January Arrangement The Prudent Homemaker 

For a gift for a neighbor’s party, I wanted to bring over some flowers. Unfortunately, there aren’t a lot of flowers in my garden right now. I made an arrangement with cuttings from several different plants, and three flowers: one rose, one rosebud, and a bit of stock.

I made it to Sam’s Club, Walmart, Winco and Target this week. Not feeling well enough to go earlier this month turned out to be a blessing. Winco still had oats on sale (though only 2 bags, so I only bought 2). Target had several items on my list on sale, including $1.50 off a bottle on my hairspray (not in the ad, so this was a delightful surprise!), and vitamins were buy one get one 50% off (plus I had a .75 coupon)I used several coupons there, including Target coupons and Target cartwheel (I print it out, since I don’t have a cell phone) to save a lot on top of the sales, and I received a $5 gift card to use next time.

I skipped buying broccoli at Winco. My price point was .99 a pound or less (I had purchased some in December for that price and was hoping for a lower price in January). Unfortunately, it was $2.28 a pound! I did not buy any. Nine of my twelve broccoli plants are large enough that they have started to form heads, so we’ll just enjoy broccoli from the garden instead.

I harvested Swiss chard, sage, beet greens, thyme, parsley, dill, green onions, and celery from the garden.

I planted more seeds in the garden. I used water collected from the shower to keep the soil moist where I have planted seeds, as a couple of windy days threatened to dry them out before anything could come up.

I put glass canning jars down over the seedlings that came up, to help them grow faster.

Chili The Prudent Homemaker

I used my solar oven to cook a pot of white beans and another of black beans. I tried cooking them without any presoaking, and they were done in 4 hours! Since beans take a long time to cook on the stove, this will save on my natural gas bill (in the summer, it will help even more, because I won’t be heating up the house  as much). While my initial goal for this year was to use the solar oven at least once a week, I had planned to work up to using it more often.  From the very beginning, I found myself using it every day! I also used it to cook lentils and chili. The chili recipe is a new recipe now up on the site! You can find it here. (You can get the dutch oven here).

Some of the things I made last week were several vegetable soups (with beans, Swiss chard, potatoes, carrots, celery, onions, etc.), vegetarian chili, cornbread, white bean dip (I served this with homemade pita bread and carrots), ham and pineapple pizza, roast chicken with Swiss chard, oatmeal raisin cookies, and omlettes.

My husband stopped by the thrift store. He found a couple of reusable water bottles (one for .50 and one for .75) that we can put into  our 72-hour kits. We still have more water bottles to get but, I am glad that he found these and, they were the kind he wanted (that sell for $15 each new).

He also found a vintage metal embroidery hoop for me for .50. I absolutely love these and I collect them whenever I find them. He surprised me with this when he came home.

My husband used the discount I had from the grocery store to buy gas for $1.89 a gallon.

I used Swagbucks to get two $5 Amazon gift cards.

I participated in a service auction. The thing that I won when bidding was a dinner and dessert for our family! I just have to call the person a couple of days ahead of time for when I want to redeem it.

We watched free shows on Hulu.com, Pbs.org, and DisneyJunior.com. For our family movie, we watched something different this week. I found season 3 of Charlie and Lola on You Tube (someone put all of the episodes together). We watched several episodes.

We printed free coloring pages from Disney Junior. I also printed my 10 free pages for the month from Education.com. These can be printed to your computer as a pdf, so that you can print them again later. I have been making a collection of their United States geography pages this way.

We used a vintage drawing book that is archived online for drawing instruction last week.

What did you do to save money last week?


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  1. * made homemade brownies from scratch~ Never done this before but I had everything on hand and they were good!
    * also made chili, bread, pizza, smoothies (love chili as a good vessel for bits of this and that)
    * took my 11 year old to the library on our way to pick up my oldest from drivers ed (eek!). He is reading so much lately!!!
    * I have really been working on eating thru some of the older items we have on hand. It’s been great for the grocery budget this month and I am glad we are able to eat up older pantry/freezer items.
    * we are keeping our heat down and were THRILLED when we didn’t need a propane fill up this month
    * got a free yogurt 🙂

  2. How much were the oats at winco? I want to compare your winco to my ca one. OH And Today Winco 5 dz Eggs Were 16.98, up from last week’s 12.28 or so.

  3. The broccoli leaves are yummy too! And as I’m.sure you know, the inside of the tough parts of the base of the stalks are delish sauteed or in salad!

    I’m simplifying a lot and getting rid of lots of stuff in my buy nothing facebook group. I’m happy to share what I don’t use. I love space!

  4. Brandy.. Thank you for providing the link on the solar oven and timetable. While a little expensive it is nice to hear someone who has actually used the product listed.

  5. I roasted a turkey last Sunday, so we had turkey dishes throughout the week. I cooked a crockpot of pinto beans and garbanzo beans to put in the freezer. Reams had their 40# boxes of boneless, skinless chicken breasts for 1.49/lb, so I purchased a box. The breasts are huge!. I separated them out and froze them. I also made a batch of wheat bread and french bread.

    I went to the library to get some cookbooks for a “healthy eating” food presentation I gave for Relief Society enrichment night.

    I am enjoying the Wartime farm series. I have been watching Wartime Kitchens and Gardens while knitting sweaters for our grandbabies for next Christmas.

    I planted a row of peas and beans today! in January in Utah! We’ll see how they do. I may need to cover them, but I wanted to give it a try with the weather being so warm.

  6. Nora,
    How does one find a buy nothing facebook group? I’ve gone on fb several times trying to find groups in my neighborhood, or local swap/yard sale groups, and I can’t locate anything. I don’t know if I’m not using the right kind of keywords or what, but I can’t believe there aren’t any groups in the SLC area. Thanks.

  7. – Did a pinecone research survey
    – Watched Downton Abbey online
    – Used a buy one get one coupon to get subs for dinner for our eat out night
    – Filled out a Kroger survey to get 50 fuel points. Combined with the points I already had, I was able to get 10 cents off of my gas fill up.
    – Signed up for a disaster preparedness course on coursera.org. It is a free course offered by the University of Pittsburgh. I have taken a couple other courses on courser.org. They are all free and I’ve learned quite a bit from the courses.

  8. I think it will be worth every penny in an emergency! That was always my main reason for wanting one. I want to be comfortable using it in an emergency situation, and not be trying to figure out how to use it. The savings on the gas and electric in the meantime is nice, too.

    Today I am roasting a chicken in it. We’re having some clouds today, which makes it take longer and causes the temperature to drop. It wouldn’t be good for baking bread, but for something like beans, soup, or meat, it can just cook for longer without a problem. I am glad it is partly cloudy today and I can check out the difference, since most days, it is sunny here.

  9. I used to love reading Charlie and Lola! So cute.

    The arrangement is just beautiful – glad you found some deals despite your timing being off.

    Embroidery hoops are intriguing . . . must go find out about vintage ones

  10. My husband and I have been thinking of using a solar oven, especially in the hot Arizona summers, though as you say, you can also save here in the winter by using it. Did you buy the one that you linked to? We were going to try to make our own.

  11. I have a solar oven and one of my goals this year is to learn to use it. I would love to hear more about how you use it and any helpful tips you might have. Thanks.

  12. Last week I shopped at a couple of local thrift stores with my daughter. I found a knitted shirt for myself and then browsed around in the kitchenware area while I waited for her to finish trying on some clothing. I’ve been thinking about getting a juicer for about a year but couldn’t justify spending a minimum of $100 on an appliance that I would likely use on a weekly basis, so I dropped the idea. In the thrift store’s kitchenware area, I found three juicers ranging in price from $8 to $30. The lowest-price one was a Juiceman Jr. (an older but reliable model). The price tag for this juicer was included in monthly half-price items. I checked it over carefully to ensure that it appeared to be in good condition and that all the parts were included. I took a chance and bought it for $4, and was delighted to find that it works very well. My husband and I both love fresh carrot juice, and this is primarily what I hope to use it for. I’m so glad I waited–and that my daughter took some time to try on clothing! I’ve used it three times so far and am quite happy with it. The other main frugal thing I did this week was to prepare some extra meals to put in our freezer in anticipation of having knee surgery. It has helped make things easier for me and my family without creating unnecessary extra expenses.

  13. I am so excited I started taking an Organic Vegetable Gardening at Cornell Univ. this week. It is free for employees to take classes! I am so excited to learn how to improve my garden through formal training.

    I did not buy any food this week. We ate out of the pantry. I have started shopping every other week, instead of every week.

    We have saved $100 since last month’s heating bill (compared to last year this time). We are keeping our heat at 60 degree during the day and it seems to be paying off.

  14. I have that one, but it was a gift from a sponsor; I had a giveaway for one and she gifted me with one as a surprise!

    My husband did try making his own, and there are some rather inexpensive ways to make your own (such us using a solar shade!) My husband’s outer box didn’t turn out real well, and so he stopped before putting more money into it (he was looking at making a more sturdy one). I like that this one isn’t too heavy; his would have been. The All-American one is made by the same company, but comes with accessories, which might make it the better deal, if you don’t have dark graniteware pans to go inside, or cast iron. The graniteware cooks faster inside, but cast iron will work, too. It just depends on how you will use it.

    I haven’t had it get up to 360º but once, and not yet higher than 375º, but it is winter. I’ll be interested to see if that changes come summer. Mostly it’s been around 250-300ºF. I did make some adjustments to the height the other day and it went up, so I have more to learn about the angle and settings, but I still successfully cooked in it last week without a problem.

    I have a chicken in there right now; it is browning nicely. I’ll be out of sun in a few minutes, but as the weather changes, I will have more sun. Right now I have 8 hours a day where I can use it. The ideal hours are in the middle of the day, but I was able to use all of the hours the other day and cook two meals without a problem. I also cooked the lentils in the afternoon.

  15. I always feel like a dope when I share my Frugal Activities here … and it’s been awhile, SINCE the blog switched over to this website, my Kindle doesn’t like to view (anyone else have that problem? It’s as if the right side overtakes the whole page and when you tap an article to read, it brings up the advertisement/amazon link instead) … We’ve been somewhat frugal these past few weeks, trying to keep with a Pantry Challenge, although I think it’s safe to say we are done now … although, I’m going to try and stay on a restricted spending as the freezers are still too full as is the pantry. Not a bad thing, I know, but frustrating when you don’t know what you really have and spend too much time trying to find what you KNOW you have 😉 … here is Week 43 of our Frugal Activites: http://frugalinflorida.blogspot.com/2015/01/frugal-activities-43.html

  16. That solar oven will be awesome in the summer! I absolutely hate cooking beans in the summer because of how much it heats up our apartment…but I do it anyway 🙂
    ~I purchased a 10lb bag of organic carrots for $6.99
    ~Potatoes were on sale .99 cents for a 5lb bag, we purchased 2 bags
    ~ We went to a potluck dinner. I brought orange cupcakes that I made from baking supplies that were on sale around Christmas (I have the recipe up on my blog)
    ~We spent no money outside what we needed for groceries.

  17. We have a solar oven, and I’ve used it a lot in the past. (Mobility problems make it more difficult for me to use now.) My husband made a wheeled dolly out of leftover lumber for mine so that I could turn it to face the sun as it arced across our property when I was cooking things for a long time. Brandy, maybe that’s a way to use the box your husband started making and stopped? The dolly worked well. Breads might not work in the oven, but cookies do! My most typical temperatures were about 300-320 degrees F here in Central Texas. However, I want to mention one caution. We live in a shallow valley circled by low hills, and we get howling winds a lot of the time during certain seasons. One of our neighbors used to look up at the sky and say she hated the wind, because they are so strong and frequent in some seasons. Strong winds are NOT good for these ovens, as the reflectors wing out. I’ve had a few tipped-over meals before I learned, no matter how sunny the day, I couldn’t use them on days when it was really windy.

  18. I can see how your area would be a great place to use a solar cooker! I’ve had some experience with a hot box, but not a solar cooker. It sounds like it’s working out great for you. How lovely that your husband brought you a “treasure” from the thrift store. I forgot to mention in this weeks’ post that I attended the first meeting of a new women’s homestead gathering last week. We plan to share our various skills and knowledge with each other, and the community as well. Our next meeting will be about fermented foods, and we will each be making a batch of kimchee. I’m not sure I’ll like it, but I’m willing to try it. The following meeting, we’ll be making mason bee boxes to put around our gardens, as they are great pollinators. I’m pretty excited to see where this group takes us. Joining you here: http://www.abelabodycare.blogspot.com/2015/01/the-pantry-round-two-and-frugal.html

  19. We employed many of the same frugal techniques so many others use, too, such as making our own vegetable broth from skins and stems and bits of vegetables we had frozen, then using that broth with other ingredients to make a soup that lasted us a couple of days. We ate all meals at home.

    We finally are being sent a check from Glyde. We’d had a snafu with the sale, but Glyde finally took total responsibility and came through. I had listed my old T-Mobile branded iPhone 5c when I changed carriers. My brother gifted me with his old 5s that was branded to Verizon. I can use a Verizon-branded phone on PagePlus, the lower-cost (prepaid) cellular company I chose. I need the Verizon coverage–but not their costs or monthly plan. Because iPhones sync better than others with hearing aids- telecoils, I need an iPhone, if possible. My husband chose Republic Wireless’ $10.00 plan because he doesn’t need data when away from the wi-fi. His phone service has been seamless.

    Although our cabinets are site-built and all wood, they weren’t finished well. In addition, I suspect that one of the wood cleaners I was using was hard on the stain. The finish hasn’t held up in our seven-year-old house. My husband determined that the builder’s “touch up” stain left behind was enough to redo the cabinets, and he will be refinishing them himself, saving us lots of money.

    I almost made my first sale on a local Facebook buy-sell page. The buyer had trouble with another pickup and texted me that she couldn’t make the scheduled meeting with me, so my music stand will go back up on the page tomorrow. I’m not daunted, but rather am encouraged. We need to de-clutter and garage sales just do not work where we are.

    Lia Sophia, a jewelry company whose jewelry I bought in times when money didn’t need to be stretched so much, is going out of business. I was able to buy deeply discounted pieces that will be birthday gifts for a friend, my daughters and all my granddaughters this year. It took more than a month to get the shipped items, however, and they charge the credit card as soon as the items are ordered. It was a little scary for a while, wondering if I’d done the wrong thing, but now I have birthday gifts for seven people for deeply discounted prices.

  20. We have done a great job of saving money in January by simply staying in the house in the cold weather. Unfortunately, we also had a number of minor breakdowns, which has been happening for two or three months now. it’s havoc on the budget and it’s just inconsequential things—most annoying was a turn signal on my car that wouldn’t go off after turning. That little number cost $309 because it’s an entire module that has to be replaced. Furnace repair–$335, new seal for fridge and it’s freezer-$215. I am ready for this streak to end! We are going on a road trip and thought that was reason enough to get the turning signal fixed—it would be necessary on a trip. I also made a favorite carrot soup this week (basically carrots, onions, a little butter and seasonings cooked and pureed) and served it with crackers and a veggie-cheese spread we were given for the holidays. Made quite a nice meal, and enough for another night as well. I had a birthday and was gifted some gourmet bakery cupcakes, and a few days later my daughter made an eclair-like dessert and had dessert with us on my birthday. Also made pizza this week, and made ham steak another night with frozen pierogis that were also gifted to me at the holidays. Those were delicious–cheese filled. Using up gifts keeps the food costs down for sure.

  21. Last week I checked and made sure I got the $50 bonus credited for opening a Discover checking account.

    I went to Walgreens and got the free after sales/coupon/rewards deodorant for myself. I went to CVS and got 3 deodorants for my son that were free after sales/coupons/bucks back. I spent $5 out of pocket to get the deodorants and got $6 bucks. I then immediately spent the $6 bucks and got tissues that were on sale for 99cents a box since I was out of tissues. And I was low on deodorant for us, so I was glad to see those sales.

    I picked strawberries from the garden. I mulched the blueberries. Weeded the beds. Finished cleaning up the true roselle/Florida cranberry beds. Cleaned out the zen garden where I have pineapples and aloe planted. I transplanted eggplant into the garden. I spread mulch around the nectarine tree. I fertilized the bananas.

    I made Valentine’s cards for my kids.

    We’re continuing to eat from the freezer and pantry. I did buy a loaf of bread and margarine this week. I had zero food waste again after a couple of weeks with some waste – so I was happy about that. I made Brandy’s granola and substituted corn syrup for the honey and skipped the nuts.

    I listed 2 items on ebay.

    I ran out of my rosacea cleanser, so I ordered 1 from Clinique.com. I had a code for free shipping, went through ebates, and also got a free lipstick with it. I’ve needed new casual shoes for months and finally ordered 2 pairs with a buy one get one 50% off sale, free shipping and went through Swagbucks. I paid with the credit card to earn points and will pay off the bill with ebay sales, swagbucks, and/or the Discover bonus I got.

    Free in the mail – a sample of Nivea lotion.

    I finished a bottle of shampoo. I added some water to the bottle and swished it around the bottle then left it next to the sink to use when I washed my hands. It made enough soapy water to wash my hands for the day.

    I filled out a Pinecone survey. I met my Swagbucks goal every day and cashed out for $25 Paypal.

    I went shopping for a work wardrobe. A new thrift store opened close to home with better prices than Goodwill. I got 2 pairs of pants and 5 shirts for $24. I stopped at McDonald’s and used a coupon for a free soda. Then I went to Goodwill and got 2 skirts and 2 shirts for $24. I stopped at Save A Lot next to Goodwill to pick up a few things, and while I was there, the manager was pulling out a flatbed cart with canned solid pumpkin and canned candied yams 10 cans for $1! I got a case of 12 of each. The pumpkin expires Oct 2015 but the yams are good until Sept 2016! I was so excited about that deal! Last stop was gas for $1.82.

    I told SO about the pumpkin and yam deal when he got home from work. We went back the next morning to get 5 more cases of yams. Another case for us, some to give to my kids, and a couple cases to donate when they have a canned food drive at SO’s work at the holidays.

    Have a great week everyone!

  22. We have a different philosophy to gifts than most of your readers. I’m not trying to say we do it better; and I don’t want to start a debate or argument; we made a decision after a great deal of thought and contemplation which we felt would work best for our family. We believe that while children are young and still believe in Santa, quantity matters. But, we also don’t want to break the budget. To that end I make a lot of Christmas presents for my children. Because I don’t want to just do this when they’re in bed or away for the day, I do it in front of them; but I make the presents for a couple of years in the future. My youngest will be 10 by 2018; we’ve made a decision to go with ‘quantity’ until then and then reassess. And so this week saw me making presents – about 30 of them all-up by the end of the week, some for birthday, some for Christmas, some for 2017, some for 2018. (I’ve already got enough for 2016.) These are the little things, the ‘filler’ – we’ll get them one or two large presents to supplement, but primarily it’s small things that I make, or buy on clearance, or find second-hand.

    A local shop (a clearance shop for a clearance shop) was selling children’s books at 25 cents each; so I also bought about a dozen of those. I sorted out the new books, with a stack of second-hand books I’ve purchased for 50 cents each, into different categories according to my children’s age for the different years, and I have quite a nice selection of books for Christmas and birthday until 2018. (We don’t do as much for birthdays as we do for Christmases, but we work on roughly the same theory – one large gift and several smaller gifts. I keep a running tally of who is getting what and what it cost, and store the presents in boxes separated by year.)

    I broke the last of my sewing machine needles making a jeans apron, so that puts an end to my sewing until I remember to pick up some more! I do have a few more projects planned; we’re also in the process of renovating our kids’ bedrooms, and so there are curtains and cushions to make still. In the meantime, I’ve been plastering and sanding . . . I haven’t gotten around to painting yet; that’s a job for this coming weekend. The plastering and sanding is almost finished. I can’t wait to see the rooms come together – they’re going to be such nice lovely bedrooms for the kids – and we’re saving quite a bit of money by doing this grunt work on our own; but it does get exhausting . . .

  23. I’m sorry your Kindle is having trouble. Everything is supposed to be mobile compatible. Each mobile device shows things differently. A phone, for instance, doesn’t have a right-hand column. It puts each section of the site in a long column, and it chooses which item shows first. Depending on the device and which way you hold it; horizontal and vertical layouts are different on each device. Most mobile devices do put things in a column when you hold them vertically. If you’re on an ipad and you hold it horizontally, it looks more like it does on a computer, and it has a right-hand column.

    I’ve had a few others on Kindles have trouble as well, but I haven’t seen it on one myself to see the problem. I’m sorry it gives you trouble.

  24. For the past three weeks I have been redoing my flower beds. I am removing plants that require too much maintenance and in turn planting more fruit trees. I even sectioned off a bed for a small garden. I have picked kale from plants purchased at Lowes weeks ago for $1.00 for 6 plants that have given me awesome kale.
    I planted onions of which have already sprouted, zucchini, squash, beets, sweet peas, etc. I staked my raspberry bushes with a trellis I already had in the garage, froze lemon juice from a neighbor who gave me some from her tree.

  25. took our van in to get serviced: still under warranty no money out of pocket. they also vacuumed and gave it a free car wash.

    took pinecone survey

    used veggies “scraps” to make a stir fry for lunch

    happily cut $20 /mo off our “baby” budget: which is diapers/wipes/clothes

    have yet to buy “baby food” – formula or canned jars. and I am so thankful!

  26. One thing I was not thrifty on was I bought chicken stock and it is so expensive here. I know you can cook chicken down. I was wondering if you refrigerate the broth to take off the fat content does it still have flavor? I defrosted my freezer and took stock of what I had to use up. Cooked vension down and froze it again in the broth for nights that are busy. I made a double batch of bananna bread from banannas that were given to me that were ripe and I had froze them. I have 3 Birthdays for my children in March so bought March Birthday presents on-line at 60% off the clearance price and $10 off of $40 and free shipping. The got some nice gifts!!!

  27. I’m sure the quality is not as good but aliexpress.com also has very cheap jewelry, much of it under $1 with free shipping. Often you have to spend, say, $10 at the same retailer to place an order; but if you have many people to buy for, it might be worth a go for you next time.

  28. Remember that cans are often good for much longer than the ‘best before’ date – if it’s a ‘best before’ date you’ll probably be able to get a few more years out of those puppies.

  29. I started a master list of things I’m running low on, so that I can get them as they go on sale. Right now I am waiting for a sale on oats, but we don’t have Winco here. I am also low-ish on coconut oil. My friend gets it for me when she visits her family in Iowa – there are Amish and Mennonite country stores there and the price is excellent.

    I had a really good week with lots of little things. I polished my shoes, organized a closet, shopped sales and more.

    My posting with frugal accomplishments, menu and blessings is here: http://quietcountrylife.blogspot.com/2015/01/last-weeks-frugal-accomplishments.html Visitors welcome!

  30. Elaine,
    I don’t know anything about the climate where you are, but here in the part of Oregon where I live, I can plant peas in February, and often do. Because it’s unseasonably warm here this year, I plan to get them in as soon as I put some new compost over my raised bed where I want them, even though it’s still January. It is way too wet to work in the regular garden, so my husband built me 4 large raised beds a few years ago for early season planting. I have also planted them in March or April as well, if that’s as soon as I can get it done.

    Beans, however, are a different story around here. They are much more tender and won’t take the frost like peas will. So, they would need much more TLC than the peas. (assuming you get frost–we get it here for quite a while longer).

    Have fun experimenting! I just love to try things just to see if they will work, too:)

  31. Took the apple-turned-jar boxes over to our oldest daughter’s along with some freezer meals to use while she is in the hospital.

    Trimmed the branches from both the fir trees & laid them around all of the blueberry bushes. Pruned one of the dwarf peach trees. Cut the prunings & some windstorm debris twigs from the giant elm across the fence into lengths that will fit our little camping/emergency stove.

    Came across an article describing solar water disinfection (SOLIS) online. The method was originally Swiss, but is taught by UNICEF & the Red Cross in developing nations worldwide. It’s pretty simple, & involves filling a clear (not green) PET bottle, that holds less than 3 liters, with clear water (filtered first if needed), & lying the bottle on its side in the sun for 6 hours. If you google “SOLIS”, you can read more of the details, but I found it a rather simple way to purify water quite inexpensively, given that I live in earthquake country along the Wasatch Front. We store some of our emergency water in PET bottles anyway, recycled from juice & soda. I printed off the information to put in our emergency kit.

    Cut a banana peel to feed the red rose in the front yard.

    Bought 10 quart jars at Deseret Industries for a quarter each, along with a 3 wick candle for $1. I also bought 2 quart jars & 2 pillar candles & a candle holder to fit, since I have multiple pillar candles, but only one holder that is pillar sized. Those all had blue tags, so they were 50% off at Savers.

    Baked a large butternut squash from our garden & saved the seeds. I have far more butternut squash seeds than I need, but these are heirloom seeds, & I can share with friends & neighbors. The way the price of food is going up in the stores, I am thinking heirloom seeds are the way to go, since the seeds can be saved from year to year.

    Saved toilet paper tubes & dryer lint to make more fire starters for our oldest daughter, who heats with a wood stove.

  32. Last week, my husband did the shopping and organizing or meals for a retreat he went on. He was given quite a few leftovers afterwards. There were lots of pieces of fruit, some yogurt, a few hash browns and some salad stuff. I put that to good use in meals this week. I got 6 milks and 2 o.j.’s for 99c/1/2 gal this past week. We were given several dozen eggs last week, and to top it off, we started getting eggs from the chickens again, at last. They must have heard my husband muttering as he fed them about what was going to happen to them if they didn’t start producing:)

    We took a mini-vacation for my husband’s birthday. We used a cabin at the beach we can use for free for 2 nights. We cleaned it afterwards, brought our own bedding, etc. Totally worth it. We drove the small car, so saved gas. Squishy with all 3 kids, food, bedding, etc., but, again, worth it. While there, we took a drive down the coast. It was a bit stormy and we loved seeing the waves crash against the rocks. They were spectacular and we saw the spouting horn in Depot Bay, Oregon, spout much higher than it usually does when we are there, due to high tide and large waves. We walked around a little there, bought some candy from a candy store, and ended up eating at Moe’s, a place we traditionally eat while at the coast. We used a gift card we got for Christmas for that. We ate meals at the cabin, watched movies, I crocheted, etc. and we went home the next day. We ate fast food burgers on the way home, but otherwise, it only cost us gas, that meal, and $ for candy. It was a high return for a low amount of $ and we could not have had any more fun if we had spent a lot more.

    I got the coupon for the salmon at Walmart and stopped on our way home and got that. There was some trouble with the coupon, but the cashier finally just gave hubby the salmon, and said she’d figure it out later. While there, I got a few items that are much cheaper there. i.e. Earth Balance Buttery Spread for $3.68 compared to the exact same carton for over $5 at Fred Meyers. I have a friend and family coming for 4 nights this week, and she is severely allergic to many things, so I needed a couple of items she can have. She will bring most of what she needs, but I’ve stocked coconut milk and that buttery spread, plus a couple of other items. They happily use our camper for their “hotel” and it saves them a bundle, plus I get what I want, which is time with her.

    Walmart is out of my way, so even if things are less, I won’t go there much, the distance would make the savings cancel out, so it was nice to be near one for once.

    My seeds we ordered all came and I was able to get several packs from the dollar store as well. I tried a few last year to see how the quality compared. You get fewer seeds, by far, in a Dollar Store pack, than one from Territorial. However, you can buy 12-16 packs for the price of 1 pack at a seed company. The varieties are very limited at the D.S. Territorial, Johnny’s, etc. have varieties that take short times so I can get something at my place, which is a little higher in elevation. I got lots of zucchini from the Dollar Store pack, but I got way more off of the Territorial plant, and they were more uniform in shape. That being said, I didn’t need as many as I got, from either:)
    So, after the grand experiment last year, I’ve concluded that I will continue buying what’s really important for me when I need to choose variety, length of time until fruiting, etc. from seed companies and continue buying some flowers (zinnias and marigolds), and a few seeds like spinach, green onions, Danvers carrots, basil and cilantro, plus pickling cucumbers, since I had good luck with those from the Dollar Store. I was able to cut my orders down by 1/2 from last year, due to saving so many 1/2 packs last year to use now. My conclusion is that a lot of good food could be grown from Dollar Store seeds, but everything I want is not available from there, and I’d have to compare the weight of each package to see how many packs I would need to get an equal amount. For example, I can so many green beans, that I have to buy my tried and true kind of seeds, so I am assured of a huge crop, plus I buy at least a 1/2 lb. of seed each year, so that would take a lot of $, even at the Dollar store and it was around (plus or minus) $7 for that many at Territorial and I know they will grow true to type. The $4 for “Carmen” peppers from Johnny’s always ripen here and I get many more than 4 peppers unless I have a crop failure. Last year I got at least 6 quart-sized ziplocks chopped up to freeze and I only used 1/2 pack ($2 worth).

    My husband and I set up 2 cold frames and I planted spinach, lettuce and a few green onions. I got the lettuce seeds free from the fair last summer. They were free. I will see if I get any. It’s worth a try. Becky vs. the slugs! Let the contest begin:) He put some old windows over them he had salvaged. We cleaned out the 4 raised beds. We will add compost and plant peas soon to one of them.

    We continue eating things from freezer and canning cupboard. Now’s the time of year I rely on my “fast food” the most, as produce prices rise.

    I ordered in and borrowed a “Klondike Gold Rush Songs” c.d. from the library, which I will use in my history lesson I’m teaching at co-op tomorrow, as well as a book of pictures of that time period. We will be doing “Call of the Wild” soon, and I want to set the stage for the kids.

    The 2 bigger girls have a formal dinner Friday. I spent quite a bit of time making a cream colored cape of purchased fur fabric, lined with a scrap left over from another project and a clasp my daughter bought. She also bought a cream flower for the waist and one for her hair. The dark green dress was purchased at a garage sale for $5 last summer (go Rob!!) and only had to have the straps shortened. The event has a dress code, so no spaghetti straps allowed (fine with me), hence the cape. It is beautiful against her dark skin. Last year she borrowed a dress from a friend.

    My older daughter is able to wear the dress I made for her, then re-made the next year from when she was around 14. She’s been working hard on her weight and can again fit into it. Yea!!! This will be the 3rd time for that dress. The first year, it was all pale pink satin with a pink lace shawl/cape. The second year, I added a black lace over-lay for a skirt and a black satin ribbon at the waist and I think a black shrug. This year, the pink/black stays, and she will wear whatever shrug she wishes. I’m so thankful that this youth group encourages trading dresses around/bargains/Goodwill-thrift store finds, etc. It’s almost a contest to see who got the best bargain and they all look lovely. They boys wear dark pants, white shirts and black ties. Some wear jackets, too. My husband is helping with the barbequing, and I will watch our new youngest, instead of washing dishes like usual.

  33. There were leftovers from a company meeting, free for the taking, in the lunchroom at work. I made a meal out of the leftoversand saved the lunch I had packed for the next day.

    Received a Subway gift card for participating in a health challenge at work. Used it for dinner for my daughter and I on the day I had a compressed schedule and needed to take her to gymnastics, with no time to go home/cook dinner beforehand, since my husband was out of town at another funeral.

    The Children’s Place had a clearance sale and free shipping for Martin Luther King Day. My daughter needs more pants, so I ordered two pairs of jeans in her current size and two in the size to grow into. I shopped through Upromise so will receive a portion of my total in cash back; used the sale price, plus the free shipping offer, found a coupon for an additional 20 percent off via retailmenot.com, and paid with my Children’s Place credit card (which I will pay off in full) for an additional 5% discount. Each pair of jeans ended up costing roughly $5. When she grows out of her current size, I will give those jeans to my sister for her girls.

    I needed to get new glasses; paid for them directly with money from our health savings account. (I would rather have not needed to spend the money, but was glad it was there when needed.) I received a $5 gift card to a coffee shop from the optometrist because they forgot to call and tell me the glasses were ready.

    We had a turkey pot pie for dinner, using some of the ground turkey from the turkey I cooked earlier this month and then froze in leftover portions.

  34. I can’t believe I forgot the biggest thing of all! We got a free family ground pass to the Australian Open. I’m not sure how it compares with other grand slams, but at the Australian Open there’s tons of other stuff to do besides watching world-class tennis (which, of course, is the main drawcard; but with kids who struggle with the concept of “quiet please” we knew we wouldn’t get a lot of games in!) We took our own food; picked up free souvenirs from the sponsors (alas, Rolex was not giving out free samples . . . ); there was a small court set up for kids to take turns, so the kids did that; got free photos from the photobooth – and oh yeah, we also watched some tennis. We did stop for some hamburgers from that quaint little Scottish place on the way home, and we had to pay for parking ($10 for the day, which is pretty reasonable) and petrol (which we found at under $1/litre – that’s the lowest it’s been in about a decade!) but all in all it was a very cheap day out, and we all had a blast.

  35. I always found it was easy enough to make baby food. I couldn’t justify spending the money on the processed stuff, when I could just take some leftover veggies (and later, meat) from our own dinner and make my own.

  36. Darlene, I always put the stock int he fridge to congeal the fat so I can remove it. Homemade stock is still delicious, even without the fat. If there is more than 1 pint, I usually pressure can it to preserve it.

  37. We successfully had a no leftovers week. Anything left over from one meal was used up in some way over then next few days. It is tough to learn to cook for two since our boys are both gone now.

    I had some ravioli that had an expiration date about a week past. I cooked it any way and crossed my fingers. It was fine!

    I brought a dessert to a party. I was trying to remember the recipe and over estimated one of the ingredients. I was afraid I was going to have to dump it and bring something else. But, I was able to adjust some of the others and it turned out fine.

  38. Hello! A solar oven is on my wish list to buy someday.
    My husband is having oral surgery this Friday. I used personal time at work to take the day off and still get paid. I am so lucky to work somewhere that offers wonderful benefits. We also do not have to pay anything out of pocket on Friday due to the Care Card covering almost or all of the expenses not covered by our insurance. I have a plan to pay off this debt within the year to avoid paying interest. My mother will be watching our daughter.
    Saved warm up/shower water, water from drinking glasses, etc and used to flush the toilet, mop the floor, in the humidifier, water plants.
    I only picked up 4 food items this past week that were necessary for my husband’s birthday dinner.
    I made a carrot cake (from scratch) with homemade cream cheese frosting (his request), lentil tacos, burritos using leftover taco flavored lentils, power balls, wheat bread.
    We have been diligent about keeping the heat down, turning off lights, etc.
    we stayed home all week except for my husband’s birthday. We went to a restaurant he wanted to try that was next door to one of the natural foods stores that I shop at. We combined trips.
    I printed some free coloring pages for my daughter.
    My daughter and I both watched free shows on my kindle.
    I did the usual: took my food and snacks to work, everything we ate was made at home from scratch, washed and reused plastic bags and glass jars, used white vinegar with lavender essential oil for fabric softener and soap nuts to wash laundry. Air dried all laundry on my drying racks, used a dish pan for rinsing the dishes, sprouted more lentils.
    Have a great week everyone!

  39. I have only commented once or twice, but I do like to read this blog and all the comments. I can’t say that last week was a frugal week, because we took two of our grandchildren to Disney World. But in a way it was frugal. Since we are Florida residents we got a discount that make our tickets about half price. Florida resident days are Jan. thru May with a few blackout dates. you just have to show your drivers license for the discount. We stayed at the Wyndam on the Disney property and they had a shuttle bus to and from the parks. We belong to the Wyndam rewards program so we got points for that. I had read on the website that they had a character breakfast at the hotel, and that two children eat free with a paying adult. The adult price was $24.95. I was willing to skip this, but my husband insisted I take the kids on the last morning while he packed the car. They got to meet Goofy and Pluto! It was a very large buffet breakfast, so the kids and I filled up.

    It’s time to start getting back to money saving practices after a trip to visit other grandkids in December, then my being very sick with a stomach bug when we returned. Trying to find the best meat prices, but it is outrageously expensive everywhere. We are still eating peas and sweet potatoes from my dad’s garden. I thought about shopping some of the clearance sales for clothing, but then decided that I really don’t need anything. That is the best savings of all.

  40. I finally successfully made bread! I’ve been trying for YEARS and no matter how I change the variables (different yeast, different recipes, different temperatures in the house) I just end up making beige-y cannon balls. I found a recipe for crock-pot bread and tried again, but this time I proofed the yeast only using 80 degree water. It worked well! Crockpot bread doesn’t brown, so you need to pop it in the oven at the end. So we’ve been enjoying whole wheat bread for the past few days! I will be practicing regularly from now on. Question though — how do you keep it soft for a few days and what’s the best type of knife to cut it? I use a good serrated knife but it still crumbles a bit.

    We had an event at our house for which I had purchased to bagel platters with onion, tomato and cucumber. We had a lot left over so I made homemade bagel chips and used the tomato and red onion to make bruschetta pasta which we are still enjoying. Made it with basil from the front yard.

    Found a recipe for crock-pot potato soup which we enjoyed last night.

    Our grocery bills have been quite large which I just don’t understand given that we eat almost no meat. I can’t even remember the last time I purchased beef. I am going to try to reduce our grocery bills by eating potato based meals at least twice a week. I’m also going to stop buying canned broth and commit to making a chicken a week so I can make homemade broth.

    Made laundry soap and sent it to the kids, which they love.

    Have a great week everyone, especiallly the bright amazing Brandy.

  41. It has been a very discouraging month for me as far as frugal accomplishments. I will continue to read what everyone writes here and get better! A few things that I can remember for the week:
    *One night I was trying to figure out a vegetable side dish to make. I had a bunch of spinach but some of it had seen better days. I soaked it well, threw out the pieces that were bad, and sauteed it in a pan with onions and a handful of green beans that were in the freezer from my garden. It was really tasty.
    *I made a big batch of pinto beans in my crockpot. We had them for dinner with rice, sour cream, a bit of cheddar, and salsa. My daughter and I both took leftovers the next day for lunch. I believe the last time I stocked up on dry pinto beans they were 50 cents/pound so those were some very frugal meals!
    *I treated myself to Starbucks twice, but I used a gift card that a coworker gave me for Christmas.

  42. I am having our first baby in September so I have been reading books from the library, and picking up items such as books and clothes from thrift stores. I will save up to buy a car seat and crib new for safety’s sake. I am excited and can’t wait to let the family know when I hit three months!

  43. Got a Texas native tree to replace a tree that died 4 years ago. It took us that long to get the stump out. (It was a huge tree that died in our drought) I used a coupon and got the tree at a great price. It is a Native Texas Laural tree that will have lots of purple flowers. It is very slow growing but that is okay with me.
    We have been blessed with rain, so I have not had to use the hose to water anything. I was shocked to see my water bill went up almost $10.00 so I did some investigation only to learn our rates went up again in Jan. Darn, darn, darn. We had several cold days last month. I do day care for a living and have infants only so I had to turn the heat on in this house to bring the temp. up to 72. My gas bill doubled too. Just over $100.00. Will have to cut back some place else as I had only $75.00 in the budget for it. (I will adjust my budget next month) Today we are in the 70’s here. Beautiful day so I am hanging all laundry outside and not using dryer at all. I almost never use the dryer except for my husband’s work clothes but lately with the rain I have used it to dry sheets etc. I have 3 nice drying racks I use but they are not big enough to dry sheets.
    I have stayed out of the stores like Walmart and Target since before Christmas. Last Sat. I was in Target as I needed a few things that Target has the best price on. I went to the back of the store to check out their close out/clearance section and was I tickled I did. I got almost every gift I will need for next year for under $100.00. I got things for my daughter in law, grandsons, and friends. The most I paid for any item was $8.00. I got those nice ‘senty’ candle things that melt wax that smells so good for $8.00. I know my daughter in law loves them. I got her one in the shape of a white cat. She has a white cat that she adores. I got some nice animal shaped banks for $2.00 that will be gifts for day care kids next Christmas.
    We cooked all meals except for Friday night’s supper with Bible study friends at home. I cooked from scratch muffins, biscuits, and bread. We are getting the garden ready to plant. Got onion sets and garlic for $1.00 a bunch at the same time I got my new tree. With all our rain we have not been able to plant much yet. After all our drought I am not complaining one bit about the rain. We need every drop. My 8 rain barrels are full. Our area lakes are only 34% full so we are still in serious drought and I plan to use water very wisely and carefully. I still collect water from the bathroom for plants and to water our dogs etc.
    I got a free pattern off the internet to make some new shorts for a grand child. I have plenty of fabric. All I need is time to put the pattern together and make them.
    I am working on a hand made quilt using hexies. It take 7 hexies to make 1 four inch flower. I am staying busy at night with that when I can not sleep. I am going to put these hexie flowers on a pillow case to make gifts for next year. Trying to think and plan ahead.
    I am also cooking in my crock put a lot to keep the oven off. Gasoline here is $1.68 a gallon right now. We filled up our truck and my car. That price was without any discounts. I never thought I would see gas below $2.00 again. Now our governor is telling us that because gas prices are so low the tax money on the gasoline is not enough to fix our roads etc. so they must raise the tax. How does a body win?
    Got a new to me quilt book from a friend. Going to learn a new way to make a bow tie quilt.

  44. Hi Marivene and Darlene, I put my stock in the fridge as well. I then heat it back up and strain out the solids and when it cools down a bit I make chicken cubes (filling an ice tray with chicken stock). I have ice trays that I use just for these chicken cubes. This is easier for me because I don’t have a pressure canner and I don’t want to freeze in to a jar when I won’t use all of it right away. I keep the cubes in a baggie in the freezer and just take out what I need.

  45. We had a fairly good week this week. Last week I read Brandy’s post on Encouragement and it was just what I needed! Thank you so much Brandy! We had a couple of unexpected issues this past week but it was nothing we couldn’t handle and they did not change the fact that we have everything we need. I am learning what having “enough” means and Brandy’s words just reinforced this wonderful truth. I would encourage everyone to read her Encouragement post.

    The first unexpected thing that happened was that the brakes in our truck went out while my husband was on his way to the Vet with our dog. It was snowy and thankfully he was not even a mile from the house when they gave out on him. And, thankfully, DH and the fur baby were not hurt and made it back to the house safely! We don’t have the money in the budget to have it looked at right now but we have 2 other vehicles that are paid for and in working order, so we have enough.

    The second thing is that our wood stove, which we have bee using as our sole source of heat this winter, started blowing smoke into our house. DH checked everything he could and it all seems to be working fine so we have had to call a chimney sweep. Thankfully, we have a tank full of oil so we could turn our furnace on for heat and since oil is so low it won’t be so expensive to fill it back up. And we have the cash on hand to pay for the chimney sweep. So, again, we have everything we need!

    Last weekend my DH’s best friend came over to help DH move some of his Mom’s furniture that was too heavy for me to lift. I made homemade pizza for lunch with home canned pizza sauce made from tomatoes from my garden. Then later in the week at my office we celebrated a co-workers birthday. We try to do a special dessert or lunch for everyone on their birthday and the other employees split the cost. Her choice was pizza and another co-worker had a coupon for a free pizza so we just had to split the delivery tip which was .50 cents each! I had also stopped before work that morning and picked up a 2 liter of diet soda for $1.00 which I kept in the fridge to use for the week. Trying to stop my diet soda habit but it’s turning out to be harder that I thought! I also made bagels again this week.

    I de-cluttered and reorganized my bedroom closet and dresser drawers. Donated some items to Salvation Army and put some on my sewing table for alterations. I also inherited my MIL’s desk which we moved into my sewing area for me to use.

    We also collected a large box of expensive shampoos, conditioners, other various hair care products and lotions. We took some of the bottles that have never been opened to her at Memory Care and put the rest aside to use as gifts for her later. Things tend to disappear at memory care so we are careful what and how much we take to her. The ones that are half used we kept for our use.

    I started looking into the regulations and codes regarding the sale of garden produce from my yard. The hope is that we can set up a stand this year and make some extra money selling veggies. Unfortunately, the state of MD can be terrible to deal with when it comes to these kinds of things. Our county is pretty good though so we shall see. There are several farmer’s markets that might work too.

    Received an invitation to a bridal shower for a co-worker so I started working on a knitted afghan using yarn from my stash.

    At my office we received a nice gift basket from one of our vendors. Among the items in the basket was a box of Rigitoni and some cheese spread that no one wanted so I took them home.

    Had a coupon for 2 crossanwiches, 1 hash browns and 1 coffee from Burger King. We treated ourselves last Sunday morning. I added an extra order of hash browns and drank coffee from home. The total came to $5.30 for breakfast for 2. Not bad for eating out.

    Finally, I saved a total of $65 between my trips to the local grocery store and CVS and earned $10 extracare bucks from CVS. I got several cans of Mandarin oranges, Barilla Pasta, and Furmano Tomatoes, 28 oz cans, for .88 cents each. I had coupons for $1.00 off many of these items making them free to me!

    It occurred to me, while writing of our woes with the truck’s breaks, that there was a time that I would have been so embarrassed to tell anyone that we did not have the money to fix the truck right now. But, with this online community I feel like you understand my trouble and don’t judge me on our inability to pay. I can’t tell you how freeing it is to me at this point in my journey to be able to share our struggles as well as our success. Thank you all!

  46. I don’t know where momsay lives in Michigan. If she is in a valley in the middle of the north woods, she might not have enough sun, especially in mid-winter when the sun is low on the horizon. I read a blog by a weather forecaster in Grand Rapids and he mentioned that they had only about 16% of the potentially available sunshine this January, with only one day that made it up to 85% or so….. Think the Pacific Northwest during the rainy season, only chillier.

  47. Your solar oven sound fascinating! I’m glad you are having so much success with it. I’m not sure how well it would work in Canada or other northern areas, though, especially in the winter months. We would probably be better to use other options, like a wood stove, which would not make sense in warmer climates.

    Well, we did better this week for frugality and normality after the passing of my FIL, with a few changes. We have invited my MIL over for a few meals over the past week and she accepted our invites. It has been nice to see her connect more with my daughter, and I’m sure she appreciates the meal and company. Here is our frugal accomplishments for this week:
    *Bought yellow pepper seeds, catnip seeds and seed starter pucks. I promised my daughter we would try growing our own catnip this year as I hate paying for the overpriced small bags of dried catnip when it’s basically a weed. I still have to check to see what other seeds we need.
    *My MIL used to go to Bingo all the time with my FIL. She was hesitant to return now that he has passed, so my husband and I went with her to support her. I do not normally go, and I do consider it a waste of money, but it was a special circumstance. My MIL paid for most of the cost, with the standard rule that we share our winnings with her. Well, on the last game my husband won the jackpot along with three other winners. He won $250 of which we kept $150 (she insisted she only wanted $100 from the winnings). We used the winnings to buy a bunch of meat (ground beef, stewing beef and chicken breasts) and a few other stock up items at Costco the following day.
    *On Sunday my husband invited my MIL over for a meal. When she realized we had not started cooking yet when she arrived, she offered to take us out for dinner for my husband’s birthday. His birthday is next weekend, but we will be away as I am having surgery on Friday in another city. Not only did she pay for dinner, she took us out for ice cream afterwards as dessert! It was a really nice treat for all of us.
    *Meals at home this week included, a roast beef dinner, beef barley soup from some left over roast and veggies from our freezer along with a loaf of home-made bread, home-made lasagna, taco casserole, and a delicious frugal “stir fry” using this recipe (http://www.walmartlivebetter.ca/recipes/10-things-to-do-with/easy-ramen-noodles-recipes/?gallery_page=9#gallery_top) but using chicken instead of beef and frozen broccoli I blanched and froze last summer (note: you could add other veggies if you wish, and we have increase meat or veggies as needed to “stretch” the meal for a larger number of people)
    *I prepared two trays of lasagna for the freezer in preparation for next week when I am having surgery.
    *Made home-made granola bars for my daughter’s lunches for the first time, using a nut free recipe (hard to find as most call for peanut butter). I prepared them, cut them into bars, wrapped each bar individually with plastic wrap and placed them in a container in the freezer. I am very proud that I have not bought cookies or lunch snacks this year so far, aside from a box of treat sized rice crispies that were heavily discounted after Halloween (and we still have a bunch of those left in the cupboard):D
    *Matching sales and coupons, bought three Palmolive dish soap for $0.88/bottle, Red Hot Sriracha sauce for $1.88/bottle and received a free bottle of soda when I purchased an Old Elpaso taco kit which was on sale for $2.88. Also bought four boxes of Kashi cereal for $0.44/box, eight containers of margarine at $0.88 each (which I normally buy on sale for around $1), four blocks of Chapman’s ice cream for $1.99 each, six cans of Campbell’s soup 2/$0.88 and ten blocks of cheese on sale for $3.98. I am finding that my groceries now consist of buying mainly sale items to stock up with only a few minor needs and perishables. Buying every second week really makes a big difference in how much I spend as well.
    *Washed and dried a bread bag and a few freezer bags for reuse.
    *Saved bread crust ends in bag in freezer for later use. Also saved veggie peelings and trimmings in another bag in freezer for use in making stock.
    *I have been buying bread flour for ~$10/5kg bag which is the largest size available in this area and never seems to go on sale. My husband works in a restaurant, so I asked him to price out bread flour through their supplier. He called today to tell me that they have a 20kg bag of bread flour for just under $18! WOW what a difference! He ordered me one and we should receive the bag tomorrow!!!
    *I watched a few movies and shows on Netflix this week, including an interesting documentary about how many families in pour countries live on less than a $1 a day. It was produced by 4 American college students who actually lived this way for a summer in Guatemala. It was quite interesting!
    *Started my beginner’s weaving course which I am really enjoying. I am learning how to use a 4 harness loom.

    I think that is everything for this week. Thank you everyone who expressed their condolences last week on the passing of my FIL. Your comments were greatly appreciated. I hope everyone has a wonderful week.

  48. Last week was both frugal and not, at the same time. Saturday a week ago, I decided last minute to go to SC to see my family. It was my only niece’s birthday, so I went and spent the week with my family. Thankfully, it only cost me $33 to top off the tank and I arrived with 1/4 tank left!!

    Anytime I go see my parents/family, I am always treated to meals, gas, groceries, etc. I try to say no but they insist. So, I had several meals out that my parents paid for, my dad filled my tank with gas to come home, and he insisted that we go to Sam’s and stock up on things. I wanted to cry while in Sam’s because I am so frugal and it kills me to see the prices on stuff there compared to what I can buy at Grocery Outlet here! Either way, I am well stocked on green beans, canned corn, baked beans, diced tomatoes and toilet paper! lol I was also given my Christmas gifts while there — a brand new hand mixer (mine bit the dust last Easter and I’ve held off buying one) and a shiny new toaster. I have a toaster oven but it takes up too much valuable space on my very tiny counter so I never bring it out. Now I can make toast!!

    The night before I was to head home, my folks generously gifted me a small chest freezer they don’t use. It was always their intention to give it to me, but we had never been able to bring it back because it’s usually my fiance and myself along with our pup in the SUV and there’s no room. Well, this time, it was just me and the doggy and she rode in the front seat so I was able to bring back the freezer!! That is a huge blessing because our side by side fridge has the world’s smallest freezer. Now I will be able to take advantage of good deals on meat and frozen veggies.

    When I returned from SC last week, I went to the Grocery Outlet and stocked up on jars of Cracker Barrel brand fried apples ($4.99 in the restaurant, $1.29 at the GO), along with other things like chicken legs for .79/pound, cereal, yogurt, gallon of milk, dozens of eggs (they were 1.99/doz 2 weeks ago but are now 1.29/doz), lunch meat, veggies, etc. The usual things. I am so thankful we have that grocery store nearby. I shop from there almost exclusively and while I can’t buy everything there, the savings on the things I can buy there are a huge blessing.

    We were hit with a huge electricity bill for the month of December. They are saying our bill is $350+ dollars, even though it was warmer during that month than November and we purposefully kept the lights off, heat down, I used the dryer less, etc. I am convinced that either the meter (digital, always flashing, no way to tell usage) is wrong, or they aren’t bothering to read the meter and are instead going off the old tenants past bills. Plus, they are continuing to charge us $15/month for the utility light that they ripped out of the ground at the end of October. I have asked the fiance several times to call them and get them to credit our account for the last 3 months and to take it off future bills but he hasn’t. Grrr!!

    My ancient iron died yesterday just as I was getting ready to tackle about 200 vintage linens (I sell on Etsy and Instagram) and I went to Walmart for a replacement, but I hate the new auto shutoff feature on irons these days. I bought a cheap one but after using it twice, I realize it doesn’t get nearly hot enough so it will be going back. I am researching irons to see if I can find an affordable one that doesn’t have the shutoff feature.

    Aside from those things, I continue to cook as much as I can at home, stay home most days, combine errands, shop the thrifts if I need something, take Pinecone surveys and just generally pinch pennies where I can. I have been working to get the tons of inventory I have here in my farmhouse listed in my Etsy shops and I’m doing smaller flash sales on Instagram as well. Trying to finally get the last of the boxes from our move unpacked and readying the house for spring/summer/fall guests. We’re living in a desirable vacation area so anticipate lots of company over the course of those seasons. I joke that we’re going to have to get a booking calendar, but honestly, that might not be a bad idea! lol Have a great week everyone.

  49. I think you did better than you think you did!
    If you are interested in a few other crock pot bean recipes, I highly recommend BudgetBytes.com. Her black bean soup and not refried beans are soooo delicious!

  50. The floral arrangement looks so beautiful!
    I found a cotton curtain panel while thrifting. I will cut it up and hem for everyday napkins .
    My husband rescued a pretty tin from his departments’ trash – it will be re purposed to hold personal mementos.
    I made Brandy’s lemon poppy seed muffins. I was a little shy on the lemon juice, so I used the zest of the lemon to make up for it. They are so tasty.
    Using hair conditioner as a shave gel – it is helping stave off the dry winter skin.
    The super gas station was offering a free Dove chocolate bar (with their free club card), they also had BOGO on large rice crispy treats and I had a free coupon for a donut. All that for $1.29. The candy bar will be a valentine’s day treat for my mom, I gave my dad the donut and the treats are fresh until April, so those will be good-but-bad-for-you breakfast on the go.
    Watched the first season of The Paradise on Netflix (if you like Downtown Abbey or Mr Selfridge, I highly recommend this show.) I see it is on Hulu too.
    Money is really tight and morale is a wee low, so I picked up a novel off the bookshelf and got lost for hours. Luckily, I have a pile of un-read books to get lost in.
    I hope everyone has a fabulous week!

  51. Brandy, is there an Asian supermarket near where you are? I’ve found they consistently sell produce for cheaper without sales – broccoli is always 99cents or less while at other American chain stores, I usually find them for $1.25.

  52. Unless it is completely cloudy with no sunlight every day of the year, a solar oven will work for some part of the year, anywhere. Now, in the PNW where you may have 6 months of clouds, you would have to use it the other six months. It won’t work when it is completely overcast (I tried mine today to confirm that, and it doesn’t do anything with just clouds). However, a partly cloudy day (like yesterday) is fine. We had a break in the clouds this morning and the oven temperature went up during that time. No area is completely cloudy all year long. Even Alaska gets 6 months of sun.

    Though the “ideal” hours are 10-2, they aren’t the only hours it will work. Right now we have sun from 8 to 4. I’ve cooked things from 8 to 12 and again from 12 to 4. From 2 to 4, the sun is low, but the solar oven can be adjusted up and down, and you move it as the sun moves, too. It’s not 375º, but it was 250º, which works just fine for cooking. I cooked beans in the late afternoon last week and a chicken in the afternoon yesterday, when it was partly cloudy. I had a frozen solid chicken that I put in at noon. it was done at 3:50 when I took it out.

    You just have to have sunlight hitting the oven. If your yard is completely shaded, then yes, you will have a problem. Otherwise, you should have some part of the year where the sun shines. You only need a few hours a day!

  53. In regards to your iron, why not check your thrift store for an older model? You could also check out websites like freecycle, etc. I often go to auctions in our area. It is not uncommon to see irons and other household items go really cheap. Often when the elderly pass away or move into care facilities, the family are stuck with all these household items which they already have themselves. They are happy to give them away pretty cheap or free, just to get rid of it!

  54. It is so nice that you have a top-of-the-line solar oven. I have a black pot, a grate, and a solar shade and will try cooking beans using the sun in the summer. All I need is a cardboard box. Hopefully, the next door neighbor’s dog won’t find the food too interesting…..

    When we lost power for over 5 days last winter (with lows around 15 degrees, maybe cooler), our plumbing was saved by having a basement (it didn’t go below 39 degrees down there-whew!), the gas heater in the sun room and the fireplace which was used more to draw the heated air from the sun room into the living room than to actually heat the living room. We turned off the heater and put out the fire at night and put up with the cold because we once knew a person incapacitated permanently by carbon monoxide. But to make hot water and to cook, we used 4-6 tea lights in a metal pan with a cooking rack on top. We used a lot of candles but were able to eat warm food and drink warm beverages. Now I have a supply of the floating wicks that float on cooking oil on top of water for when we lose power again. They are cheaper than the cheapest tea lights.

  55. Rhonda, I watched that documentary too. At first I wasn’t impressed with the 4 college students, but when they showed the natives and their resolve – that has stuck with me.

  56. I think you will do well with your solar oven! There are a lot of ways to do them! If the neighbor’s dog can’t get in your yard you should be fine.

    I think of mine as emergency insurance 🙂

    You are wise to be careful about the carbon monoxide.

    You could make a rocket stove (using a #10 can and two smaller cans is one of the least expensive and most simple ways, but there are other ways that involve welding to produce and even more efficient model) to cook with in emergencies. It won’t heat the house and should be used outdoors for cooking (for carbon monoxide reasons), but it cooks quickly and doesn’t take much fuel because of the design. My husband made a couple of these this month for emergencies as well and he cooked his breakfast on one the other day. Here is the least expensive can version: http://www.pinterest.com/pin/52635889371123271/

  57. Roxie, maybe we live near each other. I’m in Central Texas, and our water district also went up on its rates at the first of the year. Fortunately, I had seen the notice for the increase in water rates, so I got a jump start and have been extra vigilant about using my bath water (I have RA and need warm baths) to flush toilets and clean floors, warm-up water to fill the dog’s water, and the rinse water from the dishes for other kitchen cleaning tasks. We’re empty nesters: it’s harder to cut back when you’re running a home day care, I bet!

  58. Why fix it if you don’t have to? The fuel gauge on my car has been broken for 2 years now. I can afford to fix it; but the car has 300,000 k on it; is it really worth fixing? I just keep a little notebook and pen in the car and make a note of the kilometres and amount of fuel every time I fill up the tank. I drive the same route nearly every week (about 1000 k) and I’m in the habit of filling it up two days a week, so as long as I stay in that habit I’m fine. (I could just about get by with once a week, as my tank holds 45 litres and when I fill it up it’s usually 21 litres each time; but since most of my route takes me through sparsely inhabited places with incredibly limited mobile coverage and two petrol stations both at either end of the route, I’d rather fill it up twice and not have to worry about it.)

  59. Our power company once sent us an outrageously high bill for one quarter – I knew it was outrageously high because we were away for 2 of the 3 months and had turned everything off. When I contacted the power company about it they said that legally they are allowed to ‘guesstimate’ one bill each year, and that the difference would be reflected on the next bill. Sure enough it was. This is in Australia; I don’t know if the law is the same where you are; but it might be worth the phone call. Also if you have an energy ombudsman where you live, if you threaten to take it to the ombudsman that can often get them motivated to do something about it. Good luck!

  60. I wouldn’t have the money to fix brakes either so don’t feel bad. I love Brandi’s website and appreciate so very much her willingness (and the other readers) to help others with our financial woes with frugal suggestions and to uplift us.

  61. We don’t have fences and, given the cost of fencing almost an acre with a dog-proof fence, we won’t anytime soon. So the next neighbor’s not-overly-bright teen-aged dog thinks our yard is his yard (especially fun when the dog thinks we’re invading his master’s turf-I think Fido MAY finally have figured out that somebody throwing stuff in the garbage can might actually live in the house from which she came). I won’t add meat to the beans. That’ll cut down on its appeal.

    I appreciate the link to the very complete instructions for a rocket stove you provided on your Facebook page. On a cold, windy, showery day last fall, I watched a man test his rocket stove at the boat launch in the local state park. He successfully cooked hot dogs and beans for himself and his kids with a handful of twigs in the drizzle.

  62. Brandy I love your Frugal Accomplishments so much. I look forward to them every week. I found thinking of frugal accomplishments and listing them was very motivating. I participate in Wendys My Abundant Life Blog each week and list my accomplishments there as well. I also added a segment to my own blog and called it Feather your Nest Fridays. Each week this helps me add more and more frugal things!
    The last week was very good. We had some expenses to overcome as my husbands work van broke down. I had a lot of free fruit given to me and spent the week making jam, pies, crumbles and all kinds of things. I also found a free new washing machine just when I need one! THe rest of my list was on my blog http://thebluebirdsarenesting.blogspot.com.au/ Many thanks.

  63. Perhaps you can plant a quick growing hedge (say, Texas privet). You can buy some plants and then take cuttings from those to grow more plants. Also, you can try making a living fence from willow cuttings: http://www.frenchgardening.com/postcard.html?pid=13209336231121223

    Here are some more options: http://www.bobvila.com/natural-deterrent/47520-living-fences-11-boundary-setting-solutions/slideshows?is_preview=1#!0

    You can also try making a wattle fence with tree branches. I just watched one being made on the Tudor Farm show on You Tube. They made tall ones. Here is a link to one: https://howdrearytobesomebody.wordpress.com/2011/03/12/wattle-fence/

    Sorry I gave you the Pinterest link earlier and not the direct article link for the rocket stove! I’m glad you got it!

  64. If it were something like the fuel gauge we would probably not bother with it either but since it’s the brakes we will eventually need to get it fixed. It’s a 1996 with almost 200K on it but we use it heavily a good part of the year for hauling things for the garden, dropping brush off at the recycling center and various other chores. For us it is worth fixing because it’s so useful to us and it’s cheaper to fix than buy a new one.:) DH informed me tonight that the brakes didn’t stop working entirely, they just go all the way to the floor before they engage so it might be something as simple as bleeding the break lines which he can do himself when weather gets better. That’d be great if it that’s all it is!

  65. Thanks for the kind words. Brandy is indeed a blessing and the Lord is using her, her blog and the wonderful folks here in my life in a big way right now!

  66. I enjoy reading all the frugal accomplishments of others on here, and check it constantly to see if anyone else has added anything. I think its addictive! LOL. We ate all breakfasts and suppers at home this past week. I take leftovers for lunches to work. I had not really stocked up on groceries since all the great pre-holiday sales in November, other than milk, eggs, and a few misc. things. I didn’t even necessarily do that every week. We did however, go to Sam’s Club, Kroger’s and the Farmer’s Market on Saturday. It was kind of date/outing for us on Saturday morning. We stocked up on some meat, a bit of produce, and other things we were getting low on. I still need to go make a Walmart run this week for small items that I don’t need large quantities of, or that are cheaper at Walmart than Kroger.

    One of our friends invited us to a chili cookoff they were having at their church on Saturday night. We love to make chili, so of course we participated. I also took some leftover honey bun cake that I had in the freezer for dessert. We didn’t place in the contest, but had a fun time visiting and fellowshipping with lots of friends. (Also had leftover chili that I fed my kids and their spouses when they came for weekly supper together on Sunday evening, along with potato soup that I made to supplement). It worked out great because our oldest had requested chili anyway.

    We had our 4th Sunday monthly potluck lunch at church on Sunday. I took chicken and dumplings (actually used turkey broth that I had frozen from our Thanksgiving turkey, instead of chicken broth…couldn’t tell the difference), also took cabbage casserole, corn pudding, white beans, hot and sour soup, blackberry cobbler, sweet and unsweet tea. I know that seems like a lot, but sometimes people only bring one thing, so a few of us have to bring enough to make up for that. I love to cook, and most of the ladies have their favorite dishes to fix that everyone expects to be there, like the dumplings. Most all the ingredients for these dishes I already had on hand in pantry and freezer. We did purchase the cabbage at the farmer’s market and also the ingredients for the Hot and sour soup. My husband loves this when we go to the Chinese Restaurant, so he made a big batch for some to share at church and the rest he froze in individual containers to take care of his craving when it arises. Our local Chinese restaurant has changed owners and its not as good anymore.

    When we walked into Sam’s Club the other day they had a 3-pack of Libby’s canned pumpkin (each 29 ozs.) for 91 cents. I couldn’t believe it, but I certainly got one. I used some to make a batch of pumpkin muffins yesterday morning. I took some to my son’s work for him to share and took some to the hospital to my friend’s mom who is in the hospital for a while. I fixed supper and took to a couple from church last night. She has several issues going on and not able to be out much. I used the rest of the can of pumpkin leftover from making muffins, to make them a pumpkin pie (I found out that is her favorite after I got there). I fixed a roast with carrots and potatoes and split that between our supper and theirs. I also fixed green beans, corn, macaroni and cheese, and jalepeno cornbread sticks. I got a sweet text from her later last night to say it was delicious and that she appreciated it. That was nice of her to say. I have appreciated receiving an occasional supper when we’ve had sickness, etc in the family in times past. I need to do it for others more often.

    Other frugal things this week… sewed up a hole in a nightgown, kept heat turned down and wrapped up more, tried to use less laundry detergent. I have been saving the lint from the dryer and putting it in the empty toilet paper rolls for fire starters, I saw this on here, I think. My husband built a huge smoker last winter, so I thought he could use them when he smokes meat. Another frugal thing was I went to get my hair cut today, and the cost is half price on Tuesdays, so saved on that, plus I don’t get my hair cut very often, so it felt like a splurge! That was nice! I tried a new crockpot recipe today that my husband saw on facebook that used tortellini, spinach, cream cheese, & kielbasa. It was really good, but I don’t think I will do it in the crockpot again. It had said 8 hours on low, but the pasta was really mushy. It was nice to have something different though, and have it ready when I got home.

    Thats all I can think of now. Wishing everyone a good week. Glad to be in Ky and not New York. Hope everyone there had their supplies laid in and don’t have to get out in the horrible snowstorm.

  67. It was another fun frugal week here in Arkansas. Built a fire all week so no heat during the day. It got up to 81 today! So no heat even at night. Made banana bread and muffins from bananas frozen way back in fall. Received FREE milk. My daughters school had small cartons sitting out free for the taking. They had ordered too much. Took home and emptied into a larger container and it was almost a gallon. Huge blessing. Also took 3 small orange juices and 4 packs of mini pancakes. Made breakfast casserole from bread ends left over at work. Made 22 frozen burritos for quick breakfast. Made trail mix with small bits of snacks. Ate all meals but one at home.

    We are moving our family business to a much larger building so my husband has spent many long days remolding it. I have worked more hours than usual so he can be there and not at work. The work is almost done and hopefully this we increase our income some. Woohoo. But the cost to remodel has been a strain. He can pretty much fix anything so we have saved tons by him doing the work himself. I have been gathering stuff from goodwill and garage sales to decorate with for months. In two weeks we should be open. Yay.

  68. It is unseasonably warm here in Northern Colorado and I have been able to have my furnace turned off for the last two days. The house was actually warmer with the windows open than what I keep the thermostat set at. I was able to scrub carpets and have the windows open to dry them. I was out of store bought solution, so I made up a home made version, which worked very well!

    I also bought 60 boxes of pasta, paying either $0.69 or $0.36 per box! I will use this for my family, potlucks, funerals and meals for our employees, which I proved when the weather drops below 0.

    So very grateful to have such a head start on feeding my family for the coming year.

  69. Lori, maybe you should take a picture showing the spot where the now ripped out utility light used to be, & send it to them, with a paragraph about it & copies of the 3 bills on which the charge has been included.

  70. Eleanor,
    I always find that when my grocery budget creeps up, it isn’t necessarily meat. For me, it’s packaged/prepared foods or splurge items. It always amazes me how, right after I leave the grocery store and look over my receipt, I can always find items I could have done without. I don’t buy canned broth, but I bet for you it will be things like that causing the increase. Of course the other thing is that grocery prices just seem to go up overnight. Have you ever tried keeping a price book? That’s been one of the best ways for me to know when to buy certain things and at what store.

  71. Thank you so much for you comments on the seeds. I was at Home Depot and found their seeds. It was almost 70 here today in S. Colorado and spring fever struck. I then went to Dollar Tree and found their 4/$1.00 seeds. We will have a much smaller garden this year and I didn’t want to spend a lot on seeds. $Tree didn’t have a large selection but I picked up a lot of garden (green) bean types. I am still thinking I will get some of my seeds from a great little local (as in 75+ years) seed store for proven varieties.

    And so nice your daughters can go to something special and feel special in their dresses. Those are memories that will last forever.

    And finally – LOVE your mini-break. We are looking at how to have some mini-breaks for the coming year and you are inspiring.

  72. My daughter and I were discussing the movie this last week. We do not have Netflix but I’m hoping we can go to my Aunt’s house and watch it. My daughter has been to Guatemala twice on mission trips and Costa Rica once. Her plans are to finish her nursing degree and work here in the US for a year or so and them move to Central America and use her nursing to do mission work.

  73. Last week, I limited my grocery shopping to produce and dairy as planned and we made most meals at home. I made homemade bread and chocolate chip cookies. I turned the temperature down another degree at night- no one complained so I think I will turn it down another degree this week. I met my Swagbucks goals each day and traded in for another $25 in Amazon gift cards. My mom took me shopping for new clothes for my new job and we went out to lunch- such a fun day! Saturday my daughter and I drove to the town my Dad lives in and had a leisurely breakfast with him- we don’t usually get time with just him (his wife was out of town)- my Dad paid for breakfast so my only expense was gas. We stayed home Sunday and did things around the house- it was nice to have a day where we didn’t drive either car.

  74. That had been my intention because you’re right — I am forever seeing good old irons at the thrift stores (well, I did when I lived in Maryland but haven’t noticed them here in NC) but before I could get to town to look, the fiance came home with a receipt from where he’d purchased me one of those old chrome irons off Etsy. New, older model, never used! It should arrive soon, so hopefully it’ll work perfectly and I can get back to the mountains of linens waiting for me.

  75. Mae, it is definitely something we need to investigate. There is no way we used more electricity in December than the month prior. It was freezing cold in November but unseasonably warm in December, plus during that time we did more weather proofing to keep out drafts, and turned down the space heaters. We don’t even have any central heat at the moment so it’s not like we’re keeping the whole house at a toasty 70° or anything. In fact, my kitchen is a freezing cold 40 degrees or less, which makes it very hard to cook and use my hands. I need to remind the man to call the power company and deal with this, as I’m not listed on the account yet.

  76. My children often see me making gifts for them. We don’t do Santa so that’s not a worry and I don’t work years ahead…being a homeschool mama with lots of little ones, I don’t end up with a lot of time to myself. Usually, they see things in the beginning stages and I do the finishing touches when they are away or in bed. So they may have some idea of what I’m making, but never see the finished project. I also often pick up gifts in good condition at thrift stores or clearance items to tuck away for the future. By combining those strategies I was just able to give my two year old 8 gifts for his birthday for a total of $22 spent.

  77. I didn’t do a lot of frugal things this past week, but I did keep on top of tracking our expenditures. We’re trying to both pay off our credit card and rebuild our savings after a couple of major expenditures, so I’ve gone into “hyper tracking mode” and am back to writing down every penny. I have a big spreadsheet I use to track budget vs. expenses and I updated it every morning.

    My husband and I went away for the weekend with family – we did eat dinners out but we all brought something to contribute to breakfast and lunch so other than the house rental expenses were minimal. It’s our Christmas gift to each other so most of it came out of my gift budget (I transfer money every week all year long into a savings account for gifts to spread the cost of Christmas and birthdays (which are all bunched together in both our families) throughout the year).

    Our neighbor gave my daughter about six pairs of shoes she had outgrown. Hopefully I won’t have to buy anything but PE shoes for the next year or so.

    I ate leftovers for lunch every day, and my husband took them a few times, too.

    I cashed in Ibotta credit for an Amazon gift card.

    That’s about it – this week will be much more frugal as we’re mostly just staying home!

  78. That solar oven looks amazing! I’m completely snowed in here in New England, so it’s nice to have all these great comments to read.

    Last week, I found tons of amazing deals like $0.88 cereal, $0.81 Finish dish tabs, free pens, pain gel, and an orange. I also redeemed 3 awards at Panera and got coffee, a cinnamon roll, and a Broth Bowl for less than $5.00! But my biggest find was 75% off Pajamas at Target. I needed new ones and I’ve been waiting until I found a sale. Usually, it’s $24.99 a pair and I found them for $5.98! Full details of all my transactions and pics here: http://thejewishlady.com/super-savings-saturday-12415/

    Stay frugal, ladies!

  79. I have a question. I am in serious trouble with my spending habits. I make enough money but I really need to do something about getting out of this situation or it is going to become dire. I know I need to make a budget but where do I start with food. I usually spend a lot of money on our food. The storage we have consists of food that you put water with. It’s not the most desirable. If you had $40 to spend each week what would you spend it on and what other things should I get started on so I can get out of this mess? I have a family of 5. Thank you.

  80. Thanks so much Jenifer! That sounds perfect!

    I have just been getting so frustrated with our high monthly grocery bill, since I try so hard to keep it in check.

  81. Week 1/19-25
    Some days were good this week while others seemed like a total fail. But after reading a post on another blog, I realized this isn’t a contest, it is about balance. And I should not feel bad that I spent some money on junk food, camping reservations (I did get a discount because I asked if they had a discount for being disabled like national parks offer), and fuel to travel. I think the $100 or so we spent was well worth the quality family time we shared. My husband and daughter went to The Little White House while I stayed at the camper since I had already been before and it’s quite a bit of walking and I can’t hold up for too much of that. My daughter did a 6 mile round trip hike to a fall. She and I did our first Geocaching and had a good time.
    *the normal cooking meals and making lunches for husband and daughter
    *combined errands (it is about 12 miles to make a trip from my house to both grocery stores and drug store and back home, but like I said, balance)
    *husband worked MLK day so he should get an extra 8 hours straight pay this week.
    *I found a ring while out Christmas shopping and took it to a local pawn shop. I knew it wasn’t worth much, but I got $15 for selling it as scrap gold.
    *vacuumed my truck at home instead of paying to use a car wash vacuum.
    So frugal friends, don’t beat yourself up. Life is short. Enjoy that cup of coffee every once in a while and just remember how much we DO have.

  82. We majorly overspent on a lot of things this past week, so this week will be geared toward getting back on track. Thankfully, work is picking up for my husband! I am so thankful! One frugal thing we did was a simple second birthday party for our fifth child. I wrote about it on my blog.

  83. I know I’ll be going against public opinion, but honestly I never strain the fat of any of our broths we make. (I don’t see the point!) I strain the broth while it is still warm and put it in the fridge to cool slightly, then portion out into freezer containers ranging from 1 to 2 cups, label and freeze. We’ve never had a problem with the fat in the broth, it adds taste and helps fill you up! I know people are on low-fat crazes but it is proven that eating fat won’t make you fat, so we happily eat it!

  84. Yes, reading the site on a Kindle can be problematic. That is how I normally read, now I try to use the laptop. The problem I have is 1) the Kindle is all touch screen and 2) the blog is divided into pages rather than one continuous read. This results in much reloading of content and paging over the same beginning. Plus as you know with touch screen if you linger a speck too long it will load what was under your finger as if that is what you wanted. So I am constantly having to close out side items that opened by mistake because my finger caught them. Otherwise, when using laptop or a desktop I have no problems and overall the site is beautiful and easy to use.

  85. The gifts I make are little – not terribly time consuming. I’m too impatient for that. It also helps, when I’m working years in advance, to make very general things instead of specific things (e.g. no clothes, because I can’t guarantee they’d be the right size or style). I work outside the home but can often find time to work on things at work too . . . not sewing; but things like, whip up a calendar for the kids for Christmas, or print out a set of bookmarks.

    You’re right, by making a few things, shopping clearance, and buying some things used, it’s not hard to give a child a lot of presents without much of an outlay. Of course, if someone else would rather focus on quality over quantity or feels it’s not necessary to have lots of presents, I respect that they’ve made the right decision for their family.

  86. Mary Ann – good for you to ask the question and for reading this blog. Seeing you have a problem is really the first step. I had to start doing things differently with my food budget. So in January, I took out cash for what I wanted to spend this month. I put the cash and a small notebook in a pencil case. I have only been using that cash at the grocery store and writing down everything I’ve been spending all month. And by everything, I mean every penny spent anywhere, not just the grocery . The amazing result in the grocery store is how mindful I am of shopping. With only a few days left in the month, I have money left over. I will put this ‘extra’ money into a separate jar. I am saving for something and will wait until I have the cash in hand to make the purchase.

    As to what I would spend the $40 on would be to stock up slowly on items that I use when I see them on sale. When I had kids at home, I was always looking for sales of PB or tuna. I would buy one or two extra jars or cans when a good sale came along.

  87. Mary Ann, there are several things you can do. I’ll start with one.

    First, you didn’t say how many people you are feeding for $40 a week, nor if you have food in your fridge, freezer, and pantry right now. That will obviously affect what you do. I’m going to assume that you at least have some meat in your freezer, some canned vegetables on your shelves, some spices and a few staples on your shelves, and some condiments in your fridge. Most people have those.

    Now, with $40 a week, I would start by buying rice and beans in the biggest bags you can. If you only have one store in your area and they have a 10 pound bag of each and that’s the biggest, then get that. If you have lots of other food on hand, get the 20 or 25 pound bag of rice (most stores carry that much).

    You can make rice and beans, stir fry over rice, cinnamon and sugar over rice for breakfast, and soup with rice.

    The beans can be used for rice and beans, and in soups.

    Fill in the rest of your $40 budget with some eggs, fruits and vegetables, oats, a large (2.2 pound) container of Knorr chicken bullion. Use the bullion for your soups and also to flavor rice.

    The second week, stock up on a big bag of flour (25 pounds), yeast in bulk, some salt, and another kind of beans, plus at least one more bag of the kind you bought the last week. Now you can start making bread (flour, salt, water, and yeast) to go with your meals. Buy a large container of Knorr Tomato bullion this time; it makes for a fantastic rice to go with your beans.

    The third week, I would buy a gallon of oil, baking soda and powder to make quick breads, such as muffins. Then fill in the rest with fruits and vegetables on sale and some meat on sale.

    I devote my main priority to the bulk items, and then I fill in from there. As you build up your pantry, you’ll be able to buy the larger quantities of beans and oats to save you even more money per pound.

    Simple beans and rice, soups, and homemade breads are immediate meals that you can make that are very inexpensive.

    Check out my Eat for 40 Cents a Day series, as well as my post on How to Eat Beans every Day for some ideas on how to get started, as well as my seasonal menus (under “cook” in the main menu). http://theprudenthomemaker.com/blog?view=entry&id=330

  88. Not sure if you would want to upset the apple cart but whenever we have a pot luck (family or book club or church) we go by the At Least One Item Per Adult rule and there is always plenty. Some people love to cook and bring more than one per adult but no one needs to bring extra and there is always plenty. It is just a simple little rule that we use.

  89. Holly, do you not have leash laws in your area? Even if you don’t, I think it would be reasonable for you to ask your neighbor to keep his dog confined and off of your property. I know it’s so important to maintain good relations with neighbors, but if you approached them in the right manner maybe you would have success. IMO It’s not right that you should have to build a fence to protect your property!

  90. Yes, brakes are somewhat important in a car . . . Still, if you have other modes of transportation, there’s no real rush in fixing it. I hope it is a cheap, easy fix – that’d be wonderful news!

  91. Brandy, I made your taco soup which everybody found delicious. I ended up with leftover soup for my younger son and I to eat for a couple of lunches this week. This soup extends very well, I found, and so with only enough soup left for one medium sized bowl, I cut up a medium potato and boiled it with water to cover, added a bit more taco mix, and added two small cans of V-8 juice from my pantry. When the potato was cooked, I added the original leftover taco soup, and [i]voila[/i], I had enough soup for 4 servings! It was STILL YUMMY!

    I don’t know what you do with the soup that cooks out of the black beans. Because your recipe called for just the black beans, I discarded the first bean soup. However, in the future, I will save the black bean soup and some of the beans to make a common southwestern dish -beans and cornbread – and then take some of the beans out to use in the taco soup. That way, we will increase the number of meals obtained from the one recipe.

    Thanks for the taco soup recipe. It is delicious!

  92. I love experimenting in the garden! The seeds I planted in the cold frames the other day were from the Dollar Store because I know I may not get much this time of year, even under a cold frame, and I won’t feel like I’m out much money if they fail.

  93. I wish we’d done something similar when our kids were small. Now that we have two grandsons, and the empty nest, we only buy books for the grands with the occasional extra something. Let the parents do the heavy lifting. And, funny thing, just yesterday my son mentioned how his son has too much stuff. So, there’s hope for the next generation to be more frugal; at least at our house!

  94. hi Brandy,
    great job this week.
    thanks for posting your meatless chili recipe. I know it must be perfected, because I remember a while ago you were experimenting with one, and it was a total disappointment. I can’t wait to try this one! I’ve always had success with your recipes.
    You may already have this type of thing going on, but I thought I saw somewhere you were hoping to find hot chocolate mix on sale?!
    I like this recipe from Mavis at One Hundred Dollars a Month (she credits Alton Brown with the original)
    but it seems frugal, and you probably have all of these items on hand:

    2 cups powdered sugar
    1 cup cocoa (Dutch-process preferred)
    2 1/2 cups powdered milk
    1 teaspoon salt
    2 teaspoons cornstarch
    1 pinch cayenne pepper, or more to taste
    Hot water


    Sift all ingredients in a mixing bowl to incorporate evenly and store in an airtight container until ready to use. Ready for some hot cocoa now? Just fill up your favorite mug with warm water or milk, and 2 heaping tablespoons of cocoa mix, stir and drink up!

    This recipe makes 5 1/2 cups of mix.

    Anyways, a cup of this would hit the spot here today. A winter warm front brought us freezing rain for the last 3 days here in Manitoba. yuck. I hate wet cold. Plus I’m kind of bummed because we just polished off the last of everything I put up in September. Our onions, carrots, potatoes, acorn squash, pickles (for tartar sauce) and Walleye (we call this fish Pickerel, but same thing). I’m happy that you can grow “something” edible almost all the time. Take Care

  95. You might also be able to sell your extra produce through Craigslist. Also check into locals who do farmer’s markets and offer to add your produce – perhaps even for an exchange/barter for other produce.

    To echo others – one of the joys of Brandy’s blog is that it is so open – no one judges and each of us walks our own journey. It was freeing to me as well to write about what is going on in my life and share the triumphs and failures of living abundantly frugal.

  96. You hit the problem PERFECTLY! I too have started using the laptop to read the site and have no issues, and I agree, the newer site is beautiful!

  97. Augason Farms is having a sale this week of their 72-hour pails that include food, a stove, and some other emergency supplies.

  98. I just wanted to let Pam and Holly know that while leash laws aren’t the “norm” for country folk, there are usually nuisance pet laws. Lots of city people assume leash laws apply everyone and that simply that the case, well think about working dogs… My folks are in Ca with fencing, just not dog proof fencing and some neighbor dogs menacing them, after calling animal control to find out the laws they had a frank talk with said neighbor about the law and consequences to continued bad dog behavior. If the dog is not menacing just knocking over trash and stealing food left outside, their might not be any good options, at least not if you want any semblance of good neighbor relations.

  99. Exactly. That’s why it’s still sitting in the driveway for now. So grateful for our other cars. They have some age on them but they are paid off and working fine. 🙂

  100. Your question is a rather interesting one, as everyone’s answer will be different. I have found that my frugality has been a progression as I adapted from my old habits to new, more frugal ones. Our biggest problem when I first started was that we ate out quite a bit. So our first step was to start finding meals to eat at home. For example, we would buy frozen pizza instead of ordering it. Tasty convenient foods from the grocery store slowly replaced the meals out. Using coupons was also included in this step, which I combined with sales to get great deals. I started to stock up on those items which slowly decreased my grocery spending needs.

    As I progressed, I started to realize I could make things for cheaper than the “convenience foods” I was buying at the grocery store. I would find recipes to try and when I found one we liked, it would be added to the list of meals we rotated through. Ideas of meals I make that we all enjoy are lasagna, shepherds pie, stir fry (the link to the recipe I used is included with my previous frugal accomplishments comment), various soups, and stew. Every family has things they enjoy, so do some research for things you know for family would enjoy. I have a bread machine, which I hadn’t used in years. I started using it again to make home-made bread to go with some of our meals and to make pizza dough for home-made pizza. That’s pretty much were I am right now, still trying things out and adding new frugal ideas to my routine.

    To answer your question, I would suggest making a meal plan. Take a good look at what you already have in your cupboards and make a list of meals that you can make from your pantry for the next week. You need 7 breakfasts, lunches and dinners for your family of 5. If you need convenience meals during the week, try taking some time on your day off to make some quick grab items. For example, make a bunch of pancakes and freeze them. They are cheap, filling and you can pop them in the toaster. If you have muffin mixes, make some up, wrap them individually and pop them in the freezer for quick grab lunch/snack item. Make up a package of instant pudding or jello in reusable containers for another lunch item or a nice treat one night. Don’t be afraid to think outside the box.

    Next define how much money you are willing to commit to your weekly grocery budget. With this in mind, look at the sale flyers to fill in the gaps. Pay close attention to items that can be stretched over multiple meals and are healthy for your family, such as fruit and veggies. A bag of carrots can be used with dinner, cut up for kids lunches and used to make carrot muffins or cake (note: baby carrots are far more expensive, so save money by peeling and cutting them yourself). If there are some items that are on sale at a really good price that you know your family will use regularly AND you have the money within your set budget, buy a few extras (such as pasta or pasta sauce).

    Use some of your grocery money to buy some staples that can be used beyond one week. Brandy has made an excellent list of these items in her response. They will give you many options over the next few weeks as you repeat this process over and over each week. Be careful to only buy things that you know your family will eat. If you’re not sure and want to experiment, only buy a small amount to try. It’s not frugal if you find out that your family doesn’t like beans and you just bought a 20 lb bag.

    Once you have made your list, take cash only with you to the grocery store and only buy what you have on your list. This will be difficult, so be strong and be prepared for those moments of weakness. We all have those moments, so you needn’t feel like a failure if things don’t go as well as planned. Practice makes perfect…if there is such thing as being perfect. I find I always come out of the grocery store with more than I planned, so now I try to go only once every two weeks for groceries. It works just better for my spending habits.

    As you progress, you will discover new ways to make your money stretch. Pay close attention to prices and over time you will learn when an item is at a really good stock up price and/or what store has the best regular price per volume. Start collecting coupons for things you buy regularly and pair them with sales for an even better savings. This will take time, and your progress will be different than others. That’s OK, so don’t lose hope. There are many people who comment here that have been on this journey for a while. I use their comments for inspiration and ideas of things I can incorporate into my frugal routine. Eventually you will find that you too will get your spending more under control.

  101. I always enjoy reading these frugal posts! I agree with the earlier commenter who said they previously would have been ashamed to say they didn’t have money to fix something on a car, but it is so welcoming/judgment-free here. I personally find it so helpful & encouraging to read what everyone else is doing.

    This past week was pretty frugal for us. I made an effort to line-dry all of our laundry instead of using our dryer (since our electric bill went up $30 last month, and my husband loves to use the dryer). I hung out 2 loads this morning before I left for work! We also stocked up on pantry goods at Albertson’s during one of their big “cash in your quarters” sales. Got salt & lots of canned tomatoes/tomato sauce for 25 cents, pasta for 75 cents, and a few other items. Hit a nice clearance sale on meat at Albertson’s as well, and picked up a whole chicken, Cornish hens, and some boneless chicken thigh filets. We reorganized our pantry at home and dedicated one of our old coat closets to a storage pantry, which worked out wonderfully. Now we are able to see everything we have, keep it all in one place, and rotate it out so nothing goes bad or expires. We also cooked all of our meals at home, out of our pantry & freezer stock. We always bring our lunches/snacks to work, so no $$$ there.

    Warmer weather here (north Texas) has enabled us to turn our heater off for several days, and even have the windows open for a few. I enjoy saving the money, but also love the fresh air in the house. We are supposed to be cold & rainy again this weekend, though, so I’m sure we’ll have to go back to the heater, at least for a few days. Crazy that the NE was getting hit with a huge snowstorm, and it was 80 here.

    We replaced a leaking bathroom faucet (costing us money on water bills & gas, since it was the hot water leaking), and paid for all the parts using my Paypal card at Home Depot. Paypal is how I get paid from my 2nd job, so technically this was no “out of pocket” for us. I withdrew some of my Paypal earnings to contribute to our monthly budget. We were also able to set aside several hundred in savings for our vacation in March.

  102. This is such fantastic, real-life advice. I just reread your 40 cents a day series for more inspiration. Things are a bit more challenging in my house as one person cannot have gluten and 2 people cannot have eggs. I guess that means we eat even more rice and oats, but that can be hard after a while! Gluten free flours are so expensive.

  103. Tina, homemade brownies are easy and delicious! Now if I could just get the whole family to agree on nuts or no nuts. I think they do it on purpose so I make 2 batches.

  104. I like broccoli stalks raw. I also slice and use in vegetable soup. In summer I grate them and add to cabbage for a broccoli cole slaw. I freeze a lot of broccoli in the summer for using in soups, casseroles, quiches etc. But I like to buy fresh every week or so for a stir fry or a broccoli salad. The last time I was there it was 1.99! I thought that was awful and that was with the stems, which I buy. Crowns were higher. Now I walked through the store this week and they were 2.99 a pound.

  105. Elaine and Becky, where we are peas go in first while the ground is still cool and then when they are done/almost done we follow with beans in the nicely warmed ground. For outside planting that is still 3 months away for the peas, at least. Though it may be earlier this year with my daughter’s addition of hoop house.

  106. Laurie, that is so great you are encouraging the mason bees. We do too. They are such good pollinators, and friendly too, it you can call a bee friendly. At least not aggressive. I was so sad to read on a blog a couple years ago of a woman saying she had the exterminator out to kill her bees because they scared her daughter.

    I read over to your blog. I see you make soap. My daughter started with goats last year and she thought she wanted to do cheese but has not gotten that far yet, so has been selling the milk to a woman that makes soap. We have some bars and they are very nice.

  107. A 72 hour kit is a very good idea, for anyone, anywhere. We are basically self-sufficient where we are so we could stay in place during a protracted storm or other natural disaster. But a number of years ago our whole area was evacuated due to a train derailment and we had to leave ASAP. We did not have them then, we do now. We did not have to go to shelters as some did as we all went to relatives outside the area.

  108. I always think about the money we save just because we don’t do something. We don’t wear jewelry so there is another place where I have not spent any money over the years. (It’s a religious/cultural thing for us).

  109. Ellie, we do it your way also. I strain it well and freeze in quarts. I seldom use less than one quart at a time. But for anyone with a cholesterol problem I suppose they might want to remove all or some of the fat.

  110. Ashlee, there is a blog Amish America and you can find the stores there. They have lots of links or you can just ask and you will get the information from someone who reads the blog and knows. I know of a couple as we have relatives there. There is one in Kalona.

  111. Eleanor, congratulations on your bread making. Bread should stay soft and fresh just in a plastic bag, on the counter. If you refrigerate it drys out quicker. We use a serated bread knife , quite long. About a 10″ blade. You want to have the blade long enough that the end does not disappear into the loaf while cutting. Also only saw, do not push down while slicing.

  112. Janell, my 2nd daughter has similar interests as yours. She has been on mission trips also to Mexico where our church has missionaries and to Costa Rica. She is almost done with her nursing degree and she is fluent in Spanish now, between classes and actually living in a Spanish speaking area and being able to use the language.

  113. I have never heard of The Paradise. I will have to look for it. I am seriously behind on Downton Abbey and I keep hearing and reading spoilers. Apparently people feel once they have seen it they are free to blurt out whatever 🙁 I will try to get back to it.

    We have been watching the show LEVERAGE on Hulu and enjoying it immensely. There are 5 seasons and it is about 7 years old. I don’t know if it is available with the subscription only or on the free portion. It appeals to the 2 of us and my youngest college ager and even to my husband’s developmentally disabled older brother. He doesn’t really follow the plot but he likes the action.

  114. We have regular potlucks at our church too. We do not require items to be brought to attend. Of course members always do, and do bring a goodly large portion. But occasionally people forget, plus some members live in assisted living type places where they don’t cook. Visitors are always invited to stay and attend without any contribution. We have never run out of food.

  115. Taking baby steps towards saving money has really worked for me with occasional big moments of change. After reading this blog as well as other sites, I decided to make homemade turkey noodle soup a few weeks ago, and it was great. Then I bought a Rosemary plant ;). Baby steps. Tomorrow homemade chicken noodle soup. We are now eating 99 percent of our meals at home, and it gets easier with practice for sure. Thanks to everyone for posting, on days like today when I was looking for an excuse to go out for dinner, reading this string got me out of my chair and defrosting cooked beans and ham. Brandy, your advice above to Mary Ann was really insightful and clearly written, thank you.

  116. I love your story of “progression.” I have done the same thing as you did with eating out, to convenience foods, to cooking from scratch. We made a similar progression with sodas and drinks and really with all of our frugality – we just keep finding ways to cut. Calculating the cost of different meals is a real eye-opener also and I try to make the meals that cost the least more often and save other meals for occasional treats.

    The other thing I would add is to concentrate on not wasting anything. I remember that anytime I use more than I really need to (shampoo, soap, etc) or throw away food – that’s money in the garbage.

  117. When we were evacuated due to bushfires a couple of years ago, we went to stay with relatives too; when we got back we were given a prepaid Visa card with a hefty amount on it as compensation. I was like, “Dang, I wish they’d evacuate us more often!”

  118. Our youth group has a chili cook off to raise funds for missions each year and we usually get about 30 entries. They put a canning jar in front of each crockpot and you drop money in for your vote. It’s coming up in March; always a nice time for a hot bowl of chili.

  119. Mary Ann, for sure keep reading this blog as there are so many good ideas and recipes here. My advice would be to immediately stop spending money on food. Since you said your problem is spending too much I feel that your cupboards, fridge and freezer are probably full. For now, just buy milk and eggs. And use the eggs in recipes where they stretch further like making a whole batch of pancakes with one or two eggs rather than scrambling up six that don’t serve as a meal alone.

    If you need bread, make it. Very few people do not have flour,oil and salt….if you don’t have yeast than make baking powder biscuits and buy yeast. But not the little strips, buy the biggest container you can. Check out the book THE HOMEMADE PANTRY:101 FOODS YOU CAN STOP BUYING AND START MAKING by Alana Chernila. She has similar recipes to Brandy’ s but if you are not a comfortable cook/baker she has very step by step instructions and pictures. But I also think you could be successful just using the recipes here.

    If your children are younger they may be easier but on the other hand if they are older you should be able to sit them down and reason with them and tell them just how it will be for now. I hope you have oatmeal in the cupboard as cooking a kettle of it each day will be a good habit to start with. Add frozen fruit from the freezer or canned from the cupboard. Do you like poptarts? The book has a recipe for those also.

    Make a running grocery list and find a bulk store in your area. Avoid packaged and processed when possible. I feel sick sometimes looking at what people are filling their shopping carts with and feeding their children. I am a firm believer in cooking from scratch so you need to build up your staples and Brandy shows you how to do that. When you buy milk also pick up a small container of a good plain yogurt so you are ready to make it yourself.

    I was born frugal, born into generations of frugal people, so I really know no other way. But you can become frugal like so many people on this list, improving every day.
    I pick up hints from here all the time.

  120. The week goes by so fast that I always miss making an entry. This is for a few weeks again. Gas hit $1.90 as lowest price here but flew back up to $2.05 in 2 days.

    We’ve had a quiet January, no traveling, no funerals, weddings etc. Worked on Valentine cards. I use recycled card fronts that I glue to pink or white card stock to make a blank card .. I make envelopes out of white typing paper. They are all stamped and addressed and I write the letters as I find time. Did the usual things of drying clothes on hangars and drying rack, combining trips, packing lunches, using up leftovers, cooking from scratch.

    Mended pair of husband’s work pants by taking good pieces off an otherwise goner pair to patch a relatively good pair. (Before accident) Advised youngest on sewing a decorative pillow for her bed. Husband’s brother wanted one too so I let him pick out some fabric. I didn’t have a spare pillow form so we really just made a slip cover to fit over an existing pillow. He will not know the difference and we will just take it off when he moves to next relative. Should he become real attached to it , I will watch for chance to get a sale one at Joanns and then he can take the whole pillow with him.

    I had a small accident at work. I caught my foot and fell onto left hand, spraining the wrist. But unfortunately I was holding a CD case in my hand and that broke. The plastic jewel case cut the palm of my hand. So a splint and some steri-strips and I’m typing one handed for awhile. Olivia and Eliana have been doing cooking, cleaning, most of it. Husband as been packing my lunch. Son in law has been taking me to work on way to his office in the morning and some one shows up for me after school. There was some worry at first about my shoulder but tests were negative. I’d had a replacement of that shoulder joint.

    Cooked mostly from scratch. Nephew and his girlfriend joined us for dinner one night and brought 2 pints of ice cream and family size order of onion rings to go with the sloppy joes and salad my daughter made. We made tuna sandwich filling, mock tuna filling, spaghetti sauce, home made pizza, white bread and rye bread, waffles, pumpkin pudding, cranberry nut bread, butterscotch pudding. I had my daughter use meals out of the freezer also. I had lunch at Homemakers meeting. We had game night at church with ice cream sundaes. We were supposed to all bring toppings. We brought cubed up brownies.

    Read a couple books, some old National Geographics, watched Hulu, listened to radio shows on public radio. Washed cars on a warm day where it reached 38F .


  121. Mostly everyone does bring at least one dish. We do have some older people not able to cook anymore and some single men who don’t cook, and thats perfectly understandable. Fellowship meals are a time to share our blessings with others, so nobody cares whether every single person brings anything or not. And of course, we always hope we have visitors to our worship services, and we want them to stay to get to know them better. I grew up hearing to “bring enough to feed your family.” Now we are empty nesters, but I’d feel strange if I didn’t take plenty of extra stuff. We also use the leftovers, sometimes, to fix “to go” boxes for shut-ins or members that are sick. Also it’s nice if older people living alone fix a plate for their supper so they don’t have to cook just for themselves in the evening. We are all so blessed to be able to have good food and enjoy fellowship with our fellow Christians.

  122. Whenever we have roast chicken, I put the carcass in a crockpot, add onion skins, carrot and celery tops and a couple of bouillon cubes for richness, then I cover with water, put on low and cook for up to 24 hours. If my husband does not beg me for soup ( the smell is glorious), I pick the bones for meat bits and freeze the meat bits and the broth separately. It is very hard to use boxed or canned broth once you have had this.

  123. Ellis, the only reason I remove the fat is because I am canning the broth. I saved all the fat rendered from our Christmas goose & put it in clean jars in the fridge & freezer. It makes delicious fried potatoes.

  124. Athanasia, that is great. Sounds like our girls have their lives planned. You have a very unusual (at least to me) name. I like it. I’ve seen it one other time. A friend of mine has someone on her Facebook friends with that name.

  125. Yes, we got to turn in expense receipts. Some people had pretty big ones as farmers couldn’t get into their animals for days. Our business was in the area too, so that was shut down for the duration.

  126. Vicky, perfect description…your potlucks sound just like ours.

    We have one really sweet older gentleman, now in his 80’s that lost his wife about 8 years ago, no children. He proudly brings in her signature casserole dish for each potluck…he was so funny the first time. Her recipe of course was not complete or detailed as many of our recipes are when we know them by heart, so he put a warning sign on it! He has worked at it over the years and he feels he can now make it almost as good as hers. Before this, he never even cooked at all…she did everything.

  127. So sorry to hear about your accident! Luckily it didn’t affect your shoulder – I hope you are back to 100% very soon!

  128. My challenge for the latter part of the week has been cooking without making a lot of leftovers, as we are taking our annual “anniversary/vacation” trip, leaving this weekend. It’s been mostly Florida the past few years, as it’s the closest WARM place we can get to. I have done all right–we have leftover spaghetti and meatballs and a couple bratwurst and rolls. I think that will make a fine dinner tomorrow evening, and I still have salad makings as well. My daughter will take the rest of the fresh things from the fridge to her house when she comes to care for the cat. And she will get me at least some fresh milk before we get back—I can make bread in the machine and the pantry and freezer are well stocked for when we return. We have not eaten dinner out since Dec. 27th, although I did go to lunch twice–with my friend and with my sisters –but the lunch with my sisters was a birthday treat for me so I didn’t pay. It has been so cold it was not trouble to stay in. (We did get take out sub sandwiches one night.) So on our trip, eating out will be even more appreciated than usual! Still learning new things after just about 53 years married, thanks to all of you. My gratitude to you all.

  129. Hi! Last week was our crazy time of the month at my job, so the week is a bit of a blur, especially since both Darling and I were sick with the terrible cold that has been spreading like wildfire. Thankfully we had some cold medicine, honey and lemon left over from the last round, so we didn’t have to buy as much, though we did have to buy some some extra towards the end of the week.

    Anyhoo, as for frugal accomplishments, I tossed what had appeared to be an awesome coupon for Pizza Hut that I had been saving for Whirlwind of Misery Week at work. (This is the only time of the month we’ll splurge on a meal of take out or In-n-out, which I consider a real treat. To justify the splurge, I save it for that particular week, when I am exhausted and harassed. This way it also serves as a reward.) I decided to read the reviews on yelp, and they were disastrous, so I tossed the coupon and made us some really great pizzas from Boboli crusts, and roasted veggies for the toppings. We enjoyed it while watching Two Broke Girls, which then gave me a craving for cupcakes, lol!

    A coworker graciously treated me to Chinese for lunch to thank me for helping him ship some items, as he doesn’t have a secretary. It was great to get out of the office and have some company, and lunch out is a treat I do miss sorely! I enjoy the change of scenery and like seeing people out and about. The portions were generous, so I ate about a third and doggie bagged the remainder, which I gave to Darling for his lunch the next day.

    Darling and I caught up on some more Breaking Bad on Netflix, which we’re both enjoying very much! We also browsed book store sites to plan for our next story hour book. He picked out an old Sidney Sheldon I’d never had a chance to finish, and will order a used hardcover from Amazon when I get paid.

    For our Going Out date last weekend, we went to our favorite bakery to pick up some of the cupcakes Two Broke Girls had me craving, thanks to their subliminal messages to keep me plump as a partridge, ha ha. chocolate salted caramel cupcakes, worth every bite, (plus a Bavarian cream puff for Darling, who loves whipped cream.) ten dollars for the box, plus a large lemonade from Drive thru. We had a dessert picnic at out favorite park, since it was such a pretty day, and we whiled the afternoon playing rummy and strolled through their garden and gazebo.

    Have a great weekend, everybody, and God bless!

  130. Once a week, I throw a bag of leg quarters( with water to cover) in my large crockpot in the morning. Sometimes, I throw a carrot and a onion in, sometimes a few bay leaves and rosemary from the garden; in the evening in pick the meat and strain the broth. I always buy the 8 lb bag when they are less than .50#(that’s my stock up price). So for less than $4 I have enough meat for several meals and almost a gallon of stock all for about 10 minutes of work.

  131. Hi Ashley – we too had lovely weather here in S. Colorado. It was so lovely to have the windows open – even washed as many as I could. Curious as to where you found your pasta so cheap. We eat a lot of pasta and currently I have quite a bit. But it lasts for a long time so I am always happy to pick up more. i too use it for potlucks and feeding groups. Last year we had a number of people working for us during Sept and Oct – a number of them young men with very hearty appetites. I would make ‘chili mac’, spaghetti and pasta salad to go with hamburgers and hotdogs.

  132. Thanks for your continued inspiration…so helpful.
    This week….
    -Kept lights and appliances off.
    -Cut up apples that were past their prime, froze them, have been adding to my steelcut oatmeal.
    -Making some pillows, rather then purchasing fabric, had some large pillow shams-made from 100% cotton, took them completely apart and the fabric is perfect to quilt the tops and use for the back.
    -Used thermos to take soup for lunch 3 days this week.
    -Found a mistake on our cell phone bill, 5th month in a row, got it adjusted and confirmed.
    -Went walking with girl friends in the halls of the local high school-cost nothing.
    -Bought chicken using a “in-store credit” and save over $11.00.
    -Renewed our public library cards.
    Good Week.
    -Touched up painted walls in the living room, had a few scratches.

  133. So inspired by this blog…
    -Reviewed our phone bill, found major errors, got them removed.
    -Repurposed some 100% cotton white large pillow shams I had for fabric. I am making quilt blocks that will be for two new pillows. I try to repurpose fabric whenever possible and have found some real treasures. Also, took old large bed pillows, cut them in half to use as pillow forms.
    -Chicken breast were on special for .99/pound, store was out, asked for a rain check. After the sale they were 2.00/lb. Made my purchase and that little rain check saved me $11.35.
    -It was time to update one of the bedrooms in our home, our grown children had both moved back after college and now are married/engaged and moved out getting established. So for $88.00 we removed the carpeting, refinished the hard wood floor, painted, added new bedspreads, two throw pillows, and I sewed window treatments. I used Kohl’s cash for the bedspreads, 30% off, and gift cards-even used free shipping, never saw them in the store I go to.
    -Went to the dentist, decided to pause and look at options regarding a procedure. Glad I waited much clearer when you’re not sitting in the chair. Will have a tooth pulled, rather than have more problems and spend more money.
    -Did not get a rebate for a purchase-got notice I didn’t submit something-which I did. Emailed the company. In the mail was my $15.00 rebate-YES!
    Snow is falling here in the midwest, got 5″ and lots of wind. Planning to make a pot of chicken soup and a blueberry pie with berries I froze last summer and watch the Superbowl.

  134. Congratulations on your 53 year anniversary. I want to be able to say that. We are on 24 this year. Have fun on your trip. I don’t know where you live, but if you happen to be traveling down I-75 through Georgia, I live in a small town just south of Macon. So honk and wave 🙂

  135. So true, Rhonda!

    I would add — don’t buy large quantities of food that you know you will never eat. For example, there are no lentils in my food storage. Yuck 😉

  136. I have baked bread in my sun oven (southern NV), in the summer when it is not cloudy and it works fine. I suppose it would work in the winter if I got it outside soon enough and there were no clouds. My bread pans are dark black and absorb the heat better than the shiny pans.

  137. Thank you Jennifer. It could have been worse, I suppose, since I landed on the carpet and didn’t hit tables or anything hard on the way down.

  138. Thank you Janell. I make mock tuna for my youngest in place of tuna . It’s just like tuna filling for a sandwich…diced celery, minced onion and pickle relish, mayonnaise. Except I mash cooked garbanzo beans and mix that in rather than tuna.

  139. My family used to do that to me too! However – I out foxed them! Now I press nuts into half the batter once I have the brownies in the pan, and leave the other half plain. 🙂 Works like a charm!

  140. Thank you for sharing your journey with us. I find it an inspiration to lift my spirits when I feel the urge to waste money. I can save my family money in lots of little ways. I just have to focus a bit more and get better with my price book record keeping, menu plan and baking.

    I’m going to have to work on food storage too, we’ve just had Costco open, though no Aldi yet. Their arrival promted a city wide petrol (gas) price war. The first time in about 10 years that our petrol went down to $1 a litre. I wish we had some of your food prices too. I grew some kale in a tub for the first time in winter – it went so well, until spring, then we had a mass of caterpillars. We can’t always grow anything in the summer here too – up to 45 degrees C on some days, tho this summer has been cooler all up.

    I loved your walnut muffins, as did the family, and have made them several times already.

  141. Samantha, we have those same summer temperatures here every summer.

    I can grow Swiss chard (silverbeet) all summer. It is the only green I can grow in summer. (It also grows in winter, and can take colder temperatures than kale; it also produces more during winter than Kale).

    I am trying something new this year; I am planting New Zealand Spinach (Tetrogonia). It is a perennial, too. I am anxious to see how it handles the heat.

    My main summer harvests are fruit. Most come very early in summer (May for us), but I will get grapes later than that when it is at the hottest. I also have a peach that ripens in July (Early Elberta).

    The other thing I can grow in summer is Armenian Cucumbers. They are the only ones that flower in the heat.

    Herbs do well for me in the heat, too. Basil did exceptionally well last summer.

    Of course, I do have to water everything, since it is so dry. I water everything with drip irrigation. I don’t know if you’re reliant upon your own water there and if you have enough for a drip system, but there are things that can be harvested in the heat. I just have to plan most harvest for the rest of the year.

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