Frugal Accomplishments

Last Week’s Frugal Accomplishments

We finished putting up the last of the Christmas decorations: I hung faux wreaths I already had and my son put up our LED lights out front. We did not hang lights on the roof but decorated the trees and bushes in the yard instead. We put them on a timer so that they shut off on their own. I ran an early-morning errand this week and saw that many people leave their lights on all night! I am glad that I am not paying for electricity all night for the lights.

I wrapped gifts in the reusable boxes that I purchased last year and the year before.

I returned some items that won’t work for gifts.

We listened to Christmas music on Pandora.

We had a simple celebration for my eldest’s birthday at home with homemade brownies.

I placed holds on several e-books from the library. I’ll have to be patient for the books to come in, but I won’t have to buy them to read them.

I watched a free photography class on Creative Live. The classes are free to watch while they are live, and available to purchase for a discounted rate while they are live. During this time of year, they reshow classes from previous, making them live again. I’ve signed up for three more classes that are being re-aired next week that I will watch for free. (If you use this link you’ll get $15 off the purchase of any class.)

I harvested Meyer lemons from the garden. I zested them before using and dried the zest. I used the dried zest to make homemade lemon pepper seasoning.

 

We still haven’t had our first frost this year. I picked a colander full of green tomatoes from the garden and brought them in to ripen inside.

I was tempted to go out with my husband on a date. Instead, we stayed at home, ate food we already had, and played a card game after the children were in bed for our date instead.

What did you do to save money this past week?

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94 Comments

  1. OhEmGee, your son is adorable! I love that you take photos with what you have instead of buying props. I really enjoy your photography!

    I had a pretty productive week:
    – I made a new recipe for my father’s birthday: Shortbread Crumble Apple Pie (http://approachingfood.com/shortbread-crumble-apple-pie/). It was a hit! I made it in fits and starts over several days, trying to fit it in around caring for a baby. One day I peeled and chopped the apples, another day I made the pastry, another day I put it all together and baked it.
    – I bought 10 lbs of onions for$1.97. I chopped up most of them and froze them for future use.
    – I redeemed Pinecone Research points for $5 to my Paypal account.
    – Using my local trading app, I traded two dozen peanut butter, banana, and chocolate drop cookies for a hardcover book of James Herriott’s Yorkshire. I’ll gift it to my mom this Christmas. I wrapped the cookies in cellophane baggies and ribbon that I traded for.
    – I baked (hopefully the last batch) of eggless chocolate chip cookies for my husband’s colleagues as thank-yous, also wrapping them in cellophane baggies and ribbon traded for. I was running out of chocolate chips, so I chopped up various bits of chocolates that my husband had give me over the past year (ex. last Christmas, Easter, etc.) that I didn’t actually like, and added it in. Worked perfectly, and cleared out a bit of my baking supplies drawer.
    – I made Cheesy Broccoli and Potato Soup (http://approachingfood.com/5-minute-easy-cheesy-broccoli-baked-potato-soup/), to use up some broccoli leftover from dinner one night. I served it with homemade cheddar-garlic biscuits (I used cheese bought on sale, grated, and frozen) and a creamy vegetable salad made with my homemade Ranch dressing (http://approachingfood.com/the-purest-ranch-dressing-youll-ever-make-foodie-accomplishment-awards/) which contained homemade yoghurt. A meal hearty enough for a cold December evening, but still full of yummy veggies.
    – I made salmon patties using extra onion and using breadcrumbs made from bread crusts my mother gave me from Thanksgiving. One can of salmon fed 4 adults well (my husband, MIL, sister, and mom). Served with leftover cheesy biscuits, frozen peas, and leftover salad, it was quite a frugal meal, but well received!
    – I got a free pop using the NY Fries app. It was a freebie for downloading the app, and a nice treat when I went Christmas shopping.
    – I went Christmas shopping for books for my friends’ children, using Swagbucks gc.
    – I made bows using velvet ribbon I had traded for previously.
    – People have been very generous with giving us clothing for the baby and she is fully set for at least the next month (possibly two depending on how fast she grows), so I returned some gifts given to us for store credit, so that when she needs clothing, I have store credit to use. Better than having too many infant clothes and never wearing them!
    – I made cream of mushroom soup using dried thyme I grew on my balcony this summer. I ran out of milk so I used some homemade yoghurt. I ran out of salt (!) so I used a bit more bouillon. It was great!
    – I made spritz snowflake cookies and packaged some up with a homemade chocolate-covered spoon, for my daughter’s pediatrician. I used packaging and ribbon I had traded for. I ended up forgetting it at home, so I gave it to my sister to use as a hostess gift for a friend. I sandwiched some together with chocolate, and others I topped with turbinado sugar for a Danish butter cookie look. I froze those to serve on Christmas day.
    – I made spanakopita hand pies, but didn’t want to buy cream cheese for it, so I drained some homemade yoghurt to make yoghurt cheese. I also didn’t want to buy spinach just for the recipe, so I used the frozen mixed greens I had in my freezer. Worked great!
    – I made a batch of laundry detergent.
    – I sewed my daughter a baptismal bonnet, using the link that Rhonda posted a few months ago (a bonnet made from a handkerchief; I made a handkerchief first, then used that to make the bonnet). Thanks, Rhonda!
    – I had a baguette that had gone stale (my husband had bought one too many when they were on sale last week), so I turned it into a French toast casserole. I had run out of brown sugar, so I used white sugar with some blackstrap molasses, which made for a very nice maple-ish flavour when baked.
    – I made a pizza (http://approachingfood.com/easiest-pizza-dough-ever/) using the last of the applewood-smoked salami that I had traded for last year that I had frozen.
    – I made herbed salmon and rosemary potatoes using only herbs that I grew on my balcony last summer.
    – I made pancakes, using homemade yoghurt instead of buttermilk.
    – I downloaded a free book using a promo code from Harlequin.com.

    Looking forward to learning from everyone. Happy hols to all!

    1. Hi Is it possible for you to please post the eggless chocolate chip cookie recipe? I looked on your website but didn’t see it. Thanks!

      1. Hi Ellie’s friend from Canada!

        I didn’t come up with the recipe myself, but got it from another blog: https://www.keepinglifesane.com/best-eggless-chocolate-chip-cookies/ I use a cookie scoop and find that the cookies come out looking much nicer than they do in the picture on the blog. They’ve gotten rave reviews at my husband’s workplace, with people asking when the next batch is coming in! Plus, they’re versatile. I’ve replaced the brown sugar with a white sugar and molasses combo, and used different types of chocolate, and you could easily replace the white flour with whole wheat to make it healthier. I’ve put in both less and more flour (just a little either way) and they still turn out great. Sometimes I do have to add in extra water, but I’m so used to modifying recipes, I nearly forgot that this recipe does often need more liquid. Hope you enjoy!

        1. Thank you so much Margaret. I visited the website and printed the chocolate chip recipe and the oatmeal cookie recipe.
          I can hardly wait to try them. Happy New Year! Ann

        2. I’m wondering if I could substitute honey or maple syrup for the white and brown sugars? If so, how much would you recommend? Thank you so much! ?

          1. You definitely can replace the granulated sugars with liquid sweeteners! If you use maple syrup, I would try an 1-1 replacement for the sugars and cut out the water. You’ll likely need to add in some extra flour too. If you use honey, I’d use 1/2 the amount of the sugars in terms of a cup measurement (I can’t remember the amounts called for as I’m typing this while nursing), and cut out the water as well. The recipe is very forgiving. Let us know how it goes!

    2. Margaret, I love the way you baked your apple pie over a three day period. Isn’t motherhood awesome? I learned to do everything with a baby on my hip (or breast) except for ironing. Just couldn’t ever manage that skill one handed…so I quit ironing!
      Jeannie@GetMeToTheCountry

      1. Motherhood IS so awesome! I think I hit peak baby-carrying when I found a way to chop an onion with one hand while rocking the baby in my other arm. I did it, I’ve done it, don’t need to do it again! Making cookies while baby-wearing though, I need to do that repeatedly because…cookies! As for ironing, who needs it? I only use my ironing board when I’m sewing, to be honest.

  2. We are currently spending Christmas in Thailand. Even so we’ve made a point of keeping things frugal.
    We take advantage of the free hotel breakfast.
    We hang out at the pool and get free cocktails.
    We use public transport.
    We met some friends who were happy enough to chauffeur us and take us out to eat.
    We haven’t bought a lot of trinkets.
    We’ve taken advantage of all the hotel freebies including free laundry service, drinks, snacks, etc…
    A precious hotel had a washer/dryer so we did all our laundry with detergent I brought from home.
    Going to a massage shop outside the hotel is a better deal.
    The hotel provides us with more than enough drinking water in glass bottles that we don’t have to buy it.
    We went to a cheaper dinner for Christmas dinner instead of the $100 pp our hotel hosted. The dinner was delicious and included live music.
    We walk. A lot!
    One day we collected seashells on the beach.
    I took my son to kidszania. It’s much cheaper than the one at home and he had a blast.
    We are off to a temple today for Christmas. And will get a blessing from a monk.
    Merry Christmas from Asia!

  3. Merry Christmas to everyone. My three youngest are at home and Sugar Cookie is with extended family . That sweet child of mine loves to travel home and visit with her extended family. It is an amazing week long celebration with family, friends, church, dinners and events. She is loved so very much by so many people. We are having a quiet celebration at home. I am soaking up all the love I can get from my Army boy. I prepared for the holidays over the last year. I do not anticipate buying anything after the holiday this year. I guess my biggest frugal venture this week has been sitting at home and having lots of silent reflection. I am thinking hard about our money and how I can improve our savings. The one thing that Brandy has taught me is that there is always something left that can be adjusted. My daughter bought me a 3 pk of solar light bulbs and I love them . I did manage to get a library card this week, now hopefully I can go back and find out how to read digital books. I hope that everyone will find life kind this week.

    1. Try your library’s website before driving to the library. I found out that my library uses the Overdrive app from their website. I can use the app on my phone to request and read books. It saves me gas of going back and forth to the library.

      1. My library system uses the Libby app which I’ve recently discovered and LOVE. I went to Greece back in October and read 4 books on the flight there & 4 on the return flight, all on my tablet! Free and much lighter than carting books in my carry on.

        1. Sometimes, Amazon has free kindle books (search by 0.00 price). I was pleasantly surprised our library started offering some free Kindle e-book options also (not sure how many other libraries have that). That may be an option at your local library.

    2. I use Overdrive on my phone too. Lillian go to the library and they will help you figure out what app to use and how to download books. That’s what I did.

  4. I took advantage of Michael’s lowest prices of the year and bought art supplies, lots of art supplies. They had a two-drawer wooden box with an easel built into the top loaded with art supplies. I bought five for just over $30. Empty, very similar if not identical, wooden boxes sell on Amazon for $50 each. I intend to eventually use the 10 drawers to organize miscellaneous sewing and craft supplies stacked up like a nightstand in my bedroom or hidden in an armoire. I’ve told mom one of the boxes is hers to use and we are going to see if either of us is a future Grandma Moses. Other sets were well over 75% off so I assembled quite a collection of studio, drawing, and painting supplies. I have to stay home almost all the time with mom, so these purchases are my antidote to terminal boredom. I am thinking of holding a very small painting party, using the five identical easels around the kitchen table. If I do, I will download a couple of adult coloring pages featuring uplifting thoughts that our friends might like to paint and either print the images on watercolor or canvas-textured paper or transfer them to canvas-covered boards using carbon paper.
    Foodwise, I have been trying to reduce food waste. I made a soup from a can of Campbells and an opened small can of V-8 juice and all the leftover cooked vegetables languishing in the refrigerator. I made pancakes from a complete mix and didn’t add eggs and milk like I usually do-just water. The pancakes turned out fine, much to my surprise. I am making candied orange peel right now.
    The Federal shutdown might interrupt mom’s Meals on Wheels in future weeks. I told her about the possibility and in my next breath pointed out that, unlike some other little old ladies receiving Meals on Wheels, she’ll still have food, just not the variety she has gotten fond of. I cook one meal and then it is eaten a couple days in a row. Our freezer is too little to freeze lots of leftovers.
    Mom’s health has been improving. It is emotionally so much easier to care for an aging parent when she isn’t getting sicker and weaker every single day. She got clobbered cognitively by the dehydration, UTI, and hospital stay. But she seems more alert and like the old mom as the weeks go by. I realise that these days are precious and might be fleeting given her age. We are going to treasure them, however many we have.
    I hope all of you stay safe and have a wonderful.week.

  5. I love photos of babies in baskets…too cute for words!
    The last two nights we went to parties, one given by some firefighters (my husband is a retired firefighter) and one by a good friend. So it was like a free date night out except for a plate of cookies.
    Yesterday my husband made a big batch of lemon bars. I am still hurting a bit from my accident and he didn’t want me on my feet in the kitchen for a long period. His lemon bars were amazingly yummy.
    We picked up my daughter from the airport and she insisted on taking us out for lunch. Since she has a great career we decided it was okay.
    Our family will be coming over tomorrow for dinner and gifts. We tried to keep our gifts simple and meaningful/useful. I made some things like knitted scarves and jewelry. I used Brandy’s idea and made some bookmarks. I found free printables online and printed them on cardstock. Then I had them laminated at a UPS store. I was really happy with the end result.
    We had to buy a new car because of our car being totalled. We used the rest of our savings and took a little out of our investments to pay in full. Both of us wanted to avoid monthly payments with interest. So we will have to build the savings account up in 2019.
    A local store sent us a coupon for 2 free candy bars…a really highend brand. So I redeemed it for stocking candy.
    Guess that is all. Happy Holidays and Merry Christmas!

  6. I have really been enjoying my holiday Pandora stations too. All the things for wrapping were either bought at previous after Christmas sales or reused. We heated with wood and collected rainwater for home use. Laundry was hung on the line, and except for a lunch with a friend, and a take out pizza on our way home from out of town last night, all meals were made at home. Merry Christmas & Happy Holidays! https://abelabodycare.blogspot.com/2018/12/happy-holidays-frugal-accomplishments.html

  7. What a wonderful picture of your son! I really think if you submitted it to a photography contest you would win! Not many frugal things to report since I posted a couple of days ago. My DH used a gift card given to us, at the hardware store to buy a new socket for our front hall which he installed, supplies to repair the vacuum cord and an extendable tree trimming pole to avoid having to pay someone to trim our front tree. My DD needed some new socks and I found some I wasn’t using in my sock drawer rather than running out to buy some. Happy holidays all.

  8. Merry Christmas from northern Idaho! What an adorable little boy picture!

    We celebrated Christmas a few days ago in Wyoming with our son and daughter-in-law. I do not have happy memories of childhood Christmases and I usually melt down around the winter solstice. I’m happy to report that this was the best Christmas ever, with no depression issues! That in itself was the nicest Christmas gift I have ever received.

    Last week, I sewed pillowcases for my daughter-in-law and made sour cream white fudge for her mom and sisters in Michigan. I packed the fudge in darling little Christmas-decorated tin boxes from the dollar store. They look like little lunchboxes with a handle and latch. I didn’t think to label the fudge, and Mom thought it was homemade soap. DDIL texted her what it was when she was just about to take a bath with it! LOLOLOLOL

    We drove to Wyoming, which is about 575 miles from where we live. (I thought about Winter when we drove past BYU-Idaho). I packed snacks and water for the trip and, because we had a condo, we cooked most of our meals or ate at our son’s house. Big frugal fail: I accidentally rented the condo beginning the day before we arrived. Didn’t find this out until we got there. Oooooops! Although going the week before Christmas, instead of the week after, saved us a fortune on lodging. Still.

    I came in under budget on everyone’s gifts and no one noticed…… My homemade gifts, besides the fudge and pillowcases, included a shower wrap for DDIL and a kimono top for my daughter. The kimono was made with a red sugar skulls print (DD loves sugar skulls) banded with turquoise…people will definitely see her coming, LOL!

    I gave myself a present today, and I feel like I won the lottery! I stopped at Fred Meyer (Kroger affiliate) when we got home to buy boneless pork loin on a BOGO sale…worked out to $1.89 lb. I had one whole roast sliced into pork chops at no extra cost. While I was there, I spotted NY Strip roast for $3.98 lb! On a whim, I bought one for the freezer. I am 72 years old and I have never had a beef roast (other than chuck) in my freezer before! I also used my son’s Smith’s number so that they could have the fuel points.

    We cooked a prime rib dinner at the condo Saturday night and I split the leftovers with my son and DIL. I brought home just enough meat to make French dip sandwiches tonight (Christmas Eve). I’m not planning a bigtime dinner tomorrow (since it’s just us and we already had it), but I will cook my .88 ham, if only for the leftovers.

    Merry Christmas to everyone here! Don’t forget the Reason for the Season.

  9. Merry Christmas!
    I made homemade deodorant, soft scrub-esq cleanser, orange vinegar, whipped body lotion, and laundry soap.

    I exchanged books and movies at the library.

    I took my lunch to work from home.

    I took my daughter to the park even though it was 35 degrees

  10. Forgot to mention in my other post, but was reminded when A Christmas Story just came on… I would never let my son play with toy guns. I had not grown up with guns (no brothers and my father did not own a gun) and refused to let him have one…until the Christmas he was 11 and my husband bought him a BB gun! I was NOT amused). When we moved last year, I told him I wasn’t keeping the gun anymore, so when he came to help us unload, he took it home. He now lives in a rural area, is 40 years old, and keeps the little plastic BB gun by his back door. Whenever friends come over–they are all in their 30s and 40s–they take the darn thing out and shoot it! The Christmas gift that keeps on giving………and now I am finally amused!

    1. Maxine, my bachelor brother has a plastic hand BB gun in his kitchen. Yes, you read that right, a BB gun in his kitchen. There is a target on one wall with a tray underneath it so you can stand on one side of the room, shoot at the target and the BBs will fall into the basket under the target. He has had it for years and everyone who visits has a blast. I think he shoots at the target while he is eating his dinner.
      Guys love their guns.
      Jeannie@GetMeToTheCountry

  11. Hello Brandy and everyone from Australia :).

    I am glad Brandy that you were able to still pick lovely produce from your gardens and have a date night with your husband as together time as parents is really important :). We would like to extend our wishes for a happy and joyous Christmas to you Brandy and family and to all fellow bloggers as well from DH and I. Your posts, recipes and cost savings ideas have truly inspired us over the year to save for our home deposit for which we would like to thank you.

    We managed in our flurry of acivity in moving into our new home to find, put up and decoratate the Christmas tree and have been listening to Christmas music and songs on our CD player. We also had a date night when we moved at the local pub that has a separate meals area and the food was delicious, not cheap but as it was a special celebration that we rarely do is eat out we are glad we did it.

    It has been go go go here and we haven’t stopped. It has been a good week for feathering our nest here and buying lots of preparedness items for the home that we didn’t have before. Being a larger property far more heavy duty tools were needed.

    Our savings last week added up to $2157.51.

    Home organisation –
    – Finished unpacking all the boxes and the kitchen is now fully set up and operational.
    – 1/2 of the lounge room is all set up.
    – Our bedroom and clothing is mostly set up apart from more clothing in bags.
    – Bathrooms are fully set up and laundry is almost totally set up with the addition of a gorilla 4 shelf storage unit in there to store washing detergents, vinegar and the like.

    Groceries –
    – Used 1 of our e-vouchers and with $40 off and specials saved a total of $43.87.
    – Purchased 2 x 2 lt bottles of BBQ sauce on half price special saving $6.

    Earnings –
    – DH made $185 from 2 mowing jobs which we used to buy needed garden tools for around the home.
    – We also heard that in a small country town near us in a supermarket near us that they sell all their meat and dairy at ridiculously low prices on Christmas Eve so we plan to go and try and pick up what we can to stock our freezer with for far lower prices.

    Purchases –
    – Purchased 3 Racq gift cards giving us $15 off what we purchase. We plan to use these for needed household items and the groceries on Christmas Eve.
    – Purchased 4 stainless steel garage shelves on special for $9.95 per set saving $20 on usual prices.
    – Bought a 2 drawer 122pc auto car maintenance kit with metal tool box included for $34.99 saving $330.10 on usual tool prices in an auto grand opening sale.
    – Purchased a large house extension ladder on special saving $160 on usual prices (the house gutters here will need cleaning).
    – Purchased a stanley 28 pce screwdriver set on special saving $35.04 on usual prices.

    Repairs/Renvations/house maintenance.
    – Taking around 4 hours in total DH fixed our sliding door track straightening it with pliers, oiled kitchen door handles so now they work, oiled the really huge old Hills hoist so now the handle turns and it goes up and down, installed cup hooks for our kitchen dishwashing brushes and L hooks to hold our bread and cutting boards saving around $400 over hiring someone to do it for us. We purchased the hooks in bulk discount packages from the hardware store.

    Gardening –
    – DH and I spent 20 hours removing a Bogainvillea huge bush impeding on our side driveway over 2 days, I trimmed all the hedges and trees impeding on the paths and touching the house taking 4 hours and DH did around 3/4’s of the 1.21 acres of mowing between heavy rain taking around 1.5 hours. By doing this ourselves we saved $1147.50 over hiring a gardener to do it for us.

    We still have boxes and bags around the home unopened but we are getting there and had to buy more shelving and other items to suit what we wanted to do.

    Have a great week :). We had our first black out last night with the storms and pleasurably sat outside on the back covered patio and had a BBQ and listened and watched the birds, of which there are many, lit with our solar powered lanterns. Ah the bliss of the simple country life off grid for a while. We survived very well I might add :).

    Sewingcreations15.

      1. Thank you Cindy in the South we are really excited about being in our new home too :).

        We have hit the ground running and now the grounds look so much better than what they were and we are still working on unpacking inside the home as well. Hoping this coming week we will have everything organised and no boxes anywhere to be seen.

        Have a great week :).

        Sewingcreations15.

  12. By Christmas Eve, we had sold a total of 117 sets (of 2) Soup Cozies for our business in just 8 weeks now! We never imagined that my decluttering extra fabric stash would generate so much! Just this week, after posting my frugal accomplishments on this blog last week, I sold another 20 sets! I’ll start making new ones to add to our inventory after the first of the year! We only have a dozen left in stock! https://pin.it/fwpoqnzsfixtbr
    The flannel Softies have also continued to sell well too! https://pin.it/aqvudkvumzwxf2 So our savings account has grown and our heart surgery bill has decreased from all these sales this week!

    With 16 extra kids and grandkids staying with us for the next 7 days, I’ve been continuing to make food in bulk! Even with the amount that they eat, most of what I’ve served has come from my pantry! How grateful I’ve been for that! I made 60 sandwiches- chicken salad and ham and cheese for Christmas Eve family pot luck without any purchase of ingredients! Lasagna, homemade mini pizzas, Texas style chili, muffins and more!!

    Our Christmas giving to our 11 children and their families are “Goodie “ baskets with cookies, candies, flavored popcorns, etc! With over 50 people, we just couldn’t justify the cost of individual gifts for each of them! And you know what? They are okay with that!! Apparently, it was only me who was stressing over everyone getting the “perfect” gift! What a relief when I let go of that ! It has helped me really enjoy the holidays so much more!!

    We are all healthy (which is priceless), we all get along reasonably well (which is amazing given what different personalities we each have!! ?)!
    And when the chips are down, they are all united instantly to support and help whoever in the family is struggling!
    I love my family! They are worth everything to me! Merry Christmas/ Happy Holidays to all of you!!

    Pat
    HandmadeinOldeTowne.com

  13. =I love the picturhe of your son. He always looks so delisghted with what he is doing.
    -Roasted winter squash, turnips, and carrots for a pot luck. The theme was basically Ukrainian food, so I made something that would go with all the sausage dishes, and that used ingredients I had on hand. I used paprika as the main seasoning. No one commented on the dish, but the bowl was empty at the end of the dinner.
    -Got a free flu shot. The provincial government makes them available for free to everyone in the province.
    -Bought two more jars of Classico pasta sauce at a super sale price. I use about one jar a month, and now have enough to take me through the winter. I have a good supply of pasta too, but I use the sauce to cook pot roasts and as a pizza sauce as well.
    -Missed getting to the library before it closed for Christmas week. The library I go to is normally open for a couple of days after Boxing Day, but not this year. I’ve downloaded the Kindle app to my new laptop for free. I had saved some free books to it. I’ll check the library books available online as well.
    -Cut way back on transcription and board work for three weeks. The goal is to get the house a little better organized, get the snow shoveled, paint a bedroom, and put my feet up a bit.
    -We have had snow since the beginning of October. Two weeks ago, there was a storm with about eight inches of snow. The snow plow driver usually lifts the blade at my driveway, but this time he plowed three feet of snow in front of my driveway. It took three requests to the village office over two weeks to get it moved. Then I have been clearing the sidewalk and the length of the driveway myself. The driveway needed to be done so that I could get my car close enough to the garage to plug the block heater in when it gets bitterly cold, which is forecast for Christmas. The sidewalk needs to be done so people can walk to the grocery store a few doors away from me. I am all set now, though of course it snowed again the first morning after I finished clearing the driveway.
    -I hope everyone has a wonderful Christmas.

  14. I’d like to wish everyone a happy and Merry Christmas! I received the first ever card from my great niece. She is in Grade 1 and
    signed the card “Marry Christmas” and then her name and her sister’s name. Such fun to receive it.
    A friend picked up my grocery list items for me. Potatoes were on sale again so I bought 10 pounds for $4.99. I was going to spend $50
    and get a turkey at $0.99 per pound. However, I cooked a small ham to put in the freezer for my January meat. I could barely manage lifting it so
    I decided I couldn’t manage a turkey with my broken arm. The friend then gave me a Butterball frozen stuffed turkey breast roll. I will save it for
    later as I’m going to the church turkey dinner. I bought a homemade apple pie to take as well as picked up a $20 stollen being given away by a local store.
    I will take that, too. We are supposed to get snow tomorrow, just in time for Christmas. Merry Christmas

  15. Brandy, what a lovely photo of Hamish. My, he’s so lovely! Thank you for bringing us all such joy. Merry Christmas, Ann

  16. Merry Christmas to all my frugaling friends. Brandy that picture of Hamish in the basket is my favorite of all the Christmas pictures I have seen this season. Sitting here waiting for my family to wake up so we can open up their presents. I made a 14lb turkey on Thursday that was on 37cents a pound. We had two full meals featuring turkey, two meals of the best turkey and rice soup, and some sandwiches from that one turkey. I used the bones to make the broth for my soup. My husband raved about it! Made Chinese food for dinner last night instead of ordering takeout. Looking forward to cooking a simple ham dinner today. Merry Christmas to all.

  17. What a sweet picture of Hamish!

    Frugal Accomplishments for this week:

    I gave my husband a haircut.

    I took a couple days off work and so was able to save gas money staying home. I did lots of cooking using meat that was on sale. We had beef tacos using part of a beef roast that we got for $1.98 per pound. I also made refried beans from dry pintos and from scratch Spanish rice. For another dinner we had pork tenderloin that we paid $1.98 for with special mashed potatoes and peas and carrots.

    For Christmas dinner we will have a ham that our son-in-law got free from work.

    For our company’s potluck Christmas dinner, I brought pumpkin bread. I had everything at home and didn’t need to shop for the ingredients.

    I gave myself a manicure using what I had at home.

    Merry Christmas Everyone!

  18. Merry Christmas to all as well. And I agree, that photo of Hamish in the basket is fantastic. My favorite still is Octavius in the jumper with airplanes on it though 😉

    I was initially disappointed in the grocery sales last week, but once I relooked, found turkey for $0.5 a pound, and some deals on butter, pork and veggies. So we are mostly set for the next few months. We managed to eat most everything in the freezer by mid December (except for two hams from last year…we only use ham for soup so it lasts a long time…). We also put a few items for sale, and while they haven’t sold yet, the wheels of progress are in motion :).

    I reviewed our 2018 spending and created the 2019 budget. I had gotten lazy about meal planning, smart shopping and cooking at home and it showed. Grocery spending was up 50% from the prior year. So I reviewed all the totals and decided on some changes. I am amazed how easy it is to stop paying attention to details and how little things add up. Most of the budget categories budget misses offset each other but the two big items were groceries and clothing/gifts. And those two categories are controllable 😉

    Brandy, I wish you and your family the Happiest of New Years! And to all in this frugal community 😉

  19. Merry Christmas Brandy and family, and to all our frugaling friends! My husband and I just returned from a trip to celebrate our 40th wedding anniversary. While not cheap, we were blessed to be able to pay for it using savings. I had prepared for Christmas before leaving, so it was (almost) stress free returning. My biggest frugal score was volunteering to get bumped to a later flight. We are flexible on our travel because we are retired and returned Sunday before Christmas! The airline put us up at a Marriott hotel, provided transportation, and gave us vouchers for $380 each for future flights. We used a cruise that stopped in Havana Cuba. Cuba has been closed to Americans and I never imagined I would be able to visit. That being said, it is still a communist country and there are still restrictions for tourists. It opened my eyes to how much we take for granted in the US – both in our freedoms and our opportunities, and our standard of living. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!!!!

  20. Merry Christmas to you, Brandy, and to all the commenters here. I look forward to reading this blog every week.
    Brandy, your photos are always so beautiful. I have a friend who is a professional photographer and she offers some of her photos for sale through iStock and through Pixels.com. Once she has the photos listed, there is very little work on her part. People order what they want and she receives a small amount from each sale. I think your photographs are definitely sale-worthy, so it might be something for you to consider. She also offers calendars and notecards at local stores — but that is a little more work, since she has to pay to have these items printed and take stock to the stores. I don’t believe the online sales require any up-front costs.
    Our anniversary was last week, and we went out with friends, so not a very frugal week. We were laughing about going out to eat three times last week — we usually don’t even go out once a month!

  21. Brandy, your little boy is adorable!

    Well, I was able to get everything wrapped and ready in time for Christmas. Even found time to make 1 pan of treats. Thank goodness for my mom, who has done the Lion’s share of Christmas preparation this year.This week, our frugal accomplishments for our household included:
    *Meals made at home included baked chicken smothered in cheddar cheese soup with rice and corrots, waffles with strawberries (from freezer), whipped cream and maple syrup, pasta with choice of sauce, piggies in a blanket (breakfast sausage & cheese crescent rolls) with mashed potatoes and salad, and sloppy Joe’s with coleslaw and leftover mashed potatoes.
    *I bought 5 smoked black forest hams on clearance for $2.99 each. We decided, since we are now feeding basically 5 adults, we would just put them straight in the freezer without slicing into ham steaks and shaved ham (we already have some of those in the freezer anyways). We will roast the whole ham for dinner, which is enough meat to feed everyone for basically 1 meal with possibly a bit left over.
    *DD came home with a large tray full of treats from school this week. Her class had a baking day where all the kids helped make a bunch of different treats. The teachers then divided the treats into trays to send them home as a gift to the families. So sweet of them to do that!
    *My last day of work was on Monday. Never been so happy to be finished. It was definitely a difficult year. The funniest thing was my apron strap broke as the kids were getting ready to go. Then someone forgot a sock, which no one would claim. Someone joked that it was like I was Dobby from “Harry Potter”…I was free. Couldn’t be more symbolic and ironic.
    *Since the school staff this year have done such an amazing job with DD so far, I decided we would give gifts in appreciation of their kindness. I pulled out my gift stash, most of which I bought last year on boxing day at severely discounted prices. DD chose which gifts she would like to give her teachers and EAs, then I wrapped them up. I also made up several small treat bags for a few of the staff that DD likes but don’t work with her directly. I had a box of candy bracelets that I bought on clearance for $0.94/50 count after Halloween, which she gave out to her classmates. We delivered the gifts on Thursday. The gift stash also supplied a few other gifts for family, and I have some left over for another time. We will be shopping boxing day sales again this year, as it is a great way to get nice presents at great discount prices!
    *On Thurday night, DD attended a PHIT sponsored event at the local YMCA. As a gift for coming, we received a free week long family pass to use before March 31. That means I can take the girls swimming for free for a week, plus I can use the workout room. No sure yet when I will use it, but will make sure it is a week we can get the most use out of it.
    *DD’s friend stayed over on the weekend. We had invited her to come over on Christmas eve, but she had family obligations that didn’t make it possible. So instead, we took her out for dinner on Saturday night (hubby’s suggestion), and gave her our gift to her. We received a $10 gift certificate from the restaurant, which we will use in the new year (it’s one of our favourite places to eat). I allowed both girls to have their stockings as well, to satisfy DDs need to open a gift early. The stockings were stuffed with lots of little gifts and treats they could enjoy together as part of their sleep-over. DD’s friend loved her new outfit I bought her and all the other gifts. We loved the gifts she gave us as well.

    Wishing you all a very Merry Christmas! May your celebrations be filled with loving family and friends, lots of delicious food and overwhelming joy & peace of the season.

  22. Merry Christmas! For Christmas morning I am reading your blog all over again. I am getting ready to make a HUGE career move. I will be retiring after 32 years in healthcare. I make crazy good money but it’s not about the money anymore. It is about getting my body, especially my brain, well again. Depression and anxiety are very real and it is time that I take some time to get better. At the very least I would like to take a six month sabbatical. At that time we will evaluate and see if there is a financial need for me to go back. Or not. If not, then my retirement will be permanent.

    I am working on ways to reduce my spending and make do with what I have. I have so many clothes that go unworn. I think that might be a pretty good indication that I just don’t need that many. I have a well-rounded food storage after many years of following you and your readers. I will be growing a big garden this year and preserving and dehydrating as much as possible.

    Today I will be spending Christmas with “my side” of the family and am looking forward to just spending some time with my folks. We draw names now rather than try to purchase everyone a gift. I hope that each and every one of you have a blessed holiday season.

    1. Congratulations on your decision to retire, Denise! I can only imagine the stress of your job, and how much it has changed in 32 years. Caregivers must take care of themselves, and I hope your new unscheduled time is good for you.

    2. Congratulations Denise on retiring. There is nothing more important in life than good health. If you don’t have your health, you don’t have anything – every moment is a struggle. This blog has answers to any frugal money saving problem you could ever face. You will do great.
      Jeannie@GetMeToTheCountry

  23. Merry Christmas! This Christmas has been a delight. As so many readers and Brandy have pointed out, without these frugal actions, we would have lost everything and not be where we are this Christmas. If anyone is in dire straits right now, hold on there – it does get better. I promise.

    Most all of our gifts were from the thrift shop. It worked and we are happily reading our new-to-us books. I believe that keeping Christmas simple when we had funds has truly helped us enjoy our Christmases when we do not.

    Wishing everyone a blessed day.

    Trish

  24. I’m hoping to be more mindful of spending in the new year, so I thought I’d start sharing instead of lurking. ? When making meatloaf for dinner, I went ahead and made 2 at the same time, saving on electricity and putting one in the freezer for a busy night. I used a banana that was going bad to make banana bread for the freezer. I made cookies for my husband to take to his coworkers, saving on buying gifts for everyone. I cut my own hair. I received a $4 credit at the grocery store for buying $25 of fruits/veggies this month (all bought on sale). I went to a new thrift store and bought a pair of needed black pants for $3. There were boxes of Christmas cards and Christmas throw pillows that weren’t priced so I asked about them…I got them for 25 cents each!! My husband changed the brakes in his car. So thankful he is mechanically inclined. Wishing everyone a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

    1. Hello, Alethea! I have found that thinking about what comments I will share helps me be conscious of my spending, and of my savings, even if I don’t write much.. I hope it helps you in the new year. Great deal on the Christmas thrift store clearance!

  25. Merry Christmas to everyone! That picture of your darling baby is wonderful.

    *I received a coupon for a free turkey (10-14 lb) from my Kroger Store is I used their pickup service. I was able to combine coupons and digital coupons to make it worth my while to use. When I went to pick up the employees informed me that they were out of 10-14 lb turkeys. They subbed in a 20 lb turkey for no additional charge!!! Wow! I have it defrosting in the fridge to cook this week.

    *I was able to supplement our gifts with many items from my stash. My college kids appreciated the laundry soap, toilet paper and other items that they use at their college apartments.

    *My dad was rushed to the hospital because of a brain bleed (or hemorrhage) and had emergency surgery. He is recovering at home now. The blessings in that event are many, but one is that they had met their deductible because of his stroke and chemo treatments. My mom is so relieved to have him home and getting healthy again.

    *Stayed home, combined errands, kept the heat low, created meals from things on hand helped keep things not so crazy during the week before Christmas. I’m so grateful for my stockpile of food.

    I hope everyone has a wonderful Christmas day and a blessed week.

  26. I hope everyone had a wonderful, blessed Christmas!
    My family was all together at my 88 year old mom’s on Christmas Eve and then here at my house for Christmas lunch. I made chili and vegetable soup and one of my daughters brought potato soup. Everyone else pitched in crackers, chips, salsa, cheese ham and rolls. It was a wonderful meal and not too much expense for any of us!
    My daughters pitched in together and got me an air fryer oven for my gift. I’ve enjoyed reading recipes on Pinterest this afternoon. Does anyone have any good recipes or tips for things that I can make with it? I’m excited to give it a try!
    I stayed within my Christmas budget and am very happy to have no big credit card bill staring me in the face in January!
    Thank you, Brandy, for all that you do!

  27. Last week I pulled out the sewing machine for major mending on one shirt and to transform a pair of flared jeans into a pair of skinny jeans; thank you to all the people, including Brandy, who posted very helpful tip and instructions on how to do this some months ago. Based on those instructions, I transformed one pair of pants at that time and was able to transform this pair of jeans, at a time when a pair of jeans was really needed. Thank you!

    Rustled up the energy to make homemade desserts for an extended family gathering instead of picking up dessert from the family favorite local ethnic bakery. For this size group, it meant I spent approximately $4 instead of $40-$60…

    Stuck to a much-reduced Christmas budget. I think it was noticed, but know it was necessary and lots of stuff isn’t necessary.

    Continued to pass on anything we either don’t need or just wouldn’t use — like gifted food that we won’t use, which we were able to pass along to a non-perishable food drive. This helps others and also helps us by reducing clutter-causing stress and making it easy to find what we do need.

    Enjoyed abundant free sources of Christmas music. Continued to live without tv (where we live we cannot get any channels with just an antenna and don’t have cable,) We enjoy listening to live sports games on the radio).

    Reviewed finances. With uncertain income post-January, have determined to cut back even more starting now and have begun making plans to do so. As Brandy says, just when you think there isn’t anything left to cut, there’s always something else.

    Merry Christmas! Thank you Brandy for this wonderful blog!

    1. Laure, with no TV to distract, perhaps you can start making things to create a gift stash in the new year. It will be very helpful to start now so there will be plenty to choose from next Christmas, or when birthdays or other events requiring gifts come up (weddings, baby showers, etc.). Having a gift stash will definitely save you money in the long run and ease anxiety about trying to buy gifts when money is so tight! Besides, researching things to make with what you already have on hand can be lots of fun, too! If you’d like help with this, I LOVE doing this and would be happy to help you get started.

      1. This is a great idea! I maintain a good sized gift stash and definitely drew on it this Christmas, and did not fully deplete it. One of my new year’s resolution 2 years ago was to stay at least 1 month ahead on all gifts throughout the year and it worked great. Plenty of time to go through my gift stash, see if anything I had would work or if any small addition or tweaking was necessary, make a card and mail with plenty of time, etc. (I would add to the stash with “general” type gifts whenever I had time to create or found a 90% off type deal on quality items). Your post reminded me of how helpful this has been and I think I’ll plan for 2019 to stay at least 2 months ahead!

    2. Laure, we have been without a TV for maybe 6 years now? I haven’t missed it at all. New friends ask us “where is our TV” when they come to visit. I tell them life is too short to waste it in front of a screen.
      Jeannie@GetMeToTheCountry

      1. Thank you, Jeannie. We also have no immediate plans of paying for tv service . You are right that not having service we save so much — both time and money both 🙂

  28. Merry Christmas. Brandy I wanted to tell you why we leave our Christmas lights on at night. When our oldest daughter was 17 months old she was diagnosed with leukemia on December 6th. She was not released until December 23 around 10 pm (the hospital did everything they could to get as many kids home for Christmas as possible). 30 years later i still remember that ride where she was in awe of the lights that were on. Her happiness and excitement returned with every passing light display. We had an emergency on the 27th and had to return to the hospital in the middle of the night. Again, the wonder of the lights made the trip seem so much easier.
    At the hospital one of the nurses commented that she knew that the local police officers on night shift shared where to view lights while on patrol.
    I decided at that time that as long as i was able i would always leave my Christmas lights on for anyone who had to be out late to enjoy!!!!
    (on a side note. With the small cost of running LED lights I am certain that the cost is never more than an additional $5 for our light display for the season. )
    Wishing you and your family a New Year of Health, Happiness and Peace.

    1. L. Bryant,

      Thank you for this lovely story. The thought of your little girl responding to the lights touched my heart. I know there have been times when I’ve driven home very late during the course of the holidays, and have taken comfort in the beauty of the lights in the wee hours.

  29. I love it, baby in the basket. So wonderful to see. Wonderful to read to read your blog Brandy and everyone that makes comments here.

    Everyone find the joy in your lives and be safe

    I reread everything on this site…. I took time each morning and each evening. I made the comment to Hubby who is a meat eater that he has to bring home the bacon for me to cook it..he told me to sell the bacon and pay the bills he would graze the greens I served that night. FINALLY he understands AND is willing to do what ever it takes with a thankful heart.

    I pitched the ads when they came in the house , didn’t even look to see if there was something I needed…which is NOTHING but I didn’t want to trigger the WANT.

    I got Hubby a year of SiriusXm for his F350 truck. I found a discount and Son 2 offered to pay half. Making it affordable for both of us.

    A couple of cookbooks Hubby got me for an Early Christmas (Rory O’Connell ) uses metric so Hubby got me a couple small measuring cups (1/4 cup and 1 ounce) for Christmas morning along with a couple of candles of the scent I like. I’ve a couple boxes of candles from Mother’s estate still but not of the scents I flavor. He wanted me to have what I liked when I was working in the office (when I finish getting it set up).

    I dried clothes on the kitchen porch clothesline and on the drying rack.

    We have Christmas lights on timers,use candles(Mother’s) and oil lamps for light at the dining table in the morning for our morning coffee and dinner at night. Cut $40 off the electric bill doing those few things. I started with a case of oil and still have 10 bottles.

    We open curtains during the day and close them when it starts getting dark.

    I turn the furnace down when we leave and when I am doing laundry or baking.

    We did a conference call with our financial guy who is 2 hrs away to save gas. Stock market was as low in Dec as it was in Dec of 1931… not good for our IRA’s but we had already talked to him about how to deal with this and he wanted to let us know to put that budget in practice now instead of waiting until we saw him again in June.

    Son 2 had to use my car while his was getting fixed by our mechanic, he dropped off my car with a full tank of gas and washed to get oil change and checked over for winter when he picked his up. When we picked up my car we dropped off Hubby’s old truck. That way we are saving 3 gallons of fuel when it’s all done and over.

    I paid for the last of the seeds I ordered using my Swagbucks.

    I mended a hat for myself and jeans for Hubby.

    Rest is here…https://chefowings.blogspot.com/2018/12/planning-frugal-2019.html

    1. Juls, your hubby may be able to afford that bacon soon. According to a new report I recently read, the cost of veggies are going up and meat prices are going down in the New Year. Apparently society as a whole has moved towards a more plant based diet. Since there is a higher demand for veggies, the price is going to go up. My suggestion is to keep an open mind about what your eating and stop throwing those valuable grocery store flyers away! Buying according to sales prices will be a much better the way to save your money.

      1. Rhonda,

        She’s not spending anything right now because she doesn’t need anything and doesn’t want to be tempted to buy things on sale that she doesn’t need. I’ve done this same thing when I don’t have money to spend. Grocery store sales will come around again (usually every 12 weeks for most items) and it’s often best to spend nothing. Not seeing what one is missing helps a lot to keep one feeling content with what one has.

        1. Brandy, I have thought a lot about your response over the past few days. I understand what you are saying, but I have to say I disagree. If I were in a position that I was living off just my pantry, I would want to make efforts to restock it as best I could as it was being used. It might be only $5, $10 or $20 over the entire month, but I would make sure that money was well spent. I would watch those flyers like a hawk for the very best deals on things that we were using (especially meat, which is often more difficult to get from a food pantry, if it came down to needing one) and buy even a little to replenish the pantry as I could. Otherwise, the cost to re-establish my pantry, once I did have a little bit of money, would be a huge undertaking. It will also help ensure the pantry lasts as long as possible while funds are tight. Learning what is truly a necessity, picking what can be easily be stretched and accepting what my limited budget can buy would be the big lesson in this exercise. For example, right now at a local grocery store, there are smoked hams for $2. These are normally around $8 – $10 on sale. Even buying 1 ham, which can be chopped up and added to multiple casseroles, soups, pizza, etc. would be worth the effort to scrape together the cash and add to my pantry. If I wasn’t watching those flyers, I would have never saw that deal. If I already had lots of ham in my pantry, I’d watch for another excellent deal that would keep my pantry going for as long as possible.

          1. I see what you’re saying, Rhonda. I’m talking about two different things. 1) Having enough stuff and so not looking at the ads because you don’t actually need anything, but would be tempted to spend money just because something is a good deal. There’s no point in overspending above your budget just to buy something because it’s on sale–that causes people to go into debt, which doesn’t save any money. In the case of food, it can also be a source of food waste if you don’t need it. 2) Not buying anything on sale because you don’t have any money to spend. This also causes debt. If you need to live off your pantry because you don’t have money coming in, or because you have other bills (say, unexpected repairs or medical bills), spending even $5, $10, or $20 that you don’t have as cash (on hand or in the bank) means you are borrowing to stock your pantry. It’s better to live on what you have stocked (that’s a good reason to have a stocked pantry!) You can stock up again on the sales when you are able to spend again.

            I lived on our pantry without shopping at all for over a year. I didn’t have a penny to spare on deals because we had nothing coming in. When we restocked, we did it within our new, much smaller budget, as we were able to do so.

            We still have months, because of the nature of our income, where it’s imperative that we live from our pantry and garden and don’t go shopping. I won’t go into debt for groceries. We eat what we have, and when the sales come around again, if we have money, we’ll stock up. I can run out of chicken and eat beans and rice and soup while I wait for another sale on chicken at the lowest price. It might be a great sale, but if I don’t have $5, then I won’t spend $5 on a credit card to buy something on sale.

            It doesn’t matter how good of a deal something is if you have to go into debt to buy it.

          2. Brandy, I see your point. I’ve never use my credit card to buy groceries, only my bank card. However, I am now the habit of only using cash so I can monitor better how much money I actually spend. It didn’t occur to me that people are using credit cards to buy their groceries, because it is not a habit of mine to do so. In that sense, I agree with you. The number one way of stopping the cycle of debt is to stop making more of it! So yes, if that is what is happening, than full stop usage of credit cards is definitely no. 1 on the priority list!!!

  30. I love your picture of your little boy Brandy, so cute!

    We had a lovely Christmas. We visited my son and gave my grandkids their presents. They loved the play dough the best, even though we splurged and bought them each a little more expensive gift but not too expensive. When I saw that they loved the dollar store play dough I wished I’d stuck with my original plan. My son gave us a ham and turkey,nice! We have been eating the turkey the last few days and now I am cooking the bones in the slow cooker to make a broth for soup. We visited my parents and had lunch with them, very enjoyable! Then we visited my husbands parents for dinner and they sent us home with some pulled pork and a couple packages of sausage. We had fun playing board games. Family has been wonderful! Everyone seemed to enjoy their dollar store presents. I did try to get things I thought they would like. Mostly soaps and lotions and a towel.
    My husband and I helped my parents fix my sister’s fence. We have a bit more to do, but we are saving about $1,000 dollars by doing it ourselves. I’m glad we have been able to help. My parents were determined to do it themselves. Together is much easier.
    Listened to Christmas music on pandora.
    Put up Christmas tree and ornaments we already had, Fun!
    Just a wonderful time and I don’t think we overspent. I think we will be ok to pay taxes and buy propane. It is tight, but I think it may be doable. Letting family know how tight it is has been a help. Family is wonderful, we just all enjoyed spending some time together and they even gave us meat, both sides of the family. How nice!
    I splurged and bought egg nog for Christmas. It was the last one in the store! But it is something I remember enjoying in my childhood and I wanted to enjoy it this year too and we did! My husband and I did not expect gifts from each other. But I bought a good smelling bar of soap as a together gift for us from the dollar store. My husband just grinned when I presented it to him. Just proves that I did not have to spend a lot to be happy.

  31. Happy Holidays, everyone! Just sitting here thinking about the past week and adding up my frugal ways/things I did over the past week. Worked almost all of last week due to being out a couple of days due to our “freak” snow storm at the beginning of the month and for being out these next 2 weeks for vacation. Went shopping and used up my last saved up Swagbucks gift certificates for Wally World= filled up the pantry with a lot of canned goods and baking supplies. We are subscribed to a weekly box delivered to our porch from a company that goes around and picks up/ buys at dirt cheap of “ugly fruit and veggies” that are not up to standard for the supermarkets. We get almost 10 lbs weekly and it’s pretty good stuff. Some of it we can store and use in the following weeks. I used up some of the saved up fruit to make some quick bread to share with co-workers on the party table-plus made a big batch of chex mix and rocky road fudge of supplies saved up in pantry. ( I work with over 100 plus people everyday so this was really cost savings for me!) Brought home some cookies so I really didn’t have to bake so much. Went to the big bosses house for a Christmas party and came home with some leftovers for Hubby, ranging from grilled beef roast, mashed potatoes, mushroom gravy, shrimp cocktail, many appetizers, fresh berries and high end desserts. We ate for a couple of days on that!! In laws gave us a giant pork shoulder along with one for them for hubby to smoke on the Big Green Egg every Christmas. He was busy doing that on Sunday. We have a Christmas Eve tradition that I make a big pot of Brunswick stew using some of that smoked shoulder and people come by to visit and have a bowl or two. This year was most frugal because we were gifted a 18 or more pound turkey this past Thanksgiving and I saved/froze the carcass to use in the broth to start the stew. After making the broth using scrape veggies saved in baggie in freezer and the carcass, I had enough for the stew and wo more extra quarts!!!
    Almost all of family members gifts this years was free items I got using coupons, rebates from apps and reward programs, things that were gifted to us but we can’t use but knew they could and jars for canned goodies from my garden this past year. some of DH’s bonus went to get admission to Disney World so DS can meet Tinkerbell on one of the days we go to Florida in mid March for the Herbie 50th Movie Anniversary. (DS has Autism and he loves Tinkerbell- she is one of the character’s who is really hard to meet!
    I hope everyone has a happy, frugal New Year’s and look forward to more of Brandy’s posts with her darling family and hearing from everyone else on how to save money. I will be working on making some really great resolutions this year.

  32. We’re back to a bit of normalcy after my husband had 4 glorious days off. We were primarily home & town bodies. The farthest we ventured was a couple of sunny days outside at the dog park. Lots of visitors in town and everyone with the same idea. ..Wear out the kids & the dogs! This was the warmest Christmas I recall since moving to Kansas more than 10 yrs. ago.

    At a time with lots of money going out, we had some great savings. Phew!
    *Because my husband is so tall, his pants come at a 40″ inseam. I can pay $6 apiece to custom hem. Instead, I opted to hem them myself for a savings of $24.
    *Our washer went kaput last Wed. It’s 14 yrs. old so we thought it might be dead dead. Hubs did some youtube exploring & picked up a part near work for less than $10. It worked! So, our washer goes on and it was a simple & cheap repair.
    *We cooked a ham for Christmas that we got last Easter. I did a vegetable plate, made bread, & enjoyed treats from a neighbor.
    *My husband inherited a professional saw from his dad, who was a carpenter. It stopped working in summertime (over 30 yrs. old) and he went online to see if he could find a part. Instead, he found out there had been some type of safety recall on it for many, many years. It wasn’t dangerous, but was missing some kind of safety guard. They would not supply the part, but offered him $100 to return to them. So, he got a check for $100 and he used that to buy a new, basic saw that was much more practical for him. For $100.

    I will be mailing 3 Christmas gifts to arrive for the Epiphany on Jan. 6th. I have 3 gifts for my husband, as well. In my new Christmas planning, my friends will now receive their gifts for Valentine’s Day. That will end my official Christmas giving for 2018. I enjoyed my new plan so much that I plan to do the same again next year. I did not spend one minute waiting in any line or have to hunt for parking. I spent less than normal & enjoyed it a thousand times more. There was no stress, no cranky. Just fun & an easy holiday focused on the right things. My old college roommate was so impressed that she asked me to write it down in detail for her because she was tired of all the stress. I consider that a compliment!

    Love the pic of Hamish in the basket! There’s something about babies & baskets!! Nearly 100 yrs. ago, my husband’s grandfather turned an ordinary wicker laundry basket into a portable bassinet for when my Mother in Law was a baby. She’s 97 now. He added wooden wheels & a rope. This was so his wife could pull the baby from room to room without waking her. We have that basket now. I have a great old picture of my MIL inside of it. It’s so sturdy, it would still work for a baby today.

      1. Stephanie, I hope it’s me that you’re asking. It’s hard to go into real detail, but I hope I can give you the guidelines to add your own detail. If you’re not asking me, then maybe it’ll help you or someone else anyway!!
        Oct.- Make Thanksgiving cards with stash on hand. Write letter & take to store for copies.
        Buy stamps
        Set cash aside for niece & nephews.
        Send niece bday card & cash.
        Nov.- Address cards & mail the week before T’giving.
        Set cash aside for niece & nephews.
        Send nephew bday card & cash.
        Order catalog food for delivery in Dec. to cousin’s family.
        Dec= Send Cmas gifts to MIL, brother, bday card/cash to nephew, & handmade bday gift/card to best friend. All done in early Dec. when post office is still empty.
        Make caramel corn & fudge for husband’s co-workers & include handmade ornaments made back in April.
        Wrap 2 Kris Kringle gifts for husband’s work. Both were free with purchases made during summer.
        My husband and I don’t do fancy gifts. I found a poem in the paper many years ago (that was directed to parents to not overindulge kids) and we loved the idea & creativity involved so we do it for each other. I wrote down this year’s gifts I gave him.
        Something you want, A Wii Batman game- hunted down online for $5, inc. shipping.
        Something you need. A portable DVD player- on sale at Menards, but not a hot item. Easy to find. About $35
        Something to wear, Boxers- sale from months ago BOGO
        Something to read. A box calendar that is yet to be purchased, but will be tomorrow. Should be 50% or more off, at about $7
        Husband insisted that a treat to eat should’ve been worked into that so we do that, too! Reeses in a candy cane. Kroger deal .99 cents.
        On Christmas, we give one gift & the food treat to each other to represent the gift of Jesus to us. (See Jan. for others.)
        Jan- On the 4th, I’ll send the niece & nephew cash & candy gifts to arrive by Epiphany.
        Me & Hubs will open each of our 3 gifts on Epiphany to represent the gifts from the Magi.
        Feb- On the 8th or so, I’ll send gifts to friends. These are always handmade. They’ll arrive for Valentine’s Day.

        I started sending just cash to the nieces and nephews when they turned 10 because of shipping costs. I can tape the cash to a movie size box of candy (4/$4 at walgreens!) and wrap it. It’ll ship for less than $2 in an envelope. I tuck $20s & $10s away all year just for that. We’re down to just 3 (out of 29!) We have the added gifts of birthdays in Oct., Nov., & Dec.!! That was part of why things got so expensive and out of control. It was just too much & I was in line at the post office every week for 6 wks. or something!

        For my friends, I make the same things for all of them, in different styles, patterns, or colors. This year it’s bowl cozies for the microwave.
        I do embroidered flour sack towels every other year because they beg for them! (and a local store always does the plain towels at 2/$3 in summer) I’ve done microwave pillows, as well. I think I’m doing pillowcases next year, which will be Feb. 19. I’ll watch for sales and finish them asap. My best friend has a Harry Potter den so I always make her something in those lines. This year was a trinket box that looked like the Monster Book of Monsters. It turned out great!! Next year, I’m borrowing Brandy’s idea for an embroidered Harry pillow. She’s gonna flip over it.

        With the cards going out early, I had time to take out all of the cards receieved from 17 & take my time replying, commenting, etc. No rush.
        Several people commented in their Cmas cards that it was so nice to get it early because they had time to pay more attention and it wasn’t lost in the crowd. I thought that was a pretty honest funny. When I got the Dec. bday & few adult gifts in the mail by early Dec., I was essentially done. That left us time to do anything we wanted. Totally relaxed. I’ve already got the Magi gifts ready to go and will just drop those off at the post office late next week. No lines again.

        With the shipping $, early cash setting aside, handmade gifts in multiples, buying only on sale, freebies, & shopping for husband after C’mas (he’s doing the same), we really shaved about 1/2 off our bill. And spreading it out over 5 mos. made it impossibly easy to do.

        If your friends/family are local, you’re already saving money, but when we moved to KS, our shipping costs were $200ish every Dec. For lack of a better idea, I kept doing the same thing. When my husband lost his job last year, things had to change. He’s back to work, but I’m not going back. This was a great plan for us.

        I’ve already written up 2019 and know exactly what I’ll be looking for for next year. I will hopefully find it deeply discounted this weekend and can get started. I’ve already got next year’s ornaments designed for my husband’s co-workers from items I have on hand.

        Anyway, I’m sorry it was so long (to you too, Brandy!), but I hope the idea helps someone.

  33. We have had a very blessed Christmas over the past two weeks. I cooked and baked from the pantry and freezer as much as possible, which left money for special treats like soft drinks, M&M’s, chips, and dips. We kept to a much smaller gift budget this year with no apparent disappointment for anyone. We all made homemade gifts which were a great joy for both the giver and the recipients, and a great use of the talents we have been blessed with. We were able to bless 7 needy families with a basket containing a family movie, homemade cookies and cocoa mix, and popcorn. I used a black Sharpie to cover the surface cracks of my 10 year-old dressy flats that fit like a glove and still have a good sole. I will try sewing the holes that have developed in the mesh toes of my everyday Nike’s. The soles are still good and they are still quite supportive. Trying to stick with a very low grocery budget in the coming months. Found out today I will need at least one nuclear scan and likely surgery for an endocrine issue, plus cataract surgery. We are hoping to travel with our youngest daughter to a figure skating completion in March, God willing. It will take two days of travel each way, plus days for the event, so hotel expenses, gas, and food costs will be enormous for 4 adults. Last year hubby was in an accident which took months for complete recovery, so we are very aware how plans can change in an instant. Very grateful for our family and so inspired by Brandy and each frugal and friendly commenter.

    1. Tejas, I had small holes in my new mesh sneakers. A little handstitching and then “sealing” the area and a little around it with nail polish has really held them together.

  34. I’m enjoying the new website, because when I have a few minutes to rest and want to feel encouraged, I just click on one of the photos from an old post that I like and read some comments! Some of the regular current commenters are in the older posts, so their voices continue to chime in.
    We are traveling post-holidays to in-laws, taking food for the car from the stockpile, banana bread I’ll make this evening, and various bags of half-price holiday candy I got at Walgreen’s this morning. Still tastes the same.
    Our auto insurance comes due in January, and it dropped about 10% on both our old vehicles. We have the same company for auto and homeowners and have built up a lot of discounts, fortunately claim-free, over many years.
    My big Christmas gift was an immersion blender, (stick blender), as ours broke a few years ago and I occasionally like to use one instead of getting out my big mixer, or to blend cream soup. I have to clean out a cupboard to find a place to store it, which is not necessarily a bad thing as I will see if anything strange has migrated there from elsewhere in the kitchen. I am in the mood to have a yard sale, (impossible here for another 4-5 months), so at least I can pull stuff out and price it and dream of spring cleaning for the new year.

  35. Merry Christmas Brandy and fellow frugal shoppers!
    I ran into some fabulous bargains this week. The local discount grocer had 2lb packages of boneless chicken thighs for a $1.00. I picked up 4 pkgs and repackaged into 8 . I also found pork sausage for $.25 per pound and 6 -12 oz pkgs of raspberries for $ 5.99. Another store had mandarin oranges for $1,88 for a 3 pound bag, I picked up 2 bags . I’m sitting good for awhile.

  36. We had the most frugal Christmas ever. Our son was diagnosed with Celiac Disease right before Christmas. Took the wind out of my sails. Didn’t feel like celebrating, which was good for our checkbook. Finding Gluten Free food is very expensive. I downloaded an app on my phone to scan food from the grocery store. Almost everything has Gluten in it. Ugh.
    My 97 year old mother that lives with us went from 17 points to 14 points on the S.L.U.M.S. test in just 3 months. Very discouraging. Don’t take a day of good health for granted it can change overnight. Wishing Brandy and her readers a New Year full of Health and Happiness.

    1. Lynn,
      Take heart. It’s hard at first to adjust, but there are more and more products available all the time without gluten.

      I have been gluten-free for a long time, and have learned quite a few ways to cope with it. With celiac, your son won’t be able to eat even a crumb of wheat, or eat foods fried in a fryer where crumbs might be. OR eat muffins baked in a pan where you’ve left even one crumb of flour muffins in the bottom. Yikes! (I have a dedicated gf toaster and my pans are for gf baking only except a glass loaf pan I can be certain gets clean each time) That can be daunting, and yes–it’s expensive. But, that’s where I am as well. My advice for getting started in the least expensive way is to just take foods that are naturally gluten-free such as meat, chicken, apples, potatoes, rice, corn, veggies, etc. and build meals around those. I would buy one gluten-free flour mix such as Bob’s Red Mill One-to-one gluten free all-purpose flour blend and one bag of Pamela’s pancake and baking mix (gf) as long as he can tolerate nuts, since that one has almond flour in it. You can go a long time on those 2 bags of flour and figure out more extensive options as you go. I would check out Gluten Free and More’s website for recipes, but you can use a favorite recipe and just exchange the Bob’s 1-1 flour for regular flour most of the time. It’s hard at first, but it gets easier. Really it does–I promise. You can do this! Oh, one more tip–I always make a small batch of muffins, per say, and freeze them, clearly marked so that I always have them in a hurry. The recipe on the back of the Pamela’s mix works great for that and I make them in mini muffin size for portion control.

    2. Lynn, Although Gluten Free food is more expensive there is now a fairly big variety (My daughter was diagnosed 13 years ago). Most grocery stores have a gluten free section, and many restaurants now offer Gluten Free Menus. You are right, good health is a gift, and we should never take it for granted. Grace to you and yours in the new year.
      Patricia/ FL

    3. Lynn,
      I’m sorry to hear about your son … I’ve been gluten-free for years now! I don’t have Celiac Disease, and have other allergies as well so it’s a challenge to say the least. I somewhat envy people with Celiac’s because they can still have dairy and eggs, which makes many gluten-free recipes and products nice options. It took me a while to get it all figured out, but there’s not too much I can’t do. However, I do have to do most of my own baking and food preparation. Still, we manage to eat out and I do best with Mexican, Indian, Middle Eastern, or Asian foods. And, I haven’t starved yet!. Good luck as he figures this out. There’s several good food blogs related to being gluten-free. I would recommend Gluten Free on a Shoestring as a place to start. Best wishes … Chris

    4. Lynn at first it is hard when you get the diagnosis for Celiac disease. How old is your son? My one son was around 11 when we found out. He was tiny and it was always blamed on the fact he had Down syndrome. After we changed his diet he gained 30lbs and grew 6 inches in 6 months. The disease actually destroys the little hairs in the small intestine that absorb all the nutrients in the food. While it is hard at first think of it as life changing for your son for his health. Our second son was in his late teens when he was diagnosed. He also has Down syndrome and in addition Type 1 diabetes. You can do this. It is just a learning curve. If you have an Aldi’s near you they have pretty good prices on GF food. Their bread is great and you can get GF stuffing mix there now because of the holidays. Kroger makes a good GF pizza. You can get GF pasta at Aldi or Trader Joes for pretty good prices. Yes it is more expensive but how much healthier your son will be. As far as dinners go just think meat, rice or potatoes and veggies. All gluten free. It gets tricky when you go out to eat but many restaurants now have GF items and some GF menus. Just ask. Good luck.

    5. Sorry to hear that it wasn’t the easiest Christmas, Lynn. I’m sure your son was relieved to finally have a diagnosis! I’ve heard that one can buy second hand bread machines pretty easily at thrift stores, so you could start making your own bread at home. I know the gluten-free flour mix isn’t cheap, but hopefully the cost-savings of making your own bread would offset that. And there are a whole bunch of great gluten-free websites out there! Best of luck learning a new way of cooking! And best wishes for your mum! My MIL isn’t well either (and won’t be recovering), so I sympathize.

    6. Hi Lynn

      I’m sorry to hear about your difficulties. I wondered if you had checked Pinterest- loads of gluten free recipes on there? Also here in the UK there is a charity- Coeliac UK. Maybe you have an equivalent where you are?

      Regards

      Sheena

    7. MY youngest daughter just started a GF diet. She doesn’t have Celiac, just an intolerance. In just 2 months she is totally different for the better, I wish I had known years ago. The poor kid suffered for years. We have been using the Pamel’s products and she loves them. I make bread at home so we have been trying out different recipes. It is not cheap but it is worth every penny. She feels great and can enjoy food again.

  37. We had a wonderful Christmas. We had all the hustle and bustle that comes with having a large family and were pretty tired yesterday! But, after acting like a slug all afternoon and evening, I’m feeling pretty good today and am ready to go to the YMCA with the kids (mine and niece and nephew!).

    My husband cooked the ham and turkey my sister bought since we all like how he does it on his Trager BBQ. We all made side dishes and desserts and had a ton to eat.

    We had houseguests for 2 nights, and put them up in the camper. It makes a great guest house and it always makes me feel good to know we’ve used it once again in-between camping trips.

    I put myself on a slightly lowered grocery budget this month. Even though it was not the lowest grocery challenge I’ve done, I spent every cent, and the small cushion I had allowed myself for stocking up. But, I was able to get several food gifts, Christmas goodies such as cream cheese, toiletries, and lots of expensive produce with it, and we’ve eaten like kings and queens. I’m actually hoping to keep it down even more in January, since I don’t need any food gifts. Again, I won’t reduce my produce-buying no matter what the price, so I need to be flexible, since my husband is eating a ton of that with his dieting. (12 more pounds down since Thanksgiving is the last count and that was over a week ago!!).

    My husband got 2 shirts and a hoodie that fits for Christmas from relatives! I made him a new pair of sleeping shorts and one pair of long sleeping/lounging around pants. Everything else is literally falling off of him, so we are going to have to break down and buy some clothes in January. He plans to keep it to a bare minimum as he is not done losing, so we are super grateful for the shirts and coat!!!

    The rest is on my blog with lots of Christmas pictures: https://beckyathome.wordpress.com/2018/12/27/thriving-in-my-thrifty-christmas-week-december-26-2018/

  38. I love the picture of The Boy in a Basket! He’s a darling.
    We had a good Christmas. I managed to buy about a third or more of my gifts with Swagbucks, which helped a lot, since medical bills have pretty well swamped us this year. A few things I made, and everything else, I got on sale at least.
    Our Christmas lunch was provided by myself and my grown kids, so no one family had to cook or shop for an entire meal. I’d had the ham in the freezer since Thanksgiving, when I got it on sale.
    I used my good china, silverware and crystal that I’ve had for so very long to serve the 10 people we had eating. I also use my cloth tablecloths and napkins. Years back, I started adding to my china, crystal and silver by watching for good sales on estate pieces at Replacements and Silver Queen, so I have enough for 12 now – I started out with four place settings. I love setting a pretty table at holidays and I am always surprised at how many people I know who prefer to buy paper and plastic disposables for holidays. It’s expensive, and creates so much trash.
    After the unwrapping, I saved bows, shirt boxes and uncrumpled tissue paper, as usual.
    I bought a huge roll of wrapping paper at half-off after Christmas.
    I found a pair of cute little Gymboree shoes on super clearance while Christmas shopping at Marshall’s. We have a March birthday coming up for a pre-schooler who is almost in that size, so I picked them up.
    For the umpteenth year in a row, I bought nothing new to decorate my house.
    Happy new year everyone!

  39. Have you made sure her folate levels are normal? A folate deficiency can result in dementia like symptoms. Might be good to check it out. Most seniors are deficient. best wishes, Ann

  40. Hi Brandi, Love the shot of the baby. I see he has one of my favorite types of baby blankets with the soft edge. This past week I kept it frugal with the following: used only left over wrapping paper and gift boxes from last year, used the same lights for the tree that we’ve had for a number of years even though there are not enough – I put the tree against the wall and only place the lights on the front

    I got 20# 0f potatoes at $1.50 a pound, made gf cream of potato soup for dinner, picked up 10# of blsl chicken breast for $1.49 a pound, portioned it out in freezer packs for six meals – labeled each one accordingly, shopped a local outlet store and got canned goods for .50 each, olive oil on the cheap, a case of 15 liter size sparkling waters for $5. The sparkling water will help stretch juice and give us the taste of “pop”.

    I sold some items on ebay and plan to use the money to help stock the pantry and freezer in January as the sales come in. While on break, I am hoping to make some items to sell on etsy. One of those items is a messenger style bag. I found a grommet tool at the discount store for under $10. This will make the bags much easier to make. I’m also going to use my break to clean out closets and possibly list some unused things for sale,

    Hope everyone has a great frugal week this coming week and a Happy New Year.

  41. Hi Lynn, one of the easiest least expensive ways to go gf is to simply use potatoes, rice, and corn in place of wheat based items, Chips, corn chips, corn tortillas, beans, beds of rice instead of noodles all make good meal accompaniments without adding cost. GF “items” can be expensive, but they can also be avoided. I would start with only looking to replace one or two items – mac and cheese maybe.

    I have found that target is the cheapest on gf boxed items, outlet stores often have gf items on the cheap, and gf items often end up in your stores clearance section because the stock moves slowly. Try not to stress out about what can’t be eaten, but what can be eaten. Good luck and best wishes.

  42. Lynn – Yes, I agree, it’s hard to avoid gluten, but there are some things you can do to make it easier (I followed a gluten free diet for two years due to health issues, my brother in law has celiac disease, and several family members don’t eat gluten.). The easiest and least expensive option is to cook from scratch. Basic things – in their unprocessed state – like meat, eggs, dairy, vegetables, fruits, and nuts don’t have gluten in them. However, if you buy something like ham, or flavored yogurt, or seasoned nuts, you will have to check to make sure these items are gluten free. There are tons of gluten free recipes online, as well as many blogs dedicated to this subject.
    Here are some ideas for things your son can eat:
    Breakfast:
    – Gluten free oats (yes, more expensive than standard oats, but an easy option). Make oatmeal, or make oat pancakes (I did a search online and found lots of recipes. I can’t remember the exact recipe I used to use).
    – Some cereals are gluten free.
    – Gluten free bread (from the store or from a ready made mix) can be used for toast or French toast. Serve with eggs or sausage or bacon. Or peanut or nut butter.
    – Scrambled eggs with veggies if desired. Serve with hash browns.
    Lunch:
    – Sandwich using gluten free bread. (If you buy lunchmeat, check the label to make sure it’s gluten free. Or bake a roast or turkey breast and slice your own).
    – Gluten free crackers with tuna, egg salad, cheese or peanut butter.
    – Salad or sliced veggies (make your own dressing)
    – Soup. Homemade is easiest, so you can control the ingredients. I made a lot of blended veggie soups: saute onions and garlic, add veggies and broth, season to taste and puree with hand blender. Freeze for future lunches.
    Dinner:
    – Rice and potatoes are gluten free. Use these as the basis for meals.
    – Beans. Make from scratch or buy canned (again, check the label).
    – Gluten free pastas. If you have an Asian store near you, look in the noodle section for rice noodles. These are usually pretty inexpensive.
    – Corn bread (made without flour) or corn chips (we make nachos). Polenta or grits are good options too.
    – With the above, serve meat/poultry/fish/eggs or whatever you like.
    -Add side veggies or salad.
    Snacks:
    – Nuts, hard boiled eggs, homemade granola or granola bars using gluten free oats, gluten free crackers with butter and jam or peanut butter, cut up veggies with ranch dip (homemade or check label on store brand)
    Desserts:
    – Fruit
    – Plain yogurt with fruit or maple syrup or brown sugar or molasses
    – Gluten free cookies (homemade is cheapest)
    – Gluten free brownies or cakes
    – Chocolate (many kinds are gluten free)
    – Ice cream (again, check the label. Simple flavors are best).

    So, yes, it’s going to be more work and more expensive to eat gluten free. Once you get your head around it, and figure out some work arounds, it will get easier, trust me. Good luck.

  43. I absolutely cannot spend any money in January, except on what is essential. That is ok I did not overspend at Christmas, it is just that land taxes for the year are due at the end of December ($445, which I know is not much for the year compared to most places, but because I have to have my car worked on, my toilet eventually worked on, and various other out of the ordinary expenses, it is just another payment to deal with). I am usually pretty good at having an emergency fund, but well, I had several medical emergencies in November and December (and a kid who works in construction and with all the rain, the work has stopped for now) and it was like a tidal wave of expenses that decimated it. That is ok. I still have my house, car, job, insurance, etc., so I am grateful. But, I will be on a strict budget. I was so happy to have a supply of canned food and so my Christmas meal was relatively cheap. I had bought a ham on sale. Other than that, I used my food supply for Christmas. I had bought, early in December, lots of potatoes, yogurt, cream cheese for $1, margarine for $1, so I made ham with fig sauce using the free figs from my mother’s tree. She is dead, but that house will always be referred to as my mother’s house. I made cornbread for our bread because I was almost out of flour, and my family loved it with the ham and fig sauce. It went perfect together! I did not have apple juice for the fig sauce, so I simply used a little karo syrup, and cooked figs and blended it and it tasted fine. I would have used honey, but I was out of that. I am the queen of substitution….lol. I used canned milk, a little sugar, eggs I had on hand, canned corn, to make a corn casserole. I made my mom’s English pea salad she always made from canned peas, canned green beans casserole with, canned milk, a can of mushroom soup and I already had the crispy onions box on hand that was the Walmart brand.I am so glad I bought potatoes early in the month and I made mashed potatoes made with a little garlic, margarine, cream cheese and plain yogurt, and we had a pumpkin pie. I am so grateful for food storage! Everyone thought the meal was fabulous, and no one knew I made several substitutions to use food storage instead of buying more from the store! I am so glad Brandy had a fig sauce recipe for use with pork, because, although I did not have the apple juice, it gave me the idea to use what I had on hand and my family absolutely loved the fig sauce with the ham and cornbread! Thank you Brandy! The baby looks adorable in the basket!

    1. Cindy, you always pull off such wonderful meals with such simple pantry supplies. What a nice dinner you created from you pantry for a special Christmas meal.

  44. Merry Christmas and a very Happy New Year to all. Saving all the money from the casual job I don’t really like has meant my daughter and I have been able to go to Vietnam and Laos for a holiday. My frugal tip for travelling is take a teenager with you! We have been staying at a hotel not close to the centre so she downloaded the local ride sharing app and organised our trips in and out yesterday. She is also proving to be quite the expert bargainer in the markets.
    The best bit is listening to the conversation she was having yesterday with a girl her age who has been working in the market for 4 years selling shoes as she had to leave school at 14 and Grace really taking it in how an education takes you places and without one your options can remain limited.

  45. Am I the only one unable to locate the list of recipes? I see no menu button (lines) at the top where it used to be. And when I use the Recipes category at the bottom, there are only 4 recipes. Thanks in advance.

    1. The menu bar is not working properly on the phone version of the website. I sent you an email about this. I have been trying several things and so far none of them have fixed it. I’m looking! The recipes on the bottom that you are seeing are only blog posts about recipes. The menu bars with recipes exist on the computer and tablet versions of the site. The recipe index page, unfortunately, was created in the old program I used and I haven’t found a way to recreate it in this one, but the recipe pages are there. I have to fix this for you and everyone else looking at the site on a phone. I will keep looking. Everything seems to have 12 parts to it, each one in a separate place. . . .

  46. Hi Brandy. I purchased some gifts at a thrift store which was also having a 50% off everything sale. I bought a large and beautiful silk scarf for $4. I found vintage scarf pins (not really pins but looks like a broach but has a circular piece through which the scarf ends fit). I paid $1.50 each and polished them up. One is silver, may be sterling from how it turnedout. One of the other scarves I bought still had it’s Nieman Marcus tags attached with old, hand written product info. I found antique bone china dessert plates in a beautiful pattern for $.50 each. I found a pashmina for $4. I bought my friend a Vera Bradley purse with tags still on for $5.

    I’ve been finding channels I like on YouTube. Brandy, this is a woman who sews and teaches sewing. Her thing is vintage 20s, 30s and 40s clothing. She also finds garments at thrift stores she reworks. Very talented and fun to watch. https://youtu.be/uVWIyYzp3pw

    I also found one I think Winter would like. She is a costumer and also likes to adapt vintage styles to modern uses. https://youtu.be/rnlzX2A4PGg

    YouTube I find is a treasure trove. I am using it to learn new crochet patterns.

    1. Hi Maggie

      I find lots of yarn in charity shops in Britain. Also – there is a website called Yarutopia by someone called Nadia Fuad. She posts a lot of videos on YouTube. It’s thanks to her video on the granny square cardigan that I started crocheting again.

      1. Sheena, me too here in the US. I don’t like cheap yarn so I find the good stuff pennies on the dollar. Last winter I bought what would have been $400 of yarn for $50 and it will be years before it’s used up.

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