The weather was gorgeous this week. We enjoyed having the windows open.

In the garden, I sowed seeds for poppies, Bells of Ireland, larkspur, cilantro, arugula, chives, basil, and red noodle beans. 

I harvested Swiss chard (silverbeet), asparagus, green onions, peppermint, Meyer lemons, lettuce, arugula (rocket), and garlic chives from the garden. (I love that my “weeds” growing in the cracks in the photo above are really lettuce and green onion seedlings that self-seeded!)

Using fabric bought with a 40% off coupon from Hobby Lobby, Winter sewed herself a new apron, identical to the one I made her earlier (you can see it here).

She modified a skirt that I made my first year of college to take with her to college.

I borrowed and read seven more of M.C. Beaton’s Regency-era novels in e-book form from the library to read on my phone.

I cooked a large pot of beans in the solar oven for bean burritos. We made lemonade from our lemons, enjoyed lettuce and arugula salads from the garden with homemade vinaigrette, made chocolate chip cookies with butter purchased on sale and frozen several years ago, and made a frittata with Swiss chard from the garden.

I fixed a leak in the irrigation system. I ran a new drip line to be able to grow more in the garden.

I gave three sons a haircut.

My husband fixed the driver’s seat of our car and Winter mended the cover for the seat.

What did you do to save money last week?


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  1. Hello Brandy and everyone from Australia :).

    Brandy I am so glad you are harvesting so much produce from your gardens and were able to plant more seeds for a continuing supply 🙂 . Your garden looks so pretty and Winter is talented to make more items for herself in the adjusted skirt and apron.

    We had 30mm more rain which we think filled the water tanks almost to full which we are immensely happy about. Now it is just humid and dry again though but the rain softened the ground for us to get 7 more posts down from the grapeyard vineyard enclosure with ease with shovelling most of the soil rather than using a post hole crowbar :). We are making a start on our vegetable garden beds having purchased some more needed items and only some manure and a small amount of fittings and a tap we will need to purchase.

    Our Vicky challenge added up to $581.24 in savings this week 🙂 .

    Earnings –

    – Made $27 from the sale of 2 lace curtains on eBay I took down after replacing them with handmade ones.

    Purchases –

    – Purchased a 75cc petrol post hole auger to dig the post holes for the garden enclosure and 6 x 2.4 x.9 above ground metal garden beds using discount vouchers and codes saving $368.31 over buying them in our local hardware store.
    – Found and purchased 2 x 3kg bags of valencia oranges on special in Woolworths saving $5 on usual prices. We juiced them for some lovely fresh orange juice.
    – From a small country discount variety store we purchased an 8 pack of permanent markers, 2 x rolls of packaging tape, 8 dining room chair pads and 3 hats for DH saving $49.04 over buying in other stores.
    – Found on special in a small country supermarket 2.5 kg of rindless short cut bacon and 4.34kg of beef rump steak on special for $8 a kg saving $87.60 over buying it in the larger local supermarkets.
    – Purchased 4 x 790g packets of party sausage rolls on half price special saving $14 on usual prices.

    In the kitchen –

    – Made a quadruple batch of magic mix chocolate pudding saving $12.67 over buying it ready-made in the shops.
    – Made a single batch of chocolate chip and coconut biscuits saving $7.01 over purchasing them ready-made in the supermarket.
    – Made a whole orange cake with citrus juice icing and sprinkled with orange zest saving $24.52 over purchasing it.
    – Made 3 loaves of homemade bread and 2 batches of MOO yoghurt saving $16.09 over purchasing them.

    In the gardens –

    – Pulled down 7 more posts in the grape vineyard enclosure when the weather was cooler. 8 more to go till we finish :).

    Water Preservation –

    – Saved shower warm up water to water potted fruit and herb potted plants with.
    – Saved grey water from our washing machine to water potted ornamental flowers and used grey water from both ours and the neighbours grey water tanks to water fruit, berry, native trees and shrubs in the yard.

    Hope everyone has a wonderful week ahead 🙂 .


  2. Brandy, love all your pictures of spring. Our temperatures are warming up and some of our snow has melted.
    This weeks frugal accomplishments include:
    Getting 3 tubes of toothpaste for .50 using CO51 app
    Requesting a check for $22.50 from the same app
    Packed breakfast and lunch to work all week and cooked dinners at home
    Made your barley soup using homemade broth
    Walked/ran the river valley trails for free exercise. We have about 160 miles of river valley trails to enjoy.
    Rearranged the living room furniture and made a corner for my house plants. Feels like spring inside if not outside lol
    Shampooed the carpets
    I was gifted a ticket to a local Home Renovation Expo, spent an afternoon with my friends and received numerous reuseable grocery bags, notepads, a winter hat and a pen
    Have a great week!

  3. I love your lettuce “weeds” too, Brandy! Great photos as always, too!

    Weather is starting to heat up here. I’m afraid we will be using our air conditioning soon. But this week was lovely.

    My accomplishments this week:

    • Used free tea, coffee and toiletries, washed ziplocks and foil and used ½ dryer sheets and ran only full loads in the washer and dishwasher during off peak times.
    • Ate in 7 times. Had shepherd’s pie; steak, baked potato and salad; turkey soup made with a turkey carcass from the freezer. Cooked the bones down with carrot peelings, celery ends and onion tops and peelings from the freezer too. After it was done, I picked the meat off the bones and strained, then made the soup with cut up veggies from the freezer and pasta. BTW, the cut up veggies were leftovers from veggie trays during the holidays. A very frugal dish! Also froze 2 quarts of stock for use another time. Other meals included leftover steak with pasta roni; corned beef, cabbage, potatoes and carrots (beef had been in the freezer since last St. Patrick’s Day); tostadas; and grilled chicken breast, baked potatoes and asparagus.
    • Used the leftover corned beef for lunch the next day and also for corned beef hash for breakfast.
    • Hubby got drawn for elk hunting, which is in December. I’m now on a mission to empty the freezer before then so we can fill it up with elk meat. (Fingers crossed he gets one!)
    • Used my new clothesline finally! Hung up 4 out of 6 loads. Weather is fantastic here right now and it was so satisfying to be hanging clothes and listening to the birdsong!
    • Figured out how to view my electric billing account where I will now be able to compare how we are doing each month. My goal now is to use less kilowatts per month as compared to last year’s. I love making frugality like a game! I’ve already used less in January and February without even trying.
    • Hubby brought lunch to work once. 1 of the days he was on vacation and the other 2 he was home sick. The last day he was just in too much of a hurry.
    • Unfortunately, I was sick too, so didn’t get as many contract hours in. But I did get 3 ½ hours done from home.
    • Had Dad over for our weekly lunch instead of taking him out to a restaurant. We had the 15-bean and ham soup I had canned a few weeks ago. After lunch we watched a movie I already own.
    • Repaired a hole in a sock.
    • One of my Dad’s shirts was missing a button. Unfortunately, the other 2 buttons on the shirt were unique and I didn’t have 3 matching buttons in the right color. I went to the fabric store and found a bag of 130 buttons, all different shades of blue. There was no price on it. There was 1 bag of 130 red, white and blue buttons that had $2.29 on the label. Same brand etc. When I went to pay for the all blue buttons, it came to $3.99 before tax! I cancelled the sale and went back for the other packet. Always pays to be aware!
    • Did our taxes myself. I anticipated paying but am happy that we aren’t going to be paying as much as I thought. Such a relief to have them done too.
    • Got some great deals at the grocery store. Got 5 jars of spaghetti sauce for 49c each. They were on sale for 99c, but the ones I got were on the clearance rack because the labels were messed up so ½ off that. Regular price was $2.49. Also got a jar of honey mustard for 69c, regularly over $5! It was on sale, then on clearance rack so ½ off the sale price, then there was an Ibotta rebate on it for $1.50. And I got 4 jars of Classico Alfredo sauce for 75c each after sale price, clearance rack ½ off and Ibotta rebate. There were also great Friday deals at a local grocer too. 2 loaves of bread for 99c each, 4 cans of tuna for 50c each, 4 bags of assorted chips for 99c each, 4 – 2 liter bottles of soda for 69c each. I am saving the chips and soda, as I plan on having a poker party soon for my Dad.
    • Decorated for Easter with things I already have.

    Have a wonderful week, everyone!

    1. And the ignorant of cells and hunting them Australia here. Is there a lottery you enter to get ‘drawn’ for elk hunting?

      1. Here in Arizona, you have to pay to get put into a drawing. The hunting permits are given out based on keeping the population under control. You don’t always get to hunt every year. He and my son-in-law have been putting in for 5 years now, so we are excited that he finally gets to try!

  4. Hello everyone!
    I made whipped body butter and deoderant.
    I started another batch of citrus vinegar.
    I made bread, Brandy’s spanish rice, beef with mushrooms, onions, and gravy over pasta, cashew cheese and pasta to make vegan mac n cheez, nachos with taco meat.
    I did not renew my Amazon prime account.
    I purchased a new vacuum for $59. Our VERY old vacuum has barely worked for years, despite “cleaning out all the insides” (my husband’s words. He was very attached to this vacuum for some reason lol) I love this vacuum! I sent in the limited warranty card. My daughter has had a ton of fun playing with the big box.
    Printed off 2 coloring sheets for my daughter at the library for .20. My printer won’t work and she “needed” Pokemon coloring sheets.
    I hung most of my laundry to dry. I dried my towels and wash cloths.
    Have a great week!

    1. I just got a new vacuum today and my son is having a ball with the box also. It has been a loonnnngggg time since my carpets were properly vacuumed and I am so excited to have a good working one.

  5. Beautiful pictures. My daffodils are blooming too. I love springtime.

    I came down with the flu last week so I stayed home (not that I could have done much anyway). I had taken out some meat to defrost before I got sick, and didn’t want it to go to waste. So I ended up cooking and freezing it for later, even though I felt awful. So that’s my frugal accomplishment for last week.

    Hopefully I’ll be back to my old self soon. Looking forward to reading about everyone’s frugal adventures.

  6. I”m so impressed with how much your garden is producing already! Are those your pea vines climbing up a trellis? Amazing to think only a few weeks ago there was snow.

    My week was pretty busy, but I tried to save anyway:
    – I made Knock Your Socks Off Cream of Mushroom Soup ( , using homemade yoghurt instead of cream, and froze the leftovers to use in recipes. I purchased the mushrooms on sale of course.
    – I made a batch of Greek Yoghurt and saved the whey for baking and smoothies. I ate it with homemade cranberry sauce as a sweetener (
    -I made Singapore Noodles with some noodles I had at home and tofu for myself and my mother, and with zoodles and chicken for my husband.
    -I made a Pineapple Coconut Chickpea Curry and gave some to my sister, along with some bread and some brownies.
    – Using my local trading app, I traded a loaf of banana bread, 1 ½ doz. Chocolate chip cookies, and a loaf of rustic bread, for a whole bunch of bubble mailers. I plan to sell some items on ebay so this will come in handy. I also gave a whole bunch to my mother.
    – I also traded some of the digital currency the app uses for a bumbo seat with tray. They normally retail for upwards for $65, but I got it for $10 of digital currency. Given that I expect to only use it for a few months, I definitely did not want to pay full retail price! It really made my week to be able to get something that my daughter will really use (she wants to sit up more now), without any money OOP.
    – A friend of mine (who lives in another province) and I are having a virtual tea party. We write each other letters and send a nice tea bag with the letter. The reader gets a nice moment of a cup of tea and a letter, and then returns the favour. A cheap way to get a little surprise in the mail!
    – I made a loaf of homemade bread, sliced it on my meat slicer, and froze most of it.
    – I had some friends over to meet the baby, and served them several types of popcorn (purchased on sale and with loyalty points) plus some homemade bread which I served with my Garden Veggie Spread ( I also served drinks leftover from my daughter’s baptism. An inexpensive get-together (maybe $5 for the spread, bread, and drinks) but still delicious! A friend brought some cookies which I froze to eat as snacks when my baby is colicky (chocolate always helps me deal with a colicky baby better!), and a loaf of banana bread which I gifted to the security staff in my condo building.
    – I made a batch of white bean enchilada soup, to eat for lunches this week. I’m finding that bean soups are great to help keep me full and losing the baby weight.
    – I also made a low-carb version of lasagna (using roasted eggplant slices) to eat for quick dinners during the week.

    Looking forward to learning from everyone, as always!

    1. Just remember that snow is not normal here. Normally we are planting tomato plants in the garden on Valentine’s Day. Everything is about 6 weeks behind in the garden right now. The daffodils are blooming six weeks late.

    2. I’ve bookmarked your mushroom soup recipe as I love it but hate the canned version so this will be great. I could have made it tonight but used up all my mushrooms in a stir-fry!

      1. I think you’ll enjoy it Margie! It really is yummy and worlds away from the canned stuff, plus it’s a frugal dish assuming you buy the mushrooms on sale. Also way yummier to use if you use canned mushroom soup in dishes.

    3. Margaret, zoodles? I didn’t know what that was, searched your blog first, then went to Google. I didn’t realize there was a name for zucchini noodles! I feel much smarter now.


      1. I always laugh when I see the word Zoodles referring to zucchini noodles. I grew up eating “Zoodles”, the canned pasta shaped like animals!

      2. Zucchini noodles are becoming more and more common-place, but I started eating them over a decade ago when I was a raw foodist ( and it was quite the process to find a machine that would make the noodles. Back then they were called spiralized zucchini. My husband really likes them, and they’re one more way to add vegetables to dinner. Plus, zucchini were on sale this week so I bought a bunch!

        And I remember zoodles, Rhonda! 🙂

  7. Love that you have spring! I also delight in my edible “weeds” and have learned to strategically plant them to happily reseed. Lettuce is just so enjoyable to watch grow…and than to eat.

    This week has been one of a flurry of activity. I was tooling along getting things caught up and beginning the preparation to move when I had a day away and than a two day storm that shut everything down. After traveling into the city for a curated art tour and lunch with a group of women from a society I belong to, I gladly rested up. In addition I was able to use the down time to catch up on some paperwork and I completed an application for the job I really want. Praying.

    – I didn’t buy anything on the art tour trip beyond the trip cost (prepaid) and gas/tolls
    – bought 3 packages of chicken at a discounted price and cooked it in the crock pot for lunches. I added some water to make a broth for the dogs’ food.
    – I made a meatless chili for the potluck at school which was cancelled because of the snow. I’ve been eating on it for 2 days and will freeze the rest for lunches later
    – I used up the mylar bags and oxygen absorbers that I have packaging up food that needed to be attended to. I’ll need more, so ordered some and used a 10.00 amazon gift card I had
    – I saved all of the cardboard boxes when reducing the packaging to fit more in the mylar bags for fire starting.
    – I finally made better quality fire starters from dryer lint, toilet paper rolls and 35 cents worth of thrift store candles. I made 11 fire starters for when our wood is really damp.
    – we finally used up the last of the “bad” wood gathered from getting the yard usable. It doesn’t burn hot, so needs to be used either with a hot fire or when a moderate fire is warranted. We have piles of uncut wood that will take the place of the “bad” wood for next year. Use what you have and make it work! For the majority of the winter, we cut, split, stack and burn much better wood.
    – I was given a bag of fabric and sorted it just keeping what I liked and will use. I have the rest to my friend to see if there was any that she would want before passing it onward. I have a reluctance to give any fabric away because I remember when it was expensive and difficult to get. However, I am being purposeful in only keeping what I like or is useful. I must say I have really worked on this and it is much nicer in our lives.

    Happy frugal-ing friends!

  8. I love the unbridled joy of a child in the last photo. Octavius, I’m thinking? Last week, I harvested lettuce and parsley, and planted three types of lettuce and swiss chard. My husband planted tomato, pepper, and eggplant seeds in a repurposed truck tool box that he has sweet potatoes in to start slips. I believe we finally finished the last of the pruning… grape vines and an apple. We’ve decided to go back to raised beds, at least for part of the garden, so will be working on that in the coming weeks. Reading your post and all the comments is a highlight of my week.

  9. Your garden looks wonderful. All of our snow has finally melted, so we can see the ground again. We were over 50 degrees last week for the first time since November 5th. The warmth felt wonderful. I actually opened the windows today. I have several crocuses (purple, yellow, white and striped purple and white) that have come up in the garden.,

    I planted my tomato and pepper seeds the first weekend of March. They have almost all come up. I planted 12 different types of tomatoes and 12 different types of peppers. We make a ton of salsa and freeze it. I also make tomato basil soup and freeze it so my DH can have it in the winter.

    I made spaghetti sauce which we ate on for several days. I also made lo mein, which I took for lunch each day. Made 12 bacon egg and cheese English muffins to have for breakfast.

    Listened to library audio books on my car’s cd player on my commute. I am an accountant (both tax and audit), so am super busy this time of year. I will be retiring in a couple of years, but gradually cutting back beginning in May. I love my job, and love mentoring young accountants. It really gives me a great feeling of accomplishment when I see that young accountants “get it.”

    I have been enjoying reading everyone’s accomplishments, and getting ideas. Have a good week.

  10. Always so inspiring to read what everyone’s doing!
    I have been eating from the freezer a great deal and making the most of leftovers.
    Took my college girl and mother to the local art museum for free using the library’s pass, and when I returned it I picked up three books they’d ordered for me from other libraries – a book on gardening I’m using to plan a new bed, a travel book I was interested in and a novel.
    I set up a grow light bought for free from amazon with a swagbucks card over the seeds I started – I really have no good light to offer them so I thought this would give them the best chance – I’m planning a new cutting garden bed, some seeds will be direct sown but I’ve started a few along with some veggies. I also started a tray of ‘shade mix seeds’ from outsidepride and they’re zooming out of the tray! I have a lot of shaded space I want to brighten up this spring for as little as possible!

  11. Volunteered to give up my seat coming home from Spring Break. Got rebooked on nonstop flight home & 430$ voucher for future flight. (8 hours wait in airport tho.)
    Went trash picking. Found a like new sewing box for my sewing items & an extension cord for hubby to use with lawn equipment. Now if I can only find a lawn mower as ours bit the dust last fall.
    Will take cat to low cost vaccination clinic where teachers get free rabies shots for their dog or cat.
    Was sick before & after Spring Break. Little food eaten. Frugal but unpleasant!

    1. Just a question, is trash picking going to a shop at the tip, or is trash picking taking items left out for hard rubbish, or is trash picking like bin surfing/dumpster diving?

      1. I don’t know about Texas silver but when my friends in Texas say trash picking they are talking about what is sitting on the curb for the trash co to pick up.

      2. I’m not sure of official definition. When I see something left out on the curb for trash pick up or left outside the skip then I call that trash picking. I would not actually get into a dumpster. Safety issues are a concern. Plus who knows what you step in inside the thing? My best friend calls me a scavenger. Oh well. It keeps the items out of the landfills

  12. Brandy, the link to the apron like the one Winter made does not work. And don’t forget we want to see how the skirt (or is it skirts now?) turned out! And I love your “weeds” too!

    We came back from our vacation yesterday and I’m happy to report most of the snow has melted! I have irises and daffs coming up, and there are probably tulips underneath the snow that is left.

    I told you last week that there is nothing cheap about a vacation. Only a few frugal things to report this week–

    (1) We moved to the resort Tuesday when other relatives showed up and took our bed, LOL. We ate our meals (low to moderate cost) away from the resort and bought water and fruit for snacks at Safeway. I told the fam what I would do to them if I discovered anything had been taken from the mini-bar in the room! (And when I got the final bill, there were no extra charged).

    (2) I planted a couple of small beds of annuals for the cousin where we stayed for the first half of the vacation. She was thrilled! I had one package each of seeds for trailing nasturtiums and pink zinnias left over, and she gave them to me to take home. I decided what to buy in Phoenix based on what you have growing!

    (3) Coming home, we again saved $170 in checked luggage fees because we have the airline-branded CC. Once again, the $170 doesn’t really count because we wouldn’t have checked the luggage if we’d had to pay. But it sure was nice!

    1. Maxine, I double checked the link. It works. Just hover over the word “here” and it turns blue and will take you there.

  13. I’ve been down with the cold and cough of doom for 2 weeks so I haven’t spent much at all.
    I paid all of my bills on time so no late charges…which I hate.
    I am starting to order fabric for my busy time in my business. I keep my eye on the sales and today lucked into a really good one for me. I saved $177.21 on 48 yards of fabric. It cost me under $90. for all of it.
    That is about all I’ve done with being so sick.

  14. Got over the Flu. Feeling much better.
    Made homemade cleaner with vinegar, water and orange essential oil. Cooking at home. Went to grocery store when we were out for a snack then ate dinner later at home. Found some things I need on clearance at Walmart. Super excited to get a bra for $6. And it is comfortable.
    Both of us are bring our lunches with us to work. I am using small amounts of shampoo to extend the life of my shampoo and conditioner. Turning of lights. Will start pepper and tomato plants myself very soon. I am going to use seeds I already own and hope they grow. Enjoyed a birthday today, not exactly frugal for us, but it was so much fun to watch my granddaughter open her presents!
    I will continue to walk with my son this week. Enjoyed a day with grandson. We made banana bread together and gathered eggs from the chickens. We took him to a park.
    Trying to use food before it goes bad. Happy to have the food.
    Enjoyed cooking for my other son at my mom’s instead of taking him out. We are still working on house.
    Bills are creeping up. Happy to have propane. Now to save for house Taxes, Auto Tags and Tires.

    1. glad to hear you’re better! Your walking with your son sounds like great exercise, good time to spend together. I smile when I read about your gathering eggs with your grandson. Ann

  15. I made sourdough bread with my new sourdough starter – it came out great! Later in the week I made a second loaf to take to dinner with friends. She made clam chowder and the sourdough was the perfect accompaniment.
    I started a batch of sauerkraut with on-sale cabbage.(29 cents a pound)
    Thanks to this wonderful community, I purchased on sale pineapple (99 cents each) and canned the chunks. From five pineapples I got 10 pints of canned pineapple.
    I hadn’t made a big grocery run in several month. The stores here were having good sales – I was able to stock up on canned vegetables, cheese ($2 a pound for sharp cheddar), some canned chicken and some other items.
    I planted peas, carrots, radishes, and lettuce in the greenhouse beds and transplanted broccoli, cabbage, chard, and lettuce seedlings to the greenhouse. I planted seeds for tomato, squash, basil, thyme and several varieties of flowers under the grow lights in my spare room. I have volunteer lettuce and arugula in my cold frame that reseeded from last year.

    1. They do have thorns. They can be very long (a few inches long). They don’t have a lot of thorns, but I have gotten poked once in a while when pruning the tree. I don’t usually get poked while picking fruit.

  16. Made a menu for a week’s worth of dinners using ingredients we already had. Used a grocery store gift card to purchase a few needed food items, including lunch meat that was marked 30% off. Bought a 2 lb package of red lentils for 97 cents. Cashed in Swagbucks for thee gift cards, one each for Amazon, Target & Safeway. Ordered three gifts for children of family members using amazon points & amazon gift card. Made a gift basket for a gift using a basket I already had. Purchased needed clothing & toiletries & a gym bag for my husband at Target using a swagbucks giftcard. Cancelled several monthly subscriptions that will save our family over $100 per month. Washed & saved ziplock bags for future use. Also saved paper pastry bags for future use. The hubs and I are trying to cut down on our monthly expenses and also cut down on waste. My son also received a brand new basketball from a friend who didn’t want it. I picked up two books st the library book sale for 50 cents each for our upcoming vacation.

  17. I postponed regular grocery shopping another whole week. I accidentally scored 75% off clearance soups at the drugstore when I stopped there for 50% off a personal care item that is rarely discounted more than $1. Milk was as cheap or cheaper there than the grocery store. Milk was the only food item we really needed.

    Mom’s car is so old that there is only one for sale within 200 miles. I teased her that we will be doing restorations on her car going forward, not repairs. She wisely told me to not tell our mechanic, for fear he’ll raise his prices. I was pricing used vehicles the last few days. After doing that, I really, really hope the old car hangs on for one more winter. I want to travel someday so I think we will eventually get a minivan that can either tow a small old travel trailer or be configured, somehow, to fit two sleepers and a port-a-potty. Mom and I are just too old to have to walk to a restroom in the dark. I think mom could enjoy a cross-country road trip to visit the family out west if she had the ability to get horizontal or access a toilet whenever she wanted. I then could leave mom at my sister’s for a week or tow (Surprise, sis! This is your way, way, WAY overdue turn at momcare.) and have my first break from caregiving in a dozen years by continuing west to San Diego. Sleeping in a car in San Diego is again legal for the first time in decades although I think I could probably couch-surf at the homes of old friends. Maybe I am just dreaming.
    I also learned this week that there is free dispersed camping in the eastern part of San Diego County, in the Lagunas, but I think, alone, that I’d sleep much better in the city. However, I sent my sister the link as she might enjoy staying in the boonies with her husband and youngest son–especially given the prices for regular campsites in the county.

    I used hard-as-rocks ginger cookies instead of graham crackers with a no-sugar French Vanilla Pudding mix to make a tasty pie today. Instead of buying bread, I made biscuits too.

    1. Check out Pintrest for ideas on van conversions or do a Google search for “living in a van”. There is a lot of ideas out there 🙂

    2. Holly,

      Follow your dreams. As corny as it sounds, I visualize myself achieving my goal, pray about it and plan! Plan! Plan! I plan way ahead and just move toward the goal inch by inch. Hence, this website. Go for it!


      1. Here, here! I agree wholeheartedly! I have had to come to terms that my dream is 8 1/2 years down the road (retiring and moving to the Northwest) because of Hubby’s job, but decided that in the meantime, I would do everything I can to make sure it becomes a reality when it is time. It feels good to know that every month we are that much closer!

  18. The pictures of your garden are amazing (as always)! It looks quite like a regular May in Estonia. 🙂

    For the first half on March we weren’t very frugal because we hosted an exchange student – a homesick and shy 13-year-old French boy. Since he was too shy to say what he likes, we bought a lot of snacks and fancier food, hoping that he will eat at least something. Also, to make him happier we sent our oldest to several attractions and sports events with him, we had to pay the entrance everywhere. It was a bizarre experience, I think he was too young for this, but as the teacher said, they must learn…

    Last week we had warmer weather (around 40’F), so we didn’t have to heat that much, thus saving firewood. It was so warm and dry that I was able to hang the washing outside. My white tablecloths got much whiter in the sun and they smelled lovely.
    I sowed radishes outside in a raised bed. Since there will be a month of cold nights (probably), my husband made for this bed a cover, using wood sraps and plastic that we already had. Hopefully this will work as a small greenhouse.
    Since I seem to be hopeless in writing down our expenses, I decided that I will just set a budget for a week’s food (unless there are guests staying overnight or birthdays to celebrate) and stick to it. We still have so many things in the pantry that we don’t need to buy so much. My budget for a week is 50 Euros, it is quite low for a family of 5 with two teenaged sons and with the prices here. This 50 Euros are just for food that we bring home, not for toiletries or cat food or school meals. In Estonia, children get warm lunch at school and this is free until 4th grade (10-11-year-olds). For older children parents have to pay, but this is around 8-12 Euros/month. The average school lunch always consists of a warm meal like a soup or potatoes with meat sauce, fresh fruit and sometimes a simple dessert.
    We needed a new mattress for our bed. After looking at several models we felt like there is not much difference between them, so we bought the cheapest one. We just slept the first night on it – it lacks character, we cannot feel the springs! My husband said his back hurts but it has been hurting for so long, I don’t think there would be a difference after just one night. We will see how it feels after a couple of weeks.

    1. 50 Euros for a family of 5 is quite low – you do really well! Too bad about the Exchange Student – do you host them very often? I volunteer teaching English to students & newcomers and I’m always amazed at how brave they are – some come from half way around the world! So perhaps your student really was just a bit too young.

      1. No, this boy was our first exchange student. We will have some more in May, but this time I asked for Austrian children, because with them we can speak German. Maybe this will be easier.
        In most families with teenagers here the food budget for a week is 80-100 Euros. My goal is to eat as much as possible from the pantry/freezer and see how far will we get with this. But food is the easiest thing to save money, especially if there are fast-growing children in the house who need new shoes like… every month.

    2. Those school lunches sound amazing! Way better than the things offered here. My kindergartener wanted to get a hot lunch one day instead of me packing her something, I read the list of options for the week and she wisely chose the packed lunch. Nothing fresh or healthy served at all.

  19. Your garden looks beautiful, Brandy!

    This week we had our 2 grandsons overnight so we bought a few extras at the grocery store. We sent them home with the extra food since we won’t eat it.

    When my dad died in January my employer sent a very large plant arrangement to us. There were several individual plants in it. I sent one plant home with each of my four daughters and put the rest in new pots. They are thriving now and looking beautiful in different rooms in the house.

    We ate all our meals at home. I am trying several vegan/vegetarian meals for our meal rotation. The first one I made was with pintos and sweet potatoes topped with tomatoes, cilantro, avocado, and onions. I got a thumbs-up from my meat-loving husband so I will be making it again! I am trying a rice and red lentil dahl dish this week. We will see how that goes.

    I was able to get several bags of black beans at the dollar store this week. I always buy dried beans and cook a large pot of them and portion out 2 cups bags to freeze. I also do this with quinoa and brown rice.

    I have been “shopping” my house and doing some rearranging to make things work better for us. We are empty-nesters and work full time so we are trying to make our lives more simplistic and easier for both of us. We have also done some decluttering.

    Have a great frugal week!

  20. It sounds like you had a very lovely week at home, Brandy. How special your daughter is taking your modified college skirt to college with her. When does she leave for college again? You must be enjoying these last days with her home, before she heads off on her new life adventure.

    This past week was heavy with appointments, obligations and a few unexpected surprises. I survived but not without some extra spending. This week is hopefully a little less hectic as hubby and I do our final preps for our European adventure. Today is the worst…I’m having dental work done on 3 teeth. Better now than having an issue while on vacation, I guess. Anyways, here is our frugal accomplishments for our household this week:
    *Meals made at home included beef tacos with white rice (intentionally made extra rice), chicken fried rice (used leftover chicken and white rice from fridge) with veggie spring rolls, BBQ hamburgers & hot dogs with homemade seasoned potato chunks (made extra hot dogs and potato chunks to use for school lunches on Monday), and homemade lasagna.
    *I was gifted a large clam-shell package full of cookies at our monthly Weaver’s & Spinner Guild meeting. They were left over from the our Fibre Arts Festival event and no one else wanted them (most of the members are retired empty nesters). My family was thrilled with the jackpot of free treats!
    *In an effort to use up some of the excess oatmeal in our pantry (an oops on my part), DD and I experimented with different flavours of hot oatmeal for breakfasts. We added dried cranberries & almonds, mixed in peanut butter (it melts into the cereal and tastes amazing), added homemade fruit jams and even threw in frozen fruit (the boiling water thawed small fruit quickly, but larger fruit needed to be at least partially thawed) sweetened with maple syrup. All tasted amazing and provided the variety we enjoy in our meals.
    *My brother loves soda crackers to snack on. So I started buying boxes for him as they are relatively cheap. The rest of the family have discovered them and are now obsessed with eating soda crackers. Glad they’re cheap!
    *Decided to pull a frozen banana bread to use for school lunches this coming week. I was just too tired to make anything this weekend.
    *Not so frugal: We ate out a lot more than normal, due to a heavy schedule. I’m sure preparing ahead would have avoided some of this. However, to be honest, I haven’t had time to pre-plan either. Too much happening in a short period of time before we leave for our trip.
    *Used my Wellness Centre membership 1 time this week. My very busy schedule at the moment is inhibiting my ability to go. Walked the dog when I could for additional exercise.
    *Finally found a moment to replace hooks on 5 different bras and replace a button on a pair of jeans, extending the life of all these garments.
    *DD’s respite worker celebrated a birthday this week. She is a wonderful woman who has been very kind to my daughter. We put together a birthday gift for her for no money OOP. I pulled out my gift stash, and DD chose a nice gift to give her (bought a couple years ago @ 50% off during post-Christmas sales). I then pulled out our wrapping stash, found a card for DD to give with the gift, and wrapped the gift in a beautiful, recycled gift bag with tissue paper and a recycled ribbon. Gift looked amazing! DD went to dinner with her respite worker on Monday evening, along with another boy from DD’s LLS class that she does respite work with. The boy has physical and developmental disabilities, but DD finds him comical and really enjoys being around him.
    *DD started another session of cooking classes through the PHIT program. I am unable to attend all the sessions with her, so my mom will be supporting her each week. Of course, we get to sample the fare the teens make, and take home leftovers if there is any. This time, she is also encouraged to try making a new recipe (either 1 they made in class or 1 of their choosing) at home connected to the theme of the week (this week was snacks). If they do, their names are put into a draw to win prizes. This will encourage DD to practicing cooking skills at home a bit more! This week, she made homemade hummus, using home-canned chickpeas. None of us were crazy about the flavour. That, too, is a valuable lesson…not every recipe you try will taste great, but keep trying and you might find one you love.
    *After yet another episode of blood filled vomit, I took DD to ER for the second time in about a month. We have an appointment to see a Gastroenterologist, but not until June. I am thankful that this visit, the Dr gave us a better idea of what he suspects is happening. He believes DD has “pockets” in her stomach where food is getting caught, then basically rots (thus the horrible smelling “gassy burps”), making DD feel very ill. She then purges the rotting contents, to make her feeling better. Because this is happening so often, the Dr suspects DD has developed a tear in her esophagus, which is where the blood is coming from. The constant cycle of purging never allows the tear to heal. The whole issue is quite uncomfortable, but shouldn’t be life threatening. Thankful to finally have some idea of what is possibly going on! Because we live in Canada, no money OOP for her health visit.
    *Stopped into the grand opening of the Artisan Centre’s new facility (connected to the Weaver’s & Spinners guild I am a member of). I took DD and her friend with me, so they could look around downtown. They were bugging to go home when suddenly they became interested in a needle felting demo. I knew the lady who was doing the demo (found out she is a retired English high school teacher), and asked if she would kindly show the girls how to do it. She gave them a brief intro and the girls happily tried it out. They enjoyed it so much, she gave them a felting needle and some wool to take home with them! DD and her friend both want to take a class on needle felting now.

    I hope to get through everyone’s comments before Sunday this week. It’s a goal, anyways. Not sure if I will get another comment posted before we go. If not, I hope you all have a very frugal April!

    1. Isn’t it crazy how busy everything gets right before you go on vacation! Try not to get too stressed by it all. In case you don’t get the chance to blog again before leaving – have a wonderful time and we’ll look forward to hearing all about it when you get back.

      1. Thank you, Margie. It has been crazy as of late, as we try to get everything organized for while we are gone. Doesn’t help that my teeth decided they needed dealing with ASAP, right before we are getting ready to go away. You know…just one more thing to deal with…no big deal…*sigh*. But that’s life I guess. Anyways, I look forward to telling you all about it, and any frugal travel tips I did while away.

    2. Rhonda, I have been really concerned for your daughter since you posted but have been reluctant to comment for a lot of different reasons. I have severe esophageal issues and have been to the Mayo Clinic for help.. I don’t have a tear in my esophagus, but I do have a great big hole (hiatal hernia with major complications). I can tell you that if I were purging “blood filled vomit” I would not be waiting nearly 3 more months for an appointment with a gastroenterologist. I would be doing whatever it took to be seen immediately, including going to the emergency room during (or immediately following) a bloody vomit (and I’d take the vomit with me for them to see). I have never vomited blood, thank God. The pockets sound like they might be diverticulitis, which might not be too big of a deal, but a torn and bleeding esophagus that causes frequent vomiting could result in lasting harm. Which is something I have that I would not wish upon my worst enemy. I, too, belch all the time, but as you know…that’s the least of it..

      Rhonda, I know your daughter is autistic. My daughter is developmentally disabled. They rely on us to get them the help they need. I would rather take her to the doctor–even if I had to pay for it–and find out it is not serious, than to wait for months and perhaps learn that there has been permanent damage. I sincerely hope that your primary care doctor is right and that it turns out not to be a big deal.

      Now I will say the part that I have been reluctant to mention because I do not want to seem critical of Canadian health care. The price you pay for no OOP often is delay. My gastro guy is a proud Canadian, graduate of McGill. He left Canada because a shortage of doctors meant that medical care was being rationed, hence the long waits to be seen by specialists. If your daughter is vomiting blood, don’t wait. Maybe it’s not a big deal. Maybe it is. I hope it isn’t.

      I am really considering whether I should hit Post Comment. I know it is none of my business. But, because I have had so many problems in this area, I feel I should bring it up (to be honest, I’ve been hoping someone else would). I do not mean to offend you, and hope I haven’t..

      1. Maxine, you have not offended me in any way. I do appreciate your concerns. I assure you, I do not take this situation lightly. My father lived with severe heartburn his whole life. Later it developed into pre-cancerous cells in the esophagus. He died on the table while having a section of the esophagus removed as a preventative measure. Believe me, we are doing everything we can to get it addressed as quickly as we can.

        My daughter does not seem to be overly suffering. She will have rounds where she feels sick to her stomach and vomits, then it settles down for several days. Her energy is fine, however. The Dr pressed on her stomach area (the same day there was significant amounts of blood in the vomit), to see if there was any pain or sensitivity in the area, but there wasn’t. It was the ER Dr that explained what he thought was going on. He has also ordered a test that should take place before we see the specialist. We hope within the next month (hoping maybe sometime while we are away). If there is anything hugely significant that shows up on this test, I’m sure we will hear about it pretty quickly! He also told us what to watch for. If the blood is fresh, it’s probably the tear bleeding again. If there is clotted blood, we need to get her back in immediately for reassessment. She vomited again last night after several days of her feeling fine, and there was no blood. So his suspicions seem likely. If she continues to vomit, that’s usually when the blood shows up. But it makes sense that the frequent vomiting would irritate and open up the wound again, thus causing bleeding. I know our health system is slower moving than yours. But at least I’m not in a financial crises just getting a diagnosis, with no money left for treatments. It’s a pay off I’m willing to deal with, even if it is frustrating.

  21. The weather is starting to reach 50 degree temps. The radishes that I planted are up and doing well. Spinach, peas, and lettuce are just barely emerging. It’s only been a week so that’s good for here actually. Everything is in the greenhouse and the small heater is on. It is quite warm in there in the daytime and stays just above freezing in the night. Yesterday I planted kale. Brandy, your garden posts are very motivational. I wish I could do more. The 20 or so oak trees in the back yard say no though.

    We ate out of the pantry and freezer this whole past week. For April, I have wrote out a menu plan. From that plan, I created a spreadsheet for groceries and prices. It is well within our budget with money left over if I stick to it. I am hoping to make it work. Groceries are a spot where I always seem to go over budget. To make it work, I cook many things from scratch. I think I have finally perfected our homemade pizza. I am gluten free so I have to go by the family’s word on this. The tastiest seems to be when I let the dough rest for 2-3 days in the fridge. From there I can roll it out and par bake several to freeze for quicker meals.

    I finally made Brandy’s pudding Popsicles, everyone loves them. My husband wants to know why the mold is not bigger. Other frugal things planned are bean tostadas, homemade soup with sandwiches, a large ham with many leftovers intended, chicken quesadillas, and some meatless pasta dishes.

  22. I laughed about your “weeds”. A couple years ago our lettuces went to seed and blew EVERYWHERE. The guy now renting that place asked the landlord what was coming up by the garage…. Lettuce two years later LOL.

    Canned turkey and beef broth. Vacuumed packed turkey. Used coupons and sales at grocery store and then put what I saved in to savings account.

    Kept track of what we saved in shipping through Amazon Prime to make sure we were getting our money’s worth.

    Canceled some subscriptions, got discounts on 2 others that we will use a lot more.

    Hubby trying to get used to driving my car instead of his truck( he can’t wear a coat in my car while driving) to save fuel as with having several medical appointments, tests and possible surgery and biologic due to my Crohn’s starting in next 4-6 wks. Fuel costs is up almost 3 times (more if the costs goes up) than what was budgeted for. Being pro active making sure the doctor office crosses those t’s and dots those i’s for my insurance.

    Gardens still too wet and too cold to do anything in. I now say I am not home bound but potty bound. SIGH

    1. Juls, starting a biologic for autoimmune diseases can be a bit overwhelming at first, but most of the companies offer co-pay assistance. This assistance is available without regard to income, as long as you are not on Medicare or Medicaid, but are on a regular insurance. My daughter and I have used Remicade, Humira, Cimzia, Xeljanz, and Stellara over the past 10 years. The most we have had to pay for our-copay was $25 a month for Remicade for her. For my Xeljanz, in the past 6 years, I have not had to pay one penny. Most of these drugs are used for multiple autoimmune diseases. Simply go to the drug’s website and click the button for co-pay assistance. Check it out, if you haven’t already.

      1. Juls– Based on your blog link: Ditto what Tejas wrote about encouraging you to check out the biologic payments! The drug company assistance program will pay a certain (huge) amount annually. That can meet a good chunk of your yearly deductible or maximum out-of-pocket expenses if you have those on your health insurance. The health insurance company doesn’t know who pays the amount of your deductible to your health care provider, just knows that they aren’t going to do it. That’s where the drug assistance money fills in.
        If we schedule appointments right so that the drug infusion is the first health care charge every new insurance company year, we don’t have any in-network deductible to pay on anything for the rest of the year. The drug-assistance plan paying for that infusion meets our whole deductible.

        1. Our ins doesn’t count medication as part of the out of pocket 🙁
          I am grateful for the information about programs, the one that was suggested was based on income and it “looks” like we have a lot of income because of the withdraw for the house stuff when it reality we are not.

      2. Thanks for the info. The only info we got was based on income. When they decide which one they are going to try first. Doctor is pushing Humira, but thinks the ins will push Remicade. I will go to their web site.

        1. Crohn’s patient here. Stelara is covering all of my co-pay except for $5 per dose with a lifetime limit of $20,000 however, the paperwork states that we may not count it against our deductible, and I had to sign to that effect. I can’t say that I remember having to give them our income, but it was early last Fall that I applied so maybe I just don’t remember well. Since that will only cover a few years, I asked what happened then, and the support rep said they had different programs to which I could apply once that program was through. Reach out and try, it sure doesn’t hurt. My doctor suggested Stelara because he said surgery often doesn’t work well for Crohn’s, and Stelara was easy to take at home after the initial IV. Your doctor may not agree with mine, and your experiences may vary, of course.

  23. This week I spent at our daughter’s new home that was they bought out on some acreage. She and 3 kids flew in and I stayed out there afterwards since she had no car until her husband drove cross country and got in on Saturday night.
    I bought grapes (50 cents/pound), 2 cases of HoneyCrisp apples for $20/bushel case (less than 50 cents/pound at a time when our Kroger’s is selling them for $2.49/lb!! I gave 1 box to daughter and then shared my box with 2 other daughters!
    Got eggs at Kroger’s for 59 cents a dozen and milk for $1.19/gallon !
    Bought a nectarine tree at Kroger’s of all places for $12.99 which we will add to our orchard !
    Bought peanut butter, laundry detergent on sale with digital coupons to begin to rebuild daughter’s food storage.
    Made meals ahead this past week for Hubs and son to eat so they didnt need to buy more or get take out!
    Just bought more chicken at Fredh Thyme for daughter to add to food storage which is $1.57/pound.
    Because of the widespread flooding, etc across the country, I am trying to buy sale things now before prices get affected!
    All in all a good week!
    Pat in Ohio

  24. Your garden pictures are beautiful! It was a quiet week here, which usually means we didn’t spend much money ? Our frugal accomplishments for the week were:
    *Meals made were cheeseburgers wraps with chips and peas, seared cod with baked potatoes and green beans, Italian chicken with leftover green beans and baked potatoes, pork quesadillas with avocado, grilled bbq chicken with salads, homemade brownies x2.
    *I pulled leftover stir fry from the freezer and packed that as my lunch every day along with a salad.
    *My husband attended a training for work at The Inn at Virginia Tech. They were served smoked salmon and flank steak for lunch. He was so happy! On the way home, he stopped at a shoe store to purchase new work shoes. We were on the phone as he pulled in and I happened to be getting the mail. What was in the mail but a coupon for the very store he was going in! I texted a pic of it to him and he was able to use it to get $10 off his purchase.
    *Watched my niece and nephew Friday and Saturday while my brother and sister-in-law went out of town for a wedding. Not necessarily frugal for us, definitely for them. ? We did take them to the park for some free fun. Also had my niece and nephew help me plant some seeds in containers and pick up sticks in the yard.
    *Earned $10 in rewards for spending $30 at FL. I forgot until I was in the checkout line and grabbed a pack of gum to put me over the $30 minimum.
    *Went through Ebates when ordering office supplies at work.
    That’s all I can remember. Looking forward to next week!

  25. I roasted a chicken from the freezer, along with vegetables on Saturday, so there will be plenty of leftovers this week, and a chicken carcass to make soup from. It is wonderful to have such abundance the week before the month ends. I was making salmon cakes, but had no eggs, so it became a salmon and potato hash. Perfectly tasty.

    I ‘ve been enjoying books from the library and watched Netflix movies this weekend that I really enjoyed.

    I got the forms for applying for two pensions for low-income seniors. As I completed them I realized that neither program allows for any deduction of Self-employment income, but only for Employment income. That means I don’t qualify for one, and only for a very small amount on the other, if I give up my transcription work. So, it is best for me to stay self-employed for the rest of the year. I will qualify for the old age pension, which is based purely on age, (Age, I will have.) and the Alberta Blue Cross for Seniors program, so my income will improve. I just won’t have too, too much leisure yet.

    Spring cleaning continues. It is now light late enough after supper to do some work on this in the evening too.

  26. Made chili and roasted 3 family sized packs of chicken thighs I got for $.79 lb for my husband to take for meals while away this week. A few premade sauces, PB, tortillas, shredded cheese, and containers of rice, salad, homemade cole slaw, and macaroni salad, and he should be set for the week. I love that he is going through with this. He did a personal audit last month and was shocked by what he was spending eating out.
    Took husband to the grocery store for some fresh items we needed and some pantry items on BOGO (pasta mainly). We picked up 3 shelf ready “hurricane meals” to try. He was shocked at the prices – especially when he saw the price for pre-shredded cheese verses shredding it ourselves. Before he would have just tossed the pre-shredded in the basket without caring – now, without prompting, he grabbed a block.
    I reserved some chicken and made stock from the bones to make orzo soup for me this week. I saved a bit of chili too which I will fluff out with beans (my husband can’t eat beans) for meals and fun nachos this week. I will freeze the extra chili for a future week.
    Husband attempted to fix the leaking shower door without success. We ordered a new gasket from amazon as our local hardware store didn’t have the size we needed. Until then I will sop up the leakage with a towel and then use it to wipe down walls. Treated the mildew on the bathroom ceiling and repainted with paint on hand.
    Used my free faculty tickets for Beauty and the Beast. We had a date and went for ice cream instead of to a fancy bar for desserts and cocktails.

    1. My Hubby has always been one to fix everything around the house and work on our cars, etc. and all around generally frugal. However, I never could convince him to take his lunch. He considered it his one luxury. Then he got really busy at work and didn’t have time to go out. He started taking salads or soup every day. Now he is hooked. He loves how much money he is saving, not to mention the time. And I do too!

  27. I wish my ‘weeds’ were as productive as yours, Brandy! Haha!

    We had a busy week, coming back to work after a short vacation. My husband’s company is going through a lot of changes right now, and things are extremely stressful for him. (His job isn’t in jeopardy or anything of that nature.) We talked and we’ve decided that we have an option of paying off our home (we only have 2 years left on our mortgage with our current lifeplan anyway) and then live off my salary, at least temporarily, until he found something else that he actually enjoys doing. We know it would be a large dip into our savings, and he would likely not find another job with the same salary – especially since he wants to change fields, but sometimes the stress & politics in the corporate world just isn’t worth it. We’ve decided to give it 6 months to see how the upcoming changes shake out, and then make a decision. It does give us both peace of mind to know that we’ll be okay, regardless. Frugal-wise: it is bulk trash week in our neighborhood, so we did some “curb shopping” and picked up some nice shelving for our garage, and also a stainless steel grill in very good condition. We were working on our front flower beds & garage cleaning on Saturday afternoon, and I saw the neighbors across the street from us dragging the grill to the curb. We walked over to talk to them & take a look at it, and ended up taking it home. It is several years old, but very nice condition & everything works, and it would have been very expensive originally. My husband is excited about having a good gas grill again – we have a charcoal grill, but don’t use it very often. We cleaned out our garage & put a few good, usable items out at our own curb. It was nice to clean out the garage space, and also glad that someone else will benefit (those items were gone within an hour – curb shopping is quite popular in our neighborhood haha.) Went to Lowe’s and hit up the garden area clearance racks – they had quite a few plants & flowers marked down to $3 and $5 each, so we picked up several for our front flower pots & beds to freshen things up for spring. I pruned all of our front shrubs since we should be done with freezes. We brought our lunches/snacks to work with us. My husband had a business dinner at a very pricey restaurant, but the company paid for everyone, so no cost for us. We cooked & ate most meals at home. Stocked up on ground beef and whole chickens for the deep freezer on a sale at Costco. Our weather has been nice enough lately with highs in the 70s that we’ve been able to open windows in the house for some fresh air. Also a nice savings on not running central heat or air! We’ve only had to run the central heat sometimes in the mornings to take the chill off the house since it still cools down at night. In other news our new cat got a clean bill of health at the vet, in case anyone was wondering (she was a stray we’d taken in so there was some concern.) Everything checked out so now she’s in the process of getting used to the house & the other cats.

    I hope everyone has a wonderful week ahead!

  28. I love the pictures. Daffodils are one of my favorite flowers, and the “Jack jumps over the (not) candlestick” picture is so cute.
    I got organic strawberries on a good sale (for organic), of 3 pounds for $10.00. I sliced and froze them for later. I love produce loss leaders!
    Speaking of which, I got two clamshells of organic blueberries on a BOGO, which actually put them in a very good price range. Our bushes at home have blooms and tiny berries, but will not be ready to pick until June.
    I use loose leaf organic tea to brew tea for my kombucha, and I ordered five pounds of tea, enough to earn a discount on the overall price. I froze four pounds. I make kombucha regularly, so the tea will absolutely get used.
    I took advantage of the warm, breezy weekend to hang out laundry.
    After a long, long time of looking for one of those personal shopping carts to carry groceries in, I finally found one at Goodwill, for $6.99. My husband was about to order one for over $50, since we need a fairly large one. We live in the country, so we don’t walk to the store, but we have a long walk from our parking pad up the walk to our house, and making multiple trips from the car to the house after grocery shopping was really getting tiresome, especially since my husband can no longer help me.
    I continue to gas up at lowest and closest stations, look for loss leader sales at stores for things I actually need, pack my lunches for work, wear used and thrifted clothes and shoes, make my own laundry soap, and cook everyday. It all adds up!

    1. A good idea to get the shopping cart for bringing things up the hill. It is the one thing I dislike about moving to a monthly grocery shop, is how much hard work bringing groceries and other supplies into the house is by myself, especially in snowy weather.

      In Ontario, we used to call these carts bundle buggies. It isn’t an expression that people know in Western Canada, where I live now, but it always seems very cosy and domestic to me.

      1. I like that — bundle buggies! I was so happy to make exactly two trips from the car last week with groceries — one with the cart, one with the cooler. Done.

        1. I have two “bundle buggies” and since I don’t drive and use public transit (or walk) they are a life-saver! We used to laugh when we’d see “older women” using them but now everyone seems to have one or two and they make some quite stylish ones! My heavy duty one is in a dark blue metal and my more lightweight one is a bright red cloth one! 🙂
          What do they call them out west Elizabeth?

          1. You don’t see them very often here, but I think they would call them shopping carts.

            I have never seen the ones with nice fabric patterns that you see in Ontario. I think it is something that developed for neighborhood shopping in cities, and here people seem to just drive in their cars to Costco. It might be different in Vancouver or Victoria, I don’t know. Reusable bags are popular though.

            1. I love reusable bags! I know my mom uses them, but I have never seen another shopper using them when I am out shopping.

  29. Sending happy springtime thoughts here! My bulb flowers are a few inches tall, except the crocuses are lagging behind, almost two weeks late to start blooming. It is that impatient time of year when I want to clear all the dead leaves out of the garden and yet don’t want everything to freeze because I did so too early.
    I have more room in my freezer (only have the one on the fridge) because I made chicken-veggie-broth-like liquid from saved bags of chicken bones and vegetable ends. I can’t say it is as wonderful as the things I see pictured online, but it is perfectly fine and rather amuses me to be making something from trash. Many of our less-used spices are old, like thyme and sage, and I use extra to try to build up the taste.
    I have two deadlines to plan for to help me clear out some of our untouched stuff in the basement. My town’s biggest “fill-a-bag” yard sale is the first weekend of April, and they take donations even if one isn’t a member at that particular church. The town-wide yard sale is the first weekend of May. If I sort now, I can plan to give some to the first and save the more expensive things for my own sale as well. I sell more if I join the town-wide sale, but can’t go shopping for bargains at other people’s sales that day; quite a dilemma!
    Took my ziploc of squirrel food (garden seeds purchased on clearance the end of last summer) out of the freezer to start working on. I have poor luck starting seeds in the ground and plan to start some in peat pots I got at a yard sale last summer. I also need to dust the leaves and add more soil to my houseplants, so a big indoor gardening day is in order.
    From when I was very small, I remember my Mom growing ground cherries in her garden. I recall the taste and the paper-lantern shapes of the husks. I think she stopped because the squirrels or some other rodents were taking them all. Seeds are available online. Does anyone grow those now?

    1. I have tried a couple of years but have not been able to get them to germinate, unfortunately.

    2. Your “ground cherries” are known to me as “cape gooseberries” and I grew two large plants quite successfully over the summer here in Sydney. I would have thought they would grow well for you Brandy and I am told they self seed like weeds! I will keep you posted on that…

      1. They have the same growing requirements as tomatillos. I think the soil is drying out too quickly because of our high winds and high temperatures. Chinese Lanterns have the same needs (same family) but I have yet to get those to germinate, either. I have taken soil temperatures, too, but no luck. I still have some Chinese lantern seeds and I hope to try again.

  30. Last week I had some successes. I walked during my lunch break 4 times getting some free exercise. I was also able to walk from my office to some nearby stores one time to avoid having to drive my car to do my errands. Ate all meals at home.
    Over the weekend, I was able to stay in my budget by saying no to an activity (movies) with a friend due to the cost. She was open to my suggestion to take a hike = free visit with a friend that I had not seen in awhile plus extra exercise.
    On Sunday I was at one of the small stores in my small town and there was a box of free books outside the door (this happens a few times per year) I was able to get a like-new copy of one of my favorite finance books. I have borrowed this book many times from the library but I can now put it on my shelf with no cost to me.
    Happy Frugaling !

  31. Well, we enjoyed our vacation, but admittedly spent more than I would have liked. I’m looking forward to reading everyone’s comments for inspiration and encouragement. I’m planning on a much more frugal week this week!

  32. I’ve been reading the last few weeks but haven’t posted for a couple so here is for most of March! Frugal Accomplishments end of February and March:
    -Did not renew my Amazon Prime account. We don’t use any of the streaming services due to having poor Internet options in our area, and we’ve cut our spending way back so we haven’t even been ordering much. My plan is to only order when the amount is high enough to get free shipping and to not need anything in 2 days! Lol
    -Have been using the library more since I cut back my work hours. We did have a late fee last week so that was a frugal fail. I meant to get online and renew them until we could get to town and completely spaced it out. We are now adding the due dates to our big family calendar once again.
    –Worked out a tight but doable budget for March with our lower income predicted. Wet weather is hard for my husband to get some of his construction jobs in when it’s an outside project so we’re dependent on weather except for one inside project, which we are very thankful to have this time of year! (And now it’s time to do April’s budget so we’ll work on that this week, again with reduced income for my husband and with planning for my job ending in May.)
    -Worked out a reduced rate for March’s music lessons as our daughter will be at school functions during 2 of the 4 planned dates this month.
    -Not frugal but ended up with a $755 car repair bill on our getting-old Equinox. It’s paid for and we hope to be able to get a few more years out of it. It’s driving much better now and my husband thinks we’ll get better gas mileage. Hoping for no more repair bills this year! My husband did do part of the repair that he could do so we did save around $150-200 by not having the repair shop do that part.
    -My husband did the oil change in his work truck himself so we saved a bit over taking it to a shop.
    -Limited the electric heater use and tried to bundle up more and keep the wood stove going during the day when my husband was gone. This is usually our 2nd highest month for electric use for the year (the other being our August bill from air conditioning use) and I’m trying to help keep it at least a bit lower. We’ve also had some very nice spring-like days so we’ve had the heat off as much as possible.
    -Went for a job interview to replace my job that’s ending in May. I didn’t get that one, but they did refer me to another of their offices in another town so I’m waiting to hear if I get an interview for that one.
    -Helped our older daughter, who is a junior in college, file her own tax return using the free file options for both federal and state. So the filing was free! But due to her large amount of scholarships and grants, she owes almost $1,000 even though she made less than $6,000 at her job for the entire year. We are trying to squeeze that out of our budget before the deadline.
    -Updated my price book with newest ALDI and Walmart prices, which are our 2 cheapest stores here. This enabled me to look at the other store flyers over the weekend and determine if there were any good loss leader deals. And there were! I found a few types of pasta, canned tomatoes, and the BBQ sauce we like all at much cheaper prices than I can usually get. I stocked up on those. I was also able to score 8 pound bags of grapefruit, oranges and apples for $2.99 each and a 15 pound bag of russet potatoes for $2.99. Those beat our local ALDI prices. I will definitely be keeping the price book updated after each shopping trip, as that alone saved us a lot of money this month.
    -Paid an extra $110 on our truck debt. This was money leftover from coming in under budget in other categories. I also took my household coin jar to the bank and deposited $19.72, which also went as an extra truck payment. Not much but it will all definitely add up. I do like that I can make these payments online at anytime and don’t have to wait until I have a full payment and it doesn’t have to be on any set date. This helps me move extra money as quickly as possible to the debt so I don’t spend it on other stuff.
    -We paid off one small debt at the beginning of the month. This frees up $118 per month in our budget. We are on a mission to pay off the last of our small debts and also the larger truck balance. We hope to have another small medical bill paid off this week, freeing up another $65 per month. This will all help as our income drops when my job ends in May.

  33. Hi everyone – just in from work on what has been a very sunny – but still icy cold day here in Toronto! No crocus or daffodils in sight I’m afraid – but it’s wonderful to see all your beautiful flowers Brandy.
    I worked a total of 22 hours last week – so that will be another handy paycheque to look forward to. I took lunch and snacks as needed and treated myself to only one coffee out when I met a former colleague for a catchup chat on Thursday. Saturday lunch plans were cancelled so that saved some money as well.
    I enjoyed coffee and treats at Fellowship on Sunday, a light supper from leftovers before my volunteer session on Tuesday night – lunch at church for Lenten meditations (I was doing clean up this week so that was my donation for this lunch – normally chip in $5) – then was comped a ticket to the Speakers Series talk that evening (for helping with a lot of extras) and then enjoyed wine and cheese afterwards – so that was supper that night. FYI – I don’t think I’m ever going to buy a Smart Phone after hearing this speaker talk about Cyber Insecurity. He was also featured on 60 Minutes last night (Ron Deibert from Canada Labs) although we got much more of the story – it is a very scary world out there!
    When I finally got around to some cooking I used up some Pho broth from my pantry, veggies already in the fridge & freezer and added some frozen chicken & black mushroom dumplings that I also had on hand – and the soup tasted great! I took a few servings to my elderly neighbour and he gifted me with some mangos & green apples in return.
    Found some loose change in a few spots last week so added it to my coin jar. Didn’t need a lot of groceries but there were a lot of bargains for stock up purposes this week as our NO Frills grocery store had their $1 and $2 sale on a lot of items.
    Picked up a new tube of my prescription eye cream at the drugstore and thanks to our Govt. health plan it was Zero cost to me!
    Read two more library books and got them all back on time – so no fines to pay.
    Did 4 loads of laundry and it was all hung up to dry on my clothes rack – I put the rack in the bathtub and there is a big, sunny window that dries things very quickly. All ironing done and clothes put away! Now if I could stop procrastinating and get this apt. tidied up I’d be really happy! 🙂


  34. Brandy, I love your photography and your writing. I just wish there was a way to include the week in the title of each week’s Frugal Accomplishments blog entry so I would stop accidentally clicking on the wrong link.
    I just wrapped up one more frugal accomplishment that I started last week. I had signed up for Great Courses Online a few weeks ago and was thrilled with my $15/month forever rate until a $10/month forever offer popped up in my Facebook feed. Late last week I sent an email to customer service asking if I could change to the lower rate plan. It couldn’t hurt to ask, I thought. I heard back today that they could deactivate my current service, send me a prorated refund for the rest of this quarter, and I could sign up for the cheaper plan. I worried that the lower cost offer might expire after I deactivated my account and before I signed up again if I did things via email. So I called them this afternoon, had my old account deactivated, and started the sign-up-again process while I was still on the phone with a representative. I ended the call when it came time to fish through my wallet for the credit card. It is “only $5 a month” less but that adds up to a $600 a decade savings.

  35. I love that last photo, the action shot of jumping over the toy vehicle in rain boots.
    Here are my frugal accomplishments from the last two weeks:
    — Used a “bonus buck” type incentive received from work as cash in the vending machine.
    — Picked up a free card from Hallmark and, while there, a notebook with my daughter’s initial on clearance for use in either Easter basket or Christmas stocking
    — Used a Visa gift card, received at a work event (and which expires this month), when buying daughter 2 spring dresses that she picked out and actually likes! (Daughter is 12, almost 13.)
    — Ate free chicken wings and drank free beverage at work event; free donut another day at work
    — Colleague had brought in food his wife had cleared out thinking there would be a food shelf donation, but he missed the cutoff time and was giving the option to anyone who would take anything. I took a box of crackers for daughter’s snacks and a box of lasagna noodles.
    — Attended a local charity’s fish fry and won a basket with a $1 raffle ticket: 2 washcloths (just in time to replace the two that have completely fallen apart!), 5 shower gels, 4 bar soaps, bath salts, body butter creme, sponge loofah, lady’s watch and the basket itself. We should be good and clean for a good long while.
    — It was my turn to bring treats for a Bible study group. I made an almond Bundt cake; had all ingredients on hand, except needed to buy a $1.79 container of sour cream (because the family keeps eating all our sour cream). Served it with raspberries and blueberries from the freezer that we had picked last summer, and used paper plates left over from previous events, plus personalized paper napkins left over from my wedding — 20 years ago. (We have been using them for picnics, etc., ever since; I think it was one of those things where you were required to buy a certain amount.) I also used my grandmother’s (the one the recipe was from) Tupperware cake holder and divided round container with lid to transport the cake and the berries. These were items she passed on when she was moving out of her house several years ago.
    — Meals in the past two weeks have included a frittata which used some onions and potato from the pantry; ham slices from the Christmas ham reheated and served with stuffing; leftover hot dog buns turned into French toast sticks.
    —Returned items from spring online clothing shopping that didn’t fit for refund/credit. (Some items were ordered in two sizes, knowing this would happen.)

  36. We’ve had beautiful weather in northwest Wyoming. There is still lots of snow in the passes in Yellowstone National Park, though. The gate close to us opens at the beginning of May.

    I used the last of the Christmas ham to make ham, potato and bean soup. I’m hosting a luncheon for 8 next week so I have been preparing food ahead of time and freezing the homemade bread, corn muffins, and several types of cookies as well as soup. I’ll make a vegetarian rice dish just before the lunch, too. I made Tightwad Gazette toffee and froze it. I used almonds instead of walnuts, since I wanted to use up the almonds.

    My church is participating in the Freedom Project, which makes quilts for victims of human trafficking, so I am working on a quilt top. I let out the hem on a pair of park ranger uniform pants that a shorter woman who had gained some weight gave to me. So it is good to have one more pair of uniform pants. The park service gives you a uniform allowance to order uniforms but some of the items are very expensive -such as jackets, hats, boots, belts- so if you want a good quantity, you have to spend your own money. I am too stubborn to do that, so I appreciate the “outgrown” clothes some other rangers have given me. Last year my husband kindly bought me a warm uniform jacket with part of his allowance, because after 8 years, he had quite a few uniform pieces and didn’t need to order new ones.

    I find I often enjoy the children’s movies on Netflix more than the adult movies. Recently I enjoyed Christopher Robin, A Wrinkle in Time and Paddington 2.

    1. If you are enjoying children’s movies, may I recommend Wall-E, Curious George, Marley and Me (make sure you have tissues handy), Two Brothers (the cinematography is outstanding in this movie) and Ready Player One (this is more of a pre-teen movie, but I loved it enough to watch is at least 4 times now).

  37. Here are our frugal accomplishments for the last week! There are quite a few because it was spring break for me, so I had time to do extra work 🙂

    * I went through my closet and looked at the types of clothes I wore the most and the ones I wished I had more of, and I made a purchase from an online thrift store (with coupon) for several of these items. I ended up with 17 shirts & tank tops for $33 after shipping.

    * “Imperfect Produce” has finally expanded to my city, and, as a first-time customer, I got a 50% off coupon on my first box. I ordered the largest box they have (23-25 lbs for $25-$27), so I would get the largest discount. We won’t eat through that much food (it would feed 6!) but I plan on including lots of items that can be frozen or dehydrated. I also hope to get some options that I normally can’t buy (because Aldi has a limited selection).

    * I packed lunch for myself on days where I was out of the house for a while.

    * I baked cornbread for my SO’s work potluck. Not only does everyone love it, it’s also very cheap and simple to make.

    * I finished a few ebooks I had from the library, and checked out another.

    * I baked a loaf of bread to supplement our meals for the week.

    * I cleaned out the fridge and took inventory. Based off of the inventories of the fridge and freezer, I’ve used up several items, and have plans to use more. This included roasting several pounds of potatoes and a head of cabbage, making several tofu dishes, making homemade biscuits, and more.

    * I harvested basil, Thai basil, and dill from my Aerogarden, and dehydrated all of it except the stems, which I put into my “stock bag” in the freezer.

    I hope everyone else had a great week!

  38. Hello Frugal Friends,

    I love to see your garden! My husband is building me a new garden box tomorrow! It has been fun to pick out a design and think about how we want it to be. Here are my frugal accomplishments:
    – Set my son on a missions trip for Spring Break to Mexico. Not the most frugal but hopefully will have a bog impact in his life! I packed him a lot of snacks in bags for the drive down.
    – We are planning a frugal garden, trying to keep the cost down by pricing out wood, metal, etc..
    – I made a nice banana pudding for my father in law, who requested it.
    – I have been earning on Earning Station, Swagbucks, Field Agent, Coin Out and more. There is more information on my blog about this.
    – I put some lettuce bottoms and celery bottoms in glasses of water to see if I can get them to regrow. I enjoy seeing them create an additional plant.
    – Trying to keep driving and spending down this week during our Spring Break.
    – Sent away for a lot of samples, which are on my blog at:
    Lots of free stuff including a Walgreens 8×10 through tomorrow, free hair care, free food, free soap and more.
    – Lots of meals at home including burritos with a little meat to stretch my hamburger, chicken, split pea soup.
    – Speaking of split pea soup, that is a super frugal meal that everyone here likes, served with bread.
    – Worked at the consignment shop today while my husband took my daughter to the zoo on a pre paid pass.
    That’s about all!

  39. Your narcissus are just beautiful! (Ours finished blooming a few months ago, but our Siberian iris are blooming now.) And Octavius looks like he’s having a grand time. I loved that stage.

    Once again, I failed to write anything down, so here’s what I remember.

    Our Frugal Efforts:

    * Ate mostly home-prepared meals, and Hubs came home for lunch each workday.

    * Purchased a huge pork roast for 99 cents/lb. at a Sprouts 72-hour sale. It went straight into the freezer.

    * Harvested lettuce, peas, and spinach from the garden.

    * Made yogurt.

    * Composted or fed the chickens fruit/vegetable scraps.

    * We still had some yogurt left over from the last time I made it, and it was getting too tangy for us. Instead of just pouring it down the drain, I’ve been feeding it to the chickens. They like it, and it’s good for their shells.

    Frugal Fail (Maybe–I haven’t decided yet.)

    * Son was accidentally knocked into the pool before practice–with his clothes on and his phone in his pocket. He jumped out as quickly as possible, but the phone was damaged beyond repair. (That’s the “fail” part, although it was a total accident.) We tried drying it out in rice–no luck. Fortunately, we had taken out insurance on his phone (something we would not normally do, but we had heard stories of high schoolers throwing other students’ phones across classrooms). So, after an $89 deductible, he got a replacement phone in less than 24 hours. So, it’s sort of a frugal win in that we didn’t have to both complete paying for a destroyed phone and buy a new one. I’d rather it hadn’t gone in the pool to begin with, but . . . . .

    That’s all I can remember at the moment. Now I’m off to read everyone else’s comments. I always get good ideas. Have a great week, everyone!

  40. Frugal doings this week include:-

    1. I got a whole heap of food from my parents fridge because they were going away and they wanted to turn power off to save money.
    2. Gas company over charged me for gas over several years, so now I have an insane credit of several thousand dollars. The bills I get from them all say, ‘payment made’ on them.
    3. Made a meal for church using ingredients from Aldi. Aldi is so much cheaper than our other supermarkets, including Costco.
    Moving into Winter, I am setting out kale and rocket for salad greens over the colder months.

    1. Have you asked the gas company if they would refund you some of the credit to correct their mistake? Legally, it seems like they’d have to refund you if you moved.

  41. Hello All! Beautiful photos as always Brandy!
    It’s been a rough 2 weeks here, more expenses than savings. The transmission on our son’s car went & after having 2 mechanics look at it, we decided against repairing for a number of reasons. So, a new to us vehicle was purchased for son to drive ( he commutes to college locally). We were able to take the money from savings so now we need to rebuild. The local restaurant supply store had a 1 day meat sale: ground beef $1.50/lb, frozen shrimp $5.00/lb, & the 40lb box of chicken breast for $30.00 came in & had to be picked up. We ended up over budget however, the freezer is stocked & I don’t anticipate purchasing protein for a long while. On the plus side, I was given a scratch off lottery ticket & won $3.00! I was able to fill my gas tank with 40 cents off a gallon from my grocery points & I made bathroom wipes using rubbing alcohol, ammonia & Dawn with free microfiber cloths my husband picked up for me at Harbor Freight. I’m enjoying reading all the posts & working towards a better week.

  42. A friend picked up 2 for 1 items for me at Co-op. I went to Winners with a friend where I got really lovely tea towels, part linen, for $6.98 for two.
    Not much new here. Almost finished the research at the museum/archives and also writing. Almost ready to pass it to others for editing and proofreading. Feeing rather ill today.

    Brandy — it’s a fabulous photo of Octavius!

  43. I purchased a lot of fresh asparagus at a rock bottom price. I stored them in an inch or so of water in a square-bottomed popcorn container and covered the top loosely with a plastic veggie bag.. The asparagus stayed fresh for a couple of weeks in the refrigerator with no trace of sliminess.

    I harveted a last batch of baby broccoli leaves before pulling the 4 year old plants up. I made broccoli beef stir-fry with the florets, added the leaves to soups, and made a floral arrangement with the stalks of flowers.

    I polished my silver serving tongs using a paste made of wood stove ashes that have been put rhrough a sieve to prevent scratch marks.

    Did a quadruple score the last few weeks. Hubby got exercise by chopping up downed wood beside our creek. He did his community service by dismantling the huge dam that can cause flooding. He burned the wood to keep us warm. We cooked our dinner on the wood stove for the next night.

    In the winter, we have been propping a small, thick mirror against our backyard wall to reflect natural light onto our dark kitchen’s ceiling. I am able to do paperwork and read during the day without turning lights on. Hubby makes sure mirror is not magnified, and he adjusts it for me for max lighting. Beware of visible hanging cobwebs when using this method!

    Thank you, Brandy! I am eternally grateful to you for your massive time spent to inspire us, and to make it possible for all of us to share with others!

  44. I love all those daffodils! They are a happy sight.

    We have pretty much been bumbling along here. Same old same old but it is those small, unexciting activities such as taking my lunch with me to work and reading library books that get the money saving job done.

    I did, however, find a cardboard box full of old sewing supplies at a garage sale that really made my day!

  45. I have spent the week purging. I am in the mindset that there is just so much stuff that we really don’t need in this part of our life. I tossed out 95 % of my clothes. I kept very little. Next I cleared my bathroom out. I rarely use all those personal care products now and much of it was old. I rented a small uhaul and took a full load to the recycling center. Army boy has a shock coming , we cleared his room out . Took two car loads too. I’m amazed at all the stuff we collected in better times that was just not needed. My frame of mind is changing. I will only bring home something we really need and will not waste money on stuff. I can only imagine what I could have saved over the years had I not been spending money . Finding balance is very refreshing. I have a huge trash can of hundreds of ink cartridges. I could be claiming
    $20.00 a month in credit from Staples recycling program. That’s $240.00 a year in free stuff I’m not getting because I’m not utilizing the program. That credit will buy a lot of TP and assorted other items. I bought a new HP printer and will buy two sets of ink there each year to use the program. Swagbucks paid for the printer . I mainly use my printer for couponing. I plan to continue to stretch every dollar we have put away now to make it last my lifetime. I did use the 50% off coupon at Kroger to get Easter candy for my kids. One favorite kind for each child. I once again am out of contact with my son. I’m going to pay his minimum on his new credit card for him so he avoids a late charge. I’m using Swagbucks for that too. I love how versatile they can be. I will add that to his owe mommy bill. Now off to find stuff to put in my donation boxes. I know there is surely something !

  46. Brandy, can you tell me about your fence ? I’ve never seen one like it, it is a Las Vegas thing? I’ve only ever lived in MS and TX where fences are wooden or brick. Each of my family members lives on land in middle of soybean fields with no neighbors (my sister has no neighbors for almost two miles) so no fences needed. Just curious as fence was in background of your most recent pictures of your beautiful yard
    I’ve been collecting books for my book club’s donation to Little Free Libraries. Thrift store I can only go to when I pet sit had kids’ books for 25 cents. I got ten brand new autographed books that retail for $20 each.

    1. The wall is a cinder block wall. They are very common in the desert southwest (California, Nevada, Arizona). The home builders put them in to divide tract home lots (and people who build custom homes put them in here as well). Wood fences don’t last in the sun here; they would fade in a couple of months and disintegrate in a couple of years. I rarely see other types of fencing here; chain link, for example, is very rare. Cinder block is not used in colder climates as it doesn’t do well with freezing and thawing. The blocks are hollow inside, so they are a huge haven for bugs, such as cockroaches and scorpions. The lizards who eat the bugs like to sun on the sides of the walls. They are territorial and each has his own section of wall. I see lizards every time I go outside 🙂

      Lots are small here; most lots are .10 to .16 acre lots. We have a large lot here of .24 acres. Land is pricey even though it is just desert, so there aren’t many people with large lots. There are people around me with custom homes on larger lots, but that is the minority. Las Vegas is in a valley surrounded by mountains, and it’s mostly filled with tract homes. Zoning laws keep homes and businesses fairly separated from one another. It’s always odd to me to see mixed zoning in other states, because here there are areas for houses and areas for business.

  47. I have joined a volunteer gardening group that goes into older or disabled residents homes and has a gardening bee to help them keep their gardens under control and so they can stay in their homes longer. I decided I needed a smarter shirt to wear gardening as I wear my daggiest old clothes when I do my own gardening so I found a long sleeve work shirt at the op shop this morning for $1 which will give lots of sun protection and protection from scratches.

    At another op shop I found a lovely dress for $20 which I can wear to a formal dinner later in the year at a conference I’ll be going to with my husband. I just need a strapless bra to wear with it as it has a semi sheer top so I’m hoping to pick one up if I keep my eyes peeled.

    Now the weather is starting to cool here I’m planting some lettuce, silverbeet and I’m going to try growing potatoes in a bag. And I’m going to keep a closer eye on my vegie patch.

  48. This past week my frugal accomplishments were centered around making homemade cards. I made birthday cards for April Birthdays, Easter cards, and get ‘whale’ soon cards for a sick Aunt and our friend that was in a bad car accident. I got a 6 pack of Hershey candy bars for $1.50 and printed off free candy bar wrappers to put in with the Easter gifts. I posted the wrappers and card ideas here:
    We kept to minimal grocery shopping and used a swagbucks grocery store gift card for what we did purchase. To help focus on what resources we have, we inventoried the freezer and the home canned goods stored under the bed. We check things off when we move canned goods to the kitchen shelves or freezer items from the chest freezer to the freezer above the fridge. I adjusted our meal planning to account for the things we had (or didn’t have).
    I did the usual – hang the laundry to dry, freeze produce we can’t use in time (this time it was sauteed mushrooms), washed only full loads of laundry, used warming water for the seedlings in the house, and made homemade bread, tortillas, and hamburger buns.
    It was a rough week with overtime required. I’m salary so I don’t get paid overtime so there’s really no win there. I’m really proud we managed not to eat out even though it was tempting when we were out running errands and doing appointments after a 10 hour day.

  49. Brandy, I wanted to share this story with you since you were instrumental in setting us on the path to Duo Lingo.
    My granddaughter, Gaby, is 14. She has a love of all things French…she always has.
    Gaby told me a few years ago that she wanted to learn French and I turned to you knowing you would have the answer.
    We set up the computer and let her at it.
    A few months later Gaby, her mom and brother moved into their own home. I never heard about French again. *laughing*
    I am watching the kids for a few days while their mama is working out of town. Gaby tells me last night that a teacher was chatting with the girls yesterday. This teacher is the Spanish teacher. She also speaks French and Italian. Gaby told her teacher that she spoke French also. The teacher asked her to lunch where they spoke only French for the duration.
    I can’t thank you enough for all you do for us.
    This has saved me who knows how much money. Gaby is my first granddaughter. She is my namesake. I am the first to admit I would have spent the money for lessons.
    I hope you don’t ever stop what you are doing.
    I wonder if you know how many lives you touch?
    What a lovely mission.
    Thank you for sharing your knowledge, time, family and self with us.
    The last thing I want to say is I am so happy to be way older than you. *laughing* That means I can go on reading and learning from you until I’m gone.
    Thank you.

  50. A new Maisie Dobbs novel came out this week! “The American Agent” by Jacqueline Winspear.
    I managed to get it first from my library and it starts off like her best books: Set in London, LOTS of period description, this one during the bombings in London, and of course a murder mystery.

  51. It has been a good week!
    I bought a new-to-me refrigerator to put in the garage. It was $50, and only a few years old. It’s definitely nothing fancy, but it will be great to have for additional stockups.
    I put together a basket of kids clothes to take to the consignment store, and sold some of the nicer name brands on facebook marketplace.
    I used a rain check for strawberries and bought loss leaders and meat markdowns. I’ve seen boneless skinless chicken breasts for sale under $1/# at several places lately (currently at Randall’s), so the extra meat will help free up the grocery budget for all the in-season produce that is right around the corner.
    My kids always check the Coin Star machines at stores, and often find change in or around the machine.
    I bought some clothes at a garage sale which I resold on facebook. I kept some for my own kids.
    I made a very early dinner for everyone to eat before baseball practice to avoid fast food.
    I bought gas at the cheaper gas station close to work.
    I opened the windows to enjoy our beautiful weather.
    I looked up information to contest our property taxes, which went up 10% over last year. Our rate (2.6%) is cheaper than some surrounding counties and districts, however.
    We got the “free” toothbrushes, toothpaste, and floss from the dentist. Not really free, as we don’t have dental insurance and it’s over $200/child for the cleaning, exam, and Xrays, but at least it’s something. The fillings they put in my older son’s baby teeth less than a year ago have already come out, and they’re recommending sedation and crowns, but I think I’m going to get a second opinion. How do you all (in the US) save on dental work?

    1. Why would they put crowns on baby teeth? I’ve honestly never heard of this – if a filling has come out within a year I’d be back there telling them to fix it – and I wouldn’t be paying either! Good luck with this – I think a second opinion is definitely in order.

      I’m in Canada and I have private dental insurance that covers 90% of checkups, x-rays and fillings.

      1. Margie, what typically happens is the cavity wasn’t completely removed and after the filling, it continued to eat up the tooth causing the hole to enlarge and the filling to come out. I’ve often wondered if bad repairs are not just a way to keep bleeding the patient out of more treatments and money. I’ve seen and heard many unscrupulous stories in my day. Thankfully everyone loved my husband and his practice was very successful.

    2. Leigh Ann , my late husband was a dentist so I have a great deal of experience with this issue. I will say right off the bat that all six of our children have had dental problems that had to be repaired so even the dentist children get cavities. This can be a hot topic and I pass no judgement. Crowns on baby teeth are very common. Many young children , think two or three have horrific cavities. Often these are babies sucking on sugar filled bottles all night long. This includes milk too. Medicaid pays for this type work here. We have huge dental practices here that serve Medicaid patients almost exclusively. The numbers of children being treated is staggering. It is a money maker. My husband was not a Medicaid provider. Any such child would have been referred to a pediatric provider. Honestly, depending on the age of the child and the location of the tooth, I would pull it if it was close to falling out naturally. ( leaving a space for to long can create shifting issues which are expensive too.) Otherwise you can check prices at other practices. Sadly payment plans rarely exist. I know this won’t help you now but brushing followed by flossing is the best thing you can do. My children have been using flowers as soon as they could hold them. Backed up by parents of course. Mine flossed in bathtub. Second opinions are great. I hate to admit that I know many practices that are extremely aggressive in treatment plans. It’s all about the money. I will add, I never have left my children unattended for treatment and there is a valid reason for that. Always inquire about that. Good luck.

    3. Most definitely get a second opinion. Crowns on baby teeth sounds extreme. I pay for private dental insurance (which is new to me this year), unfortunately my dentist (someone I trust) is not in network, which makes the co payment really high. I will not get this insurance next year. I also will not switch dentist. He was my second opinion, after a previous dentist told my daughter she had 7 cavities ( in less than 6 months). The second opinion dentist, said only one area was of concerned, and should be monitor. 7 years later she has only needed one cavity repair.
      Hope all works out for you Leigh Ann.

  52. I just love reading all your frugal accomplishments! It’s so inspiring.
    We have our house listed for sale as we are moving out of state (from IL to KY) to start a new business venture with friends. My husband quit his job 2 weeks ago which was earlier than expected. But it was an ethical issue, so I understand and support him. He’s just not the type to up and quit so it had to of been a very large thing! We had savings to get us through winter and thankfully I paid bills ahead, but we were at the end of our emergency fund when he quit! Trying not to panic. I’m so thankful the house and car bills are paid for April.
    I was able to sub 4 days at my big kids school and they fed me for free so that was a help.
    The big kids and I also went and picked up sticks at my SIL’s house after a wind storm. She gave both big kids $40 each which we used for groceries for the week & stocked up on things like peanut butter.
    We have been really good about eating all meals at home and getting creative with the food.
    My oldest daughter was given three expensive pieces of clothing for her birthday that she will never wear. I took them back for store credit and then when the store ran a shorts sale this past week I bought her enough pairs for this summer! Yay! My other two kids seem to be pretty well set for summer, as they both have short sleeve shirts, shorts, and bathing suits that still fit! I had also bought a few cheap things for all three kids for Easter at the thrift store previously and was able to get them a gold bunny for cheap after gift cards and coupons this week, so we may not have money right now, but I’m ready for Easter! I bought crescent rolls as well because we have a tradition of making resurrection rolls for Easter breakfast & my daughter was already anxious that we wouldn’t be able to this year.
    We also had an offer on the house! It was a terrible offer that we just outright rejected, but the kid came back and had his realtor “unofficially” counter and discuss. We’ve come way down and have told them if they submitted an official offer at a certain price, that we would accept. We shall see what tomorrow holds! This would help us out so much though so I’m praying it all works out.
    My hubby will have to travel to KY for the new business this week but luckily he’s crashing on our friends’ couch and that will save money! I know they will feed him dinners as well so I’m trying to sell some things on Facebook marketplace to cover his gas and lunches. There’s so many things I want to sell so I don’t have to move them, but I don’t want to be showing an empty house either so it’s a fine line! Some things we will just have to keep for staging purposes until we have an accepted offer on our house.

  53. As I am starting my seedlings to plant in May, I thought of a question about your garden. Do you grow things like tomotoes, cucumbers, potatoes, beans, brussels (just wondering because I haven’t seen them mentioned). Do you do any canning at all? I only ask because growing those items really help my budget and canning wasn’t as hard to learn as I thought. I make regular pickles, pasta (tomato/spaghetti), pickled string beans and chow chow, beets, potatoes…etc. Our growing season is short, about 3 months, but when I take the time to can, we enjoy the benefits of the garden all year.

    1. Do I can? Here are photos of my pantry: We enjoy our garden all year-round, from canned, frozen, and fresh. For the last few months I have bought potatoes and little else, as we have eaten from our pantry. We have gone over a year without shopping before.

      With our high heat, it is very difficult to grow enough tomatoes to can. Once the heat sets in, they stop flowering. I only get a few weeks of tomatoes. Beans are the same; the heat is too much and they stop flowering, and then the vines burn to a crisp. Bush beans do not flower here (I’ve tried); the extension service recommends the yard-long beans, which I grow. The only person in town that I know who gets enough to can (beans and tomatoes) has a greenhouse that she cools with a swamp cooler for most of the year, that is covered with shade cloth. It adds humidity (which beans also like) and keeps it cool enough for the plants to not burn and to keep flowering. She can afford to do this because the family is completely off-grid with solar panels and three windmills.

      Broccoli and cauliflower must be grown during the winter here. Again, it is very warm. Seeds must be started indoors in July. I do not grow indoors as I do not have a place. I have bought starts from the nursery in late October, only to have them start to form heads and then immediately bolt in January. The heads were no bigger than 2 inches across because of the heat. I was disappointed in this and will not be wasting space for these again; instead, I look for sales on broccoli.

      Potatoes are planted in January here. I have not had any luck with them. We go through 60 pounds a week. It is cheaper to buy them than the grow them, and I do not have the space to grow what we need.

      I grow what is most cost effective for me. This includes fruit, which I have canned in the past. The last two years we lost most of our apricot crops for the first time, so I did not can apricot jam. We lost both peach trees, so I am not canning peaches and won’t be able to for a few more years until the new trees are larger. I will can from the Early Elberta trees but not from the Desert Gold, as that one is a semi-cling and is better to freeze.

      My apple tree died as well but we are still eating applesauce from it.

      My fig tree makes tons of fruit, but there is only so much fig jam one can eat. I have years of jam on the shelves. The last couple of years I made other things with it as we are not getting through it as jam.

      Armenian cucumbers are the only ones that grow in our heat; the others don’t flower, and early ones that flower in April before the heat sets in turn yellow and bitter at only a couple of inches long. Armenian cucumbers are technically a melon, but I canned two shelves of pickles last year with them. I usually have to wait until November to get any cucumbers from them as it gets too hot for them during the summer.

      I grow grapes; I have canned juice as well as grapes in the past. Some years the birds get more of them and the last couple of years I have had fungus and grape leaf skeletonizer issues that have damaged my crops.

      As my family grows larger, we eat a lot more of the food while it is fresh. Last year I froze a lot of fruit to use in smoothies. We are still eating that.

      Every year in the garden is different. I’m hoping for a productive year this year!

  54. Thanks for the explanation. I am pretty new to your blog and haven’t had a chance to do an archive binge, due to having a full time job. I was curious due to the number of things you’ve bought to plant(like the trees) that have died, due to the weather, if you find sometimes it is cheaper to purchase rather than grow.
    I have never lived in an area that have regulations on how much water you can use, so things like saving your shower warm up water is seems odd to me. It would be extremely diffuclt, at least to me, to justify things like sprinklers and garden plants, when water seems so scarce.
    It’s great that you can feed and cloth your family so cheaply, I know there were stages when my 4 were growing up, where they are me out of house and home. I know gardening and canning things like meat, large batches of alfredo sauce, and such was a budget saver, even though we had two incomes.
    One tip, given to me by another mother during a college move in day…If you are close to a college campus, move out day is an excellent place to find furnishing and other “garbage” that college kids throw out rather than move out. We take the truck, drive the streets and gathered enough furnishing’s for our daughter’s first apartment (and found a new patio set for myself)
    I look forward to future blog posts and going back through the archives!!

    1. Peach trees generally die after about 10 years here, and that is when ours died. We had hundreds of pounds of peaches from our trees for several years, grown organically. I would not have been able to buy organic peaches like that. I would landscape my yard no matter what (I’m not going to just have a rock yard, but many people do) so getting back water in the form of fruit and flowers is wonderful to me. In addition, it makes me happy to be at home, and I don’t feel like I have to be somewhere else all the time, because I can enjoy the beauty in my own garden. I always think it is worth it to grow as much as possible in your own yard. We ate canned fruits only for a few years when our trees were first planted (the first trees) and we were living on just the food we had stored for over a year with no shopping at all. I am happy to have fresh food to eat, and nothing beats the taste of homegrown tomatoes, grapes, peaches, apricots, and asparagus! I’m also happy to freeze food to use in smoothies. If you have a place to grow food, why not grow it? Drip irrigation is a wonderful thing, delivering the water just to where you need it in the garden, and it uses less water than sprinklers on a garden. Drip-irrigated trees can be 4 times as productive as trees that are irrigated in other ways. I get over 100 pounds of grapes each year. I certainly get back more in fruit than I pay in water.

      We live in the driest state in the nation, but just as playgrounds here have real grass, so does my children’s playground in our back yard. We play on it every single day of the year. It’s worth it to have them out running and jumping on the grass, and certainly good for their health. It keeps the area bit cooler, too, which is also important here, as the city reflects a lot of heat. I save shower warm-up water to save money as well as to save water. Why be wasteful?

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