The world feels like it has been on pause since March 2020 in so many ways. With a few months left in the year, though, there is a lot that I still want to accomplish.

We’re starting to cool below 100, and it’s time to get back to work in the garden.

The garden has been struggling this year. The new soil we brought in is mostly sand, and while I added manure to add nutrition, it’s clear that I didn’t add nearly enough. Seeds sprouted and then never grew larger. In areas with more manure, they grew some, but not much. Growth has been spindly. Many trees and roses that were planted died. Whiteflies, aphids, spider mites, thrips, caterpillars, and squash bugs have wreaked havoc on the plants that did grow. The white garden in my front yard became neglected as I worked on just the backyard.

My children, on the other hand, have been growing like weeds. They have been outgrowing everything and I’ve had to do a lot of clothes shopping this year.


  1. Move drip irrigation lines, dig out the “soil” (sand!) 8-12 inches down, and bring in manure. Mix manure in throughly through the garden. I plant to buy at least 120 cubic feet of manure.
  2. Tack drip lines back down and sow seeds for fall crops. I plant to direct sow seeds for snow peas, spinach, lettuce, beets, parsley, and Swiss chard.
  3. Cut off all suckers from trees.
  4. Remove dead trees and bushes.
  5. Purchase and plant new trees and bushes. Some may not be available, so I will have to keep looking for them to come in to the nursery.
  6. Prune rose bushes.
  7. Dig up five living rose bushes. Add manure to the soil (sand) below them (I will mix this in) and replant them.
  8. Tack irrigation lines back down.
  9. Add additional irrigation lines.
  10. Plant seeds at the end of the month.
  11. Fertilize rose bushes this month.
  12. Fertilize fruit trees this month.
  13. Take cuttings from the bushes in the white garden for the back garden.
  14. Trim hedges in the white garden.
  15. Plant annuals in the garden.
  16. Paint the 16 obelisks my husband made and put them in their places in the garden.
  17. Sand and paint four garden benches.
  18. Paint all arbors that my husband makes.
  19. Remove 10 plants from their pots, drill additional holes in the pots to run drip irrigation lines, install drip irrigation, and replant the plants.
  20. Spray for aphids, spider mites, and white flies.
  21. Prune blackberry bushes; I will top them at 4 feet to force them to branch out and make more fruit.


With limited sales and limits on those sales, as well as non-existent sales on some items, planning seasonal shopping has been very difficult since March of 2020. Rising grocery prices are definitely noticeable, as are shortages and empty spaces on shelves; from a recent article: “Supermarkets are also receiving as little as 40% of what they order compared with 90% pre-pandemic.”

Here’s what I’m hoping will go on sale this fall if traditions hold for seasonal sales:

  1. Boneless pork roasts (usually around $1.98 a pound this month, but last year exports stayed in the U.S. and the price dropped to $0.99 a pound). So far I’m not seeing sales, but I am seeing a lot of beef taking space in stores where there is usually pork. I’ve heard a lot of cows are being slaughtered due to drought, so perhaps I will be able to buy beef, it if goes low enough. (U.K. readers may have a shortage of pork this fall; read here and here. The second article talks about pork in more detail but may possibly not be visible by U.K. readers.)
  2. Chickens (whole, $0.79 to $0.99 a pound, traditionally), and bone-in thighs, which only have one small bone, for $0.99 a pound.
  3. Turkeys. I have read this past week of possible turkey shortages and other holiday shortages this year. This may mean fewer sales. These sales are usually in November.
  4. Hams. These are usually on sale close to Christmas.
  5. Seasonal fruits (apples and oranges) and vegetables (onions and potatoes). I would like to have some pumpkin this year as well; my pumpkin plants have not produced anything, so I will look for sales on pumpkins. One local store has large pumpkins priced per pumpkin (not by weight) and I am considering buying several to see how much cooks up from them. For now I have bought one huge one for $6. If this turns out to be considerably cheaper than canned pumpkin, I will buy several and use them for decoration for a short while and then cook them up throughout the winter. Potatoes have been double their normal price lately at the local stores, so I am hoping the fall crop will come in and prices will be lower, but with drought in Idaho this year, I don’t know that they will.
  6. Eggs. I love eggs (they are my favorite food) and I will look for lots of sales on eggs. I use a lot of eggs for fresh eating as well as in baking.

If prices for meat are slightly higher, I’ll probably just buy smaller amounts. Now is when we start to have a lot of soups and chili and we use beans as a protein in those quite often.

I’m also buying ahead now for Christmas gifts for my children. I expect there will be shortages and delays and I want to have my shopping done early. I plan to shop the neighborhood garage sales that all take place the second Saturday in October in search of gifts as well; I find a lot of things (both used and new) for gifts this way. My parents now do all of their shopping for my children (birthdays and Christmas) at garage sales throughout the year, and they find a lot of very nice items this way.

I’ve been ordering items online and putting them aside for the children over the last several months.


Dealing with the clothing is a major project.

  1. Sort through outgrown clothing.
  2. Put up boxes of outgrown children’s clothing for the next child down.
  3. Donate or sell clothing that is too small for my youngest son and daughter

Personal goals:

  1. Daily scripture study
  2. Lose 20 pounds by the end of the year. I have gained 18 pounds since this month last year, aided in part by the cookies my mother has been baking weekly with my girls since that time (I love cookies but gain 3 pounds every time I eat them). She plans to cut back on the sweet making (per my dad’s request) and I will be watching my calories much more carefully. My main meals right now are eggs and fruit for breakfast, salad for lunch (with a low-calorie dressing or lime juice), and chicken and broccoli with a very small amount of rice or noodles for dinner, or a vegetable soup or chili. The scale still isn’t moving much yet, but I keep trying!

What are your goals for the rest of 2021?

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  1. Brandy, I know how you feel about the world on pause. I’ve heard quite a few people say 2020 was the slowest yet fastest year of their lives, and I know just what they mean. 2021 has been much the same for me.

    I have a few goals:
    1. I want to lose a few pounds as well. I’ve developed thyroid disease, and it’s been a problem trying to find an appropriate medication. My current medication stopped the endless weight gain, but has not helped me lose any weight.
    2. Make a decision with my husband and family about future care for my husband, who has serious health issues and has suffered strokes.
    3. Sell a few things that we are no longer using.
    4. Find ways to eat more cheaply. Due to both of us having certain health issues, the standard ways to eat more cheaply don’t work for us, so I will have to find other ways to cut back on the food bill.
    5. Get more sleep.
    6. Increase my Bible reading time. I want to have more verses solidly memorized.
    7. Do some more sewing.

    1. Jo,
      I was diagnosed with Hassimoto’s Disease at age 50 (almost 5 years ago) and it took close to a year to get the correct dosage for my thyroid to regulate itself and balance out. Once you get there, you’re feel 100% better and the weight will come off. I gained 30+ lbs before the diagnosis and no matter how much I starved myself, it wouldn’t come off. It’s amazing that 1 tiny thyroid could affect your body on so many levels. I hope you feel better soon 😊

  2. Our son just got a job out of state, so my goal is to get him moved into an apartment there and help him get what he needs to get going. He’s a new college graduate so he will need some help. I would also like to set a budget for Christmas this year rather than just buying a lot of stuff until it feels like enough. I’m also working on some landscaping stuff at both houses we own (we rent to my in-laws) and inside, decluttering and organizing so things look nicer and are easier to clean.

  3. I am going to continue to purge my house of unwanted and unneeded items. This is getting more important to me as I am getting older.
    I have a plan to sell some of my higher end things…
    to donate what I don’t want to bother selling and trash what is trash.
    All paper is being shredded for personal information protection.
    Our temps dropped into the low 50s last night as a cold front came through. This is the reminder to start winterizing my home and car.
    The garden is on its last legs. I will be pulling what is dead and dying.
    Some of the garden will be brought in for protection from the cold.
    I will be crocheting winter hats, scarves and some mittens (maybe). I make hats every year for my extended family. Some are just for fun…like turkey hats for thanksgiving, but most are good winter hats. I use yarn that is given to me so it is free to me and the tribe.
    I am looking to buy all of my Thanksgiving and Christmas food early. My daughters and a couple of grands are coming for T_day. We are all vaccinated and are going to party outside (if the weather allows) with masks.
    Turkeys are supposed to be hard to buy if they are over 16 pounds was part of what I heard yesterday on the news. I am watching the prices and will be buying a few for over the winter.
    I’m rethinking what we can stock up on for the pantry. This is of utmost importance to me. Having enough food and bathroom products for the winter is high up on my “to do list”. We are “supposed” to have a colder/icier winter per the farmers almanac. Not having to leave the house to get food is going to be important.
    I want to add more “beauty” to my home and yard. We spend so much time here now that it is needed. I will be spending some time getting my thoughts on paper for the revamp. This is a new-ish idea and it is going to be an ongoing thing for me.
    My Etsy shop hasn’t sold as much since the pandemic. I will be spending more time (again…getting ideas on paper) trying to push this along for next year. I only sold 5 owl costumes last year and only 2.5 costumes this year. I usually sell between 20 and 30 so it has been a huge hit to me financially. I’m seeing how I can change things around to sell more without taking a loss of money just so I can say I’m busy.
    Personally my goals for myself is to see my children more. We facetime on the phone and computer. This is just like a visit to me. One of my daughters facetimes me when she is shopping. That way she can pick up things I need. I can send her the money through FB and she has it before she checks out. This helps me a lot since she is in Fort Worth, TX and I am in a little village with only 1000 people and no grocery store. As I said it is fun and so helpful.
    I want to quilt more. I am hoping to gift a quilt to each family member. I’m about half-way there. This will not be something I can finish this year, but I am working on it.
    I need to keep in better contact with my friends and family that live so far away. The pandemic has kept me in my house, but I have kept myself more alone. No need for that. I will be reaching out more. This will make for a healthier and happier Becky.
    I will start working on my garden plans. Not to complain, but my garden did not do at all well this year. I bought most of my seeds from a small business. They were heritage seeds…organic…the plants grew beautifully…they produced little to nothing. What produce I did get from them was very small…misshapen and in a couple of instances just downright bad. I don’t know what the problem or problems were, but it was a waste of time, effort and money. I will be buying seeds from a different place this year. If I can find seeds. I will try again next spring.

    1. Hi, Becky: You had written a year ago or so about not having a market for your costume-making, as people weren’t having social events. Could you come up with a line of something like Zoom Hats, or Screen Bonnets, so people could dress up when they share holidays electronically? A child having a birthday hat from a grandparent to wear during a video visit, or maybe even matching hats, reusable, might be a fun thing or even start a family tradition. Good luck with finding a new niche!

      1. That’s a great idea! When we did the Zoom Coffee Hour after online Easter service last Spring we all wore “Easter bonnets” – many homemade! I was a lot of fun. I bet kids would love this as well.

      2. I was talking to Jake (my husband) this morning about trying to think of smaller items to sell.
        I used to put tiny hats on headbands to sell. I didn’t sell many of them, but there time might be now.

        1. My daughter has a birthday hat on a headband that she wears every year and a St Patrick’s one too. She doesn’t like hats but loves headbands.
          Also have you though about costumes for pets?

  4. Hi Brandy,

    Thank you for sharing how things are going for you. I hope your garden gets more in line with how you want it to be. Always so impressed with your ‘can do!’ mindset. I have been struggling with being grateful for all of the good things that are in our lives. I want to BE happy; my mindset is a bit negative these past months. I am always re-working my schedule, then rebelling against what I schedule! I want to eat right and exercise (up 20 lbs in 18 mo! ugh!! ), do more self-care than just eating more and sleeping, and get my home and yard more beautiful by just DOING IT. I don’t know why I am in such a rut, but reading your posts and the comments always inspires me! We only have three children, oldest boy is out of the nest, daughter is in college, and one sweet boy still at home to spoil! Our schedule has opened up completely because the youngest gave up hockey. I have time, but am not being effective with it, and that is a waste of money! I want to be more effective with my time while being kind to me and that is a frugal win! Thank you Brandy for bringing this community of smart, frugal, kind folks together and all the wisdom that comes with this sort of community!

  5. Hi Brandy,

    I could never lose weight until I added a small amount of oil to my diet (olive, or canola).
    That really helped. Burning fat requires more calories. Increased protein too.

    My goals: finish the book (by end of October). Society volunteers will deliver the copies that have been pre-ordered thus
    saving the group money.

    I have my pantry mostly restocked. Will keep for emergencies. Start making soup (cut back on sodium).

    Get the house and yard ready for winter. Clean up the house. Work on Christmas gifts.

    Negotiate about exorbitant incorrect bill I received.

  6. My main goal is to keep paying for the living expenses of my youngest. He received a $39,000 a year tuition scholarship to law school, but is not allowed to work his first yr. so I am helping him out with the living expenses. He has savings but I am trying to keep them at same level. One never knows what will happen. A lot of my goals depend on the health of another family member. I will have to adjust work around their very precarious health. Medical issues do affect money, ability to work, and savings significantly, especially if it is an experimental, potentially life saving, and costly treatment. Anyone who thinks medical conditions do not affect savings has been fortunate enough not to deal with treatments that costs a minimum of hundred thousand dollars, nor had a close family member who is categorized as terminally ill.

    1. Cindy,

      I think you were referring to my post where I made a comment about medical issues in the comments.

      There is a difference between posting about how one saves money around medical issues and posting long comments about ailments of one’s self or others. I read every comment, and some were becoming very, very long comments all about doctors’ visits and aches and pains with no mentions of how they saved money around those issues. I know the comments section of the blog can feel very forum-like. I just want to make sure we keep the focus on how we saved. Finding ways to save money on medical issues or other ways to pay our medical bills is a perfect thing to share.

      As someone who has lived most of my life without health insurance, I am very aware of how medical issues can affect finances.

      I think you’re doing wonderful things for all of your sons, and I think you are a very kind and loving mother. I know you make a lot of sacrifices for your children.

      1. Brandy, I would love to hear what you do to save money on medical expenses, and if you are still doing without health insurance. 🙂

        1. Unfortunately, this is such a heated topic that I can no longer share much on this. There was a lot of arguing on my site before on the subject. We do have insurance at this time.

      2. I was actually venting as to what a work “friend” said to me regarding my finances, she was being nosey because she was wanting to borrow money, and my frustration with her….lol. I have had issues where I live with so called coworkers trying to borrow money, that I do not have to lend. Comments are made about my being tight with a dime, and about my profession and having “money.” However, this friend, has multiple family members she could borrow from, and I have to tread carefully around her though, because of her relatively high work position, and who she works for. She also should not need to borrow money but she wastes it on stupid stuff, none of my business, except she is trying to borrow from me! I am a single parent, with a kid with gigantic medical issues/bills. She is mad because I will not give her money and causing me problems at work. Why someone would think they are entitled to a loan from me is beyond me! She is not the only one who has commented on my frugal ways and tried to get money out of me either, while they spend lavishly. I don’t care what other folks do as long as they don’t try to borrow from me. I have my own family to take care of! She only calls me and says “hey friend” when she wants money. I made the mistake of lending her $600 she requested one time, and she got ugly when I asked for it back, but she did return it. Never again!

          1. Cindy, respond to requests for loans with “Sorry, I never loan money to my friends. I don’t have any extra money now, anyway, because I am trying to help my son with hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of medical expenses.” Just be honest–the truth will set you free.

        1. I think friends can help friends in this way but yours is clearly manipulative and tries to take advantage of you, especially after getting ugly about the previous loan.

          It is more diplomatic, and effective, in my opinion, rather than saying you don’t lend money to friends, (which she will think is not true since you already lent her $600. in the past) to simply say “sorry”, you have no extra money now or in the foreseeable future because of exorbitant medical bills. Also, hold your head up high. Don’t let her play on some unexpressed guilt feelings you have. I let a friend do this to me (not about money but about other things). It was a hard lesson to me to learn not to succumb. People try to hit you up because of your profession. She is trying to borrow fr0m you probably because her family members won’t lend to her.

          I myself have lent $ to friends. I have bought groceries for friends in need. If I lend, I never expect to be repaid because life’s like that but am pleasantly surprised when I am. It’s like gambling — don’t gamble unless you can afford to lose it all — I feel the same about playing the stock market.

          I have borrowed money but have never asked — one friend just saw my stressed, unexplained look.

          What I have found most amazing is the two occasions I was really caught off guard — in one, I was trying to file papers when my bank’s computer system went down. A stranger in the line, lent me the unexpected $20 balance owing. I promised him to pay him back if he gave me his address but he wouldn’t hear of it. Don’t let yourself be used and don’t feel badly about saying no. While you don’t owe an explanation, it is probably the better way. Ann

  7. This is great – the motivation to think and consider, pray, and set down some goals for the remainder of what has been an awful year. Thank you Brandy! Mine will definitely involve:
    – the vegetable garden. I intend to plant up all of our space this year (about 130 sq meters of vegetable growing space in total), and to continue practicing succession planting – having starts ready to go into a space as soon as another plant is harvested or reaches the end of its life. This means regularly starting seeds, which I am teaching my son to do. I also hope to plants a few more fruit trees, including avocado and more citrus. I need to work gardening time into my daily rhythms.
    – an updated meal plan with more recipes that use what I know should grow well in the garden as well as a freezer meal rotation. I haven’t been diligent with batch cooking and freezing and my stress levels on busy days is climbing. Grocery prices are definitely up, and some meals we used to eat are now simply beyond my budget. I need to recalculate meal costs and find out which make sense to work into our weekly menu rotations more often.
    – yes, how the children grow! I want to establish a regular time in my week to browse a popular online thrift store to procure some of our clothing inexpensively. I try only buy what I can’t make – jeans, shoes, jackets, smart shirts (socks and undies we buy new but on sale!). Track pants, shorts, dresses, skirts are all easy at my faithful sewing machine (30 years old this Christmas!), and I knit beautiful sweaters for the children too.
    – Our 6 children’s birthdays and my husbands all fall within 6 straight months Nov – April, and Christmas falls right in there too. I’ve started buying inexpensive books and a few other goodies to set aside at charity shops and thrift stores, and will start making a few gifts soon. Planning those out will be helpful.

    Your garden work sounds like a real workout, Brandy. I’m sure it will help with your weight loss goals too! Good luck!

  8. Forgot to mention. Yes, in the next month or so, beef may be at a very good price as farmers are having to cull their herds
    due to shortage of grain feed due to the drought. Starting tomorrow, Co-op has top sirloin roasts on sale for $4.99 per pound,
    on sale from $12.99 per pound. I’m tempted because I could probably cut steaks off the roast.

  9. Thank you for this post about your goals. It was a delight to see, and it is lovely to be in a community of people who are also working on similar goals.
    Mine are:
    1. Have a rotation of 20 meals planned, with a master shopping list. I shop loss leaders, so I can’t schedule the meals. But I do want a pool of 20 meal ideas so that I can pull from them. Meals here have become very monotonous since the kids grew up!
    2. Keep up with succession planting. For this I need a better area for seed starting.
    3. Work 15 hours a week. One of my jobs may be increasing hours, I’d like to fill in the rest with subbing.
    4. Visit our daughters at least every 2 months (3-4 hours away depending on traffic).
    5. Pay off my recent electric bike purchase with my own earnings. This bike does NOT feel like a frugal purchase, but I am unable to ride my regular bike any distance (health issue). I can do so many errands by bike, so the e-bike will enable me to do this. The savings will be not running the car as much. Also, both of our cars are very old, and my husband commutes a ways to work, so he must have a car. If one of our cars were to die, the e-bike will do for me, and we can be a one car family until we find a suitable replacement. Without the e-bike we would be forced to buy a second car immediately and cars are expensive right now.

  10. Our primary goal for the remainder of 2021 is to finish the interior trim and paint in our home. We built it ourselves and moved in 2 1/2 years ago when it was just finished enough to get our certificate of occupancy but it was not finished in the full sense of the word. That is just how it goes when you do it yourself and one of you has a FT job. I am beyond grateful that we have been able to do this but I must be honest and say sometimes I am so ready for it to be done – done in the sense that I can put pictures on the wall, hang curtains, pull out my book collection (once my husband builds shelves), etc. It will be like Christmas when I get to see and use some of my favorite things that have been packed away all this time (including the 15 months we lived in a rental house while building.) We continue to work hard toward that goal and to include our children in the process as much as possible so they feel a part of everything and so they can see the value and, dare I say, fun, in working hard and accomplishing goals. We have many more goals for 2022 but those will wait for another time. Grateful for all the inspiration and kindness found here.

  11. See if I can lose 17 more pounds before the end of the year(would be nice if I could get it gone by my next dr. appointment November 19th, lol). Since May I’ve lost 23 pounds by switching to Dr. Pepper zero(I only drank 1 a day anyways) and reducing the sugar in my tea by 2/3. Now that’s its cooler, I’m going to try to add more steps in my day.

    Continue to get rid of stuff we don’t need here and at my mom’s. I do have hers pretty manageable that if something happened to her, I could have her apartment cleared in a few hours. She has a closet full of items she would like to sell, so I’m going to work on getting it empty.

    Find another part time job. I’m so frustrated and fed up with this.

    Get my husband to finish my pantry/storage room.

    Watch everything on my Netflix dvd list so I can drop it.

    Have hubby’s two credit cards paid off by the end of the year.

  12. Personal-Daily gratitude and prayer
    Shopping-Almost finish with Advent (we buy for our grandkids, since we as an extended family give each other the gift of time spent together during Christmas with potluck meals, singing carols, games, outdoor adventures, instead of gifts). Almost finished with Advent calendars (with chocolate) of the Nativity, seasonal clothing that can be worn in winter months (thrifted), and a book with Christmas theme or winter theme(used/thrifted).
    Garden-Yard- add blackberry and raspberry shrubs, add rain barrel
    Health-Add strengthening exercises, maintain BMI

  13. Cookies are my downfall, too! LOLOLOLOL

    I have done a lot of observing over the past week and agree that prices are up significantly across the board. I had been somewhat insulated from this because I mostly buy on special and then eat from my food supply. A couple of shopping trips lately have been real eye-openers. I don’t think we can rely on traditional sale dates anymore, for a ton of different reasons, including production, shipping, higher wages, etc. I would encourage everyone to set aside some of their grocery budget to “strike while the iron is hot.” You aren’t going to find many deals, but when you do…jump on it.

    I’ve also noticed a lot of bare shelves, as others have reported. Trucking is part of it, but I learned something else today. At Wal-Mart, my least-favorite and most-avoided store, an associate told me they had over 200 pallets of merchandise in the backroom and can’t get anyone to stock the shelves (virtually every employee I saw was stocking).

    Thrift stores in my area have significantly raised their prices. Their overhead, especially wages, have gone up just like everyone else’s. Shoes that were $5 not that long ago are $7 and up. Goodwill had very little glassware for sale. My guess is that they are shorthanded in sorting and pricing.

    I still have an October birthday to shop for and, of course, Christmas. While I’m not making a concerted effort to shop extra early (I always shop throughout the fall), I’m also striking while the iron is hot. If I find it, I buy it. Who knows what we will find on the shelves later?

    One last thought–when I was growing up, my parents saved money simply by not buying things that most of us take for granted today. In fact, a lot of people took those things for granted then, but we did without…and didn’t really suffer for it. I think most of us are more sophisticated than my parents and always have a Plan B, Plan C, etc., in mind. Plans B, C, D, etc., will get us through this. My folks never had a Plan B–if they couldn’t afford it, they didn’t buy it. Period. Consider just buying and consuming less. Maybe doesn’t work for food, but it certainly does for clothing, dining out, entertainment, toys (most kids have too many), home decor, etc.

    1. I am doing the same about shopping when I see the deals. I can’t plan for them anymore. I can just read the ads and see what there is.

      I definitely do the not buying it plan. My children know this too. Last year one daughter had three long-sleeved shirts. While our winters are short and very mild (and I wash 3-4 loads a day), that’s still not very many. She made due with short-sleeved shirts and two hoodies. That’s all she wanted. This year she would like a couple more shirts. She’s in the same size as last year (my girls are hitting that age where they are the size they are going to be for many years, so no more hand-me-downs and clothing will get many years of use). We’ll look for a couple more things for her.

      The next daughter is right behind her in age and almost the same in height. I have a 15-year-old, a 13-year-old, and an 11-year-old that are all very close in size. The 11-year-old is asking me for a couple of hoodies (these daughters don’t like cardigans like my two eldest and I do) and is debating whether or not she needs any long-sleeved shirts (she has 6, but two have unicorns on them, and she’s not really a fan like her older sister was at that age).

      1. I have a couple of granddaughters in the same age range as your daughters. Surprisingly, I have found a few nice sales items on Nordstrom’s website. There search function allows filtering for price and sizes, so I can quickly go through what they have available. I put what I think the girls might like in a “cart” and then text them to see if they like what I found. I also shop Macy’s and Nordstrom Rack online. I shop TJ Max in person. I don’t buy much for the girls, but I was surprised to find a few nice things I could afford. The thrift shop here does not have a good selection of clothing, and if anything looks close to like new, they want more money for it. I have found that I can buy new for almost as much as used because of that.

        1. Yes, I am finding that sometimes I can get a new t-shirt for the girls for the same price as one from the thrift store, so in that case, I will buy new.

  14. I love reading about other people’s goals! I’m super goal-oriented, as is evidenced by the fact I do monthly goal posts up on my blog ha ha 🙂

    You might already know this, but it’s more advisable to do a mix of green matter compost and manure. Even well-aged manure is very high in certain levels of things, which can mean that your plants produce more foliage than fruit, or their growth might be stunted altogether. Just a note to consider 🙂

    1. Yes, which is why I added less manure to start and now have to go back and redo it. I was afraid of adding too much. Sadly, the “humus” part of the sand/humus mixture from the nursery is now sand/”compost” and the compost is just wood chips now.

      Growth has been stunted because I am planting in sand and wood chips. Where I mixed in more manure is where the plants actually grew. I have added fertilizer too, but the areas with manure are what did the best.

      1. I have heavily clay soil and rocky builder fill. I have added lots of manure, peat moss and successfully used alfalfa pellets as a fertilizer/supplement in my garden. I buy a 50 pound bag designed to be horse feed and put it in the bed. Great for flowers and veggies. When I add roses to the garden I also add some sardines (canned in water, not oil) to the bottom of the hole. Like a long term fish emulsion. Best of luck with your changes, Brandy,

          1. I’d say “Love this idea…” but whenever I’ve put any kind of ‘goodies’ underneath, our dogs dig it up. Particularly our nosiest dog, Ruby.

            I’ve tried scolding, spanking, putting heavy branches on top, etc etc, but have had the same results. They find it even if I shut them up in the trailer while I’m doing the planting. The stinkers.

            I realize you don’t have dogs, Brandy, so it may work for you. Certainly the Pilgrims put fish underneath when they were planting corn hills. Maybe they didn’t have enough dogs for it to matter??

      2. I’m sorry you have had some plants die and not do well after all that work. According to the farm extension agent who taught the Master Gardeners’ program I attended, manure that is fresh and stinky has nutrition and probably weed seeds, but the bagged dry stuff only works well as a soil conditioner and can’t provide much nutrients. The gardener who takes care of all of the city’s mini-gardens buys compost in bulk and uses that instead of manure, and she seems to have good luck with it, but she is mixing it into top-soil. My father used to use stinky manure spread out and left over the winter (in a cold climate) and then tilled in the spring. It was covered with snow most of the winter, and the area was not being used for anything all winter unlike your situation. One year he cleaned out a horse corral and used too much of it on his vegetable garden, and it made the potatoes scabby. We just peeled off the scabbiness and ate the potatoes anyway; they seemed fine.

        1. Thanks for your suggestions, Elizabeth.

          Green manure is full of weed seeds, hot, and will burn plants. It was a big reason we had to redo our garden. After 15 years, I could not be rid of the weeds (crab grass/Bermuda grass) that it had brought in, and it was taking over all of my gardening time trying to remove them several feet down. From now on, I will only use the sterile bagged manure. I have had great results with it in the past; I had wonderful tomatoes last year where I added lots of manure (one of my best harvests ever) so I think there must be plenty of nutrition left. I always add fertilizer. I’ve never heard what you did about manure from any of my extension service classes.

          The “soil” we bought is supposedly topsoil. That’s what they call it. It’s sand and wood chips. I watched them mix it.

          Actual compost is not available to purchase here. It’s just wood chips. It’s called compost, but when you ask questions and go look at it, it’s not. I wish I could get that in bulk. I will be adding lots of worms when they are available as there aren’t any.

          Winter is a big part of our growing season here. Right now we’re waiting for things to cool down so that they can start to flower again.

          1. Brandy, do they sell Soil Pep (or similar) there? I often use it as mulch, but it’s really similar to bagged compost, and usually less expensive. If you have to buy bagged manure (and I totally understand, having gotten supposedly well-rotted manure once and ending up with weeds, weeds, weeds), I wonder how the cost of the bagged manure compares with other bagged soil amendments.

            1. Manure is $2.79 for a 2 cubic foot bag. If I buy ten at a time they give me a 10% discount. This is the lowest cost amendment that I have found. It’s the local nursery’s brand. I have not heard of Soil Pep.

  15. So sorry your garden plans have not come to fruition yet, (please excuse the plant-growing pun). I hope you are able to have the soil you want in the surroundings you want very soon.
    My immediate goal is to purge my home of papers. We are going through my parents’ home, and though they had cut down lots of stuff through the years, there was still more paper stuff than we wished to deal with. I need to set a plan to deal with what is in my own basement, even if I only do a few minutes a day. If I set up a dedicated table for it, (keep, shred, recycle), perhaps I can get a rhythm going.
    My other goal is to continue to search for my money-saving “why”– that sounds very pop-culture-like. My husband and I are not rich, and that has never been our goal. We are comfortable and our retirement is as assured as it can be. I enjoy making frugal choices, though we do not necessarily have to be frugal as often as we are. So what is my motivation behind this? This will take some thought.
    Best wishes to all as we think through the end of the year!

  16. Brandy, when I hear you say you need to dig up every inch of “soil” down a foot, add manure, work it in and then refill it, I just want to weep.

      1. Brandy sometimes here in the UK we top dress with manure, 6-8 inches of manure just spread on the top of the soil and not dug in. Then we let the weather and worms do all the work. It’s typically done around roses and I have seen it done at traditional walled vegetable gardens run by the National Trust. No dig is a big fashion here with UK gardeners.

        I have no idea if it would work in your climate but thought I would mention it as an alternative to try, as the digging sounds like so much work.

        We are having interesting time here in the UK, we have very high increases in mains gas and electric prices and this weekend we couldn’t get diesel for our car, my poor husband has been cycling the kids every where in our Dutch bike (he is exhausted). It’s very shocking.

        I have been trying to think of ways to reduce our gas and electricity usage. In particular reducing using our oven and insulating the house ready for winter to reduce the need for heating.

        We frequently can’t get the sale food items I’d like as they are out of stock even when advertised. All my favourite basic ingredients have increased in price too. I am very grateful to have a good store of food so don’t need buy too many items at a high price. Also we are making the best we can of what we have in the garden; lots of tomatoes currently.

        1. I prefer the no-dig method too but wherever there isn’t anything planted I am going to dig down to add it in. I think it will help improve the tilth of the soil as well. In the future I will be spreading it on top. David Austin talkss about adding manure to roses too.

          There are NO worms here. They have to be bought. It’s too hot to put them in still but I have some on order. I know this is essential to good soil health. I plan to do in-ground vermicomposting in the future. This and manure should be a huge help to the garden soil fertility.

          I have been following the petrol shortage in the U.K. In the last article I read, the shortage of drivers is listed: “Elizabeth de Jong, director of policy for Logistics U.K., said the country had “lost 72,000 drivers between the second quarter of 2019 and the same period in 2021,” in part because of workers returning to EU countries after Brexit.”

          That isn’t going to be an easy fix. I know they’re raising pay in hopes of getting more workers. We have the same problem here with a shortage of drivers. I am asking the children today what they want for Christmas and am buying and ordering what I can now. I already have a few things put aside in anticipation of this.

          I was chatting with a friend in England who told me she’s not only well stocked, but she has an electric car, so she’s fine if she needs to go somewhere. What a blessing to already be well-stocked when items aren’t available.

          I also read this week about the power companies going under after the government fixed prices some time back. They keep saying it won’t be a return to the 70’s, but right now, it looks like it just might be.

          1. Dear Brandy,
            thank you for your very nice reply. England is unfortunately I think is going to be very much like the 1970’s, I am preparing us for a very hard winter.

            I am sorry to hear that your garden has no worms, our climate is so different here. I think it’s just amazing how you can garden is such a harsh environment. Thank you again and for all the inspiration from your wonderful blog.

            1. There is no rain. The ground has to be jackhammered as it is lime rock and clay. This is why we brought in new soil, but it is not as good as it was from the same place in the past. Even weeds didn’t grow in the backyard before we first put in any landscaping as it is so dry.

              I have worms on order, though! So that will be good.

  17. I attempted my first garden this year, started with zucchini and watermelon and and dill. It went fairly well. I was too excited and did not wait long enough for yield to be ripe. It was fun to share overage with friends. Next year I plan to add 3 more items to the garden. I might attempt a winter crop. We have started purging our basement and closets with items we don’t use. We will continue that process. We have made the list for Christmas and will stick to the budget. We want to do more moments together so we added making popcorn strings for the Christmas tree and creating a homemade hot chocolate to our winter plans. Feeling the need to have a more simple, humble, and grateful end to 2021. I am also working on our favorite everyday meals cookbook so I will always have our go-to recipes handy. Saves money when I don’t over buy or try to be too fancy in my cooking which is wasteful. Best wishes to all of you for a fabulous end to 2021. I am so inspired by Brandy and all of you.

  18. Read my Bible daily.
    Organize and get rid of things we don’t use.
    Practice Harp at least 30 minutes a day, preferably much more. Learn some Christmas music. Finish the book I am in and go on to the next music book.
    Practice the piano more.
    Find my clarinet, hopefully in the house. I am hoping it doesn’t need new pads or cork. Pick it up again.
    Practice my recorder so I can play with my grandchildren.
    Exercise with my son.
    Help my son with his goals.
    Practice French and Spanish weekly. Study German.
    Pick up my guitar and practice.
    Watch some Youtube videos and figure out my Banjo.
    Study more music theory.
    Work on Poetry with my Son. Maybe write a book together, probably will take longer than the rest of this year.
    Write more, send more out.
    Cook at home. Have dinner ready when my husband comes home.
    Plan a garden for next year.
    Help husband build a small greenhouse.
    Learn to use the tractor for if I have to use it.
    Help build nests for our chickens to lay so we can actually collect our eggs. Right now they are pets. Find a rooster somewhere so we can have chicks.
    I know my son would like goats, maybe help build a place for some goats and get a few. I’ve got to decide if I have the energy to take care of them before we get them.
    Lose weight for more energy. Eat more healthy.
    Watch the budget and save more.
    Figure out a way to make more money. I’d like to buy my husband a better vehicle.
    I’d love to travel, but that probably won’t happen this year. So instead I hope to enjoy working on my goals and spending time with family.

  19. Building up a garden is hard work, but you are putting a lot of effort into yours that I know will pay off.
    I continue to experiment with what I can grow in my small garden, and ways to extend the season. Even so, some things produce great one year and not the next, so I have to accept that. I want to whittle down my wardrobe into pieces that are well made, flattering, and that I enjoy wearing. I have purchased fabric to make some things I can’t find to my liking in stores an want to get those made by the end of the year. I’m watching for sales and stocking up on things we will use, but trying not to be tempted by things we don’t really need, simply because they’re a good price. Thank you for this post — I am really inspired reading it and everyone’s comments.

  20. This is a wonderful exercise! Thank Brandy!
    In no particular order of importance I would like to …..
    1. Weed my garden and thin and replant the seedlings.
    2 I need to rip out the green pepper, banana peppers, cubanelle peppers and red pepper plants in order to have more room to plant more peas.
    3. I need to thin the kale, cabbage, broccoli, bok choy.
    4.I need to build a trellis for the lease to climb.
    5. Our gutters need to be cleaned out and our windows washed inside and out.
    6. I want to do a deep clean of our home. Wash base boards and walls, wipe down doors, clean out the garage and organize. Clean the washing machine, dryer and dishwasher.
    7. Plant bulb in the fall.
    8. Clean out front flower bed and replant with winter pansies, mums. Ornamental cabbage.
    9. clean out my pantry to list and track all that we have so that nothing is lost or wasted.
    10. Purchase pumpkins that I will use for fall decorations and then will roast and make my own pumpkin purée and pumpkin butter.
    11. Attend this weekend’s consignment sale to hopefully procure several fall and winter clothing items for my son. Gosh he is growing so fast!!
    12. Begin walking Again in the mornings by myself for exercise, some quiet time, and weight loss.
    13. Begin Christmas shopping for my family.

  21. What a timely post! Just today I spent some time going through our food purchases lately and have been horrified at how much we are spending on food. We make most from scratch but now that hubby works from home most days (covid) and he prefers a sandwich for lunch we have fallen into the habit of all having sandwiches…. Since 4/6 of us are gluten and dairy free (not by choice it’s a medical condition) that has become very expensive.

    This afternoon I spent some time on Pinterest finding some new to us lunch and dinner ideas that we can all eat and would be more cost effective.

    Tomorrow we will go through a write down an inventory of what we have in the pantry in the small kitchen and the larger one downstairs in the laundry room. Thankfully the girls and I managed to freeze a bushel of peaches, can another bushel (1 child had OAS and is allergic to raw fruit), 30+ litres of pickles (dill and sweet), 12 litres of fruit sauce (it’s like a chutney), and the raspberry jam was done today.

    Where we are in Canada the berry crops have basically failed and rotted with the excessive water and rain – as I write this we have already received 10cm just today and it is due to rain all week. The corn and grain crops have rotten or sprouted. The veggie garden barely produced anything because of the lack of sun and most actually drowned.

    This is why we made cooked jam – the raspberries were very expensive and I haven’t found raspberry jam in two months at our discount place. We usually make freezer jam but this year we needed to stretch that fruit as far as it would go!

    Hoping to make some salsa next but am a bit worried about these rains. Once the seconds of apples start being available in December that will be a huge help.

    I’m sorry that was long winded! Anyways taking store and thankful for what we have. Heading to replenish our sugar and oats at the discount store tomorrow.

    This week we also have the goal of sorting clothing to prep for winter.

    For homeschooling we have decided to try to get more books on Inter library loan instead of purchasing and substituting where vital to do so.

    Frugal fail – bought 2 books for a weekend away and one was a dud. The other needed sharpie as it had foul language and our teens ask us to take that out for them as they don’t want it in their mind.

    Basically goal to buy less and make do and mend more!

    1. I just looked up OAS! I did not know what it was until you mentioned it. WOW! So good that you are canning everything for your child.

    2. Lindsay, both my kids have multiple anaphylactic allergies and one of them also has OAS. She can eat fresh apples and pears, but only if they’re peeled. Everything else pretty much has to be cooked or avoided. Good on you for canning all that fruit. Soooo time consuming to prep and cook for food allergies.

  22. I too feel as though I have somehow lost a year of my life – I sometimes have to remind myself that it’s 2021 and it’s actually been almost TWO years since I’ve done certain things. My only consolation is, everyone I know seems to be in the same boat!

    Brandy – the next time I hear someone say how they’d love to move to the country and live the simple life with a garden to make them self-sufficient I’m going to send them a copy of your list of things to do! What a lot of work! You are amazing.

    I received a GC for my birthday and I just decided today to use it for my new Moleskin Weekly Planner for 2022. This is my favourite – enough room to write weekly notes & reminders – but small enough to carry in my purse when needed. This year’s will be in bright red.

    Losing weight is back on my goal list – have to lose the same as you just to get back to where I was pre-pandemic – and then I’ve got about another 30 after that! I find that a low carb diet and intermittent fasting works best for me and it saves me money because I almost eliminate sugary treats, plus I tend to stick to two meals a day since I usually eat within a 6 to 8 hour window. I am reducing protein portion size (expensive) and adding more veg to fill me up. Prices have gone up for fruit & veg as well but it’s still cheaper than meat or fish! But it needs to be done – I am NOT buying any new clothes as I have plenty if I just knuckle down and lose the weight.

    I have to finish paying off a small CC bill and an error from last year’s deductions from my PT job – I’m determined to have these done by the end of the year. I had hoped to have them done by October but everything seems to have cost more than expected over the past few months – I will just keep plugging away as the end is in sight!

    In my apt. paperwork is the big job – I need to go through and organize what needs to be kept and then I need to finish the shredding of everything that can go! I had been making progress on this but – like everything else during the Summer heat – it has gone by the wayside. If I concentrate this could be done in just a few days…. Other things are pretty organized and at least a couple of times a year I go through things and donate or throw out what I no longer need or want. I’m not one for knick knacks or shopping for fun so that isn’t a problem but still, things seem to accumulate so I have to be vigilant.

    Canadian Thanksgiving is coming up in October so I will start looking for turkey and ham next week. With it just being me (with normally a couple of friends invited to dinner) I usually buy turkey breasts and thighs and just the small pre-cooked hams. If I find what I want I will double up and buy for Christmas now as who knows what will be available in a few months time. Like many of you I now tend to buy what is on sale each week instead of looking for a specific cut of meat or poultry (aside from special occasions) and then create meals from what I have on hand. I’m going to go through all the bins in my pantry this weekend and make a list of what I have and what I need and then watch for any sales to fill in the gaps. I have a good supply of canned and bottled items so other things will be a priority for the next few weeks. Non-food items are in good shape so I don’t have to worry about that.

    I’m hoping that I’ll be able to get these goals accomplished now that the weather is cooling down and I feel my energy returning – no more excuses!

    1. And I don’t even live in the country! I live on a suburban lot!

      I still have 10 pounds left to lose before the pandemic but now have 30 to lose total. At this point, however, I would be very happy to just reach my pre-pandemic weight.

      1. Let’s face it, we have been through, and are still going through, a really bad frightening time. It has truly been a year and a half of life and death in front of our eyes. We have ALL been comfort eating. I think we can forgive ourselves that.

        1. I agree, Anne! I have gained several pounds with stress eating and often then throw my hands up and give in to more eating, rather than being kind to myself and starting afresh.

      2. I have also gained about 10 pounds since the pandemic started. I read that (1) pound of body weight gained = 3500 calories eaten. Crunching some numbers, that means eating just (100) calories too many per day multiplied by 365 days = 36,500 calories extra over the year. Divide that by 3500 calories/pound, and that’s over 10 pounds. No wonder! Just two bites of a bagel is about 100 calories! Just one TBS of oil (in cooking) is 120 calories! I have to walk on the treadmill about 30 minutes at 2 miles/hr to burn up 120 calories, so getting that exercise everyday is critical to keeping extra pounds off!

  23. Thank you for this post Brandy. I hope all goes well with your soil.

    My goals are to organise the paper bundle in the filing cabinet, eat less sugar, not buy anything other than groceries and fuel, respond to more market research requests to earn money, do more bike rides with my family and to prioritise doing reading and writing with my children.

    The garden is good and producing, Christmas present shopping is complete and the weekly budget is on track.

    1. Thank you. I need to lose 30 pounds total but right now I would be happy to be back where I was pre-Covid (20 pounds less).

      1. Brandy,
        Are you sure some of that weight isn’t muscle from all the garden work you’ve done this year? Muscle takes up less room than fat but can add weight.
        If your clothes aren’t fitting too differently (maybe arm holes tighter as you’ve gain arm muscles for instance but not around the middle, for example), you might want to think about what the weigh is from rather than just that the number on the scale went up.

        Just a thought,

          1. I for one am refusing to believe that about you and the middle
            All the pics of you and the beautiful dresses are proof
            Still I admire your goals and have always been amazed at your accomplishments, enjoy watching the garden transform and unfold before our eyes, it both motivates me and pushes me to think forward
            Then there are all the terrific posts to read about others and what they are doing
            Kindest place on the planet Brandy’s place, where we all congregate and leave better
            THANK YOU

  24. We just finished up a major project in installing ductwork for our entire house along with a furnace and heat pump. We have always used only wood to heat our house. This was an expensive project! We built our entire house ourselves so this was the first time we paid anyone to do anything for us. The company did an amazing job though.

    We want to buy a new woodstove to use as a supplement because the old one is pretty much worn out. We also have a fireplace that burns wood. We also need to get a few loads of gravel for our driveway because the lines for the condensation and propane went across our drive and now it is really muddy. The transmission went out of my husband’s 4 wheel drive truck so we are researching options. The cost of replacement truck is outrageous so buying a used or rebuilt transmission might be a good idea.

    I still need to can a lot from the garden. We had a great garden year and lots of fruit on the fruit trees. I still want to make apple butter, apple sauce, dried apples, can beets, do up the rest of the tomatoes, there are still green beans that could be canned- this will be my 3rd picking, and I have a lot of peppers I want to chop & freeze.

    I have 7 grandchildren and I want to do their Christmas shopping soon. I usually get them a few books, some sort of craft, and a toy. I like to shop at Ollie’s. I am hoping to get a coupon from them soon.

  25. My biggest goal is to take care of myself during my breast cancer journey. I’ve had two surgeries (may need a third), and that will be followed by 3-5 months of chemo and then at least a month of radiation treatments. I’m researching the best foods to eat, as well as ways to take care of myself mentally and spiritually.
    We were planning a move, but that will be put on hold. We’ve done quite a bit of decluttering already, but I will work on more as I’m able.
    I’ve put away a few gifts for Christmas, and will keep working on that, though I expect we’ll need to make that a simpler holiday this year. I usually go nuts with Christmas decorating, but the tree may be it this year. 😊

  26. I got overwhelmed just reading your list. The work on that soil sounds bad enough, but the paint job!? Sounds like something one would do to get to Guinness World record book! Wow! But if someone can do it- it is you, Brandy!
    My goals:
    This year was a sad one for my garden. I made many mistakes and was busy doing other projects, so there is not much to write about now. Next year I am going to strike back! I will improve my soil situation this fall, to have a good start next season. I also got many gardening books from the library and I am planning the season ahead. Education is the key for me as I noticed how shallow my knowledge is.
    -I will do all the autumn garden chores from the list that I have.
    -Build a shed in the garage to store our belongings in an orderly way. We have NO storage space at home!
    – Renovate windows. That means sand the wood, oil, paint.
    -Sew the last two courtains for the living room/ dining room. Yes, two pairs are already sewn and hanging in the windows!
    -Stock up what I am lacking in the pantry and seed bank. My husband was not prolonged on his contract (he is a contact person for projects in Afghanistan) , which means that we will not have income from the end of October. We have savings and are well stocked up so hopefully we will be able to carry on with grace while he looks for a new job. Or his organisation finds a way to rehire him.
    I am planning to be super diligent about my meal planning to make the best use of what we have. I have a written plan of meals that come at half of our weekly grocery budget which use our pantry items ( totally copied the idea from you). I call it a puzzle meal plan because all meals fit into each other. There is minimal waste. I have 2 weeks worth, would love to work out 2 more weeks for variety.
    -Lose 5 kg.
    -Make a headband for myself for autumn.
    -Learn some new songs and rhymes for my morning table time with kids. I am getting a bit bored of the ones I have been using and I always get super inspired when I sing a new song to them.
    Let’s roll those sleeves up! We can do this, people!

  27. It’s strange that everyone feels the need to lose weight at the same time. My DD mentioned to me today that her jeans are a bit tight and she needs to lose 5#.
    We stopped at the produce store on the way home from a medical appt. I found some meatloaf mix which was less expensive than where I usually buy it so bought 1 lb, which will make about 6 individual meat loaves for my freezer. I needed a cabbage also–only .49 a lb but the smallest one was almost 7 lbs. That is a lot of cabbage for
    one person but I do use it frequently in fall so I will be using it possibly until Thanksgiving at least.
    I have started Christmas shopping but haven’t done much yet. Three things for DD, and another bag I didn’t identify yet but is in the gift drawer!
    We also moved my husband to a new memory care on Tuesday, and the room is so huge we are looking around for some furniture to make it look more homey. He needs at least 1 or 2 chairs, and some kind of bookcase and a small table if I can find something. DD is contributing a rocking chair and I have a good couch cushion we haven’t used much (couch is going to the trash soon). Most of the rest we can bring from home–hangers which we forgot on Tuesday, check his dresser for more sweat pants because if they aren’t there they were lost in the last place. Maybe a handmade quilt for the bed and his good pillow from home. I would like to hit the thrift store on Friday or Saturday and see what else I could find. I will take him a couple of his favorite books also. Anything to make the room have some home like features. I don’t think we will have to buy much at all, just scrounge around the house some. Don’t really feel like he will need much because they have planned crafts and other projects they can work on. We have a visit scheduled for Sunday and I’m anxious to see how he is liking it so far.
    After that it’s back to decluttering. I have been making some progress on the books, magazines and other stuff that comes in the mail. I try to do it daily but we have had some busy weeks here, and there is still more mail to open, although the bills were removed and paid before this!. I have tossed some old clothes and have more to go there also. DD suggested selling some of Dad’s Distressed sweat shirts but I prefer to put those in the trash.
    He will wear them beyond falling part if he likes them especially.
    I also have to stick to the budget–the memory care wanted a lot of money up front. An admission fee up front, and Sept’s pro-rated rent and Octobers’ rent as well. They mentioned you can pay by check, credit card, or automatic debits from your bank account. Since we earn points on our credit card for what we purchase, I think I will put it on the credit card monthly and see how many points I can acquire that way. Points can be turned into deposits to your bank, or used as payments towards the card bill. We have been redeeming them regularly but we could get a lot more points by paying this way. Interesting opportunity!
    Tonight I am going to dinner with some women I worked with in the 70’s. Mostly nursing supervisors–I did medical records and shared the office with them and the director and assistant directors of nursing. And we’re going to a restaurant about 3-4 miles from my house so I’m even driving myself! DD hasn’t been letting me drive much because of trouble sleeping but I got new meds for that. It’s a nice but fairly inexpensive place, too, although I haven’t been spending much on myself because I’m always home!

    1. I must be one of the few people who did not gain weight during the pandemic-perhaps it is because I started looking after 9 month old triplets and their 2 year old brother 3 days a week just when the pandemic hit. I was suddenly more active. Now having said that I could definitely use to lose some pre pandemic pounds!

  28. Brandy,
    I’m so very sorry to hear of your gardening struggles. This is just a suggestion and my climate is so very different from yours so it might not be worth considering but I added shredded paper to my soil and compost in layers- shredded paper first, then soil then compost. It really increased my production. I did that 2 seasons ago and so when I put this area of the garden to bed for the winter it will get the same treatment again- a layer of paper, then soil then compost. In this bed I was able to grow strawberries, dill, pumpkins, onions, cucumbers, a cherry tree and some flowers. It is about 16 feet long by 3–4 feet wide.
    My goals for the rest of 2021 are to take good care of my loved ones. COVID is spreading like crazy in our area and my niece currently has it. I’m trying to keep everyone including my parents in good health with good, healthy food, fresh air and exercise.
    I plan to sew some pillow covers for my sofa with fabric I already have. I plan to work on purchasing my Christmas gifts. I’m going to make an effort to focus on my faith throughout each day which keeps me in a positive mood. I thank Brandy and everyone who contributes to this wonderful community. It is the very best resource in these trying times!!

    1. That’s a wonderful idea! The worms get shredded paper in the ground with food scraps for the vermicomposting. I have worms ordered for later this fall. I can get shredded paper from my husband’s office easily.

        1. I have tried, and they would forget and throw them out or forget and lock the door and not let me in 5 minutes before closing, even though they would have told me earlier that day to come at closing.

          1. I don’t know if this is a smaller, locally owned shop or a chain. But my experience was that it was difficult to get coffee grounds from Starbucks, though a cinch from a little local coffeehouse. I would bring a bucket with lid and stop in every few days to pick it up. I had my number on the lid and she, the owner, even texted me a couple of times to let me know it was full and out on the back porch of the shop.

            1. Probably! It was the same person each time so that would help you. I was just getting different employees.

      1. Be aware that not all paper is good for the garden. Research a little before putting much down. I use newspaper after calling the paper to see what kind of ink they use. Shiny paper won’t break down very well. I take the newspaper daily and share with my neighbor who is also a gardener.

  29. Hi Brandy. Great topic…over the last year, we have slowly been fixing our home up and my to do list is getting shorter! Remaining this year: lose 15 pounds (gained five during COVID), get the house exterior painted, get the garage door repaired, get the window awning fixed and two more added, start (again) a real exercise program and stick with it! As Anne said, when I read that you had to redo all your dirt, I shuddered. I am so sorry for that, I can’t imagine the sound of the sigh you made when that became evident….hopefully one of your kids has a dream of being a farmer or landscaper and can help 😉

  30. My goals for the remainder of the year:
    -Can more applesauce. I am about halfway through this project!
    -Prepare my garden for winter. I am not planning any winter crops so once my current plants are finished I will pull them up and set the garden up to rest until springtime
    -Do a once through of my clothes to figure out what I need to donate
    -Gain some weight. I have an autoimmune disease and have been losing weight recently due to stress and general unease. I am the type to just not eat when I’m worried about something. So my goal is to prepare 4-5 delicious, small, healthy meals a day to encourage myself to get the calories back
    -Find a new refrigerator. The freezer on mine died a couple months ago and though the fridge is limping along, I would rather not be completely without.
    -Learn to knit hats! I currently know how to knit squares hehe (very much a beginner) but we wear a lot of beanies around here in the Pacific North West. So I would love to learn to knit some beanies for friends and family.

    That’s all I can think of. Thank you all for sharing your goals! It is very inspiring and motivating.

  31. My goals really are simple. Find more ways to be safely out and about and spending time with loved ones, continue and complete my rehab from foot surgery which includes overall physical fitness (sitting during early recovery does a number on your fitness), enjoy some seasonal eating and care for what we own while making our surroundings feel good. I also want to deep dive into updating our tech backup, make sure we are protected financially in case one of us dies (we are retired seniors), and deepen friendships. I am focused making progress on each of these frugally and with minimal physical acquisitions.

    1. If you haven’t already done funeral planning, I highly suggest getting it planned with everything written down. We did this and learned a lot about each other (and our wants) and what costs are. Funeral expenses can also be prepaid if you have the ability to do so.

      1. Brandy, my daddy did this for his funeral.
        There are 3 of us kids. We all live in different states.
        I hate to say that we are no longer close so when daddy passed we had no idea what to do.
        Dad had pre-paid and planned for everything including picking the flowers he wanted on his casket.
        It was a relief to know that we three didn’t need to worry or fuss about “what dad would have wanted”.

    2. The wife of the couple across the street from me died a little over a week ago. Her husband told me that between losing her social security payment and the portion of his pension that was designated for her, his income will be going down 40%. They are/were in their 70ies and had been doing lots of projects lately, such as converting their back porch to a sunroom, enlarging and repaving their driveway and replacing their windows. She told me last month that they refinanced their house to take cash out to do all of these projects. Sigh…

      I would suggest every couple look at their finances to see how the surviving spouse can survive financially when the inevitable happens

  32. I really want to get better at meal planning. Not having the necessary ingredients means unnecessary trips to the grocery store. I need to get organized concerning this.
    Also, need to start thinking about the holidays and budgeting for Christmas gifts.

  33. Working on these goals:
    –Finish a big editing project at work. Related goal: once finished, use the additional time for language study and reading, not more work.
    –Lose weight – no specific goal for this year (overall goal is to lose 20-25 lbs., 20 of which are gained back after some weight loss last year) but rather to establish habits leading to a slow but steady downward trend.
    –Declutter 100 items per month at home (this was easy at first but is getting more difficult)
    –Sort papers for 15 minutes per day at the office
    Thanks for posting your goals and letting us share and motivate each other.

  34. I have a high-risk toddler, so I’m still spending most of my time at home, and expect that I’ll be doing so for several months to come. This has led to me going NUTS over minor home issues that have not bothered me in the past, but now feel like they’re actively taunting me. (The dryer squeaks! The cat has rubbed her face on the edges of the walls so often she has actually eroded the drywall! Our “lawn” is mostly moss and dandelions! Etc., etc.) So my goals for the rest of 2021 are to cross about two dozen small-to-medium home improvements off my list, *without* mysteriously ending up with a ton of credit card debt. I know I can do it, but it’s going to take a lot of self-discipline regarding both money and time.

  35. Brandy, have you considered growing a green manure on any empty patches of soil over winter? They can really help improve the soil quality naturally and the seed is pretty cheap. I know there are several versions available in the U.K., but I am not sure whether they would suit your climate?

    1. Winter is when we grow our main crops here that would be spring crops elsewhere. It’s when I grow lettuce, spinach, spring onions, etc.

  36. Garden
    1. plant 2 Arborvitae trees, Crepe Myrtle, blueberry bushes, and 4 rose bushes, and daylilies I have potted. Look for cherry and apricot trees at nurseries.
    2. Reseed fall garden bed if seeds do not emerge, and look for a few starts at nursery. Get plastic tubing and plastic for bed covers.
    3. Put cardboard and mulch around hydrangea bed
    4. Research and fertilize if needed.
    5. Harvest zinnia seed, sunflower seed, and get hydrangea cuttings to root.
    Home and Craft
    1. paint 2 porch side tables, nightstand, small curio, and kitchen chairs
    2. reupholster setee, chair, and bench
    3. Make pillows for kitchen bench, and bedrooms from old quilts and French cloth fabrics I have.
    4 Fall craft projects
    5. Christmas craft projects and gifts.
    6 Make 6 lap quilts from dad’s shirts- I have the blocks done for 3 and the others are all cut into 2 5 inch strips ready to sew blocks.
    7. Sew lace to flannel shirt, make a few shirts with embroidery/applique/ transfer designs: a Doodle Mom shirt, Roll Tide shirt, Holly Jolly shirt, fall shirt, and camping shirt.
    8. Refresh Tieks with polish and add rain resistant leather conditioner
    9. Make doggie bandanas
    1. Daily Bible study and prayer
    2. Work out and lose 30 lbs. walk and do weight workouts 30 minutes a day activity.
    3.Drink water and fully kick Diet Dr Pepper.
    4. Be mindful of what I eat
    5. Be purposeful in friendships- call and check on them, invite for lunch and find things to do.
    1. Restock chicken, hamburger meat, pork loin chops, buy 3 turkeys and 2 hams when on sale to cook and freeze portions
    1. Can chicken pot pie mix, chicken soup, Mexican chicken soup, vegetable soup, Cowboy soup, Pasta Fijoli, salsa, and chili con Carne
    2. Dehydrate greens and beets to powder and add to meals through the year
    3. Shop weekly sales on things we use- I have been just buying from Sam’s and Aldi for years after years of strick coupon shopping. I got burnt out going to multiple stores to coupon when people were clearing shelves on first day of sale.
    4. Grow as much as I can. Can, dehydrate, and freeze.
    5. Garage sale during fall community sales. Look for fabric and notions, copper, clothing for me, pots, quilts, books, puzzles, mirrors in gilt frames
    6. Pay extra $500 on mortgage monthly.
    7. Sell old embroidery business items: baby quilts, diaper covers. tea towels, pillowcases, quilt pillows
    8. Lower meat amount in meals: more soups, stir fries, casseroles. Add beans.
    1. Add tile look backsplash in kitchen and bath.
    2. Peel and stick wallpaper paper wall behind toilet.
    3. Make curtains
    4. Make and freeze portions of meals to take camping along with canned.
    5. Explore hiking trails to waterfalls, and bike.
    6. Get new mattress

  37. Wow, Brandy! Your list of goals is impressive!
    I’m so sorry you have to dig out all the sand and add more manure. That sounds like quite a job.

    Here are some of my goals for the rest of 2021:

    Work (I work outside my home as a University Science Professor):
    All the normal “stuff” plus:
    Reorganize my office (it’s a huge mess and we got some new furniture right before the semester started).
    Put together the equipment list for our soon-to-be new classroom.

    Finish unpacking and putting away from our remodel (it’s done – whoo hoo! – and marvelous).
    Order stools for our kitchen island.
    Install blinds on all our new windows (these were on backorder).
    Finish rearranging our downstairs family room to make it more functional.
    Clean out the furnace room and have a new furnace and air conditioner installed (this is scheduled for the middle of October) – this is a big job because this was one of two rooms we did not have to clean out for remodel and thus became the dumping ground for everything else that couldn’t got to storage or into the garage.
    Paint the master bedroom and one other bedroom (the only two rooms that did not get repainted in the remodel).
    Hold a garage/yard sale to sell the items we are not needing anymore. Donate the rest of the items after the sale.

    Install fence around and over my tomatoes – the squirrels need to be kept out right now!
    Processes and can (bottle) cucumber pickles and tomato salsa.
    Blanch and freeze green beans.
    Prune the fall-pruning shrubs (two).
    Put the flower beds and fruit bushes to “bed” for the winter – deadhead, trim and thickly mulch (I live in Minnesota in the US).
    Clean out the vegetable garden and dig in the compost bin contents and new purchased dirt.
    Transplant strawberries to their new bed. Mulch.
    Inventory seeds for next year. Order what I can.

    Purchase rest of family Christmas presents before Thanksgiving.
    Have two family-done paintings and one set of photographs framed.
    Finish making four baby quilts.
    Finish long-time worked on, major sewing/embroidery project for my husband’s Christmas present this year.
    Plan and host a family Cookie Baking party with my parents, cousin and second-cousin’s families in my new kitchen between Thanksgiving and Christmas.
    Have 4 sets of friends over for dinner.
    Finish one other embroidery project.

    Thanks for the inspiration, Brandy and everyone!

    1. I am not going to dig out everything; the beds are 2 to 2 1/2 feet deep. I will have dig down partway and add in manure and mix it in. I mixed in manure before but definitely should have done more.

  38. Between now and the end of this year:
    Outside: 1. Rebuild chickens’ 3 nest boxes to make them easier to gather eggs.
    2. Paint the final side of wood fencing at the front of side yard.
    3. Do our equinox pruning of all our fruit trees.
    4. Prune and Get berry/lilac bush cuttings started so they will be rooted for Spring as a cash crop.
    5. Start preparing areas to lay the 600 new brick pavers we bought this year.
    Get the two new raised beds in front of side yard set up including brick pavers around and under them.
    1. Buy and install 2 more kitchen windows.
    2. Insulate exterior walls where new windows have been installed this year.
    3. Continue to use my fabric scraps to make more quilts for gifts or sale.
    4. Declutter kitchen cabinets- donate, sell or toss things I don’t need.
    1. Begin walking on my treadmill each morning before Hubs gets up.
    2. Read my Scriptures during my treadmill walking.

    Food/ Money
    1. Make sure we are eating from our freezer and food storage 5 out of 7 days a week, as a minimum.
    2. Dehydrate our herbs from garden as well as kale from garden
    3. Use my tomatillos from garden to can salsa verde for pantry.
    4. Can more salsa for pantry.
    5. Remind myself when to stop buying a great deal when I already have sufficient stored already.
    6. Try to continue to increase our longarm quilting business.

    If we can even do 50% of these things, I will be happy. But I will set my aim this high and write done a to-do list each day to start working on these.

    Gardenpat in Ohio

  39. I’ve actually been thinking about what I’d like to accomplish before year end. I’ve recently started keeping the 22 mo old grandson again and that pretty much takes all my day hours. It means with great selfishness on my part I might have only 2 Sunday afternoons a month to accomplish a LOT of things.

    I want to continue Christmas shopping. We’ve given cash to our grown children the past few years but they all make far more than we do now and we decided to go back to gifts. I’m trying to come in under the budget we’d set aside to give in the past. I have a list made out and have a few gifts thus far but more than half the list to go.

    Paint our master bath. My husband wants to fill in holes and I understand it needs to be done…But I’m going to work ahead of him and paint those portions of wall that do NOT need patching. He can catch up when mowing season is over and done.

    I have a chair and ottoman I meant to recover this year. I have the fabric and even though I have the 22 mo old here I plan to try and get it done just the same. I’m not a pro by any means but I do a good enough job to suit us. My chair is 15 years old, so it’s not like I’m messing up something new.

    I want to begin work on garden beds for next spring. I have a space I want to use but will need to gather materials as I can to get it done. Since we haven’t a truck and my family never thinks any need on my part should be priority (NOT bitter, they are busy and I get that) I must use my car to haul a few things at a time. I’ll just plug along and do what I can as I can. It’s worked to get jobs done in the past and will work to get this done as well.

    Do my level best to be patient and gentle with my grandson. That mightn’t seem a goal to anyone else but I sometimes allow my frustration at having to give up time I could use elsewhere become an issue. I don’t like it in myself but knowing it’s a fault, I can work harder to control it.

    Really see how I can better utilize free time. Yes, I am tired at day’s end and often I want to do nothing but veg out with a book. And I might do that still, but perhaps I can wrangle an added hour of activity from each day? We shall see.

    Stay atop the food situation here at home. I don’t go out often and I’ve no idea what I will find in stores or not see at all. We typically shop about once a month. Prior to keeping Grandson I was running out once a week to see what I might find on clearance and markdown but the past two weeks no such time. It will be more than necessary to stay atop things if we’re dealing with low stock or limits and use all of what we have or stretch it a bit further. Like Brandy I have the gift of getting a lot of food from what looks like small resources and I don’t want to grow slack in that area.

    Find another Study class. Just finishing up on Priscilla Shirer’s Elijah series which I’ve enjoyed so much. I’d very much like to find another study to go into. It’s been a nice change from just daily Bible reading.

  40. I have been gardening the same small plot for about 40 years and the soil was sadly depleted. This year I used compost and Espoma Bio-tone fertilizer with mycorrhizae and my garden was so much more productive. You might also want to plant some cover crops to fix nitrogen in the soil. I am excited about gardening again. Now if I could just get rid of the purslane which grows as a weed everywhere! It’s good to eat and extremely healthy (omega 3!) but I can just eat so much.

    1. I added the fungi to my garden this year too. I wish I could get real compost. Worms and manure are my best option here.

    2. It’s funny because purslane grows on the swale of the house next door and when I find it on my walks, I continually try transplanting it into my garden, but it never lives long. And if I see ones that have gone to seed, I plant the seeds. I’ve even bought special purslane seeds, but no luck. I envy you!

  41. My goals:
    1. Purge my clothes closet
    2. Declutter our drop zone
    3. Order replacement inserts for my roasters
    4. move a raised garden bed
    5. Trim outdoor plants and add mulch to beds
    6. wash the patio chair cushions
    7 Detail the interior of my car
    8. Finish several sewing projects
    9 Read 2 work related books before the end of the year
    10 Try to be under my Christmas budget

  42. We are preparing for winter here (northwest of Ohio).
    Clear summer plants from beds (we do raised beds due to my back) and process anything that is harvested.
    Cut row cover for the 3 beds I have late fall/ early winter veggies in and clip into place on hoops so they can be raised or lowered depending on weather.
    Clear flower garden so next spring we can put weed barrier and stone down instead. Hosta’s will be transplanted next spring.
    I most of the seeds for next year’s garden and the stuff for starting my own plants. I would like some seed for Red October tomato plants from Burpee if they come in stock.Will need at least 96 cubic feet of garden soil next spring so started savings jar for that.
    Maybe a ham and some ground beef if priced right. Freezers are stocked and I just go a 20 lb. turkey for 89 cents a pound. Farmer had to cut what he was raising in half due to drought. I am stocked on veggies and fruit. Might get some fresh potatoes and sweet potatoes off and on. Dairy and salad stuff is the master list right now.
    Heaven helps us as we don’t want our kids going through what we have or our friends just did. Took my step brother 4 yrs to get through the 3 barns packed and the 3 bedroom trailer also packed from Mother and Pop. Our friends’ have been working 2 years and finally just hired it done. Four and one/half dumpsters later, they could hire and estate seller. We cleared Daddy’s in one weekend. I want to be like Daddy. Hubby got his parents talked into clearing stuff also . We have 6 sections in the barn,2 1/2 are cleared. The garden shed going to be done by end of Nov as I told our Amish neighbor he could tear it down and use it for fire wood. There is books and dishes… pots and pans that in house that need gone through.
    I am going to be cremated, don’t care what they do with the ashes.
    Hubby got fed up with me telling him to get his gravesite( I was a widow before we married) as he kept saying he wanted to be with his family decided to just be cremated. He doesn’t care either what the kids do with the ashes. After dealing with my 3 parents and now looking at how his parents health has went down… he just doesn’t want the kids to spend that kind of money for a plot etc.
    We have a will, we are due next year to update it. We have passwords etc written down for our estate. We have our Facebook accts set to be ran by our son that is already on Facebook.
    Hubby is trying to lose weight. Neither of us gained weight during covid.
    We are trying to put more “Blue Zone” habits in to our lives.
    Blessed be… pace yourselves while working.

  43. My list isn’t as long as yours, Brandy, but I’m going to try to get most of it done. A lot of it will be outside since our daytime highs are now in the 80ies with no humidity (hallelujah!) but might be more limited because my seasonal allergies have become spring through at least fall allergies this year and spending more than 3-4 hours outside at a time results in red, itchy eyes to the point that I need to take out my contact lenses and pretty much can’t see for the next several hours (20/500 vision uncorrected so I’m not exaggerating there). I am going to try some OTC meds to see if they help.

    1. Grow a productive fall garden for at least a few vegetables, such as tomatoes, carrots, peppers, snow peas, spinach and lettuce.
    2. Repot the tomato plants I bought into bigger pots. My yard has drainage issues when we have heavy rain and until those are resolved (not likely until I pay off the mortgage in 2023 or 2024), I grow everything in containers on my back deck and/or screen porch.
    3. Use the $78 I have in gift cards to Lowe’s (from credit card points) to buy 2 blueberry bushes, pots for the bushes, soil amendments to get the correct ph level for blueberries, more lawn and garden bags, a good pair of hand pruners, snapdragons and pansies for the winter and batteries, especially AAA size.
    4. Weed! All of the flower beds need weeded as does the area behind my house that is overgrown and where I have azaleas, hydrangea, and abelia.
    5. Dig up the irises that rotted from too much rain (see item 2 above). It breaks my heart that they died but I’ll take them out and move the one that haven’t rotted to the overgrown area since it’s the highest point in my yard and doesn’t become Lake Mari several times a year. Fortunately, the water never gets in the house.

    1. Develop a good cleaning schedule and stick to it. Before I retired, I used to think I didn’t have time to clean. Now I know I just don’t have the DESIRE to clean. However, I really like the results.
    2. Organize the closets, storage room and kitchen cabinets, giving away anything I don’t want.

    1. Inventory my pantry and freezer.
    2. Create a personal cookbook by typing up frequently used and/or loved recipes, printing them, inserting them in sheet savers and putting them in a binder. Make a second book for my daughter and her husband of the recipes I know they really like.
    3. Continue eating most meals at home.
    4. Make applesauce. North Carolina apples are 20 cents per pound more this year at the same place I bought them last year. I’m not buying them until the day I’m ready to make the sauce, which will probably be next week. I don’t want any to go bad.
    5. Plan Thanksgiving dinner with my daughter. We’ll have the meal at their place because my daughter and son-in-law want to relax and watch football and both will have the day off (they work retail). Since the cats broke my TV about 2 years ago and I never replaced it (and don’t miss it), it’s easier to have the meal there.

    1. Walk for exercise and heart health.
    2. Get out of the house more, such as going to local festivals and activities and meeting friends for our weekly lunch on Wednesdays. We will probably be doing most meals outside from now through December.
    3. Get back into personal hobbies, such as cross-stitching, quilting and making things for Christmas decorations.

    As far as Christmas presents go, I don’t have many people for whom I buy. My sisters and I are all in our 60ies and 70ies and there’s very little we need or want that we can’t and don’t buy ourselves. I have been buying for 3 great-nephews and 2 great-nieces but I’m not doing that this year. The two youngest get tons of presents from both sides of the family so I’m going to give them cards with coupons redeemable for an “experience” with me and then a meal out. They can decide what the experience should be. They are already excited by this idea. The 3 oldest also get a lot and are preteens now. My $25 range gifts don’t appear to mean anything to them and have not been acknowledged at all for the last 3 years. I’ll spend that money on Angel Tree gifts for kids who have a lot less than they do. I will be buying for my daughter and son-in-law but probably more on the lines of gift cards to restaurants and Aldi, maybe a gas card, and a basket of goodies (applesauce, homemade peanut butter fudge, rolls of frozen cookie dough they can bake when the mood hits them the personal cookbook I mentioned above, etc.) I might be making them Christmas stockings, too, if they want them. We will be exchanging gifts early since they plan to visit his parents in Maryland this year.

    Okay, that list is a lot longer than I thought it would be. Happy productivity everyone!

  44. THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU for this report! I have missed so much your monthly goals/plan reports. (Yes, I enjoy your weekly ones, too.)
    Though I am sorry the garden’s not been doing its job, after all your hard work. What a disappointment. Glad you’re trying other things.

    We’ve been living in a fifth-wheel now for more than two years…and other than issues about storage (i.e., there’s little), we’re doing ok. I’ve learned to stock up on dried foods, beans, etc. that will “keep,” and ordered a case of items I often use (like corned beef hash and chopped tomatoes). That’s working out well, especially now, though I won’t enjoy restocking when prices are higher.
    The difficult part for us right now — we’re ‘caretaking’ for friends in our Colorado home state. But my mom has had several health scares this summer, including hospital and rehab stays. It seems inevitable that either she needs to move into a care facility — or we move to Michigan for the winter, to stay available for her. And Michigan in winter is not a fun place most of the time. Still debating what to do… but I am all but resigned to moving the fifth-wheel there for several months. I honestly think it’s what my dad (deceased now for more than 12 years) would have wanted. But more so, what God wants us to do.
    Thanks, Brandy, for the light into your family’s lives. I’ve really enjoyed getting to know all of you.

  45. Hello Brandy! Thank you for such a lovely respite for us all in blog land! I have really appreciated your blog over the past several years and your growing family. Oh! and all of the wonderful ladies and men who have commented. I have learned quite a bit in my early senior years. LOL! Anyway, I was wondering if you had considered trying to compost any used paper from the childrens schooling using some of the worms you are purchasing? I have seen others do this and it appears the droppings from the worms result in rich soil. Of course who knows how much is produced and how long this takes. God bless you and your family Brandy.

    1. I plan to do this. I’m waiting for it to cool down enough for my worms to be safely shipped.

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