Beets in Basket The Prudent Homemaker

I cut beet greens, lettuce, green onions, leeks, Swiss chard, dill, thyme and parsley from the garden. I dug beets from the garden.

Large Beet The Prudent Homemaker

I planted more seeds in the garden, including many that I collected from my garden last year. I covered seeds that came up with jars to help them grow more quickly in the cool weather.

I gave Winter a haircut.

Winter Embroidery

Winter made a lavender sachet using some fabric that I had been given, embroidery thread I bought on sale some time in the past, and lavender I also had on hand. 

Winter requested a book online from the library that instructions for a project that she wanted to make. My husband took her to pick up the book when he was already going to be out, and she started working on the project with supplies that we already had on hand.

We celebrated Ezrom’s birthday with a simple party at home. Winter decorated with streamers (after the party, she rolled them back up to use another time).  I made his requested meals for the day and I gave him the day off school. I made two chocolate pecan pies for dessert, per his request, using supplies I had on hand. I gave him a gift that he had asked for that I had purchased with Amazon credit. I also gave him date with mom and cooking lessons with mom coupons, and we let him stay up to watch a movie with dad after his siblings were in bed. His grandparents came and gave him some books that he had really wanted (the Knights of Right series) and his great-grandmother gave him some money. (My father-in-law came to visit him the day before; with over 60 grandchildren and great grand-children, he started last year giving each child a subscription to The Friend for children under 12, and the New Era for children 12 to 18. My children LOVE that they each get their own copy of the magazine in the mail each month, and at $10 a year, it’s a frugal gift for him). His siblings bought him some candy from the bulk section at Winco.

I made pita bread and French bread last week. 

We had salad from the garden.

I pulled some two bags of frozen homemade broth from the freezer and made two pots vegetable noodle soup, which was enough for 3 meals. For each pot of soup, I used a .50 package of fettucine (I broke the noodles so that they would be smaller), lots of beet greens from the garden, green onions from the garden, garlic powder, a little chicken bullion powder, celery leaves, thyme and parsley from the garden, and salt. Each pot costs less than .75 to make, so I fed three meals to all of us for $1.50, which is .06 per serving. 

I cooked a chicken in my solar oven this week. It went from frozen to done in less than 4 hours.

I made lentil tacos twice, using lentils that I cooked in my solar oven.

We had black beans and tomato rice ( cooked with tomato bullion).

I made a frugal version of rice pudding. It was just as delicious and not nearly as many calories as my regular recipe (which is high in calories!), as well as being lower in cost. We had this for breakfast one morning, topped with cinnamon sugar and raisins.

I collected rainwater when it rained.

I started a few seeds indoors for zucchini, sunflowers, and Armenian cucumbers, in a cardboard egg carton. I don’t have room nor a safe space to start seeds in a windowsill, so these are in my bathtub (there is a fair amount of light in the room). I am hoping the extra few weeks will give me a good start on these, as our last frost date is only 2 weeks away.

Water Density Experiment

Winter did a science experiment from Exploring Creation with Chemistry and Physics that called for water, salt, food coloring, and a straw. It was a neat lesson on water density and an inexpensive experiment.

I had a date at home with my husband. We played a card game together after the children were in bed.

What did you do to save money last week?


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  1. I haven’t had rice pudding in years. That sounds so good! I checked out a book from the library for my book club instead of buying. We are trying to eat from our pantry this week instead of shopping, saving the grocery money this week for a big sale next week.

  2. I love hearing ideas for frugal birthdays and that veggie soup sounds great!

    I am staying frugal by shopping the sales and using coupons. Last week we had a blizzard here in New England, so I didn’t shop as much as I wanted, but I still found many good deals like cheap Avent baby bottles, free soda, and free popcorn. I did 5 multiple transactions at Walgreens and got food, vitamins, candy, and medicine for only $4.17 total, plus a $10.00 Reward. My favorite deal of all was being paid to buy Loreal stylers at Target!

    Full details of all my transaction and pics here:

  3. You did so much this week! I was glad to see what you used for science with Winter. I have always noticed that they seem to do good experiments when you have photos of them doing science and was curious as to what you used. We just ordered Zoology 2 of the same series this past week. Have you used others in the series as well?

    We did do some buying of clothes this week, but I felt like the deals on them were pretty good. The best deal was finding some pairs of corduroy mens pants at our Gap store for $4.97 each on clearance, and just in my husband’s size. I was thankful to God for that – the other pairs I bought were $18 each, but to get 4 pairs for less than $50 with tax was good, I think. My husband has gone without new pants for some time, and he needs them for work.

    Have you ever tried to start seeds with a fluorescent light? I know you don’t have a basement, but even a spare shelf can be used if there is a way to attach a fluorescent light above it. I have started tons of seeds this way, including tomatoes, herbs, flowers, cucumbers, etc.

  4. Your photography is beautiful! Those beets! Brandy, have you tried beet hummus? It is one of my favorite ways to use beets besides roasting.
    I downloaded a free red work inspired cross stitch pattern off of DMCs website.
    I polished small pieces of silver jewelry with toothpaste.
    Thanks to the Jewish Lady’s blog post last week – I signed up with Panera to get a free lunch. This will be a nice treat.
    Made all meals at home, including treats of homemade ranch dip and English muffin bread in the bread machine.
    I want to cover a storage cube that has a padded seat. I found several yards of heavy weight cotton (I think it was a curtain) at a neighboring Goodwill for $2.50. The fabric matches the colors already in the room.
    Found a peck of colored peppers for 99 cents that are still very firm but should be used in the next few days. These will be diced/frozen for stir fries and fajitas.
    The Mister had a work conference, and returned with the coffee, microwave popcorn, a hot cocoa packet and the toiletries that were complimentary to the room.
    We watched the second season of The Paradise on Netflix.
    I hope everyone has a fabulous week!

  5. I love looking at your photos and the current pictures of the veggies make me long for Spring! I’ll be starting my seeds next week and I can’t wait!

    We did our normal frugal things this week like hanging laundry inside on racks to dry, eating all but 1 meal at home, combining trips to save gas and keeping the heat down and lights off. We were able to start heating with our wood fireplace/stove again and turned off the oil furnace. I had mentioned last week that we had to stop using it because smoke was pouring into our house so DH called the chimney sweep. They came back out last week and looked at the chimney and realized that they had not cleaned the cap when they were out last fall. It was filled with soot and was restricting flow of the smoke out of the chimney. They cleaned the whole chimney again for free! It’s working great now! We were prepared to pay but they were honest about it and corrected their mistake. The gentleman would not even take a tip for their service so DH purchased a couple of McDonald’s gift cards as a thank you. Much cheaper than paying for a cleaning and we were able to let the owner know what honest employees they have.

    I made Brandy’s Black Bean Burgers again. A favorite in our house. We had them the night I made them and put the rest in the freezer.

    I also made barbecue sauce this week. I had planned barbecued chicken in the slow-cooker then realized I was out of sauce. DH looked up a recipe on line for which I had all of the ingredients. It was fantastic and it made a lot of sauce. I put the unused sauce in pint jars in the fridge.

    I planned menus for the month of February and with the exception of milk and a few fresh things I should not have to go to the store this month. I also planned a cooking day for this coming week so I can make some things for the freezer.

    My MIL has been complaining about a draft coming in her windows at the memory care center. The building is practically brand new and the windows are sealed up tight. I actually sit in the window seat in front of the window when we visit and it’s very cozy. But, she is convinced that the cold air is “pouring in” on her. So, I told her that I would make draft dodgers for her windows. I used remnants of fabric I had on hand but could not bear the thought of using rice or beans inside it. We could use those for meals! 🙂 DH had found an old, very stained comforter in my MIL’s room while he was cleaning. He asked if we could use that to stuff them and I said great idea! So, we cut open the comforter and I cut out pieces of fiber-fill and DH stuffed the draft dodgers. I made 2 of them for her with supplies on hand and got the stuffing for free! Now I’m just trying to figure out where I can store the rest of the comforter so I can use it in another project.:)

  6. I won a $50 bank card from a contest that I’d entered online 🙂 It paid for two weeks worth of gas.

    Got several magazines in the mail.

    Started watching a new TV series on Hulu, called Heartland. It takes place in Canada and involves horses. It’s pretty good so far. I watched Season 1 last week and am on episode 5 of Season 2.

    Ate most dinners at work. What I don’t like though is that the meals served to us aren’t real healthy….lots of carbs. They have a halfway decent salad bar, so I try to stick with that…sometimes, there’s hard boiled eggs, imitation crab meat and I’ll put that into my salad for protein.

    Got word that I’ll be going out of town once again for work-related training at the end of the month. Since I work for the State, they provide us a vehicle to drive, meals are free and much better than what’s served at my home institution…lodging is also free. Just need to bring a few bucks for spending because they reimburse us for meals after we’ve turned in the proper paperwork.

    Watched Glee and Grey’s Anatomy online and also Downton Abbey on…which reminds me, I need to catch up on last nights episode.

  7. Collected more free apple & orange boxes & cut them down to hold jars.

    Cut 2 orange peels into small pieces & scattered it around the blueberries & roses. Cut a banana peel into small pieces & used it to fertilize the yellow rose in the back yard.

    Pruned 7 of the fruit trees. Cut the prunings into lengths to fit our small camping/ emergency stove. I refuse to buy tinder or fuel to use camping, while putting prunings in the garbage can.

    Purchased a bucket of dehydrated potato shreds & a couple of #10 cans of the same, during the case lot sale. I also ordered GF oats & refilled an empty storage bucket & a pantry pail. The pail is for my oldest daughter, since I could buy it for $15 less than she could, due to living on the Wasatch Front where there is more volume & competition at the case lot sales.

    Filed our taxes. We will receive a small federal & a small state refund this year.

    Made all meals at home & worked on using up some Russet potatoes that were declining fast in storage, before they spoiled. Made some gluten-free “pumpkin” muffins from leftover butternut squash to use it up.

    Bought a new top on deep clearance. Ordered a throw blanket on deep clearance that will be a gift for one of the grandchildren for Christmas. I picked up a small purple gratitude journal as a free “birthday” gift from Deseret Book, which I will use as a birthday or Christmas gift for a granddaughter. My choice was grey or purple, & I think she would prefer the purple one.

  8. We have been having lots of snow days, and as I write this the snow is falling quite heavily. Very pretty when it is falling but now that we have received over 20 inches in the past week I am over it! The one thing about the snow days is that they are frugal in the sense that we are stuck at home- so no spending or using gas on those days. Our frugal accomplishments for the past two weeks:

    -went to dinner at a cousins and we were sent home with leftovers which were enjoyed for lunch the next day.
    -signed up for story time at the library for my 4 year old. He loved it!
    -made a few meals from leftover ham we had for Christmas that I had frozen.
    -we received a bag of hand me downs for the boys that will fit next year.
    -ate all meals at home
    -our gifted freezer arrived! I am so grateful for this and have already begun filling it by making a trip to Sam’s Club and purchasing 10lbs of cheese and dividing it into 2 cup bags, along with a big bag of frozen strawberries for smoothies.
    -I printed several pages for my home management binder (free from Pinterest)
    -I did have to spend some extra to prepare for the blizzard last week. We needed batteries, candles, flashlights, extra water, etc. While not frugal it was necessary and I now have a start on my emergency preparedness kits that I am hoping to have completed by the end of the year.
    Hope everyone has a wonderful week!

  9. At the grocery store I came across pink lemonade packets for five cents each. Score! I added Augason Farm’s beef substitute to spaghetti sauce–much cheaper than hamburger and so very similar in texture and taste in the sauce.

    I bought Mrs. Beeton’s Book of Household Management and a Reader’s Digest Gardening book from Goodwill. I downloaded a free spelling book and some technology books from During a snowy day, I searched for and downloaded many free books on gardening, needlework, and sewing. Lydia Child’s The Little Girl’s Own Book, published in the 1830’s was especially interesting. It encouraged girls to exercise, had some games in it that children still play today, and had riddles, poems, and some short stories in it. Apparently little girls in New England at that time were assumed to know some French. I also found a couple of free sewing books for young girls written in the early decades of the 1900’s. One of them I had wanted for ages. I love the variety of free books available online.

  10. Love seeing the fresh garden veggies. it’s still cold here but we are planning for our spring planting!

    * made homemade pizza, bread, breadsticks and dinners every day
    * being getting exercise daily ~ this really helps me feel better physically and mentally
    * we had some leftovers from hosting a super bowl get together ~ was able to use some of these for school lunch and will incorporate the rest thru the week
    * got a $10 rebate in the mail
    * started on our taxes, it looks like we will get a bit of a refund which will go into savings

  11. We’ve been very frugal lately and this week was no exception. I stopped at The Grocery Outlet this morning after dropping my son at school and picked up a few cheap items without succumbing to impulse stuff. I also ran an extra errand as it was just a few blocks away. (I batch errands whenever possible.) Lots of little stuff like clearance priced milk, free cookie dough, frugal meals and simply not buying anything.

    I did write a Five Frugal Things post a few days ago:

    The best thing is that I think I have a lead on a reliable older Honda Civic to buy, which would be great. We could easily pay cash and have a lot of money leftover from our car fund!

  12. Oh my goodness your beet grew so large. Is it a certain kind you grow or was it just good conditions?
    Our pickled beet supply is low -I can’t wait for the summer harvest to can again.
    Although we’ve all caught the flu bug at our house we made it through our No spend January with every thing we wanted accomplished. You can read about that and our frugal living ways here:

  13. Last week my husband had dental surgery. I made him foods he could eat using supplies I already had on hand.
    I continue to save warm up water and use in the humidifier, etc. rather than using fresh water.
    We keep the heat down as much as possible, although I did have to turn it up a degree last night due to the temps dropping.
    We ate all meals at home and cooked them all from scratch. I made sandwich bread, banana bread, coconut milk, minestrone soup, cut up carrots for carrot sticks.
    I prepared our taxes online using TurboTax for free (both state and federal). We will use the majority of this money to pay for my husband’s dental surgery. The rest will be applied to another debt.
    My daughter and I both watched shows for free using my amazon prime membership. I watched two movies for free Saturday night using my prime membership as well.
    I continue to use homemade cleaners and personal care products.
    I saved several onion skins/ends, garlic skins/ends, carrot peelings, odd mushroom pieces,etc. in a bag in the freezer. When the bag is full I make vegetable broth.
    I exercised using free yoga videos on youtube and sparkpeople as well as my treadmill.
    I gave up coffee and am drinking tea in the morning. This is more health than frugal, but still saves me money. I was drinking WAY to much coffee.
    Used scrap paper, at home and work, to write notes or for my daughter to draw on.
    That is all I can remember. Have a great week everyone! I can’t wait to start my seeds in a month or two!!

  14. I had a very frugal week Brandy. In Melbourne Australia we are having mild weater which is unusual for Summer. Here’s what I did this week –

    * Made some brown sugar .

    * Made ten jars of tomato relish. Tomatoes have been cheap to buy at 99 cents a kilo so I’m trying to make the most of it. We are growing tomatoes but we are never sure how well they’ll grow.

    * Made eight jars of peach jam with peaches bought at $1.99 a kilo.

    * Dried all the washing on the line or clothes horses.

    * Ate leftovers for a lunch and dinner one night as they couldn’t be frozen.

    * Picked corn, tomatoes, beans, peaches and raspberries.

    * Used the water from the last load of washing to water some garden plants.

    * Kept the heater and cooling off all week.

    * Made four meals of spag bol sauce at the same time and froze into meal sizes.

    * After making the spag bol sauce, I portioned the leftover tomato paste into an ice cube tray and froze. This eliminates any waste.

    * Defrosted our small freezer and sorted out all the freezers. I try to do this a few time a year so that I know what I have on hand. I only threw out some old bread and fed some to the chooks.

    * Made soup with a frozen Christmas ham bone, carrots, corn and potato. I didn’t think there was any meat left on the bone but the soup was enough for two main meals.

    * Made a batch of double strength Miracle Spray. When I decant it into spray bottles I dilute it then.

    * Mended and altered some clothes Jessica gave me.

    * Made a scarf from a top I no longer wear. It’s in apple green my favourite color so I couldn’t donate it.

  15. I received some good news this morning. My old boss called and asked if I was interested in working (short term) on a project for a former client in my off hours. I agreed, and it will be some nice extra cash which I will need to send my kids to camp over spring break.

    I made gluten free blueberry muffins and homemade pizzas. I cooked up a large batch of dry chickpeas and portioned them out to use in recipes in place of canned. I wanted to share the recipe for the curried chickpeas that I am making for dinner tonight as is is vegetarian, frugal, and delicious!

    I harvested a decent-sized bowl of sugar snap peas from the garden. My children had them with lunch yesterday. I started a bunch of seeds inside–basil, eggplant, bell peppers, and 3 kinds of sauce tomatoes. I am trying to figure out what I will do with them once they sprout–I also don’t have any windows where I could place them to get enough sunlight and I don’t really want to purchase a grow light. Since days have been very warm here (zone 10) I think I may just put them outside during the day and bring them in every night.

    My workplace is offering a great yoga class 2 days a week for $5/class. The first class was free and I used money from Pinecone research to buy 5 more classes.

    At Food 4 Less I purchased onions for 25 cents/lb, navel oranges for 33 cents/lb, and green bell peppers for 25 cents each.

    We received a few food items from a friend who was moving–a box of pasta, some organic olive oil, some organic grapeseed oil, bourbon, and gin.

  16. Brandy, you are certainly getting a lot of use out of that SUN OVEN. I will be interested to hear if it makes a difference in your utility bill.

    I was reading BOY’S LIFE magazine (the Library was sent some free issues, most likely to get us to subscribe). It had instructions on how to make a disc golf game. I know I have seen them driving by parks. It is a smaller scale though…the chain links are joined paper clips and the discs are bottle caps. Would be a good inside game.

  17. -Got an email from Kroger saying 500 fuel points had been added to my card. Combined with the fuel points I already had, I will save 60 cents on my next gas fill up!
    – Rented 2 movies from redbox using free codes
    – Husband and I each got a free ham sandwich from the Honey Baked Ham Café using a coupon they emailed when we signed up for their newsletter.
    -watched the Super Bowl on the NBC website – we don’t have cable and where we live our antenna doesn’t pick up any stations. So rather than going somewhere and spending money to watch the game, we stayed home and watched it online.
    -watched Downton Abbey online
    -I worked 6 extra hours. The extra money on the pay cheque was nice.

  18. I am seriously considering asking for a solar oven for birthday/Christmas/everything. If I may ask, had you ever tried any of the homemade ones? I have tried the ones you make with the reflective windshield sun-blocker. It is too breezy here for those, and they flop around too much and the heat gets dispersed.

    My week’s summary is here:

    It is not pretty (yet) because I haven’t added the photos. I am in the midst of preparing for a hearing with local government, and I just haven’t found the time, but the frugality is still there – just no photos. (coming soon!)

  19. After seeing your lovely beets, I’m hoping I have better luck with them this year. I had good harvests a few years, but the past couple of years have been terrible. They do germinate, but I think the local rabbits find them, and make quick work of them. Reading about your soup reminded me of the frugal things I had put in mine last night… home canned broth, celery, a small amount of leftover lima beans I had frozen for just such a use, garlic, celery and oregano, all from the garden. I’m thankful to be part of this wonderful community. Joining in here:

  20. In the last week I’ve bought NO groceries.
    Where my daughter works the milk delivery man gave her 6 half gallons of milk. We froze them. These are milks that are going back because they are at their sell by date.
    Elsie brought dinner once. She also brought 6 cupcakes later in the week.
    I am planning the garden. There are so many things I want to grow and so little time.
    Jake brought dinner Sunday. Totally cooked too…so I save on utilities when Elsie and Jake bring the food.
    I was given fabric scraps that I made into pumpkins to sell next October. These were high-end scraps that should fetch a pretty penny when they sell.
    I cut buttons off shirts and zippers out of pants. I even cut the elastic out of the waistband of the grandson’s pants. You know the kind with the buttonholes to adjust the waist size. It is so expensive in the stores.
    I rinsed the detergent bottle and got 2 more laundry loads from the soap in the bottom.
    I was given a deli bucket to decorate and use as my happiness jar. I will put tickets, notes and pictures of places I go and things I do all year. At the end of the year I will make collage pages of these saved items. I count this as a frugal accomplishment because it is costing me nothing to do the craft of covering the gifted bucket or the collage and it will bring me happiness by reminding me what a good year I had.
    I bought 14 yards of periwinkle moire fabric at $4.00 a yard. This was a steal of a deal. I was given cream colored lightweight wool (from the woman I bought the moire from) that I will use to make 2 shawls. One I will dye and perhaps sell.
    I know there is a lot more, but I just can’t remember it at the moment.

  21. I started my new job! Exhausting week with lots to learn. They provide a break room with lots of snacks to help ourselves. Good and bad with that – free snacks but I’m also trying to lose some weight. They brought in lunch for us, so 2 days I ate the lunch they put out and saved the lunch I brought from home.

    I went to Walgreens and got the free after rewards macaroni and cheese microwave bowl. I put it in my desk at work to have in case I don’t bring lunch from home or can’t eat the lunch they provide.

    Free in the mail – Better Homes and Gardens and Self magazine and Nivea body lotion samples.

    I had printed the coupon for the free salmon pouch from Walmart and SO picked it up for me when he was doing errands.

    I’m not being very productive after work. It was my first week so next week I have to work on getting into a good routine. I started reading Fly Lady again for some motivation. I will at least do the little projects each day she has scheduled. I shined my sink with vinegar.

    I went to the new thrift store that opened to keep building my work wardrobe. I spent $23 and got 2 pairs of slacks, a jacket, and 4 tops. While I was there, I donated a pair of shoes I’ve had in my closet for years that I won’t wear. After the thrift store I stopped at the bakery outlet and got loaves of Nature’s Own butter bread for $1.19 for both loaves. Also stopped at the library to pick up a book on hold about month by month gardening.

    In the garden, I composted. I trimmed the branches off the Christmas tree I dragged over from the neighbor’s trash to use the needles around the blueberries. I chopped the trunk of the tree into short logs for the fire pit and put them in the shed to dry. I picked broccoli. I pulled weeds. I mucked out the koi pond and threw the muck in the composter.

    We went to a local park and I got some Spanish moss for my toad house and some sunflower seeds to plant in the garden from the seed library. I made a toad house using a half a coconut that was hanging in a tree we cut down, some clay buttons that spelled “Toad” and the Spanish moss on the roof. I used the glue gun to attach the buttons and the moss. I didn’t have to buy anything to make it.

    I’m planning on spending only $100 again for February. The exception will be the thrift store shopping for my work wardrobe.

    I’m looking forward to reading what everyone else has done last week.

  22. I love that you are able to harvest from your garden still. I can’t believe your last frost is two weeks away, here I am 7 hours north and I’m still waiting till the middle of may. My plan was to do a fall/winter garden, but by the time I learned what needed to be done it was a bit too late. This would have been a great winter for it. There’s always next year. I’m planning on starting some seeds indoors soon, mostly early spring veggies, just to give them a head start. I shopped for almost the entire month this weekend with some left over in the budget for produce and milk as we need it. I’m hoping to get thru valentines day before I need to go again.
    On a side note, I love canning marinara sauce to have all winter long. Last year I didn’t get to can as much, so I thought I would look around the store to see what a jar costs now. I was shocked that the prices were so varied. You could get a cheaper brand for about $1 a jar, and on the higher end was $11.00. I will make it a point this year to bottle enough sauce!

  23. I don’t think I’ve posted for awhile so here goes- forgive if there are repeats! We had one situation that wasn’t frugal at the time but preparedness helped defray some of the costs. One of our cats was hit by a car and her rear left leg was shattered and had to be amputated. We have pet insurance on our animals as we’ve learned that almost anything can be expensive with pets. We had just renewed and dropped the deductible to $100. We will be out of pocket around $300 total. The vet also gave a 10% discount for being over 60. She is doing great which we are thankful for.

    Finished repainting the three bedrooms. Used oops paint $5.00 a gallon at our Lowes as much as we could, paint brushes and rollers we’ve used before and kept in good condition, bought the main paint at 40% off when on sale last year, and did all work ourselves. We are doing some ‘redecorating’ by reusing/repurposing what we already have for art, curtains, etc. We saved so much doing it ourselves – we’d had a bid several years ago when we were both working and I think it was around $2000 including paint!

    SO loves fried chicken and wants me to stop at Popeye’s when in town. We are down to one KFC which is not on the way. I tried two different recipes for oven fried chicken with the 79cent a pound chicken legs I found at Sam’s on closeout. Both recipes were a big hit so now I can make ‘fried’ chicken much more often.

    While at Sam’s rec’d two free snack cakes and free coffee – we go early in the day during business card hours. It is less crazy and we aren’t so tempted as there aren’t ‘free samples’ which are just too enticing.

    Ate all meals at home. I’ve started putting a few easy snack in a bag when going into town – and keep a cold bottle of water ready to take with me. This helps me keep focused and I can refrain from stopping for something because I am a little (or a lot) hungry.

    We took two vehicles for gas at the same time – both were nearly totally empty. Had 40cents off per gallon so filled up both for $44.00! That is less than we used to pay for one fill-up.

    Watched the entire Wartime Farm on youtube. Wow – loved it! Have put off watching starting any more series as once I get into them I really don’t want to stop at watching just one episode!

    Made all food from scratch – ribs and scalloped potatoes to have during half time of the Super Bowl. Hummus, salmon patties, egg salad, spaghetti and sauce and ‘clam’ chowder. That was a big of a disappointment. I found clams from the US at the Dollar Tree and bought two cans. The soup had very little ‘clam’ flavor. I know that in the past I’ve made it using bottles of clam broth and it was great – made a big difference in flavor not to have those to add.

    We are having a big night out tonight. A touring company is in town putting on [u]Mamma Mia[/u]. We bought tickets for $35 a piece which was a big splurge for us but decided to not eat out beforehand and take our own water and candy bars that I’ve stashed. Before moving to a frugal life we would have had a big meal out (to the tune of $75 or so), bought water/soft drinks/wine at the theater and then gone out for dessert afterwards. Big change!

    Great weather here means that we’ve been able to have the heat off most of the time – just two days when the temps really dropped and we had to have some heat. This time of year is so unpredictable – start out in the morning with heavy coat, hat, gloves and scarf and by late in the day down to a thin long sleeved tshirt!

    Trying to get things sold through craigslist, ebay and consignment stores. We’ve been meaning to do this for some time with things we no longer need/use or were given that we don’t really have a need for. They really are just taking up space in a couple of closets. That is taking way more time than I’d realized – have a young neighbor who is super savvy with all of the social media sites so I am going to ask her for a tutorial and help.

    Thanks everyone for your wonderful posts – this is daily encouragement for me to keep on the path!

  24. Stephanie- the strongest seedlings I’ve grown were the ones I took outside during the day, instead of keeping under grow lights. The first few times were just a couple hours, then longer as they got stronger. I kept them out of direct sun (on my porch) when young, then moved to dappled shade as they got stronger. They got strong and healthy that way, & didn’t dry out in the sun. Best of luck!

  25. Overall, January was a great month for savings. I started out the month with a no spend challenge and I did quite well. I went through the entire month spending only what was pre-planned except for two cases. The first case was I went $7 over in my grocery/household product budget. I regularly spend $160. I was hoping to reduce this budget by $100 and put the extra towards, but I spend $60. Overall it was a good decrease, I plan to keep the same budget this month and am hoping to stay under budget with better planning. The second spot that I spent money I was not expecting was donating for a co-worker that just had a baby. I feel that I made it through no spend January pretty well.

    I am planning keeping our grocery budget at $60, but I am on the fence about doing another month of no-spend. On one end it really does help you to think about your purchases and the differences between wants and needs, but it does put off some spending until the next month….

  26. I was reminded of things I do routinely by others’ posts: rinsing out the bottles with water and using the residue—I even do this with ketchup. My husband questioned why we had two bottle of ketchup open at once—because one had just a little in and I couldn’t get it out without water–was saving that for the next time I made meatloaf. I also routinely save copy paper that has been printed on one side for scrap paper, and also any envelopes that come in mail—I write my grocery lists on the outside and put the coupons I plan to use on the inside of the envelope. At Christmas I also use an envelope for keeping store coupons in and for the wish lists from the family, so they are all together in my purse. I flatten and reuse the bags from inside cereal boxes as waxed paper. I know buying cold cereal is not frugal but as long as I do buy it, I want to get full value—I also enter the Kellogg’s numbers inside their boxes on their computer page—they accumulate points (slowly) to turn in for high value coupons or –for high points–some merchandise or gift cards.

    This week I knew I was going on vacation but needed milk, and picked up a few good deals as well. One buy 2, get 3 free on sausage, and also used some about to expire coupons on other sale items. Cat food was at its lowest price so I got 24 cans extra and donated them to our Community Cats organization to help feed our sterile colony of feral cats. Got a few for our cat too, but we were well stocked so only a few. My daughter took my leftover perishables home with her, and before I get back home, she will make sure I have milk and eggs at least for our return. This is a habit we have developed over the years, as she brings in my mail, newspapers, and feeds the cat while we are away. (She lives less than 2 miles from me.)

    I used up almost all the leftovers before we left, leaving as little as possible for her to take. It beats throwing things out or finding them half rotten once you get back home.

    I am still working on de-cluttering and have made some good progress, considering how busy the week was before vacation started.
    Put many things into recycling bins, and organized some of the collections of “stuff” that build up on my desk somehow! De-cluttering will be an all-year project.

  27. My accomplishments include:
    • Buying a new to me car – that doesn’t sound thrifty, but I waited until the loan on the current car was paid off so it could be handed down to my 19 year old to use at college and to get her to and from her summer job, which will be in a major tourist/beach town several states away from me so she will need her own reliable transportation. I also bought a 2012 certified model with 36K miles on it and this vehicle should last me for at least 8 years and hopefully longer. The hand me down to my daughter should last her until well after college, probably 5-8 years.
    • Putting the $3,000 downpayment on my credit card – this will give me just about enough points to get two $25 gift cards (one for my daughter and one for me) to whatever stores we want, probably Target or Walmart. Since the card is paid in full every month, there will be no interest expense involved
    • Planning my shopping and meals for the entire month before I went to the grocery store. Meals aren’t scheduled for any day in particular, but are what I’ll be eating at some point in the month and I have all the ingredients on hand. I’ll just need to spend a little bit in the middle of the month for milk and maybe some fruits and vegetables. I prepped a lot of veggies for easy eating and made extras of some meals so they could be frozen and just tossed in my lunch box to take to work. Extras I made last week included Beef Vegetable Soup in the slow cooker and Sloppy Joes using a great recipe from (I think it is Sloppy Joes II and it has thousands of reviews on it if you look for it).

    I took a bunch of gardening books out of the library and am still on the fence about starting seeds indoors. My seeds don’t do well, mainly because I keep my house temp in the low 60ies. Between that , the cost of the seed starter mix, and protecting them from the cats, I’m not sure it’s worth the effort, but I also know it’s a skill I should have before I need to use it (if I ever need to use it).

    I had the heating oil tank filled for $2.80/gallon, which is so much better than the $4.10/gallon from last winter. I don’t know how long these prices will last, but I am happy I was able to get it this time. I am continuing to watch utility use, but our cold weather has made using the gas fireplace or central heat a necessity most days.

    Have a frugal and hopefully warm week wherever you are!

  28. One way to save a little is to save your gallon milk jugs or water jugs if you buy those. I tend to buy water in the jugs because it’s cheaper. When there is a hint of a storm coming fill your jugs and save money. I do buy bottles of water at Aldi’s but try to buy the gallons for stock up at 87 cents a gallon for spring water or purified water.

  29. My frugal accomplishments last week included:
    Using coupons when I went grocery shopping
    Met my swagbucks goal each day
    Realized I won $25 in a sweepstakes on my iPoll app so I converted it to an amazon gift card
    Used amazon gift cards to purchase my daughter a Wilton doughnut pan
    Made homemade bread and most of our dinners at home- I also made a homemade chocolate cake for “chocolate cake day”
    Earned Shopkick credits several times last week- I convert kicks to Starbucks cards
    Watched a movie using our netflix streaming account rather than renting one at the video store
    Finished another scarf which will be a gift for someone this year. I also saw some new ribbon at Joann Fabrics that is used like yarn to make scarves-I plan to use coupons to purchase some for scarf gifts- it is pretty expensive at full price.

    That is all I can think of right now- I hope everyone has a great week!

  30. I got 72 cans of tomatoes from Kroger. It was on sale for $0.49/can as apart of the buy 6 mega event. The store had a coupon dispenser giving $0.60 off 3 cans. I paid $0.29/can.

    I participated in a Soup Swap. Six of us made 5 1 gallon bags of soup and froze them flat. We took them and swapped. I came home with 5 different soups to enjoy over the next several weeks.

    I am working on planning meals around what I have in the fridge, freezer and pantry. I expect to have 30 days of meals with what I have on hand.

    I am having a “Low Spend Month” in February. I will be posting about this on my blog. Look for a post later this week.

  31. We had a week full of friends staying with us from Wednesday to Sunday morning. We had many meals where they were off visiting relatives and doing other things they needed to do in our area. When we did eat together, I made crock pot chicken-rice soup for one meal. Another time I made spaghetti from tomato products I canned during the summer. I did tacos from the turkey burger we ground from the turkeys my husband raised. At the beginning of the week, my husband made a roast and a chicken. Everyone ate from those for lunches. He had mashed a lot of potatoes as well, and one morning he made potato pancakes for breakfast. My friend is very self-reliant and made her own breakfast (and her family’s) each morning from food she brought (she has major allergy issues and tries to not put the whole load onto me when she visits). I am very, very careful what I put into the food I cook and I know what she can and cannot have.

    The big girls had their big formal dinner and had a great time. Our friends helped with that and my husband barbequed for the 97 teens and young adults that attended. He used the large Traeger grill he was given last fall to use for these purposes. It is the kind that is so large it pulls behind the van like a trailer. My friend did all the allergy cooking so that everyone could participate. I was in awe at her spreadsheet of who could eat what, and who could NOT eat what and loved seeing her substitutions. This is all volunteer and the participants are not charged any fees. So, the whole evening ended up being extremely frugal for our kids. It was well worth it to us to contribute the pellets, gas and time. It’s a good example of how many parents can pull together to make a really nice event for kids for a reasonable price. The $ for the food was donated.

    We used the library for books and movies.

    After work today, I stayed in town for 2 more hours to pick my daughter up from work, rather than go home and back. (we live about 25 minutes away)

    I used many food items I had grown, canned or otherwise preserved in meals this week. I used some in food I sent out to a family whose mama seems to have caught mono. She’s really sick. The dad indicated yesterday at church that he “would not turn anything down at this point!”

    Someone gave my daughter $250 for her to go on a mission trip to Mexico during Spring Break. She had decided not to go this year, although she loved it last year, because she did not think she could spare the money right now. Now all she has to do it get her new job to tell her she has the time off (or doesn’t) 🙁 She will have to come up with some money, but that was huge to her and she is really grateful.

  32. Made potato soup in the crockpot from the last of my 250 lbs of potatoes I bought at auction in the summer. This will last for several meals. Made a new batch of the Russian refresher hot drink that is so soothing on the throat. Also filled a quart jar with homemade taco seasoning. Made a huge batch of oatmeal cookie mix. The weekly dinner planner I made a couple weeks ago that uses a dry erase marker on the glass to change it each week. DH likes it so much he wants one that shows him what options he has for taking his lunch to work each day! This will save him time in the morning while he’s making up his lunch.
    Our Krogers was having a Mega sale and so I was able to get canned tomatoes as well as a tomato/green pepper blend for just 19 cents/ can! I bought 24 cans to add to our storage!
    Been eating from our pantry and freezer all week. It’s silly I suppose, but it makes me happy to see empty canning jars being taken back down to the basement each week! It lets me know that we are eating the things that we canned when they were in season! So our food storage is being rotated!
    Heard about a service project for some sweet little girls and found I could immediately make a dozen needed items with some of my fabric storage!
    DH was able to fix/replace two of the door handles on our 22 year old Camry for less than $10! So grateful for his skills!!
    All in all, a great week!!!

  33. Here are some of the frugal things that have been happening around our house:
    In my garden–
    Planted bush and asparagus beans, more lettuce, celosia, and marigolds. The marigold seeds were from my plants.
    Transplanted seedlings of broccoli, lettuce and snap dragons.
    Heirloom zebra and great white seedlings have sprouted in milk carton greenhouses like Brandy posted about. Sure hope I can keep them alive!
    Rain has made less watering, saving expense and effort.
    Potted more multiplier onions to share with son-in-law and community garden. Still picking and sharing citrus.
    Repurposed mesh bag to protect tomatoes from birds. Harvesting yellow pear tomatoes, bell pepper and green onions.
    Accepted sandwiches a neighbor rescued from an event. She didn’t want to see them thrown away.
    Made a list of items to purchase when stores have their 10% senior discount.
    Used coupons for discount and to get free guacamole, personal items, bath tissue, snack bars, hamburger buns, soda and yogurt.
    Received a $3 correction from error on receipt.
    Made chili and lasagne with half the usual amount of ground beef, but still delicious. Made pulled pork sandwiches after cooking pork with BBQ sauce in crockpot.
    I repurposed and adapted the sleeve of an old dress shirt to make a rice filled heating pad.
    Still completing surveys to get extra fuel points. We saved 40 cents a gallon on the last fill-up.
    There were other things, but this some of what had been going on. I look forward to reading the other comments!

  34. Just go into the Deseret Book store and give them your birthday (just the day, not the year) to sign up. They will send you an email during your birthday month with a coupon. Bring the coupon into the store for your free item.

  35. Brandy, I have NO idea what I did to be offered the free journal. I did not sign up for anything other than email notices of sales, & that was several years ago. I never had a “birthday gift” before.

  36. Michelle, we got the same deal at our Kroger/Dillons store. With the 70 cents off per gallon, we got gas for only $1.09 pg! It was $12 to fill a Ford Escape from less than a quarter tank!! Yahoo!! The lower gas prices are such a blessing to us right now because we have a lot of extra expenses that have popped up recently. Every little bit helps!


  37. Terrible week, terrible month as far as frugality is concerned. Hopefully, February will be better. I had to spend $2,500. on a brand new metal roof. I had the “white cotton” color installed, hoping that it will save even more on my summer electric bill. I add that to the total cost of my house, so since I spent $28,500 on it at closing including closing, survey, etc., this $2,500 makes the total cost of my 912 sq. ft. house $30,000. …not happy at all, but, I have been told $2,500 is a good price on a brand new metal roof, at least for around here. Still, my savings account is toast. I am aware that a house at that price, even here, will have repairs that have to be made and it was not unexpected, but I thought I had a year before having to replace it. The wind had other ideas….. I also had not one but two tires blow out on me. I travel at least 40 miles round trip per day but I was fortunate that I was in the city limits and was able to get it replaced easily, although it was $180 per tire…ugh. Like I said, my savings account is toast….. I did the usual brown bag lunch to work, used the library for internet, ate off my food storage, which I had just replenished before the roof and tire mess……lol. I dyed and cut my hair. It took me forever to save up that money, but oh, well, that is life.

  38. I don’t think it’s silly at all to be happy gazing upon empty canning jars! I feel the same way! It makes me feel like all of our hard work was worth the effort!

  39. We are working on paying off our debt, so I am trying to cut our grocery expense. I am starting to make more soups, after seeing your post about how inexpensive they are to make. I also read an article about meal planning around a 50 lb bag of potatoes, to lower your food bill. We don’t need 50 lbs, but I have 20 pounds of potatoes and I am basing my meals around them. I made hamburger vegetable soup last night, and I am making potato soup later in the week, shepards pie, chili over baked potatoes, and chicken and potato bake tonight. I am also trying to use less cheese to cut costs. My husband bought a large box of deer meat last week, so instead of buying hamburger meat at the store, that is what I am using. It is much less expensive, and buy combining it with the potatoes, really stretches the meals and is less expensive. I also am using chicken leg quarters for several meals this month, I found 10 lb bags for $5.90, which is the cheapest I have seen them lately. Thank you for your posts, I enjoy reading them.

  40. Beth, we’ve been using that pan the last couple of years. I like it. It was buy one get one free when I bought them so make 12 at a time which is just right.

  41. I forgot to mention that I learned how to fix the zipper on my mother’s wallet. The zipper would not close entirely, part of it would pop open leaving all of her cards and papers exposed. I found a video of the repair. I simply pinched both sides of the slider using needle-nosed pliers. So fast and simple, and it saved the wallet. No replacement is now needed.

  42. Athanasia,

    Thank you for the endorsement- it is supposed to arrive today. If we like it, I will order another one using Amazon credit again. My daughter found a recipe for some high protein doughnuts she wants to make (yucko- talk about ruining one of nature’s best junk foods for me)…. well anyway, maybe it will cut down on our weekend Krispy Kreme trips….

  43. 1. Glad kitty is going to be ok. 2. YAY! on the oven fried chicken – it took me a few hundreds tried before I found a frugal husband approved version. 3. Good luck on the social sites!

  44. Oh, I just can’t thank you enough Brandy for telling me about Recycle Bank! I’m addicted to reading magazines and can now get all of my favorites for FREE!!! People think I’m lying but I tell em, no it’s totally legit!!

  45. Mari,
    If you decide to start seeds indoors, you might consider buying a heated seed starting mat. We also keep our home in the mid-60s. I have good light in one window (a south facing garden window). I took a free seed starting class at a local garden center, and they recommended using a heated mat, due to our climate (Pacific northwest). I bought one for $30 last year, and it has paid for itself already. My seeds grew well and I had some very healthy and productive plants. I am planning on starting seeds again next month – I can’t wait!

  46. I so much enjoy reading everyone’s comments every week.

    This covers the last couple of weeks, and I can’t remember everything:
    – Did all the things I usually do: rinsed out plastic bags; made water kefir, kombucha, and yogurt; ate from the freezer and things I canned last year; put food waste in my worm bin; ate all but two meals at home.
    – Made two batches of meat broth from bones and vegetable scraps (my sister had given me a chicken carcass to use for broth, and I keep a bag for bones and scraps in the freezer.)
    – We got a new mattress. This doesn’t sound frugal, but it will save us money in doctor bills later. I have joint issues and our old mattress was causing me to have significant pain (not fun). I did a lot of research beforehand on what kind of mattress to buy, and I found one with a good warranty, and I bought it from a longstanding local business with a very good reputation. The mattress was delivered yesterday, and I slept on it for the first time last night. I woke up with no pain. Totally worth it. 🙂
    – On Sunday, my husband watched the Super Bowl with the guys (too noisy for me, and I’m not much of a sports fan), so I decided to visit my mom, and watch part of the game there. I took an extra ham (purchased at Christmas) out of the freezer, cooked my mom a nice ham dinner, and gave her part of the ham (her favorite). It’s nice to be able to do these things, and she appreciated it.
    – I had a frugal coffee date with my sister at the café in a grocery store. Cost me $2 for two teas. Got some quality sister time.
    – I had an at home date with my husband (thanks to Brandy for the idea). We listened to a favorite radio show, I made pizza for dinner, and then we played a game together. We both really enjoyed it.

  47. Of all the blogs I read, this post is my favorite of the week. I love your photos and content. I also love the community of like-minded people who share here.
    I ended January with money left over in my grocery budget. I started the New Year with the goal of only using cash for my groceries. I was successful. I found that I was more mindful of what I purchased when I had to actually hand over cash. Some of the choices were small like when I decided to make a white sauce rather then buy a can of cream of mushroom soup. Slow and steady is my new mantra. Like one of the posts a while back from a reader who shared “5 cents saved” when a light was turned out. If I take care of the small things, I’ll notice a change. I did and I felt so empowered by what I did.
    I tried the Minestrone soup on the blog. Wow! Was it good. I did adapt it for what I had on hand and reduced the quantity for my situation. I soaked white beans, cooked them and used some in that soup. Tonight I am using the remaining beans for White Bean Alfredo sauce pasta. I also made the Stir Fry on the blog with some of the white beans. I didn’t have the mandarin oranges the recipe called for; again, I adapted the recipe to what I had on hand and it was fantastic.

    I also sourced out a new to me grocery store. I stop in when I’m driving by and found some good deals on produce and bread.

    Maybe not so frugal, I joined a senior’s group that has a Wednesday night ‘dinner club’. For $10 all in, I am picked up at my apartment, enjoy the company of new people, have a great meal at some local restaurants and have a fun night. The menu is limited but so far I have really enjoyed the three times I’ve participated. Both the new to me grocery store and this dinner club have encouraged me to get out and see what is available in my community.

  48. I thought of a few things to add to the above:
    – I found a set of four stretchy silicone lids (you use them to cover bowls) at the thrift store for $1.49. They normally sell for $10 a piece. I had wanted to try them, but wasn’t willing to pay the retail price. I also found a brand-new apron for $2.00.
    – At QFC (Kroger), I found a huge package of mixed salad greens marked down to $1.89, regular price $5.89. I also found a clearance houseplant in need of some TLC, marked down to $4.99. It’s a really nice plant, and will look nice in our living room.
    – I Skyped with a friend who lives in France. I also used Skype to call two other friends who live overseas. This makes communicating with far-away friends so easy, and it saves so much money.

  49. It was so interesting to read you comment about enjoying taking the empty jars and putting them away. I was just thinking the exact same thing this past weekend as I went up and down my stairs, carting empties to the basement and full ones up. I love the feeling of having many empties to fill during the coming year and I was feeling especially good because I have been purposely using things that have been down there a long time and need to be used. I was so thankful that we had so much stored up and we were using it. I also feel like it would be a total waste of hours and hours of my time if we did not use the canned goods once I used all that time, effort and $ to put it up. Also, I was feeling very thankful to have all that food at my disposal to make large meals for very little out-of-pocket expense all weekend. We bought some produce for salad and some special, allergy-friendly items for my friend. Period.

  50. Tina, what brand of mattress did you purchase. We need a new one with a good warranty too. Congratulations on getting yours.

  51. I am taking a free crop class on It is about having food to feed everyone in the future but it talks about how to increase crop yield and stuff. The class intro said it was the same whether you have a small garden or a huge farm, use fertilizers or go organic. I hope to learn some new things for my garden!

    I had been saving the wings before roasting whole chickens for a few months now and we had enough free wings to satisfy us during the Super Bowl. We don’t usually eat the wings once the chicken is cooked.

    I ordered a few dwarf/semi-dwarf fruit trees. I haven’t had fruit trees before but I am excited to learn!

    I continued to do the usual things- cooking from scratch, hanging laundry to dry, Swagbucks/surveys, garden stuff, conserving and saving what I can when I can.

  52. Peggy,
    Thanks! The mattress I got was made by Oregon Mattress Company. I’m not sure if this brand is available nationally. It has a 15-year warranty.

  53. SJ,
    I think the $10 dinner club sounds like a great deal! What a fun and inexpensive way to get out and meet new people. Plus you don’t have to drive. Nice.

  54. My frugal ketchup bottle tip: Once there is some room in a new opened bottle of ketchup (or bbq sauce, creamy dressing…) I add the rest of the old bottle to it. Take the lids off both bottles, keep the almost full bottle on the counter and flip the almost empty one on top of it. Leave it for a while out on the counter and voila you now have a full bottle and an empty bottle to recycle 🙂 I do this with plastic not glass bottles as there is a possiblility that they may fall over.

  55. Your photos are beautiful Brandy. I love that you give your children such lovely birthdays.
    I have had very good weeks the last two weeks as far as frugal accomplishments go. I am working on a year long project to build up my pantry and emergency supplies and have gone ahead leaps and bounds the last two weeks largely because it is summer here and I have been given a lot of free fruit. So I have made a lot of jams and also pies for the freezer, stewed and poached fruit etc. A lady on my blog said she makes Peach Crisp. I did not know what that was. We call stuff different names. Like you say biscuits and we say scones. Well peach crisp turned out to be what we would call Peach crumble. I made this and it was amazing! I always make apple crumble but had not thought to make peach!
    On Friday this week my aunt is giving me a bucket each of figs, plums and Quinces. I love each of these and am planning what to do.
    I am noticing that a lot of ladies are building up their pantries. I am following a series that I am adoring on a blog called The Working Pantry. I am finding that so good. I really find following beautiful blogs inspires me and keeps me on track.
    For my whole week anyone is welcome to read it at my Feather Your Nest Friday post at Every little bit we do adds up and over a year it is an amazing amount. Plus we all give each other great ideas. Many thanks for the inspiration you give every week.xx

  56. We also keep our home in the low to mid 60’s and I use a heated seed starting mat as well. They work great and Home Depot had the mats on their website starting at about $19.

  57. What a great idea to save the wings! I never would have thought of that even though we don’t like wings once they are roasted. We usually just pick the meat off and use it in something else, but my husband LOVES fried wings and they are SO expensive. I think I’ll be using this idea in the future…thank you!

  58. Tina and Melissa,

    Thanks. I already have one of those, so I’ll give it another try with some seeds. I also have a small indoor greenhouse that I purchased at Wegman’s a few years back so I’m going to put that in my bedroom, which gets the most light in the house, and put the plants in it. That MIGHT keep the younger cat from “exploring” them, but he’s a little pip sometimes so we’ll see. The older cat won’t be bothered to go to that much effort.

    Melissa, where are you in Maryland. I’m in western Baltimore County.

  59. We are in northern Frederick County about 15 miles south of Gettysburg. But I grew up in Montgomery County and have family in Carroll and Washington Counties.

  60. Still plastering and painting . . . . My husband brought home another tub of plaster for me late last week; it’s so much better than the last tub. It went on better, sanded down better, and gave a better result. Plastering was almost fun. My walls look professionally-finished now. I am almost done with the painting; I just have to put the final coat on this weekend. There will be more – we still have another wall to build – but I feel like the end is in sight.

    I moved the furniture around, moving all of my daughter’s furniture into her new room and all of the toys into her old room (which is now the toy room). We always thought of my daughter’s old bedroom as small; but we visited some new display homes on Saturday with my MIL and discovered her ‘small’ room is considered a double bedroom. That gave me a glimmer of hope that I could actually make the toys fit in there. And I did – although I ended up packing up quite a few stuffed animals. (I swear they breed.) I asked my kids to grab anything that was important to them; put the special stuffed animals (homemade by Grandma, that sort of thing) in a tub; and put the rest in plastic bags in the storage cupboard. There are also 3 bags of stuffed animals I packed away a year ago, that they haven’t missed; I’m planning on sneaking those out this weekend – in another year if they haven’t missed anything from this lot I’ll get rid of these, too. Two of the bags are vacuum seal bags, so I’ll move the stuffed animals that are just in garbage bags into vacuum seal bags – there’s something awful fun about watching all those little faces squish together as the air is sucked out. A couple of co-workers have new grandchildren or grandchildren on the way so I thought I’d take them each one or two of the stuffed animals that still look like new. I also got rid of a set of jumbo blocks – you know, the sort of Lego precursor for toddlers – by giving them to a co-worker who has a great-nephew who just turned 1. I haven’t gone through the rest of the toys yet, but I think I’ll probably find a few more things I can sneak out of there too. And after the toys I’ll turn to the books – I think I can safely get rid of the babyish board books, with a youngest child who is 6 years old.

    A neighbour dropped by with 5 large punnets of strawberries. She said a local fruit and veg shop was selling them at $2 for a box of several punnets. I was going to make jam but they were too yummy and just got eaten up instead.

  61. Mari, I have two suggestions for you that may be helpful. First, in regards to freezing your sloppy joe recipe, try putting portions into a muffin tin, then pop it in the freezer. The portions can be popped out as little pucks once frozen and placed in a freezer bag. Whenever you want to take some for lunch, just pull out one of the pucks and put in a container to take to work (or used for a quick dinner meal as well). I used this method to make quick pulled pork meals for my MIL’s freezer and they turned out the perfect amount to warm through and put on a bun.

    Second, to deter your little scamp of a cat from getting into the indoor greenhouse, try placing dried orange peels on some sort of tray near the bottom opening. My husband loves oranges and often eats them at night as his snack. Our cats are the biggest mooches. But as soon as they get a whiff of the orange smell, they immediately retreat with the biggest sour look on their face. This may also work in your gardens as well, if the neighborhood cats are a problem.

  62. I love magazines too. I thought I would share an idea for a gift I gave my SIL one Christmas. I saved all the copies of the Martha Stewart Living magazine over the year and gifted the entire year of back issues along with an inexpensive throw blanket, a candle and a few other little items for relaxation. It was a great way to recycle the magazines so someone else could enjoy them too.

  63. This is my first time posting. I love to read how everyone saves money. Our finances are a little tight right now so I used stuff out of the pantry and freezer for the last two weeks of January. This last week I started using coupons and found some really good sales in the store I shop. I got some products free because the sale price was lower than the coupon value. I also was able to purchase softsoap hand soaps for .47 cents each. I am new to trying to be frugal so thank you for all the tips.

  64. Brandy, I just love the photograph of your daughter doing embroidery. It captured such a sweet and peaceful moment. Her embroidery looks beautiful too.

    This week was more about blessings than frugal accomplishments for me. I thought I would share those blessing today.

    Two years ago I had gastric by-pass surgery that was paid for through our provincial health coverage. Before the surgery I had high blood pressure and, despite taking a few pills coupled with insulin, my diabetes was out of control. Since the surgery I have lost close to 100lbs and I am completely off of all medications, other than a regime of vitamins which I will have to take for the rest of my life. The weight loss left me with a sagging flap of skin which often developed infection along the inside fold. So on Friday I had abdominoplastic surgery which required traveling to another city to have. A portion of this surgery was also covered under our provincial health coverage (which was a huge blessing) but the rest was paid from money we save and set aside for this.

    Blessing #1 – When we arrived at the hotel, the hotel clerk informed us that our room was booked on the second floor and that there were no elevators. My husband informed him that I would be having surgery and the stairs may be a problem. He immediately looked into it and gave us a room on the first floor. The room was also the first room down the hallway from the front lobby so I didn’t have to walk very far after surgery. The room was also a slight upgrade with a love seat in it, which came in very handy during our stay.

    Blessing #2 – I woke up from the anesthetics…huge relief! I know this may sound silly to some, but it was a huge fear for me. In 2009 my father has a preventative surgery to remove a section of his esophagus after pre-cancerous cells were found. Unfortunately the surgery did not go as planned. He bled to death on the table. I am VERY aware of the risks of any surgery and I am so unbelievably happy that it went well.

    Blessing #3 – I had the privilege of spending 5 days in a hotel with just my husband as I recouped from surgery. He had to help me with nearly everything, since I was not able to bend at the waist. I was also in a significant amount of pain. Not once did he complain! I just love this man!

    Blessing #4 – Sunday just happened to be my husband’s birthday. I was well enough to go out to supper at a favourite restaurant we don’t have in our area, which he really enjoyed. I also told the waitress it was his birthday and she gave him a nice brownie dessert for free without making a big deal about it in front of the restaurant full of people. My husband appreciated her discretion so much he left a 20% tip.

    Blessing #5 – On Monday we were considering going out and doing something fun. Then we went for breakfast at the hotel lobby and saw a big snowstorm that had hit. The roads were just horrible. We opted to stay at the hotel for the day instead. My husband hooked up our laptop to the TV in the hotel room in the afternoon and we watched a few movies on netflix. I really enjoyed spending a nice, quiet, inxpensive day together.

    Blessing #6 – Our time together has allowed me to see just how much my husband has started to embrace frugality. He made sure to bring drinks from home to consume at the hotel. Although we ate all our meals out, he made some very frugal choices for most of these meals…even using coupons for some. It was even his idea to eat left overs for lunch one day to save a bit of money! Then today we had lunch out, as we had an appointment around lunchtime, and he noticed he had been charged twice for a bottle of water after reviewing the receipt! He made sure to get a refund before leaving the restaurant. Who is this man!!!

    I hope to get back on track with our spending this week. I am still recouping but feeling better every day. I hope everyone has a wonderful week.

  65. I had a question- At what temps do you use glass jars for cloches? I’m in TX so my temps are similar to yours. I don’t want to fry my seedlings. It’s supposed to be in the 70’s this weekend. I’m assuming that is too warm but what about 60s? Do you just cover at night?

  66. Right now they are on all the time but I do watch to make sure they are not getting cooked. It is in the 70’s here and I still have them on all day. As the plants get larger I take them off. I checked several today and they are fine, so I didn’t take them off. As it gets warmer they can be used just at night. I find I can still use them through mid-March. We are a zone 9a. You should definitely check them to make sure they are okay, because it can get too hot after a while. Some of mine are in the sun, so they are warmer, and some are in full shade still (the majority of my front yard is in the shade all day this month, so plants grow slower there and I don’t have to worry about burning them there. Just keep an eye on your seedlings.

  67. Rhonda,

    Thanks for the tips. I just divide one pound of the sloppy joe mix into 4 plastic bags and freeze it to take to work. It works perfectly. I will see about the oranges. They sleep on my bed (scamp actually goes under the covers in the winter) and I don’t want to deter them from coming into the room/bed. I was joking with my boss that I should actually grow the seeds in the office since I have sourthern facing windows and it can get up to the mid-80ies on a sunny day, even with the shades closed. He thinks I’m kidding, but I’m not sure I am…

  68. As I have been working to spend less money, I have started noticing that I like to get in my car every day and go to the store, just to get out and about. In January I counted I went out shopping for groceries 24 times (for example, if in one big trip I went to three stores, I count that as 3). That is crazy…no wonder I spend a lot on gas and food…even if I am just buying things on sale. So now I am aiming for one day a week, and only 2-3 stores, so a total for February of 8-12 trips. Has anyone only else tried this? I noticed Brandy has said once a month works well, then uses her garden. I don’t have a garden (yet);)

  69. Rhonda, I am so happy that your surgery went well.. Sending prayers for you.. Yes…your hubby sounds like a very nice fellow. Always a blessing.. Proud the two of you got to spend some great time together at the hotel.. God bless.

  70. One of the women I used to work with used our window sill at work to grow cotton–she wanted to show her grandkids how it grew, and it did just fine–up to and producing cotton bolls.

  71. Recognizing the issue and putting a plan into place to change the undesirable spending is a very good start to changing your spending habits. I am also guilty of wanting to go out shopping all the time. I finally realized that I just didn’t like being at home. Once I was able to find things to do at home that I enjoyed, it was easier to stay home.

    Eventually I realized that I am an impulsive shopper, so sticking to a list is painful for me. I also hate to pass up a sale and love to “stock up”. So in stead of fighting against my nature, I now go grocery shopping every other week to minimize the impact on my wallet. It seems to work well for me.

  72. Hilogene,

    On the website, she did a series in Jan on a fresh start with money. Her first blog post on January 5 talked about the importance of setting financial goals. (She wrote a post every weekday in January.) She suggested setting financial goals of what you want to accomplish financially in six months. I think this can help keep a person really motivated. Also, I learned about YNAB (You Need a Budget). It is the best financial software that we have ever used. We first got it free for our daughter (free for college students) then we got a free trial so we could learn it and help her. They give away a free version at each of their online classes. We won a free version. I wonder if having specific financial goals and a way to track them would be motivating.

    Also, I do better if I get outside every day. I’ve done a winter garden this year that accomplishes that. (Though it certainly doesn’t need to be tended every day.) But if not, I wonder if going for a walk (even if it’s cold) would be helpful.

    I’m also happier if I’m accomplishing something. It might be something that I’m sewing, or a gift, or organizing our pantry.

    Even without a garden, you could do monthly shopping. But I think starting with weekly shopping and then moving to every two weeks would work. I think the motivation of what you could do with that money could help.

    Milk can be frozen (pour off a cup so there is room for it to expand in the jug). Homemade muffins, bread etc. are fun to make. Produce can be used with the most perishable things first–lettuce, etc. Then use produce like apples, oranges that last longer. Also, make sure that you have frozen vegetables for later in the month. I think that if you make it a game to see how little you can spend it’ll be rewarding. Also, make plans for the savings so that you accomplish what is important to you.

    Sometimes people do a spending freeze where they only buy essentials for a month. (You decide what your essentials are.) I’d go through what you have and make a menu plan for a month using things that you have. (Or if a month is overwhelming–try a week.)

    I hope some of this helps. Our challenges are very different. Our family members are gluten-free, dairy-free, some allergic to coconut, others to quite a few vegetables. Recently we learned about other restrictions which was a hard blow. But I’m determined that I’m going to feed my family a healthy diet without going broke.

    Brandy’s suggestions are excellent. Even though our diet is very different and more restrictive than hers, I find her blog posts on her shopping plans for the month to be very helpful.

    I didn’t love to cook. However, with all the restrictions and complications that we have, I’ve learned to like it. We don’t eat out and we don’t eat packaged food. The more that I’ve learned about having good health has motivated me to keep at it.

    Good luck with you. Recognizing that you want to do things differently is the first step. I find a lot of the suggestions here are very helpful and inspiring to me even though our circumstances and what I’m able to do food-wise is very different. I shop infrequently (and frankly I don’t like shopping much) but I know that I have food in our pantry, freezers and garden so we eat very well.

  73. Mari another suggestion for keeping the kitty’s out of the garden is used coffee grounds, maybe placing them around the area? I used this method a few years ago when I had a serious problem with cats in the garden and it worked miracles. I took the coffee ground and placed them around the edges of my garden – at that time I had a very small apartment garden space, and it worked! I never had any problems with cats getting into the garden and my plants didn’t seem to mind the grounds and did well.

  74. Love the idea of a soup swap too! I am going to look into that for next winter since it’s almost time for things to warm up here.

  75. This week I started a new job after being a SAHM for almost 13 years. I only work 2 days a week, 9-5. But those 2 days wiped me out.
    This week I cashed in $123 I accumulated from Pinecone Research. I received a check in the mail and applied it to a dental bill we have for my husbands crown he had to have after his root canal. Our goal is to have it paid off by the end of February. That is what all of my paycheck will be going to. I also cashed in $100 I earned from the survey site “My Survey”. I used it to buy Amazon cards. At the start of the year, I decided to only use cash at the grocery store. Before I go, I go to the ATM and take out $100. Most weeks I use it almost all up. But our freezer and pantry is very well stocked. I probably wouldn’t need to go to the store for a couple months but I want to keep stockpiling. My husband’s job is very uncertain right now. I am trying to think of what else I should buy. I am thinking salt and toiletries will be next. I also desperately want to sell my house. All the talk of gardening is getting me excited for spring. I have lots of seeds from last year that I will use but I will need to buy some manure. But right now, planting anything is several months off in Indiana.

  76. Rhonda I’m happy that you had so many blessings to share with us! It’s so nice to read someone enjoying all the blessings God gives us every day 🙂 I hope you feel really well very soon!

  77. Rhonda, thank you for your ideas. I think you hit the nail on the head, I get bored at home, I need to ponder a workable solution.

  78. Judy, thank you. A few of your ideas really hit home for me. I have a budget and it works for all things but food ;). The two ideas that I want to focus on are the meal planning (for real this time ) and looking at the savings as a game. I have never enjoyed cooking so I have been working on learning to cook more interesting things and learning also to enjoy the process. But I have used new recipes as an excuse to go shopping. I think sitting and doing meal planning for the week, and sticking to it, could make a world of difference. Gees, all this self control 😉

  79. There was talk on here a week or so ago about the price of patterns. I just got a Jo-Ann Fabrics flyer today and Simplicity patterns will be $1 Friday-Monday February 13-16. Good time to stock up!

  80. A little late commenting as it has been a busy week, some frugal happenings, some not so frugal! We depend a lot on my husband getting overtime to help with the budget, but he has not gotten overtime since before Christmas, so we have had to learn to tighten the belt even more, but it is a good lesson to learn!

    Let’s get the not so frugal out of the way: I landed in the hospital for an overnight stay and a bunch of tests last week because they thought I might be having a heart attack. My father and all of his siblings, with the exception of one that was in a car accident and the one still living, have died at relatively young ages with heart related problems. I am 39 and have currently outlived my father by a year. I don’t brush chest pain off due to family history. Thankfully, it was not a heart attack and I have no blockages, but they did find a couple of health issues that I was not aware of that have to be dealt with immediately in order to keep me from a blood transfusion and another hospital stay. That means a MAJOR change in diet and now a bit of a rise in our grocery budget, but I will be a frugal as possible to make this work as I can no longer have breads and starchy vegetables, which was the mainstay of our diet to help keep costs low.

    Now for the frugal: Because of this major diet change, I now am very limited on being able to eat out! I guess that was a benefit as that is the major budget blower at our house. I am using fresh ingredients. Nothing processed. So I will be planting a garden for sure to take advantage of the lowest price possible for fresh vegetables.

    Threw a “sip and see” for my new grandson for a grand total, including gift, of fifty dollars! I saved all of the party decorations from my son’s 16th birthday party and reused them as well as cupcake stands that I had from my first grandson’s baby shower, two years ago. We put the cupcakes on the stands on the tables for centerpieces and I added stuffed teddy bears. The theme was teddy bears. I used vases I already had and filled them with teddy grahams which served as centerpiece and party food. I kept the menu simple with sandwiches, chips and dip, cupcakes, and drink. I ran out of tablecloths so to keep from purchasing more, I used two quilts for the food and gift tables. It brought everything together nicely. She was very pleased with it and I was very glad to throw this party for such a small amount. Five years ago, I would have thought nothing of dropping two or three hundred dollars on a party for my kids or grandkids, but Brandy you have shown me that it isn’t necessary and simple parties are just as good if not better than huge, elaborate ones.

    Although my grocery budget is increasing, we decided to only increase by 25.00, which will be offset by not eating out as much, so I did not have to pull this money from another area.

    My husband and I have found that we enjoy breakfast dates more than dinner dates as we have very busy schedules in the evenings with church and family obligations. We went on a breakfast date Friday morning before going to work and it cost us $8.00. A dinner date would have set us back at least $40.00 so this is a very frugal exchange and we both enjoy time together before another hectic day starts.

    Overall, even with no overtime and with some unexpected hospital bills, we are keeping our heads above water and we are going to be fine. It’s the simple things in life that matter the most. Blessings to all!

  81. I’ve always been a working-outside-the-home mom. Sometimes, yes, it is draining. I find my days go better if I have a routine in place. You also may have to give your husband and kids more chores to do around the house; and you may have to just let some things go. You’ll find what works for your family. Hang in there! It will get easier.

    I quite enjoy working outside the home. Sometimes I don’t care much for my job; but I like getting outside of myself; my job helps a lot of people, and I like that; I like being a part of the wider community; I like the social aspects of working. I also like the money. I like knowing that I can support my family. Everything comes with a trade-off – everyone will make these very personal decisions based on what is best for their families; all of us have different circumstances and isn’t it wonderful we can make these choices for ourselves? You might find that you working a couple of days a week just doesn’t work for your family. Then again, you might find that it’s a great fit for you. Just give it time; you don’t have to decide right now whether or not this is what is best for this season of your life. All change is overwhelming at first; but it’ll get easier.

  82. Oh, this is always a special moment that I look forward to, reading this blog, and smiling at the awesome inspiring pictures, comments and wonderful ideas. This week….
    -Our son’s worked for a company that was sold and lost his job. He and his fiance’ had put an offer in on a house 2 days prior to losing his job-they were outbid and did not get it. He has two interviews already next week and got a very nice severance package. He is so positive-there are blessing with everything we are challenged with.
    -Making a family dinner tomorrow, wanted to make a cheese cake for Valentine’s Day. Was curious at the cost of a cake at a nearby cheesecake bakery- $30.00 for 9″. Including the pan I bought at Goodwill I can bake one for $7.50. Without the pan it would e $5.50.
    -We live in Wisconsin, got 12″ of snow last weekend, and are enjoying some sunshine and thawing temperatures. Furnance hasn’t run much today.
    -Will start saving gallon milk jugs soon, picked up .11 packets of seed, and had great luck last year making mini-greenhouses out of the milk jugs, cutting horizontally in center and duck taping together. When snow melts, place on south side of the house with soil and seed, open top when warm weather arrives. No harding off, no electric lights, etc.
    Worked so well.
    -Made a chicken soup that we ate four times-I took in a thermos to work for my lunch as well.
    -Cleaned out the refrigerator/freezer-took two solid hours, took everything out, washed, cleaned off coils, and inventoried what we have. (Lots of bacon, bananas, and frozen raspberries from my sister) Don’t have a large single standing freezer however, flatten everything and pack every inch of this one. I found a recipe for raspberry muffins and will make some smoothies.
    -Looked at expenses Jan. 2014 vs Jan. 2015 and were substantially down. It was due to lower gas costs, less energy use with son and fiance having moved out, less food, phone, and clothing. I was so proud and could hardly believe my eyes.
    – We have been streaming more movies on Amazon Prime and haven’t gone to the Red Box for $2.00 movies as often.
    – Cleaned out a closet.
    -Bought “Pots of Gold” chocolate during after Christmas Sales, will used as our special treat for Valentine’s Day. My husband and I “re-use” Valentine Cards year after year, just add a new message/date on the card. It’s fun and spend no money. I saw that some cards at our local drug store were over $8 each…wow.
    Stay frugal everyone and enjoy all that we have.

  83. Rhonda, I’m so happy your surgery went well and hopefully you won’t have the infection issues anymore. Many years ago, I had to have my gallbladder removed and before he put me under, I told the anesthelogist (spelling?) that I had a 15 month old daughter to raise and to not let me die. He laughed and said it was their goal to NEVER let anyone die! He must have thought I was an idiot!

    Your husband does sound like a gem, too.

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