent Homemaker

I cut Swiss chard, green onions, thyme, and garlic scapes from the garden.

I cooked a large pot of white beans (5 cups dried), and used it to make a bean soup with Swiss chard, green onions, garlic scapes, and thyme from the garden. I added in some chicken bullion and 12 ounce of sausage that I had in the freezer, and the family loved it. We ate three meals from this, with everyone having seconds and thirds each time.

I cooked a turkey on Saturday. 

Paperwhites in the White Garden The Prudent Homemaker

I pruned the lemon trees in the front yard and put the branches in a vase on my entry table.

I pruned the roses in the front yard and brought some roses and buds in to enjoy.


We watched sky writers from our own backyard! They were outside for over an hour. It was 6 planes that made the words.

My husband and I watched Downton Abbey on Pbs.org for free. We also watched 3 episodes of a show on Hulu for free. 

The whole family watched several episodes of War Farm, Edwardian Farm, and Tudor Monastery Farm for free on You Tube. We learned several interesting things from these shows.

 Sundial The Prudent Homemaker

What did you do last week to save money and enjoy life?


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  1. So much green! I posted a few photos of our grassy field on my blog this week, and except for the Ponderosa Pines, it’s all golden-brown. (If I were to take the same photos today, the golden-brown would be under about 4 inches of wet, fluffy snow!)

    My frugal accomplishments, menu and blessings are all rolled together in this post here: http://quietcountrylife.blogspot.com/2015/01/last-weeks-frugal-accomplishments-and.html

    It was a good week in many ways. I was frequently reminded how well we have it. 🙂 I just watched the most recent episode of Downton Abbey on our local PBS station. I had a friend tell me that there are places online where you can watch the entire season already, but I look forward to watching each episode as it airs on Sunday evening.

  2. Today I made two extra meals to put into our freezer. We’ve been having some extra stress in our lives lately and have gotten lax about resorting to takeout for dinner. (I blame the amazing Mexican food cart that’s just three blocks from the house!) I now have two meals ready to go, which will help bring my stress level down.

    I used a free Redox code to rent the movie “Boyhood” which my husband and I watched together. It was a wonderful movie and was a treat to watch it just the two of us. The code doesn’t expire until January 18th and is 45TH8787.

    I used a $10-off-$50 Safeway coupon to do a big grocery shopping trip. I also used online Just4U coupons, paper coupons and Ibotta to bring the price even lower. The total savings was 51% from the total amount.

    I brought home a lovely vintage McCoy planter from my mother’s house. It’s very shallow and I’m going to use it to plant hans and chicks for a small succulent pot. I always own everything I need for this project, so it will cost nothing to accomplish.

    I wish Portland, Oregon had more year round gardening opportunities, so I’ll just have to live vicariously through you!

    I drove my husband to two work events this week in order to have our car at hand for myself. We normally have two cars, but someone smashed into my husband in November and we’ve been making do with a single car ever since. So far there have been no issues.

    I used a coupon for a $9.95 oil change for our ten-year-old minivan. We were given the coupon after having a recall issue fixed at a Honda dealership. This was actually cheaper than buying the supplies and doing it ourselves. They also gave us a coupon for a free drive-through car wash with the service!

  3. Hi Brandy,

    This last week were very frugal with our spending. With the potential of early retirement for me from nursing in March at almost 60 y/o, we have tightened our money belts. My husband is so much better than I..I spent a total of $57.07 for this month on groceries from my budget, and my husband helped to buy bulk supplies for us at Costco. He purchased canned tomatoes, sauce, chick broth, canned green beans, large fresh spinach and blueberries (for juicing) lemons and a large package of sliced almonds that I will freeze. This was a total of 69.70. This canned bulk should last us about 3 months.Fresh foods will need to be replaced monthly.
    We then went to a large Asian market this weekend to buy 25 lbs of Jasmine and 30 lbs of brown rice on sale , rice noodles and several asian teas we like. He spent anther 64.00 This should last us 10 months to a year. Our last rice has lasted us 11 months.
    I have 2 large whole turkey’s and 4 turkey breasts , 1 beef roast, and a ham in the freezer. I usually cook 1 major meat meal /month for us and freeze from that to make smaller casseroles for each month. Then with my limited monthly food budget of 48.00 now for the 2 of us, I will buy veggies,milk,eggs, fresh fruit and ground meat or whole chickens at .99/lb when on sale to last during each month. I buy the chickens organic at QFC at .99/lb and usually buy 6 to last 3 months…seems that’s when they go on sale. Ground meat is higher priced but I will buy if they go on sale. Other wise I use dried beans like you.
    After reading your blogs, I have decided to make 2 soups/week..and am thankful my husband likes the soups most~ from your recipes 🙂 This will help keep our food bill down now. I make our bread homemade with a bread machine.

    I want to start planting seeds in my planter boxes for spring.. we have had a very mild winter so far…but I hate to even say this since we could have snow come Feb-April.I am worried we may have frost here in the NW. It is always so unpredictable . Since our temps have been in the high 40’s – 50’s, I am wondering if seedlings of lettuce, kale and chard will survive? My one chard plant still is standing tall ready to be cut this week.
    We have cut back on our thermostat, and I have an electric small blanket to curl up with on the couch to keep warm. We keep our lights shut off except where we are in the living room and kitchen so our light bill is low. Gas is higher since we have a gas fireplace however.
    We bought long sleeve tee shirts at Target $7.00 each for me…5 of them, and $6.00~ 4 of them each long sleeve for my husband. These are comfortably warm and will last . He received a $50.00 from his work for Christmas for Fred Meyers and will buy socks and nice work pants. We will wait for sales.
    This is it for this last week, thank you for your post 🙂 love reading them and look forward to each week~~
    Have a very blessed week
    Patty from the NW

  4. Brandy, do you have alyssum in your white garden? I find it brilliant; it attracts bees, has a deep honey scent at close range, and grows prolifically in my hot climate. I bought one pack of seeds at our last home and have now filled two gardens with the seeds and their descendants. I simply break off a clump of flowers and crush them where I’d like new plants, or transfer seedlings when I’m more impatient. They fill our beds around our veggies and are such a pretty understory for our flowers, too.

  5. What are the white plants growing around your sundial? Some kind of sedum?

    We had a nice Christmas with lots of family and food. I received 3 scarves, 3 pair of socks, 2 books, 1pair gloves, pair long underwear, some homemade foodstuffs, hand-stamped note cards and envelopes. Oh and homemade hand lotion and soap. I was very happy and everyone else seemed pleased with their gifts.

    We had a Christmas Eve day brunch here as some of my husband’s family were on their way east to other family. They also dropped back off my husband’s brother who will stay with us til Easter now. We spent Christmas Eve at oldest daughter’s and Christmas day at oldest son’s. Due to no real snowfall that week, travel was a breeze. New Years eve was our usual bonfire and cookout and the kids shooting off fireworks later.

    Gas prices keep dropping nicely. We were off school til the 5th. I used time at home to do some extra cooking of soups and quick breads, muffins, cornbread, all things I can put in the freezer. When I go back to school need to pack my lunch and have lunch food for husband, brother in law, nephew and youngest girl who eat at home each day.

    We had some cold weather of below O°F and wind chills -20 to -35F. We kept the furnace the same but used the wood stove more.

    We watched a lot of DVDs on our new TV! We decided to buy a small flat screen to replace our 20 some year old tube TV from a local appliance store where we’ve shopped before. We hope to watch the HULU on the TV rather than the laptop. We had no projects coming up or large expenses so we decided now was the time.

    Ate mostly at home except for holiday meals. Had to travel to east side of state for funeral on my father’s side (a cousin, only 51) this past week and had 2 at church. They all had meals. I made cream cheese frosted apple bars using all ingredients on hand and storage apples. Made vegetable soup and vegetable-beef soup, and minestrone and black bean-corn.

  6. Glad your feeling better and out working in your garden. I love the space saving idea you have of planting the snow peas under the grapes -so smart. Your statues make your garden look very pretty even in the early spring. I can’t wait to garden.

    We’ve been watching our grocery budget in the 2nd week of grocery shopping on our No Spend January.
    You can read about it here: http://vickieskitchenandgarden.blogspot.com/2015/01/2ndweekofnospendjanuary2015.html

  7. One of my goals this year is to learn how to garden….we tried to grow a few things last year, but nothing produced any “fruit” but part of it was because of where we lived and lack of light. Our attempt to plant it where the only light came through was not enough. Our local library is having an edible gardening class this year, I hope to attend. Yours looks wonderful…here is our week…..


  8. Frugal this week?

    I bought a extra ham butt from my store, they were marked down to $6. I will be cutting it into slices today for my lunches at work this week, the rest will be chunked and put in the deep freezers for ham and bean soups. Today I am making blackberry preserves and jelly from frozen berries I bought from work. Blackberries fresh here are crazy high on sale $1 for a 6 oz. container so it is more frugal to buy them in bulk frozen from my store more so with my employee discount. We gave these away as Christmas gifts to our friends and family and it was a huge hit. I found a recipe on Facebook yesterday for dog biscuits that are made without wheat or corn meal, my rottweiler is allergic to corn so will be looking at the ingredients needed to start making these myself. I know it uses pumpkin which I don’t have on hand. Long run cheaper, safer for my dogs than buying commercial products especially with the recent scare over dog treats made in China. I use to make them before my rotty that had corn meal. Just make up the dough, took a pizza cutter and criss crossed.. the dogs don’t mind that they aren’t shaped like dog bones LOL! One thing I had a problem with before was them going bad quickly so lesson learned.. keep the majority in the deep freezer, pull out small batches or use the oxygen absorber packets. Frugal was going to Odd Lots and finding Christmas stuff reduced 75% on Saturday. I bought a lifetime supply of gift tags, while I could make my own the question becomes will I really do it or bend and buy at full price because I didn’t have them. I also found beautiful Christmas cards for $1.25. And square cookie tins marked down to 87 cents. I use these alot for food storage. I use some to store sleeves of snack crackers and saltines, boxes of gelatin mix, hot cocoa packets.. anything that I feel a bug or mouse might get into. Cereal I put in glass containers, same with oatmeal. The mouse we had in our basement a cpl. years ago.. only thing he could find to eat in the basement was candle sticks, straw from a broom I kept down there and a slab of soap I had made and let air dry down there and forgot about. Other frugals all meals made at home and lunches taken to work for both myself and dh. I stocked up this week on a pkg. of ramen noodles, gotta repackage those this week into safer containers. I also bought for emergency stock up some cans of Campbells soup that were a little out of the ordinary.. Cream of Shrimp, Cream of Onion, Black bean with cumin and cilantro. These can be used to make a creative and different meal especially if we lose power. I found a recipe yesterday in one of my cookbooks for Mock Cabbage Rolls. You use shredded cabbage and onion soup mix along with a lb. of burger. In the summer months I can plant cabbage, use canned meat instead of fresh and cook in a iron skillet over my butane burner if we lost power or even just for a economical meal, again variety keeps us from getting bored with the same meals and the temptation to buy fast food or if one of us were to lose our jobs. After 911 I never take for granted that we will have our jobs. My husband and I both worked for the same company, while my hours weren’t cut my husbands were and some people were laid off there. Scary times and something I keep in mind always now. Stay warm and safe my friends.. we are having ice storms here today in central Ohio.

  9. I am glad you seem to be feeling better Brandy! I always enjoy hearing and seeing your garden. I hope to get out there someday for a tour. Last week :
    My husband gets paid by a state program to take care of his mother. As payback for not coming for Christmas she “forgot” to send in his hours worked. Apparently she also forgot he gives her a portion of his check to help support her due to her horrifically bad money choices. It didn’t hurt us the way she had hoped, I guess she forgets that I work and make more money than he does. I have found the last week a fun challenge 🙂 and did not *need to spend any money.
    -No shopping, at all. We used food from the pantry and freezers, made everything from scratch. We do this every week but this last week EVERYTHING was homemade. I made milk, granola, bean/veggie soup, homemade veggie stock, yogurt, coconut milk, chocolate syrup, brownies, pizza, white/whole wheat bread. We ate all meals at home and I took all meals to work.
    -I drank water and free coffee at work, water or hot tea at home.
    -I used homemade cleaners to clean the house. I used soap nuts and vinegar (rinse aid) to do laundry
    -stepped up efforts to conserve water. I had gotten lazy. I have put a bigger bucket in the bathroom and pour water saved in there. I use to flush the toilet or rinse the bathtub after a bath or shower. I use my dish pan to rinse the dishes. I forgot it was under the cupboard, and use that water when I’m done to rinse the sinks out after I clean those. We don’t flush *every time* either. Navy showers and short baths for the peanut.
    -My daughter and I watched free shows using my amazon prime. I forgot Downton Abbey started!! Now I have TWO shows to watch on my kindle. I keep trying to show my hubby we DO NOT NEED Dish network, he refuses to agree to have it shut off. Neither myself nor my daughter watched tv all weekend. We used the computer or my kindle when we watched something.
    -I have been putting $5 – $10 aside in the bank account my son opened when he was in high school and lived with me. He forgot about this account and can’t close it without me, so I have been putting this money aside for him and his wife to have when the baby is born. (Squeeeeellll!!! :D)
    -I have been using the solar lamp in the bathroom (no window) and a hurricane lamp at night to read by. I have been going around the house unplugging more things that are not being used. I also put rolls in front of all three of our doors to block the cold air. I used rolled up crib sheets, an old, torn flat/top sheet we don’t use, and a large old sweatshirt my husband doesn’t wear anymore. It has helped a lot. The temps have been 10 below zero for the last week and a half here.
    -Hung ALL laundry to dry, even the towels. I found a place to hang some items in the kitchen. Super proud I did not use the dryer at all
    -used homemade toiletries (lotion, baking soda for shampoo, apple cider vinegar for conditioner, homemade deodorant, handmade (not by me) soap. My next step is homemade toothpaste. I just need to get peppermint oil.
    -used the last remaining money on an amazon gift card to purchase some vitamin b12.
    -washed and reused glass jars, lids, and all different types to bags. Ziplocks, zip top cracker and nut bags, the bag English muffins came in.
    -I made “un-paper” towels using an old tshirt and an old sweatshirt! I chose not to sew the edges. I put them in a repurposed and pretty basket in the kitchen. I used the remaining decent sized fabric scraps to make more rags. My rag bag was low due to the dog throwing up for 3 days and using them to clean it up. I couldn’t bring myself to wash them. yuck.
    -my husband used one of his gift cards to purchase some winter socks. didn’t cost me anything.
    -I did my 2015 budget. This will be re calculated in 3 months when our house is paid off.
    Have a great week everyone!

  10. You are so right about the cold weather. We had record low temps and wind chills here in New England. Several schools and some businesses closed because it was so bad. I wasn’t able to shop like I usually do under those conditions, but I did manage to find free Glade candles and apples, plus $0.50 bottles of shampoo and shine spray. All of my deals with pics can be found here: http://thejewishlady.com/super-savings-saturday-11015/

    I also love Downton Abbey! Have you checked out The Great British Baking Show? It’s a cooking competition that comes on right before. I really like it so far.

  11. You got a lot done in the garden! I need to get out and start working on my garden to do list.

    Last week, I set a budget to spend only $100 a month until I find a different job (or even longer to pay down debt). That’s for gas, groceries, all shopping, pet food, drug stores, prescriptions, everything! I withdrew the $100 cash for the month. I also get an every other week produce box that is not included in the $100 or any Swagbucks I spend.

    I went to CVS and got 2 Systane eye drops (normally $12 each) and 2 boxes of tissues. After sales, coupons, bucks, etc, I spent $5.27 out of pocket and got $5 bucks to spend next time. Later in the week I filled out a survey from CVS I got in an email and got $5 bucks.

    When we did errands I ended up finding 31cents – and it wasn’t even all at once – every place we stopped I found a little bit of change. It felt like my lucky day!

    I met my Swagbucks goal every day and cashed in for four $5 Amazon gift cards. I needed to order medicated cream from Amazon, so I used Swagbucks to pay for that. I had a credit on Amazon from Swagbucks when I came in under budget from holiday gifts, so I used that to order a birthday gift for my daughter’s boyfriend of a model he wanted. I got free shipping at Amazon.

    I had a mystery shopping assignment at a restaurant one night when SO was at work and will get reimbursed for my meal plus a few extra dollars.

    I collected seeds from my true roselle/Florida cranberry.

    I had some food waste of 2 pears and some tossed salad 🙁

    My son tried fixing my keyboard, but it’s just too worn out. Instead of buying a new one, I pulled out an old keyboard I kept from another computer when that computer bit the dust.

    I worked 3 hours overtime.

    Free in the mail – Loreal shampoo and conditioner sample.

    I went to the library and checked out the Tightwad Gazette book.

    I have 2 interviews this week! I went to Goodwill and bought 3 skirts and 2 shirts for my interviews and for when I start working on site. I spent $24. My goal is to buy my entire wardrobe from Goodwill.

    Plus all the usual – eating from the pantry, working on my new year’s goals, washing out baggies, composting, combining errands, being careful with water and electricity, continuing to look for a different job. I’m trying to eat from the freezer so I can defrost it. SO has taken over making the foaming hand soap and has been more on board with watching every penny and setting some goals together for the new year.

    Have a great week!

  12. I just LOVE your garden and everything you are able to get out of it, it is so inspiring. This last week, I drove my husband to work, effectively making us a one car family the week. I made free draft blockers as it has been very cold here. I used pool noodles, filled with navy beans and wrapped in fabric from some pants I got at a thrift store (ugly pants, lovely fabric.;) ) I saved the zipper from the pants for a future project. I cooked a turkey, bought on sale at Thanksgiving, and we have eaten for 2 days so far, with a lot left over. (Feeding our family of 5 with teen friends) A friend kept the kids after church until they were leaving for a youth event last evening, saving me a trip to town. We planned our week’s menu based on what was in our pantry, and I only bought about $50 in fresh veggies and dairy for the week. I exercised for an hour this morning with 2 shows on PBS, Hubby & I had a mini date last night while the kids were gone, with a late lunch out using money his grandma sent for Christmas, and then a movie in on Netflix. We heated the house with wood, keeping the thermostat low, and I left the oven door open after I cooked the turkey. This coming week, when it stops raining I will check on the seedlings I have growing in low tunnels in our driveway garden and see if anything is ready to harvest. I find this frugal way of life is becoming my entertainment, and have scrimped almost $500 out of my household budget since Thanksgiving to save for a new car, along with paying cash for our frugal Christmas, and a birthday along the way. Thanks for all of the ideas and inspiration your site supplies, especially the tasty recipes. Have a wonderful week!

  13. Nope! I actually don’t get sick when I am pregnant. I get really tired that first semester, but I don’t have morning sickness issues. I went to see a friend last month and she was sick, so I think I caught it from her. I’m almost better now. The weather was too nice to NOT be out in it last week!

  14. If a freeze is coming, cover your lettuce seedlings with jars or floating row covers. Chard and kale should be fine right now but your lettuce will grow faster if it is under cover right now. Chard will stay alive at 15º, but sometimes takes damage at 25º. It can survive under snow.

  15. Katy, you can absolutely grow year-round in Portland.

    One thing that stood out to me as I watched these shows this week was what they were harvesting in England during the winter/early spring (before spring planting). In Tudor England, they over-wintered leeks and parsley in the garden. Steve Solomon wrote a great book about gardening in the Pacific North West and he talks about year-round gardening there; leeks are included as one of the many things he grows in winter.

    In the War Farm shows, they pulled out a victory gardening guide that included cabbage, beets, broccoli, kale, brussels sprouts, and sugar beets. I found it here: http://www.pinterest.com/pin/52635889371240209/ Other things you can grow are parsnips, snow peas, Swiss chard, cauliflower, spinach, and turnips. Check out Territorial Seed Company’s winter gardening info (they are in the PNW): http://www.territorialseed.com/category/fall_Winter_seed

    As early as the 1620’s, French gardeners were working to grow year-round vegetables. In the 1800’s, Paris had year-round growers who grew many cool-season vegetables to sell.

    I highly suggest checking these out so that you can grow year-round.

  16. Thank you Brandy, I will cover the seedlings 😉 I also read the above note from you to Katy and will look up the information on gardening in the North West…This is wonderful information~~

  17. I help with the decorating at our church. I went to Hobby Lobby and purchased red deco mesh ribbon and red and silver fabric mesh garland dazzle drape at 90 % off. My order came to $10.18 with a total savings of $86.32. This will work perfect for table coverings for the fellowship hall for our valentine’s day dinner and even work for the Fourth of July with white and blue table coverings under it! I am sooo excited. A couple of weeks ago I bought oral b toothbrushes at Wegmans for 2 for 1.49. I bought several and put in stock tote. I traveled to my sisters over the holiday break and planned my gas stops in ohio where the gas was so much cheaper! I took snacks with me to share with her since she is not close to a Sam’s club like I am. Takes a little patience for me to do this but saved a lot. Also only stopped once to eat out and purchasing only a bagel. Also am trying to use food out of freezer.

  18. Hello! Sounds like you are better. My youngest son got the flu last week, so we battled that for a few days, but everyone is on the mend and back to normal routine! These are my frugal accomplishments for last week.

    1. Spent 85.00 on groceries, 15.00 below budget. Used that money to put gas in my car for work this week. The low gas prices have been a huge blessing to us. I drive 15 miles one way to work five days per week.
    2. Accepted food from my daughter-in-law. She gave me a bag of apples, a bag of oranges, two heads of cabbage, 2 blocks of cheese, 9 cans of peaches, and some apple juice. These were all incorporated into my menu for this week.
    3. Hosted a family luncheon for my son’s birthday on Saturday. I had originally planned to make chili, but did not have the ingredients. I could have purchased them, but I decided to use what I had on hand. I made Amish cheese soup and homemade bread. I fed 16 people and had leftovers, with no additional purchases!
    4. Our biggest budget buster is eating out on the weekend. I plan frugally for Monday-Friday, but we are so busy on the weekends, that it’s “easier” to grab some fast food. I was determined not to do that this week so…. we didn’t. We ate all meals at home, even after church on Sunday night. (We always go out to eat Sunday night with people from our church.
    5. I experimented last week with measuring my laundry and dishwashing detergent. I only used a half bottle of dish detergent and about a fourth of the laundry detergent I had been using! I didn’t even open the bottle of detergent I had bought last week, so I did not have to purchase any this week. Yay!
    6. Continued to use shampoo, conditioner, and soap samples I had gotten during a recent hotel stay, so this is week two into using up samples instead of purchasing these items.
    7. I changed my hairstyle! I have very long hair, which I don’t cut because of religious reasons and I wear up everyday due to a personal covenant between my husband and myself. Therefore, I use a LOT of hairspray daily and the kind I use for my hair is about 4.00 a can. I have been experimenting with simple hairstyles that I like in order to use less hairspray and I think I have settled on one I can live with on a daily basis. I will still do my more elaborate updo for special occasions, but not for everyday wear. It will save not only money on products, but also less wear and tear on my hair.
    8. I have started working on my garden ideas for this year. I am attempting raised bed gardening for the first time. I am looking for ways to do this as frugal as possible, so if anyone has suggestions, please share.
    9. I am learning to embroider! I started watching tutorials online last week in order to learn. I love monograms and they are so expensive to have done in a shop! I want to learn to do this so I can start making more personalized gifts for family and friends. If anyone has a good free tutorial online to suggest, please let me know. Thanks!

    I think that’s all this week. Everyone have a great day!

  19. This week, in the frugal department:

    Resisted the urge to take the family out to eat over the weekend when we had company. Instead, I made a simple meal of bbq chicken sandwiches that everyone seemed to enjoy.

    Took time to rearrange the pantry so I can better see what we have and what we need so I can meal plan accordingly.

    Hubby made delicious batch of cookies (cranberry and white chocolate chip) to use up ingredients we had left over from Christmas.

    Took advantage of a Super Double coupon event at Harris Teeter to get several freebies and good deals to fill empty spots in my pantry. My favorites: free L’Oreal and Vidal Sassoon hair styling products for my daughter, free tuna fish, free soup, 50-cent boxes of Special K cereal and 50 cents each for the giant 45-oz. jars of Ragu.

    Worked from home 2 days, saving gas money and wear and tear on my 2004 mini van.

    Happily paid $2.19 per gallon for gas. Such a thrill to go to the gas station these days. I can’t wait each week to see how much more the price has dropped.

    Thrilled to get milk for $1 per half-gallon at Kroger. Have not seen this price in forever.

    Got paid $12 and change to purchase Bayer aspirin at Walmart, using a generous $10/3 coupon from the newspaper. The boxes were only $2.18 and according to Walmart’s coupon policy, the shopper is given the difference. I had four coupons, which added up to $12 back to me. Put the money in our Alaska-or-Bust trip fund.

    Price-matched a sale from Dollar General at Walmart to get four packages of Bic highlighters for free with four $1/1 coupons. These went to my son and his girlfriend, who go through lots of highlighters in law school.

  20. We call those plants ornamental kale or cabbage; they are edible, but most people use them decoratively. Are they perennials for you, Brandy? They don’t overwinter in my zone.

  21. your posts about your garden make me have huge expectations for our future garden (we hope to buy a house this year) !!

    we say down with our budget and calculator to crunch numbers on what we need to save in the next six months for a down payment, washer,dryer, etc…. it is a pretty big number for us, but we broke down all the extra money and slashed our grocery budget a good 40%. we live in an apartment but I do have a small stockpile of what food we eat a lot of. I am excited and encouraged my the thought of buying a house for our family (5). this week I will be writing out a lists of our favorite low cost meals.

    took reuseable bags grocery shopping. (a goal this year: waste less)

    made muffins and bread from scratch.

    made sweet treat trail mix that the kids loved! almonds, choc chips and mini marshmallows. tasted like s’mores 🙂

    weather is terribly cold here and our bill went up because with three little kids (4,3, 6 mo) we can not keep it too cold. so I have been really trying to cut electric use in other areas of everyday use.

  22. * son came over to play a game. I served left over Christmas candy.
    * used 2 free trial size toothpastes from Dentist.
    * able to use some scrap wood pieces found in garage from last owners to complete trim around floorboards.
    * losing weight so fit in a pair of pants I’ve been saving because they were too small.
    * using a store bag with handles to carry my shoes to work while I wear my snow boots.
    * disputed a cell phone charge
    * disputed a health insurance claim ($285 they initially declined).
    * set aside several high ticket items I can sell this spring in garage sale.
    * spot cleaned some stains on the carpet instead of renting the big carpet shampooer.
    * thought I was going to have to replace the shower curtain liner but was able to scrub it cleaner than I expected.
    * free ice cream treat at work on Friday!

  23. Money is extremely tight this month. Doing the normal things to save. Meals at home. Built fire during the day to keep heater off. Homemade cleaners. I need to make more dryer lint and toilet paper tube fire starters during this summer since I am already out this year. I dip the ends of mine in my wax melt warmer after the smell has faded. Only bought groceries on an errand to a town two hours away. Looked at ads before I went and found canned tomatoes at .39 so I picked up 40 cans at their store. Also bought bread at dollar tree. Make my own but if I catch honey maid sandwich bread at dollar tree I will buy it. Accepted leftover chicken and dressing, fried fish, Mac and cheese, and green beans that was going to be thrown away at a function. Will redo my menu to eat those this week. Extremely busy week so that was a HUGE blessing time wise as well. I’m not into fashion but needed a dressier shirt for an event youngest daughter is in. Stopped by goodwill. Found a shirt for 2.50. After I got home my oldest was impressed. It was a Vera wang shirt. I laugh cause I know I’m the cheapest person attending and will be in a designer Vera wang shirt. Also bought much needed new coat, throw pillow and table runner for 12.50 total.
    Stay warm!

  24. Boxed up the dry blow molds from the yard display & put them all back on the shelf in the garage until next year.

    Bought hotdogs for 50 cents a package & 2 packages of bologna for 50 cents from the meat mark down bin. These went into the freezer. We like hotdogs in beanie weenie, & it is both a summer & winter meal at our house. Later in the week, I also bought 6 packages of turkey tenderloins from the meat mark down bin. Each package contained 3-4 large tenderloins, so I came home & re-packaged them for the freezer. Each package will make multiple meals for us. Any time I am in the grocery store, I always check the mark down bins for breads & meats.

    I have been using the goose fat from the jar in the fridge to fry, instead of olive oil or butter.

    Put the payment for the utility bill in the drop box at city hall when I was headed out for errands, & saved a stamp.

    Cut the buttons off 4 blue dress work shirts that have seen better days, & gave the shirts to the woman who heads up the craft nights at our church. They will use them for part of some birthday banners later in the year.

    Salvaged two “live” Christmas trees from the curbside, to drop the needles in one of my acidified beds for the blueberry bushes. I will cut the branches off the trunks, & lay them in the beds where I want the needles to drop. The trunks will be leaned against one side of the wood pile until summer, when they will be dry enough to cut into lengths & add to the wood pile.

    Turned the heat down to 64 degrees during the hours when my husband is gone at work. He likes it warmer, but I don’t mind wearing a sweater.

    Saved the Coban wrap they put around my arm after donating blood. I use them in the garden to secure vines that climb in place on the trellis.

    Trimmed my bangs again to save the cost of the haircut.

    Dehydrated a few sliced clementines before they spoiled. After they dried, I ground them in the blender; it made about half a pint.

    I began to declutter by sorting out items we have not used in the last year, that do not have significant sentimental value, like some cobalt blue Libby Duratuff & Gibralter goblets, & some ceramic napkin rings. They are beautiful, but we never use them, so they are just taking up space. Since I do not have an eBay account, some of these things will go to DI, & others I will take to the antique shop on Main Street. In either case, we will have more room for the things that are important to us.

  25. Ahh your lush green yards. Thank you for sharing!
    Made 4 quarts of chicken stock from chicken bones.
    Made 3 quarts of vegetable stock from vegetable scraps.
    Using coupons and the stores advertised special – I was able to get my boxed hair color at a BOGO.
    Added another item to my Etsy shop from fabric I have.
    We were able to save a total of $30 on our electric bill over the last 2 months by running the washer/dishwasher and dryer after 8 pm. We have turned down the thermostat, but not nearly as much as other readers.
    February through the end of May, the grocery budget will be $30/month. We will live off the stocked freezer and pantry for the majority of our meals. The amount not being used/applied will be placed into our emergency savings account.
    Added more soups/stews to our monthly menu planning.
    Made a double batch of granola, increased the ingredient honey by one half, didn’t miss it.
    We had our trees trimmed in January (cheaper time to do so). By doing so, I am noticing there are 2 spots (about 3’ sq) that are now getting enough sun, I am going to use these spots for more chard, spinach and peas. We also have a burm in the front, where shrubs were getting to old (leggy). The Mister trimmed those down to 2’ tall, opens up another area to grow herbs. I am hoping to remove the shrubs entirely, but that is taking a little more convincing.

    I hope everyone has a fabulous week!

  26. – We had friends come over for a game night this week. I made popcorn on the stove and served that with hot chocolate. It was a huge hit!
    – It has been cold here (just like pretty much everywhere else) but we have been able to heat the house with just our wood stove. Because it has been colder than normal here, I am concerned that we will run out of wood so I have been looking on craigslist for people giving away wood. No luck yet, but I am hopeful.
    – Used a $3 extrabucks coupon from CVS that they emailed me for my birthday to buy milk. I also have a $10 one from filling out a survey that I have to use by next week. Will probably use that to get eggs and milk again.
    – Watched Downton Abbey online as we don’t have cable, and even with our rabbit ears we don’t get PBS.
    – Went through the coupons at our local library and took a number of them that we will use. I love that our library does a coupon exchange. I allows me to get coupons from newspaper inserts since we don’t get the newspaper.
    – Used a gift card my boss gave me for my birthday to buy knee high boots for myself. I had a pair that fell apart two years ago and I have been wanting new ones ever since. Although this was not a NEED I feel that treating myself once in awhile is alright. They were free because of the gift card. I do feel some guilt though. I’m sure I’ll get over the guilt the more I wear the boots!
    – Filled out the survey at the bottom of my grocery receipt and earned 50 fuel points.
    – Cashed in $5.55 from Walmart’s saving catcher program.
    – Completed a pinecone survery
    – Got a free apron in the mail. Well it wasn’t free exactly. It was a promotion, one of those buy 2 participating products and get the apron. Since I was going to buy the products anyway, I sent away for the apron.

  27. *You inspired the kids and me to work in our small garden this weekend. We harvested some Swiss chard, thyme, and sugar snap peas (the toddler just eats them right off the plant). We did some cleaning up and planted some more lettuce seeds. My daughter found a ladybug and put it in the plant that had aphids 😀 I placed an order last night with Territorial Seed Company and I am looking forward to growing some fun new veggies this year. I also bought a few flower seed packs for 50 cents each at the Grocery Outlet.
    *I recieved a $20 Grocery Outlet Gift card for participating in pilot program for them–I just had to read some emails and fill out some surveys.
    *I made a large pan of rice krispie treats last night. We had some for dessert and I wrapped the rest up individually for kids lunches this week.
    *I sewed a new pair of leggings for my daughter and sweatpants for my son. I also finished knitting a hat that will be a gift for my new nephew.
    *I did a lot of grocery shopping, but shopped carefully and got some very nice deals.

  28. I didn’t think I’d like the baking show but I did this one. The judges were kind to the losers and even the ones who won’t be back for the next segment seemed to be genuinely glad to participate. The teenager is an excellent baker.

  29. Katy (and all who want to harvest in the winter.)

    I’m doing my first winter garden harvesting in Utah. It has been so much fun. We’ve been harvesting multiple kinds of lettuce, spinach and a winter gardening mix that I purchased from Caleb at SeedRenaissance. He lives local to me. He has a new little company and he has been trialing different veggies for overwintering. (He has a 90-day growing season.) It’s fun to buy seeds from him since he does so much experimenting with seeds for overwintering. Some of his varieties are not available anywhere else in the world.

    Here’s a fascinating video link to his winter garden that he’s growing under inexpensive cold frames:


    Also, he does some fascinating radio shows. I tried to post the link but it didn’t work right now. If you go to his facedbook page at seedrenaissance it listed the link. (I listened last night to his show on winter gardening so I suspect it’s just temporarily down.) He talks about specific varieties that he’s tested. Some of them can be harvested throughout the winter without covering. He builds inexpensive cold frames. I suspect in Portland that you’d be able to harvest a lot of this throughout the winter without covering since you’re not as cold as here.

    I’ve been experimenting with using low tunnels, but I’m going to try his method with his cold frames. I think they’d be easier to use (and probably less expensive).

    I’m hoping to get to the point that I can harvest year round fresh vegetables. What I’ve done has been very fun. My husband shares his salad with his co workers. It is so tasty and not bitter at all.

    Hope this helps.


  30. I made my Yorkie sweet potato treats. I just thinly sliced a sweet potato and brushed it with olive oil. Spread it out on a cookie sheet and baked as low as my oven would go and turned every 30 minutes until they were dried out. They can be made in a food dehydrator, but I don’t have one. I put them in a Ziploc bag in the fridge. She loves them.

  31. There ARE more shows like the “farm” shows. Manor House, Edwardian House, Coal House, Coal House at War, !940’s House, !900 House, and Frontier House are all awesome. Some of them (if not all) are on youtube.

  32. I’ve been scrounging lumber from construction sites. (Asking permission first.) Most of our lot is sloped so it’s a lot easier to water with garden beds. We’ve used 2 x 4s (you can also stack them two high if you want), 2 x 6’s and some recycled 2x12s from my sister. My husband cuts scrap 2×4 and puts it upright in the corners and then bolts into that. (The bolts aren’t cheap.) We are still adding a lot more beds, I’m hoping I can scavenge the rest of the wood.

    Hope that helps.

  33. Wow, Your garden is beautiful. It will be a few more months until i can start planting out doors. I have two fruit trees. I would like to add more. I had a canning question for you I am just learning. Do you use vinegar and lemon juice or do you buy fruit pectan or whatever other preservative they recommend when canning low acid items? I am taking some of your shopping tips to help cut our grocery bill. Thank you for your inspiration.

  34. I admit I am jealous of others warmer temperatures! The temps dipped down to zero last week with a -25 degree wind chill. We turned up the heat slightly for a little time, but otherwise left the thermostat alone. I piled extra blankets and throws on everyone’s beds, put the kids in footed pajamas, and wore a warm sweater over my own.
    – We used a gift card we received to Home Depot to purchase a new trash can, shovel, and rock salt.
    -I used two Target gift cards I earned from holiday purchases to pick up some snow boots for my 4 year old. Made sure to use Cartwheel for all eligible purchases (grocery items.)
    -I emptied out and reorganized my pantry. Now I have some space for extras when I see a good grocery deal. Still need to make some room in the basement too.
    -I was able to cash in an offer for renewing my Sam’s Club membership. It was a voucher for a $25 gift card with renewal. We were due this month so it worked out great.
    -Submitted receipts to Ibotta and Walmart Saving Star.
    -We ate all meals at home this past week. Only 1 meal was eaten out by my husband between work and a meeting at school but he spent very little. It is nice having my spouse on board with frugal efforts.

    Hope everyone has a nice week!

  35. Myra, there are extensive embroidery examples, patterns and tutorials that can be found through Pinterest. It gives you the added bonus of creating a board to which you can “pin” all your favourites for easy access of just inspiration. I learned how to embroider last summer and Pinterest really helped me. Once I knew a few simple stitches, I used the pictures as inspiration on how to put the stiches together to create my own designs. I’m not talented at knitting/crocheting, but I sure picked up embroidery quickly. Here are some links that I found through Pinterest that show you how to do some of the stitches:


    There are also YouTube videos if you are having a hard time following the diagrams and need clarity. Just search using the stitch name. Hope this helps!

  36. We’ve been having some single digit temperatures here along with an freezing rain today, so I can only dream about my garden right now! 🙂 Actually, I have a cold frame of spinach that’s doing well so i hope to try winter crops of other cold weather vegetables next year. I did sit down with my calendar and box of seeds to plan out when I need to start those that I usually start indoors. Looks like I can get seeds started in about 4 weeks.

    I made a turkey pot pie out of leftover Christmas turkey. It was really good but the recipe made so much filling that we were able to have it over biscuits one night and the next night I tossed in some bow-tie pasta and grated some asiago cheese on top for a stew. It was really good!

    I still had about 4 quarts of turkey stock that I put in the freezer after the meat was used up. We certainly got a lot out of that free turkey!

    My husband needed some fleece for a project he’s working on so we used a 50% off coupon at Joann’s for the purchase. Saved $25.00!

    Shelled a bunch of black bean that had been drying since the fall. Ended up with a quart and 1/2 of dried black beans.

    We have a juice glass full of fruit juice in the morning with our breakfast and our local grocery store had 12 oz cans of Old Orchard juice concentrate for .88 cents so I stocked up on that as well as Pierogies for .88 cents a bag of 12. We eat them as a main course with veggies on the side, so this will be several meals for us!

    My DH continues to clear out his mother’s room/suite at our house. At one time she was a knitter and did beautiful work. Now I don’t even think she could remember how to knit even if she wanted to. He found 3 large bags of quality yarn and one of the bags contained a boat load of straight needles all of which he gave to me. Thing is, I know if we asked her if she wanted it she would tell us it’s not hers because she won’t recognize it. Poor thing can’t even remember most her belongings so I was happy to take the supplies and put them to good use!

  37. Mandy, you are amazing that you work outside the home full time and yet do all the from-scratch cooking and frugal activities. Congrats on paying your house off in three more months. I’m sure you can’t wait.

  38. Debbie, good luck on your interviews. I like to shop at Goodwill too. Anytime we are traveling and I see a Goodwill near a ritzy neighborhood, I like to stop in. Those are usually the stores with really nice items. You are so creative with your pantry items. Keep up the good work.

  39. I LOVE your idea of saving the Coban wrap to use in the garden! What a brilliant reuse of this medical material!!!

  40. Glad you are feeling better Brandy! I am so grateful for your posts and the comments that everyone leaves on your blog. They are helping me a lot — I am definitely a frugal newbie but my optimistic take is that this means I can only get better, right? 😀 I’m excited to get out into the garden this week, although constant rain the last few days have stymied me thus far. I’ve been posting a meal plan and weekly goals along with some frugal highlights on my blog each week: https://allthatjunkinmytrunk.wordpress.com/2015/01/12/frugal-accomplishments-weekly-meal-plan/

    My frugal highlhights last week were the following:
    Filled my car up with gas at $2.07/gallon
    Picked up 50 lbs of beans at the LDS home storage center (25 lbs each of white beans and black beans) for $30.
    Ordered 50 lbs of rolled oats from the natural food store — they did go on sale this month and the savings over the regular price is almost $17 for fifty pounds. The sale price is .99/lb, so my total for this purchase is just under $50. This amount of oats should last us quite a while.
    Combined errands to use the least amount of gas possible.
    Found apples for .79/lb at Save-a-Lot. While there I also picked up a couple of 4 lb bags of pinto beans, onions at .33/lb, potatoes at $2.99/8 lbs, and 3 bags of oyster crackers for .99/each.
    Used birthday rewards at various places to treat myself to little things like a cup of coffee and a cupcake at no cost.
    Re-read books I already have and/or read books I hadn’t read yet rather than buy new e-books (This is a bad habit I have–buying books at “bargain” prices even when I have books on my reader that I haven’t even started. And, yes, I’m a librarian — I know that I can borrow books and e-books from my library–in fact, I do that a lot. But there are certain authors / books that are available through my library that I’d still like to read. And that’s what I end up buying.)
    Gave myself a manicure. I’m terrible at this but figure the only way to improve is to keep doing it. And it’s cheap fun since I have more than enough polish and nail supplies to keep me occupied well into the next century, probably.

    Thanks for the inspiration and great ideas!

  41. Thanks! My husband works for a company that uses lumber but unfortunately, it’s treated so I won’t use it for gardening, but he does deliver to a lot of construction sites that we might could get lumber from!

  42. Thanks for the information. I have watched three tutorials on youtube that were very easy to follow. I have learned a basic straight stitch, back stitch, and slip stitch from those. I hope to learn more soon. I remember my grandmother giving me embroidered pillow cases as a wedding gift 22 years ago and I would really like to revive this lost art, as well as others!

  43. Today I refrained from driving into town to use a gift card for lunch. I will save it for another day when I am running errands.
    For lunch I made baked potato fries (NO OIL and they came out well), chicken nuggets (purchased on sale), and broccoli. It fed three of us, plus leftovers for my doggy.
    forgot to buy my dog food last week so this week he is getting leftovers and odds and ends I’ve been meaning to use. I will buy his food this Friday with my weekly shopping trip. This was by accident, but it will save me from spending money on his food this week and he is more than happy with plain potatoes, veggies, and turkey that is too dried out for us.
    Yesterday at church was potluck. I brought a double batch of homemade cookies and my family was able to eat lots of great grub and have fellowship.
    I went to Rite Aid and spent only $2.xx OOP (and earned $6 rewards) for 2 bottles of contact solution, two Toblerone candies, and a water bottle. I found a great FB group for Rite Aid and it’s helping me get the most of my money from there.
    Menu planned & used coupons at the grocery store.
    I found out that a McDonald’s mailer I received had a coupon for a free coffee, no purchase necessary. I am going to save that and take my daughter so she can play in the play place while I drink my coffee.
    Went to the library. Picked up a book that our library didn’t have but they got it from another branch.
    Earned a $5 Amazon gift card (Swagbucks)
    Received muffin liners via this new site I found called amazing deals group. You pay $1 for various items in exchange for an amazon review. Not all the products are that appealing to me, but I just wait until something pops up that I like.

  44. I would like to encourage all the frugal commenters to include their state or region. This enables me to compare their weather and gardening seasons to mine. Thanks. A Wisconsin Cheese head.

  45. Your garden is quite beautiful. I am still only in the planning stages, but hoping that spring comes early to our area! We have a saying in our area that if the ground isn’t frozen then you are planting your peas too late! Back when we were in a community garden, I planted my peas when no one else in upstate ny is even thinking about planting and had the best looking peas in the out of everyones!

    This week we did well on our frugality.
    – We have kept our heat at 60 degrees for when we are home and 58 degrees when we are away or sleeping all winter. I am hoping this helps us save a lot this year. So far, it has been working good, but these below zero nights are not good for saving.
    – My husband and I made candles. I save all of the ends of our candles and melt them down to make new ones. Our old candles made 8 glade size candles. Candles make our house seem so much warmer during the winter; they are wonderful for morale up north!
    – I have spent $19.59 of this months $40 dollar grocery budget. This is $120 less then our usual budget for the month, which I plan to use to pay down debt.
    – I have really been focusing on eating the right serving size. It is really amazing how long cereal lasts when you measure it out each morning. (Not to mention the fact that it helps the waistline!)
    – I boiled a pound of black beans and then froze them in smaller portions so that I can pull out a bag when making dinner after work to make a meal stretch more.
    – I have not spent any additional money this month. I have kept on track with the no spend January plan.

  46. Myra, I love to embroider! My mom & grandma taught me many years ago. I’m currently in a church group that makes quilts & such for charity. We do a couple of yearly fundraisers and just had one yesterday. The quilt top up for auction was made up of 12 squares that I embroidered. Pretty intricate & large- it was a King quilt. It went for over $1000 so I was very tickled to have played such a large part in it. 🙂 I think you’ll enjoy it. Just be patient and not too critical. You will get better and better, even after you’ve become very good. I can look at work that I did just 5 yrs. ago and can see improvement. I was always wanting to re-do something, but my mom convinced me to just leave it be as a reminder of my continued improvement. Good advice, but hard to do!

  47. Diana, I have a pair of pants like that, too. I grew out of them, but they were nearly brand new so I can’t bring myself to donate them!! Congrats on your success.

    If your shower curtain isn’t a special material, I’ve always used bleach in the washer to clean mine. When I had the plastic ones, I’d throw it in with about 4-5 rag towels- they act as scrubbers. Some bleach, hot water, & it comes out clean as a whistle. I now have a cloth liner like a hotel & I throw it in the washer with just hot water & bleach. White as snow! I don’t throw them out until they can’t hang anymore. My current one is at least 8 yrs. old. I got it at Bed, Bath, & Beyond with a coupon.

  48. Yes I peeled them. She also loves raw carrots and green beans which can be frozen during the summer for a cool treat. Hope your fur baby likes them too.

  49. Glad you are feeling better, Brandy.

    Some frugal things from the past couple of weeks:
    – Two people gave me some leftover food they weren’t going to use: frozen leftover turkey, a pound of mushrooms, a bunch of celery and two packages of fresh herbs. I was thankful for this unexpected bounty, and have been using it all.
    – I cleaned out a couple of drawers cleared some other clutter. I donated a bag to the thrift store and gave away two items on freecycle. That room looks a lot better now.
    – I made a scarf for a birthday gift for a friend. It was very light fabric, which was good because I had to mail it overseas (lighter package = less postage). I hope she will like it.
    – I took the bus to downtown Seattle to meet my mom. She took the bus too. This saves so much on parking. We spent a few hours together and it was a lot of fun. I went to my favorite spice store and stocked up on some bulk spices and teas. My mom used to take me to that store when I was a child. Great memories.
    – I made a bunch of food to have on hand: broccoli soup, carrot salad, two kinds of gluten free bread, gluten free peanut butter cookies, and meat broth from bones and scraps I had in the freezer.
    – I made yogurt, kombucha and water kefir.
    – I bought something my husband has been wanting for less than half price. He was thrilled.
    – I wanted another pair of prescription reading glasses, so I ordered them from Zenni Optical. I got them today and am very pleased.

    It’s so much fun reading everyone’s frugal accomplishments every week.

  50. Oh the gardening pictures are so inspiring. It’s a new week and with the -30 wind chills last week things are feeling warmer.
    Last week we accomplished the following…
    -Finished tracking all our expenses/income for 2014 and compared to the previous year. Amazed at how closely some expenses were to the previous year.
    -Making the most of what we have and planning our meals. Made brownies and frosted with a 1/3 of a recipe-no one missed the extra frosting.
    -Send a little baby gift to my great niece, used a gift card to order, sent congratulations message on insert card, and had free shipping with our Amazon Prime account.
    -Keeping lights off…I say “saved a nickel” everytime I turn off a light.
    -Ate lunch at my desk, no money spent on gas when I normally would leave the office.
    -Watered all my plants that I am holding over winter, to enjoy next summer. (I have a hanging fern that have had for over 4 years)
    -Attended the funeral of a co-worker, so sad and caused one to count blessings.
    -Shoveled snow, want to avoid using salt for expense and impact on the environment. With warming this week above freezing, some sidewalks and driveways will clean up.
    -Found lining fabric in my stash that I will use on valences that I’m making.

  51. I am excited to plant our garden this year but we are still a few months away.

    Last week:

    * daughter has been sick; glad we had some cough syrup, frozen fruit for smoothies, and hot tea for her.
    * no eating out all week
    * trying to eat down our pantry/freezer. Which is going well and we are eating up some items we’ve had on hand for a while.
    * hubby was able to do a couple home repairs himself
    * only spent $40 at the grocery store; mostly on produce
    * I ordered a few food grade buckets and gamma lids so I can bulk buy flour, rice and beans

  52. We’ve had wet weather this week – cold and wet, hot and wet – it’s unusual for us; normally we have hot, dry weather in January. The extra rain is a blessing, of course; although it’s hard to remember that when the laundry gets piled up. There are floods in some parts of Australia – there’s even water in the Todd River! I know that sounds odd to American ears (“Why are you surprised there’s water in a river?”) but it’s normally just a dry river bed. I took some pictures when we were in Alice Springs a couple years back, of “Do Not Swim” signs stuck in sand – the incongruity amused me, like, Where would you swim? There’s no water! But when the water comes, it comes in fast and furious, so, “do not swim.”

    I took stock of my pantry and freezer this week, and devised a menu plan based on what we already have on-hand. We’re in pretty good shape, food-wise. Thanks to the 50 cent 1 kilo bags of chocolate Easter eggs we found last year, we’re in especially good shape for chocolate.

    I made a couple more Christmas presents for the kids; also found some as-new books in a second hand store for 50 cents each, which I’ll add to the Christmas stash. I couldn’t resist a $5 cricket set from Big W; we have one but we’ll be lucky if it sees out the summer. This is a pretty good set, wooden bat, wooden stumps and bails, good size – I saw a small plastic set at another shop for three times as much.

    I resisted the 50 cent wrapping paper but did fold and buy some 50 cent spools of ribbon. I don’t have a lot of ribbon, and I often find myself wanting some for one project or another. I also found 3-packs of washi tape marked down to 50 cents which, for here, is a very good price. We also found some cheap strawberries, pears, and carrots, and I harvested some plums and nectarines from our trees. The pears are coming along nicely too. Who knows, we might even get a few tomatoes this year – normally they just don’t ripen for us.

    For our upcoming trip to the US we’ve decided to save about $1800 by driving instead of flying. It’ll take marginally longer, but really, not by much, since all the flights involve stop-overs in out of the way places about half-way across the country. We’ll also get to see more of the countryside this way. I’m hoping somewhere along the way we’ll find some snow since the kids have never really had the chance to play in snow before. I’m pretty set for what to do in Oregon, but if anyone has any fun, frugal activities along the I5 in California, I’m open to hearing them!

  53. Hello Everyone!

    This week’s accomplishments:
    *Took a meal to a family from our church who just had a baby. Made the entire meal from pantry ingredients. Fed their family of 5 and my family of 5 for $0
    *Cooked a pound of lentils and made a big batch of lentil burgers. We ate those for dinner one night and I froze the rest.
    *Filled up our van with gas for under $30.00. I am loving these low gas prices! Today was $1.85/gallon
    *Ate all meals at home all week.
    * My husband and I went on a date this week to see the movie ‘Unbroken’, and used movie gift certificates we got for Christmas to pay for the movie
    *Noticed an old pillow case had a tear that was beyond repair, so I cut it up and added the rags to my rag bucket.
    *Made a double batch of pumpkin muffins. Our family ate some for dinner tonight and I froze the rest for another meal
    *Picked up some extra nursing visits on Saturday while my husband stayed home with our kids. Didn’t have to pay a babysitter while I worked.
    *It’s been super cold lately but we have been able to keep our heat low during the day. We are adding extra layers, wearing slippers and using blankets. As I write this, I am watching the National Championship Game (O-H-..), covering up with a cozy, new blanket I purchased at a garage sale this past summer for $1.00!
    *continuing to do all the daily little things I do to save: using ‘half’ (laundry soap, cleaner, dish soap, tearing dryer sheets in half, etc.) unplugging cords from outlets, turning lights off (trying to pay better attention to this)

    I love reading everyone’s comments! I get so much inspiration! Have a wonderful week everyone!

  54. Melissa, start with a reputable book like Ball Blue Book. They have a newly updated one out. They have excellent instructions, answers to any question that may come up and a nice variety of recipes. Now, when you are talking low acid to you mean corn, beans, that kind of thing? You need to pressure can those unless you are pickling like in dilly beans or corn relish. Then those have vinegar added for the acid. If you are just talking low acid tomatoes, you can still water bath can those but you increase the acid with lemon juice, so much per jar. Canning is a wonderful way to preserve your garden food, or food from the farmers market etc. Just read you recipe over and over till you know the steps to follow, how exactly to prep the food, jars and you will have a safe fun experience. Good luck.

  55. Brandy, I glad you’re feeling better. And I’m so thrilled that you and your family enjoyed the Wartime farm, Edwardian Farm and Tudor Monastery Farm series! I have watched many of them multiple times and still manage to extract more ideas each and every time I watch them. They are just so packed with information!

    As for gardening, we’re still a few months off from starting anything outdoors here in Canada. However, I was into a store the other day and they were packing up all the Christmas stuff and replacing it with gardening supplies. I was so excited to find the seed packet display out! I will need to go through my seeds soon to decide what I need to purchase for this spring.

    As for my frugal accomplishments, I am still hopeful that some week I will be able to say I did not eat out this week at all…but it won’t be this week.:p Some day I will get my family on board with this idea…it’s a goal in the works I guess. Here are the things that I did accomplish this week:
    *Tried a new taco casserole recipe this week using ingredients I have had in the pantry for a while. It was a huge hit and now everyone keeps asking when we will have it again. I now have to watch for a sale to buy more of the ingredients I need.
    *Made a large pan of lasagna from scratch and had enough left over to freeze for a quick meal later.
    *Bought 20 more jars of Peanut butter @ $1.97/1kg jar. We now have 40 jars of peanut butter stored in our house. It better last at least 6 months!
    *Used $20 in gift cards, that I received from my work for Christmas, to offset the cost of my stock up with the January deals.
    *Washed and saved two bread bags for reuse for storing my homemade bread.
    *Was disappointed when I realized the large 10lb bag of carrots I bought on sale had started to mold and go bad. So I picked through the carrots and salvaged what I could, scraping off the slimy outer skin and removing the bad spots, then cooked them up and froze the carrots in small Food Saver packages to use in dishes like shepherd’s pie or other casseroles where the veggies are pre-cooked.
    *Made blueberry muffins from scratch, then wrapped them individually with plastic wrap and froze them for a quick grab lunchbox item.
    *Made a large batch of french toast, then froze them for a quick grab breakfast item. We just pop them in the toaster to rewarm.
    *Bought fabric during a big January sale @ Fabricland and picked up a meter each of three different fabrics for a grand total of just over $6.00. I will use the fabric to make more infinity scarves as requested by my daughter. There should be enough to make duplicates for gift giving to others as well.
    *Purchased two nice scarves for my daughter and a canning jar at a thrift store for only $2.25.
    *Confirmed today that I will have a summer contract again this year with the museum I work at. There was little doubt I wouldn’t get offered one, but it is always comforting to know for sure.

    Also, for those who expressed that they were looking for more frugal or pantry type recipes, I thought I would suggest a blog website called Kitchen Simplicity (link is http://kitchensimplicity.com ) that I bookmarked a few years ago. Recently I began exploring the site again and was pleased that most of her recipes use simple, basic ingredients that you would stock in your pantry. In fact the site has a very similar feel to Brandy’s. For the women who had a particular interest in learning to cook Asian food, she has several recipes that may be of interest to you in particular. I hope you enjoy it.

    Well that’s about all for now. We have received some devastating news today about my FIL’s health condition. He was admitted this evening to the palliative care unit at the hospital. It looks like we’re in for a very rough emotional week, especially for my husband and his family. I hope everyone else has a better week than we’re in for.

  56. Thank you for the tip about War Farm and the other shows on YouTube! I love shows like that.

    I haven’t posted for a long, long time but here are some of the frugal things I’ve done recently:

    – used Amazon gift cards from Swagbucks to buy a pair of snow boots for my daughter.
    – made five quarts of stock from some chicken carcasses I’ve been saving in my freezer.
    – made a big batch of chili and a big batch of stew to freeze for quick dinners on the nights my daughter has swimming lessons.
    – dusted off my budget and figured out places we can tighten things up.
    – I got a raise last month, so I set up an automatic transfer for the increase to savings.
    – saved $4 using coupons for things I was buying anyway.
    – taught my six-year-old how to make noodles from scratch.

  57. Andrea, thanks. So it is kale. Interesting.

    I thought of one frugal or not frugal thing. At school last week a number of teachers and older students decided to go for the McDonald Big Mac special of BOGO for the price of the temperature the day before. Well being as it was below 0 F the 2nd was free, so I went in on it. Not sure the attraction, but it was $2 for one rather than $4. So I don’t think I need to ever have another one and on top of that it gave me a stomach ache! My overall feeling , that for me it was not frugal, but you know mob mentality can get you sometimes.

  58. I am continuing to focus on both physical and financial health (I am trying to do a better job of participating in this roundup weekly as motivation/inspiration on the financial health part). Last week, I was reminded that my employer offers a quarterly health incentive, and submitted my participation in New Year’s Day 5K by the January 15 deadline in order to receive a $50 contribution to my health savings account.

    I also added activities (steps taken, ice skating, 5K walk) to the healthy activities/balance rewards portion of my walgreens.com account to gain Balance Rewards points.

    I am participating in the Daniel Plan study through my church; they are selling the study guide for $12 and the book for $18. I flipped through the study guide at the first meeting and found it has the same information, just formatted differently, as in the “Jumpstart Guide” I had downloaded for free when it was offered via NoiseTrade.com, so did not make that purchase. I did choose to purchase the book, but since my focus this year includes financial as well as physical health, I paid $3 out of pocket by purchasing it used via Amazon and using a $5 gift card earned through Swagbucks.

    Submitted my points earned through e-rewards survey for $5 credit to Upromise account.

    Although we don’t buy lottery tickets, my sister-in-law likes to send them in birthday/holiday cards. The challenge is that she lives in another state, and even though we travel to see family fairly frequently, we rarely remember to bring/cash in any lottery tickets while there. We traveled back to Iowa for a family funeral this past weekend; and I did remember to bring the past few months’ lottery tickets along, and cashed them in for $4 in extra income.

  59. I am continuing to focus on both physical and financial health (I am trying to do a better job of participating in this roundup weekly as motivation/inspiration on the financial health part). Last week, I was reminded that my employer offers a quarterly health incentive, and submitted my participation in New Year’s Day 5K by the January 15 deadline in order to receive a $50 contribution to my health savings account.

    I also added activities (steps taken, ice skating, 5K walk) to the healthy activities/balance rewards portion of my walgreens.com account to gain Balance Rewards points.

    I am participating in the Daniel Plan study through my church; they are selling the study guide for $12 and the book for $18. I flipped through the study guide at the first meeting and found it has the same information, just formatted differently, as in the “Jumpstart Guide” I had downloaded for free when it was offered via NoiseTrade.com, so did not make that purchase. I did choose to purchase the book, but since my focus this year includes financial as well as physical health, I paid $3 out of pocket by purchasing it used via Amazon and using a $5 gift card earned through Swagbucks.

    Submitted my points earned through e-rewards survey for $5 credit to Upromise account.

    Although we don’t buy lottery tickets, my sister-in-law likes to send them in birthday/holiday cards. The challenge is that she lives in another state, and even though we travel to see family fairly frequently, we rarely remember to bring/cash in any lottery tickets while there. We traveled back to Iowa for a family funeral this past weekend; and I did remember to bring the past few months’ lottery tickets along, and cashed them in for $4 in extra income.

  60. I’m sorry to hear about your FIL. I see a lot of people in the end-stages of life, or their families, so I just wanted to say: Whatever you’re feeling, it’s okay. It’s often this odd mixture of relief and grief (and the relief can quickly turn to guilt because it just feels wrong to feel relieved) but that’s normal. And if you don’t feel relief or grief that’s normal too. There’s no ‘right’ way to feel when this is happening to someone you love – so go with it, accept it, and be gentle with yourself and those around you. Palliative care is tough. I’m sorry that you have to face this, and hope you’re able to find comfort at this time.

  61. I live at a little higher elevation than Portland, but still in Oregon. I also am in awe at seeing the things you, Brandy, can grow at this time of year there. I know youre payoff is miserable heat during the summer where not much grows, but it sounds fun right now. I’ve done some experimenting with winter growing. I’ve read Steve Solomon’s books, and also a good winter gardening by another woman whose last name escapes me, but her first name was Binda.

    Here are 2 problems I’ve had. RAIN AND SLUGS. It is so wet here that the garden is extremely muddy and almost impossible to get into during the winter. It also prevents late winter/early spring planting. We have combated that problem with 4 large raised beds on one end of our garden. Last year I overwintered leeks, parsley, a few onions and garlic and chives. This year I have parsley, chives, chard and a few garlic plants. I can also get in those beds early to plant peas and have grown a good crop for the last 2 years since my husband put them in. I get carrots, beets, onions, green onions, lettuce, spinich, etc. planted as soon as I can and get an early crop from those–but it’s never until March at the earliest. I have used milk jugs with the bottoms cut out for cloches sometimes. We have a cold frame. But, the plants start growing, and the slugs often get in there and ruin them.

    None of this gets rid of the slugs. They chew down plant after plant and wreck many of the ones that are not completely chewed away. I use slug bait sometimes, or crushed egg shells sometimes. The slug bait works much better for me, but never gets rid of them all. So, it’s always a battle and truthfully, I get a lot more garden produce out of my freezer and canning shelf than I do from the garden during the winter, no matter how much I try. I often buy large bags of lettuce, for instance, from Cash and Carry or Costco. They are reasonable and last a long time for me. But I always keep trying the winter gardening!

  62. Tina,
    I made water kefir for the first time from some grains I ordered off the internet. I wanted to make a g/f sourdough starter. After fermenting the kefir on the counter for several days with the raisins and lemon slice, I picked those out and used the 2 Tablespoons called for in the brown rice starter. I put the remaining 2-3 cups of water kefir in the fridge and am wondering what to do with it exactly now that I’ve got my sourdough started going nicely. What do you do with yours? I’ve never even heard of it until I wanted to follow this sourdough started recipe. I do understand that I need to keep the small grains found at the bottom of the jar, as they are the starters for my next batch.

  63. I think I’m on the same wavelength with a lot of commenters–clean out those freezers! I was able to pull several things out again this week and used them for meals. I was able to make spaghetti sauce, red lentil hummus, other items. My husband cooked a chicken and we had it one night. Yesterday, I made green enchiladas with some of the leftovers. I spent many hours cooking this past weekend, so am in pretty good shape for the week ahead.

    I cut out a dress for my granddaughter from things I had on hand. I started sewing, but didn’t get too far. I walked on the treadmill several times while watching library movies.

    I picked up 2 more piano students and they will start next week. I’m about at the amount of students I can take unless I add another day of teaching, but these people took one of the last remaining slots at a time where I was already giving several lessons in the town where I teach, about 30 minutes from home. I do some lessons there, and some at home. I don’t really have time for another day right now, since I am still homeschooling one child and some other things, so I am excited that it worked. This month, I am following my budget more strictly than I have been doing, and was able to put some $ aside for meat later (I save all year and buy 1/2 beef in the fall/winter), and also some for savings in general.

  64. Thank you Vicky! I spend one day every weekend in the kitchen to prepare for the week. My daughter “helps” me cook. It’s fun. I am SO excited to have the house paid off! I paid extra when possible so pay it off early 😀

  65. I do this too. I use my dehydrator and they turn out great! My American Bull Dog mix just loves them. I also dry banana and apple slices for him. My boy is very food motivated and it’s funny how I can use a little slice of dried fruit to make a big dog do what I want!:)

  66. I enjoy reading everyone post. What I did last week was stay home with the winter storms. I haven’t used my van since Dec. 19th. Hubby was on vocation for a week and half and we use his truck if we went anywhere. I also decide to eat out of the pantry and freezer for the next couple weeks. May not be what we want but no one will go hungry. We been having game night at our house instead of going anywhere which I have been enjoying.

  67. Mae, Thank you for saying that. My husband and I are novices to end stage and death – dealing with it now. We are a roller coaster of emotions and feel a little lost. Your comment really was just what I needed to read for some weeks now.

  68. I haven’t posted my frugal accomplishments for awhile- I have been in a bit of a funk as I lost my job in mid-November. I received a job offer this past Friday and am still in the running for the job I really want so either way, I think I will be starting a new job in early February. Losing my job has been eye opening- we depend heavily on my income so losing it was difficult. We are reevaluating all expenses so in a way, this has been good for us. Since I have time I am going through my wardrobe reorganizing, donating, and getting it in order. We are eating from our pantry/freezer- the only things I have been buying are dairy and produce. My husband and I are almost ready to give up cable- reading many of your comments started the discussion at our house and I truly think we will be fine without cable television. Since I lost my job before Christmas, I chose to cut back on Christmas presents and it was a good thing- I spent more time making gifts and baking and I don’t think anyone lacked for anything. The scarves I made for ladies in my family were a huge hit with each of them so I am inspired to make gifts for next year as well. I have already started embroidering and knitting and and since I already have the materials I need, there has been no out of pocket expense. Since the first of January, I am making my Swagbucks goals- getting at least $25 per month is my goal for 2015. I cashed in $25 in Amazon credit on my iPoll app on my phone. 2014 was a tough year in many ways but I believe 2015 will be better and I am really glad to have found Brandy and all of the people who post their frugal activities because it has made me more aware in my own life. I hope everyone has a fabulous week!

  69. My thoughts and prayers are with you as you go through this transition with your FIL. I found the hospice staff were invaluable in assisting us with for my parents and FIL passing. Thank you for thinking of Asian recipes during this time. She has some interesting recipes.

  70. Your soup sounds so good.
    This past week I ate dinner leftovers for breakfast and lunch. Choose to cook instead of eating out one day. Postponed a homeschool book purchase until I find something less expensive. Worked on other subjects in the meantime. Was able so far to convince kids to spend Christmas money on items with some educational worth(books, legos).
    Thanks for all the inspiration and great ideas!

  71. Hang in there Beth. I too believe 2015 will be better. I became a dedicated follower of Brandy and the amazing people who comment when I lost my job suddenly in late 2013. After a long deep funk I started to rally after reading here on a regular basis. While we weren’t totally dependent on my income it did provide health insurance and was building our retirement fund. My life has changed in a way I couldn’t have imagined possible. I have fully embraced frugal living on so many levels – thrift store shopping, gardening, preserving food, using and building a deep pantry and stockpile, scrutinizing each and every purchase I make and thinking about what I can creatively. The impact on me spiritually and personally has been huge! I feel so much better on so many levels – more than I could have thought possible. So now that I am contemplating going back to work part-time (positions in my field of expertise aren’t frequent where I live and moving really isn’t a possibility) I am committed to keeping to my life as it is now – not as it was.

  72. Along the same vein but very different – Try watching old episodes of Horrible Histories (a favourite in my house!) or The Worst Jobs in History. Horrible Histories is aimed at kids but my husband and I love it; it’s history with all the bad bits left in. Weirdly enough I’ve learned a lot of actual history that way too; it’s not all fart jokes (although, being an English show, fart jokes do feature prominently). The Worst Jobs in History is, well, about the worst jobs in history – all sorts of jobs that you never knew existed, or you never knew were as gross as they were. Also very enlightening and I can pretty much guarantee, unless your job involves hand-scrubbing sewers, you’ll feel pretty darned lucky after you watch a couple of episodes!

  73. We haven’t’ been out to eat for almost two weeks!

    Found two shirts at the thrift store for $1 each – one a linen and one a linen cotton mix. Will be very nice for Spring and summer. Bought potatoes at Albertson’s that were $1.50 for 10 pounds – think they were left from the sale the week before of 99c for 10 lbs. I found cod – 4 lbs for $10.00.

    Made pita crisps from some pita chips that I found for 49c in the day-old bread rack, lemon bread made with Kreutzer’s mix bought for 28c with coupon and in clearance bin, croutons from old bread. Breakfast burritos, stir fry, green chile, ‘unstuffed’ cabbage roll casserole, potato soup, ‘pizza’ on naan bread. Made a big batch of rice that I used for several meals. One of the most interesting meals I made was breakfast today – miso broth, small piece of orange roughy I made for dinner when SO had a chop, rice, tofu and seaweed flakes. It was surprisingly delicious (but couldn’t talk SO into it :)).

    I completed my total inventory – and I mean total – food, sundries, pet food/supplies, batteries, candles, toiletries, paper products. If I have calculated correctly we should be able to spend not more than $100 a month on everything and anything we need. That includes gas, food, entertainment, medications. SO completed books for last year and that will mean that we will have gone from $1000 per month to $100 a month! The one part of entertainment that we haven’t totally addressed is the satellite tv bill. We now have both Netflix and Amazon Prime – comparing which of the two are better. We have cut off one of the ‘small’ boxes in one of our rooms. SO is still not convinced about going to basic coverage and watching Netflix and Prime. We have placed an antenna in the room that we took the box out of (it is an office/craft/work space) that is working out there. Can’t get antenna to work in other rooms. It remains our one ‘big’ expense that we aren’t agreeing on (yet).

    My frugal fail – broke the post on my Cuisinart shredding a block of cheddar cheese. I am going to break down and buy one through Amazon prime – I use my Cuisinart too much to wait too long to find one thrifting.

    Have a great week everyone.

  74. Made pizza from scratch as usual. I use an old Betty Crocker recipe I love to use because the dough doesn’t have to rise. This makes it quick, but it is so delicious! I make them on Pampered Chef stones.

    I began a new 2015 gratitude journal (I’ve kept one for the past four years) using a journal I bought at 50% off some time back. I use the exact same big art journal every year so I buy them at reduced rate in advance. I fill them with pictures torn from magazines for decoration, then around the picture or on the opposite page I list things I’m thankful for that day. This is a good use for the pretty pictures in magazines and prevents me from saving old issues! It’s also inspiring. 🙂

    I baked a cake and scones (enough of the latter to send plenty back to college with daughter). I put leftover meatloaf in spaghetti sauce, and that was quite good. I made sandwiches and snacks for our trip taking daughter back to school so we wouldn’t need to buy supper. We drive a conversion van due to son’s wheelchair, so we were so grateful to be able to fill it up for $50. There have been times it has cost over $100. So thankful to see gas prices under $2 per gallon. Bought textbooks on Amazon (cheaper than school bookstore) and will be selling books to Amazon this week.

    We continued to use our wood stove in the part of our house not tied in to the HVAC. It is the room we spend the most time in, and the warmest!

    Purchased 5 shirts/blouses, one pair of new (with tags) slacks, two nice picture frames, two little gold easels, red green and gold sequins, metal tags with “thank you” stamped on them (for card making), and a new package of rick rack for $12 from thrift store.

    Finally, I “trash picked” two nearly full rolls of wrapping paper from the big trash bin in the hall of dormitory where daughter stays. Yes, I DID ask her first if she minded and I was quite proud of her when she said, “Well, if you don’t I will!” That’s my girl! LOL

  75. Becky – have you tried shallow pie dishes filled with beer for the slugs? Essentially, you bury the pie dish so the lip of the dish is even with the dirt. The slugs are attracted to the beer and will, well, have a party and not be able to exit the pie dish. If it’s raining, you can rig up a cover for the dish, or not. In my experience, even diluted beer attracted the slugs. As long as there are no pets or small children around, this works well in our wet climate. I also have found that used, dry coffee grinds work to deter the slugs. Or, cow bran that is purchased at the feed store in 50# sacks worked as well for me as slug bait without the added chemicals. Hope these ideas help.

  76. Becky,
    I brew water kefir continually to drink as a probioitic beverage (sort of like healthy soda). You can find some good information on the Cultures for Health website. (I’m not affiliated with them – they just have good info).

    I ferment the water kefir for three days on the counter (our condo is on the cold side), strain out the grains (saving the fermented liquid), and put the grains into a new batch of sugar water.
    Then I take the fermented liquid and do a second fermentation in a second jar – I add fruit or juice and let it sit for 24 hours. Then I strain out the fruit and bottle the batch (in several bottles) and let it sit outside the fridge for a few days, so it becomes carbonated. Then I put it into the fridge and we drink it with meals. It tastes like slightly tart fruity soda. The second fermentation is optional, but it makes it taste good.
    I make the water kefir every few days, so it is a small time commitment. But we love it. You can store the grains in the fridge occasionally, but mine don’t like that treatment, and it takes a while to get them back producing normally.

    Fermented beverages (like water kefir and kombucha) are traditional probiotic drinks that aid digestion. In this sense, they are fermented like sauerkraut is fermented – they are sour but not alcoholic like beer or wine.

    Hope that’s helpful. 🙂

  77. Glad you are feeling better Brandy.
    It’s been below zero here in MN, that doesn’t help the heating bill.
    I found 3 lb bags of pink lady apples for $.99 a bag. There was a limit of 2. Found 15 oz, boneless, skinless chicken breast for $1.49, 3lb bags of sweet potatoes for $.99 each, 1 lb of strawberries for $1.00.
    Gas was $1.89 plus I had a $.10 off per gallon coupon!!!

  78. I’m also challenging myself to spend no more than $100 a month – I’ll be following along with you – Good luck to both of us! The meals you put together sounded delicious. Did you make the naan bread yourself?

  79. Thank you Mary- I really do think I needed a “reset” and the best part for me has been feeling that this was supposed to happen and life will be better. We can live well on less so I plan to continue using the frugal tips no matter where I end up working.

  80. Tina,
    Well, it sounds like I am far from having several bottles–right now I’m at about 2-3 cups:) But, I think I’ll do what you said and strain out the grains and start a new batch right away. I hope I like sour drinks—I’m not so sure of it from the way it sounds. My sourdough starter is growing very quickly–it’s already very puffy and thick. The directions indicate it’s done, but the recipe wants 4 cups of the starter and I’m not there yet. I’m going to add double flour next time to make it grow faster. Hope that doesn’t do it in. (You add 1/2 cup of brown rice flour each time you “feed” it) So, that’s my next project. It’s fun to experiment.

  81. Gas has finally dropped below $2 here in my part of Oregon! Yesterday was the first day we got some for $1.99/gallon. I think we all agree on how exciting these lower prices are. We joke that we will have to fill up the car with such low prices and then drive around in circles just to use it up so we can get some more at that low price:)

  82. Rhonda I am so sorry to hear about your FIL. Praying for your family. My FIL has not been in good health either (heart problems) and has been hospitalized 3 times and has had 2 procedures done in the past 3 months.

    As for the carrots, I have been buying the 10lb bags of carrots for a few months now (one of my biggest grocery savings – no more baby carrots here lol). The first bag I bought I tried storing it in the basement food storage but they started going slimy. I did some research online and found out that carrots need to be kept cold and humid (close to 100% humidity) so my basement conditions were probably not good for storing carrots (seems fine for potatoes, onions, beets and butternut squash though). Since then I’ve been storing the carrots in our secondary fridge ever since and have not had any more issues with spoilage.

  83. I’d love to hear about your hairstyles! Do you have a pinterest board or anything? My hair is frustrating to me because the length makes it so heavy and my time is very limited with 6 young children. Although I don’t cut my hair, I do occasionally let it down…very rarely though because it’s very impractical!

  84. Frugal Accomplishments January 5-11

    *Bought myself a new winter coat on clearance with a gift card for $0.
    *Switched my husband’s Go Phone rate plan to save $15/month.
    *Bought a book from Amazon to give as a gift using rewards points for $0.
    *Bought 2 Melissa & Doug wooden toys at Goodwill for my son’s second birthday in like-new condition for $4.24.
    *Contributed dinner rolls and butter for our church fellowship meal without having to purchase anything.
    *Had my weekly baking day to save on propane used. Made dinner rolls, peach cinnamon rolls, two vanilla cream pies, cracker jack, and dutch baby.
    *Spent $66.84 on grocery and household items (family of 8).

  85. I actually have two questions both of which might seem a little odd. The first is I’ve been trying to save money and make biscuits instead of buying them. The first time I made them the biscuits didn’t rise and were dense and hard. On my grandmother’s advice I replace my flour and my baking powder and found a different recipe because I replaced my whole wheat flour with white flour. I made the biscuits again and the same thing happened. Any idea what I could be doing wrong? My second question is do you have a meat slicer and if you don’t how do you slice ham and turkey for sandwiches without one? Aldi put their non sliced half hams on sale for $1.19lb and I jumped at that. I thought my mother-in-law had a meat slicer we could use but it turns out that it broke during their last move. I know for soups it doesn’t have to be sliced properly but sandwich meat seems like it would be a bit trickier without a slicer.

  86. Becky,
    I love to experiment too – it’s so fun to see what happens. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t. 🙂
    If you don’t like sour drinks, just mix the water kefir with juice to taste (maybe equal amounts of each). You can keep it in a jug in the fridge and you don’t need to do a second fermentation. I would think that would be plenty sweet, depending on the juice you use. I like anything sour, so that’s the way I make it. Good luck!

  87. I do have a meat slicer! I have a picture of it and a link to it in the right-hand column (if you’re reading my site on a phone, there may not be a right-hand column; scroll down and you will see a link to it). You can read more about it here as well: http://theprudenthomemaker.com/blog?view=entry&id=186

    You can also cut by hand, shred turkey, use a food processor to turn pieces of ham into small pieces for ham salad, or use an electric knife, in addition to cutting it by hand with a knife.

    Biscuits should be worked (mixed, handled) as little as possible to keep them light and fluffy. Using a sifter will also help. You want to barely mix them, just until needed, by hand (a mixer will do too much) and then pat out the dough before cutting out the biscuits.

  88. Elizabeth–Try this recipe from the Moosewood cookbook. It is a great beginner recipe and makes a wonderful dough that is very easy to work with. It also has the benefit of using oil instead of shortening/butter.
    Featherlight Biscuits
    2 and 1/4 cups of white pastry flour, or you can sub 1 cup of whole wheat pastry flour (which I do and they are still very light)
    1 tablespoon baking powder
    1/4 teaspoon baking soda
    1/2 teaspoon salt
    1/3 cup oil (I use canola, but I’m sure any kind is fine)
    3/4 cup buttermilk (I use real buttermilk, but the homemade milk/vinegar mixture would probably work just fine)
    Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Sift all dry ingredients together. (I do not sift b/c I am lazy, but I always stir my flour well and then spoon the flour into the measuring cup, never scoop, and then level off with the flat edge of a knife.) Put the dry ingredients into a medium sized mixing bowl. Mix the oil and buttermilk together. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and pour in the oil/buttermilk mixture. Mix just until blended. Knead 5 to 6 times. Pat into a 1/2 inch thickness and cut with biscuit cutter. It makes about 10 to 12 small biscuits or 6 to 8 if you use a medium size cutter. Put in a pan so they are touching each other (if you want soft sided biscuits) or on a cookie sheet not touching (if you want them more toasted all over). (I use a cookie sheet and spray it lightly with PAM.) Bake for 10 to 12 min. on the top shelf of the oven. (I just put them on the middle rack.) I often make a double batch and freeze some. I wish you much success!
    Brandy–thank you so much for hosting this wonderful community 🙂

  89. Hi Debbie – I found it on discount at CostCo when shopping with a friend. Apparently this CostCo doesn’t have naan lovers. The pizza’s were great! I am with you on the challenge – will keep posting. Finished my month shopping with two gallons of mile at $1.99 per gallon (Albertsons) and ham at King Soopers (maybe Kroger) for 99c a pound! Final save – had $25.00 in coupons from PetCo and bought cat litter for a few cents over the coupons! Normally the cats prefer to be outside but our weather hasn’t cooperated so have boxes inside. I clean them daily but still need to have litter on hand.

    Looking forward to seeing how we are doing!

  90. I support Brandy’s thought on an electric knife. I dont’ have the need for a slicer but found that the electric knife works great! Have seen them at thrift stores for less than $5. Mine is ancient and still works.

  91. We have been enjoying a bit of rain this week, with the weather usually warm enough that we can open the doors and windows at least some of the time.

    I planted three milk cartons as mini-greenhouses like described in Brandy’s Facebook post. No snow, but maybe my seeds will get a start. I planted some heirloom zebra tomato seeds that were give to me and some heirloom great white tomato seeds I saved from a tomato I was given to eat. I did have to purchase the seed starter soil, but the rest was free. I have lettuce, broccoli, beets, carrots and spinach growing from direct sowing a while back, as well as onions and garlic from bulbs. My yellow pear tomato is still producing a handful of little tomatoes every couple of days. Another tomato seems to have survived from last spring and is setting tomatoes. Two tiny tomato plants have self-seeded. I was excited to read that I should be able to plant beans in the pots where tomatoes grew last season. I hope to plant quite a few green bean and asparagus bean plants, and don’t want to have to empty the containers and start over. We are enjoying eating and sharing our citrus and the ones which our neighbors generously share. I hope to freeze more zest and juice to use later. I want to plant more lettuce and spinach, hoping to harvest my own greens rather than buying them, at least until it is too hot here in AZ. Since my husband helped me get my container garden going and also helps me move pots around, my vegetables and flowers are doing better than they ever have.

    I found a discounted pot of mini roses for $1.80. I was able to separate them to plant 5 little roses. My snapdragons and vincas are coming up from self seeding, as well as some pretty flowers I don’t know the names of. I want to get more flower seeds planted.

    A neighbor brought us a large container of homemade potato cheddar soup. It was delicious! We made a double batch of ham, potato and corn chowder. I bought a rotisserie chicken discounted and with a coupon. It made a couple of meals, when sides were added. Then, it made a lot of stock and pieces which were added to a double recipe of chicken spaghetti. The spaghetti noodles were free and other ingredients came from my freezer or pantry. After two nice meals, I was able to freeze 2 small pans of the spaghetti and 8 cups of broth.

    Thank you and wishes for a happy, frugal week to Brandy and all!

  92. Roberta, we already keep our carrots in the fridge, but they still went slimy and moldy. Must have been a bad batch.:(

    Thank you everyone for your thoughts and prayers. My FIL past away yesterday, with funeral to take place this Saturday. Coping with my husbands family has been the hardest part of this experience. They make it very difficult to be patient and understanding. I’ll be glad when all the formalities are over.

  93. Turkey salad sandwiches are also a good way to use up some of those little odds and ends that got forgotten in a Ziplock bag in the freezer and become dry. I thaw, put in the food processor, process until they are ground, then add some relish, or pickles, etc. I often do this when there are little bits of relish or pickles left in the bottom of jars and I want to clean them out. So, it doesn’t matter if they are sweet or dill. Then I add some Miracle Whip or Mayo and spread on bread. I have also chopped the turkey finely with a knife on a cutting board at times, then put in a bowl with the other items. This also works on beef. In fact, growing up, my mom would often make a roast on Sunday and then grind the leftovers in a meat grinder and make sandwiches during the week. I don’t remember having purchased lunchmeat from a package until I was in my teens(or pizza or chips) and then it was rare. She often sliced meat thinly with a knife, especially after holidays when there was turkey to use up. We ate a lot of tomato sandwiches in the summer, always on fluffy, boughten white bread with Miracle Whip……boy times have changed:)

  94. Made 4 quarts of chicken stock from chicken bones.
    Made 3 quarts of vegetable stock from vegetable scraps.
    Using coupons and the stores advertised special – I was able to get my boxed hair color at a BOGO.
    Added another item to my Etsy shop from fabric I have.
    We were able to save a total of $30 on our electric bill over the last 2 months by running the washer/dishwasher and dryer after 8 pm. We have turned down the thermostat, but not nearly as much as other readers.
    February through the end of May, the grocery budget will be $30/month. We will live off the stocked freezer and pantry for the majority of our meals. The amount not being used/applied will be placed into our emergency savings account.
    Added more soups/stews to our monthly menu planning.
    Made a double batch of granola, increased the ingredient honey by one and half, didn’t miss it.
    We had our trees trimmed in January (cheaper time to do so). By doing so, I am noticing there are 2 spots (about 3’ sq) that are now getting sun, I am going to use these spots for more chard, spinach and peas. We also have a burm in the front, where shrubs were getting to old (leggy). The Mister trimmed those down to 2’ tall, opens up another area to grow herbs. I am hoping to remove the shrubs entirely, but that is taking a little more convincing.

    I hope everyone has a fabulous week!

  95. It was cold and just plain yucky here for Georgia weather. We had wind chill advisories 3 days with below freezing temps during the day. I don’t think it ever got above 50 so my heat turned on a few times even with it set on 63. I know that’s not really cold, but it is for Georgia.
    I have a hard time making a list of how I saved money because I’ve lived like this so long, it is just habit.
    *did a survey for fuel points that did not post. Contacted customer service and was given credit.
    *cooked meals except Friday night. Brought home leftovers and had them for lunch and mine and husband’s supper Saturday.
    *made husband’s lunch except for 2 days he wanted to eat a hot lunch since he works outside and I was so cold. I can’t send him with a meal to heat up because he may not have access to a microwave.
    *made a sour cream blueberry pound cake and left oven open after it was finished to let the heat out since it was cold.
    *daughter went camping and hiking and brought home leftover hotdogs and buns we added slaw and baked beans for a meal.
    *made a sour cream pound cake for church bake share and again left oven open afterwards
    *watched a series on Hulu with my daughter before she started back to her nursing classes

  96. Make sure you used the correct type flour. All purpose or self rising, depending on what the recipe calls for.

  97. I guess I don’t quite understand the ‘no spend/eat from pantry and freezer’ concept. If I eat most of my pantry/freezer items and I’m not replacing them as I go, then I will just have to spend the money next month and may not be able to purchase them on sale. Or is this things you are growing and replacing yourself? I actually panic if I don’t have a well stocked pantry and freezer. I’ve never gone hungry, but for some reason that is a real fear of mine. Could you just explain this a little more to me,thanks

  98. We are doing some eating down of the pantry and freezer this month just to use up some of the older items. We seem to have some items in our pantry that aren’t the first choice of items to get eaten and this is helping us to use some of those items 🙂

  99. When my husband wants a hot lunch, I send soup in a thermos. A nice thick soup, not one of the ones that will leave him hungry.

  100. Becky, Depending on your budget, you can also line your raised beds with copper flashing. It’ll keep the slugs out for sure!

  101. I send hot lunches with my daughter to school all the time without access to a microwave. I invested in a really good metal lined, wide mouthed Thermos type container designed for soup or other hot, edible meals. They are rather expensive, but are well worth the investment as they last a long time and save money from taking homemade lunches. I even bought an extra large sized one years ago so I could take hot water with me for warming my daughter’s baby bottle on the go. It holds enough for two small meals or one meal big enough for a very hungry man.

    To help keep the food warm, I put boiling water into the container first and let sit for maybe 5-10 minutes to heat up the metal liner. Then I pour off out the water and pour in super hot food before sealing immediately. Ideas for lunch meals are soup, stew, hotdogs placed in boiling water, baked beans, left over casseroles, or pasta with a sauce. My daughter uses her’s in almost every school lunch she takes.

  102. If you don’t have self rising flour, you can add 1.5 teaspoons of baking powder and a .25 teaspoon of salt per cup of AP flour. Works just fine 🙂

  103. What Tina said. The small grocery budget for the next 4 months for us will towards produce and dairy and if there are pantry stock up items available. I have a certain amount of canning jars, and I need to use the canned fruits, sauces, etc now so I can re- can a pantry full for next year.

  104. Thank you so much for sharing the lovely photographs of your garden with us! I have been doing edible landscaping for several years now and it is amazing what you can harvest from very little space. I live in the mountains of western NC and we can have cold, snowy winters but I find I can still have kale and other winter crops if I just give them a little attention.

  105. Greetings!
    I’ve put in extra hours at work this week, so i’m late to the show.
    *I got six dozen eggs from Shopco for 99 cents each with a raincheck; boiled a dozen for sandwiches, salads and deviled eggs. They were gone in a few days. (The boiled eggs, not the whole six dozen!)
    *Sold several more items on ebay for travel funds.
    *Cleaned the freezer; Made a menu plan with the oldest items. I have a smaller second freezer that houses only baking supplies and breads that i need to go through.
    *Washed laundry with cold. I wish i could do as most of you and hang clothes to dry inside. But, we must have the only house in the entire world that is moist during the Winter. We run the dehumidifier almost everyday:( Although, it’s hard to complain too much since my skin cracks a lot less and i have no static electricity in my hair!)
    *We talked to all three of our children on the phone, or skyped with them, as well as the grandchildren. Love Skype!!
    *We’ve lived here almost four years now and finally remembered that we can pay our energy bill and internet bill at the credit union. I could kick myself for taking so long!
    *Wrote down my work hours wrong last week. This week i’ll get the hours added to this check.
    *Working hard at putting all extra cash into savings, no matter how small. I keep our checking account to the bone so there’s no mindless spending. If we need something, we have to make an effort to get the funds. It makes us think it through. So far, so good!
    *All meals at home or packed for work, for both of us. My husband is the ‘old’ guy at his job. This past week while he sat and ate his lunch all the others just stood around chatting. (There were only about four; it’s a small company.) He said something about them not eating and they all told him they didn’t have any money to run to the local gas station for sandwiches. He said “make a sandwich at home”. The next day, only one brought a sandwich. The following day, my husband was the only one with a packed lunch again. This made me think; when i was young i didn’t pack my lunch, either. I spent all my money from week to week just like these young men. Oh, how times have changed!:D
    *I’m becoming re-acquainted with my crockpot. What a marvelous invention! I love coming home to a cooked meal!
    I wish you all a healthy, peaceful week!

  106. Last winter was my first being retired and my husband wanted to keep the heat on at the weekend temperature – 66 degrees – and our bill jumped significantly. We started this heating season with a debit from last year – yikes!!
    I am keeping the heat at 61 from 7:00AM-3:00PM (64 til 9PM and then 60 til 4AM because he gets up at 4:30) and just got the February bill which is when they either raise or lower your budget plan amount and I am running even and they dropped our rate by $12 each month!! Thank goodness for layers and a warm dog!

  107. Brandy,

    Will you post pictures of all your espalier fruit trees? I am beginning to plant my own fruit trees around the edge of the yard, next to the fence, around the pool. Are there any books you read or places you researched to learn how to espalier?

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