Broccoli The Prudent Homemaker

Spring has come early this year. 

The first daffodil will open this morning in the garden, weeks earlier than usual.

The broccoli is tiny because of it. I harvested 3 small heads of broccoli last week. I will have to be certain to plant it earlier  in the fall to ensure large heads in the garden next January; I now know February is too late to be harvesting it (in years past I have only had it bolt, so this was an improvement, but my timing was still off; I will try a later September planting this fall). I am gratefl to have broccoli, and we will harvest a bit more from the plants. When the smaller plants go bolt (go to seed, which I expect they’ll do without forming heads) I’ll collect seeds to plant this fall, since this is an open-pollinated type. I’ll also harvest the stems on the larger plants.

The warmth does not bear well for other plants in the garden, which are also certain to bolt instead of giving much, unless it cools again; the turnips may not form at all, and the lettuce may bolt too soon as well. I plan on making turnips a fall planted crop from now on. I’ve been reading  The Winter Harvest Handbook: Year Round Vegetable Production Using Deep Organic Techniques and Unheated Greenhouses the last few weeks,  and I’ve decided that most cool season crops that I grow would be best planted in the fall, because of our climate. 

Digging The Prudent Homemaker

Our last frost date is 6 days away and it is going to be in the upper 70º’s this week! It is quite warm for this time of year. The children played in the sprinklers on the day that I ran them.

Because of the weather, I will get an early start on planting the warmer season crops; I have heard the nursery had tomato plants last week already, and I will go ahead and plant beans, zuchinni, and cucumbers in the garden, since it is so warm.

The weather is beautiful, and the air is filled with bird song.

Branches The Prudent Homemaker

I finally got around to pruning fruit 4 trees (rather late!) on Saturday, and I filled three vases with branches for forcing. I still have several more to do this week.

Winter and Cyrus competed in the National Archery in the Schools state competetion last week, which is held a day before the World Archery Festival at the same location downtown. 

Winter archery The Prudent Homemaker

Last year, Winter scored a 265 and took second place in the middle school division. This year, she scored a 264, and was in fourth place in her age group, and 14th overall in all age groups in the state.

I cooked a ham the day before, which we sliced for sandwiches. We made sandwiches the night before, and took them with us to the competiton for both lunch and dinner, so we didn’t need to eat out.

On Saturday, Winter, Ezrom, Steve and Liberty volunteered at the World Archery Festival, and received dinner. Afterwards, they were able to watch the semi-finalists and some of the finalists compete. Winter especially enjoyed watching the best women archers in the world.

I cooked a chicken in the solar oven, using herbs and greens from the garden. It cooked from frozen in 3 1/2 hours. I kept the carcass and broth in the pan in the fridge overnight. I added water to it and cooked it the next morning to make a large pot of flavorful broth. That afternoon, I cooked a large pot of beans in the solar oven. I added some beans to the chicken broth, along with  3/4 of a pound of pasta, and more Swiss chard, to the broth, for a tasty soup.

I cooked pinto beans in the solar oven as well.

I requested some books for Ezrom at the library. He and I are both reading the Charlie Bone series, which we got, as well as a few other books. Winter, Cyrus, and Liberty are all enjoying what we picked up. Books make rounds at our house, with everyone taking a turn reading them.

The library was having their annual book sale, and we were able to purchase a few inexpensive books for our own library, including a nice hardcover thesaurus.

Dishsoap Bubbles The Prudent Homemaker

What did you do to save money last week?

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  1. Stocked up on butter on sale for $1.88/lb at Fresh Market. Bought a large package of ground beef on sale for $2.49/lb from the mark down bin, & fried half of it for future use before freezing it. This makes a quick, easy addition for chili or stroganoff. I made a meatloaf from the other half, which will feed us for at least 3 meals, & baked 2 small butternut squash from the garden to go with the meatloaf. I also bought 6 one-pound packages of ground beef (the no hormone or antibiotic, organic stuff), also from the mark down bin. It was $3 per one pound package (last time it was only $1.50 per package marked down!), but regular ground beef is over $5/lb here now, & nudging towards $6. All 6 one pound packages all went into the freezer.

    Gathered more apple boxes to cut down to hold canning jars.

    One of our neighbors moved & left quite a bit of stuff at the curbside, along with full garbage cans. The city garbage crew will not pick up anything that is not in the cans, so since our can was not completely full, I filled it with the smaller broken items, then loaded my car with 6 large bags & a box, along with a few other items & took them to DI, where I picked up a receipt for the donation, for our taxes next year. I pulled out some old silverware & some metal items to recycle the next time I take in the cans. In theory, the recycling may pay for part of the gas, but at least the new neighbors moving in won’t be greeted by a pile of garbage on the curb.

    Cashed my pine cone survey check. Recycled the cans & metal & received $1.

    The landlord for the house next door came over with his son to mow the back yard, which was not mowed for the last half of the summer. They had planned to haul the grass clippings to the dump, but I opened the gate to my back yard, & the already dry clippings are now mulching my 3 garden tiers, 1-2” deep. Saved them a trip to the next town over & helped me at the same time.

    Watched “Downton Abbey” on PBS & “Cheese Slices” on UEN.

    On Tuesday, I dug the grass roots & weeds out of the lettuce bed & set 5 of the small glass cloches on the prepared soil to help warm it. I mulched lightly around them with dried grass clippings. A row of onions from last year is already up & growing. A few days later, I planted 4 seasons lettuce seed. Pulled the weeds from around the currant bushes.

    Pruned the grape vine & made 3 grapevine wreaths from the prunings. Pruned 2 trees & cut the wood to size for our camping stove. Placed spreaders in the limbs of the Snow Sweet apple tree.

    Put away the snowflake decorations from January & set out the decorations for Valentine’s Day. Over the years, I have saved a few small heart-shaped boxes (the 99 cent size), which I place in the corners of the bookshelves on their sides. I have multiple heart shaped ornaments, that either came free with chocolates inside (the big red Dove hearts from 5 years ago), or were 90% off Christmas decorations, & 2 red garlands. Years ago I made some heart-shaped decorations out of cardboard covered with a pink & white print years ago, with some white lace glued in between the halves, & glued in a ribbon for hanging. The garlands go over the bookcases (3) & the hearts hang from paperclip hooks at the two outside corners.

  2. I made 18 bibs this weekend. I had leftover material and had to by the fleece for backings. For all I probably spent around 10.00.Butter was on sale for 2.99, stocked up on cheese, and powdered milk. The price of that just about killed me. A full bag at our Bulk barn was 56.00.I have never seen it on sale and usually buy enough for a few months.Wow seems like the price of groceries just keep getting higher and higher.

  3. We spent some time in the garden yesterday. The kids had a lot of fun aerating a small bed and then adding compost and planting 2 packets of flower seeds that were purchased for 50 cents each. I don’t usually grow many flowers, but it will nice to have a few to cut and bring inside or for when it is the children’s turn to bring fresh flowers for their classroom. I bought 2 bare root blackberry plants for $10 at Sam’s and planted those along the side of the house. We harvested lettuce, nasturtium flowers, thyme, and a few sugar snap peas. The seeds that I started last weekend are starting to sprout, so I have been putting them out in the sun during the day. I started pulling weeds in another one of the beds in preparation for planting some sunflowers and vegetables.

    I made Brandy’s taco soup, which was wonderful. My daughter and I both brought leftovers for lunch the next day. I also made a loaf of gluten free banana bread.

    It was time for me to get new glasses, so I ordered from and ordered ones that were on sale with free shipping, plus I found a promo code on I have a very high prescription so mine always have an additional charge, but I ended up spending only $61 which is so great compared to the $300 I used to have to spend!

    I found my son’s favorite gluten free crackers at the 99 cents only store. At Food 4 Less I got cucumbers for 25 cents each and ground turkey (my family’s favorite) for $1.99/lb.

  4. Hello everyone! I have been working hard towards a zero waste lifestyle as well being frugal.
    Last week: continue to save warm up water and the water from the weird shower pipe. I used the water to fill the humidier, flush the toilet, rinse the bathtub after baths and showers.
    -I gave up coffee at home. I have one to two cups at work, which is free. I use my mason jar to drink out of with its nifty topper 🙂
    -I spent $60 on groceries, $50 less than budgeted. I purchased as much as I could without packaging, which most of the time was cheaper. Some of the items I bought: loose leaf English Breakfast tea, bananas, a baby watermelon, milk in glass jugs ( the store takes them back for the supplier to sterilize and reuse), red bell pepper, olive oil in a glass jar. Some things I had to purchase with packaging, like cheese, so I went for a big block instead of individually wrapped slices. Loose carrots with the tops still on were very expensive vs. their bagged counterparts. I just didn’t buy any carrots this week.
    -I made sandwich bread, pumpkin bars, vegetable stew, wild rice with a mix of squash, brussells sprouts, and broccoli that needed using up, veggie broth using veggie scraps I saved in the freezer. We cooked all meals from scratch and ate at home. My husband is still healing from mouth surgery and hasn’t eaten much.
    -I saved paper (blank on one side) at home and at work, to use as scrap paper.
    -I started another batch of citrus vinegar using clemintine peels I had saved in the freezer.
    -We had purchased some cottage cheese in a glass container a couple weeks ago. The cottage cheese was finally eaten up and I saved the clean glass jar. It is the perfect size to use to take food to work.
    -Printed three coupons for organic products we use.
    – I boiled soap nuts to make an all purpose cleaner. I put this in my dish soap bottle to use to wash dishes. It works very well. I also use soap nuts to wash our laundry and white vinegar with some essential oil in the rinse cycle.
    -I made more lotion using coconut oil, vitamin e oil, and essential oil. I had all supplies on hand. I ordered some Spearmint food grade essential oil so I can make our toothpaste. I continue to use baking soda and apple cider vinegar to wash my hair and my daughter’s hair. I still have some natural shampoo and conditioner left and use that on our hair once every week or two to use it up. Once that is gone I won’t purchase any more.
    -My daughter and I watched free shows on my kindle and laptop using my amazon prime account and youtube.
    -I ordered some more cloth pads from an Etsy dealer. I requested minimal packaging and no plastic. This will save resources and the seller money :). It will also save me money by not needing to purchase pads at the store! with packaging! 🙂
    -I repurposed a large glass jar to use as a juice jug.
    -I recycled three empty ink cartridges from my printer at home at Staples and used the small credit towards the new ink I bought.
    -I printed a shipping label from Terracycle (free) to send my used Brita pitcher filters back to the company for recycling. My mom saves hers and gives them to me to include in the package. I also purchased ($1.49) an envelope to mail two pairs of my old glasses to the Lions club headquarters to be reused for the needy. The envelope is supposed to be environmentally friendly and sourced sustainably.
    -I also clean, save and return my empty egg cartons to the farmer I get my eggs from. Keeps them out of the landfill and saves her money, which in turn saves her customers money. The chickens are fed organic feed and free range.
    -My son and his wife purchased a new car and sold us their old car for $400. We sold our car that was on it’s last legs for $400. My husband can fix the few things wrong with the “new to us” car for around $100. We will transfer the plates from the old car to our new car.
    Have a great week everyone!

  5. I managed to stay home almost all week, minus a mid-week trip to the grocery outlet. Just staying home saves money on gas, even though when I do leave it’s to run to the grocery store or Wal-Mart or a thrift store. I love staying home. Where we live, there are no grocery stores or anything really, minus a Dollar General on the outskirts of town. Our next town over is only a couple of miles but I don’t like having to drive there except once a week or so. They have a couple of regular groceries, a K-Mart, Wal-Mart, and the Grocery Outlet. I rarely shop anywhere but the GO and Wal-mart and I don’t mind doing without. If it’s not at one of those two places, I don’t get it and I am surviving just fine!

    Instead of treating myself to a yummy meatloaf dinner at one of our local restaurants on Wednesday night, I took that $10 and went and bought groceries. Well, the $10 plus some additional money. Picked up country style pork ribs, boneless skinless chicken thighs and leg quarters, each package under $2. Stocked up on more lunch meat that was on sale for 89 cents for 10 oz packages. I put these in the freezer and pull them out as needed. I do buy bigger 1 pound packages that are $1.79 to use when I pack my fiance’s lunch each morning. Those were selling for $5.50 at Wal-Mart yesterday. I cannot even fathom paying that for lunch meat these days. Thank you, Grocery Outlet.

    I boiled 18 eggs last week to eat for breakfast/snacks for the two of us. I am glad I bought several dozens of them when the price dropped to $1.29/doz the other week. They’re now back up to $1.59, which is still cheaper than the $1.99 at the holidays but a 30 cents increase in 2 weeks doesn’t sound promising.

    Thursday I made a huge stock pot of vegetable soup using canned and frozen veggies. I ate soup for lunch Thursday and Friday, for dinner Thursday night, and lunch today. I have a ton leftover, which is great, because I love to eat soup as it is quite filling for few calories. I have enough for at least lunch every day this week, possibly more.

    Sadly, once Friday hit, the frugality stopped and the expenses began. I am still trying to get a handle on the excessive spending by a certain unnamed person (NOT ME! haha) but it’s a work in progress. Friday night, we had dinner out, which has become a routine that we both enjoy but I enjoy saving money more so that needs to stop. Saturday we were invited to tour the Biltmore Estate with some friends that are season pass holders. They had some free tickets to use for guests so we went with them and thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. We were able to use our free passes to upgrade to season passes and while it was an expense that wasn’t a necessity, we will get a ton of use out of those over the next year. We were able to save over $100 off the price of the yearly passes just by upgrading while using our free tickets. It was an awesome day and we are looking forward to going back soon.

    Also, a new laptop was purchased yesterday. My fiance had been using mine since September and he needs it for school, so he bought one for $226, which is a very good price. We didn’t notice as they were ringing us up but once we got to the car and I looked at the receipt, I noticed they overcharged him by $20+. I told him to go back in and get the price adjusted. Twenty dollars may not sound like much, but it was enough to cover our lunch afterwards. We stopped in for a pizza and ate a couple of pieces and brought the majority of it home. It served as fiance’s dinner last night and he’ll probably have it as a snack tonight too.

    I set up a new Instagram account last week to keep my daily pictures separate from the vintage items I sell. I am hoping to get the new account filled with lots of stuff this week. I am taking listings that expire in my Etsy account and moving them to Instagram. If they don’t sell there, I will move them to Ebay. Etsy has become very disappointing the last several years. I did really, really well on there in 2009-2012. So, I am trying other sites to see if it will make a difference.

    Thankfully the last couple of days have been warmer so we’ve been able to turn down our individual space heaters some. I don’t like the summer heat, but it will be nice to not need to run space heaters 24/7 too. And since we’ve had a huge lack of snow this year, I say it might as well go ahead and be spring. There’s no point in it being cold if we’re not going to have snow. Bring on the sunshine, the flowers and the guests that will surely visit once it’s not 37 degrees inside this old house. Have a great week everyone!!

  6. Frugal is living off our stock up pantry and making out a budget menu. I quit my job last week and am interviewing for a new job (2 interviews tomorrow). While I loved my job, the stress was killing me with the high pressure sales tactics we were expected to do each and every day. I am leaning towards working in the senior care industry. I love working with older people, they have so much to share with us and think this is more in line with my life than the grocery industry. While I’m on “vacation” I am catching up on crocheting projects that I haven’t had much time for, making 3 different afghans with yarn I have saved up from sales at Michaels, Joann’s and the thrift store I use to work for. These will be Christmas gifts this coming December.

  7. Things have started looking up for us this week! We ran an ad for my MIL’s “apartment” and received several calls. We ended up renting it to the first lady that called. She is a more mature woman who works from home and loves to garden. Part of the rental agreement is that we will give her space in our yard for her own garden. She is also interested in purchasing some of my MIL’s furniture which will be a big help to us. She signed the lease and gave us the security deposit yesterday and should be moving in on March 1. That will help us out a great deal.

    Then, my DH got a phone call from the employee rep at his former employer. It seems that there is an opening in one of the schools for an IT person and the rep thinks he can get my DH the position AND have him reinstated at his previous salary, seniority and benefits. The only change would be that he would only be working when school is open so he would be a 10 month employee. That’s fine with us. This whole season in our lives has taught us how little we really need to live on happily. So, we are hoping with cautious optimism at this possibility. We’ve learned not to count on anything when it comes to having or getting a job.

    I cooked up a pot of pinto beans (which we grew last summer) in the slow cooker yesterday. I read online about cooking them without soaking first. Basically I just put them in the slow cooker with a bay leaf and covered them by 2 inches with beef broth. Half way through the cooking time I added garlic, onion powder, chili powder, cumin, and hot pepper flakes. I severed them over rice and they were so good! We also had spinach from the cold frame with them.

    Last week I was trying to decide what to bring to work for my lunch. I had left over cole slaw in the fridge and decided to add some tuna to it on the chance it would turn out ok. It’s not something that I’d go out of my way to make again, but was not bad for lunch and the left over cole slaw got used up.

    We’ve been working on some decluttering since we be having tenant moving in soon and need to find room for some of my MIL’s things. While cleaning his man cave, DH found a bag with 6 deodorants in it. I had purchased them awhile back on sale with coupons and I guess they got lost in his cave. I found some unopened bottles of lotion that were pushed to the back of my bathroom closet. Both nice finds for us!

    Last week someone on here suggested the book “The Homemade Pantry”. I picked it up from my library last week along with a book of recipes from WWII using rationed ingredients. I don’t remember at the moment the name of that book but both have great ideas for frugal cooking.

    One of my FB friends mentioned a website that has a free garden planner. You can pay for extra add-on’s but the garden planner part is free. DH and I set the garden fro this year using the program. You can lay out your garden plot and choose the veggies you will be starting. You then place them where you want them and it will tell you how much you can plant in a particular space. It will also suggest a garden design for you if you don’t already have one.

  8. – Got a refund from Walmart for some potatoes that were rotten. I didn’t know they were rotten until after I baked them and we went to eat them. I simply emailed the store and someone called me and told me to bring in my receipt and they would take care of it.
    – Husband had drill this weekend with the Army Reserves. He has to travel 4 hours away to do this. I sent him with food and drinks from home so he wouldn’t have to spend money eating out.
    – Finally broke down and bought some wood. It may not be frugal, but we can keep our house warmer without running the heat pump. It has been cold here and the heat pump has been on almost constantly to keep up. I’ve learned that heat pumps are pretty much useless when the temperatures get below about 30*F. We bought the wood from a church group trying to raise money for a missions trip to Mexico. We feel like it was a good cause and as a result are happy with our decision to buy the wood.
    – Rented a movie from RedBox using a code to get it for free
    – Borrowed a carpet cleaner and cleaned our carpets. It takes some work, but it is so much cheaper than paying someone to do it.
    – Made potato and corn chowder using the ham broth I had in the freezer. I’ve never used ham broth before. I usually just use water. It was delicious! I don’t think I will ever use water again!

  9. You might call your local Lion’s club next time and find out if there are any local drop boxes. I know in my area many of the eye clinics have them and we even have one at our school. It would save you the envelope and the postage 🙂

  10. We put compost around our newest apple trees this weekend, but still need to prune the fruit trees. I need to remember to bring in some of the branches for forcing. I’ve not had very good results in years past, but want to try it again. I expect it’s all about timing, and I just need to figure out that perfect window of opportunity. I love both photos of Winter… the archery and the fun bubble one! Joining in here:

  11. Archery sounds like a great sport. Did you buy the bow and arrows, or are you able to get them another way? I’m hoping my son will start that in 4-H next year.

    I’m following your garden suggestions. I just planted lettuce last week, but we’ve been very warm in Tucson, too (it’s supposed to be 83 degrees today), so I’m wondering if we’ll even get to harvest the lettuce. Maybe I should just go to the warm weather veggies.

    Thanks for the inspiring posts!

  12. We are having a lot of very spring-like weather here too. I’m concerned that our fruit trees will bud too early, then the rest of winter will come and we will lose our fruit again this year. I am still hopeful it will be alright, and I’m trying to enjoy this lovely weather without worrying too much!

    My frugal accomplishments are posted here:

  13. Thanks for the book suggestion Brandy. Going to request that for my son from the library 🙂 He is enjoying reading so much right now!

    * got a free yogurt and baking soda at the store (saving star and kroger friday download)
    * ate all meals at home
    * took my son out for frozen yogurt while we waited for my daughter at drivers ed; we had a $5 coupon and it was a fun mom/son date 🙂
    * packing lunches and sending reusable water bottle to school
    * used up an over ripe banana in a smoothie
    * picked up a free “student driver” magnet for my car to use while my daughter is learning. Hoping it will serve as a guide for folks to have a little more patience if they are behind us!
    * able to work from home several days saving on gas.
    * helped another mom out by having her son over for the day which was fun for my son as well

  14. I am also working hard on reducing waste in our household. Your post was very inspiring!

    I also love my cloth pads and menstrual cup 😀

  15. If you have a loblaws/no frills/superstore/wholesale club (all loblaws companies) by you check out the no name brand powdered milk. It is cheaper than anywhere else I haave found. The biggest bag (2.5kg) is about $24 but if you buy 2 it goes down to $21. Im on the west coast and know that the east coast used to be several dollars cheaper but this was about 7 years ago now.

  16. This week I checked out some books from the library instead of buying them. We watched a movie on netflix ( I know it’s not free, but much cheaper than cable). My husband and I picked up some wine and cheese and had a date night instead of going out to eat.

  17. Marivene, I always like hearing of your holiday decorations.

    My uncles make grapevine wreaths and sell them at the farm stand.

  18. The series is great! The only one they didn’t have in yet is #6, so I’m anxiously awaiting that one right now! We have 7 and 8 (there are 8 in the series) so as soon as that comes in I’ll read those three this week. Cyrus just read #1 last night (I got that at the thrift store last year; i had no idea that I would enjoy it, too!)

  19. I’ve been decluttering and donating stuff from the house. I just finished reading “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up.” However, there is no room in that method for holding onto things for future use, which is imperative to a frugal lifestyle. Really good stuff otherwise in the book.

    I’ve been mending stuff, which is always very satisfying, not to mention justifies sitting in front of the TV.

    I stopped at the grocery store on my way home from dropping my son at school today. Partially because I wanted to get the loss leaders, but also because it is [i]super[/i] windy and rainy out today and I didn’t want to have any unnecessary trips from the house today.

    I wrote about my frugal things here:

    Congratulations on your daughter’s archery, you must be very proud!

  20. Yes, we bought them. For state competitions everyone has to use the same bow. You can read more in my post here:

    I saw your temperatures today when I was reading the weather report. I think you’ll get some lettuce, but if not, and it’s open-pollinated, you can collect seeds for fall planting. I usually get lettuce through April and sometimes into May, but it’s all bolted from mid-April on.

    The soil has been 65º here in the sunny parts of the yard. It’s warmer earlier so I will see where it is warm enough. Some seeds need 70º so I will wait on those. Sunflowers can grow when the soil is 55º, so I planted some last week.

  21. Mandy, I like reading about your no impact lifestyle. We could all cut back on so much that goes to the landfill, without too much trouble. Did you ever see the movie (and I’m not sure of the title) NO IMPACT MAN?

    Did you ever try getting your ink cartridges refilled? We used to do that before we switched printers.

  22. – found some pants at a thrift store for $3 each.
    – my suburbans hazard light broke. The dealership wanted almost $900.00 for the part ( which was almost $500) and labor. My husband found the part online for $74.
    – my husband took lunch with him everyday last week.
    – Winco had bone in hams for 0.98/pound, I picked one up for Easter.

  23. Lori, I was curious what the Biltmore Estate was, so I googled it. Wow, is that ever stunning! I can see why you would want season passes to explore it at different times of the year. Be sure to ask the staff lots of questions about how they gardened and in general lived day to day. You may get some really good information and frugal ideas that you can incorporate into your own lifestyle.

  24. Good luck with your job interviews. Good for you for realizing you needed to change directions. I hope everything works out well for you!

  25. My peach tree is flowering as we speak. We are having a little warm spell. I know it will get cold enough again to lose most, if not all, of the fruit again this year. Darn it!

  26. Melissa, was the WWII book HOW TO COOK A WOLF by MFK Fisher? That is interesting reading. I found a very helpful hint in THE HOMEMADE PANTRY. When needing to heat milk, as in making yogurt or pudding etc, put an ice cube in the bottom of the kettle first, let it melt before turning on heat, then add milk and milk will not burn or scorch.

  27. Hi Brandy,

    I love your posts each week! Here’s what I’ve done to save money:

    -I dehydrated some celery from my crisper before it went bad.
    – I swapped 3 books on and used the credits to buy some books that we’ll use in our homeschool history curriculum.
    – I made some homemade playdough for the kids when cabin fever was getting the best of us (we’re buried in a couple feet of snow right now)
    – I haven’t grocery shopped in 5 weeks (family of 6 here…so that’s pretty good I think!).
    – I made 4 loaves of bread.
    – I was blessed with a bag of dresses and a sweater from a friend of mine who cleaned out her closet.
    – I printed free handwriting practice for my two oldest sons that I found on Pinterest. I printed them double sided and put in page protectors so that they can be used over and over with a dry erase marker.
    – I bought some nursing bras online for $5.60/piece including shipping from Ebay (baby #5 is due in a month or so). I was pleasantly surprised that when they arrived, they’re actually very nice quality and fit well.

  28. I really enjoyed reading your post this week. It sounds like your children really had a fun week this week. They are getting so big from the pictures you shared! As for the warm temperatures and early spring, I’m so jealous. We just had a big snow storm hit this weekend, with about a foot of snow with freezing rain mixed in. My husband had a snow day on Sunday again, as the roads were to treacherous to drive in the early morning.

    As for our frugal accomplishment, we seem to be getting a bit more on track. The eating out has continued to be a problem, as I have not been able to cook the same this week. I’m still recouping from my surgery, so my mother has been doing more of the cooking. She’s terrible at planning meals and often waits to the last minute to decide what to have, then can’t make up her mind. We’ve had take out a couple times because of it. Not my preference, but I hope to take over some more of the cooking this week. Anyways, here are my frugal accomplishments for this week:
    *Bought groceries this week. Since we were away and we have been doing some eating out, I spent significantly less this week.
    *While shopping for groceries, I found some large bricks of Schneider’s Mac and Cheese Loaf luncheon meat, the kind they slice the meat from at deli counters. This store does not have a deli counter, so I assume they received this as a mistake in a shipment. This is my daughter and my FAVOURITE luncheon meat! Each brick was priced per kg with the cheapest one being $12.90. The expiry date, however, was rather short. I called my husband and asked if he could take it to his work (he works in a restaurant) and slice it up for me in the next couple days. He agreed and I bought the meat. However, he forgot to take it one day and he had a snow day the next, so we decided to bite the bullet and buy a meat slicer (we already were thinking about doing this), which happened to be on sale at 25% off! Once we cut up the meat, I figured out that if I had bought the meat prepackaged and bought it on super cheap stock up sale price of $1/package, it would have cost a minimum of $20. The meat was packaged up using my FoodSaver (Christmas present from hubby) and put in the freezer for future use. What a savings and I now have a meat slicer to use whenever I want! Awesome!!!!:D
    *My mother, daughter and I were invited to a book exchange and potluck lunch get together at my SIL’s house on Sunday. We went through our books but only found three that we had both read that we were willing to pass on. I pulled out some sliced ham, sliced smoked chicken breast (both bought on sale and sliced up by my husband) and a few different cheeses from my freezer and made up a meat and cheese platter as our contribution to the pot luck, so no cost out of pocket. My mother had bought a large strawberry shortcake from Costco the day before, so we also took it to share. We came home with a grocery bag full of books for free, including a new cookbook and I brought home the leftover cake so my husband could have some. We enjoyed a nice lunch and had a nice time visiting with my SIL as well.
    *We signed my daughter up for cooking class group for children on the Autism spectrum that takes place once a week for five weeks. She has been thoroughly enjoying the classes for a couple weeks now. As a group they make a full dinner meal for everyone to eat and enjoy together, including a dessert. As an added bonus, she has been trying new foods! She has liked several items that previously she would have turned her nose up at without trying. I’m finding her more open to trying new foods now because of this course. This week, along with the meal, they made Chocolate chip muffins and where allowed to bring home six. I wrapped up the muffins individually and put them into the freezer for my daughter to use in her lunches this week.:)
    *Caught an episode of Tudor Monastery Farm on t.V. this week. It made my day. I always glean so much info from these shows!

    That’s about it for me this week. Looking forward to reading everyone’s comments. Hope everyone has a wonderful week.

  29. I celebrated my birthday:
    • My sister, who has the same birthday but is 10 years older, and I were taken out to dinner by two of our other sisters a couple days before the actual celebration
    • Two co-workers took me out for lunch on my actual birthday (we’ve already scheduled the lunches for their birthdays later this year)
    • Received freebies from a local pizza place (Ledo’s – already cashed that in), Panera (a free pastry good through early April), La Madeleine (a free pastry good through 2/28 that I’ll be getting when I go out to lunch with another friend this weekend) and a $10 off $10 coupon from Kohl’s (which I refrained from using until I hopefully received a bonus code coupon and then received one for 30% off – I will be using it this weekend to buy either pajama or daytime pants with the 30% off covering any excess cost). I know there are other places that provide birthday freebies, but if I don’t patronize those places during the rest of the year, I don’t want to go there just for my birthday.
    I had a bad cold for most of the weekend(still have it actually), so didn’t accomplish my full to-do -list, but I did:
    • Make pudding from scratch
    • Make broccoli salad
    • Not buy any groceries except for a half gallon of orange juice
    • Make chocolate covered raisins and coconut haystacks for my daughter for Valentine’s Day using ingredients I already had on hand. I will be sending those candies and a sheet of Batman postage stamps to her at college tomorrow
    • Freeze all the meat I purchased last week that I didn’t use this week
    • Rehydrate lettuce by putting it in cold water for 30 minutes (using a tip on this blog from a previous week – thanks whoever posted it!)
    • Clean my kitchen, down to the floor when I was done with all my kitchen work
    • Wash all the bed linens because after lying in them for 2 days, well, you understand
    Brandy is often asked how she gets so much done. I know what her answer is, but for me, it’s turning off the TV and the computer. I listen to music or sports on the radio and books on CD while I’m working in the kitchen or cleaning. Unfortunately, I finished a book on CD yesterday so now I’m looking for new CD books that I can borrow from my major system library. Any suggestions for action/mystery books are welcome.
    Finally, I’m really grateful that I work in an industry where I can work from home when I’m well enough to work but a bit too contagious to go into the office, like today. I wish everyone in my office would do that since I know they can! Now it’s time to turn off the computer and get my work done.

  30. I actually own No Impact Man (LOL – i bought it used) and I read the book (borrowed from the library).
    I would’ve had them refilled but I had my 4 year old with me, who was melting down, so I settled for recycled. I will have them refilled next time though, she will just stay home if she’s cranky!

  31. It has been an interesting week. My husband has been ill with a cold this last week. He is post op surgery now 4 weeks tomorrow. He missed a week from surgery and a day of work but went in these last 4 days of his work week. He was feeling worse, so this weekend we stayed at home and he rested well. Slowly he is feeling better today. I bought a whole chicken at our QFC here in Puget Sound. It was 1.29/lb organic. I like to wait until they get to be 99/lb, but not sure when this will happen so I bought one to make a pot of chicken soup for him. It has lasted 3 days! I would have cooked a turkey from the freezer but his appetite is not the best yet. I still have veggies in the garage I picked up on sale a couple of months ago, but it has been in the 50’s here and not staying so fresh as last year so I am using them quickly. I’ve used the last of the potatoes I bought in Nov at $.99/10 lbs and do not know when they will be at a low price again, Here in the Northwest, potatoes grow well, so I plan to start a container of them. We have plenty of noodles, rice and flour for dumplings until they mature. I have corn meal and masa as well for tortilla’s.
    I am preparing for my lay off in March. Our hospital is doing large layoff ‘s and cutbacks over the next couple of years..As an older nurse who cannot lift adult patients any longer, I find searching for jobs are very fruitless as they will not hire. Currently I work as a neonatal nurse. My freezer is full of meats ~should last a year that I purchased on sale, and have grains , canned foods to last several months, and rice for about a year. We will need to cut back a lot and do without for about 2 1/2 years heading into retirement. We are a family of 2 now that the children are grown, so this year should be ok. The following year and a half will be a very frugal time for us. Learning how Brandy worked with the lean years and how to garden and buy food at a low prices is quite an art that she has taught. I am now keeping a record to journal each month for best sale prices in our area. Pantry foods make for wonderful meals too. This opportunity is a blessing from God that He meets all of our needs, no matter where we are. I am so thankful for the resources from Brandy’s blog as well as others to help teach me how to to be frugal and use what I have on hand. . .and I am looking forward to this next journey. I have prepared.
    I have loved to read the comments from others as they are filled with such wonderful ways of frugal living.
    Patty from the North West~~

  32. We’re in the process of renovating two bedrooms, and so of course that always brings with it some additional expenses. I spent Friday in town getting bits and pieces, and I got some terrific bargains. My daughter’s bedroom has two windows. I knew I’d need curtains but wasn’t sure what I was after, and didn’t want to spend a fortune. I found the perfect curtains for $10/pair. Unfortunately, they weren’t lined, and my kids are bad sleepers – black-out material is a must. I managed to find some of that marked down to $2.50/metre, which is unheard of here. Unfortunately, I goofed when buying the fabric and only bought enough for one window – never mind I had two sets of curtains sitting on the cutting table; it just didn’t twig until I got home. What the? Since town is a 40 minute drive and I didn’t really want to make another trip and I knew I still had some blackout material left over from when I did my son’s curtains (we had an old pair which was the perfect color for his room, they just needed black-out material, which I found on clearance for $6/metre last month), I made it work. The curtains are lined with different blackout material, but you can’t see it and so it doesn’t matter.

    My daughter’s old bedroom also doubled as a hallway to get to my son’s bedroom – you had to walk through her room to get to his. Not the best lay-out. About 5 years ago, I made a curtain to hang in the door between the two rooms, with a different fabric on each side. I used the fabric that was on my daughter’s side of the curtain to make large floor cushions. (It’s actually black-out material, and my original idea was to turn that into curtains for her bedroom; but of course with black-out material once you’ve sewn through it, there are pinpricks of light where the old seam was, so that was out.) We put two large dormer windows in an A-frame roof to increase the usable space; but each room still has about 1.5 metres of A frame. My daughter’s will become a closet; but my son already has a small built-in closet in his room, so I’ve turned his into a cubby-house by making a curtain out of the fabric that was originally on his side of the doorway curtain. I also made him two large floor cushions using another fabric I found on clearance, which was absolutely perfect for him. I made it go further by backing the cute fabric with an old sheet, so that he got two cushions out of it instead of just the one. (It was a panel-print.)

    I found toy boxes for both kids on clearance. My son’s nightstand was also purchased on clearance. I actually saved about $65 there because they didn’t have the one I wanted in-stock, so I found this other one instead. We still need to get them new dressers but we’re still pricing the best options there. We found my daughter’s dresser on the side of the road about 15 years ago, and it wasn’t in the best shape then; my son’s clothes are still kept in baskets on his change-table. I snagged the chair that is in my daughter’s room from the side of the road too. It was dusty, but I gave it a good clean and it looked good as new. A bit of on-line sleuthing led me to discover the chair retails for about $70.

    While I was in the fabric store I noticed they had all of their Christmas items marked down to 50 cents each. I found some very cute advent calendars and lanterns which will make wonderful neighbour gifts.

    My daughter’s old bedroom is now the toy room. I didn’t want to spend a lot of money redecorating it. I found a framed Finding Nemo poster for $1.50 and some sea-animal vinyl wall stickers for $1, so I picked those up. I found some other stuff on clearance too – a toy that will probably become my daughter’s big birthday present marked down to $5; markers for school next year, normally $20 marked down to $3.50; etc.. Just for fun, I’ve added up the original prices and the discount prices I paid for things mentioned on this post, and discovered I saved about $420 over buying the items new. Of course it’s a false economy because I never would’ve bought the items at full-price; but $420 is almost enough for 2 return sale fares to Malaysia!

  33. Marivene, it sounds like we decorate in a similar style! I use snowmen & snowflakes in January and switch to Valentine’s décor on Feb. 1st. I also got many of my red heart hangers for 90% off at Target’s clearance. I hang those with suction cups in the front windows.
    I have a basket of stuffed hearts on my old store scale that sits on my coffee table. They were made from scraps. My dining room centerpiece is a domed cake holder from Princess House (it was my mom’s) on a doily my mom made many years ago. Inside are a wonderful assortment of felt pastries. I made a slice of cake, a chocolate roll, a cupcake, & 2 donuts. I make a lot of stuff from wood (I used to sell at craft faires) so I have various wood things scattered about. I also fancied up a trio of old Starbucks coffee bottles with paper, filled them with red & white rocks (from Goodwill), & have white spray painted twigs coming out of them for some height. They’re on the mantle. I’m thinking about adding some glitter to the twigs to give them some bling. 🙂

  34. Athanasia, that is a great tip. I will have to try it next time I am heating milk, as I have difficulty getting it heated without scorching.

  35. Stephanie, maybe you can help me with a homemade cloth pad problem I’ve had. I use mine for light bladder leakage, but even just a little can seep through. What do you put on the very bottom to form a barrier? It obviously has to be soft enough to be comfy, but more waterproof. I tried flannel and that just isn’t good enough. Thanks.

  36. Last week, I:
    – updated my gift box inventory, giving me information on items on hand for upcoming Easter, birthday, etc., gifts
    – used a $10 theater loyalty card reward to pay for snacks at a family outing to the “Paddington” movie
    – got 3 free bagels from Bruegger’s for their birthday offering; they served for 3 meals (2 for me, one for my daughter)
    – had to place an order at work for shirts to be worn to trade shows. Went through eBates to reach the Lands End site and earned the cash back commission to my account, with no change to the cost through work
    – added receipts to ReceiptHog.
    – added steps taken per day to Walgreens Healthy Rewards program for points (that translate into dollars off coupons); signed up for Walgreens 50 points per $1 for beauty/personal grooming products purchases for February and March for Balance Rewards members.

  37. Brandy, I can’t believe your daffodils are already blooming! We are covered in piles of snow in upstate NY! I am reconsidering my life choices right now.

    My husband and I are feeling some cabin fever. We have started to look for free events to attended. One of the estate sales near us had an appetizer and wine for previewing the sale. (My husband regularly attends estate sales.) We made a date night out of the event!

    I have spent the past seven days without spending any money! We are currently on track with our grocery budget this month. I hope we can keep this momentum up.

    I made a turkey this week. We froze a few bags of meat for sandwiches. I made stuffing from bread ends.

    I hope everyone has a very frugal week!

  38. I used my weekly menu planner again this week that I made from a free printout online in a 30 cent thrift store frame. I write the dinner foods on the glass of the frame with a dry erase pen and then just wipe it off later! Seems silly that it actually kept us eating at home every day!

    Spent $37 for the week for groceries which included 4 half gallons @ $1/ half gallon and several other stock up pantry items! Cost before sale & coupons was $98!

    Rearranged things in the fridge to make a “lunch grab and go” place for Hubby and son to pick out their daily lunch choices for work! This will save on the cost of hubby just getting something “extra” during lunchtime at work!

    Bought 10 five pound bags of Idaho russet potatoes for 88 cents/bag! Just ran out of our Amish potatoes from this summer so it was great timing for a sale!

    Cooked a chuck roast in the crockpot for an incredible roast beef, baked potato, home grown green bean dinner. The roast beef recipe called for a packet of dry Ranch dressing mix and also a packet of dry Italian dressing mix so I was able to use the homemade dressing mixes instead of buying some commercially made ones! Two days later, I was able to recycle the leftover roast beef by shredding it in my mixer and putting it in the crockpot on warm with some homemade chili verde salsa to become beef chimichangas for dinner .

    Used the $300 balance in my checking account as my direct deposit paycheck was coming in to pay off a debt. Going to try this every payday!

    Gas bill for heating was less than usual and so our level pay should be going down next month! Our water bill has also decreased not only from last bill but also from last year at this time too.

    Made two more lap quilts from scraps!

    All in all, a very good week!

  39. Last week, I pulled out the sewing machine and did everything in the mending pile including some minor alterations. I washed sweaters that I haven’t worn in a while so I can wear them at work. I tackled some ink stains on one of my favorite shirts.

    My employer provided lunch 4 days and one of the days there was so much leftover they gave us ziplocks for us to take some home (I got free food and 2 free ziplocks LOL). I had that for dinner one night when SO was working. He does not come home until late in the evening and also has dinner provided at work.

    Free in the mail – Family Circle magazine and a sample bag of cat food.

    I combined errands. I went to CVS and got the free tube of toothpaste. At Dollar Tree, I got 2 pairs of gardening gloves. I went to the thrift store and got more clothes for work – 3 skirts and 3 pairs of pants for $29.

    I picked strawberries from the garden.

    I had an ebay sale last week.

    I did a few little jobs around the house with supplies I already had – replacing a small piece of molding next to the door then did some painting and touching up around the door (hopefully that will keep out a bit of draft). I painted a white cover plate in the hallway the same color as the walls (it’s covering up an electrical box we no longer use). I caulked the outside of the windows with clear caulk where some of the gasket was missing from the glass – that will save some energy – during the cold weather we got some condensation on the windows from the draft.

    I made banana bread with bananas from the freezer.

    Plus all the usual – cooking simple meals from scratch, eating from the freezer and pantry, washing out baggies, composting, and meeting my swagbucks goals. I’m making $100 last the month again (except for the clothes I bought for work at the thrift store).

  40. Good luck with the lay-off. I would love to leave my job, but hopefully on my terms in 5-6 years! My current contract is up for renewable in May and it is fully expected to go through with no problem, but then it’s up for bids again for May, 2016, so I’m starting to make preparations, just in case, including saving as much vacation time as possible (I can accrue up to 26 days will be paid to me when I leave the company), cutting back on expenses as much as I can, building up the pantry and toiletries, expanding the garden, etc. I’ll see how it goes over the next 15 months and hope the preparations aren’t needed quite yet. Better to be prepared than not…

  41. It is a high point of my week to see this blog every Monday and read Brandy’s post and then the comments ;). Last week, I made all but two meals at home. I retired in January from a job where I used to travel a bit. I received a rewards card letter and looked up my points balance. there were enough to buy a $100 gas card! There weren’t enough points for a free hotel room, but plenty for gas….Amazing! So now I will go through all my rewards programs and see if there are other hidden pools off money!

  42. Not Stephanie, but here’s how I make mine: I use several layers of flannel, several layers of Warm and Natural quilt batting, another layer of flannel and then some waterproof fabric I got at JoAnn’s as a remnant. I make them long and narrow and just use a safety pin to hold them in place. I found they were too bulky if I used a wrap-around tab w/snap. I just use a edge stitch to hold all layers in place.
    Hope this helps.

  43. * Diluted a bottle of white vinegar by 50 %. I had an empty bottle so I poured half into it and topped it up with water. It’s great for cleaning but not suitable for cooking.

    * Made seasoned bread crumbs from scratch. Some were used to make KFC drumsticks.

    * Made a muesli bar slice. I would have taken a photo but it was a little over baked. Still yummy though.

    * Saved the shower warm up water and poured it into my watering can and used it to water the fruit trees.

    * Baked four loaves of wholemeal bread.

    * Gratefully received two plum puddings. I’ll give one to a family member and the other one was portioned into single serves and frozen. Darren is the only one in our house who really enjoys plum pudding.

    * Made a children’s Christmas apron and chef’s cap as a present for Christmas this year. The material panel was on clearance after Christmas a year ago for $1.

    * Saved some large glass jars. I’m going to use them as presents by picking a bunch of flowers from the garden. I’ll tie twine around the flowers and place them in the jar. The jar will be decorated with a wide strip of wrapping paper and a ribbon. I’ve seen these on The Prudent Homemaker’s blog and they look lovely. Cost is zero. I’ll post a picture when I make them up.

    * Picked strawberries, raspberries, beans, tomatoes, zucchinis and corn from the vegetable garden.

    * Darren used some of our compost on the veggie garden.

    * For some reason we didn’t use as much milk this week and I had almost three litres to use with one day left on the expiry date So I made creamed rice to use up about two litres. We had it for dessert two nights running. I had it for lunch two days and Jessica was in heaven eating it for breakfast.

    * Gratefully accepted some free sandwiches.

    * Found some older face washers and hand towels in the linen cupboard to replace the tired ones I was using in the kitchen. The really old kitchen ones were moved on to the laundry as mop up cloths. I never buy kitchen sponges or wipe up cloths. I use the slightly old and faded face washers instead. It’s great as I can change them over at the end of the day and throw them in the wash.

    * Baked a triple batch of chocolate choc chip muffins. A few were eaten fresh and the rest were frozen for lunch boxes.

    * Bought chicken fillets a $6.99 kg from Tasman Meat. Bought Pineocleen and Pantene shampoo and conditioner at half price from Coles..

    * Dried all the washing clothes horses and the line.

    * Kept the heater off all week and only used the evap. cooling for a couple of hours

    I have pictures for some of these things on my blog

  44. Mandy, even if you don’t have a local Lions Club, some eye doctors will collect them and send them. We also have a couple of doctors in our town that do mission trips and will use them for that purpose.

  45. Sending much love and good healing thoughts to you and your husband. Good for you for having the foresight to prepare. My mom is also an RN of 25+ years and is struggling to find work in her area of the PNW. I hope things go well for you!

  46. If you like historical mysteries, British writer C.J. Sansom writes a series set in Tudor England, featuring a detective called Matthew Shardlake. Thee are 6 of them out now: Dissolution, Dark Fire, Sovereign, Revelation, Heartstone and Lamentation. Try to read them in order. Hilary Mantel wrote a great historical set of novels about the Tudor era, called Wolf Hall and Bring up the Bones. Finally, Mel Starr writes a lighter type of mystery (but not a comedy) set in the 1100s, starring a young surgeon. I am sorry, I do not have those titles at my fingertips. Also, Jacqueline Winspear writes a series set around WWI, starring a young female detective (not many of those then!) that is interesting not only for the characters but also for the what you learn about those times. (Like, I am glad I was not female back then!) Hope one of these works for you.

  47. You might check but where I live you cannnot use old car license plates on new car. You can turn them in for credit but not use the same tags but it may be different in your state.

  48. Brandy, I love the picture of your daughters with the bubbles! Last week’s frugal activities included the following:
    Started my new job….It will be nice to have 2 paychecks in our household again
    Made homemade fajita mix
    Made homemade wheat bread for sandwiches and your french bread recipe (we got 5 baguettes out of it),
    Turned the heat down even more and our mild weather the last few days has really helped- I don’t think our heat has turned on at all.
    My Mom, daughter, and I went to the library this weekend and got books and then went to a part of town that has antique stores and looked around. We did have lunch at a restaurant in that area but it was an inexpensive fun girls’ day out
    Instead of renting movies this weekend, we watched things we had DVR’d.
    Traded in swagbucks for Amazon gift cards- so far this month I have gotten $50 in Amazon gift cards

    I love these posts and everyone’s comments- I learn something every week from this network of wonderful people- thank you Brandy for this wonderful community that you have built

  49. Thanks for sharing the very nice picture and info about your daughter’s archery. She seems like a great kid.

    So far this week we’ve collected eggs and harvested some lemons, sorrel (wonderful perennial green) and onions from the garden. Broccoli later this week? Spread some chicken litter on the next raised bed.

    Made stock with leftover chicken dinner and vegetable odds and ends.

    Used dishwasher rinse aid made from vinegar and tangerine peels.

    Thanks for the weekly inspiration.

  50. Brandy, I’m sure you know this already, but broccoli leaves are edible and can be cooked like kale, collards, etc.

    I spent $19.66 on groceries, this past week and bought milk, bread, bananas, lettuce, a piece of beef steak, 2 cans of peanuts, 2 boxes of hot cocoa mix, box of 3 ice cream bars, frozen green peas, and a frozen pot pie. My grocery list and prices I paid are here:

  51. I recently ‘discovered’ your website Brandy. You truly are an inspiration, and I admire you so very much! And to be a fellow believer is the icing on the cake!
    Thankyou for Blessing me with your wisdom and attitude to life….it’s amazing.

    Robyne – Australia.

  52. I’m amazed to see you enjoying spring as I sit here writing this during another snow storm! I can’t wait for the warm weather and sunshine to return. It’s been a long, hard winter in New England.

    Last week, I stayed frugal by shopping the sales and using coupons. Some of my favorite deals were $0.49 ground turkey, $1 gallon of milk, a $0.99 bath towel from JC Penney, and a 4-piece nursery set for only $11.98! Full details of all my transactions with pics can be found here:

    Thanks to everyone who comments; every post is great encouragement.

  53. Thanks, Mary Ellen. Maybe I’m just not making them thick enough. I use flannel & warm/natural, as well. I’ll ask about some fabric at Hobby Lobby. Thanks! You must have the same pattern I do as mine also has the wrap around snap thingy. I ‘m not sure I’m brave enough to try a safety pin…..YOUCH! 😉

  54. Debby, if you can’t find waterproof fabric, you could purchase a waterproof fabric bed pad used for adults or children with incontinence issues to protect the mattress. You could cut and sew your own pads with a few extra layers of flannel attached for extra absorbancy. The cost of the pad might be a bit expensive, but should give you several reusable pads which will save you in the long run.

  55. I forgot to write that I did look all over my local area for a place to donate them but could not find anywhere. That is why I mailed them to the headquarters. I remember growing up seeing the boxes to donate used eye glasses but I haven’t seen them for years.

  56. I tried two different cups but I am *very sensitive* and they didn’t work. I now have natural sea sponges that are sustainably harvested and they work fantastic! The “ick” factor isn’t there for me, thank goodness. I will never go back to toxic, store bought feminine hygiene products again.

  57. If you can find the Divergent book series by Veronica Roth on CD, my mother and I really enjoyed the movie and books. My daughter is not quite able to read the book yet (she’s eleven and found the read a bit to difficult) but absolutely loved the movie. Very action packed but an interesting story as well. It is the same author as the Hunger Games.

  58. The book is called “Grandma’s Wartime Baking”. The first book was called “Grandma’s Wartime Kitchen” which I have not yet read. The author states that she had so many baking recipes that she couldn’t fit all of them into the first book so she wrote a second focusing on baking. I’m really enjoying it. I do have to say, though, that the title of the book you mentioned intrigues me! I’ll have to look at into that one. 🙂

    I, also, really liked the ice cube tip. I’m going to try it for sure!

  59. For the first time in a very long time, I successfully tracked all of our spending for an entire month. It really only takes a few minutes a day if I stay on top of it, and I intend to keep it up. I was able to put extra money on our credit card and into our savings account. Because I did this, I was able to catch a fraudulent charge on our credit card in early January. I’ve been working with the bank on it all month and it’s now been resolved.

    I received an early birthday gift of refillable k-cups for the Keurig at work. Now I can bring my own coffee instead of having to buy cups all the time.

    I watched TV shows on,, Hulu, Youtube, Netflix and Amazon prime. I downloaded free podcasts to listen to in the car and listened to iTunes radio in the office.

    I made a menu plan. I’m determined to stick to it. 🙂

    Have a wonderful week, everyone. And Brandy, thanks again for providing this place for us to share and be inspired every week!

  60. This week we have spent a lot of time indoors due to the snowstorms we keep getting. Staying indoors means we are saving money on gas and not be tempted to do any shopping.
    – We used a Redbox code for a free movie night at home.
    -My hubby and I enjoyed a breakfast date at a local restaurant using a Groupon.
    -I got two free samples at Sam’s Club- applesauce and creamer. I was able to find some gifts inexpensively for my nieces and nephews birthdays as well.
    -I used wrapping paper and ribbons from my stash to wrap the gifts- only having to buy a pack of boxes as I couldn’t seem to find any in the house. I skipped buying cards.
    -I used a $5 off $20 meat purchase coupon at Target. I also used Cartwheel to save on my meat purchase as well.
    Hope everyone has a wonderful week!

  61. I’m an RN too Patty but I got out of the hospital setting last fall and now work in a state-owned correctional facility, that’s UNIONIZED 😉 SICKENS me that hospitals are cutting their experienced staff in order to save money…who’s gonna be left to teach the New Grad RN’s that are hired, at a cheaper rate, to care for our sick and infirm? Oh yeah another new grad who’s only been an RN for a year, that’s who! SCARY!!! Very SCARY!! NICU is a specialty! Your years of experience cannot be easily replaced! I’m SO sorry :(:(:(

  62. Congratulations to Winter on her excellent performance in the Archery Competition!

    I got several magazines in the mail free, thanks to Recyclebank. We ate most meals at home…one night we had a pot roast in the crockpot accompanied by carrots, potatoes and mushrooms. It was wonderful! I eat most meals at work as the food is provided free of charge to all employees. I try to stick to the healthier offerings as most of the food is calorie-laden.

    I watched Downton Abbey on I have a subscription to HuluPlus so I can watch my other favorite shows free–Grey’s Anatomy and Glee–the next day after they’ve aired…still cheaper than adding a DVR to our cable plan, which hubby refuses to give up, even though he watches very FEW shows–but he HAS to have his ESPN :/

    Downloaded several free e-books to my iPad via the Kindle app.

    Downloaded several free apps to my iPhone.

    Gonna go through my ‘stuff’ and try to purge a few things & reorganize my craft room so that it’s usable. I have a brand new sewing machine that was a gift from my Dad several years ago. It’s been sitting in the closet ever since. I’d like to learn to sew once again…I USED to know how..but it’s like everything else, if you don’t do it regularly, you forget how. 🙁

    I look forward to this post every week! Thank you Brandy for you continued inspiration!

  63. Debby, I use PUL, polyurethane laminate fabric, which is what is used on the outside of cloth diapers. I would be happy to send you a bit to try! 🙂 email me at knitsewstitch at gmail dot com

  64. Your photos are always so beautiful. You capture the minutia and make it look like the best moment in the world at that particular time.
    I use the Goodwill Bins (you pay by the pound) for my Ebay listings. I was able to go this past week and found some items for Ebay as well for gifts (books, a tote bag, a sweater new with tags).
    While there across the parking lot is a Panera bread – where I got a full lunch for $3 with their rewards program. This was a really big treat.
    With our winter storms, staying home saves a lot of money. I am enjoying “hibernating” as we are taking care of a failing family member, it really is allowing us to spend so much more quality time with her and blocking out the world outside the house.
    Our grocery budget is $30/month for a while as we eat out of the pantry/freezer. That $30 has been used to stock up on bulk items and vegetables/fruit. It doesn’t go far, in fact I am very low on yeast, olive oil, and flour. A year ago, this would have upset me dearly- but with this blog, I can see how we can use other items until next months grocery trip.
    If any one has suggestions for 12 year old readers – they liked Harry Potter and read a lot – looking for something adventurous – I am not sure if the Charlie Bone series would work? I am sorry to be nervous about this – their parents are scholars and like to let you know this. If they think it is too young for them, they will just donate the books.
    Brandy, your link to powdered milk does not work – or maybe I am messing it up. I am curious as to which powdered milk to buy. I would use it for baking and cooking. Thank you.

  65. Gosh — I haven’t thought about La Madeleine since I moved from Maryland. Happy belated birthday. I hope you’re feeling better soon. What part of Maryland do you live in? I lived in Baltimore county — near Arbutus. I miss it so much!

  66. Hi ladies
    Was wondering…can you use wool? I’ve never used cloth pads but I’m curious and my cloth diapers for my son were wool on the outside and flannel inside and they held all his pee in fine so I’m wondering if that would work.
    Thanks for the inspiration!

  67. Actually, Hunger Games is written by a different author Suzanne Collins. And, for many parents, they may want to vet both sets of books first to see if they are suitable for their children. The values presented may not be compatible with your family’s values. That is, of course, up to each family to decide.

  68. Hilary Mantel was the first woman to win two Booker Prizes and the first person to ever win two Booker Prizes for the same series. There is one more book in the trilogy which is yet to be released. I cannot wait to read it.

    We just splurged and bought a 20 book boxed set of Horrible Histories books. They’re aimed at kids but my husband and I also love them; it’s amazing how much real history you learn, scattered amongst references to pooping. The pooping stuff is kind of fun too (like did you know Henry VIII had a servant whose job included smelling his farts? And you thought your job was bad!) Thanks to Horrible Histories, in addition to knowing that Aztecs used human wee as shampoo and used giant holes as babysitters, I also now understand the the English Civil War, the root causes of WWI, and several other things I missed as I daydreamed my way through during history classes.

  69. Once again I’m so grateful to live where I live. I’m thinking about changing jobs and my biggest worry is the tax bill I’ll be facing when I go, since my pay-out for quitting this job will be roughly equivalent to somewhere between 21 and 34 weeks’ pay. I really can’t believe the way the US treats employees.

  70. I take it the suggestion for a 12 year old reader is for a present? I made Harry Potter kits for my kids earlier in the month. You can find some great printables on-line (I found a spell book, a very short divination book, and a very short portions book). Print them off, bind them up (this can be done any number of ways – one of the nicer ways I saw involved cutting a felt cover to fit and sewing it all together in your sewing machine) and pair with a wand. I made a wand by taking a small fallen branch off a tree, sanding it down, painting it black with some left-over chalkboard paint, and then hot-glue-gunning some twine to one end as a handle. Then I got on to Pottermore and found wand wood and core components that matched my kids, and made up a little tag for the wand describing the characteristics. It’s a very cheap gift but I think any Harry Potter fan would love it.

  71. You might want to try the Michael Vey series by Richard Paul Evans. They are well-written, interesting, and suitable for kids and adults.

  72. Lori, we could have gone there together! I’m in Catonsville.

    Everyone else, thank you so much for the book recommendations. I will check into them this weekend.

  73. I recently found out our local Costco will refill ink cartridges for a fraction of the price of a new one. I thought I would share 🙂

  74. Mari, I’ve enjoyed the Teas Monaghan series by Laura Lippman. They are very literate, relatively clean as re violence and language. She has an amazing sense of place and makes you see and feel, in the details, the world she is writing about. I am on book 8…I think there are 12 at least.

  75. The seeds we planted in the greenhouse are starting to pop up! It is such a great time of year–I love looking forward to spring.

    Brandy, it seems like you have done better on your broccoli than you did the last time! Congratulations! That looks like a nice, though small, head. I’ve grown so many just like it, and some really big ones as well. Some years are better than others. 2 years ago, I harvested so much that we are still eating it from the freezer. Last year, I was able to freeze only 5 quarts. This year, I have some started in the greenhouse, which I will plant out later (too soon here), and have high hopes. In the meanwhile, I am targeting the old broccoli and hope to clean it all out of the freezers to make room for more. Tonight, I made broccoli-zucchini soup for dinner.

    I was able to set aside some money for a trip we are planning for next summer. I used money that we would normally use for other entertainment purposes, and for grabbing a burger on our many, many errands and appointments. We just did not do those other things. I explained to the kids that we wanted the money later for this trip. I’m trying to do some training with them by being transparent with what I am doing. I hope to do this each month so it won’t be a big expense at the time.

    As usual, I did a lot of cooking on the weekend to help out with the first part of the week when I work. I also got up and was cooking by 5 this morning to bake muffins and start the soup I needed for this evening. (I am not bragging about my sleeplessness—I just am getting older and don’t sleep as much as I used to:)–wish I could at times!) I also want to encourage those who work that you can still stay frugal.

    I have almost finished a baby blanket I’ve been crocheting since Christmas. I’m slow because I’m not proficient yet, but it’s coming out nicely and I’m getting faster as I go. However, my yarn began to knot so much that I was spending more time untangling than I was crocheting!!! My blessed husband spent some time last evening untangling and he rolled the remaining yarn into a ball, so I got a lot done today.

    My daughter is doing physical science (Apologia) and we did experiments today using a foil pan, marble, etc. demonstrating inertia, and will do one tomorrow using a board, ice cube, and other common things. I love seeing the experiments your kids do, Brandy, it is one of my favorite parts of homeschool–getting to see and do the experiments along with the kids.

    My mom and aunt came over this afternoon and helped the girls sew. I love that they are helping teach such a practical skill while spending time with the 2 youngest. I will say, no one gets too much done, but they do a little and everyone visits and catches up. I’m grateful for them for driving quite a distance to pour time into my kids. I hope to have the girls sew a little before the next visit so that it won’t take forever to get the projects done.

    I used up some food that had been on the shelf for a long time. I pulled several assorted containers from the freezers and made a very quick dinner, although strange due to the assortment I found, last evening.

    Milk is 99 cents/half gallon this week and butter is $2/box. We have been to the store 2 times already and will go at least one more time. Since my daughter works at that store, we have to pick her up anyway, so I’m going to stock up. It’s easy to grab anything else I am out of while there. We were grabbing too many un-necessary items when she first started working there,(I guess we were just careless becase the frequency of our trips), but we have leveled out to only grabbing the exact things needed again like usual.

  76. Thank you for this website link! It is amazingly helpful! We just bought a few acres and are a little overwhelmed with the gardening possibilities 🙂 but oh so excited!

  77. Terri, my father always planted daffodils and Dutch Iris together for just that reason! The beautiful cobald blue iris tall and regal in the background and the hearlding daffodils kneeling in front…I can still see them and it’s been 60 years. He would bring bouquets to my mother and say “These flowers are fit for a Queen”.

  78. Brandy we are having a very mild summer and are only two weeks from the official beginning of autumn. I love autumn!
    This last week was great. My aunt gave me figs, plums and quinces. I went to her house and we picked them on a hot afternoon but it was so much fun. She also had saved me two bags full of jars which was so good as I was down on jars.
    Since I have made Fig Paste (to go with cheese and crackers) fig and almond jam and now I m starting on the plums. The quinces will keep longer. I have found it a big help to let all my family and friends know I love fruit and love to make jam and pies etc and will swap too ie if someone gives me lemons I will return with lemon butter. Over time this has built me up people who let me know when their fruit is ready!
    I will post pictures on my blog on Friday when I do my frugal list
    We also had an amazing road side find that is a big money saver. I made miracle cleaner and cleaned my home with that and it smells lovely. All up a very good week so far. xx

  79. Thank you to everyone for the continued inspiration! I look forward to this blog every week.

    Our week has been great so far. Our weather in Texas has been 70s and hardly windy at all. My husband put up the hammock out next to our pond (which is halfway filled up now!), which is a big deal for us since prior to three months ago, we were using our hammock on our tiny apartment balcony. We love to have private time there, talking about our lives and things we want to do together on our new homestead. That’s better than out of the house dates to me! We work completely different shifts, so we don’t get to sit down and talk much right now.

    This week was my husband’s birthday and his mom graciously decided that she would gift him their piano. It’s an antique, my husband grew up playing it, and with no more kids in their house, his mom decided that we should have it. So several weeks ago I worked it out with my in laws for them to bring the piano out to us (we’re an hour away now) and bring the whole family to have a surprise party for my husband. My in laws took us to our favorite restaurant and paid for everyone. My husband was very surprised (go me!) and very thankful for the piano. He used to play professionally, but hasn’t been able to play for five years now since our apartment was too small to house a piano/keyboard. And I am loving having music in the house!

    This month we are only purchasing 6 ingredients to complete our monthly cooking day, which is amazing! I went through our entire kitchen and made a cooking menu based on what we already had and added a lot of meatless dishes. Big bucks saved here!

    I found naturally raised ground turkey for $2/lb at WinCo, compared to the regular $4/lb. I made 4 lbs of taco meat and 1 lb of turkey burger patties for the freezer. I will be going back for more ground turkey this week. The price of beef is getting ridiculous, so we are sticking to turkey and sometimes chicken (also expensive).

    Have a fabulous week, all!

  80. Great! I hope you enjoy it! My library didn’t have the book you mentioned so I’m going to have a look at the local used book store.:)

  81. I haven’t posted a comment in awhile, so this is for the past few weeks! I bought a whole Smithfield ham for $1.25 per pound. I found ground beef for just under $2 per lb so I bought 6 lbs. I bought cans of apricot nectar for $.19 per can. I also found a Reveal fluorescent bulb for our kitchen sink light fixture for $3. All the above were manager’s specials at Kroger. As usual I used a combination of The Grocery Game, Kroger digital coupons, paper coupons, and carefully checking manager’s special bins to combine for low prices. The Grocery Game costs me $10 every 6 weeks, but it helps me a lot so I feel it is worth it. I’ve used it for years off and on. I recently discovered that at the Customer Service desk at my Kroger they keep a box for customers to leave and/or take coupons. Last week I found Crest Sensi-Strips for DH in the Manager’s Special section for $5. They normally retail for around $18. I went to Customer Service and checked their coupon box and found a coupon for $3 off. So, I bought them for $2!

    I used homemade chicken stock from the freezer, and made more using chicken carcass, wilted celery and onion ends and peels I save for stock. With that stock I made Brandy’s taco soup, which we really enjoyed. I figured out a new storage situation for potatoes that’s working well. I’m using a lidded large basket I used to use for craft type stuff. It’s located in our laundry room which receives the least natural light of any of our rooms. I have had potatoes in it for the past couple of months, and they have fared far better than anywhere else I have tried.

    DH replaced a broken bracket in our garage door, saving a repair fee. He also changed the oil in both cars as usual. For his birthday I made his favorite lasagne and cheesecake. Also made his card.

    I watched episodes of Tudor Monastery Farm online. Thank you to all of you that have mentioned this and other similar BBC series. I LOVE that show!

    Really big news is that my dear, sweet sister raised money to pay for a year’s worth of diapers and wipes for our son. He is a teenager, disabled, who has had chronic diarrhea for years. His diapers and wipes have cost us thousands of dollars each year. This was such a surprise and a HUGE blessing for us!

    Brandy, thank you so much for sharing your family’s life so publicly. It is a brave thing to do. You are helping so many folks in the process, and giving encouragement to so many. If you aren’t already doing so, I think you should write a book. I just know it would be a blessing to folks all over the country.

    Congratulations to Winter on her archery competition results! She looks so strong and confident standing there ready to go in that photo!

  82. Annabel, I can’t wait for you to post the pictures. I hope you also post recipes. I have never heard of fig paste or fig and almond preserves. Or lemon butter either, but I’m not big on lemon stuff. I enjoy your blog also. It is fun to see the different things you have/do there we don’t in the US.

  83. I have a hard time deciding what to post because I feel most of it is the same day in and day out.
    *my husband will occasionally purchase a lottery ticket. So far he hasn’t won but when he does win a dollar or two, he gives me the ticket to cash in. This week I cashed in $7
    *watched 3 free movies from Redbox
    *used Kohl’s cash and a 30% off coupon and got a cutting board, ceramic berry basket, and 4 cup measuring cup for free.
    *made a new multi-grain bread recipe that was a huge hit. Not as frugal as Brandy’s Italian bread, but will be great to make occasionally.
    *cleaned out both freezers and organized them so I could see exactly what I have and need to eat.
    *went to Goodwill looking for a few thing I’ve been wanting. Found a Tupperware salad spinner for $3.03 (one of the things I’ve been wanting) Still looking for a mandolin and dehydration
    That’s really all I did this week other than the same ol same ol.

    For those with gardens. What is the best way to remove dirt from my lettuce once it starts getting ready to pick? Just water or do you use a special wash?

  84. I made bread last week, my oldest loves my homemade bread when it is fresh, have been using the frozen loaves from my freezer in January as I just didn’t have the time to spend making the bread. Also made dinner, even on the nights that I had trouble with timing, made crock pot one night and a quick fajita’s the second night. Was sick one night and my oldest made dinner. Felt very good about not giving into temptation to order take out.

  85. I’m so glad you found the site helpful! I really like it too. I also like that I can add on a harvest calculator for only .99 cents. Other planner that I’ve looked at have not been free and cost more than I could pay, so for a free site I think it’s great! I hope it helps you with your gardening plans! It can seem a little overwhelming but I would suggest starting small and adding on over time. I had to do that due to finances as well as the fact that I can really over estimate my the amount of time I have available and then get frustrated when I haven’t completed what I thought I could.

  86. I would suggest something like the latest Guinness Book of World Records, or something in the “non-fiction” category, if the parents are scholars. They would probably appreciate that it is educational and fact based.

  87. Thanks for the offer, but I have a couple of younger friends that are still raisin’ some cloth diaper babies. I’m sure they’ll share. And thanks for the tip! If they don’t have them, I might get back to you!

  88. I thought they were the same, but I was mistaken. Sorry for the error.

    I’m confused by your comment about “family values”. The book discusses how this futuristic society shuns those who are genetically different and the plot is based around a group of young adults who fight against this. My daughter has Asperger’s. She does not look “different” but is often shunned by society who don’t understand that she is different. To that end, I am proud that she took such an interest in this story. There is a love story that strongly follows throughout the series, but is well written for the Young Adult audience to which the books are written for. The story addresses many of the issues that real relationships face. There is only one truly “intimate” moment in the all of the four books, which is very vaguely written (definitely not a “fifty shades of gray” description).

    As a loving and caring parent, I will proudly let my daughter read this series when she is ready, and watch the movie sequels once out. I see very little difference between the values and violence presented in this story and the one presented in the Harry Potter series. It is just designed for a slightly more mature audience.

  89. I am very busy at work right now, as I am a CPA and this being tax season, I am working 6 days a week. That being said, I still found time to do some frugal things:
    1. Made chicken & rice soup with homemade broth, dried carrots, parsley and onion from the garden, leftover brown rice and chicken.
    2. Was able to get veggie trays from Winco for $1.98 each. They included ranch dressing, carrots, celery, broccoli and tomatoes. I got four. They filled a gallon ziploc bag with carrots and half of a gallon bag each of the other three vegetables. I will use some of the ranch dressing to make ranch chicken this weekend. (I think these were leftover Super Bowl trays)
    3. Got veggie and flower seed 8 packages for $1.00 at a three day sale.
    4. Trimmed my own bangs.
    5. Cleaned the rust spots around my sink with vinegar.
    6. Made chicken pot pie soup.
    7. Brought lunches to work all week – mainly soup.
    8. Charged my cell phone and Kindle in the car.
    9. Price matched groceries at Wal-Mart to save gas. Also gave my ad to a woman in front of me buying some of the same things to save her money. Cost me nothing, but she was happy for the savings. Gave the ad to the cashier afterwards so they could use it too.
    10. Planned menus for the coming week. don’t need to go to the store at all.

    It has been very warm here for February. I was able to pull my rosemary plants out of the shop where I am overwintering them during the weekend. They got some rain and some sunshine. they still look really good. found about 6 small lettuce plants (just the first two leaves) coming up where I planted lettuce last year. It must have self-seeded. Also my garlic is up about 2 inches (but under 5 inches of leaves)

    I love the picture of the bubbles. It is so heartwarming.

  90. Hi, Mae,
    When my husband was let go (retired; he was 51) in 2010, we were hit with a huge tax bill when he was given about 26 weeks pay in severance. Talk to a numbers person to see how to handle it. My husband was let go the week of Christmas and held onto the check til the end of Jan. He was able to collect unemployment, which helped. We thought we had another year, so it’s great that you’re trying to think ahead. We still have a few disposable razors and a couple of odds and ends from that year! (I’ve only bought toothpaste once!) Best of luck to you! Debbie

  91. Thank you so much Janell!I am not sure if you would have heard of Quince paste. That is similar and is divine with cheese. I love the ideas we all share and for me seeing pictures of snow is like seeing another world! It is lovely!

  92. Check out the Secret Series and Artemis Fowl.( Amazon has summaries and samples. )My 11 year old who likes Harry Potter likes these. The Hobbit and Narnia books also come to mind ,though we have only seen the Narnia movies.

  93. I remember in high school I brought home a copy of “And the Band Played On.” My mom was a bit worried about the subject matter and insisted on reading it first – then told me to hurry up and finish it because she wanted to talk to someone about it! Different families have different standards and it’s never a bad idea to read the books your kids are reading, if for no other reason than a lot of young adult literature is pretty darn good these days. Ultimately, though, turning something into a taboo just makes it more interesting. Surely it’s better to read a book and then, if you do find something questionable, discuss with your child how it doesn’t jive with your family’s values?

  94. My husband’s an accountant, so we’re already on to that. 😉 Really, I figure if having to worry about a tax bill is my biggets concern, I’m getting off pretty easy!

  95. I am back in the office for a few weeks because I was moved to a new account so I am in training. I am doing well in taking my breakfast and lunch and I drink water for the day. I don’t like the coffee there so I take my own and I take tea.

    The pops in the vending machine are 35 cents so I will get a couple to bring home for Valentine’s Day this weekend and I plan to make Brandy’s rice and grill some chicken breasts from the freezer. I have a green and red pepper so will roast those for a vege. For desert, I’m not sure yet. Huny’s a little burned out on zuke/banana bread so I’ll try something else.

    I make a Sweet Red Pepper Relish that my husband loves to take for special events at work or just because. I used to make it at holiday time and that was it. Since I got married, I make it all the time and took advantage of the 10/10 sale on the red peppers to make 4 batches. I put two batches in the freezer and canned the other two and Huny took them to work and sold those for the work friends that didn’t want to make it.

    I went to JCP and got my hair cut tonight for the first time in a long time but I’ve cut it myself a few times at home before this. However, it was time to go in.

    While there I found a pair of Isotoner’s on sale and bought a pair. The pair I’ve had for years and years finally gave out. They will do for patio/garden wear and I hope they last for the rest of this year. I am so excited for this new pair!

    Since I got home later in the evening from getting my hair done, we had breakfast for supper. Sausage from the freezer and eggs with salsa. I used a quarter of a green bell pepper that needed to be used, onions and cheese for Huny’s eggs and made enough for him to take for breakfast. A “cold front”, lol, has come through so we have a fire going to take the chill out of the house. It’s not cold enough to turn on the heat. I keep the heat pretty low and it only comes on in the early morning when I am about to get up but turn it off as soon as I am up and about (it’s that time in a woman’s life).

    I got a wonderful package of non-gmo seeds from a seed swap and am looking forward to getting those in the ground!

    In my garden, my garlic is looking good, I put out some compost in the planter we will use for peppers this year and have a bunch of seeds coming up in the herb garden. I tried to grow some celery from the cut off bottom and it looked like it would do well, but then it didn’t take. First time I tried this so not sure what happened. Will try again. I’m thinking that it needed more water. Not sure but will experiment on this.

  96. Thank you for all the suggestions! I wish to continue giving them books for gifts. The one wants to open his own library!

  97. Marivene, do you cut those apple boxes down to size because it’s easier to lift later? I was just wondering as I keep orange boxes from work and stack two layers of pint jars in one box without any cutting down. But, then, I also still have the cardboard packaging that the jars originally came in. Two stack perfectly – pints. I believe a layer of quarts then a layer of half pints would likely also fit.

  98. I just came in from working in the yard for a few hours. We are having very warm weather so it was nice to be out in the sunshine and take care of some cleaning up. While I was out there I found some perennials that are coming up – I need to relocate them as we are going to plow that flower garden up. We put is outside the backyard fence as we wanted someplace that the dogs and cats wouldn’t dig up. That area hasn’t been used as a garden and it was a constant battle with the weeds. Today I raked and burned a lot of limbs, leaves and weed seeds. We had a bad year for those nasty stickers – worst than the hard goat head stickers so needed to burn them now before they spread. I am not planning on putting in any more perennials this year as we did a lot last year and I need to see how they are doing. My columbine has really spread so will relocate some of those plants. I am reusing seeds gathered from last year for the morning glories, four o’clocks, zinnias and marigolds. I also shared a lot of those seeds with friends as they all are proven ‘old stock’ seeds that do well in our climate.

    I am finishing up redecorating one of the small bedrooms from basically a ‘mess’ to a guest room/library. I’ve repurposed almost everything in the room to decorate but didn’t have a sheer curtain for the one window that looks east and on to the road in front of the house. I wanted something sheer as there are nice Levelor wide slat blinds in the window (bought years ago on a hug closeout at a Lowe’s store – bought enough for the whole house for less than $150.00! Boy – have they lasted and still look good!). I didn’t have anything in my stash so when I was at Family Dollar picking up a few things I found a cream one for $5.00. I didn’t put it up. When i was in town doing all errands I stopped at my favorite little thrift store. And there was a sheer panel for $2.00 that is perfect! I also found a small cream colored pillow that looks like silk with seed pearls on it. That is something I wouldn’t ever pay full price for but at $3.00 I couldn’t resist. It is very well made and looks very pretty in the room. So I am taking back the one I bought at Family Dollar. I also found Bandolino black pumps for $3.00 – they are comfortable and well made – I needed something dressier than the ones I currently have.

    At Goodwill I found a nice towel rack for over the door – there aren’t enough towel rods for towels for guests and I hate having them put over the shower curtain rod. Not sure exactly why – maybe because I think it makes the bathroom look super messy. It was $5 which is about a third of the cheapest one I had found. Also found brand new gloves ($3.99) and ear muffs ($2.99) for this coming fall. Our agritourism business requires us to be outside late nights for six weekends in a row and during that time it can be cold. I hated wearing a hat and didn’t want to use nice gloves so these are perfect.

    I found a lot of markdowns in the produce section (like ‘gourmet’ beets that I am the only one that will eat them – these are a real treat for me), different types of chips for cookies/cakes/muffins (cherry, butterscotch, cinnamon) for less than $2 a bag – these are the expensive ones and I will use a little to make something special out of ordinary recipes.

    One expensive situation is again animal related. One of our dogs (a rescue of course!) developed a very swollen eye. We took him to the vet and they were very concerned. Apparently eye problems in dogs can get serious right away – as in blindness. So they referred us to a veterinary ophthalmologist and got us an appointment early the next morning. They did the blood work we needed prior to seeing the specialist. So we got up early and drove the hour to the specialist. The outcome was wonderful – instead of being serious and potentially life threatening he determined that it is a benign eye condition. The breed that is number one for having this condition is the poodle – which our little rescue is. Luckily we have pet insurance and by having our vet do the blood work we saved a bundle as it would have been much more expensive for the specialist to do it. And we got 10% off at our vet as a senior discount. After our cat’s amputation and now our little Augie’s eye situation I hope we are done with pet issues. Knock on wood!

    Finally – tomorrow is my birthday. I’ve always loved my birthday – my parents grandparents were great about making it special and I love that it comes in February as it seems like the turning point towards spring. I’ve done some pretty amazing things to celebrate – going to Europe with a friend who shares the same birthday, getting tickets for a Who concert with this same friend (only a year ago and spent way too much money on the tickets), big parties and, well a lot of fuss. This year I decided to make ask that we 1. not go out to eat; 2. not receive gifts and 3. to celebrate in little ways. Instead of going out to eat (always a hassle and expensive since it is on Valentine’s Day eve) I am going to make one of my favorite meals: mussels in white wine sauce, penne pasta in spicy vodka cream sauce, asparagus and angel food cake w/raspberries for dessert. It is all easy to do and food I like to cook. I splurged on a bottle of decent French champagne for the starter course and some to save for Valentine’s day and a good bottle of French pinot noir (Scarlett of Paris – I love the wine, the name and the label!). For what I spent for the wine (less than $25 for both bottles) and the meal I think I probably saved around $100! Instead of gifts I asked that I buy a new 10″ non-stick skillet. The one I’ve had for years is in bad shape and I use it every day. I asked that I buy it as I am picky about my cookware. For the small things: SO surprised me with tickets for a local theater production of “Spamalot” and a dear friend that moved to Switzerland texted me that he and his wonderful wife would be calling me tomorrow. And finally – I am going to watch one of my favorite movies of all time, Enchanted April with my SO. We long ago agreed to exchange cards only on most holidays and we’ve always stayed in for Valentine’s Day (and New Year’s Eve). We’ll have a steak for SO, salmon for me, a big salad and brownies for SO (I am allergic to chocolate and nuts so I don’t make these often). We’ll still have wine from my Bday dinner and then we’ll watch one of SO’s favorite movies. Funny how what I think of as ‘fun’ has changed over the years and how very special these plans feel – and how happy I am that we’re not spending a lot of money!

  99. Last week was pretty good for frugal happenings around here.
    The mail brought 2 free magazines, a full-sized deodorant, a cat food sample, personal items and coupons.
    It was 10% off at the grocery store (senior discount), which I combined with an additional $2 off $40 purchase and $3 off meat. Spiral hams were on clearance for $.99 a pound. Boneless chicken breasts were $1.29 a pound.
    One of my family members has been offered things that people didn’t want to take home from events and accepted part of a veggie tray, pumpkin roll, pita bread and hummus.
    I fixed a bag of Valentine treats for our granddaughters by putting discounted candies in a recycled bag.
    My broccoli doesn’t seem to be putting on heads. I don’t know if I’ll get anything this year…We have lots of citrus of our own and shared by friends. I am still harvesting little tomatoes, a bit of lettuce and a few peppers. Most of my seedlings are growing well. We found rose bushes discounted to $1 and got two. The carpet roses we got discounted a while back are blooming and looking good. I learned that there is a seed swap coming up again soon. I had so much fun at the last one that I am really looking forward to this one.
    As usual, I enjoyed the beautiful photos and encouraging, helpful comments.

  100. This is my first post to Frugal Accomplishments, although I’ve been following Brandy’s blog for 6 months or so. I love it here! All you ladies have so much to share and teach.
    My birthday was last week so I had more freebies than usual, so I thought this was a good time to start sharing here.
    -Husband and I went to Noodles & Company for my birthday dinner, as I had a coupon for a free noodle bowl from the eclub. We then walked to Boudin (same shopping center) for my free birthday cookie and a free 1 lb. loaf of sourdough bread from the Frequent Buyer rewards program (1 free loaf of bread a month for 13 months, no purchase required! My mom told me about this one.) I also redeemed a birthday code from Kellogg’s Family Rewards (100 points), a 50 SB birthday code from Swagbucks, and got a $3 ExtraCare reward from CVS.
    – Got 25c back for buying milk from Ibotta, and 25c for buying carrots from Checkout 51. Entered receipts into Receipt Hog. I use these apps on my husband’s work smartphone, as I only have a pay as you go “dumb” phone.
    -I use a hot water bottle in the evenings and I’ve been reusing the leftover water from the previous day to do the first rinse of dishes, run down the garbage disposal, or add to the washing machine.
    -I read 4 library books and a book my parents bought me for Xmas.
    -I’ve been drinking decaf iced tea during the day, trying to cut down on my 30 year(ish) Pepsi habit!
    -My husband has been using the shampoos I brought home from the Marriott in Burbank, where we stayed while in Southern California for a funeral last fall. Ironically, he likes it better than his usual shampoo, hee hee!
    -I met my Swagbucks goal every day for January, and got 641 extra Swagbucks. I redeemed for a $25 PayPal. I’m trying to rebuild my PayPal account after using it all for our vacation to Walt Disney World last summer. (We only paid out of pocket for airfare and shuttle to and from the airport. We used Hilton HHonors points that we’ve been saving up forever for lodging, Disney Visa rewards dollars for food in the Parks, and bought our park tickets with PayPal cash I’d earned thru rebates, surveys, etc.)
    So happy to finally join in. Best to Brandy and to all y’all.

  101. Becky, I cut them down because right now I am using them to hold empties in the garage, & the lower profile on the boxes lets me put them in more places. When we moved from Idaho to Utah, & moved so many full jars, I cut them down to protect the seals on the jars, prevent breakage & to keep the weight manageable. I wanted the jars protected from each other by the cardboard cross hatch inside, & since I live in earthquake country, that concern continues. Sometimes I have more full jars than will fit on the shelves in my cubby. In the cut down boxes, I can stack the boxes of filled jars, without damaging their seals, on the floor of my cubby.

    I also have many of the original cardboard boxes, back when they were full boxes with the separators, but I purchased many of my jars at yard sales & thrift stores, so I need more boxes. The apple boxes are free, hold 15 jars with the separators & fit the space I need perfectly.

  102. Happy birthday fellow Februarian! Welcome – there is so much to learn and share. Good luck on the shift from drinking Pepsi. I found that decaf iced tea and sparkling water (soda stream) helped me so much with ‘pop’ withdrawal. I just went through my stash of saved up travel sizes (I used to be a ‘road’ warrior corporate type) and found a lot of treasures to use.

  103. There’s nothing like sub zero wind chills and getting sick to remind me just how frugal I can be. I started getting nervous because I couldn’t get out to shop that I was totally out of groceries, which of course is not true. So I got creative. I had an odd hodge lodge of fresh vegetables in the fridge, from which I made a soup, a salad and added to chicken salad, which I made from canned chicken. Brandy, I used your wonderful taco soup recipe today. I had everything for it. It was satisfying and delicious, and just what the doctor ordered. I ran out of my usual morning cereal, so I made oatmeal. I used some dried cherries to spruce it up. I made some simple chocolate pudding today. I made biscuits, and used up a cup of leftover buttermilk. And now I’ve realized that I could wait several days still to get out to the grocery store and still eat happily and healthily.

    Thanks for inspiring me Brandy and all you wonderful folks who support each other here!

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