Frugal Accomplishments

Last Week’s Frugal Accomplishments

I kept my irrigation system turned off outside as we anticipated some rain and snow. For the first time in over a decade, we had snow! It was more than we received in 2008, too! Much more snow fell in other parts of the valley, so after playing in the snow at our house, we left to find a park where they had received four times as much snow as we did. When we came back two hours later, the snow was all melted except for our snowmen. Our new dishwasher was not the least expensive model, but because of the way it is laid out, we are now able to run only two loads a day (most of the time) instead of three. We chose this model specifically for several reasons, including the third rack and plate lateout. This is our third dishwasher since moving in 12 years ago. My husband and I noticed the electric ratings on dishwashers were based on an average of four loads a week. As we are a family of eleven who eat all three meals and an afternoon snack at home and cook from scratch, we use our dishwasher much more often that four times a week! Our first dishwasher in the house was a Kitchen Aid model with a third rack. Our second was a Bosch, and we did not love the layout as it did not fit as many plates in the dishwasher (a huge deal when you go through 10 plates in a meal). This dishwasher will fit 20 plates at a time, plus we now have a third rack again. I love that we don’t have to run it as often. My eldest daughter took the pre-test for the HiSET, which is our state’s equivalent of the GED. Nevada does not require a homeschooled student to register under an umbrella school, and her school of choice would like her to have completed the GED (or equivalent test such as the HiSET) as a homeschooled student. It will also make it simpler when applying for Pell Grants (financial aid, for my non-U.S. readers) for university classes. She has been taking online university classes for the last couple of years, and is now applying to her school of choice. In order to take the test (which is 8 hours long) one has to first take a 4-hour long pretest. You can only move on to take the test if you pass (so few pass that the people there told everyone they wouldn’t pass. She was the only person in a room of 20 who passed). If you get a high enough score, the state will pay the $65 fee for the test for you. She passed high enough that they gave us a voucher for the test. She scheduled the test for Friday and passed with a very high score. The school district will issue her a diploma. She’s been taking online university classes for the last two years, and will now be applying to go to university to study Apparel Design, a major designed for entrepreneurs. On Saturday she attended an organ class, which was directed by the lead organ teacher in the country. This is the second time they have offered this free class in Las Vegas. She has been playing the organ at church for the prelude before church starts each week for quite some time now. This class will help her improve her skills. The class included breakfast and lunch, and she got a ride with an older woman from church (our regular organist, who told her about the class when they had it two years ago). Two of my daughters attended our church’s free day camp on Saturday. Three of my daughters needed new shoes. I was able to find inexpensive three pairs on clearance plus a few other pairs for them to each have some church shoes and some tennis shoes. One of the pairs was $3! My eldest son signed up for IHOP’s breakfast card. He was supposed to get a free stack of pancakes for signing up. He showed them the email on a phone, but instead of honoring it, they charged him $10! (He was rather miffed, as he says the exact same item on the menu costs half that price). Apparently, he needed to have printed out the email confirmation instead. He spoke to the employees there, and later that week, he received a call. It was the manager, who apologized for the $10 charge, and gave him two free breakfast vouchers! Even better, my son had filled out the survey on the bottom of the receipt, where he won two free pancakes every time he goes in for a year! I read an e-book from the library. This was one that I had requested for our library to purchase over a year ago. I enjoyed it a lot and it made me laugh. I said yes to some food from someone who was moving, and received 2 1/4 gallons of milk, orange juice, a pound of cheese, a large bag of greens, 3 dozen eggs, some potatoes, a can of olives, and a couple pounds of spreadable margarine. What did you do to save money this past week?

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171 Comments

  1. I loved seeing the group picture of all your children. I cannot get over how big your eldest son is. They all look like they had so much fun playing in the snow. I had a busy work week (I work from home, so fit everything in around the household stuff.) My husband was busy, too, doing several odd jobs for neighbors. On Wednesday we spent the day running errands. My husband took me to lunch and paid with some of the money he’s been earning. I hadn’t bought groceries in a while, so we did that, but stayed under budget. We were still full from lunch that evening, so I didn’t have to cook dinner.
    I made homemade bread.
    I won a $50 Target Gift Card from a drawing held by a local real estate agent. Anyone could enter – I was surprised and thrilled to win.
    We attended a health fair at our regional hospital. We were able to get all the blood work for our upcoming physicals for $200 – for both of us. Last year the blood work from my physical alone came to $1400, and my husband ended up skipping his physical because we didn’t want to run the bill up more. I was determined not to let that happen again, so have been waiting for the health fair. We also attended a first aid seminar and collected a lot of free pens, lotions, sunscreen, some coffee samples, and two new tooth brushes. A very worthwhile morning.

    1. I meant to add congratulations to Winter. That is quite an accomplishment. It sounds like she is already ahead of the game for college.

  2. What a treat for them to have snow!
    Payless is going out of business. If you have one near you keep an eye on when they will close, you might be able to get some cheap shoes.

  3. Oh my, each and every one of those pictures is a keeper! Being from Canada, we are so used to snow that it’s lovely to see the enthusiasm from those that don’t see it quite so often! I have had a bug for the past week which has made me really stuffy so we’ve been keeping it really quiet here. I have started to work on improving my French using free resources from the library. I have also been taking some free courses through the Hadley School for the Blind and Visually Impaired since my son has a diagnosed eye condition. I am so thankful for the free resources that are out there for learning. I got two pineapples for $1 each so I canned those to use later. I have made a large amount of applesauce since the fall and frozen it but think that next year I will can it and save the freezer space. I have the canning supplies so I’ll take better advantage of them in the summer and fall.

    1. Andrea, how much canned pineapple do you get from a fresh pineapple? I am trying to decide at what price point it would make sense for me to can my own. Thanks.

      1. Cindi, I bought 6 fresh pineapples, canned 10 pints and left some for fresh eating. I’d say you get approximately 2 pints of canned per each pineapple. If they are a $1 each, it’s worth it to can up some. The flavour of home-canned from fresh pineapple WAY EXCEEDS those store bought tins. Even the best brands just pale in comparison! You’ll never want to buy tinned fruit again.

          1. Jeannie, I usually can mine with diluted pineapple juice (I dilute around 50% but you could add more water if you’d like). I’m not sure if it makes any difference or not, but I really like how it tastes. Just be aware, buying the juice does add the total cost. It happened this last sale both pineapples and pineapple juice were $1 each, which was a bonus!

  4. Wow! Congrats to your daughter on her amazing achievement! From what you’ve posted about her, her choice of major could not be better for her! And what fun to have snow in Vegas! Am impressed that everyone had serious snow gear. Sounds like a really great week!

    My frugal accomplishments for the week:
    – I made Preservative-Free Garden Veggie Spread (http://approachingfood.com/garden-veggie-spread/) . Thanks to a comment by GardenPat, I made this easy cream cheese spread using home-dehydrated red and green peppers, dried chives, and garlic powder. I ground up the peppers with a mortar and pestle and it was so yummy. Brandy, you could easily make this yourself if you grown red and green peppers and chives! It’s worth dehydrating them just for this dish!
    – I bought a package of Hallmark thank you cards at the Dollar Store for $2.50, so hopefully I’m set for a while. They’re pink, which isn’t my favourite, but they’re quality and they were a good price, so they’ll do!
    – I bought two pepperoni sticks for 63 cents each, and sliced and froze them. It’ll do to top four pizzas with for my husband.
    – When my daughter was born, a friend kindly gave us some clothing from the Gap. The baby had enough clothing, so I returned it for store credit so I could buy larger clothing at a later date. By combining the store credit, plus using a $20 off $50 time-limited purchase coupon, and adding in a $10 Swagbucks gift card, I was able to get two dresses, a romper, and a sleeper for less than $6.50 OOP! I was very pleased with that.
    – I used $5 worth of bookstore loyalty points (a free account top-up, but time-limited) to order a cute racoon espresso mug for only 65 cents OOP. By having it sent to a store, the shipping was free. I had it sent to a store near my parent’s place. The next time I’m visiting them, I’ll pick up my purchase. I’ll add the cup to my gift stash. It’s an odd little thing, but I think it might trade well on my Toronto-centric trading app, given that raccoons are practically Toronto’s mascot.
    – I redeemed a Starbucks reward (earned using Swagbucks) for a large vegan salad (worth almost $12). It was a tasty free dinner for me! I picked up a coffee for my sister at the same time, and as she didn’t want the sugar packets that I got for her, I just added them to my pantry. The raw sugar packets that Starbucks has are very similar to turbinado sugar; perfect for topping muffins with.
    – When dropping my sister off at a doctor’s appointment, I picked up a free travel size shampoo bottle. Perfect to put in my travel cosmetics bag!
    – I borrowed my sister’s presto card (she bought a monthly transit pass but broke her ankle and isn’t using it) for 3 trips, saving me almost $10.
    – I saved a gift bag from a gift given to me and added it to my stash of bags to reuse.
    – I made seasoned pita chips to go with soup for dinner.
    – I made cranberry, coconut, and almond granola (with ground flax and psyllium). I used up items from my pantry, and this will put off buying a box of cereal for a week. (http://approachingfood.com/clean-eating-cranberry-granola-and-degrees-of-crunchiness/) I left out the pepitas that I usually add into my granola, simply because I didn’t have it in my pantry.
    – My husband uploaded a 20x the loyalty points coupon to his Shoppers Drug Mart card, and then bought about $60 worth of diapers when they went on sale this weekend. As he used his credit card (we always pay it off in full) which gives us 3x the points, he ended up getting 60x the points on the purchase! This was enough points to buy all our groceries for the week, including some meat for him and some items to stock up on, plus now we’re well stocked up on diapers for the next size up.
    – I purchased almond butter and herbs on sale from Bulk Barn and used a 30% off coupon.
    – I made several jars of cranberry sauce (http://approachingfood.com/better-than-store-bought-cranberry-sauce/). I use this as a stir-in for my homemade Greek yoghurt. It’s the cheapest fruit jam I can make, when I buy the cranberries on sale and freeze them until needed.
    – I made biscuits to serve with a mystery chili I unearthed from the back of my freezer. I used whey in the place of milk. I also used whey when making a smoothie for myself, as it just adds extra protein.
    – I made taco spice and used it to make my Tex-Mex Potato Wedges (http://approachingfood.com/easy-tex-mex-potato-wedges/)
    – I cut open a lotion bottle and used my mini spatula to decant the remainder into a smaller jar so I could easily use it up.
    – I redeemed Swagbucks for $25 to Paypal.

    Looking forward to learning from everyone as always!

    1. I bought snow pants and boots at garage sales several years ago with hopes to drive to the snow. We were hoping to go to the snow this year, but found out that it is illegal to drive there without chains, which are quite an expense. The coats were bought on clearance from Land’s End several years back, and we bought them 4 sizes larger. The boys have used their coats and the pants and boots several times to go camping in the snow on Scout trips. The gloves were bought locally on clearance several years ago as well.

        1. Margaret, I can’t seem to reply to your first post, so I’ll put my comment here. I’m glad you like the cream cheese spread. My girls used to devour the flavoured cheeses when I would buy them, so to save money I experimented making my own. They enjoyed the Philadelphia Veggie flavoured spread the most so I started there, then branched out to the herb flavoured by using dried herbs, usually chives, dill, parsley, onion and garlic powder. When making the spreads it’s always better to err on the side of restraint as they intensify in flavour the longer they sit. To make a more spreadable flavoured cheese right from the fridge, I beat a Tablespoon or so of cream, (not milk) into the mixture. Using light cream cheese works better than full fat for this purpose as well. I’m not sure if you’re aware of this, but Food Basics has Lactantia Cream Cheese on sale right now for $1.88 a block. I’ve stocked up! Enjoy.

          1. It’s an awesome flavour combination, Pat! Even my mother, who is not a cream cheese person, really enjoyed it. Plus, the dried red pepper gives it a lovely sweetness without any sugar, and packs in the nutrition (two tbsp. of ground dehydrated peppers is actually quite a bit when fresh). I just heat it for a few seconds in the microwave to make it easier to spread. Thanks for the inspo!!

      1. It’s so wonderful that they got to play in the snow at home and go to a park to play even more! We were there for the 2008 storm and it was lovely; it’s one of my favorite memories of Las Vegas.

        Just FYI, chains aren’t required to go to Mt. Charleston unless there is an active warning or storm anticipated. Anytime the roads are clear, you can go play in the snow! Check the road status here: https://mtcharlestonweather.com/roads/ It snows a few inches out at Red Rock every winter and I don’t believe chains are ever required there. There are several free parking areas in Calico Basin.

        1. Andrea, Metro was posting online that chains were required for Mt. Charleston or you would be ticketed. I go to church with several Metro officers and their wives were posting the warnings online for everyone. That’s how I knew about it. They had that message posted two weeks ago. Red Rock was pretty; we went out that way; the park is really close to there. The day it snowed, signs on both the 95 and the 215 said chains were required in the direction of Mt. Charleston.

          1. I think you missed my point. If you go when the roads are clear and there’s no storm expected, there is no chain requirement. It’s only when the roads are bad/snow is imminent that they activate the warning (and yes, they will ticket if there is an active chains warning). You can check with the state DOT; it isn’t a 24/7 requirement. I was in Vegas earlier this month and went there without chains. There will be snow at Mt Charleston until May at least, so you could go play after the winter weather passes.

            1. Good to know. We didn’t have to have chains before but we didn’t want to get ticketed or find ourselves not able to go. I will have to learn more. I was feeling disappointed that we couldn’t go up there but the park ended up being awesome. I will look into it. Thanks!

      2. Those look like the Lands End Squall parkas. We’re in SLC and get plenty of snow and my kids have worn those parkas for years. Warmest ones around!

  5. I read on line that PayLess shoe stores are going out of business and had some big sales. I got several pair of nice shoes for my grandsons for 1/2 price

  6. SNOW!!! WOW! I loved the pictures but my favorite was the group picture. They have all grown so much. Be proud Brandy. You and your husband have done a wonderful job raising them.

    I will share my big money saver. Back last Fall when we had our land timbered, I asked the logging company to also fell three horrible, thorny Bodock trees in our front yard. I negotiated it as part of our contract and by the look of shock on his face, I don’t think anyone has ever asked that before. It would cost between $1,500 to $2,000 to remove each one if we hired a tree removal service. It isn’t good wood to burn in the house fireplace because of the horrible smell. It is good to make fence posts, bows (as in arrows) and ax handles, but who does that anymore? Well, it seems my brother wants to try and make an ax handle himself. We have given him a few straight branch pieces. All we needed was someone to drop the trees without hitting our power lines. The lumberjacks came this month and we have been spending our free time burning wood in the front yard. It is time-consuming but for $6,000 in savings plus no more ruined shoe soles and lawnmower tires, it’s worth the effort.

    I shared the pictures on this week’s blog post.
    http://getmetothecountry.blogspot.com/2019/02/timbeeeeeerrrrrragain.html

    Jeannie@GetMeToTheCountry

  7. Brandy,

    Wow, I did not even think about your getting snow! What a unique winter it has been, and what a blessing that your children got to build a snowman!

    Congratulations to your amazing daughter for passing the test AND pre-test. She is super ambitious like you. This accomplishment says so much about the benefits of homeschooling. 🙂

    Here are my frugal accomplishments:
    * I read a 27-in-1 ebook that I purchased for under $5.
    * We cooked all meals at home.
    * I used what I had on hand to make food for a potluck (beans, rice, leftover chicken).
    * My husband stopped at a gas station after church to fuel up; the gas station was on our way home.
    * I combined several errands on one day to save time, money, and gas.
    * I purchased avocados on sale.
    * I gladly used a gift card to purchase some groceries.
    * I used natural remedies to take care of some health issues. It’s been just a couple of weeks now, and I am seeing an improvement in my health. 🙂

  8. Your children have growing so fast! They look like they had a blast playing in the snow. I bought two pairs of Nautica shorts with tags still on them $44.50 each, a new 6 pack of Fila socks with tags $16.99, a pair of flats for my daughter, denim shorts, denim capris, dressy capris, a couple of shirts for me, a Gap kids shirt for my grandson, a movie and book for my daughter and I feel like I’m missing some, at Goodwill for $61.70! I got all of that for less than the cost of one pair of shorts and the socks.

  9. We had snow, too, but it’s not nearly as rare here. I’m glad your children were able to enjoy it. Our frugal accomplishments for the week were:
    *Meals made were crockpot beef fajitas with corn, potato soup with homemade bread, crockpot chili, broiled fish with baked potatoes and green beans, honey bun cake, peach cobbler.
    *Pulled brownies from the freezer for dessert one night. Doubling up when I bake saves me a lot of time and money.
    *Rented video sessions of our ladies bible study instead of buying them, which is saving over 50%.
    *Began planning a small garden.
    *Took a Kroger survey and received 50 fuel points.
    *Emailed customer service at the flower company my son ordered flowers from, as they were delivered the day before Valentine’s and he had paid extra to have them delivered ON Valentine’s day. They refunded the fee.
    *Made kidney beans in the crockpot (some to freeze and some for chili).
    *Baked bread in the bread maker.
    *Meal planned.
    *Began working on our taxes. Doing them ourselves saves us a lot of money.
    *Had a snow day so my husband and I were both able to work from home and save gas.
    *Received a settlement check from Chase for $16.76.
    *Earned $2.40 on Ibotta.
    Every little bit helps!

  10. What a lovely family you have.
    I’m so proud for your daughter. She must be as smart as she is beautiful.
    What great pictures of your kids having fun in the snow.
    Living in Texa my 3rd child had never seen snow before we went home (Indiana) for Christmas when she was almost 2. She just stood in the snow and cried, “What’s dis stuff?”. *laughing*

    1. When we lived in the northern most village in Alaska years ago, there was no grass there—it is above the tree line and though the tundra has green, it is not grass. When we moved to a part of the state with grass and tended lawns, the children born in the village were afraid to step on it because they didn’t understand what it was. They also could not believe that the sun came up on Christmas Day because where we lived it set in November and did not come up again until February, so they were used to 24 hours darkness during all the winter holidays. It is amazing how what you think is normal depends entirely on where you were raised, at least until you get older and travel and read more.

  11. It was so much fun to see the pictures of your children enjoying the snow! Thank you for posting them! We have been receiving rain here lately, with snow in the mountains. This last week, my husband and I took sack breakfasts and lunches from home when we had appointments that would keep us out and about during several days. We are currently planning some home improvement that is long overdue. It has taken us a long time to begin the actual process because we know it will be a prolonged effort. We will be our own contractors and do much of the work ourselves. Ha! I should say my handy husband will do much of the work. I specialize in phone calls to find the most for the least money. Thank you, Brandy, and those who comment here for all the good ideas, and encouragement.

  12. We just returned from a short vacation in the Philippines. Traveling usually involves spending money but it can be done frugally too.
    We combined a resort stay with a package tour.
    We took advantage of a hotel voucher.
    Breakfast was free at the hotels.
    We made sure to stop at a local supermarket to pick up snacks, water, and mangos. They provided a much-needed snack after swimming.
    Snorkeling was free so we did it every day.
    We didn’t shop till you drop. We only bought small magnets for my sons friends.
    We hand washed laundry and used the sun to dry it.
    We ate at local restaurants.
    I used my lounge access card to eat and drink while waiting in the airport.
    We got free valet parking with the credit card.
    My son collected seashells and coral.
    We took pictures, made memories, and had fun.

  13. Just a comment on the dishwasher thing. I am a mom of 15 children, 10 of which still reside at home. In the past 12 years we have lived in a home with 2 dishwashers and pretty much had to replace them every other year or so. Finally, as they were again leaking and destroying the floors and leaving us with dirty dishes, I decided to get radical. ( These were Kitchen Aid, so they were supposed to be good dishwashers.) We took them out, bought two attractive matching metal carts that rolled in and out of that space. This provided extra work space, places for dish towels and other storage. The kids now do dishes by hand in less time and don’t argue about who is responsible to redo the dirty dishes from the dishwasher. At the end of the meal, all is put away and the kitchen clean. We all like this method far better!

    1. I don’t have nearly as many kids, but we took ours out a year ago and added shelves. It’s so much faster for me to wash by hand! I don’t think I’ll ever have a dishwasher again. I saved the bottom rack from the dishwasher when we got rid of it and I use it as my drying rack on top of a towel. It goes on one of the shelves in the old dishwasher space when not in use.

      1. We have a dishwasher but I found my water and hydro costs went down once I started doing the dishes by hand. My brother repairs appliances and he recommended running it at least once a month to make sure it stays in good working order. But, like you, I mostly use the dishwasher as an extra drying rack. I found that once I’ve washed my mason jars by hand, I just put them in the dishwasher, out of the way…off the counters, until they’re completely dry, then replace the rings and seals and off to storage they go.

  14. Brandy, what great pictures of your children enjoying the snow!!!! It is still really cold here, woke up to -30C today.
    This weeks frugalities include:
    -used my free library membership to borrow books, movies and magazines
    -made a pot of potato soup using leftover mashed potatoes and homemade broth
    -packed breakfast and lunch to work all week
    -used a coupon and 2 apps to buy a canister of coffee for .50
    -redeemed $20 from a rebate app
    -wore thrift store scrubs to work. I have accumulated quite the collection over the years, all from thrift stores.
    -made a bean/pasta salad for this weeks lunches using free after coupon pasta and loss leader canned beans
    Looking forward to reading everyone’s posts!

  15. Looks like a good time was had by all! I’m just surprised you had winter coats for the whole gang!

    We are still up to our armpits in snow in northern Idaho, where we ALL have winter coats. It’s 18F outdoors right now (today’s high) and going down to 10F tonight, with more of the same coming for the rest of the week. It just started snowing again…those itty bitty flakes you get when it is cold. I am hoping the snow in my yard melts by the 4th of July or so!

    I sewed the remaining 3 cloth napkins with heart-printed fabric. Now I won’t be making them in the hour before dinner next Valentine’s Day, LOL.

    I didn’t make homemade soup last weekend for lunches, but I thawed ham and bean soup made about 6 weeks ago.

    We hosted our gourmet dinner club Saturday night. We take turns hosting and cooking. At the end, we add up the cost of groceries, divide by the number of attendees and that’s what each person pays. Everyone gets a 4-course meal served to them for just the price of the groceries! Three people cooked this meal in their own homes and brought it here. We had 14 diners, including ourselves. The group meets 9 times a year and it is our main social activity. The group is 40 years old and we’ve been members for 10 or 11 years.

    I had an MRI and learned last week that I need extensive back surgery for a variety of degenerative issues, including scoliosis (I thought I just had bad posture). I’m not in a lot of pain now, so it doesn’t have to happen right away. I am in a Medicare Advantage HMO that does not pay out of network. It occurred to me that I could change plans next January to one that would let me go anywhere for treatment, and I’ve begun researching them. Medicare open enrollment ends March 31, so I could conceivably make the switch that soon.

    I bought 8 lbs. of oranges for $4.99 at Winco. No meat this week–too expensive, and plenty in the freezer anyway.

    I got a free moving blanket at Harbor Freight. My son and daughter-in-law are buying their first home and, in about a month, moving a bedroom suite and other stuff we are still storing here.

    Quote Like

  16. Love your snow!!! This week has been crazy weather here in Ohio too- warm, wet, cold, windy- you name it, we’ve had it!! We are SO looks by forward to Springtime!
    I was able to buy a 5 pound bag of already diced red bell peppers for $1 so I put them on 6 dehydrator trays and ended up with a full quart size Mason jar of dehydrated ones to put on my pantry shelf! So grateful for those appliances I use every week- my dehydrator and also my Foodsaver vacuum sealer!

    We pruned our fruit trees on Saturday- 4 apple, 2 pear, 1 cherry and 1 apricot. The others we had already pruned! Looking forward to this summer to see if we start getting fruit! A friend has some blackberry bushes that she doesn’t want at their new house, so she said I can just come a dig them up! Looks like we’ll be building some more garden beds soon! Nice thing is that we have the materials (also given to us) that we can build the raised beds from!
    Hubby has only 92 days before retirement and we are getting excited and putting things in place to make the transition as seamless as possible! In 2 days, we will turn in all the paperwork for work and SS!!
    Looks like on payday this week, we will be able to zero out over $500 again so half will go into savings and half to pay down debt! We found out that with the mandatory dispersement of a small amount of our 401K each year, that we will be able to have our mortgage totally paid off within 4 years!! Within a month of retirement, all debt except our mortgage will be paid off as a result of our little bits that we have paid every time we have extra come in! Small and simple actions really can pay off!!!!
    My destashing my fabric stash continues to pay off in our business! This has been helping us get closer to our goals- one Soup Cozie set, Flannel Softie set or Scrappy Bag at a time! Another $147 came in from them this week again! And I’ve now made and sold over 200 Soup Cozies! Who’d have thought!! And still my fabric stash doesn’t seem to decrease!!! Well, I am committed to pare it down, so there will definitely be more things made from my scraps and put up on our HandmadeinOldeTowne.com website!
    We are starting to plan our Spring garden and assessing what we already have in our pantry! As a result, we won’t be planting our usual 20 tomato plants but instead only will plant 3- one for slicing, 1 Sweet 100 and 1 yellow pear tomato! I literally have over 150 quarts of tomato chunks on my shelf!
    And I don’t need many more cucumber plants beyond what we just want to eat fresh! I still have 47 pints of pickle relish on my shelves for the 3 of us!
    So, all in all, a very good week!!
    Pat in Ohio
    HandmadeinOldeTowne.com

    1. Congratulations Gardenpat for being able to pay off all your debts before you retire 🙂 . You have both worked so hard to get there and deserve to enjoy your retirement more because of it.

      Sewingcreations15.

      1. 200 soup cozies! Wow that is something. I hear you on the ever growing fabric stash – mine never seems to decrease either.
        It could be that I seem to add 2 meters of fabric for every meter I use in a project… 🙂

    2. Have considered making burp cloths? I’ve made them as baby shower gifts and the mom’s to be love them. Just a thought, I took a gander at your site and noticed you didn’t have anything.

  17. Hi Brandy and everyone from Australia 🙂 . Now we are seeing fairy wrens in our home by the abundance too and I shall see if the shy creatures let me take some photos of them, they are beautiful little birds and so colourful.

    Brandy all the children look like they had so much fun in the snow and Octavius is completely in awe and wonderment at it all. I am so happy for Winter she obviously worked very hard to pass those really hard exams. Good to hear your son complained about the pancakes and the management did something about it for him and we won a prize too. The childrens shoes you found on clearance for your 3 daughters too. Your new dishwasher’s layout fitting in more dishes and running it less often will save you a lot of money over time in electricity costs 🙂 .

    Our savings last week added up to $447.37 🙂 .

    Finances –

    – I found a $190 transaction on my bank account that we didn’t make and reported it to the bank, it is coming up as miscellaneous debit ?. The bank is waiting for 10 days and then refunding us this amount but the local bank have escalated it to the fraud team so hopefully the money will be returned earlier than that to our account. Note to everyone check your bank accounts for nefarious transactions regularly.
    – On eBay I let them know about what I thought was a glitch where they are charging us for free listings and they refunded me the $120+ listing fees charged. Turns out they were running a test that they didn’t tell sellers about or advertise that caused the charges and to say the least I was not amused.
    – We paid an extra fortnightly payment and a bit off our mortgage and have decided to pay off the standard mortgage payment and monthly interest at the beginning of each month to save money in interest charges and time on the home mortgage. We have worked out this will save us 8 years on our mortgage and over $20 000 in mortgage interest charges.
    – I listed 7 items on eBay using a free listing promotion saving $11.55 on usual listing fees. I know I listed lots more than this but lost count during the week :).

    Earnings –

    – I earned around $18 from the sale of saved pumpkin seeds and a handmade A6 notebook journal cover in my eBay store.

    Purchases –

    – We asked at our local post office about a local property that looked like a wrecking yard and found it was a “collectors” home and all the items were for sale. Upon hearing this and knowing we were in need of a few gardening handtools and galvanised pipe joiners that we would have a look. We purchased 2 really old but in fantastic condition road pick heads, a rake head, a trench shovel with handle, a post hole crow bar and 14 galvanised pipe connectors for $60 saving us $404.98 less the cost of handles over buying them in our local hardware stores new. Can you believe they now sell unbendable garden tools for $89.95 each ?, and the older ones never bent anyway because they were made with higher grade steel than the new ones. I could not justify this price and only paid $5 ea for the picks and garden fork heads, $10 for the trench shovel, $15 for the post hole crow bar (we just honed the end of it to sharpen it and used it) and $20 for the 14 galvanised pipe connectors (usually larger ones like we purchased are anywhere from $12 – $20 + each).
    – Purchased 3.812kg of beef mince on clearance special at a little country supermarket for $5.42 per kg. I picked 4 of the largest packets I could find for $5 ea and saved $14.33 on our usual $9 kg prices here. These prices are due to both drought and the recent devastating floods in northern Queensland where many cattle died 🙁 and due to lack of water many farmers are forced now to destock.
    – Purchased all on specials 4 x packets of potato chips, 1 packet of twisties, 2 shampoos, 2 conditioners, 2 norsca deodorants saving $16.51 on usual prices. We added these to our grocery stockpile.

    Organisation –

    – Went through my sewing and craft room and listed a lot of items that were not listed. Still more to go but I am getting there slowly.

    Water preservation –

    – Used grey water from our washing machine and grey water tank to water fruit trees in the yard and ornamental flowering potted plants. Also used saved shower warm up water and dish rinsing water to water potted herbs and fruit trees with.

    Hoping everyone else had a wonderful week :).

    Sewingcreations15

  18. What wonderful snow pics! Las Vegas has gotten more snow than we have, though there are several days in the forecast calling for some. Congratulations to your daughter for working hard to accomplish her dream. And to your son, for speaking up, and getting what he should have, and then some! I hadn’t realized there is so much difference between dishwashers. Good to know. Wishing everyone a great week! https://abelabodycare.blogspot.com/2019/02/blooms-shrooms-two-recipes-frugal.html

  19. Nine really good lookin’ children you have there! They are all so very photogenic, too! Cold weather, but so heartwarming to see everyone having such a great time!

    I made sure to close all closet doors so furnace won’t have to heat unnecessary things during cold spells.

    This is not necessarily frugal, but improves the flavor of oatmeal. My daughter learned from Alton Brown to heat steel cut oats in a little bit of butter on low heat until they smell like ostmeal cookies. Add water and cook as usual. Add sweetner, and they taste like a bowlful of yummy dessert!

    I harvested many beet leaves from straggling fall beet plants. Leaves are very tender and delicious!

    I saved all of cabbage cores and dropped them in soups. They add good flavor to any soup.

    I dried sand on a black board with a rim so our grandchildren can do sand art as an activity here.
    They also are interested in creating sentences with hidden names. Eg: Dr. said my cholesterol level is fine. (Michael)
    I made up a whole bunch of sentences and added them to their Valentine’s Day cards. I used to enclose holiday jokes and riddles, but they seem to have outgrown them.

    Have a wonderful week, Brandy and everyone reading here!

    1. Florrie,

      Thanks for the tip about steel-cut oatmeal. I can hardly wait to try that. Sounds delicious. Ann

  20. Hello,

    I love all the snow photos! We live in Colorado so my kids are spoiled with snow!

    Here are my frugal accomplishments:
    – Went to a friend’s house to make a cool baby book project by folding papers in a certain way. She already had all the supplies. We have several moms pregnant at church so it will make a nice, inexpensive gift from the Women’s Ministry.
    – I have been working on some baby blankets for all of my pregnant friends. Some are crochet and some are quilts.
    – We ended the month being able to put more than planned into savings.
    – I signed up for several freebies including a nice sample bag at Dollar General. The are on my blog at: https://lizsfrugalfamilyfun.com/2019/02/25/8-freebies-today-2-25-19/
    – I worked on all my app sites this week. I try to cash out at the end of the month and tally it all up. I am using: Ibotta, Fetch Rewards, Perk, Earning Station, Coin Out, Field Agent, Swagbucks and a couple more.
    – I made some pumpkin breads for my in-laws who have guests over.
    – I was able to get free hair dye and eggs from the app Field Agent. You can buy certain items and then test them and get reimbursed for the purchase.
    That’s all I can think of!
    Blessings!
    Liz

  21. Oh, how fun! Digging out enough warm clothes for everyone, and chasing the snow! And keeping your camera lens dry….

    I have been doing well with clearance items at my local grocery store. Containers of the Very Expensive Mixed Organic Greens were 99 cents on their “best use by” date, and they held up ten days in my ‘fridge. Snowpea pods were also 99 cents for generous packages, and little bottles of chocolate milk for 50 cents made excellent hot chocolate. I also got a large bottle of buttermilk for 50 cents and made Irish Soda Bread, (turned out ok, was good with multi-vegetable soup), and will try out a buttermilk cake recipe with the rest of it.

    I re-read Gene Stratton-Porter’s novel “Girl of the Limberlost.” She is a wrongly forgotten woman naturalist and sentimental author, (as was the style 110 years ago), overlooked even in her home state of Indiana.

    The white poinsettia flowers I cut and put in a vase still look good after six weeks in water. The half-price plant is resting until I put it outside in the summer, along with two smaller ones I got for free when the store couldn’t sell them after the holidays. I am not sure if I will get some flower seeds started inside in the next few weeks, as I am not sure of the best places for them to sprout, but I will at least get some green onion bottoms started in a pot soon.

    Doing even less of the very little shopping I normally do; got some notepads and stickers from the piles of premiums my Dad gets in his huge requests-for-donations mail; working on drinking more water; using up leftovers in later meals. Since it wasn’t snowing, raining, or blowing, we finally got the recycling taken out to the curb for the twice-monthly curbside pickup this morning, always a good feeling.

    I filed our taxes last week with an online program for free, sponsored by my state, because our income is low. The very next day, I got two more 1099 forms in the mail. I researched and found that this particular kind of stock account does not have to have everything sent to the taxpayer by January 31, having until February 15. I was not at all pleased, and will file an amended return. Overall, though, I remind myself of the many great things about living where I do and the great things my taxes pay for!

    1. Heidi
      Gene-Stratton Porters home is not far from where I live here in Indiana. It is very beautiful and overlooks a lake. It is open for tours and many school groups tour it every year.

  22. Your children are beautiful! As always, your posts are a delight to read. Thank you for the effort you put into them.

  23. Brandy, it’s nice to see your family enjoying the snow. After Sunday and today’s snow storm of 13 inches we have reached a total for the season of 147 inches (so far!). I’m getting anxious to see some green. We are neck and neck with our record season of 2008-2009 at this point of the season but we would need another 50 inches to beat that record. I’m ok with not making the record this year! I can only see the top of the bus when it comes to pick up the kids for school and that’s if I’m standing.

  24. What fun in the snow! We were swimming in a week of rain and flooding here in Chattanooga, Tennessee!

    *I made vegetabke soup with ingredients I had on hand.

    *I found a set of lovely new twin sheets for just $3.05!

    *I found a book by a favorite author at a used book store for just $1.50.

    *God blessed and I was able to find the Algebra 2 workbook for my daughter on clearance.

    *I made freezer apple jelly from some apple concentrate that I had in my freezer.

    Pictures and more on my blog at: https://tnquiltbug.blogspot.com/2019/02/frugal-friday-week-of-february-17-23.html

  25. Brandy,
    It looks like your family had a lot of fun in the snow! And congratulations on all the accomplishments of your oldest daughter! It must be very nice to see and hear her play the organ.

    I have been walking a couple of times a week with my oldest son. So nice to catch up with him. My other son has been staying with us. We still are working on his part of the house and need to move everything in. But it is a mutually beneficial move. Besides just being nice to spend some time with him.
    Been making food at home. Found a great sale today on chicken strips and patties. Pre breaded 30 oz for $ 2.50. I thought it was great for a few easy meals.Usually i never buy prepackaged foods. We also bought a couple of pizzas already made for $2.99. Sometimes it is nice not to make everything from scratch. Bought chicken at 69Cents a lb.

    We have been running our dishwasher a lot too. Because most days I make everything from scratch. Husband is making homemade pudding. Taking all meals to work.
    I am noticing that my clothes are fitting better, especially around my waist. Yeah! Not losing a lot of weight, but I hear that muscle weighs more than fat. I’m also feeling better. I’ve gone from walking a half hour feeling like i am ready to stop at 15 minutes to 35 minutes of energized walking. I could even do stairs without my knees hurting me. I am really very happy. So glad my son offered to walk with me.

    Enjoying the internet for recipes and entertainment.
    Today it was only 45 degrees and most the snow has melted. my husband and I sat on the tailgate and enjoyed the sunshine for a bit. We have seen deer almost every evening.
    Grandson came to visit one day and entertained my sons dog for a day. It was great! His dog was so tired. He didn’t chew on anything that day.
    I imagine my grandson slept well after playing with the dog all day too.
    I got to see my granddaughter for a bit that day as well.

    1. Great job on sticking to the exercise, Tammy! I’m glad you are seeing results already. We like having a mix of prepackaged “easy” meals as well as “made from scratch” meals at our house as well. Some nights you just need an easy meal to get you through. Keep up the great work, Tammy!!!!

  26. I loved these photos – glad you all had such fun in the snow! And many congrats to your daughter – she is a very determined young lady and doing so well on the test is a credit to her and to all the great work you did with the home schooling.

    I have just submitted my 40 hours of work for the past two weeks at the church office so that money will take care of many March bills. I have enjoyed being back in the working world and 20 hours per week is just about right. I made sure to bring lunch or a snack from home each day that I worked – enjoyed free tea – and had dinner supplied on Tuesday night before a long committee meeting. I am getting another 20 hours of work this week and hopefully next week as well – we’ll see.

    Put off grocery shopping until the new flyer came out and matched offers with Loyalty Point offers to get a lot of good deals, especially frozen veg on at 50% off the usual price. I still haven’t bought any meat and won’t for at least another week. I did a lot of cooking last week so I enjoyed the home cooking then and will eat all the leftovers up this week.

    On the way home from church yesterday I had to stop off at a bakery to order a cake for next week’s anniversary luncheon during Fellowship hour and I happened to pass a man giving away free samples of Kashi nut bars (he was stationed outside the stadium where the Raptors game was about to start and I think he just wanted to finish up and get in out of the cold) so he was giving away an armload at a time – I was given 8. I checked their price online and they go for $1.69 each up here so I received about $14 worth of freebies – I’ll use them for snacks at work this week.

    I hope that everyone had a lovely, frugal week.

      1. At NO FRILS the President’s Choice frozen veg that I usually buy has gone up to $3.50/bag (same as Loblaw price) so this week LOBLAWS has them at $1.88 – bought 6 bags – it’s all I could fit in my fridge freezer – think I’ll go back tomorrow and get some more.

  27. Brandy – what fun pictures of your family! In Boston, we get a fair bit of snow, but it’s still so much fun to play in. Have you heard of Swedish snow lanterns? I found out about them this week. Snow balls piled up with a hole inside for a tea light – it looks magical! Something fun to make even when there’s only enough snow for a few snowballs.

    Also, I am hooked! I love these posts and reading everyone’s comments. I’ve learned so much, and I really enjoy all the different flavors of frugal that I find in the comments.

    *I upholstered a large sofa and loveseat this week as a treat to myself. I used four dropcloths, washed and shrunk, that I got on Amazon for $16 each, staple guns that I already had, and reused the zippers that were already in the cushions. I’m done with adjusting oversized, stretched-out slipcovers! I get a lift whenever I walk in the living room.
    *I made some zipper pouches to organize the inside of my purse. I’d first thought of buying some, but saw the zippers in my stash and just did it!
    *We ate from the freezer and pantry pretty well. We also avoided takeout a whole bunch of really tempting times.
    *I tried Aldi’s fragrance free laundry detergent and find that I like it as well as Tide free. That will save quite a bit in the future. I’ve got two messy little boys at home who love mud, so I can’t quite give up the enzymes and make my own detergent yet. Anyone who’s figured out how to get tide-like enzymes in homemade cleaner, please let me know!
    *I tried Brandy’s trick of aspirin in cut flowers that my husband gave me for Valentine’s day. We don’t usually do cut flowers this time of year because of the mark up, but he gave me a lovely surprise a few days after V day. They still look great, and we’ve got mini bouquets from the stems that bent.
    *Just made a double batch of no-knead French bread to bake in the morning.
    *Am listening to books on Librivox and reading books from Project Gutenberg – lovely to find classics for free.
    *Bought bulk spices from the San Francisco Herb Company and really like them – thanks for the recommendation, Brandy!
    *Bought rice finally in a large bag, and on sale. We are starting to eat more rice as it’s SO much cheaper than pasta. I even snagged a free icing bucket from the grocery store to keep it in.
    *I brought in some stems of forsythia to force. They give me so much joy.
    *got a high chair down from the attic for friends who are a foster family for a baby. It feels wonderful to be able to use our stuff not only for our own family but for foster children who need stuff for a time.
    *Organized the kids books so we can get more fun out of the things we have.
    * Slowly, far too slowly, getting ready for this baby boy who’s due in 6 weeks!

    Have a great week, everyone!

    1. Those sound very interesting. The snow was melted by 11 a.m. after falling that morning, and the last time it snowed was over 10 years ago, so I don’t think making snow lanterns would be possible for us, but someone else might really like them!

      I use oxi-clean powder in my homemade laundry detergent. I switched to homemade laundry soap 14 years ago because my husband can’t have fragrance in his laundry soap, and the fragrance-free Arm and Hammer soap that we had been using became a fragrance-filled soap.

      1. I do love Scandinavian winter traditions of all kinds! We make their breads with cardamom (bulk from our Indian spice store) and borrow all of the Astrid Lindgren and Elsa Beskow childrens’ books that we can find at local libraries – good classics and such sweet illustrations and stories. I’ll have to give that laundry detergent recipe a go. We appreciate fragrance-free as well. Many thanks!

  28. Congrats to your daughter, she sounds like an ambitious young lady.
    Here’s my frugal list for the week, as I was going through a box of free clothes to put up for resale online, I found a cute blouse that fits me! Since I have lost 50 lbs I don’t have many clothes that actually fit me properly. Used my sweater shaver to de-pill a pair of the mister’s winter socks so they look new again. Received 4 sheets that were free, none match, but who cares?

  29. Love having that third rack! What brand did you end up buying? Just my curiosity. I had to replace my dishwasher in November and bought a GE. It’s not the top of the line but not the bottom either. So far I’m really pleased. I run my about every other day most of the time, but there’s only 5 of us and 2 work outside the home and pack breakfast and lunch.

    I found Valentine’s cards on clearance and bought 2 packs so we are ready for next year. They were 24 cents apiece, which is less than the paper would cost for homemade. I sorted through a big tote of yarn and found what I needed for several projects, so no excuse to spend money on more yarn plus I dealt with a little of the clutter created by the tote.

    We are attempting to potty train the 2 year old so that diapers will be in the past and that will be a little savings. She’s old enough, smart enough, just a little stubborn. Sigh. We’ll keep working toward it.

    Reading posts and comments here brightens my day. Thanks to all who participate and to Brandy for hosting!

    1. We bought a Kitchen Aid. We had a Kitchen Aid before. Our kitchen is in the middle of the house, and all the rooms are open to one another in the middle of the house. We have hardwood and marble flooring there, and everything echoes, so it’s important to use to have the quietest dishwasher possible. At our last house, my husband and I used to find that we couldn’t watch television in the living room very well unless we waited to turn the dishwasher on until after we were done watching, as the dishwasher was just so loud. Running the dishwasher so often and with everyone home, trying to concentrate and talk during the day during school time, it is important that we can hear one another.

        1. Our last Bosch was very quiet too. I missed having the third rack that we had previously. My parents bought a Bosch with a third rack. Our main issue was the plate layout–only 9 in the back row, and then 6 small plates and 6 saucer-sized plates in the front of the bottom. I’m not using saucers for meals, so I needed to have the plates all run the same direction. Now I can have 20 large plates at once and that’s helpful! Sound really depends on decibels; we make sure to buy the quietest ones the store carries (there are usually several brands that are all the same range). Every time we’ve needed to replace our dishwashers we’ve noticed that they’ve found a way to reduce the noise even more than the previous time, which is fantastic.

      1. We replaced our dishwasher recently and we went with a Kitchen Aid. It is so much quieter than the old GE that we had. Now, I can cut the washer on any time it is full and not have to worry about the noise! But the best thing about our new washer is that it actually gets the dishes clean. Penny S.

  30. Love, love, love the pictures for these past two weeks! What a treat to have had snow. Last week’s pictures were magical, and this week’s are pure fun!

    Winter’s major sounds like a perfect fit for her, especially in light of the wonderful creations she has already designed and constructed. Such a talented young lady.

    We’ve had snow on our local foothills. Thursday our son had a swim meet, and we could see the snow on the lower foothills from the pool deck. It was 41*F down where we were according to the weather app. Brrrr! The other team was from Saugus, and they were late due to snow and bad traffic. We Angelenos have a hard time with rain; give us snow and we completely fall apart. Ha!

    Our Frugal Efforts (two weeks):

    * Ate mostly home-prepared meals.

    * Made bread, peanut butter, garbanzo beans and refried beans for the freezer, yogurt, Double Chocolate Banana Applesauce Muffins, Brandy’s granola, blueberry muffins, ranch dip, and vegetable stock (which I froze in 2 C portions).

    * I ran out of bread flour before payday, but I was able to successfully substitute all-purpose flour. Good to know I can do this.

    * Dehydrated some celery.

    * Harvested snow peas, lemons, radishes, spinach, Swiss chard, and cabbage. Collected eggs from our hens.

    * Paid bills online, and sent birthday and anniversary cards using cards from my stash and stamps that I’d purchased before the rate increase.

    * Deposited a little Ebates check.

    * Our 21-year-old heater died on a Thursday. The first repair guy came out on Friday and told us that it would cost at least $1500 to fix it and would require a part to be special ordered. We got a second opinion the following Monday. On Tuesday we had a repaired heater for less than $700. Between Thursday and Tuesday we enjoyed fires in our fireplace, put extra blankets on the beds, and used a space heater we had stored in the attic. Needless to say, we’re glad to have a working heater again!

    Have a great week, everyone!

  31. Brandy, I’m sure you’re so proud of your daughter’s accomplishments! So sweet to see how happy your kids were to play in the snow. I can say that about this time each year, here in Canada, all we do is groan when we see more snow. I managed to get a few things accomplished this week:
    * butchered on-sale pork loin roasts. Cut 1 loin into thin slices to be used as schnitzels. Cut another loin in half. Kept one side as a roast, then cut the other side into fast fry chops. Cut some pork into cubes for pork souvlaki and for carnitas. Leftover bits and pieces were packaged for stir frys.
    * made soup stock from frozen vegetable scraps, chicken bones and the fat etc. left over from butchering the pork loins. To make a richer flavoured stock, I browned the bones and meat scraps in the oven first.
    * made apple crisp for dessert using apples that I froze in the Fall.
    * made a chocolate snacking cake substituting leftover brewed coffee for the water called for in the recipe.
    * made pineapple “sorbet” from processing frozen pineapple chunks with orange juice until very smooth and thick.
    * made banana “sorbet” by processing frozen banana pieces with coconut milk until smooth and thick. Placed both kinds of sorbet side by side in dessert bowls and served with leftover frozen Christmas iced box cookies.
    * baked carrot muffins for breakfasts substituting frozen ground carrot peels for the grated carrots.
    * for the lunch boxes, made Rice Krispie squares with cereal I got on sale for $0.99. Added dried cranberries, sunflower seeds, and raisins to make it a bit more nutritious.
    * made 3 loaves of toasting bread. Froze 1 loaf.
    * made 1 batch hamburger buns, and 1 batch hot dog buns. Froze the leftovers.
    * made another batch of “stretcher” butter.
    * made mashed potatoes but I saved and refridgerated the potato peels, covered in water, instead of throwing away. Later in the week, I tossed them with oil and salt and baked in a single layer until golden. Served these “fries” alongside Bean Burgers for dinner.
    * made bean tostadas as our second meatless meal.
    * combined leftover rice, and leftover beans and meat into a Spanish rice casserole. Served with salad.
    * daughter made quickie pizzas using frozen pitas as the pizza crusts. Topped with home-canned pizza sauce, vegetables and bacon slices.
    * made 2 pitchers of iced tea for the hubby.
    * made 1 pitcher iced coffee from leftover daily brewed coffee.
    * froze on-sale pineapples.
    * cooked dried beans in the crockpot during off-peaks hours. Cooked 3 different kinds over 3 days. Froze in individuals packages to replenish my freezer stock.
    Cheers everyone.

    1. My fourth child was only 2 the last time it snowed. She does not remember it. The others were not born the last time it snowed here, so this was their first time seeing snow and playing in the snow.

  32. Snow was made for kids! I’m glad they got to experience and enjoy it. Such crazy weather for Las Vegas!!

    I went thrift shopping with a friend over the weekend. She off-handedly read off the title of a book and commented that it was a classic. I had never heard of it before and brought it home. What a treasure! It’s called The Country Diary of an Edwardian Lady, written in 1906. It looks like something you would enjoy–a handwritten/ hand drawn art journal of a woman who loved nature.

    I also bought a book written in 1904 called The Simple Life, an egg beater, a shirt, earrings, 2 cookbooks, and some blank recipe cards–all for a total of about $10.

    I’m getting ready for spring and garden produce so I cooked off a few more squash from our root cellar (almost done!) and made 7 quarts of applesauce with the last of our apples before they spoiled. Next up is jam from the frozen rhubarb and raspberries!

    1. I love that Country Diary as well! Such a beautiful book. I don’t have the heart to cut pages, but if I did or could make competent color copies, I’d have those illustrations up on the walls in a minute. Hers and Celia Thaxter’s Island Garden are some of the most beautiful illustrations I know.

  33. It is nice to see the pictures of your kids in the snow. Congrats to your daughter.
    Last week, we had company for several days. We bought most of our food the week before. We have lots of leftovers, made minestrone soup with some of it. It was a fun visit, besides my husband getting sick.
    I saved by not going to the grocery store but the $ saved had to be used to take my husband to the dr! He is much better now.
    Our visitors paid for our lunch one day.
    We have a house cleaner once a week and since two people were not feeling well, I asked her to skip this week so saved some $ there!
    The weather has been colder than normal for here but no snow Not in SW AZ.
    I picked up a requested Library book, The Lightless Sky , that I’m reading this week.
    I’m enjoying everyone’s comments.

  34. It was fun to see all the kids together, and having so much fun in the snow. It is hard to remember what a treat it is when we have had it on the ground since October, but these photos help me remember when it is fresh and our of the ordinary.

    My board meeting this month took place at a more distant campus location, which has a culinary arts program. The students made a wonderful meal for us. I spent $20 of the extra mileage money at the grand opening of their retail outlet, buying some frozen pockets and samosas for lunches, and a steak spice combination. It is great to see young people so excited about practicing for their new careers.

    I have continued calculating changes to benefits and taxes that will happen when I turn 65 later this year. (This is in Alberta, Canada.) I realized this week that the Age amount increases my tax credits, which reduces my income tax by $2000, starting this year. This is more than one month’s expenses!

    I had been debating whether to continue transcription work after I turn 65, since my total income was quite close to leaving me able to claim two additional small pensions (one federal, one provincial) and some other benefits for low income seniors. That would have offset quite a lot of my income. My transcription income has increased recently, though, which means it would be definitely worthwhile to continue working. Since I enjoy the work, I think that I will do that, probably for another two years. I read recently that 40% of people between ages 65 and 70 work, so I won’t be
    alone. I’ll play it by ear, though. This is not something I need to make myself miserable over.

    I came across a useful list of expenses that typically come up in aging in place as you get older. These are covered for low-income seniors where I live, but I just thought they were helpful ideas even if I am paying for them myself.

    I am now giving some thought to what maintenance work I want to do on the house, as well as any help I need for snow shoveling, yardwork or house work. My old age pension begins in August so there will be funds available.

    On a walking trip to the post office, I realized I was very hungry, and stopped at a local restaurant for lunch. I ordered the special, a Reuben sandwich. When I went to pay for it, the man behind me in line paid for my lunch as well as his friend’s, because he was anxious to leave quickly. I waited to make the restaurant owner had enough money after she rang through everything. She had 60 cents left, so I paid the tip for the three of us. A very inexpensive meal out! I had half the sandwich and some fries left over. I heated up the fries to have with my supper, and included the meat with my eggs in the next morning’s breakfast.

    I am not sure how many of these items are really part of being a frugal homemaker, but they certainly all relate to keeping my household going. All the best to all of you.

    1. Elizabeth,

      Alberta has more generous low income benefits than almost any other province. And if you own your own home, there is sometimes protection from increases in property taxes based on low income where there is a rebate back for amount of increases. If you are in Calgary, there is a card you can obtain that gives you reduced admission to the Glenbow, the zoo, Heritage Park, city recreation leisure centres, etc. (see calgary.ca search fair entry). Low income seniors annual bus pass. Then there are certain provincial benefits for low income seniors. (dental, eyeglasses, in some cases appliance grants for a new stove, beds, etc.). In short, lo income seniors are blessed here. Also on the tax return, in addition to the increased personal deduction, I believe there is a pension deduction (if I remember correctly).

  35. My grandaughter, son in law, and daughter came for dinner today to celebrate my daughter’s birthday. Son in law and grandaughter have birthdays in the next ten days, so I better get busy thinking up gifts for them. My daughter chose homemade pizza and chocolate cake with butter icing for her cake. I had ice cream but totally forgot to serve it!
    My grocery bill went up a bit this week–could have been the 4 packets of flower seeds I couldn’t resist. Not a bad deal, however, as they are Burpee seeds and are 20% off. We just needed to think spring was on the way, even though it will probably be two months before I can plant them. I also picked up another 2 bags of apples that were BOGO–will use the Cortlands to make some applesauce and husband will eat the Red Delicious. I will finish up the few Crispins left from last week. Rye/pumpernickel blend loaves were also BOGO so we are eating one and froze the other. I also stopped by Aldi’s and managed to spend $28.50 and was happy with what I found. Their shredded mozzarella I liked better than my current store’s and it was less expensive. I also found a packet of seasoning for chicken biryani for $1.35–which beats a nearly $6 jar of sauce which my regular store has available. I made it one night and we liked it quite a bit. I like to keep trying different recipes and this was quite easy to make and tolerably spicy. I had eaten it in restaurants previously.
    Another storm here this weekend, 75 mph wind gusts. School were closed Monday and lots of people still without power. Ours blinked just long enough to mess up all the electric clocks but stayed on. So lucky—I had to bake that birthday cake!!

    I loved seeing the pictures of all the children together–they are certainly growing quickly and I loved all the smiles from playing in the snow! Even the older kids were enjoying it. Here where we live with snow sometimes 6 months a year, it doesn’t seem exciting to us most of the time. More like a nuisance to get it out of the driveway and brush it off the cars to get anywhere except home. We have had a bit over 100 inches so far this season.

    It was actually a nice day on Saturday and I took my husband for a ride to a small town country store that has been in business in the same building since 1860. It’s about a 45 minute drive from here, but we did get a bit lost on the way home. I was trying to avoid a road where I knew a bridge was closed so it might not have been the most efficient way to get home, but it didn’t matter. It was more to get out of the house than anything—since my husband doesn’t drive anymore he gets left behind when I do some of the shopping and errands. I have to remember he needs to get out too, even though his disease is making him more withdrawn and he has always been a quiet, undemanding person to being with. He is aching for spring so he can be outdoors and doing whatever little chores he is still able to do around the yard. It’s been a cold, long winter here–and lots of other places, too.

  36. The temperature has plunged here again. I am staying inside mostly. No Frills has another $1 sale again for Western Canada and Northern Ontario. I hope to stock up my almost-totally depleted pantry with more canned fruits, etc. Apples were really nice for $ 1 per pound and they are on sale again.
    There is lots of snow again and I’m not up to shovelling the driveway so may invite my snow shoveller over. It will be a tough month as heating costs will go up.

    I am still working my way through the Lightless Sky and I found a copy of Thoreau’s Walden which I will read next. I am enjoying reading more and not watching tv (except on livestreaming on the internet) as my tv is broken. I will be interested in learning if Mary liked reading The Lightless Sky.

    Tammy, I am so sorry about your aunt. You are in my thoughts and prayers.

      1. Hi Mary, I’m glad to hear you are enjoying it! (I am stalled on it due to trying to rush to get a few other things done!) Ann

  37. I read the comment on Swedish snow lanterns. I have a mould that I can use to make frozen ice star shaped candle holders. I hope to line my drivewau next Christmas with them. I’m not sure if my post went through but I meant to comment on how much I enjoyed seeing the snow in Las Vegas photos!

    Brandy, these photos of your children are just lovely!

    1. Another ice decoration is to arrange berries-leaves-etc. in pie pans, then fill with water, maybe even colored water, with a string looped into the top. Freeze the water, then take them out of the pans and hang them up like ornaments.

      1. Oh Heidi Louise, I like your idea!!! I’m going to save some of the red Mountain Ash berries for that purpose next Christmas

  38. Brandy,

    I experimented with making ice moulds without using the star-shaped ones. I used a big plastic ice cream container but put a smaller yogourt container inside to make a hollow for a candle. It worked well except for two things; first the minute I put it outside we had a blizzard and it was 2 feet under snow, and secondly, I wanted to put led votive style lights in it but couldn’t find any that could be used outside. It will take some organization to have enough to line the driveway but if I froze one each day leading up to Christmas I could have enough made as long as the temperature stayed around freezing. I think the mould was intended to make a star-shaped ice figure for a punch bowl or other things (even jello) or a centrepiece but I see that it is called an ice lantern mould and now there’s a photo of it doing exactly what I hope to do. (google Lee Valley Tools catalog, search ice lantern mould).

    The other thing I though about doing is using paper bags to make new Mexico – Santa Fe style luminarias. I’m not sure how safe it would be but using small paper bags, add a couple cups of sand then add votive tea light candles. It is hard for me to have Christmas lights put up (if I put them on a spruce tree it is too far from an outlet to plug them in). But I like the idea of the ice lanterns.

    Right now, since it is so cold, I would like to make large soap bubbles outside where they would freeze instantly. then I ‘d like to quickly take photos with a micro (macro) lens. There is a great video on You Tube showing how to do it and illustrated with gorgeous photos but I don’t think it is cold enough for you to do that.

    1. Regarding the paper bag lanterns, if you place the candles in a small glass cup, mason jar or ceramic flower pot, it will help protect the paper bag from the flame of the candle.

    2. Those lanterns look gorgeous – thanks for the great idea! Now I’ll be filling up my freezer making lanterns of all shapes. I wonder how a Bundt pan would do for starters:).

      1. I think a bundt pan might look really neat! We could even incorporate the lantern idea with Heidi Louise’s ideas of putting berries into the ice.

      1. If it is super cold outside, the fake candles probably won’t work. They are not specifically designed for “outdoor” use. Outdoor solar lights might work. However, again, they may have a problem working in really cold weather.

  39. What thrilling news about Winter – congratulations to her for all her effort and achievement. Congratulations to you and your husband too – you have enabled her to succeed in her chosen path. Couldn’t be happier for you all. Thank you for the wonderful photos of all the children looking so happy in the snow and particularly the whole group together.
    I live in the UK and don’t know if I click through from your site to Amazon and then to Amazon UK if the commission to your site will apply- do any other British readers know? I would like very much to support you.

    1. I don’t have it set up for the UK or Canada. I keep reading that I can set it up like that and then when I go to do it, everything is confusing and doesn’t make sense to me. If I ever get it figured out I will be sure to let people know!

      1. Since I’m in Canada I’ve been wondering the same thing myself – please do let us know if it gets sorted as I do occasionally order from Amazon and would love to support you.

  40. 1. I earned $30 in credit card reward points and redeemed 40cents off per gallon of gas at Kroger this week
    2. My mother in law visited and brought my kids a ton of snack foods (which I do not usually buy, but my kids so dearly love) and we also saved money on postage by remembering to give her the birthday present my kids picked out for her
    3. Made frito pies and frozen pizza for out weekly junk food night at home
    4. Finally received our tax return and plan to act responsibly with it:)
    5. Received a free prom dress for my daughter at a local church event. My daughter had a lot of fun trying on 12 dresses…me not so much!

  41. I so look forward to these posts every week. I feel as if I’m getting to know people across the country & around the world! It is so interesting to read about the differences in everyone’s lives & how you work to save money and make the most of what you have.
    We will be under budget on groceries this month, thanks in part to a BOGO meat sale & coupons on meat close to the sell by date. I continue cooking our meals at home, we have reduced our eating out or take out food to about once a month. We also have eliminated food waste in that there are no more leftovers going to waste. It makes for some odd combinations some times ( we had a chuck roast with a side of leftover spaghetti heated in butter & parmesan cheese) or it is put in the freezer to be discovered at a later date. I was able to fill my gas tank with 28 cents off a gallon due to grocery points. I filled “bones” for my dog with peanut butter and froze for her treats. We had been buying bones filled with a peanut butter mixture for her & after she licked out the inside kept the bone for her to chew on. Well, for the price of 1 bone I purchased a jumbo jar of peanut butter & was able to fill 13 treats for her. Definitely a savings & a happy pupper!

  42. The snow is amazing, and I love seeing how excited all the kids were with it. What a treat for them! We had snow again, yesterday. It’s not common here, but we do have it occasionally, but this is super late in the year for it around here. The schools were shut down, and my niece couldn’t get here for homeschool, so I had several hours to work on the quilt I’m making. That was an unexpected surprise.

    My husband visited a couple of garage sales this week, and I went to one. He found a tool he needed, and a large container of embroidery floss. My daughter has already been embroidering with some of it. I found quilt-shop fat quarters for 50c each. They were nice, neutral colors and I snatched them up. I also got a several-yard piece of muslin for $1. The woman is moving to a tiny house, and is seriously downsizing, so she just wanted to get rid of it. I was happy to help her out:)

    Congratulations to your daughter for her achievements. I’m glad things are moving along for her in the direction she wants to go.

    I’ve been cooking quite a bit, as usual–home-made gf pizza, chicken broth, roast beef, etc. I am happy with the fact that we seem to be doing well at using up things in the fridge before they go bad. Our tax refund came back, and we used some of it to stock up on things like Ziplock bags, vitamins, etc. from Costco. We have a plan for every dollar of it, including putting some away for a rainy day. It’s not that much, but every little bit helps.

    We are. burning lots of the free wood that was given to us by friends last fall. My husband continues to pick up boxes of free wood scraps whenever he finds some. We use them to start the fire, and to jump-start the warmth in the mornings since they burn so hot. If you put in a bunch of those wood scraps, it heats up much faster, then you can add the big pieces. The snow is off the road this morning, but it’s very cold outside. (For us–yes, we are a little wimpy compared to some of you in colder climates!)

    We got a lot of free entertainment watching a confused squirrel who jumped down on top of the row of birdhouses on the side of our shed. He could not go up, or down, so jumped sideways from birdhouse to birdhouse, and finally got down by leaping on top of a little awning that sits over the lower window.. It was comical, to say the least.

    I finished ordering my seeds. I ordered fewer seeds than normal, as I had quite a few partial packets left over from last year, by design. I need to start some, soon. I have a small greenhouse my husband built last spring. We use a heat mat in there, and then turn on a small space heater as needed. I’m concerned about the electric bill if I try to heat it up enough in these frigid temperatures, as I try to use the heater as little as possible for as short a time as possible. So, hopefully, the cold spell will break, and I can get that going very soon.

    Pictures of my week are on my blog: http://beckyathome.com

  43. I love the pictures of your children! Somehow, the snow seems to bring out those joyous smiles in kids like not much else. I’m also glad to see your reviews of the dishwasher. Did you post somewhere the exact model? We’re in the midst of choosing appliances for our new house, and while we don’t have as large a family as you, we’re all about using things efficiently. It would be lovely to only have to run it a few times a week instead of almost daily.

    We had a pretty frugal week this past week, eating at home and using our pantry and freezer. We had a financial date one afternoon while the boys napped and figured out a few ways to save a little more, such as me picking up little man one more afternoon from school instead of Benny. We’re also looking at some ways we can bring in a little extra (tutoring, teaching an online class, Benny picking up extra hours at work) in order to meet our goals of a new to us car fund and being able to pay down our new mortgage faster. There’s also the dream of fostering to adopt a third child, but we have to make the finances work.

    Here are the rest of our accomplishments: https://liveandsave.blogspot.com/2019/02/frugal-accomplishments-4th-week-of.html?_sm_au_=isVWkt0RFS1HbnV7

    Have a lovely week, everyone!

    1. It’s a Kitchen Aid with a third rack. Just look at how the racks are laid out to see what is going to work best for you. Our last dishwasher ( a Bosch) only had 9 sections across the back for plates, then two front sections running perpendicular with 6 spaces in each. I could fit 6 small plates on one side but only 6 saucers next to them, which wasn’t practical for me. This dishwasher has spaces for 10 big plates in front and 10 big plates in back on the bottom row.

  44. I’m so envious of your snow day! I’m in north Texas and we haven’t had any snow this year. Usually we get at least 1 or 2 good snow days. I think it has been a few years now since we’ve had anything other than flurries (which I haven’t even seen this year). I bet your children loved it and had a great time playing in it. I’m also excited to hear about your oldest daughter’s organ practice. I work for a church and church organists (especially good ones!) can be tough to come by. That could be the start of an exciting career path for her.

    Last week we cooked most meals at home and took our lunches/snacks to work. This morning before work I started sweet pork for burritos in the slow cooker (Ann Romney recipe) so that will be dinner for probably at least 2 evenings. The pork is a roast I bought on markdown last week. I had stopped into the grocery store for some fresh lettuce, and of course had to check out the meat markdown area. They had pork roasts marked down to less than $1/lb, so I bought 2 for the freezer. I knew we already had a good amount of pork in the chest freezer because a few weeks ago, Costco had boneless pork chops & loin roasts on sale around $1/lb, but I also knew we had the freezer space & we can always use more meat. I earned another $50 Amazon gift card by completing wellness goals through my employer-sponsored health insurance, so ordered a few household items including a new litterbox for our cats. The litterbox we are currently using is nearly 20 years old, my husband reminded me that we were using it at our garage apartment before we bought our house in early 2003. Haha! The latches for the lid don’t work properly anymore and it’s a huge box, so it’s time for something new. We are still running central heat at home, but have had several days that we’ve been able to turn the system off during the day and even open windows for a short time. Saves money and wear & tear on the system, and gets some fresh air into the house.

    1. Pamela,

      Our church does not have a paid clergy. Bishops, clerks, organists, youth and adult Sunday School teachers are volunteer positions. I have no doubt that she will have many chances to play the piano and organ at church for many years (she has been playing for the young women for years as well as the prelude during sacrament meeting), but it won’t be a paid position.

  45. I stayed under my grocery budget feeding my 7 kids, and it was lower this month, trying to save more money. My oldest daughter came home with a few branches full of bay leaves that her friend had given her. We wiped them clean and cut them, and I’m drying them all now. Thinking of doing gift baskets for Christmas with herbs, seasonings, etc. so this should fit right in- is this a good idea? Am opening my own business this spring. It’s been a HUGE undertaking, transforming the front of my house into an art studio and a classroom, but I’ve kept costs down, bought a ton used, and already have a lot of interest and kids signed up (I’m teaching homeschool enrichment classes, including art). I’m hoping between this and tutoring, I can work from home all the time (I’m a licensed teacher)! It’s my dream.

    1. Dawnelle – I think the herb & seasoning gift baskets sound like a wonderful idea! I know I personally would absolutely love to receive that as a gift.

  46. Your children look like they really enjoyed the snowfall you had. We see snow and groan around here. I, like many others, were surprised to see you had snow apparel for all your children. I didn’t even know they sold that kind of stuff in Vegas! You learn something new every day. Congrats to Winter on her academic success. I hope she immensely enjoys the career she has chosen to pursue. Great job by your son for asking and receiving compensation for the restaurant’s charging error. Also, nice job by you, Brandy, for finding such great deals on necessary shoes for some of your children. Your family had one excellent frugal week!

    Life is still throwing us some curve balls, but we are doing the best we can. Monday was our “family day” holiday here is Canada. DD did not go to school, so we relaxed at home for the day. Our frugal accomplishments this week included:
    *Meals made at home included baked ham with homemade macaroni & cheese casserole and green/yellow bean mix, hamburger helper with a mix of leftover veggies, pasta with choice of meat or red sauce, make-your-own pizzas, scrambled eggs with flavoured rice, and cheddar sausages with homemade seasoned potato chunks and Caesar Salad.
    *Pulled out an old cookbook and planned to make a double batch of chocolate chip cookies. Accidentally followed another recipe for Brown Sugar cookies. I was too far along to change course when I realized my mistake. So I added some butterscotch and chocolate chips to it, instead of the raisins and nuts it called for. They turned out amazing! Some of the cookies were used for lunches. The rest were enjoyed by the family.
    *Canned 10 pints of pineapple, plus left some for fresh eating from the 6 fresh pineapples I bought last week for $1 each.
    *Used grocery store loyalty points to buy $40 worth of free groceries.
    *My brother went to visit a friend for the weekend. We have him some treats from the freezer to take with him, so he didn’t show up empty handed.
    *Pulled a previously made banana chocolate chip loaf from the freezer to use for school lunches this week. We like keeping some sweet bread in the freezer to use for unexpected guests or for occasions that require taking a snack type item to share. However, we also need to rotate them, to keep the selection fresh.
    *Used my wellness centre membership 3 times this week. DD is currently attending a PHIT exercise program at the Wellness Centre on Wednesday evening. We are all learning how to use the equipment and some simple exercises, which is quite helpful for me as well. Also walked the puppy for some additional free exercise for both of us.
    *DD had a problem with her stomach again this week (an ongoing issue which has been slowly getting worse over the past 2 years). On Tuesday, she vomited at school, twice, which had more blood in it than ever before. We spent 4 hours at the emerg. Blood results showed her hemaglobin has dropped, compared to her last bloodwork, which was not that long ago. This suggests either a bleed or low iron. We followed up the next day with a Dr visit with our GP. He is refering us to a pediatrician for a “second opinion” of sorts. It’s looking like DD may need a scope. However, there are other medical issues she deals with to take into account. There are very few pediatric gastroenterologists around, so we may have to go to Toronto Sick Kids to get the care she needs. That is 2 hours away, plus a very busy hospital, thus the referal for a second opinion.
    Frugal Fail: We went to the hospital at dinner time. Because the issue was her tummy, we couldn’t let DD eat, in case they needed to do testing. Therefore, I didn’t eat either. We were both starving by the time we left the hospital at 9:30pm. Stopped at McDonald’s for dinner. Sad to say, but I’ve never been so happy to eat at McDonald’s!
    *I am also dealing with some issues at DD’s school that are concerning. Her EAs are making inappropriate and unprofessional comments to my daughter, that are causing her to become quite upset. Sometimes she needs to be put into a hold, due to her meltdowns. She has sustained injuries from these holds a couple times. Earlier this week, she has a sore finger and bruising on her wrist from a hold that took place the previous week. I’m not pleased that her supports are causing her to become upset, which pushes her to require a hold where she is sustaining injuries. Not to mention, the comments should not be happening in the first place, and in my opinion, are a form of bullying. I’ve been emailing and talking to the principal at her school. He is investigating my alligations. So far, he has been very receptive to my concerns. Hoping this gets resolved quickly!

    Too me until Sunday to finally read everyone’s comments last week. Hoping this week is not quite as crazy, though we’re already starting with a vet visit for the dog. Hope you all have a wonderful week ahead!

    1. Rhonda, I’m sending prayers your way regarding your daughter for both her health needs and hoping for an improved school environment. My son also goes to a pediatric gastroenterologist. At the time of his testing & diagnosis for Crohn’s the nearest Dr was in Portland ME–7 hours away. Way too long of a trip to take with a sick boy. He was 11 at the time. We were blessed that a local hospital (60 miles away) offered a clinic that this Dr went to monthly. The Barbara Bush Children’s hospital was the only provider for this specialty in Maine. Bangor Hospital (4 hrs away) recently hired a pediatric gastroenterologist and this will be the Dr who now goes to the clinic in Caribou so we are having to switch Doctors. Somehow the other Dr’s office thinks it’s a reasonable option to go 7 hours for a 1/2 hour appointment. Hope everything goes well for her

      1. Thank you for the kind words, Lisa. One of DD’s EAs keeps saying, “she needs a scope”. What she doesn’t understand is that I can’t just walk in to the Drs and demand she have a scope immediately. There are proceedures we need to follow and other medical issues to consider with my daughter. I’m sure we will get the testing and treatment she needs eventually. We just have to be patient, as we move through this medical journey.

        As for the school issues, the principal went with the EAs at least one day this week to observe what was happening. I think he is starting to realize why DD is having probelms. Through his observations, he witnessed some issues that needed to be better handled, to avoid DD getting so frustrated with them. Fingers crossed that the issues get resoved from all of this.

        1. Rhonda, the next time you are told “she needs a scope,” tell the EA it is being handled. If she brings it up again, tell her “I told you it is being handled.” I can think of a lot of other things you couldn’t tell her, but they wouldn’t endear you to anybody. I have often found that telling the simple truth, with no excuses or explanation, often works best in situations like this. My 41-y-o daughter is disabled and I have been advocating for her since she was 3 years old. No end in sight, either!

          1. I am always very upfront on DD’s treatments. I know the schools deal with neglectful parents who don’t follow through as they should with health and other issues. I, however, am not a neglectful parent. We see medical professionals at least once a month, and often multiple times a month. It is very frustrating and rather insulting to be treated like I am not doing enough.

    2. I am so sorry for your daughter’s stomach issues, and hope and pray the doctors can get to the bottom of it. We have had 18 months of my 16 year old grandson vomiting blood and having anemia severe enough to require transfusions and ongoing intensive iron therapy. Despite every scan and GI test known to man, they never found the cause. This year he was sent to the ENT for scans of his head and esophagus. Again, nothing unusual was found. It is so scary and frustrating to have a loved one with a potentially serious condition that remains a mystery. I also hope the school issue gets resolved quickly and changes are implemented to protect your dear daughter.

      1. Oh Tejas, I’m sorry they are having such a hard time finding a diagnosis for your grandson. Not only is it frustrating, the medical bills must be quite immense, as you live in the US. It is quite scary to not know what’s going on. I sure hope they find a solution to the problem soon.
        We are lucky in that we live in Canada, where our health coverage means we don’t have to pay to find out and treat what is going on. Our down side is that we often have long waiting lists, because the Dr’s have a lot of pateints they are seeing for various illnesses. I’ve talked to a couple of health field professionals we deal with through the PHIT program, and who have connections with the pediatrician we are being referred to. They may be able to speed along the process a bit, knowing the problem is persisting and, if left unchecked, could quickly advance into a more serious problem. We can hope, anyways!

  47. I love the snow pictures! I grew up in the upper south, where we got snow, but not so much so that we got tired of it. When a fresh snow hit on a weekend, we were out in it, sledding and building snowmen. Your kids’ enjoyment shows all over their faces.
    Congratulations to your daughter, too! I think she’s headed for success.
    My husband is still in rehab, so my week has been quiet and my grocery bills, smaller. He’s scheduled to come home this week, though, so I’m now in the rounds of who (besides us!) will pay for his home therapy, a rolling walker, etc. Going between two government agencies — Medicare and the VA — is a daunting, complicated task. Both are eager to push all expenses to the other, and they are not allowed to pay together. It has to be one or the other. Since we got stuck paying for a lot of things out of our pocket the last time he needed physical therapy, I’m trying to make sure it doesn’t happen again.
    We had almost two weeks of unseasonably warm weather, so that many things budded out. Since it’s almost certain that we will have at least one hard cold snap again before the weather stays warm, I fear for my berries, grapes, loquats, and flowers. My fig tree is, so far, holding back and hasn’t budded. We have a bumper crop of loquats this year, and I hope we get to enjoy some of them. Right now they are still all green.
    We have birthdays coming up for a toddler and a pre-schooler, and I am trying to find nice gifts at super sale prices. So far, I’ve found two small items, but I’m going to try to get a few other things.
    I just replaced my “pet” sofa cover with a canvas drop cloth, so I thought it was funny to see a poster using drop cloths for her sofa, too. Those are handy items, those drop cloths.
    I persevered with a medical provider about my insurance claim, and they are mailing me a refund check of almost $300. I have one more provider to argue with some more, but I am happy to have this coming.
    I look forward to more beautiful pictures next post!

  48. February was rough thanks to the weather…hubby only working on average 3 days a week made for another tight month

    Here’s some of the highlights

    used evaporated milk to cook with to stretch the drinking milk

    We stayed in Valentine’s day. spent under $35 for pizza, salad, pie, ice cream and chocolates for 4

    Im helping my mom declutter her apartment so she’s giving me random stuff she doesn’t want. 3 canisters of hand sanitizer wipes, motrin she can’t take any more, a big bag cereal she didn’t want, and several bags of candy.

    I received a free cat food coupon

    Used the free carwash at Sam’s x2

    Received free dish soap, dispenser, and Earl gray tea from Grove

    I signed up for a free razor from Harry’s and canceled several days before I had to but they still charged and shipped more blades. they refunded my money and told me to just keep the blades(I gave them to the teen boy because hubby wasn’t a fan of them)

    Grocery budget been extra tight and the 12yo really wanted chips. Hubby thinly sliced up a couple potatoes and made some homemade chips. They didn’t last long, lol

    Only renting redbox movies if I have a code

  49. I sold a small piece of art. Most of the money goes to a non-profit for their fundraiser, but I am happy that it is going to a good home. I also juried a student art show at a local college and will receive an honorarium for that.
    My husband and I bought rush passes to the university’s productions. We stand in line an hour before the show starts and get the best seats available. In the time between getting the tickets and the show starting, we take our picnic dinner to the law school building, which is next door. They have seating and a microwave and we have dinner there. In the summer, they have outdoor seating. We can go as many times as we want. Right now they are showing one of our favorite musicals and we will see it again Thursday night for the third time!
    I’ve been clearing through drawers and spaces and it is rubbing off a bit. My husband sorted through his personal items in the bathroom and got rid of a lot of things he no longer uses.
    We are having dinner at a friend’s tonight. I’m making bread to take and will pick up some cheese later to go with it.
    I’ve been buying greeting cards at Trader Joe’s for .99 each and been sending them for birthdays, get well, encouragement, etc. They are nice cards and very well priced.

    1. What a good idea, getting rush passes to the university productions. It gives you the entertainment at a reasonable cost, but makes sure the students have a good-sized audience.

    2. Dollar Tree has many cards 2 for $1. You can buy only 1 making them 50 cents each. They are now my go to place to purchase cards for many occasions.

  50. I love all the pictures… especially the kids. At this point I wouldn’t mind more snow and a lot less rain here in Ohio especially since Hubby plows snow for the state. We had a 3 shelf dishwasher with the kids were all home. It was noisy for sure. Could not run it at night as our bedroom was one room away. The one we have now is okay for the two of us. I do my pots and pans and large bowls by hand mostly anyways.

    Done all the usual on auto frugal mode as Hubby is now calling it. Stayed home, make do with what we have, use things up or do without.

    Started seeds with the goal to not buy plants any more unless I must.

    Weather has been all over the place between snow, rain and high winds. So not getting what we want done but that’s okay

    The highlight of the week is the neighbor’s guinea hens came over to visit the dogs through the fence…glad there was a fence or the dogs would have been hurting said hens.
    https://chefowings.blogspot.com/2019/02/on-automatic-frugal.html

    1. We wash around 20 pots/pans/cookie sheets/baking dishes by hand every day in addition to running the dishwasher so often. Every time we buy a new model, they have gotten even quieter! Check out the decibel ratings the next time you have to replace yours.

        1. I didn’t buy the top of the line one. I just didn’t buy the cheapest one. Quiet, third rack, and a good plate layout on the bottom were what I wanted. Some third racks were flat and some were angled (I didn’t care for the angle). I liked that the one we chose has controls on the top so that my toddler can’t touch the buttons mid-cycle.

  51. Brandy,
    Congrats to Winter!
    Great pics of all the kids. Can you share what brand dishwasher you bought. We are planning on getting a new one soon Thanks
    So Enjoy your blog posts.

    1. It’s a Kitchen Aid with a third rack. Just look at how the racks are laid out to see what is going to work best for you. Our last dishwasher ( a Bosch) only had 9 sections across the back for plates, then two front sections running perpendicular with 6 spaces in each. I could fit 6 small plates on one side but only 6 saucers next to them, which wasn’t practical for me. This dishwasher has spaces for 10 big plates in front and 10 big plates in back on the bottom row.

  52. Feel bad about everyone’s snow. We just had to have our yard cut because the grass was so high!
    Not a super frugal couple of weeks.
    Spent a week in Puerto Rico on vacation. Hung out mainly at the resort, and our package included breakfast, but still ate and drank at nice restaurants for dinner each night.
    Spent this weekend in Daytona. My mother was going for a conference and her hotel room was a suite, so I tagged along and sat by the pool.
    I did some wardrobe replacement shopping after KonMari-ing my closet at an outlet mall, JC Penny’s, and a Sears that was closing the store. Everything was nicely on sale and of good quality so it should last me a while. Scored a NWT cosmetic case to match my Vera Bradley set for $11 – originally $52 out of the clearance bin at the outlet mall!
    Aldi’s is about an hour away, so I don’t go often, but I had to drive past it on the way back from Daytona, so I popped in and stocked up. Local grocery store had their can-can sale, stocked up on beans, collard greens, olive oil, and canned chicken.
    My mother has been visiting (for a month) and this week decided to clean up/out my pantry. Like the kitchen a few weeks ago, I can no longer find a blessed thing. But it does sparkle. My mother won a bunch of gift certificates to restaurants at her conference. Several are local to me (not her) so we will enjoy a few meals out before she leaves.
    Doctor is scheduling several medical tests. Since we will easily meet our Tricare OOP cap this year, this will be the year my husband and I will schedule all of the “I should’s”.

  53. Love all the pictures of your children enjoying the snow. Winter is doing so well. Yay, on those great scores. Biggest frugal thing this week: My adult kids with disabilities enjoy playing the Wii so much and ours has been broken for months. I checked online and a refurbished console is $70 dollars. I put out a request on our neighborhood Facebook page and a neighbor has a Wii console she wasn’t using and said I could have it for free. She brought it over with games, never used controllers, Wii fit pad thingy. I insisted on paying her something because there was so much and she accepted $25. Just set it up and my son with Down syndrome got it to work, I had put the AV cord in the wrong plug, and now he is dancing away. Bought paint for my daughters room and got 30% off plus $10 off for signing up online saving $60! Gifted 2 lbs of free lunch meat, 2 large jars of JIF peanut butter, and 3 oranges the size of grapefruits. Got a $14 haircut including tip and said no to my normal $60 haircut. Crazy to spend that much on my hair. Meal planned, cooked all meals at home except for our bowling league Monday night social dinner for my kids. Packed lunches for husband and sons. Redeemed Recycle Bank points before the expired. Easy way to get free magazines. Love reading all the comments. I learn something new every week. Yes you can teach an old dog new tricks:)

  54. Your son might think about using IHOP coupons soon. Here there are going out of business with no notice, just a note on door to employees.

  55. Brandy, when I heard on the radio snow was forecasted for Las Vegas, I was hopefully anticipating some pics with your kids playing in it! I’m glad they all got to experience some of that (plus without the headache of it sticking around for weeks or months! lol)

    I read last week but didn’t post so this is for two weeks:

    -Have tried using the express wash setting on the dishwasher and it seems to be working well. It has 40 minutes as the time where the usual cycle is 2 hours and 20 minutes. This could save a lot of energy use since we use it once per day.
    -Cleaned leftovers and vegetables needing used up out of the fridge and made a shepherd’s pie. Baked biscuits in the oven at the same time.
    -The usual of washing full loads of laundry with minimal detergent, turning off lights (or not turning them on at all if not needed), washing and reusing plastic bags and aluminum foil.
    -Decided with my husband that we are going to try to not spend anything for our first garden here other than on the components for the soil, as we are doing raised beds. Our terrain is very little topsoil and lots of rocks so this seems the best way for us to garden. We are going to use 3 old appliances that have been sitting in our backyard waiting to go somewhere. They can’t be recycled in our area and our rural trash service does not take appliances. We have 2 dishwashers and a refrigerator with top freezer. My husband is going to take off all the pieces to make them each a “tub” and level them into their spots in the yard. It won’t be as pretty as what I was dreaming, but I love to reuse things! Plus we live out in the middle of nowhere and our next door neighbors are my husband’s parents so it’s likely no one will ever see them 🙂
    -Bought bulk meat during a sale that resulted in multiple meal-sized portions. I’m hopeful this will keep us a couple of weeks, although I’ll still look for any good deals this week.
    -Stocked up on cat food as I had two coupons worth a total of $3 on the brand we buy and they were expiring.
    -Used Ibotta to do a Walmart and Amazon order so should get a total of $9.41 back for those.
    -Found out during our recent chiropractor visit that she does a prepaid plan that is a significant savings over paying for each visit. I’m doing the math to figure out which is the best option for as, as she has multiple options by the month and by the year.
    -Received our tax refund, the bulk of which went straight into our emergency fund. We will use the rest for tires. This was an unexpected blessing, as we were prepared to pay in again this year.
    -Have been working on some light decluttering and organizing as time permits. Took 2 big boxes to the thrift store and have been taking odds and ends to people and church where appropriate. My goal is to make our small home easier to clean and find things we need to use when we need to use them!

  56. Hello all! Time to tighten our belts even more, as we got a letter from our mortgage company yesterday and they underestimated our escrow account which cause a shortage and now our house note is going up a hundred dollars a month for the next year! I was very upset, but then after crunching numbers and thinking of ways to reduce spending, I came straight here to see what other ways I can reduce! This website gives me so many ideas and ways to save!

    However, we did have some frugal accomplishments, so I will share those.

    1. Kept grocery spending to our budget amount. Got a great deal on ground beef, so I stocked up on that. (1.88 a pound, which is unheard of around here)
    2. Eating at home has become a way of life for us. We still occasionally eat out, but considering we used to eat out 4-5 times a week when I first started reading this blog/website and we are now down to about twice a month, that is indeed a frugal accomplishment.
    3. Kept air/heat off as much as possible. Unplugged all items not being used except for major appliances.
    4. Borrowed a book instead of buying it that I have been wanting to read.
    5. I have gotten bored with my clothing choices, yet I knew I had plenty of clothing and did not need to buy more, so for the past three weeks, I have been making “mini capsule” wardrobes of my clothes by grouping like colored items together. So far I have had red/animal print week, blue and green week, and now purple week. I have enough “mini capsule” colors that I can go 7 weeks without wearing the same outfit twice. (This does not include my staple items such as black skirts and undershirts that I wear every week.) It has been a fun way to change up my routine, and also gives me a chance to try new outfits and I have really paid attention to what I feel good in and what I get compliments on. It hasn’t cost me anything, and I’ve actually come up with a couple of outfits I have never put together before.
    6. We had to purchase a new mattress for our bed. We had a memory foam mattress that we paid a good bit of money for, but it had collapsed in the middle and was causing me serious issues with my lower back. We purchased a new one with money we had gotten from the sale of my old car that had died about a month ago. We still need to purchase a mattress topper for it, but I am shopping around for the best purchases on that.

    I think that’s all. Have a great week!

    1. Myra, I get this letter almost every year, though not by quite so much as $100. You may want to see if your property tax bill has increased or if your insurance bill has increased. Both of these will increase your escrow bill. You can reshop your insurance to see if that amount can be somewhat reduced. Often when the insurance renews, the rates go up drastically for no reason. If you haven’t changed companies in two years, check that out to see how much they are now charging you.

      1. We have only been in our house six months and our insurance company had to be switched and I knew the house note itself would go up a little from the increase. However, that increase should have only been about 30.00 per month. I’m not sure where the other shortage is. This is our first house and we are new at this, LOL, but we are learning and with all of the frugal ideas I get from this website and the commenters, we will be fine. It just was a little bit of a shock.

  57. I am so happy you were able to take some pictures of the kids in the snow. We enjoy four distinct seasons where we live and couldn’t imagine a year passing without our three months of snow….some days are great, some are annoying but it is what it is!
    Congrats to your daughter on her diploma! Great job!

  58. Brandy,
    When I heard that Vegas got snow I immediately pictured your children playing and enjoying it-just like the photos you posted!

    My sister ended up in the hospital and I wanted to send her flowers as I could not go visit her because I had a virus and did not want to share that with her. She ended up in a hospital in a city we are unfamiliar with because there were no available beds near us. I called a local florist in that city and had a basket of potted house plants sent to her. I was so very pleased with the product and price and she really loves it. I am happy to say she is home recovering now. (the plant delivery was an unexpected expense but so pleased the product was great, delivered very quickly and price was much lower than most)

    I bought nothing but the bare necessities the last two weeks as I have medical expenses of my own to pay for. I knitted another scarf and a couple dish clothes that will go to the Union Gospel Mission. I checked out a couple gardening magazines and a cookbook from the library-got some great ideas.

    I am slowly learning to properly groom our poodle puppy- he hates it so I can only do a bit at a time but I am getting more skilled each time and he is looking more handsome.

    My husband and son are planning to go to the family farm and pick up the items that were left to us. This will be an 8 hour round trip but they will tough it out and save the cost of a hotel and meals. They are picking up a couple items for my son and an old-fashioned sewing machine for my daughter. These are items they can have in their homes to remind them of their grandparents.

    Not too much frugality this week but doing the best we can. Again, thanking Brandy for making this a great part of my week!!

    1. Our 9 year old poodle loves the bath, massage and hair dryer part of being groomed. She responds to commands to stand up and turn around. They learn word commands pretty easily. Hope he starts liking it.

  59. I felt instantly cooled by looking at the pictures of the snow. Autumn is just around the corner here and I am so looking forward to some relief from the heat of summer.

    Winter sounds like such a go-getter. She is going to go far. My daughter finished high school last year and is having a gap year this year. She is working 53 hours this week over 3 jobs – I am both amazed and exhausted listening to her schedule.

    Not a very frugal week last week, but I plan for this week to be better

  60. Beautiful photos! We have been eating down the pantry and freezer. This has meant some very basic meals, and also some very unusual and inventive meals. No one has complained. We had a “smorgie” one night. It’s just what I like to call a mini smorgasbord of left overs. No one selection enough for a complete meal so many mini meals, but something for everyone.

    Soup has been on the menu many times using canned beans, tomatoes, left over bits of meat and fresh kale. I made a whole chicken a couple of weeks back and have been glad that I took the time to make bone broth from it and freeze it. The broth has made the soups very flavorful and filling. I also took the time to make pizza dough. I then par baked it and froze it for future meals. I’ve been making tea by the gallon since it is cheaper than purchasing store bought drinks.

    It’s almost time to plant seeds so I picked up some peas, kale, and radishes for less than $5. Considering I am paying $3 for one bag of kale a week now, I am looking forward to having it fresh for a while.

  61. This evening I arranged for a tree trimming company to drop off free wood if they work a job in our area and the homeowner does not want the wood. I hope I don’t get giant chunks. Mom likes fires in the fireplace. I look forward to refilling the wood rack for free even if it means more work for me.

    Mom has been using Poise and related products for the last fifty years since she had cancer surgery. This month alone, the disposables she uses cost at least $90. Recently, I started shopping in the same aisle. I did the math and decided that I did not want to spend $40 or more per month every month going forward on something that is immediately thrown out. I ordered a variety of reusable items to start my stash so I won’t have to do laundry daily. I will be making more from some of the new and old textiles we have in the house. I am encouraging mom to try one of each style but am trying to not pressure her to change.

    Mom has been housebound in part because near the house there was a ridge of icy snow between the porch and the car. My aching back kept me from the heavy lifting needed to remove the ridge. It finally melted between snowstorms so I was able to take mom for a drive to pick up the compressed sawdust logs that finally were in stock, get her a snack, and go to a lakeside park to watch the ice fishermen and one busy squirrel on a cold but sunny day. It felt so good being able to do ordinary things again like we did before mom was hospitalized in August.

  62. Brandy, you never mentioned the brand of dishwasher you purchased? Would love to know as we are also in the market for one. With 3 drawers do you mean 2 plus a cutlery drawer?

    1. Yes the top rack is skinny. I use it for large knives, mixing spoons, and spatulas primarily. We ended up going with a Kitchen Aid that can fit 20 large plates in the bottom at once. We got it on sale at Lowe’s for $200 off.

  63. I took some advice and started saying no to small jobs (sewing work, pet sitting) things that were becoming time suckers and not worth what was being offered in payment. I didn’t think I could do this, since every penny counts, but after a month of saying no, I haven’t noticed a change in the ability to pay a bill faster or not. And truthfully, I have more than enough to handle in maintaining a happy home.
    We had been down to one egg – so for breakfast, I fluffed it with some milk, scrambled and made avocado egg toast for 2. I think I will continue to do this (instead of using 2 eggs).
    Mended some of my own clothing.
    I found a pattern for reusable sandwich wraps, I also found the material needed at a thrift store – excited to sit and sew these for myself and people I know pack sandwiches for day trips and doctor appts.
    I usually just scatter lettuce seeds in my garden bed, but I started some indoors. I do not have a grow light, but I am hoping lettuce seeds can grow just being on a window sill. 20 more days until sugar peas can be sown into the garden – this is lifting winter blah spirits.

  64. Snow in Vegas! That is incredible! My husband and I spent our honeymoon there and I remembered it snowed (on the Strip), but just fell from the sky. It melted before it hit the ground. We had come from Logan, Utah and were shocked to see snow!

    For the past 19 months, we’ve been paying off my student loans as fast as possible, before we start on my husband’s vet school loans. Mine should be paid off in 2 more months! It’s been so much sacrifice and I’ll be so happy to see those debts gone. We’ll be working on vet school loans, while continuing to build our 3-6 month mergency fund, and contribute to his 401(k). I’ve gone back and forth on whether we should focus just on student debt (Dave Ramsey style) but it will take 5-7 years and we would miss out on all the compound interest from free money invested. We have a one-month emergency fund right now and once my loans are paid, we’ll start to bump that up a little bit. I’ve been reading through the personal finance book from the self-reliance class that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints offers, and that is more aligned with what they suggests. And it feels right for us too.

    My biggest miracle and blessing this week happened yesterday! A friend called me and asked if I had seen a recent email about a family moving and needed to get rid of some food. I hadn’t seen it so she offered to drive out to their house and pick up anything I wanted. They had tons of wheat berries (which I had just finished grinding my last can of wheat and was researching the best source to get more.) Since it’s almost 40 minutes to their home, she was willing to go for me and fill her car with as much as she could. She got me 4 bags of 50# hard white wheat and 4 buckets of 45# hard white wheat. All for nothing! I’ll take her some bread or treats as a thank you! Her husband even offered to carry it all up to our 4th floor apartment (no elevator)! So considerate of them!

    I started a very-part-time job shelving books at our local library. I will work just 2 days a month (when my husband has days off and can do our homeschool with the children.) They are only 4-hour shifts, so just 8 hours a month. Enough to get to know people and build a resume in case my husband becomes disabled and I need to work. And also to bring a little more towards our debt payoff.

    My brother and sister-in-law are moving out of state this weekend. We are all very sad and our children will miss their cousins! Their moving pod was too small for all their things, so they brought a lot to us, including some bedside lamps, hangers, full length mirror, and a plunger. They couldn’t believe we wanted a plunger, but we have two bathrooms and only one plunger, so we gladly took it!

    Thank you so much for sharing your week with us here! It’s always fun and insightful to read everyone’s comments who are on similar journeys!

  65. I love that your children are enjoying the snow so much! And that photo of all your children together is wonderful. Thank you for sharing!

    We have had so much snow here (Twin Cities, Minnesota, USA) that everyone who walked into my classroom yesterday made some comment about how tired they were of snow. It’s nice to see some excitement over it!

    Here are a few highlights of me this week:
    * Made bread, cookies and three types of soups at home in the last week and a half.
    * We ate all meals at home or took our meals with us, except one each for the adults.
    * My husband and I each enjoyed one meal at work this week, provided by our place of employment.
    * Sewed buttons back on four items.
    * Purchased meat on sale: 99-cents/pound ham, 89-cents/pound chicken, and $1.89/pound ground beef. Our freezers are now full for quite a while!
    * Worked on two birthday gifts using items we have on hand at home.
    * Shoveled our own snow. (Though even our son, who loves to shovel snow, is getting tired of this!)
    * Used a coupon and store credit to order a gift for a relative. I am having the gift mailed to his home free of change using the coupon (the coupon also gave us a % off the price).
    * Purchased two shirts and a maxi-dress for myself for just under $45 including shipping new. I have spent very little on clothing the last few years and needed some high-quality new things for work. Typically these would have cost $150 full price so I was very pleased.

    Congratulations to Winter on her accomplishments, Brandy! I am sure she will do very well at University too. I know you mentioned above that organists are volunteer at your church. If she is in need of extra income at some point in time, she may want to look into playing for mid-week (typically Wednesday evening in our location) or Saturday Worship services for other churches. The pay is good and many churches are unable to find an organist. I’m so excited to hear about a young person taking interest in playing the organ! In our church denomination it seems that it’s mostly the older folks who have played for years. So nice that she is able to use her talents to bless others!

    Lea

  66. Your children all look like they had fun with the snow! I’m sure it was a fun novelty for them in Las Vegas.
    Here in Minnesota, the snow has long ceased being a novelty: as I said to my family last night, “It’s still February, and it’s still snowing.” So many things have been cancelled or delayed due to weather, which also impacts driving, that I feel like I am behind whether at work or at home. That said, here are a few frugal accomplishments for the past couple of weeks:
    — Attended church book group for discussion of a book that I had read by checking out of the library. The person who provided treats for the night brought popcorn/caramel corn mixture, as well as almond bars. That, along with a hot tea, was my dinner for the night. I purchased the tea for no money out of pocket using a gift card to a coffee shop; coffee and ice water are provided at the book group meetings, but I can’t drink coffee and it is way too cold to be drinking ice water, especially in a room that is not very well-heated.
    — Made a dinner of chicken tortilla soup and popovers. Soup used a mix from the pantry purchased on last year’s vacation, as well as some leftovers from a previous chicken meal. Still had some cooked chicken left over, so I put that in the freezer for later use. Popovers were served with a small assortment of the many jams we have on hand (I am trying to get the family to use some of them up). Packed leftovers of the chicken tortilla soup into thermos for work lunch. This meal also prompted 12-year-old daughter to bake a couple of subsequent batches of popovers, which helped in using up more of the jam.
    – Church youth small group for which I am an adult leader had a scheduled coffee shop meeting. The church provided a gift certificate for leaders, so no money out of pocket for me for the evening.
    – Attended daughter’s choir concert for free entertainment. (It had been rescheduled due to previous weather. On the way out of the auditorium, the school called to cancel school for the next day.) Also attended a community theater production of “Godspell,” for which I had purchased tickets during the early bird special, for $2 off both the adult and student priced tickets, which were already inexpensive compared to other theatrical productions in the area.
    – Received a bag of assorted bagels from one of the employees at the tax shop when getting our taxes done. (The tax shop is in the same strip mall as a bagel shop and, rather than having the bagel shop throw out the unsold day-old bagels at the end of business, she gathers them to feed her animals – and, apparently, share with customers.)
    – While husband and I were at tax appointment, sent daughter to trampoline/arcade place with a friend, using a Groupon gifted to her at Christmas that was soon to expire.
    – Used Hallmark rewards points for a 50th birthday card for a friend.
    – Used PetSmart loyalty rewards points for discount on trim for dog’s nails.
    – Made rhubarb coffeecake, using rhubarb from freezer, for daughter’s breakfasts and snacks.
    – A coworker wanted to try triple stuff Oreos but not eat the entire package, so brought it in to share. Two cookies made a nice addition to my lunch one day.
    – Signed up as a consignor for local spring consignment sale during a February half price special on the consignor fee.

    1. I bought them used four years ago on Facebook garage sale pages so that we could go up to the snow. Then I broke my tailbone, and then had another baby, and we weren’t able to use them until now.

  67. Brandy, funeral homes also hire organists, I think it’s wonderful that Winter volunteers her services to the church. However, knowing how to play the organ is a very viable side hustle, too.

  68. So much fun to have in snow! Especially if it’s so rare for you.
    Wow, your daughter did amazing! Shows how good homeschooling pays off and is the best. Also shows your labors were successful, Brandy:)
    Frugal highlights here:
    -made Greek yogurt from free milk we get from friends and made some unflavored to use as sour cream
    -hung all laundry outside in between rain (we got 5″ in 3 days)
    -started my second batch of seedlings
    -made 5 loaves sourdough wheat bread (1 cinnamon raisin for toast)
    -made corn meal mush for 2 breakfasts; hadn’t made it in a while
    -cooked some squash I grew last year on cold days and pureed it, canning it to use as pumpkin
    -my husband is building a workbench in his shop using a free used countertop and free used solid wooden doors for it
    -consolidated a quick weekly shopping trip to Aldi with my husband going to his office close by and that was the extent of my shopping.
    -hardboiled eggs for snacking- I’m 8 weeks pregnant and eating/cooking is rough but this is something I can eat
    -made flour tortillas; so easy and much more tasty than storebought- not to mention they don’t have all the terrible ingredients
    -made healthy lemon gummies
    -made my own deodorant and am very happy with it

  69. Your children look so happy and cared for. They are very lucky to have you for a mother. Also, congratulations for teaching your children your frugal ways…their future spouses will be fortunate to not have spendthrifts. Winter is rockin’ the beret.

  70. Brandy, congratulations on Winter’s accomplishments! That is very impressive!

    *My hubby has brought home 4 large bags of coffee grounds. I am so thrilled, they are free for the taking and already bagged up. I have fed my blueberry bushes and have put it on my vegetable beds for the spring planting. I have free manure from,a neighbor and wood ashes and biochar and have been putting compost on the beds too.

    *A friend that I clean house for has free range chickens and gives me a dozen eggs every week. I give her gluten free goodies.

    * We have had a lot of rain lately and so I have been using an exercise bike that my husband’s boss gave us several years ago, He felt it was uncomfortable and offered it to us,knowing we will find a home for just about anything. We have used it a great deal and are thankful for a good alternative whe it is too rainy or cold for walking.

  71. For those who live in Alberta, the Glenbow Museum in Calgary has free admission this Sunday.
    They have some excellent exhibits. Also I think it’s the first Thursday of every month admission is free
    from 5 or 6 until closing (check times).

  72. I realized that I was spending too much money on household, pet, and baby products because I only allocated a small amount each week for those items (meaning that I missed out on saving by buying in bulk). So I took $285 from our tax refund and stocked up. This is equivalent to our bills each week. Then, I will take the “bill money” on the months when there are 5 Fridays and use it to do another bulk purchase of those items (since our bills are all paid in 4 weeks). This way, I won’t have to buy them every week and can take advantage of bulk savings. There are 5 Fridays in March, May, and October this year.

    That made me think that the same thing often happens with grocery shopping…I don’t usually have “extra” money to take advantage of really good deals. So, I am dedicating $25 a week just to stocking up. Over the last several years, our grocery budget has increased substantially and we just cannot afford to be so frivolous. I have gotten lazy about going to discount stores and shopping sales since I got pregnant with our 8th baby, but he is almost a year old and it is time to get back to it!

    My husband knew that we needed another laundry basket to hold the dirty laundry in the boys’ room and he found one along the side of the road and stopped and picked it up for me.

    Prepared and ate all meals at home.

    Had a frugal birthday celebration for my youngest daughter (she turned 3). We had another family over which meant an extra 9 people for dinner. Thankfully, they aren’t difficult to please and were happy with our frugal spread.

    When we purchased our “new” (20 year old) van last year, neither the interior lights not the light on the dash for the high beam worked. My husband was finally able to take the time to rewire them. The interior lights, he ended up having to put on a toggle switch on the dash. He already had all the supplies and knowledge and so was able to do the repair without spending anything.

    Our youngest is outgrowing his infant car seat and I was able to save a few dollars on his new one by buying an open box on amazon.

    I have only been using disposable diapers at night and cloth diapers during the day. My newly turned 3 year old is now completely day time potty trained, as well, which saves a lot on diaper costs.

    I purchased a domain name a few months ago with the intention of blogging. (I used to blog and really enjoyed it.) I’ve found that it’s difficult to upload photos because the only internet available is on my cell phone. I’m thinking that I could write posts ahead of time and then take the computer with me when I go to town and use free wifi to upload.

    1. Sarah, there’s a free blogging course going on now from Elite Blogging Academy called Blogging Bootcamp. Worth following! Also I recommend following Rosemarie Groner’s blogging emails (she gives out lots of free info in her emails) and the Elite Blogging Academy emails (every now and then they give out free handouts/training). Plus, Jennifer Maker has a Blog What You Love fb group that is a hive of learning. I just tagged Rosemarie Groner in the Blogging Bootcamp (even though I’m further along than that) and she answered my question! This is someone who used to charge $700/hr to consult on blogs! Talk about finding frugal blogging advice! She and other successful bloggers are helping out in the bootcamp, but you won’t get access to them after these few days. Tag them and ask questions while you can to get free and high quality advice! Best of luck with your blog!

    2. Hi Sarah! I clicked on your name which is hyperlinked to your blog and enjoyed reading your posts so far! I love “large-family-blogs” and enjoy the insights you have! We live in Virginia, so geographically we are neighbors!

  73. I love the kiddos playing in the snow! So fun. We are snow lovers, and just love snow sports.

    Some days it just looks Neverending and I need to keep focused on the successes no matter how small. I have a plan and just can or deviate from it because there isn’t much wiggle room right now.

    We have been able to get rid of the wifi because our phone plan went to unlimited data, so we can use the hot spots on our phones. And, we can plan to use the internet at school for anything that needs high speed.

    I eat the same things for the most part and find that I am closing in on the size goal. I need to add more exercise now.

    Bought bananas on sale and am waiting for them to get extra ripe for banana chips. Have really reduced our electric use this winter compared to last by using wood for heating and being aware. We are shopping for very little and saving all that we can. I finally have some cash on hand that doesn’t get spent every week. Every little bit helps! God keeps giving us blessings and making things work! So happy to have this job…as difficult a place to work as it is, at least I have a job and insurance. So fortunate.

    1. PJGT, how do you make your banana chips? Dehydrate? Fry? My childhood next door neighbour used to fry them (she hailed from India) and they were incredibly delicious, but I’d love a more healthy version. I’ve dehydrated bananas before but couldn’t find the sweet spot between dry and crunchy and tasty. Am curious as to your process!

  74. Hi Brandy and everyone. Loved seeing your gorgeous family in the snow. It sounds like they are achieving so much!

    We have started Autumn here in NZ and the garden and orchard continue to deliver us a rich bounty so we feel very blessed.

    Best wishes to all,

    Wendy

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