The weather is beautiful here. I’ve never experienced such a cool April in Las Vegas, and it’s made working outside extra enjoyable. It’s also saving us money as we have not needed to run the ceiling fans or the air conditioners yet.

I cut flowers from the garden for the house.

We celebrated a daughter’s birthday at home with her choosing her favorite meals (limited to what we had on hand). I had a gift for her that I had ordered online that thankfully came in time. We took the day off school and everyone played different board games with her. We made brownies (a family tradition that we do for most birthdays) and lemonade popsicles from our lemons.

I sowed seeds in the garden for lettuce (in a shady spot), green onions (from ones I had collected from our garden in the past), Swiss chard (from ones I had collected from my garden), and chives.

I harvested lemons, snow peas, chives, parsley, and green onions from the garden. Several of my parsley plants are now going to seed, so I cut leaves to dry to use throughout the year. I wash the parsley and set it to dry on a cooling rack on top of a half-sheet pan for a few days on top of the microwave while it air dries.

I watched Call the Midwife and World on Fire for free on and Star Trek: Picard from CBS for free.

I received two pounds of sour cream, two heads of romaine lettuce, and tomatoes this week from a grocery store clerk in exchange for the masks I made last week.

My mom called me and said a friend of hers had a huge bag of frozen chicken tenders (about 10 pounds frozen in one solid chunk) and my mom wondered if I wanted some of it. I said yes, of course! I defrosted the bag and split it with my mom, leaving a bag of pieces on her back patio after walking through our shared back gate. The woman also brought over two frozen turkey breasts; my mom asked for a few slices back whenever I cook them.

When my father-in-law died last year and his things were divided, we inherited his propane grill. My sister-in-law, who had been living with my father-in-law, told us the grill was broken. My husband looked at it this week, expecting to need to order a part, and discovered the propane tank was completely empty. He hooked up a tank we had and it worked perfectly fine! He cleaned it up and grilled chicken for us. This is the right time to grill food, as the weather is pleasant; standing outside when it’s 113 degrees on a summer evening isn’t the right time in my opinion!

We enjoyed an alfresco meal one evening in the backyard.

Meals and snacks this week included ham and eggs; oatmeal; leftover soups; pumpkin chocolate chip bread; grilled chicken with corn and homemade baked beans; salad with balsamic orange vinaigrette; tomato bullion rice and black beans with salad; grilled chicken and pasta salad (made with canned black olives, grated carrots, and snow peas, green onions, oregano, and parsley from my garden along with my Italian dressing); tacos with turkey and beans; French toast; Museum Pasta Salad; eggless chocolate cupcakes (for snacks); taco soup; grilled chicken with corn (canned) and salad; popcorn; quesadillas and salad.

I am substituting some older home-canned applesauce in place of half the oil in muffins and cakes to stretch the oil, use up the applesauce, and increase the nutrition of baked goods.

I am also making it a point to use up beauty samples and some travel toiletries that my parents gave us from their past travels. I used a hotel soap for myself, some hotel shampoo as bubble bath for my two youngest, eye shadow from a bonus gift with purchase from years ago, and anti-wrinkle cream from a bonus gift-with-purchase, also from years ago.

The children played outside, drawing with sidewalk chalk (I broke out a new package that I’ve had for a few years), swinging on our swings, riding their bikes, jumping on the trampoline, and playing soccer in the backyard.

I ordered some needed herbs from San Francisco Herb Company. I included a couple of things that I normally purchase locally for less, but that I cannot buy right now (I believe bulk bins are not supposed to be used currently, and Sam’s Club’s website said they were out of the item I would have bought from there). With all the comments last week about being prepared to can this summer and canning lids already being sold out in places, I ordered mustard and celery seed for making pickles and relish from them as well. I know prices are going up everywhere and there are shortages, so I wanted to mention this company (whom I have ordered from before) as a possible source for items for those who are looking to buy bulk herbs.

My husband went to buy gas for the first time in a month and it was $1.97 a gallon. I read this past week that Nevada is one of the highest-priced states for gas (in the top 5). This price was shockingly low for us, when just a few months ago it was $3.59.

Since he was getting gas at Sam’s Club and he saw no lines outside the store, he called me and asked if I wanted him to pick up some things. That was our first trip to buy food since March 12th. The store was out of toilet paper (but we’re still okay here for a while) and flour was limited to one bag, but he was able to get several other things for us without a problem. He wore the mask I had made for him.

My husband rearranged and reorganized part of the garage. I hope that I can get to some organizing as well once I have everything settled in the garden!

I really appreciate the global perspective from my readers. No matter where you are in the world, please join in the comments below to tell us what you’re doing to save money right now!

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  1. I really like the photo with the bees (or whatever species they are). I enjoy watching nature do its thing 🙂 Gas here has gone down to around $1.13/gallon. This has lowered my husband’s driving expenses, and we’re thankful for that. We also heard State Farm, our auto insurance company, is giving a 25% credit to customers so that will be a blessed and unexpected benefit. Other savings this week:
    *Accepted free things from family members: a stand up freezer; 4 half-gallon jars; several pounds of locally raised ground beef; repurposed plastic containers for my husband to use in organizing the screws, etc in his workshop.
    *Planted more lettuce and radish seeds and also planted thyme, parsley, and bee balm seeds.
    *Searched for parts for my husband’s table saw and found some in stock with free shipping at at a cheaper price on eBay.
    We had a lovely week! More fun details on my blog

    1. Jenny read on your blog your glasses were steaming up when wearing your mask. I am a nurse. The wire will help. If you clean your glasses with shaving cream they don’t fog up!

      1. Julie, cleaning my glasses with shaving cream did not keep mine from fogging up! I cleaned my lens with the shaving cream, rinsed them off with water and let the lens air dry, but they still fogged up when I wore them. Then I tried to process but gently dried my lens with a soft cloth, they still fogged up! If you have been successful with this method please tell us exactly how you did it. Having to wear a mask and having my glasses fog up is aggravating. Thanks, Penny S.

      2. Thank you, Julie! I will definitely be trying the wire to see if it will help enough for me to wear them in a shopping trip. If you have a tip for Penny’s question, please let us know!

    2. jenny… and I guess Penny…

      rain x (for cars )will help with your glasses fogging up but if you tuck the mask UNDER the bottom of your glasses they won’t fog up as bad if at all. I wear a mask for years in the gardens under my glasses and don’t have much issues

      1. Juls, thanks for the RainX tip. I will be looking into that. I tried wearing my the 2 masks I’ve tried under the edge of my glasses but still had the fogging issue My homemade mask might work better with a wire and under my glasses so I’ll try that too.

      2. I read a little tip today about the eye glass fogging and it said if you put a tissue under your glasses over your nose that helps to absorb the moisture from your breathing. Haven’t tried it yet.

    3. I live in England. I was reading about the price of gas (petrol to us) and was taken aback at how low the price is. Here we buy petrol by the litre which is about a pint and three quarters (UK pints). Last time we bought some before the lockdown, we were surprised that the price had dropped. We paid £1.17 per litre. That is roughly four times what you are paying!

      1. Yes. We buy gas by the gallon. A gallon is 4.4 liters. I remember being shocked at the price of gas in Geneva, Switzerland when I lived there.

  2. Beautiful pictures as always Brandy. This morning we went out and grocery shopped for our daughters grandparents as they have nobody in town who can help. We did a 6 foot visit with some friends yesterday in their backyard. Washed the car and picked up a couple of grocery items for ourselves too. The weather is finally perfect here and lovely for bike riding. We continue to be fortunate to collect some govt funds( Can and USA) as we both lost our PT jobs. I cut DH’s hair on the back deck the other day-took a page out or your book Brandy. He showed a pic to his sis who said-was she mad at you when she cut it?-which was pretty funny. Actually it looks just fine but shorter than his last cut in Feb. We saved the cost of a cut plus the hassle of a trip to urgent care as he had an allergic reaction to something at the salon last time.

  3. Yesterday was sewing, sewing , sewing . Another 30 masks out the door. I’ll be cutting out more today. I am nearing 300 masks that I’ve made up. It’s funny though that my drawers of fabric still look full even after this!

    But the nicest things were that one of our daughters stopped over to get a bed frame we brought down from our attic to give her. Her 15 year old son had been on a bed for over 10 years with a frame that was actually about 60 years old and it finally broke. It was a Win-win because she got a free bed frame (she’s a single mom working full time with 2 teen boys and a daughter home from college right now and money is always tight!) and we got to declutter something from the attic AND have a nice in person social distanced visit with her for an hour in our parlor! Virtual visits are nice but oh, how we loved the in-person visit more!
    Their was a friend from Church whose 2 you did single adult sons are back home due to COVID and she asked if anyone had a dresser. Voila! Between one of our 3rd floor guest rooms and our basement , we were able to give her 2! Plus we had another wonderful socially distanced in person visit in our parlor while her boys were loading up the dressers (and actually an extra hour after that! ??)
    Visit #3 came from the friends who had given us the 160 pounds of wheat a couple weeks ago. They brought us more grains and legumes- soy beans, oats, barley, etc that we will use here and also pass on to some of our daughters to add to their food storage.
    We visited with them outside in the inner courtyard in front of the front porch while our son and their daughter unloaded the buckets. We had offered to go to their house to load and pick up these buckets, but they said they looked forward to an outing to be able to visit (at a social distance) with friends!
    While we were in the parlour with our daughter, someone in a bike helmet came up on our front porch. I was confused because we didn’t have anything there for porch pick-up. It was a former neighbor that we haven’t seen in 3 years. He’s the one who linked us to the permit process to get our chickens! Before we had chickens we would trade my homemade wheat bread for their eggs. He and his wife divorced but he moved into a house still in our neighborhood.
    He dropped off a paper lunch bag with his name and a note to check our email. In the bag was a small jar of honey! In the email, he told us that he has had bees for almost 3 years and he thought of us to share a bit of his honey! Brought tears to our eyes at the thoughtfulness!

    This pandemic is helping us treasure those connections we have with others and notice how simple acts of kindness mean so much!! All in all, a very good day!
    I made apple muffins from my jars of DIY apple muffin mix. I added 1 cup of salted caramel chips and 1/2 cup of chopped walnuts to the batter. Oh, my goodness! The house smelled so good that Hubs and son both came down from second floor bedrooms! I’ve been “rotating” my muffin mixes a lot this past few weeks so I will be making more and vacuum sealing them in quart jars. The exciting thing is that as I was rearranging my basement storage, I found another #10 can of dehydrated apple slices so I can chop some in the food processor and use them in the muffin mix! We may need to find a post-COVID 19 diet after this is all past because our pantry/food storage has been TOO well stocked!! Lol!
    I made IP Mongolian Beef which only used 8 ingredients (and none of them were “unusual “ ingredients that I don’t normally have in the house! ) The family agreed that they like it better than Mongolian beef from restaurant! It got filed into our family “Tried and True Instant Pot Recipes” board on Pinterest! Whenever any of my 7 daughters try a new IP recipe, if it is a new family favorite, they pin it to that board so the rest of us know that it passed muster! ? Time saver for the rest of us!
    Hubs and son have taken over a lot of the kitchen duty while I’ve been mask-making. They have even been baking cookies! They are enjoying their newly learned skills! Definitely an up-side to Stay at Home!
    Stay well, everyone! Sadly, this is not over.

  4. How lovely for you to have cool weather!
    When I was little, I would watch my Mom make angel food cake and could never understand how turning the tube pan upside on a bottle of 7-Up after it was baked would somehow add to the flavor. Dad gave me her pan and with an (old clearance) angel food cake mix, and the electric mixer they gave me thirty some years ago for Christmas, I am going to make one for my birthday tomorrow. I don’t have any glass pop bottles, though, so I will have to cool it on something else. Berries are 99 cents a (tiny) carton this week, instead of close to $3, and I will use those for topping.
    I believe it is also Brandy’s birthday this week, and I wish you all happiness and many thank for your gracious work creating this online community!

      1. Happy birthday, Brandy! You share the date with my friend, Heather, which puts you (and her) in mighty fine company!

  5. First time writing. I’ve following you for awhile now that school are shut down I have more time My husband and I have started are garden. We planted seed in a small green house. I am trying to grow more this year.

  6. What a beautiful bouquet!
    I hope your daughter had a lovely birthday – brownies and lemonade Popsicles sound delicious!
    We, too, have had beautiful weather here in Minnesota – weather we normally see the beginning of May. I have greatly enjoyed getting out in my garden this past week and getting things ready for planting in about a month. Depending on the weather, I may plant the beginning of May rather than the middle. We shall see.
    We are all continuing to work mostly from home and school from home online. It is exhausting! Still, I am so grateful we have the opportunity. I know many do not have a paycheck coming in how much less two.
    One perk of being on stay-at-home orders is that I purchased a tank of gasoline for my sedan on March 13. I have been driving so little that I have half a tank left! I typically use 1 1/2 tanks per week, so this is huge! My husband has cut down his usage too but he does have to go in to work three days per week and I only go in once.

    Here are the things I did this week that were frugal:

    Thank you so much for all you to make our lives so much better with this site, Brandy! I greatly appreciate it.

    1. Lea,
      I’m debating when to plant things like tomatoes, as well, due to the early spring we are experiencing here in my part of Oregon! I’m thinking about planting a couple of weeks early, too. It is just so unseasonably warm!

  7. A tornado ripped through my home town on Easter Sunday, so this has been anything but an ordinary week for us! Praise God, our street was spared and only lost power and one neighbor lost a huge branch off of one of his trees, but it could have been so much worse! Just within walking distance, there are houses where trees fell on them and left huge chunks of roofs missing. A couple miles away, neighborhoods were flattened and several people lost their lives. Needless to say, we feel very, very blessed to all be here alive and well, and our house untouched except that we lost power for about half of the week.
    I wrote a blog post on my blog detailing some of my savings from the past couple of weeks. If you are interested, you can read it and see pictures here:

    Some of the things that I found to do were:
    *I bought some strawberry plants on clearance for .36 cents
    *I started some tomatoes and other things for our garden from seeds that I already had.
    *We had some beautiful weather, so I took a chance and planted my tall tomatoes and some other things outside in the garden. Then, as luck would have it, our weather turned cold again, but I covered them with canning jars to create mini greenhouses. That is a trick I learned from you, Brandy, so “Thank you!”
    *My daughter has continued with her music lessons by Zoom.
    *I came down sick, and had a doctor’s visit by Zoom. My doctor is waving the normal co-pay with Zoom appointments, so while it isn’t a perfect way of having a doctor visit I was grateful I didn’t have to pay the $25 co-pay!
    *I had to make a trip to Walmart to pick up a RX, and while there anyway I went through the garden area looking for veggie plants. I did not find any that I wanted to pay the prices for—and there were not very many that looked good, but I DID find a beautiful yellow rose marked down on clearance for $4.22, so I bought it for myself as get-well flowers!

    More details, plus pictures, over on my blog at:
    Looking forward to reading what others are doing—I learn so much!
    Writing from Chattanooga, Tennessee

    1. Susan, we live in Sparta, TN, about an hour and a half from you, and my husband and son were chainsawing to clear roads in Chattanooga that morning. I’m glad you were ok! It’s certainly a mess thete.

      1. Thank you to your family for coming over to help our neck of the woods! It is very much appreciated! There are still roads that are impassable, and people without electricity restored. Just so sad. The virus and people losing jobs is bad enough, but to lose your house as well just seems to be a breaking point for many!

  8. We’re doing fairly bad in frugality terms. We’re are stuck in a one room company accommodation in a new city we’re transferring to. We both have a job thankfully bit it’s tricky n managing insane work demands with a toddler. Screen time has become a thing for our household. They’re ate benefits top this situation though, some one cooks breakfast fogger us and cleans the room. There is thankfully enough space for the toddler to run around.

  9. About three years ago, my apartment complex allowed residents to re-purpose lawn into vegetable gardens. With permission, I expanded my veggie plot by removing even more sod. My plot is now almost doubled in size. I’ve planted the cool weather crops and some have started to germinate.

    Your story of the BBQ reminded me of towing a car into the mechanics because it wouldn’t start. It was out of gas, too.

    1. I remember several years ago I almost called for a tow truck as I could not shift my car’s lever (the type that’s in the middle not on the steetwheel). I tried several times, was just going to call them and noticed a quarter had fallen into that space laying there stopping that shifter from going all the way back. Had a good laugh. Would have been embarrassing and costly ha!

  10. I was out of money for the last two weeks of the month. This has happened several times since my income changed in the new year, and I stopped receiving any income other than at month end. I have been finding it very stressful, and don’t seem to pace my spending to allow for anything to spare. I’m going to start a new budget which moves one income stream into savings when I receive it at month end, and then moves it back into my checking account on the 15th. That will give me a “payday” then, which will cover one bill, give me money for groceries, and some for general spending. I’ll track this for a couple of months, and see how that works.

    The new budget also allows more for spending on groceries, because the rest of my budget has worked a little in my favor.

    This month I was very fortunate that someone I had helped out a little when he was going through a rough time last August, returned the money to me, giving me $30 (Cdn.) that I put towards groceries and cat food. It was a gift not a loan to him, so this was a very pleasant surprise.

    I made bread this week, and a big pot of poultry broth from one of the bags of poultry bones gifted to me earlier in the year. I have quite a lot of pasta, so I can make a filling soup. Still three bags of soup bones in my fridge freezer: two of my own, and one more of the bags gifted to me.

    The foot of snow has disappeared from the front yard now, and the levels in the backyard are retreating as well. I have to get organized for doing yard work very soon.

    1. Elizabeth,

      My husband has a sale and we often need it to last two to three months. I find it helpful to budget three months at a time. I have all of the bills for three months in a Google spreadsheet (which is free to use). Then I can see how much I need for each thing. I round up on utilities to be prepared for a higher bill, just in case, but I do adjust it seasonally. I can then add up the totals for the months and make sure we don’t go over. I budget a set amount for groceries and one for other items (clothing, household goods, garden, etc.). Once that money is gone, I don’t buy anything else that month. I subtract what I’ve spent for groceries after going shopping so that I know how much I have left for the month.

      1. Brandy,
        I really like your approach of budgeting three months at a time, which seems reasonably predictable. I have been doing a monthly budget, but I think I will set it up for longer.

        I don’t mind having a few days at the end of the month where there is nothing left in the budget to spend. I actually find it quite peaceful to focus completely on other things, and have no errands to do. I do need to fix this newer issue of having two whole weeks every month without funds though, so I hope this plan to create an artificial payday helps me with that.

      2. Brandy can you do a post just on how you budget? I have 3 families that are large like yours and they are struggling. None have internet so they can’t ready your blog

        1. I will see what I can do. This whole not knowing when we’re going to have money thing is pretty much my normal life! Sales jobs are like that.

    2. Elizabeth,
      A few years ago my husband came across a method where you take a calendar page (or just a grid drawn on paper that you write the dates on) and then write in all the things you know you need pay on each day of the month. Then you write in what you earn and what you spend, with a total each day. Then you can easily see what you have and what you still have coming up to pay.
      This is the method my husband prefers and we use it for the discretionary categories in our budget – it’s made everything work so much easier!

      1. This is what I have been doing, and it works very well for me for bills and for predictable expenses like prescriptions and cat food. It was especially helpful when I had many small checks coming in all through the month, and many payments going out. It is just the general spending in the last half of the month, I just don’t seem to keep the money around (household, run out of necessary food item, the cats eat more than usual, the ice scraper for the car disappears). Trying the same approach again and again isn’t working, so I’m going to try something a little different.

    3. We also have a variable income and I do what you are suggesting — except we put everything in savings and have an automatic transfer to checking on the 1st and 15th of the amount we have budgeted for. We have done this for years and it works well for us. I hope it works for you, too.

    4. Elizabeth—My husband is paid once a month. I recommend a free budgeting app from Dave Ramsey. He does a zero based budget where you spend every dollar on paper ahead of time. You then follow those numbers or you have to make adjustments. It works great. We use YNAB which is similar.

  11. The garden bouquet is so lovely, soft and springlike. I caught up on reading here yesterday, and learned about the canning lids being sold out. I’m glad I asked my husband to pick a few boxes up some weeks back. I think we should be OK. I enjoyed watching Call The Midwife and 1940’s House last week, thanks to comments here. Asparagus, oregano, parsley and rosemary were harvested. More seeds were planted, as well as all the dye plants I had wintersown. To mend a couple of holes in a tote bag, I used scraps of fabric I had dyed with goldenrod, and stitched some designs on them. The soles of my favorite pair of slippers started falling apart, so I made them new soles with some leather I had thrifted last year. I spent lots of time in the kitchen, cutting up the last several pumpkins, canning vegetable broth, making pastry for a squash galette, making pumpkin bars, etc. Grated tromboncino was pulled out of the freezer, and zucchini tots made. Pesto from the freezer was used for another meal. I’m so looking forward to seeing what everyone has been up to!

    1. I’m so glad you watched and enjoyed 1940s House! (I’m the one who mentioned that.) I have rewatched it so many times.

  12. Good for your husband for troubleshooting the problem with the gas grill. I’m sure it is not the first time that lack of fuel has been the culprit! I’ve always thought that most of the grills you see dumped mostly just need a good cleaning!

    It has been a boring week (but as I used to tell my kids, there are worse things than being bored) and with few opportunities to $ave. This was my week–
    * I sold a computer desk for $40. We had moved it to the garage and managed to stay socially distanced when the buyers came.
    * We saved 10% on an interior door because of very slight damage to one corner of the door. Then we cut off that end to make it fit!
    * I cleaned the sole plate of my iron with a paste of baking soda and water. No, I don’t iron (I’m not THAT bored), but I do occasionally press something. First time I’ve cleaned that iron in at least 15 years!

    I have played pinochle every week for 10 years with 3 other girls (we range in age from 69 to 79 and we can call ourselves girls if we want!). Last Friday, we got tired of not seeing each other. We were OK with not playing pinochle, but we each brought our own lawn chair and drink and sat 8 to 10 feet apart in Linda’s garden to visit. We’re going to do it again this week, too!

  13. Thanks again for the encouragement.
    We saved money by mainly being able to stay in.
    I did make a run to the store to get a few items for a birthday- one son turning 13 this week.
    Our gas here has been a little cheaper, but we live in the second most expensive town in our state. Other places across our state are running .89 -$1.49. My husband still filled up our tank when he went for PT
    We had some friends give us a huge box of food- cereal, raisins, cheese, corn, sausage, celery & more.
    My favorite thing this week has been working in my garden! I planted more lettuce, spinach, and carrots. I saw my broccoli really take off on growing. My squash & peppers are growing well in my temporary greenhouse. I hope to start tomatoes & more soon
    We are blessed here!!

    1. I cannot even imagine gas that cheap! I am very happy if it even gets down towards the $2 mark–like $2.39 would be a great price. We have one of the highest gas rates in the country here–but I didn’t know how low others could get it for! I haven’t bought any for a while, I guess I should get excited when it’s time to go–who knows what the price will be? :).

      1. Becky, you would not like to buy gas here then, as I saw it was down to .99 cents per litre and was celebrating, it had been $1.39 ltr.
        (one litre approximately 1 quart) so approx. $4. per gal Canadian. I can never totally understand the constant changing of gas prices from one week to the next, even with a volatile market. stay well everyone, ann lee s, Vancouver Island, BC, Canada

        Happy Birthday Brandi, and many more.

  14. Hello Everyone! As always, reading Brandy’s post and everyone else’s contributions brightens my day 🙂 We again accepted five days of breakfasts and lunches from my son’s school. My husband borrowed a can of oil to grease the chains on my son’s bicycle. All meals were made and eaten at home. We continue to save water from warming up the shower and washing dishes to flush toilets. I enjoyed a book I had checked out at the library right before they closed. I received the coffee pods that I had ordered a few weeks ago using a gift card and combining with free shipping. This particular coffee chain’s coffee is normally strong, so I split each pod into two using my re-usable kerig pods. So now instead of 10 pods, I will have 20. I ordered and received a package of micro fiber towels. I will be using these instead of paper towels and/or clorox wipes to wipe down the counters in my kitchen and bathrooms using cleaner I already have. I put together an Administrative Professional’s Day gift for my secretary using items I already had on hand. I reused the cellophane and ribbon from my son’s easter basket. I have a card that I had already purchased a month a go to include. I would normally take her out to lunch also, but that will have to wait. I will drop off the gift when i go into my office to swap out files; I go in one a day a week for a few hours to do this weekly. Squeezed several meyer lemons and froze the juice to make lemonade during the summer. I completed a pine cone survey. My husband and I had a zoom cocktail hour (actually it was almost three hours!) with friends. I picked up six home made masks from a neighbor. She would not let me pay her for them (it has become quite the business in area that we live, with some charging as much as $10 per homemade mask!), but said if I wanted to donate money for materials so she could make more, we could do that. I gave her $20. I made a trip to Target and picked up several items. I also bought some Easter items for next year at 70% off. I found a mother’s day gift for my mother in law there. I came home and used the rest of the cellophane from my son’s Easter basket and ribbon to wrap. Our family also had a zoom meeting which was lots of fun! I picked up a disgarded children’s water table from a neighbor who had left it on the sidewalk for anyone who wanted it. I will wash and clean it for my son to use in the back yard during the summer for adventures with his Lego guys 🙂

  15. Forgot to mention, I gave my friend Heather a birthday present–a ham plus $35 in GCs to Home Depot, which I got for participating in my insurance company’s wellness program. She is living on a miniscule income and spending a lot of time re-doing her back garden to accommodate/showcase her late mom’s perennial flowers. I thought she could use the gift cards for gardening supplies.

  16. We moved to a new house recently so this will be my first attempt at a garden. Starting small with 3 raised beds – waste high since kneeling and bending is difficult for us. I will wait until mid May to plant because ur weather is very unpredictable in the Spring. It snowed on Thursday and Friday and was in the 50’s on Saturday and Sunday. My husband grew up food insecure – often went to bed hungry. So it is difficult for him if we don’t go to the grocery store every week. I made a list of all the meals I could make with what we have in our freezer and pantry. He was surprised to see we had enough for at least a month or more. I put the list on the refridgerator so he can see it when he worries. A church friend who raises chickens gifted us 3 dozen eggs. Another church friend dropped by baked good that were a nice treat. Gas here in Indiana is under $1.30 so it was nice to fill up for under $20. I have enough scraps left over from 2 quilts I made for Christmas to make an apron and hot pads as a birthday gift for my mom.

    1. We had wooden raised beds but a few years ago (as they began to fall apart) we began trading them out for large animal watering troughs. You can find them used on Craigslist, although we got two for cheap by taking banged up ones a feed store was selling. We drilled a few extra holes in the bottom for drainage but that was all. They are a perfect height and width, and the metal heats up the soil earlier and hotter (not a minor thing in northern Alaska). And they never discolor or disintegrate. Anyway, you might want to consider watering troughs for future raised beds.

      1. I have an old dryer drum that I use. It’s bronze color metal and heats up well. We put two cherry tomatoes in it. Our garden is on our back acre so can’t be seen from the road. We also have tomatoes in old metal garbage cans. We are in our mid to late 60’s so our desire is function over from. It is eclectic to say the least. My lettuce is in an old animal trough. There is an empty give acres behind out house so privacy is assured

        1. I use old bookshelves turned on their sides. Plus lots of big pots I got for free. It isnt pretty but it works. Plus the dog doesn’t dig in them.

      2. I’ve been looking at the watering troughs with the thought of using them for garden beds. We started our first garden last year with the lowest budget we could manage. We had to spend the first $ on a fence to keep out our domestic and wild animals so nothing was left for beds. We have no topsoil and only rocks so we have to do raised beds. We used tires. It’s actually working pretty well as containers, although it is definitely not going to win any beautiful garden awards! lol

    2. Diana,
      Having 8 adopted children who were not babies when we got them, I’ve spent a lifetime dealing with people with food insecurities. It’s real. They can’t help the feelings they have. You are wise to acknowledge it. Your idea of a list is great. Here are a few more things we’ve done over the years, some of which we stumbled on by accident, but found they helped. (again, we did these for children, not adults, and every family is different, so use what ever idea works for you and ignore the rest):
      1. Preserve everything you can get your hands on–it makes for full shelves and freezers
      2. Show that food to the child at every opportunity, and talk about how much is there. Long ago, I remember my husband turning a small child upside down so she could see how very much food was in our chest freezer–she wasn’t tall enough to see on her own, and he made a silly game from it–but it helped when she saw inside there…
      3. Buy in bulk. Again, point out verbally the large bucket of beans, etc., and mention that it was purchased for them, knowing how much they loved refried beans, (or whatever it is).
      4. Cook up a bunch of the bulk food and fill the fridge with bowls of things like rice, beans, soup, etc. if it’s getting bare in there. Some of my kids were very affected by bare shelves.
      5. Always have food they can have at any time. For us, it’s home-canned fruit. We have always been blessed with family members who grow fruit, so I have always canned a tremendous amount. But, truthfully, just knowing they could get it any time was enough for most of them. They didn’t overeat it.
      6. I had one child that would ask every single night if we were having breakfast in the morning for the longest time. It did change to “What’s for breakfast in the morning” after a few years. So, yes–I have always made sure there were regular mealtimes–3 a day–even if it wasn’t fancy. Now, with just Rob, myself and Patsy left at home, I’m a little lazy–I may just announce that it’s dinner time, and tell people what they can choose from, and they often get their own. Food just lasts so much longer with only 3 of us–so many leftovers:).
      7. Grow everything you can. Eat what you can, preserve the rest. There’s just nothing like 3 huge buckets of green beans to scream, “we have plenty!”

      Hang in there. I’m glad you could make a menu. I’ve done that as well, and even posted it in the past. Certain kids just needed to know.

      1. Becky, reading about your children and their food insecurities almost made me weep. Imagine, a child asking you for years if there will be breakfast the next day.

        1. Becky, I too have adopted (4 ) children and every day for years one would ask when dinner was, and what was dinner, and hide food in her room. Still 2 of them stock ample snacks in their rooms and cars. I doubt it will ever truly go away.

      2. So sad. I wept when I read this, though you’ve wonderful ideas about helping your kids feel like there’s enough.

        I haven’t had food insecurity for long periods, but I know if things are tight at the end of the month, I will move food items from storage to my main kitchen cupboard so that it looks full, and I will make up food like muffins and soup and pancakes so that there is food I can eat rather than ingredients. It calms me to be able to see the abundance.

      3. Becky, thank you. I have food insecurity as I grew up and went hungry a lot. I was only allowed to have bfast when my Daddy was home, don’t even bother to think about lunch time any time as even Daddy only ate twice a day on weekends. In Mother’s mind it stretched the food if her and I didn’t eat. She went hungry as a child herself. When I was an adult they were shocked at some of the food I grew like leather britches beans and drying food on the tin roof when I lived as an adult in my childhood home

      4. Becky, what a wonderful post. I’m going to use some of these on my four kids. They swear we have *no* food but I’ll swear every cupboard and fridge and freezer is so full you can’t see the back edge.

    3. My in-laws did foster care for a while and they were given the suggestion of posting the meals for the week on the refrigerator (similar to what you did). They also were given the suggestion to have their charges help plan the meals, giving them an idea of how much food they really had. Their foster children were older, so that was helpful.

      My Dad grew up during the 1930’s and always talked about being hungry all the time. He grew 6 inches after taking a live-in job in high school working for a bachelor neighborhood farmer who had plenty to eat. For him the turning point was realizing how much food he really needed. Once he had a firm grasp on how much was really needed, it became much easier. Right now, my Mom lets him do the grocery shopping since that helps calm his fears of going hungry; typically she does the weekly shop and he goes and gets little things between (a gallon of milk, a loaf of bread, etc.). He keeps asking if we have enough – I started sending him a copy of our menu plan for each week.

      A wise friend said, enough is the opposite of too little. That’s true but our emotional selves have such a hard time recognizing that!

    4. Diana, I also am food insecure except that I think it is normal. I didn’t realize I had a problem until my adult sister looked in my kitchen pantry and announced we are food hoarders due to the way we were raised. She and her husband were in the military, moved often, and helped other friends pack. After seeing many people’s pantries, she realized we are excessive. She said we store way too much food and it is an emotional problem. After thinking about it a while, I told her I like being able to feed an army at the drop of a hat. It is a skill that has served me well over the years plus my fully stocked pantry has been a lifesaver during this difficult time. I think I like being dysfunctional.

      1. I think you will find that it is a blessing right now and in the months to come.

        1. Brandy, thank you for the encouragement. Everything is going to get worse, much worse before it gets better; however, feeding my family is one of the few things I don’t have to worry about.

      2. Jeannie, I think it is dysfunctional only if you eat unhealthily or if the food goes to waste because it isn’t used!
        I saw a study once that said children in food insecure homes are asked by their parents “Did you get enough to eat?” after a meal, whereas children in food secure homes are asked “Did you like your food?”

  17. Hi Brandy, as usual, I cannot believe how much you get done! I also live in Vegas and wonder about your Swiss chard, do you have it in full sun or sun/shade? I grew som bright lights last year, pretty full sun and really only got small leaves. I have fordhook giant this year.

    1. I think the Fordhook giant makes much bigger leaves! I have mine mostly getting afternoon shade, but I have had it in full sun before without a problem. It just depends on where I have some growing at the moment.

  18. Pumpkin chocolate chip bread sounds good! We are gardening too. Asparagus just started to pop out of the ground today. Maybe by evening I can pick some. I have been opening windows and enjoying fresh air. We use the internet to find new recipes. I have been cooking indian recipes. Sometimes making up my own recipes using indian spices, veggies and beans.
    We dug out some books we have meant to read and never got around to and started reading. I have been turning off lights. Enjoying sunshine. We ate out in our driveway and just enjoyed the weather one evening. We are surrounded by land so sitting in our driveway is a pretty place to watch the sunset. We accepted some potatoes and chips. I started to record a song on garageband. I enjoy making up songs. I want to record my husband and my son and I may do some recording as well. Played piano for entertainment.
    We ordered Nanking cherry bushes to put in our yard. I’ve never tasted Nanking cherries. My husband says they are very good. I’m looking forward to trying some. It is pretty windy today so we may plant more seeds tomorrow. I am enjoying listening to the birdsong outside of my kitchen window. It rained earlier but now the sun is shining. Just enjoying the beautiful day today.

    1. Hi Tammy,

      Great idea to plant some Nanking cherries — they make lovely jelly but an important use I discovered is that they are cross-pollinators for plum trees (if the variety of plum tree is in bloom when the Nanking cherries are!). Depending on how far north you are, you might try some of the sour cherries such as Romeo, Juliet, Passion, Cupid, and Evans. Many of these were developed at the University of Saskatchewan and are cold hardy. Also, do you have any nut trees? Nuts would be a good source of protein for you.

      1. Thanks Ann,
        We have two plum trees. One seems to be blooming now the other looks to be dormant still, or dead. I didn’t know that they are cross pollinators. That is good to know. We did talk about getting pecan trees and walnut trees. We haven’t done it yet. I need to do a little research. I am not sure when I need to plant nut trees. It might be something we will do next year. Be Well!

      2. Thanks for the information. We have relatively mild, wet winters here at sea level on the Pacific Northwest coast, so fruit trees are not frozen out and killed in the winter like they are in the high altitudes of Northeastern Nevada where I have lived before, but we have late spring frosts that keep the trees from having any fruit, and we have cool, frequently rainy/cloudy summers. I have been looking for any sources for fruit or nut trees that bloom late and will produce fruit in spite of cool summers. In recent years, summers have had some hot weather, into the 80s and 90s, but usually if we get a few weeks in the 70s F, we are doing good. I probably also need to find disease resistant varieties, too. The prices of fruit from the orchards in Oregon’s Willamette Valley and up the Columbia River Gorge have gotten so high, and gas prices have been so high that I have stopped going there for produce. We have one Liberty apple tree that produces well, but it has been damaged and needs to be replaced. We are planning to plant more apple trees, and when they start producing, we will take the damaged tree out. I like the Liberty apples; they are versatile in that when they are first picked, they are sour enough to make decent pies (I think not as good as Jonathans, but better than Braeburns, and definitely better than Granny Smiths), and when they are a little riper, they make great applesauce and are good for eating. They keep for a while in the garage, but I wouldn’t say they are really winter keepers. We have not had to spray for any disease or pests, so I guess you could say our apples are organic. We have not had any scabby or wormy apples, but we have always cleaned up any fallen fruit around the base of the tree and sent it with trash. We have deer that come around, so we do not eat fallen fruit because of possible e-coli problems, and we don’t want it for compost because of the disease/bugs potential. If we had a way to burn outside, we would burn it. Anyway, I would like to learn how to grow more here. Blueberries do really well here, but they need a wire-covered framework surrounding them, or the birds eat them all. Deer and slugs eat everything in sight, and I think raccoons are partly to blame for some of the apple tree’s damage. Maybe a greenhouse would be nice.

        1. What a different climate you have! We have a few weeks in the 70’s which are my favorite time, and then it shoots up into the upper 80’s and 90’s really quickly. Monday and Tuesday here were in the 70’s, and then it shot to 87 on Wednesday and 91 by Saturday (originally predicted for Thursday). We have 5 months of temperatures above 90, and they get up to 118 or more. 110-116 is a normal summer day here.

          I tried to grow a Liberty apple tree for many years, but it never flowered for me, so I took it out. I had read that it was low-chill, but it turns out that it has 800 chilling hours, which we never get, so no flowers for me! This is why I took out my espaliered apples as well. They were not flowering after a decade. I wish I had just gone with ones from the local nursery, but we live and learn! Now I have some more variety and in the end, I have learned a lot.

          Hopefully, your local nursery can give you some good direction on what types do well. Even if they are closed, their website may list good types for your area.

  19. Beautiful pictures, Brandy! I love the one of the bees!

    It has been unusually cool here in the Phoenix area too. Absolutely beautiful weather! I thank God for this every day.

    My accomplishments this week:

    • Used free toiletries, washed ziplocks and foil and used ½ dryer sheets and ran only full loads the in washer and dishwasher during off peak times.
    • Ate dinner in 7 times. We had ham, baked potatoes and broccoli; ham with cheesy potatoes and broccoli; chili with cornbread (twice); pinto beans cooked with the leftover hambone and cornbread; steak, baked potatoes and broccoli; frozen pizza; and salmon, baked potatoes and asparagus.
    • Ate lunch in all 7 days too. We had salad with ham a few days; ham salad sandwiches and leftovers.
    • Only did 2 loads of laundry. Usually we have 3 – 4 loads worth.
    • I cut off all the ham off the Easter ham. I froze some slices in lunch size portions, some in chunks to use in casseroles. I also tried something different for us. I ground up some of it using my Kitchenaid grinder attachment. I used course ground. I used some of the ground ham in the chili I made and we couldn’t tell the difference from when I use ground beef in texture, taste or looks. My husband also made a ham salad sandwich with the ground ham and said it tasted just like chunk ham in the can. Since I got the ham at $1.47/lb I think that is a cheap alternative, even though part of the weight was the bone, but that is ok, because I then used that up in the pinto beans I made. Makes me curious in how it would be with taco seasoning in a taco.
    • Walked for exercise.
    • Continued reading a book my son gave me for Christmas.
    • Our ice dispenser in our refrigerator wasn’t working properly. Hubby fixed it himself.
    • I finally found flour at the grocery store. I had to buy a 20# bag for $11, but I feel much better knowing I have it. I was down to my last 5#.
    • We did a big grocery trip at Costco (wearing masks.) Since grocery stores aren’t really doing very good sales right now, we figured we would stock up on meat since it is bound to go up in price soon and we really love the quality of their meat. We also bought 2 rotisserie chickens, which I cut up and froze in lunch size portions. I put aside 2 thighs and 2 legs for a picnic, which we did on Sunday. We took a drive north to the pines (2 ½ hour drive) to get out of the house. We had a nice lunch by a lake and then drove home. Helped with some of our stir craziness!
    • Used the GetUpside app when we got gas and got back 15c/gallon ($2.05).
    • Sewed 3 more masks for Hubby and myself with fabric I have on hand.

    Have a wonderful, blessed week everyone!

    1. Laurie, I have used the ham bone on 2 pots of beans and found no difference in the taste of my beans. In this sad time we need to stretch our foods as far as we can. I make a hugh amount of beans and freeze it in packages sized to use in one meal. Then I make a second amount of beans with the same bone and freeze that amount again. I’ve not tried it a 3rd time. *smile*

        1. You can reuse chicken bones–or probably any bones–twice as well. Look up “Remouillage.” Basically the first broth is used for soup but the second lighter broth would be great for rice and so forth.

      1. Becky — I do this too! My husband laughed the first time I did it, but he agreed it still adds flavor the second time.
        I also save all ham or pork trimmings in a bag in the freezer and will add these to a pot of beans.

      2. When making broth, I was told to put a small splash of vinegar in to pull the marrow out of the bones.

    2. that ham salad is really good if you roll it in some crepes and put a bit of grated cheese on top. Crepes are so easy to make and if you make a bunch at a time, you can freeze them. It looks like a fancy meal but is really, really easy and cheap to make.

  20. Brandy, thank you so much for mentioning the canning lids. I missed seeing that in the comments. I started checking online and was astonished to see packages of lids that I normally purchase for about $3 for 12 lids selling for $9!. But my local Walmart says they have them in stock, so I ordered some and should be able to pick them up when I am in town tomorrow (we are going for our once a month grocery pick-up and to run some errands.) Oh — and Walmart is selling them for the normal price or less — the regular jar size were only $2.38 a box. I don’t have them in my hands yet, but I am hopeful.

    And here is a disclaimer where I share that I often reuse lids. I know you’re not supposed to, but if they are clean and unbent, I will use them on items I water-bath (not anything that I pressure can.) I’m very careful to check the seals before I store the jars (I remove the rings to store) and after hundreds of jars, I can count on the fingers of one hand the ones that have failed — and that’s usually become some bit of food got stuck under the lid. So, take this with a grain of salt, but if you get desperate, you can try reusing clean, unbent lids. I recommend heating them in a little hot water before you put them on the jar to insure a good seal.

    I made big batches of pinto beans and brown rice in my instant pot. We had some for dinner than night, and I froze the rest in several containers to use for future meals.
    I’m trying to use up some odds and ends we’ve had for a while, in order not to waste anything. So far I’ve turned a partial box of rice cereal and a partial bag of marshmallows into a small pan of rice krispie treats; used a half-box of veggie pasta that was a freebie, a bag of frozen chicken wings (we don’t like chicken wings much), and a pouch of stir-fry sauce that came with frozen veggies to make lo mein that we had for a dinner and a lunch; and turned a cup and a half of semolina flour I’ve had in the freezer for at least a year into ravioli, which was so delicious. I made ricotta cheese from powdered whole milk and lemon juice and used it to stuff the ravioli and froze plenty for a future meal. I think this is going to be a new go-to pantry meal for us.
    A neighbor gave us half a dozen cranberry-orange muffins, which we enjoyed for breakfast. Another neighbor needed yeast and I gave her some, and she later dropped off some cookies and a loaf of bread.
    I finished the T-shirt I was embroidering. It was a plain shirt I’ve had a while. I recut the neckline and narrowed the sleeves as well.
    I planted red, yellow, and red onions. It is still too cold at night to plant anything else.

    1. I’m glad to hear you could get lids. I looked online but didn’t look there! Thanks! I have some reusable lids but not enough.

      1. I, too, reuse canning lids–never for pressure canning, but often for jams and jellies and sometimes for fruits, especially applesauce, which can easily be frozen if the lid fails. But here’s the thing–I’ve never had a reused lid fail! I gather this is fairly common in Europe. If you think you might be willing to try to reuse lids, carefully lift the lids from the food you are using now and save them for possible reuse. The important thing is that the rubber ring part is intact. I use a church key-type opener and I’m gentle about it. Leaving a little dimple in the metal part of the lid has not been a problem as long as the lid isn’t punctured.

        If you have jars with twist-off lids, they can be reused (same caveats as above). They are what I normally use for jam.

    2. If you live in an area where there are Mennonite or Amish stores they sell regular and widemouth lids in bulk. Today I purchased 350 regular lids for 53.00. It comes to about 15 cents per lid. I know that sounds like alot to spend but they last me many years. I finally used up a previous lid purchase I made many years ago. (The price then was 44,00) I also saw 96 lids for 17.50. Probably more reasonable if you don’t can in large amounts.

      From toilet paper, to seeds, to canning lids we have to look outside of our usual sources.
      I purchased bulk popcorn today and the price was 5.00 higher than just a month ago when I priced it.
      I decided to get it before it goes up any higher.

      Brandy thanks for the applesauce idea for baking. I am cringing at how quickly I am going through my staples by baking everything from scratch! My children are constantly hungry!! Growing teens can eat a lot.

      I am also going to look at using bean flour in some of my baking to stretch things further. It has been 5 weeks since there has been flour in the stores here. Sam’s Club has bread and pizza flour in 25lb. bags here so I bought some to experiment with.

      I typically make whole wheat bread but my grinder is not working properly. My son has repaired it before, but he is trying to finish his college courses, so I am making a white and oat flour bread for the time being.

    3. I have reused canning jar lids for years, many times over, for both waterbath and pressure canning. There have been very few that havent sealed, and the contents of those just go in the freezer. Also, my mother-in-law said that years ago there was a year when there were no lids available, and she used any jar whose lid had an inner seal, like pickles and spaghetti sauce jars, and those lids pulled down and sealed, too.

      1. I remember that year, Anne! It was 1975 (or ’76). It was a big mystery why canning lids didn’t seal until it was eventually revealed that Kerr changed their manufacturing process. It was Kerr lids that didn’t seal. Ball lids were fine, but people snapped them up the minute they arrived in stores. I did a lot of freezing that year. Blast from the past–regular mouth lids cost about .39 dozen then.

        1. It was 1975. My grandmother came to visit me and visit her new great-granddaughter. She found 2 boxes of lids in a small store on her way from California to Kansas. I got one; she kept the other.

  21. That’s wonderful about the gas grill. Ours was between 15 and 20 years old, and would have cost my husband almost the cost of a new one in parts to repair it, so he ended up getting a new one this weekend. Hopefully this new one will last as long! We made a little patio area for it using stones we already had.
    I’ve been continuing to organize. Right now I’m working on paperwork. I set up a more simple filing system for myself using supplies I had on hand. I am also going to make one for my husband for the papers he likes to keep stacked on top of his dresser, and one for my grown daughter who lives with us to keep her children’s paperwork organized. I am hoping this will help stop the paper clutter.
    We have been looking for a piece of furniture to use as a coffee bar for months and my daughter found the perfect one. She was able to pick it up from the lady’s porch (for social distancing). The lady lowered the original price and gave my daughter some extra chalk paint as well. It will be fun to set it up and see what we have that we can use to decorate it and store things in.
    I needed very little from the grocery store last week. I will be glad when things start growing in our garden. My spinach has finally come up. I think it may have been too cold when I planted it. I got off track with my menu plan last week. I feel like I use things much more efficiently when I follow my menu plan. Some sliced cucumbers and cooked carrots in our fridge did not get used, but they were a great snack for the chickens. I did freeze some cooked sweet potatoes for later so they did not go to waste. I am back on track with my menu plan for this week. No more waste!
    We were given a bag of boys’ clothing that will fit my grandson this winter. I am always thankful for people willing to share their outgrown children’s clothing!
    I look forward to reading everyone’s posts each week. They are always so encouraging.

  22. My husband and I recently purchased our first home and we are so happy to be going through quarantine with our children in a house with a backyard (instead of a small apartment). This is my first time gardening so I am starting small with just one raised bed. I have planted carrot and lettuce seeds as well as two raspberry bushes next to the bed. I will have to wait until May to plant bean, cucumber, and zucchini seeds due to the temps at night still going down into the 20’s. We saved money simply by being at home. We aren’t driving so we aren’t using gas, although my husband filled our tanks because gas was down to $1.29 a gallon. I’m stretching food as much as possible. A family member gave us money and a few rolls of toilet paper, we decided to use some of the money to shop online sales (80% off) and buy our kids summer clothes. We will save the rest of the money, probably for groceries.

  23. Happy early birthday, Brandi!

    I purchased 2 large bags of composted manure and liquid vitamins for my garden. I didn’t do it the last two years and I am hoping this helps the veggies and herbs grow. I purchased and started some more seeds (strawberry roots,peas, green beans). I also purchased some new garden shears I needed.

    Some meals I made included cheesy scalloped potatoes and ham, ham and bean soup, egg, cheese, and veggie scramble with toast, cheeseburgers and fries.

    I used the online library to exchange and borrow books since the library is still closed.

    My husband had remainder to our house replaced. It was damaged two years ago and progressed to the point it wouldn’t lock anymore. It took awhile to find a good person to do the work for a reasonable amount of money. We will a lot on hearing and as now.

    I moved a small table in my living room to a different wall to put a plant on it.

    Have a good week everyone!

  24. We have been trying to use less food by eating a lot of soups. I make the recipe and then add an extra cup or two of (depending on the soup) water or stock to give us another day’s lunch or dinner out of that pot. Since we are not leaving the house except to buy milk and fresh produce once a week, we are wearing our clothes an extra day or two, thus reducing laundry. We have temps above freezing now but still have hip deep snow in the yard, so gardening is restricted to starting seeds. Most things cannot go into the greenhouse until May 15 and into the ground until June 1, but some items can be started now. And while I have the lights on the germination table, and a little spare room under the lights, I have a pot of scallions and one of basil growing for immediate use. I have both those things outdoors, but they will not be harvestable until July or later, so having a pot inside helps a bit with costs. And I just trim off the scallion greens and basil leaves, so the plants keep sending up more edible shoots and leaves.
    We are doing no driving except that once a week trip, so our tank is still on full after a month! (The store is 2 miles away, but too icy to walk and we are too old to haul tons of bags home even if we were not afraid of falling on the ice.)
    Happy Birthday, Brandy.

  25. It’s cooler there, and warmer here. We both get to be outside more! I spent several hours in the yard and garden this past week. I’m starting to see progress, but have quite a bit to do.

    I came across 2 good acorn squash from last summer’s garden. I cooked them, and then made pumpkin cookies with them, as they did not have much flavor. I used an eggless recipe. They were good.

    My husband is picking up free wood anytime he is out and about for any reason. (We still work–sometimes at our home, sometimes at the home of the kids we help care for). He’s been chopping it up for next year’s firewood–we used 32 cardboard boxes this past winter, and it helped stretch the firewood he’s in no shape to go into the forest and chop right now. Friends have really been generous and cut wood for us, but he likes to do what he can. He’s been able to scavenge wood for projects as well–stakes and trellises for the garden are being made, and he found some treated boards for another raised bed.

    His surgery has been rescheduled for June 29, contingent on the fact that the virus doesn’t not worsen here in Oregon. So, we are hopeful.

    We’ve done some grocery shopping and now are ok for a while again. I’m guessing 2 weeks is likely the longest I can go without shopping for produce, but we will see. It’s too soon to get any produce from the garden, and my husband needs to keep eating lots of it so his weight will be where it needs to be for the upcoming surgery. It’s a battle right now–he can’t exercise any more, since the pool is closed, and he can barely hobble his hip is so bad.

    The garden is coming along, though. Pictures are on my blog:

  26. We have also grilled a few times since the stay-at-home order and it is such a treat! Unfortunately, we ran out of propane and I’m not sure it is reasonable to get it replaced until this thing is over.

    Living frugally from Portland, OR:

    *I used some fresh mint from our garden to put around the window sills where ants were coming in to the kitchen. It worked pretty well to keep them out, but not quite as well as my expensive peppermint essential oil that I’m trying to conserve!

    *I downloaded and printed a free Cards Against Humanity – Family version of their game here We enjoyed playing it as a family but warning – even the family friendly version could be deemed inappropriate, lots of potty humor, etc. I took out a few of the more problematic (for me) cards before we played.

    *I did a free trial subscription to The Great Courses and forgot to cancel before I was charged…..gah!!! I am usually really careful about tracking those things. So I have three months until it will be cancelled and I am determined to get my money’s worth. I took a great writing and gardening class, I plan to take an advanced grammar class, another writing class and an advanced Spanish class and hopefully more!

    *My mom gave me some rhubarb out of her garden. I’m going to freeze some for this summer when I have strawberries as well to make some pies and other treats. I also made these yummy muffins: I only used half the butter because I’m trying to conserve my stash and I thought they still turned out great.

    *My mom also lent me some puzzles and gave me a couple face masks she had made. In return, I dug out her garden bed for her (but I was planning on doing it any way).

    * I planted more seeds to transplant mid-May. I’ve had a few cucumbers sprout but still waiting for my tomatoes and peppers. I bought some more strawberry plants on sale for my strawberry patch and put those into the ground.

    * I’ve been exercising using the Seven Minute Workout app and doing yoga videos from Youtube (my fav is Yoga with Adrienne).

    * I made my own pizza sauce using regular pasta sauce and adding tomato paste and herbs. Maybe that is an obvious hack, but I always just bought pizza sauce in the past.

    * I am (re)learning geometry and physics with my 9th grader to help him finish the school year online. It is kind-of fun.

    * I am going through my retail gift cards (I tend to save them) and spending them all on things I will be able to use in the future. Sadly, no guarantees these places will be able to remain open.

  27. Happy birthday!

    Are those bees on your lemon tree?

    I planted another container with some garden plants. We’ve been hotter, as well as more humid, than usual for this time of year here, so working outdoors is no fun. Still, even if it’s just a little, I want to try to grow some food. We used to grow a big garden, but we can’t handle that anymore.

    I finished re-purposing a big weres starting to look pretty sad after a few years in the same pots. I hope to not have to buy any new flowers for it at all.

    I re-purposed a “permanent” coffee filter as a tea infuser, for my loose leaf rooibos “tea” that we drink a lot.

    I used a credit from selling clothes to ThredUp to get some new tops for work — for when we finally get to go back, that is.

    I took a survey from my health provider, which is tied with the University of Florida, and earned a $10 Amazon gift card. I also volunteered to be contacted about future trials — my kids were in a diabetes trial (a trial for first degree relatives of a Type I diabetic, which they are) for several years, and it was an easy experience and one we felt was worthwhile as a way to help research for that disease.

    Staying at home as much as possible! Best wishes for everyone here.

  28. Hello Brandy,
    Thank you for sharing the meal list, it helped me think of ideas for this upcoming week. I needed inspiration ;). Happy birthday! And did Winter’s wedding turn out okay?

    Our kitchen faucet had come loose, my husband fixed it and changed our water filters. Our expenses have fallen in the past month as we really watch what we are spending. I baked bread, made a batch of cornbread, made a pumpkin pie…along with normal meals. I had gone online to frys (Kroger grocery store affiliate) and done a grocery order pickup, the order wasn’t complete but I was happy to get what I did receive (I didn’t order anything known to be out of stock…). Interestingly they were out of onions! Amazing. I am almost out of baking powder but found a substitute recipe that uses baking soda and cream of tartar. Frys did have cream of tartar, so I am back in the baking business again. I was astonished when I reached into the pantry and saw I didn’t have an extra baking powder…that certainly inspired me to do a deep inventory to make sure I at least know where I am low. And I agree with the comments about increasing prices…I bought a few items at Sam’s club this week and was happy just to be able to get them, price was secondary.

    Arizona seems to have reached its peak so I am hoping the next month should bring bit of normalcy. Good luck to everyone!

    1. Holocene in Az,

      I haven’t bought baking powder in years and just use baking soda and cream of tartar. I don’t make it up ahead, but use the 2+1 ratio in the recipe. Cannot believe it took me so long to do this and it saves so much if you buy cream of tartar in bulk (I would only buy aluminum free baking powder). I use cream of tartar in my favorite scone recipe, so it’s a baking item I keep on hand. I think I found it the same way…ran out and tried to see what I had at home that would sub in.

  29. Happy Birthday Brandy – and what a gorgeous bouquet of flowers! I have finally seen a few flowers here starting to come up – spotted a whole section of bluebells and a few tulips & hyacinths are coming up along the river so it makes my occasional walk a lot more pleasant. I have missed the spring flowers on display at the green houses in Allan Gardens here in the city – they have all been closed and I also love to walk through The Music Garden down by the lakeshore – its always gorgeous. Instead I’ve been watching Youtube videos of garden tours from all around the world.

    I did a big grocery shop last Thursday as I’m going to be very busy with work things this week and it’s probably the first time in years that I haven’t known the final amount within a $ or two when I got to the checkout. I just bought what was available – especially a lot of extra meat. There was plenty of poultry but not a lot of pork and very little beef. I had to be strategic as I have very little freezer space but I managed. Add in a lot of cheese and dairy, along with some more oil, teabags, treats and a ton of fresh fruit & veg and my bill was off the scale! But – if its there now I’ll buy – just in case. It will all get used up so I’ll just spend less over the next couple of months and it will even out.

    I also ordered some masks online – these are not the medical grade ones but are being made by companies, include the nose clip and can be washed and sanitized at home for re-use. As of today it’s a requirement that anyone flying within Canada must wear a face mask and its inevitable that they make it a requirement in more and more places – especially as they start to open things up a bit – hopefully within the next month – we still have 3 weeks to go on last week’s 28 day extension to our lockdown. Since I do have to ride the subway so much it will be handy to have them.

    I did not have to purchase my transit pass for April and won’t buy one for May. I have some money on 2 cards (I keep one for friends who visit the city) so I’ll just use those funds up for the very few trips out that I’ll make over the next few weeks so that will save at least $200 over the two months.

    I haven’t ordered any food to be delivered – there is so much food in my house that it would just be pure laziness and no coffee shops are open during my early morning trips out so have not spent any money on eating out. I did place an Amazon order for some office supplies and a few odds & ends but not as much as I’d originally planned as I was able to get some items at the supermarket. Still no flour or yeast but lots of nuts, dried fruit & chocolate chips for baking! I also ordered a bag of Red Mill cornbread mix as a backup (I do like it will chilli).

    I’d love some flowers for my apt. but the florist shops in the neighbourhood are all closed so I’m hoping that my little supermarket might get some in soon – it tends to be hit or miss. I’ve kept busy with a bit of office work, lots of emails & phone calls, cooking and Youtube. I keep a small bin in the fridge with all the odds & ends that need to be used up so every few days a meal will be an odd combination of things – but its always tasty. I have actually managed to cut back a bit on my eating in this past week – not to save money but to avoid gaining more weight. Trying to get back to my two meals and a snack pattern of eating with lots of fruit && veg. If I bake a few of the neighbours are happy to receive offerings so that keeps me busy but not eating everything!

    Hoping that everyone remains well – stay safe.

    1. Brandy, your flower photos are lovely, as always, and lift the spirit.
      Our house hunting hasn’t been going well. The Spring rush of houses on the market hasn’t occurred here in the Pacific Northwest. We bid on two different houses full price. We are pre approved and have a good credit score but our offers were rejected. There was one house where they accepted our offer but the next day we noticed something the seller hadn’t disclosed. A mentally ill man lives in the house behind and he screams and yells all day! My heart breaks for his caregivers but I just didn’t think that I could live there.
      Two ideas for your mackerel if you haven’t already used it. You could do open faced french tartine sandwich: toasted rustic or french bread covered with smashed mackerel mixed with dijon mustard, tomato, lettuce. I love to make Salad Nicoise often. It is just lettuce, cold cooked potatoes and green beans, tomato, olives with the fish on top. Covered with a oil, mustard and lemon dressing.
      The thing that made me happiest this week is that an 83 year old, distant cousin in England, has survived Coronavirus!! He just left ICU this week where he had been on a ventilator for a month. The doctors and nurses formed an honor guard and cheered him on as they wheeled him to a new ward. He still has much recovery but is fully awake and cognizant. A miracle really, as he is a dear man…very vital and strong. When my husband and I spent time with their family in December, he helped me so much with my family history. It is nice to hear a good story amidst all this sorrow.
      Other than that we are doing all the things everyone else is to save money and entertain ourselves. I love the PBS show, Escape to the Chateau. Also World on Fire.

  30. Brandy, Happy Birthday! I hope it was a special day ! Is Winter’s wedding soon? I know you will be sad to miss it but I am glad there will be a celebration to enjoy down the road.

    I have had a two week quarantine at home after taking care of two of my granddaughters for three weeks. I am going back to work with my elderly care clients and they wanted me to do this. It has been so nice to have this time, the weather has been lovely for gardening and yardwork.m. I hauled 40, 5 gallon buckets of manure from some friends nearby. Now it is ready to plant and will start later this week. I have some seedlings that are near ready and a few plants I got at an outdoor nursery. I see volunteer baby cherry tomatoes that I will transplant once they are bigger.

    We borrowed my SIL’s truck and got a load of mulch for $10. It looks so much better there and will keep the weeds down. I pulled out a dead rose and filled the hole with manure and plan to put a cucumber plant in there. You are inspiring me Brandy, to look in my beds to find empty spots to put in more veggies! I have a partly sunny location I could put in several pots but will need to rustle some up somehow.

    I cooked a chicken and made broth and 5 meals from it. I also cooked some chickpeas and made falafel and used the rest in salads. My daughter gives me her compost several times a week. She is very fastidious, so I sort through it and pull out carrot and celery tops and bottoms to root. She also had a pineapple core and skins, I used it to make pineapple tenache a fermented drink that was delicious. I have a windowsill full of carrots, celery, lettuce and turnips growing greens and rooting. I am all about zero waste and find it so fun to use every little bit of food I can!

    I am pulling lots of weeds and starting two buckets of compost tea. It is amazing how much of our plants we can find multiple uses for!

    Thanks for all your work with photos and writing posts, we are blessed recipients of your labors, Brandy.

    1. Jean, she was married two weeks ago. It was a simple ceremony with a walk to the park and a walk home, just like she wanted!

  31. This last week my husband made a two bucket vermicomposter using all materials we had on hand using this model:
    The composter will provide free fertilizer for my garden this year!
    I planted several seeds in the garden this week, including cucumbers, squash, carrots and many herbs- and will be transplanting 70 tomato plants and 40 pepper plants on wednesday, all of which I started from seed. We are having a huge garden this year. I used leaf litter from our woods to till into the garden a few weeks ago to assist with fertilizing the soil.
    Instead of putting my seed starting 4 tray greenhouse back in the shed like I normally do after planting, I’m going to keep it out and start 4 trays of lettuce, and begin growing lettuce indoors, sowing one tray per week for succession harvests for the foreseeable future.
    Made everything from scratch this week, including dressings, all bread products, etc. Also made a spreadsheet to track all of my food storage as well as set goals for where I want to be. I have a budget to bolster our storage and if I can come under budget, I plan to purchase a rain barrel for garden watering. So far I’m under budget!
    My mother in law gifted us homemade masks and some farm fresh eggs. In return my husband does work on her property, and I occasionally bake her favorite dessert.
    Thanks for the tip on the herb website, I will check it out!

  32. Brandy, I’m glad that your husband could “fix” the grill. The weather is finally turning warmer here and I hope that the snow we got last week will be the last. I am waiting for lilacs to come in the mail, as well as elderberries and roses. I need to replace a few blueberry bushes from a local nursery and remember to baby them a bit more the first year. We put fresh compost from our kitchen and yard onto our veggie gardens. I’m so glad we have this free source of fertilizer. I am planting potatoes, onion, lettuce, spinach, cabbage, and maybe carrots this week. I need to repot my tomato seedlings into bigger pots as I don’t plant them in the garden until 5/31.

    I split several perennials and then replanted the splits for more free plants. I love that!

    We ordered a quarter of beef from a local farm to come in June. We used to order a half, but with just two of the boys home most of the time, we aren’t plowing through as much food as we used to. I hurried to get an available spot as with the possible meat shortages, I wasn’t the only one who had that idea. I only got half of what I ordered from the large grocery store this past week. I am going to start making yogurt again as I have had a harder time finding whole milk greek yogurt lately. I usually order all my bulk grains from Azure Standard food co-op, but they had been out of gluten free steel cut oats lately. I happened to find a local farm that was actually growing chemical free gluten free oats and they had steel cut available. They had a delivery up in Milwaukee and were limiting their grains to one 25 lb bag per person, so I was thrilled to find a local farmer that grows organic oats and other ancient wheat varieties.

    We filled our tank with $0.89 per gallon gas this week. I can’t remember it being that low when I started to drive way back in the 80’s!
    I made a few masks, but need to spend a bit more time on it this week to provide extended family with some. I am a pokey sewer! Lastly, I am trying to fill a few holes in my pantry. I am going to consider getting a food dehydrator so I can have dried veggies on hand for soups and such. I can’t find rice or yeast, but will keep trying. I was low on those and shouldn’t have been. I need to make a “pantry only” meal list like you have Brandy, and then make sure I am actually stocking all those things. This pandemic came out of the blue and I wasn’t prepared as I usually am.

    I am keeping everyone in my thoughts and prayers. Be healthy and safe everyone.

    1. Karen- I spent weeks online searching for yeast and was able to snag some at the prepared pantry. I checked their site before I posted this and they are out of stock. I just kept checking preparedness, resturant, and baking sites until I found some. Early in the morning worked best for me.

      I also never thought there would be such a run on yeast. I don’t like sourdough, but if it ever comes down to it I will create some starter. Best of luck finding the pantry items you need. Shopping during this pandemic takes a lot of time and effort. I have spent hours and weeks filling the holes in my pantry. No more walking into a store and finding basic staples.
      I have realized how many things I have taken for granted all my life. I am learning to be grateful for the smallest of blessings,

    2. I’m down south and buy from Azure too. I really like their business practices and because I try to boycott while foods/Amazon, Azure is a great alternative!

  33. Hello Brandy and first of all happy birthday to you and glad one child had a lovely birthday at home and celebrated with the family in a memorable way 🙂 . Sounds like your gardens are producing well and glad you were able to harvest so much from the gardens for meals. Fantastic you were able to order all the bulk herbs that you needed too and prices are going up dramatically here in Australia too on many items.

    In Australia like most other countries we have purchase restrictions on lots of items and a lot of items out of stock or hard to come by, Purchase limits per transaction are 2 cans of vegetables, 2 cans of fruit, 2 packets of flour, 2 packets of frozen vegetables, 1 of each of the following being hand sanitiser, household cleaning products, rice over 2kg, toilet paper and pasta from memory.

    I must say I am so grateful to have a grocery stockpile (food storage) here that we have built up over a few years that we can now just buy what we are using to replace things gradually. Flour and toilet paper seem to be very hard to get here in the cheaper generic brands we buy and in fact we have noticed that all the cheaper brands seem to be sold out or in limited supply in most grocery items.

    Finances –
    – Paid an extra part payment off our mortgage.
    – Added extra money to our home emergency kitty.
    – Banked more into our 3 month living expenses emergency fund bringing us to 60.4% of the way there.

    Purchases –
    – On specials and markdowns we purchased 4 x blocks of old gold chocolate, 10 x kiwi fruit, 8 tins of longlife meat and vegetables and a pair of sandals saving $39 on usual prices. I have over a few weeks bought myself 3 pairs of sandals for next summer for a super low price of $3 a pair new reduced from $25 and $19 a pair usually.

    Cleaning –
    – Deep cleaned DH’s AWD and washed it.
    – Mopped all the vinyl floors in the home with a disinfection solution after DH vacuumed them all.

    In the gardens –
    – Filled in more pot holes in the yard.
    – Trimmed all the star jasmine and hedges around the home with the hedge trimmer.
    – We mowed all the home lawns.

    Have a great week ahead everyone 🙂 .


  34. Our county remains blessedly low in virus numbers which is good news as some areas are hard hit. We noted that we can find toilet paper and flour and such but only in limited supplies which is fine. Our big decision this past week was to use our stimulus check to add an additional shelf to our pantry. Husband determined that we’d also set aside a sum to spend on foods to stock that shelf as well. We only bought the limits but netted probably enough to fill two shelves of this new unit which is a good start. We also purchased a generator. My husband has researched them for weeks now and we finally decided that we really only needed something that might power our refrigerator in the event of no electricity which sometimes occurs here for periods of up to a week due to hurricanes or tornadoes. He found a great deal on a highly rated small generator that will do just what we need.
    Mentions of gas prices: here in our area of Georgia our prices begin at around $1.29…Naturally we have no need to go anywhere and it almost hurts NOT to need to buy gas when it’s so low! LOL
    My grandson is enjoying homeschool lessons with me which is a mix of papers sent from school and added bonus of Gramma chosen subjects that interest him. It’s such a joy to do this with him and to watch his face light with interest.

    1. What kind of generator did you get and from where? I’ve been wanting one but don’t have a clue what to look for. Thanks

  35. Only got back .25 rebate from Ibotta. I really didn’t buy much from the store to begin with last week.

    My mom sent over a loaf of bread and 2 packs of fettuccine noodles she didn’t want.

    Sent in receipts for close to $10 in rebates from Menards

    Hubby went fishing and caught 2 fish. He and the 20yo ate them Saturday evening for dinner.

    Hubby planted beans, squash, zucchini, and peas

    Watched the Andrea Bocelli Easter concert that was broadcasted for free

    Watched Phantom of the Opera for free

    Started Star Trek Discovery since we finished Picard quickly

    A friend’s son turned 14 this week. I sent him a birthday card from ones I already had, with a $10 gift card

    Turned the heat off when possible. Our weather is still all over the place.

    Did all the laundry in the same day to cut down on heating up the dryer.

    75% of what we ate came from the freezer or pantry

  36. Happy birthday, Brandy! And what perfect timing of your husband ‘fixing’ the grill and the gift of chicken arriving! I remember that you had mentioned previously that he really likes to grill, so it sounds like a nice treat during a stressful time. And the addition of grilled chicken to your pasta salad sounds really great!

    My frugal week:
    – I baked a batch of sugar and cinnamon-dusted “Aggression Cookies” ( What are they? Cookies where you mix the dough with your hands and get out all of your aggression (or stress). And then you have less stress, plus cookies! This recipe doesn’t use eggs, and you can replace at least half the butter with margarine to make it cheaper. I ate them with homemade lemonade (using discounted lemons from a previous flash food app purchase)
    – I made date squares and took them to my workplace (essential work) as my extended mat leave has now ended. Instead of making the squares in a 8 by 8 pan, I made the same recipe in a lasagna-sized pan, so that more servings were made. The original recipe made really thick squares, so making it a larger pan worked out well.
    – I ordered groceries online (once I could get a time slot for delivery) and bought a lot of apples, oranges, and bananas. I’m hoping that this will last us for the month for fruit, as I’ve put them in the fridge. I’ve wrapped the banana stems in plastic to slow down the ripening process, so that my daughter can enjoy fresh bananas for a few more days.
    – I also ordered several hams and a number of packages of cheese. I will keep the cheese in the freezer, defrosting it as needed, and I will cook and slice the hams for sandwiches, as I have a meat slicer at home.
    – I made ham and cheese sandwiches for my husband’s lunches for the week, using homemade sandwich bread.
    – I was able to buy yeast online (at 3x the price!). It’s the sort of yeast that is best for sweet breads and pastries, as the standard yeast was sold out, but as the white bread that I made does contain some sugar, I’m sure it’ll work fine. Since it is a 1 lb package, I’ll keep it in the freezer and just take out a small amount at a time to keep in my pantry. I should be good for nearly a year for yeast now, and if I run out, I’ll just switch to quick breads or sour dough.
    – I sprouted mung beans and made fried rice.
    – I made several pitchers of iced tea using tea gifted to me.
    – I made a large batch of split pea dal. It made enough for dinner, several work lunches, and a large container to freeze for another meal.
    – I applied for a one-time payment of $200 for parents of children in Ontario, which will come in handy with the increased cost of food these days. I also helped a family friend apply for it for two of his children.
    – And an accomplishment that I’m rather pleased about: I cut my hair! I have a short pixie-ish cut, and I managed to give myself a rather good haircut, in about 15 minutes, even with a toddler at my feet. I used the wahl clippers that we bought for my husband and set it to the longest setting for the sides and back, and then I used scissors to cut the top and upper sides, and bangs (I just grabbed a bunch of hair, twirled it, and snipped off the ends). It’s not perfect, but it’s pretty good! So to other commenters who are scared of cutting their hair – just go for it!

    Looking forward to learning from everyone else, as always!

    1. The cookies made me laugh!

      I always knead my bread dough by hand, but I stir it with a wooden spoon. Lately, I have watched several professional bakers, and they all mixed the water into their bread with their fingers! I was surprised.

  37. Happy birthday! Thanks for sharing your photo of the bees.

    I’m gradually getting the hang of sour dough bread. It definitely won’t replace regular yeast breads for me, but it’s nice to know I can bake a decent loaf of sour dough. I found two sad bananas on my counter so the grandbabes and I made banana muffins for snacks. I had one container of yogurt that the kids didn’t much care for and used it as the base for some blender waffles. I don’t stress about food going to waste because the chickens appreciate anything we share.

    I’m grateful my store seems to be better stocked and a little less crazy than the past several weeks. We are required to get our temperature checked and to wear a mask prior to clocking in. We spend a significant amount of time wiping down surfaces to try to keep everyone safe and well. I’m praying that appropriate treatment will be found to treat those who are ill.

    Stay well and have a productive week!

  38. Happy Birthday, Brandy! Great photos, as always.

    A few household things have been breaking, and I have had to figure out solutions to fix them. 1) I chipped one of our frequently used dishes, and normally I would get a new one at the thrift store, but they are closed. So I glued the chip back on the dish. It’s not perfect, the dish is still usable. 2) We have an outside thermometer that attaches to the window with the suction cup. It kept falling off the window. So I looked in my junk box for another suction cup. I used a string to suspend the thermometer from this, and it is working fine. 3) The underside of the tongue on my shoe had a sharp spot on it, so I cut out a circle from fleece and attached it to the bottom of the tongue. It solved the problem. Stores closed = frugal solutions.

    My work gave us a small raise as hazard pay. This is much appreciated. My husband continues to work from home. Family members have had their hours cut or been furloughed, so I am very thankful for our situation.

    Someone on Nextdoor (neighborhood social media app) was asking where they could donate a bunch of gently used twin sheets. People suggested the various thrift stores, which are all closed. I responded that I could use them for my work (physical therapy and massage office). So I went and picked up a huge box of sheets (worth $300 to $400 new) from the person’s porch. One set was still in its original packaging. My boss had recently mentioned that we needed more sheets, so he was thrilled when I brought these in. As for them being used, we will wash them on hot and dry them. I figure it’s no different than the sheets on the bed in a hotel.

    My birthday was last Thursday. One of our patients brought in a card and a box of chocolate for me, which was greatly appreciated. My friends and family emailed, texted and called to wish me happy birthday. I had a paid day off from work, which was nice. I relaxed on our patio, and had a nice dinner with my husband.

    My mom turned 80 on Saturday. My local sister and I met over at my mom’s condo building (wearing masks and standing 6 feet apart). My mom came down to her front door and had my other sister (who lives in Las Vegas) on Facetime on her phone. We all sang her happy birthday. My mom’s present was flowers and food (I decorated a grocery bag to use as a gift bag). She was happy with her small celebration.

    My mom works a few hours a week at a grocery store but is currently taking a leave of absence because her age puts her at higher risk. This month, the store is giving staff 30% off all groceries. She ordered some meat for me and used her discount to purchase it (our area has a good stock of meat – I checked in advance, as I did not wish to disadvantage anyone else). She repackaged it and put it in her freezer until I can get it from her at a later date.

    Made a large batch of green soup using mainly freezer ingredients. Froze it for future lunches. Used mint from my herb garden to make tea. Made water kefir and kombucha. Ate and repurposed leftovers. Made fermented mayo. I only use eggs from one particular source for this, and I froze a couple just in case I won’t be able to get them.

    Mended a shirt. Made masks. Read ebooks from the library. Played a game with my husband. Normally, he would up with his friends weekly to play board games, but they can’t do this now. So they have found some games online that they can play together, so they can still have their weekly game night.

    The highlight of my shopping trip last week was being able to purchase sanitizing wipes (one per customer). I saw lots of toilet paper in the stores as well. Trader Joe’s seemed to be reasonably stocked the morning I went. They had most canned goods and even had rice available.

    I have enjoyed reading everyone’s comments these past weeks. Thank you, Brandy, for hosting.

  39. Brandy your pictures are beautiful! I’m glad your weather is milder than normal- it has warmed up here in Boise but we haven’t needed our air conditioning yet-I have opened the windows and that has been enough.
    I grocery shopped for our household as well as my mom- I am shopping once per week which is an improvement for me. I chopped up the remaining ham from Easter dinner and froze it in manageable portions as well as the hambone. I often end up throwing leftovers away because I don’t freeze things soon enough so this is a “win” for me. We mostly ate at home but we did order pizza one night and pulled pork for my daughter one day. I made homemade French bread and then garlic bread with the day old French bread.
    I am working on my yard and will be planting a garden which I haven’t done for the last couple of years. I’m currently taking a Victory Garden class through a university extension program- they are offering it free due to Covid-19. I haven’t had to gas my car up for over a week due to not driving much at all.
    I donated plasma twice last week- I do this regularly and had planned to buy new living room furniture soon with my earnings from donating but due to what is going on in the world with Covid-19 I plan to wait. I did have a tooth break and saw my dentist for an emergency visit- I will need to have a crown but I have money to pay my out of pocket portion.
    I have been watching old Bewitched episodes on IMDB through my Amazon Prime account on my Roku- that has been fun for me as they are very nostalgic- my college age daughter and I watched an episode last night and laughed ourselves silly- it was a nice break for us.
    I wrote to my very elderly great aunt last week and sent a birthday card to my mom’s best friend who is like an aunt to me- both of these dear ladies are in assisted living centers in other states and of course they aren’t able to have visitors or do their normal socializing. I looked through cards I had on hand and used them- the birthday card isn’t what I would have chosen if I went shopping for a card but I know my aunt by friendship was thrilled I send her the card.
    That’s all I can think of- I look forward to seeing what others did to save money. Stay well everyone!

  40. I bought veggie starts at the community garden fundraiser sale, held this year in a pre-order, curbside pick up format this year.
    I am maintaining my planted seeds on the heat mat, and the sprouted seedlings under the grow light.
    I’m picking kale, Swiss chard and arugula from my garden. The berry bushes have flowers on them!
    My husband and I both got free Amazon fire tablets through out health insurance by signing up for the free back exercise program.
    I sold an item on eBay. I picked up cucumber seeds from a member of my Buy Nothing group.
    Since my husband is working from home, we dropped ‘work-use’ for his car from our insurance. We got a small refund for that. He will not return to work until August (he’s a teacher).
    The only gas we are using is to go for a drive each weekend. We live near the coast and though all the beaches are shut, we can still drive along the coast. It makes a nice weekend treat.
    We played Trivial Pursuit on Zoom with our daughter back East. It was very fun.
    Happy Birthday, Brandy!

  41. My husband and I are in lockdown in the UK and saving money on fuel for the car because we’re not going anywhere. It has been a salutary lesson to us that in normal times we spend quite a lot on fuel and even though we combine errands when we go out it is clear we could make more savings if we tried. I have been using some of the savings to purchase things we need ahead of time- I need a new pair of sandals for the summer and bought them from an online retailer offering a deep discount. We are blessed to live in a rural area and spring in England is so uplifting – we live next to a wood which is blue with bluebells currently, together with early purple orchids, primroses and violets. We appreciate how very lucky we are. Wishing you, your family and all your readers good health.

  42. The easiest way we saved money is by not being able to drive anywhere. One tank of gas has lasted over 3 weeks! Gas is at an all time low. .70 cents per litre. We are in SW Nova Scotia. We own property we had bought cheap on a tax sale a few years ago. We are now logging it (responsibly) for fire wood and lumber. Our stores are still well stocked. Nobody really hoarded anything here. Our section of the province was announced to be so far covid free. Which is not a good thing. Because now people from areas of high infection are coming shopping in our area because it’s safer.

    We are eating more out of our freezers and starting our seeds. We are just starting growing season. We are done tapping trees. We harvested over 30 litres of syrup. We have 2 months free of Crave tv. And I’m baking a lot more.

  43. Hi Brandy and everyone else,
    Happy birthday! A pleasure as always to meet you all here and enjoy the lovely photography and your reports.
    Prices have gone up a lot in NZ with nearly all the discounts being taken off so a lot of people are finding it very tough. Long queues, rationing and shortages have continued in many places.
    I’m using whatever spare money I have to build up the pantry and freezer a few items at a time even though we are fortunate to be well stocked as I think there will be hard times ahead. It’s amazing how a few items here and there start to build up! I started this process of having a deep pantry many years ago and it’s always such a relief in any kind of crisis or emergency,.
    We’re gathering more pumpkins, kumara, onions, potatoes, apples and walnuts in particular in for the winter from our garden and orchard.
    As we head into winter we’ve sown broad/java beans, silver beet and parsley plus some brassicas and more rhubarb plants we grew from seed from our “adult” rhubarb plants.
    This is the first year I’ve grown Jack O’Lantern pumpkins and what great pumpkin plants they are! We have several different types of pumpkin growing.
    Best wishes to everyone and may God be with you in these trying times,

  44. My lettuce seeds are starting to come up. This is the first time I have tried growing lettuce. I am excited! My kids and I (with the help of a plant app) is learning about the edible plants growing in our backyard. Yesterday I discovered yellow wood sorrel. My 4-year-old daughter said it takes like green grapes. I am back to mowing the yard. The kids (when it’s not raining) spend hours a day playing outside. Also, as my husband and I listen to the daily update from our governor I work on the cross-stitching blanket I started for my 4-year-old before she was born. It is coming along nicely. I think this is the year it will be completed.

  45. Hello!! This week has been full of things to save us money. Right Now I am the only one working outside the home although my hours have been cut to 3 days a week I am the only one needing gas so it’s been nice that the prices here have dropped so dramatically. I think I paid 1.34 at Costco on Friday. It’s been cool, but our house heats up fast so we’ve been able to have the windows open and not use the electric heat/AC. Although there have been a few nights that it got down into freezing and we turned the heat on low just to take the chill off. I’ve gotten creative with stretching leftovers for meals… Before the world went crazy as I like to say I had made up some garlic herb butter to have on a grilled meat kind of like the “garlic herb topping” that Outback offers for their steaks, We love Outback but it’s just hasn’t been in our budget for quite some time even before COVID so I try to recreate those kinds of things at home. Anyway, I had leftover garlic herb butter I made so one night I pulled a couple of jars of my home-canned tomato sauce and made Ravioli with red sauce for dinner, I used the garlic herb butter spread onto some brioche sandwich buns that didn’t get eaten and were getting dried out a bit stale to make us some garlic bread, it was delicious. Another night I used some of the leftover red sauce to make us Unstuffed Peppers, Just like a stuffed pepper but I make them in a muffin pan instead of stuffing the peppers with the filling, I like the flavor but do not like to eat that much-cooked pepper so it’s a win-win for me, I save money on buying and wasting 5 bell peppers for my family and I only use 1 chopped and added to the meat mixture for flavor. The Bell Pepper I used was leftover from a hm pizza night 2 weeks ago and was still useable although it was starting to get soft. Another night I used the last of the Red sauce and some leftover tortillas to make homemade Pizzadillas, I made 2 kinds of Pizza and Cheesesteak with some minute sandwich steaks from the freezer, The entire family loved them and since it was our first time having them. they will get added to our meal list. I made rib rub from a recipe I found online with spices I already had on hand and yesterday I made tacos with taco seasoning that I made with spices I already had on hand. I usually buy packets of seasoning and I think now I’ll stick to making my own. The homemade version was too salty for my taste but otherwise was really good. I plan to make it again I’ll just cut back on the amount of salt. I’ve been working to use up craft and sewing supplies I have previously bought to work on craft items for when the world opens back up and hopefully, the fall craft shows will still happen. I love your posts and have followed your blog for many years I pray everyone stays healthy and I look forward to coming back to read all the comments when I have more time. God Bless!!

  46. I will be closely examing your recipes and the list of snacks series or is the eating for 40 cents a day series. I bought some solar lights to use inside at night to reduce electric costs but i can’t get them to charge, I am sick but have poured over directions, and had everyone in the house examine them and the direction to make sure I am not missing anything. I put them out in direct sunlight myself in hope that they charge and work. I got a great value and they are brand new in package, not working.
    I shared last week some micro money moves we have made

    1. I may have your answer (but you probably won’t like it). I bought a little solar-powered fountain for my patio. I discovered that it does not store solar energy, and it only operates when the sun hits the solar panel. For me, this is about 4 hours in the middle of the day. Try putting your lights outside to see what happens. I hope you can get your lights working, but based on my experience, I wouldn’t count on it.

    2. Sometimes there is an additional plastic “shield” that needs to be removed so the battery can charge. I have had this same thing happen. Hope that’s it.

  47. After reading last week’s comments and Brandy’s post I decided to rethink my garden plan. So this past week I talked to my husband (the non-gardener) about possibilities to increase our garden space without a ton of work. We both have health issues that limit us in some ways for strenuous work. We found a spot to grow pumpkins which my husband tilled up to prepare for planting. I redesigned the garden layout to plant more tomatoes, peppers, beans, and squash. We eat a lot of tomato products which I usually can. I would like to share with my children and their families if I can get a bigger harvest. I have planted more greens and onions, carrots and peas. This is earlier than I would normally plant but our weather has been pretty mild lately with just a few frosty nights. I just covered the plants for the night. I can plant warmer weather plants on Mother’s Day. I also shared seeds with my neighbor reducing the cost of buying more seeds. My neighbor is also giving me some wood ash to use in the garden.
    I also inventoried my canning supplies. Apparently, every time I went to the store last year I purchased canning lids. I guess I did not realize how many I had accumulated until I counted them. I have 13 and a half boxes of lids! My husband was able to purchase 2 dozen new jars for me. The prices had not gone up yet, so I feel lucky there.
    I cooked from the pantry, reused teabags, then composted them, and put out the word I am looking for powdered milk. It is one thing I cannot get Everywhere is out including the LDS food centers. I figure eventually someone will find some for me.
    My husband fixed our 20 year old carpet cleaner. It would not spray out any water. It was just clogged and worked great once he cleared the tube.
    My husband has been driving my car or his motorcycle to work to reduce gas costs. My car gets close to 45 mpg. Price for gas is around $1.48/gallon.
    I hung laundry out to dry.
    I am using my grandmother’s handkerchiefs instead of disposable tissues. I have bad allergies and my eyes and nose run constantly. I also bought some 100% cotton flour sack towels from the farm store and cut them into quarters, hemmed the unfinished edges and now we use these instead of paper towels. I can put them in the microwave to cook things like bacon without any trash. They wash up so nicely. I was surprised my husband agreed to this, but as he is the one making the grocery runs I think he is seeing how difficult it is to get paper products lately. These cloths are perfect for teaching my 6 year old granddaughter how to sew on my machine. She is so proud of herself.
    Our DIL gifted us a couple of meatballs, the end of a mozzarella and a serving of a dessert which was cut wrong and could not be served at the restaurant.
    I am grateful for the ideas and advice found on this site. I am also grateful for the beauty of spring in the mountains.

    1. I’d read so much about powdered dry milk in Amy Dacyzyn’s Tightwad Gazette but I swear I’d never seen it in a shop in my life until suddenly this week I noticed it at our Sprouts Market. It was a Bob’s Red Mill brand and it was in the baking section. Good luck in your hunt!!

  48. Now that I’ve been laid off and we’ve been sheltering at home our expenses have decreased. We haven’t been driving, eating all meals at home made from scratch, organizing the shed and garage, preparing items for sale, and I’ve started working on a quilt that I started several years ago. It has been a productive week! I’ve baked muffins, tea bread, sourdough sub rolls, granola which I will vacuum seal in jars, and wheat dinner rolls. I’ve been working in my veggie garden and harvesting carrots, green onions, cabbage, kale, green onions and lettuce. I gave my son a haircut. It turned out ok… I should watch some You Tube tutorials to learn how to get around the ears better. LOL! We’ participated in a zoom a gender reveal party for our nephew. . Very fun! And I joined a virtual church book club which meets once weekly. It’s nice to connect any way possible! Today I pick up my car from the shop after 23 days awaiting repair. I will mask up to restock as best possible from Costco. Congrats on your daughter’s wedding and happy birthday wishes, Brandy! Have a safe and blessed week everyone!

  49. I always enjoy your posts, Brandy! Hope your birthday was wonderful! I posted my frugal accomplishments on my blog, I also wanted to ask a question about my apricot tree. I bought a Katy apricot tree about three years ago and it’s only about one and a half feet high. Still
    No blooms or anything. I did fertilize it this year and prune it a bit which wasn’t sure what I was doing with a small tree or even if I should. Any suggestions? Should I have fruit by now? I’m in Alabama (zone 7 I think? Or 8?). I also bought a different variety apricot tree around the same time and it is taller than me! But still no fruit. I did have two or three blooms this year tho. It has purple leaves. I can’t remember what type it is.

    On the other hand, our peach trees are loaded! The branches are hanging with peaches! So excited about that as we only have two peaches per tree last year!!

    1. Monica,

      Your tree should be much taller by now. I am wondering if it is limited by the dirt it is in. If your dirt is more clay-like, it will act like a pot and restrict the growth of your tree. You should fertilize it three times a year. It sounds like it also needs fertilizer, being so small. It should be much larger and be bearing fruit this year.

      Lack of blooms could be that it is not getting enough phosphorus. Make sure to give it some bone meal.

      Proper pruning will also help.

      Next year’s fruit is grown on this year’s branches! So what you do this year will really affect it for next year.

      Make sure to thin your peaches! If they are marble-sized or larger, pick off any fruit closer than 4-6 inches, or your branches will break as the tree gets heavier. Your peaches will also have more pit and less fruit. Here is a post I wrote about thinning:

      1. I went back out to look at my tree and it’s a little taller than one and a half feet…maybe two or just slightly over. The leaves look healthy enough but I will try fertlizing it more often this year! And I think it is more of a clay type soil there. Maybe I should move it to another location? I will thin the peaches as well as my branches ARE falling over. Already had to tie one to the main tree. Thank you for your suggestions. I’ve learned so much about fruit on your blog!

        1. You can leave it there and dig next to the tree. Dig out any dirt that would be around the size of the initial tree. Then you can replace it. Add some fertilizer in with it.

          THAT SAID–if you think your tree was root-bound in the pot (the roots were growing round and round at the bottom) it is choking the tree if you didn’t cut them. If you think that could be the case, dig the whole thing out and carefully pull apart the roots. Make sure to replace the dirt around it with good soil as wide as you want your tree to grow. The leaves will reflect the roots, so make it a huge circle out from the tree.

  50. I love the picture.. It looks like bees have blue eyes. That’s amazing. Your flowers look like they came from a florist–verry beautiful.
    This week I did my usual cook mostly from scratch, try to avoid food waste (with mixed results), open curtains to let in light, cut the top off the shampoo bottle and rinse out to get another shampoo out of that bottle (was glad I had a spare bottle on hand). To address my food waste issue, I did set a food dehydrator on the counter with just two trays, so that I could dry produce that I couldn’t use fast enough, although I didn’t think of it soon enough and lost a few things. I did dry some white button mushrooms. An online source I listened to said that mushrooms continue to grow after picking. So, I let the ones I bought alone, and they did grow some. I also stored them the recommended way, in their cartoon with plastic wrap on top with holes for air poked in it. I think it may have helped. I have four pears to put in the dryer today. I don’t know if saving the food is worth the electricity to dry them, but I think it is.

    Also, this week I was pleased to find out that our granddaughters like the $9.56, long-sleeved, green dresses I had drop-shipped from Macy’s. The dresses will be nice for next winter. I also found a long-sleeved shirt for the oldest girl from the same store for about $6 that she can wear next winter. Over the years, I have saved huge amounts of money by buying clothing out of season, if I had the money to be able to do so. There were times when my husband had no work, and we did not have enough savings for me to be able to shop ahead. But when I could, I did. My children always wore a size number one number higher than the number of their age. If they would be ten years old that winter, since there is no size 11, they would wear a size 12. So, in spring, I bought winter clothes and coats and shoes and boots. In the fall, I bought summer clothes on clearance in the size they would wear the next summer. So, I do the same thing for my granddaughters.

    When my children were small, hand-me-downs weren’t plentiful, but my granddaughters have been the recipients of used clothes from a couple of families over the years who must not know how to sort their clothes properly when they wash, or they are using some of those “environmentally friendly” soaps that are expensive, but probably mostly filler and not detergent, so the clothes they give away are dingy and dirty looking. My daughter accepts the dingy, dirty-looking clothes graciously and soaks them in a strong solution of Tide detergent and warm water in five-gallon buckets for about four days straight. This soaks the dirty particles left from the filler-filled detergents out of the cloth and removes dye left in the fabric from other clothes (blue jeans, etc.). Some of the clothes clean up just fine. Other clothes remain dirty-looking, and they go in the trash or possibly out of town to Goodwill. Personally, I liked to wash the children’s dress clothes and some of their school clothes by hand and hand them to dry to keep them nice. That resulted in clothes to pass down that looked almost like new. I also washed my daughter’s tights by hand to keep them nice looking. It was a lot of extra work, but I liked my children to look nice. My daughter has a probably better way; she soaks the clothes in the washing machine, agitates on the gentle cycle very shortly, and lets the machine spin out and rinse the clothes. It is definitely a faster method. At the price of Tide detergent, I have resorted to saving it for the clothes I don’t want to fade and using a cheap liquid detergent for washing sheets, towels, etc. I purposely buy linen colors that can fade gracefully because I like to chlorine bleach them. I use liquid detergent when I buy the cheap kind because I figure the cheap liquid detergent’s filler is probably water which I can rinse out of the clothes easier than some solid particles from cheap powdered detergent. I am about to try your homemade laundry soap. The clothing your family wears looks clean and nice, so you must have a good formula. I have a book on soapmaking that says soap will leave clothes looking gray if they are washed in hard water, while detergents will not. I think our water is fairly soft, so it should be okay. As you can see, it is important to me to do a nice job with laundry, and buying at the off season and taking care of clothes has been a huge money-saving effort for me.

    For my granddaughters’ birthdays, I had shipped to them from Macy’s hot pink Circus by Sam Edelman sandals that were on sale for less than $25. They wear ladies-sized shoes now, and it can be hard to find appropriate dress shoes for little girls, so I am mentioning where I got my finds (I think they are appropriate for girls.) in case someone else has the same difficulty. We were disappointed that we missed going to see our granddaughters on their birthdays, but were glad their mother wrapped the gifts we had shipped to their house. She bought some nice floral paper from Dollar Tree for a dollar. She could have used reusable gift bags, but they love unwrapping things.

    Our granddaughters do homeschool online, and then I tutor one of them in the afternoons online. We are using Zoom with fairly good results. It’s nice to see each other and be able to write on virtual whiteboards and bring in Word files or YouTube videos and be able to talk about them.

    1. Elizabeth,

      We have hard water here. On the box of Borax (which is an ingredient in my laundry soap) it says that Borax cuts hard water.

  51. I made a lot of masks out of a cotton tablecloth I hadn’t used in years, and made some extra to give to my mother. I didn’t have to spend any money on those, thank goodness.

    I wanted to ask you, Brandy, do you grow lilacs in your yard? I live in the desert in AZ and I do miss them and I would love to know if there is a variety that thrives here. I haven’t seen them at our local nursery but I could check elsewhere.

    I planted seeds I already had- and I have harvested chives, dill, cilantro and lots of parsley from the galvanized horse trough I’ve turned into a planting bed. Little wild type tomatoes also re-seeded and as the desert heat doesn’t bother them, I’m letting the sprouts come up around the herbs. I sprinkled some lettuce seeds in there, too and we’ll have a few salads in about week.

    Happy Birthday to you, Brandy and thank you as always for your lovely blog.

    1. The lilacs in my photos are all from my garden! Angel White and Lavender Lady are lilacs for the desert. I have 6 lilac bushes. Three of them bloomed this year. I may need to move one as I don’t think it is getting enough sun; they will not flower in the shade. Our nursery has them sometime between February and April, and they have sold out in as little as one week in some years.

  52. Hello all! I am still working from home until at least April 30. Our governor is expected to make more announcements on April 27 about what businesses may reopen and how. I do not expect I will be back at work (I work for a church) any time soon, but we shall see. I’m so thankful I still have a job and a paycheck. My husband continues to work his normal schedule as his employer is considered essential. He did get his car back from the repair shop (finally!) so we are back to 2 vehicles. Mine stays at home 90% of the time unless I need to do an errand or buy groceries, about once a week. We have had some occasional severe weather (hail on Sunday, and severe weather predicted tomorrow), which is normal for spring here. I am glad my car stays at home protected in the garage. Unfortunately our retirement funds have taken a hit with the stock market, but investments have been rebalanced, so hopefully no more losses.

    * I paid $1.43 for premium gasoline last Friday at Sam’s Club. While I enjoy the cheap gas prices, it is devastating for our state economy (Texas), as we are the largest US producer of oil and gas. Our state economy relies heavily on that industry. Those low prices will mean tens of thousands more jobs lost when production is cut back. Because of oil and gas production, Texas has been largely “recession proof” over the years. Not anymore. Just another way this pandemic is hurting the economy. I do wonder when things will begin to return to “normal” and how different that normal will be.

    * I was given a few random grocery items by a neighbor who moved. Two bags of dried split peas, some canned beans, and a large assortment of tea bags. I’m not sure what to do with the split peas since I’ve never cooked with them, but I gladly accepted them and will figure something out. Most of our meals have been cooked and eaten at home. We have made chili mac, copycat Cafe Rio chicken tacos with Mexican street corn (this is tonight’s meal – chicken is in the crock pot now and smells delicious), meatloaf, fried eggs with avocado toast, corn chowder, spaghetti and meatballs, and Mexican rice with chicken. We have supported locally-owned restaurants a few times by ordering dinner.

    *I have honestly not had too much difficulty finding most grocery items here. Toilet paper is the one thing that still seems to be really hit or miss, but we have a good supply. I was pretty stocked up before everything got bad, and I’ve been picking up a pack here & there when I find it available. Sometimes I see it in the stores and other times the shelves are bare. Yeast and flour are also readily available here. I am still set on both of those. I do have concerns about the meat supply. I read just yesterday that another pork processing plant has shut down. I’m concerned meat will become more difficult to get, and prices will increase substantially. An employee at a local grocery market told me they are already experiencing supply chain issues with chicken and beef. At the end of last week I did my grocery run and stocked up on as much meat as the freezer will hold. I did pay a bit more for some things, but I would rather have it in stock.

    *Other random things – I color my own hair (have done so for 30+ years), and do my own manicures & pedicures. Money and time savers all around. I am not too worried about when salons will reopen, although from the news I gather it is a major concern for many people. I won’t attempt a home haircut (my hair is quite contrary), but I’ll just let it grow out until I can get it cut again. My tomatoes and peppers are continuing to grow quite well, but not producing yet. My Aerogarden shipment has been lost by UPS (tracking hasn’t updated since last Tuesday, when it was scheduled to be delivered), so I’m frustrated with that. Waiting on their investigation to either locate my package or refund me. If that does not arrive, I will order a different grower off Amazon, as I already have several of the Aerogarden pods & seeds here ready to use and I was hoping to be able to start it while I am working at home. We have been watching Picard and 48 Hours on CBS All Access for free. I also did the Smithsonian free trial on Amazon, so have been watching various shows through that. I visited a local store owned by friends and purchased 2 packages of cotton face masks (10 masks total) for under $15. My husband and I are each keeping a pack of the masks in our vehicles for use as needed. (We are not currently under a requirement to wear them, but some counties in our state are, and some businesses here are requiring them for entrance.) At sunset each evening, we have been enjoying watching the birds from the patio.

    *I hope everyone stays safe and healthy.

    1. I live in Texas also.
      I can’t find about a dozen items in the stores or online.
      I heard that oil prices were $0.00 and below. Awful for all of Texas.
      Stay safe Pam B. in Texas.

      1. Hello fellow Texan! I don’t know what area you’re in – I’m in DFW and I’ve been able to find most things fairly easily, other than off & on toilet paper. I don’t know what items you are having trouble with, but if you’re in north Texas and can get to a Braum’s, they have their own supply chain and are staying fully stocked on all dairy products and bread. HEB and Central Market seem to be doing a good job staying stocked on most items as well.

      2. We share your pain — 4 of the 10 Canadian provinces heavily depend on oil for the majority of their revenues. (Alberta, Saskatchewan, Newfoundland, Nova Scotia). We were already hurting but this is beyond pain.

  53. Your first photo stopped me in my tracks. The colors in those flowers are so gorgeous! Also enjoyed the close up of the bees. Incredible!!
    Belated birthday greetings to you and your daughter, Brandy. My birthday was on Sunday. I looked through the pantry to see what I could come up with instead of a cake. I ended up making the brownies from the recipe on the side of the cocoa can. I added some walnuts and we have been enjoying them all week. Ate my first salad with lettuce I planted from seed and chives from the herb garden. Last week I commented on wanting to plant a few more things and not knowing if I would be able to find seeds. One of your readers was kind enough to offer to share some of her seeds with me. I took her up on the offer and am so very thankful. I am reminded once again what a wonderful and helpful community you have here. Probably the biggest frugal accomplishment of the week was something I know you and others have been doing right along… I cut my husband’s hair and, even better, it turned out well. We have now decided that this will be the new norm around here. My son gave me an unopened container of oats that was past it’s date. I am going to use them to make granola.

    This season I am planning to make optimum use of the herbs I grow. Because we live in an area that is very hot and humid in the summer I am thinking it might be a good idea to invest in a food dehydrator. Since I know that many readers may use them, I wonder if anybody can tell me pros and cons or even which one might be good. I think I will mainly use it for herbs and maybe some fruit or vegetables. I doubt it will ever be used with meat or to make jerky. Thanks in advance for any insight.

    1. Kim,

      I have borrowed a few different dehydrators. In the end, I bought the Excalibur: (affiliate link). It has the heat in back, instead of at the bottom, so I don’t have to constantly switch out trays because the bottom ones are more dry/hot than the top ones on bottom heating ones. In the Excalibur, everything drys evenly. I LOVE it! (I really hated the other kind so much that I used to think I never wanted one!)

      1. I have an Excalibur, too and recommend it. Brandy, have you ever used your solar oven to dehydrate? I haven’t and was wondering if it’s worth it. Of course it’s a lot more humid here, than there!

      2. Thank you for the input, Brandy and others. It does sound like the Excalibur is the way to go. I’ll need to check to see if they offer a smaller unit that works well too. It’s only my husband and I here so I don’t think I will be dehydrating great quantities and I would like to put it in a cupboard when not in use.

      1. I bought the kind of dehydrator with the motor on the bottom. Found my first one at the thrift store, in the box, for $5. That one lasted several years. Replaced it with a similar model but paid retail. I do have to rotate the trays to get even drying.

    2. My first dehydrator was one my husband built. It was basically a plywood box with a fan and light bulbs. He made the trays by making window screens out of aluminum frame and screen materials for windows. It worked really well, but the fruit had to be “sulphured” (exposed to fumes from burning sulphur) or the fruit would turn dark. Our land grant university, OR State University, has a home extension office, and they used give out plans for making these dryers. They no longer do that because it is said there have been some garage fires caused by these dryers. We were careful to keep the inside clean and never had a problem. Then I found a Pressurizer dehydrator at a yard sale. It was originally purchased at the state fair and not used much. It was like a Cadillac of food dryers. It had wonderfully accurate temperature controls. I think the closest thing to it now is the Gardenmaster dehydrator. It is a round-shaped dehydrator that is fairly large diameter. I had to sulphur the fruit with that dryer, also, and I put the fruit on the trays of the old wooden dehydrator which was set outside to sulphur the fruit. Then I had to transfer the fruit to the Pressurizer dryer to dry it. Then the Pressurizer dryer quit. My husband did some checking and decided fixing it wasn’t an option. He wanted me to buy a new Gardenmaster like I thought I wanted, but they are expensive, and I found two small dryers an olderr lady was selling. They were smaller in diiameter–only about 13 inches. They didn’t have that many trays, but I found I could buy extra trays at a store we have here called Bi-Mart, so I did. One day when I had run out of sulphur I just put the fruit in the small dryers without sulphuring it and found out that I can get a nice product without sulphuring it with the smaller trays. I kept my eyes out and found more smaller dehydrators on sale at Fred Meyer for about $50 each. I have accumulated six of them. I put about seven trays on per dryer. I have a folding table I set them all on. I can dry about 25 pounds of fruit at a time this way. It is so much more convenient, and the fruit tastes better without sulphuring it. The dehydrators I have are Nesco American Harvest. I checked the temperature guages on them, and they are whacked. They are definitely not accurate, but I have gotten a feel for how to work around that, and they work fine for me. I turn the temperatures up on high for a half an hour to kill possible germs and then turn them down. I have learned a lot from the book, How To Dry Foods by Deanna DeLong. I once attended a class she taught for the extension office. She is a food drying expert. She was really into water filtration, too. I looked on Amazon and the brownish book I have costs $6.80. It has some recipes for using dehydrated foods in the back. The thing I found especially helpful was the chart of different foods and her evaluation of how well they worked out as dehydrated products and how to go about drying them. The book on Amazon isn’t rated highly, and the other two books are, but I don’t know what the difference is. Anyway, I havve done humongous quantities (2500 pounds of fresh produce during one summer) of drying over a period of 45 years, and my recommendation is to use the smaller dryers and not sulphur the fruit (peaches, pears, nectarines that tend to darken). (Not everything needs to be sulphured anyway.) DeLong recommends sulphuring and tells a fairly efficient way to do it, but I don’t do that since I have the small dryers. I would not spend the money on the expensive dryer. I would not use a wooden box dryer because of the fire hazard. I have never used the rectangular commercially made dryers and cannot speak about those. If you buy the dryers like I have you will need mesh inserts for the trays or you will need to cut window screening to fit the trays to put the fruit on, so that you can peel the dehydrated fruit off easier. These trays also come with solid plastic sheets that are cupped at the edges for making fruit leather. I have made a llittle using a mixture of kiwi and strawberry that is good, and I have dried peach pulp left from making peach juice to use when canning peaches in their own juice. (The most amazing canned peaches I have ever done were Suncrest peaches canned in their own juice–fabulous flavor.) I don’t do fruit leather because one roll uses up an entire tray. I think too hard to make a very large quantity of it, so I don’t do it. My best use for peach pulp is to make peach butter out of it for a bread spread. I put a little spice in it and water bath can it in half-pint jars. (On the canning note: I collect canning jars from Goodwill, by the way. I also get some from garage sales. I don’t like to pay the prices for new jars, and sometimes the really old jars have thicker glass anyway. I have also saved glass jars with vacuum seal lids and canned applesauce in them, though now it is recommended that we water bath can applesauce and not just cook it and put it in the jars and that’s it. It is also not recommended to steam can things either, if I remember correctly. There is information on food preservation from university extension offices from different states, and the USDA has a lot of information. Whenever I do canning, I look uup the correct method and processing times to use to refresh my brain, and I use that information religiously. Old canning books are not accurate; I use information from the university extension or the USDA.) Dehydrating does not have as critical of safety factors, although I do bleach my sinks and rinse them well when I am processing fruit. I make sure everything I use and the kitchen counters, etc. are disinfected and spotlessly clean. I don’t want anyone getting sick from what I produce, and there are a lot of food-borne illnesses, and I was told that staph for one is not killed by heat. One thing on the dehydrators–the dehydrators say you can make jerky with them, but I would check with the USDA or extension office. It seems like the dryers don’t get up to high enough temperatures to do it safely; I don’t recall the information from the class I took, but I would check into that before I did it. Best of luck to you.

  54. Hi Brandy, I haven’t commented on your website in a while, but read along and comment on Facebook often. Things have been hectic at my home as I adjust to working from home, and now virtual or distance schooling my son from home as well. I live in Florida and in the last week it has been announced that public schools will be closed for the remainder of the school year leaving many famililes trying to figure out how to establish routeines along with working and schooling their children, while at the same time we are asked to interact less and distance more from family members and trusted friends. It is a trying time. However, we have settled into somewhat of a routeine.

    The heat here has been brutal with temperatures often in the low to mid 90’s. The weather has been unseasonably hot for this time of year, leading us to only go out early in the morning and late at night, or ‘working around the sun’ as I call it. Heat also announces the end of growing season for many gardens which are most active during cool winter months. We have done little outside in the last few weeks aside from yard work outside. I have been cleaning paper work, my achiles heel, and reading quite a bit.

    This time has given me more time to enjoy blogs that I enjoy, yours being one. Thank you for posting every week. It’s encouraging to know how other people are getting through things in general, but especially during this interesting time.

  55. I know that some of you ladies like to watch certain British TV programmes. We have just finished a series called Belgravia which I’m sure you will like. It’s a period drama written by Julian Fellowes who wrote Downton Abbey. If you haven’t seen it yet keep an eye out for it. Also a series going back in time to see how The Corner Shop developed over time. The new series of The Great British Sewing Bee starts tomorrow night – can you watch this in the US? Hope you can enjoy some of these.

    1. I was actually reading about how to watch this show today!

      If you are in the U.S., here is the show:

      It looks like if you pay for cable, you can watch for free, but if not, it would be $5.99.

      We don’t have a television tax (I think that’s what you call it in the U.K.) so in the U.S. you can have a television but not have any television shows to watch (a friend from Hull and I were discussing this a few months ago). I don’t pay for cable; I haven’t had it but 3 or 4 years in our almost 20 years of marriage, and that was over a decade ago.

      Do you know the name of the show about the corner shop? We may be able to find it that way.

      Some library districts offer a free subscription to Acorn tv through their website, which may be another way to watch British shows. in the U.S. has some British shows about 6 months later than they are in the U.K. They are shown on PBS on Sunday nights and episodes are available on Mondays on their website for three weeks. Downton Abbey and Call the Midwife have been available this way as well as a few others.

      1. Hi Brandy
        The programme is called Back in Time to The Corner Shop. Yes we do have a television tax which pays for the BBC and gives access to several commercial channels which run adverts during shows and lots of Freeview channels. My husband and I don’t pay for any subscription services as there is quite enough rubbish on TV without paying for anymore! Hope you enjoy the shows.

  56. PamB, my mother wasn’t much of a cook, but she made two things really, really well–glazed strawberry pie and split pea soup. (I don’t care for the soup, but my sister still raves about it). She cooked a ham bone or ham hock and then used the broth to cook the peas, a chopped onion and a chopped carrot. She always used green peas, but I’m guessing yellow ones would work as well. When the peas were done, she removed the ham and ran the soup through a ricer or food mill so it was thick and smooth. You could also use a stick blender. Then she put all of the ham back into the soup. The only spices she ever used were salt and pepper, but I’d taste the soup before adding salt.

  57. my ham bone is on simmer for the 3rd time. This time it also has the rind and all the bits and pieces. I will strain it, refrigerate it over night, take the fat off and freeze it in ice cube trays and then can the broth. Any meat will be put in the freezer as Hubby is iffy about home canned meat.
    We are expecting another freeze in the morning. By Wed afternoon I will be planting even if I end up covering 1/4 of an acre up with fabric… Freaky weather in OH. LOL. Hubby asked if we could grow leaf lettuce under the grow light.. he paid $4 for lettuce and doesn’t want to do that again. If he had called me and told the price I would have told him to forget it. We have been buying stuff for our projects, money saved for them, ordering when on sale or Menards rebate, using things we have. I have been making big batches of stuff like rice and then breaking it down in to meal sizes, saves on propane that we cook with as I am not sure if I will be able to buy more for next winter’s heat season.

    Blessed be everyone

  58. Brandy,
    Happy Birthday to you! Congrats to Winter and her husband.
    My husband’s birthday is today. He is a forester by trade and also loves caring for and pruning trees so I bought him a new pole pruner and a new fruit tree. He requested a cherry tree so I purchased a rainier cherry as that is my favorite type of cherry and they are very expensive to buy here fresh in the grocery store. We already have one established cherry so I am hoping cross pollination will happen. Those birthday gifts are what I call investment purchases as the pole pruner should last years and the cherry tree if it thrives should provide cherries for years.

    Our dog is a chewer and loves a certain type of bone. He had chewed it down to nothing and I could not buy him a new one because the stores that carry them are all closed non-essential. We purchased him 2 new bones from Amazon using a gift card my husband had.

    I cut my husband’s hair and I cut my own. I have also been trimming our dog.
    I have been spending more time in the kitchen making large batches of food and freezing or sharing portions of it. The kitchen is not my happy place so I have to force myself but I can see how it really stretches my food budget which is vitally important right now.

    I am so very happy to have this wonderful group of people to get through these difficult times with.

  59. My week, like many of yours, was about staying home, cooking, organizing, connected with people in various safe ways, and staying healthy. I did have a couple of highlights:
    * My husband is an essential worker and had a job near a nursery that has gallon tomato starts for $2.25. The nursery is about 30 miles from my house, so I rode with him to his job, knitted in the truck while he worked, then an hour later we drove to the nursery, which was a mile away, and I got 7 tomato plants.
    * We are moving to a complex that has a piano, so I sold my piano on a local listing. I haven’t used it much over the past few years, and since I still have access to one steps away, I let it go. I was a little sad, but think it was the better decision.
    *Colored my own hair (have been doing it for years). My step daughter also gave me some hair products that she didn’t care for. I have been using them the last week or so, and I really like the one. It saves me from having to blow dry and style my hair (I have curly hair).
    * Saturday afternoon I heard voices outside my house. A few of the neighbors had collected about 8 feet apart. We had a nice chat! Another neighbor from up the street brought his accordion out and played polka music for a while.
    * I am making masks–signed up for the Project Protect program. I have 100 masks to make in 4 days. They provide the materials. I got 16 made this morning with a goal to make 25 a day.
    Stay healthy!

  60. I spent quite a bit of money on groceries. I was finally able to get soup. I donated the cans of soup that I had but couldn’t eat due to allergies — our minister came and picked them up and took them to a church food bank. I gave a donation to my church — it is a small church that always struggles but more so now.

    I couldn’t order the Armenian cucumber seeds because the seed nursery stopped filling orders to catch up but I hope to do so in two days time. A friend asked me to ask my gardener for 10 buckets of worm castings — my gardener was so happy as that’s $200 Cdn of revenue. She donated a small container to me. (I had asked her for it). One of my aims is to grow things with a short maturity — not only is that good in our cool, short growing season but it might mean that I can harvest two crops. I am going to try something called Hakurei turnips — it looks like white radishes. Has anyone grown these before?

    I have been sending requests for permission to quote for the book but again someone when they said yes said they were sending me lots of new info — so I will be incorporating that material. Frantically trying to get things to our proofreader and then to layout.

    I have been feeling grumpy — my friends make no effort to phone me to see how I’m doing — it always seems one-sided. I’m always the person doing the phoning — I shouldn’t feel this way but I am… When I was sick and didn’t phone, no-one bothered to see if I were ok. I thought there might be some reciprocity in friendship but apparently not! It’s not always possible to reciprocate and that I understand. Even the person who told me she’d get back to me about whether she wanted to buy my gardener’s strawberry plants did not get back to me. Some of these people have a passive aggressive personality and that I find hard to cope with — I just feel one should be straight up about one’s dealings with other people –diplomacy yes but passive aggressiveness no. So grumpy, grumpy me!

    Tomorrow, as the weather is fine, I’m going to start off my day by walking around my driveway circle several times and make it a daily habit. On Friday, it is the start of the international (worldwide) nature challenge — usually people go out in parks etc but mostly it is going to be observing any kind of nature (birds, bugs, etc) in one’s yard. One submits photos (good or bad, cellphone photos or otherwise) to identify what has been seen then posts them online. I am looking forward to this. Free entertainment! The observations are used by scientists.

    It is rapidly turning to spring here although my shady yard still has some snow banks. Allergy season is upon us! Blue skies, windy dusty days, prairie crocuses soon emerging. I would go for a walk to our natural area early but I was watching people on the sidewalk — total disregard for social distancing.

    1. I meant to comment last week, Ellie’s friend, but I’m so glad you’re feeling better. I was worried when you were ill earlier. Hope this week is a lovely one for you and that you are able to take more of your incredible photographs!

      1. Hi Margaret@ApproachingFood

        Thanks for your wishes. I am still having a few problems but I can breathe again. I didn’t think I had covid but all of my symptoms could have been mistaken for it. The doctor on the phone was very sharp, had a way to see if I had pneumonia without making me go to a hospital. Followed up the next day, too.

    2. Ann – sorry you are feeling a bit grumpy at the moment – I do understand how you feel. I often find that I’m the one making the effort to make calls, arrange get-togethers, throw parties etc. Family and friends have been a bit better at this time – especially via email – and the excuse is always that “I do those things so well that they’ve come to count on me being the instigator” but yes, it can make you a bit fed up at times.

      I think you have sent your weather eastward – had to wear my parka this morning – below freezing, very windy and even some snow flurries!

      I have also spent a fortune on food lately – It’s tricky because I can’t really plan for what I want – its a matter of buying what is available on that particular trip and then buying extra because it might not be there next time!

      I work for a large, downtown church and we had our weekly online meeting this morning and we were talking about how some churches are not as fortunate as we are and are going to have some real financial challenges even once we reopen. I have now learned to do an e-transfer so send in my weekly donations that way (the ministers produce a weekly service via Youtube which has been well received). Since I am still being paid I also now try to send a donation each week to a different food bank.

      It was announced on the news today that low income seniors will now be getting extra money so I hope you will qualify for this and it will make things a bit easier. I get pension money but also work 25 hours per week and we are being paid while at home so I am very grateful. I am stocking up where I can in anticipation of another lockdown come the Fall and not knowing if I would be paid then.

      Isn’t it always the same when working on a publication – just as you think you are finished, new material arrives! Good luck with it all. Hang in there.

      1. Hi Margie from Toronto,

        Thanks for your comments! My grumpiness was probably compounded by the medicines I was taking. Everything also goes wrong at the same time — my eyeglasses arm fell off in my hands (I don’t think it can be fixed), the hose to the shower head split, etc etc So I was in a funk… Tape is holding the shower together but doesn’t work so well for the eyeglasses. I was lucky a friend found electrical tape for me.

        Although we may have sent the weather eastward, we had two absolutely beautiful days. So we will send those eastward, too!

        You are wise to be prepared for a lockdown in the fall. You probably saw on the news today (or yesterday?) that there may be a worse situation in the U.S. this coming fall and winter if the coronavirus coincides with the seasonal flu. The same of course would apply to Canadians. There is a tiny bit of good news — a drug used in Ebola may be able to be used for covid-19. The first human trials of covid vaccines have been started at a couple of places worldwide. So I think we all should take the opportunity to keep stocking our pantry. I am treating this lockdown as mere practice for future ones.

        It is great that you are still getting paid. Last year, I had hoped to become secretary to our church but it is small and decided not to have a secretary and then when it did our old secretary (who had had a devastating case of neurological shingles but finally recovered) is back again.

        On the bright side, one of my friends found bleach. Finally! I now have 2 small bottles. Of course it can be diluted so I will start doing that (carefully). Next I hope to find a bottle of yeast.

        I am trying to build up first aid supplies (or just have them to begin with). Bandaids, gauze, adhesive tape, vitamins, etc.

        Innovative things are being done — a B.C. doctor has created a negative airflow chamber for operating rooms. In our city, one of the hospitals built a new wing in 2008/2009 where the rooms are negative air flow (so the air in the room doesn’t go out into the hall way but exits the hospital directly). It is very clever to do the same for the operating rooms.

        I am hoping that the fed government enhances my pensions but I am not getting my hopes up. Also, how long can our governments shore us up with a negative price of oil?

        Stay safe — thanks for your cheery message. Realistically I guess I cannot expect reciprocal caring, sharing etc on phone calls.

        1. Good grief! It’s break the water week here, too! Imagine my surprise upon being called into the house when I was working in the garden because the kitchen floor was covered with water from under the sink! Thankfully, my husband was able to fix it, he just simply wasn’t physically able to get down there and clean out the water. After he fixed it that evening (so we thought), I sure needed to clean under there, that’s for sure. It was awful. Then we put it all back only to find out it wasn’t entirely fixed and we had to remove it all again! It was my inexperience that was looking under there and saying it was fine when it wasn’t. But, we figured it out together. It’s a learning time for all of us. It took him until the next day to get the parts, and I had to do an entire load of towels, but the fix was under $10 and works better than ever, since there was a clogged filter as well. And it’s really, really clean under there now, so that’t the silver lining, I guess:)

          Hang in there!

      2. Maggie from Toronto – could you explain what the extra help for seniors is?Is it a federal program or provincial? I’m in BC and haven’t heard of it. Thanks so much.

        1. It was just announced on Monday I believe – I assume it will be based on OAP + CPP – if people only have that then most would come in around $1600/month – I believe the idea is to bring seniors up to the same $2000/month that others are getting. It should either be on the govt. website or you might try the CARP website. The announcement I heard was that it would be right away. I’ll try to check for more info.

        2. UPDATE to first reply SJ and Ellie’s friend. I checked the website and sorry but it looks as though its the Provincial Govt. – Ontario – that is adding funds through “GAINS” – if you go to the website they give a summary of the Federal benefit (some people already reported getting about $400) and then they give a province by province breakdown of what is available. Hope that helps. It’s been so confusing with new announcements daily – shouldn’t complain as its all benefits its just keeping track so that we don’t lose out. I won’t qualify as I’m working PT – and my office paid us our full amount last month and will again this month. They have now applied for the 75% coverage and know that they will qualify so we will get at least 75% of our salaries going forward. Hope this gives you both the information needed.

          1. Thanks Maggie from Toronto – You said it = It’s very hard to keep track of everything being offered. I’m only on CPP at the moment. I opted to take it early. I go on OAS in two years. I’m disabled but Canada Pension Plan deemed me not ‘disabled’ enough for disability payments. Such is life. Fortunately, from reading here and other places, I’m managing ok. And having no debt and living in a subsidized apartment are life savers.

    3. Ellie’s Friend,
      Some of us seem to be the ones always holding up our friendships. My daughter and I were just having that conversation. We decided that it can certainly be taxing, but it is so important. As an anthropologist and historian, I have several theories about how our modern culture has changed life. So, just know that you are spot on, and know that you are appreciated for being a good friend even when others are thoughtless in their reciprocity and appreciation.

    4. My Seattle-area CSA grows those turnips abundantly every year. They are delicious, raw or cooked. I eat the greens too.

      1. great to know! I meant to order the seeds today but got all tangled up with my email server so I could get that fixed. It says the turnips only take 38 days so that would mean I can grow at least two crops!

    5. Ann, I don’t know what it counts for, but I watch for your posts every week, and worry if you post a little later than you normally do. I enjoy following along on your projects., and appreciate your comments on my posts.

      Glad you’re sounding more cheerful as the week goes along.


      1. Hi Elizabeth M.

        It counts for a lot and is really appreciated! Thanks so much! Today I had a phone conversation with our email server’s tech guy — he is in the Philippines. If I get it correctly, he said only a couple of weeks ago the Philippines had about 45 covid cases and then within about 2 weeks had about 6,000. He sounded really scared. I tried to reassure him.

        Today for the first time in 100 years, they cancelled the Calgary Stampede. It is understandable. All of our lovely spring and summer festivals are cancelled too. People are not supposed to go to their cottages(I don’t have one). Elizabeth M. I think you are in Alberta but I’m not sure. Up north? It is amazing that Calgary has more than 5 times as many cases than Edmonton. The latest outbreaks at the meat processing plants are a great concern. I just bought ground beef from one of them and am not sure what to do with it. Once cooked I think it is fine — it is getting to the cooked stage that worries me.

        Well back to the book! I am hoping that I will have quite a few chapters ready for the proofreader and then the can take the weekend off, sit outside and do the YYC international nature challenge! Then push on next week while our layout and graphic designer is busy with what she gets over the weekend. I need about a week of nice quiet time just to contemplate the indigenous/Métis history chapter. When I write asking for permission to quote, the people are not only saying yes but they are giving me more info that I then need to incorporate!

        I am sure the meds were making me feel down as the further away from them I get the better I feel. I’m really hoping to see some interesting birds in the yard or the nature challenge! Take care everyone and thank you all for the loving, supportive comments!

        1. Ann – I don’t think you need to worry about the meat – especially as it will be cooked. The worry from stores is the packaging so if you give that a wipe first with a soapy cloth and rinse and then take the meat out and dispose of the packaging you’ll be fine. Just remember to wash your hands! 🙂
          I’ve been doing a lot of cleaning today and I’ve got a headache from all the Lysol I’ve been spraying around – think I’ve overdone it a bit!

          1. Hi Margie from Toronto,

            I’m not too worried about eating it once cooked. I actually wiped everything that came into the house with a bleach solution. It is handling the meat that is a worry. I have not been able to get any Lysol to spray but my friend did get me two small bottles of bleach (finally). Thanks

  61. I think you could do a successful trade in flower-arranging, Brandy!

    It was 93 yesterday (or maybe the day before, here. Way too hot for April!

    I moved a volunteer elderberry plant to our mini food-forest and planted a few more Poona Kheeera cucumbers. We had a volunteer bean plant that grew in a pot on the back patio, where it didn’t get much attention, including being subjected to sporadic watering because it was in with bromeliads. I opened the dried pods and found black beans that I decided to sprout and plant because any plant that could survive almost all day sun and little water, and still make food is very hardy and deserves to be propagated. We’ll see if the seeds do well with more pampering.

    I’ve been meaning to make compost tea, but just haven’t gotten around to it. We have a small pick-up whose bed-liner collects water. In the bed are oak leaves that fall off our tree, coffee grounds that spill when we collect buckets from a nearby coffee-shop, and maybe some decayed produce form our volunteer work. Usually we make the water run out, but I realized it was pre-made compost tea, so collected it (about 4 gallons worth), mixed it with collected rainwater, and used it to water my vegetable plants, seedlings and transplants. I hope it helps.

    As someone mentioned, we’re at the end of our conventional growing season; there, are, however, plants like collards that can last through the summers and , indede, for several years, with attention. I chose beans, cucumbers, and yams (dioscorea, not ipomea, though I grow ipomea for the leaves) that are for hot weather. I’m just hoping they produce.

    We’re strict vegetarians, so are not concerned with meat shortages, except that it will mean raw food for our carnivore pets will go up in price. Humans can do very well (maybe even better ) without flesh. I hope a lot of people will change eating habits and be healthier as a result of this otherwise terrible event. We’ve bought no groceries since April 4. It’s been good to use up things we’ve had frozen forever!

    Thank you to all who share here!

    1. The only sweet potatoes I’ve seen here are ipomea. They just grow leaves, as you mentioned, but they are pretty. They can burn here in the sun and so need some protection. I noted they grew in Missouri in full sun and they were quite prolific there in the humidity. Here, they are a challenge, but I like them!

      1. Have you tried the leaves as cooked greens, Brandy? I haven’t yet, but plan to because I’ve read they’re tasty.
        Diocorea are easy to grow, the roots are delicious, and the vines are very attractive. Here’s a link to an overview of the varieties by a grower in Australia

        I buy roots at a local market that caters to people from the Caribbean.

        1. I haven’t ever had it grow that well. It struggles her in our dry hot weather and if I pulled off a dozen leaves, there would be no more plant to harvest.

  62. Wishing you a Happy Birthday Brandy! You are a blessing to so many. My state NJ, now has over 92 thousand cases of the virus so I don’t see things opening up around here anytime soon. I have not ventured out to the grocery stores because so many of our store shelves are empty. There is a limit on meat and many other items. A good friend gifted us with potatoes, 2 dozen eggs and some frozen ravioli (my husband and youngest one son’s favorite). I ordered more seeds in hopes of getting some squash to grow. Still too cold to plant down to 32 tonight. We aren’t very savvy gardeners but are trying. Our soil has a lot of clay and limestone. I am grateful we still have our normal income as many others around us are struggling with loss of jobs. I still don’t think people are practicing enough social distancing. One family member is to be going to the store and yet both moms and dads together are going shopping with their kids in tow. Our local grocery stores and local Target are paying over $20 an hour for people to work in the stores. They are desperate for employees because so many people don’t want to risk getting sick by working in the stores. My oldest son was just given another raise to keep him working at an essential business, that is over $30 an hour. Hard being away from family and not able to visit. I have a favor to ask my husband’s brother in law just started chemo for lymphoma, he has to start strong protocol. He is a pastor in NE. I can’t imagine having to deal with chemo and being in the hospital for treatment during this covid19 nightmare. If you could pay for him I would so appreciate it, he is such a kindhearted man who loves the Lord. Thank you I remembered to go through Brandy’s Amazon link to shop for some items for our local food pantry. Someone generously donated a gift card to Amazon for the pantry and I was able to get some shelf stable mircowave meals to hand out when we reopen. Take care and stay well everyone.

    1. Prayers for your husband’s brother, SK.
      My husband is a Pastor and is so needed right now. I cannot imagine having to do cancer treatment right now, and adding the concern about his Parishioners, well, I just can’t imagine. We will definitely be praying.
      Prayers for your son too.
      And thank you for donating to your food shelf. That is so needed right now too.


    2. SK I have also noticed that people don’t seem overly concerned with social distancing or following the recommendations about visiting stores. I have been going once a week by myself, and really make an effort to distance. I went yesterday and I had people, in masks and without masks (honestly sometimes I think the masks & gloves give people a false sense of security) getting right up next to me, within a foot or so, to look at items on the shelf! I would quickly move away and wait hoping they would realize they are not distancing as they should be. I too noticed lots of families with both parents present, or larger groups wandering around browsing. It is so frustrating. I will pray for your husband’s brother as well.

  63. FRUGAL
    * picked up two terra cotta plant pots that someone left out by the curb
    * walked or biked instead of driving for most trips
    * harvested artichokes, chard, collards, chives, oregano, rosemary, lemons, strawberries and blackberries from the yard
    * Used thrifted cake domes, thrifted cheese-plate domes, canning jars and saved plastic jugs as mini-greenhouses to protect seedlings and starts
    * Used tree branches saved from fall pruning to make teepees for climbing beans in the garden
    * Continued starting many seeds–I will share the excess with our Buy Nothing Group. I usually just buy plant starts but the self-isolation order is inspiring me to explore more propagation techniques. Learning new skills always pays off long term. Most of the seed-starting pots originally came from the BNG in the first place.
    * Harvested some worm castings from our compost bins to use as top dressing for plant babies.
    * Went running to exercise using the Couch to 5K app. I injured my knee and took a long time healing so I’m restarting my training.
    * We bought an egg incubator as a fun quarantine activity, except there’s some kind of chicken disease going around that means we can’t get fertilized eggs, chicks or pullets shipped to our county right now! So I’m trying to hatch some fancy “pastured poultry” eggs from the grocery store. There’s very little chance it will work but according to some backyard chickens forum posters it *is* possible. I might also try to go to one of our farmer’s market and ask there. I’ll let you guys know if I pull off a miracle.
    * I attended a memorial service by Zoom rather than flying across the country. Didn’t do it to save money but since it was forced upon us by circumstances it was nice to not have to buy a plane ticket and hotel room.
    * Made lots and lots of food from scratch including rice-cooker chia oatmeal, brownies, homemade Nutella, a Dutch baby, French toast, butter/buttermilk, sourdough waffles and sourdough bread. Made up jars of cinnamon sugar and our preferred salmon-seasoning mix for future use. When I “audited” our pantry when this started I realized we had about a zillion unused cans of black beans so I’ve been making (a) black bean tacos with carmelized onions and (b) black bean bowls with roasted sweet potatoes and wilted greens–we love them!
    * Used up the remaining balance in my Starbucks app to buy whole bean coffee (for use at home) and those “Via instant coffee” singles (for future road trips and camping).
    * Received two small checks from the local hospital group for some mysterious overpayment of services. Deposited them directly into our Roth IRA account toward our 2020 contribution.
    * Cloth pads and menstrual cup are a monthly savings but also one less to shop for at this time!

  64. Happy birthday, Brandy. I hope you enjoyed your day!

    I’ve been trying different meals using some of the more interesting foods in our larder and freezer. A couple were very tasty and some were, well, not.. I’ve also been baking more and really need to exercise restraint as we are looking a bit plump again. We have a tendency to put on weight in our family and always needs monitoring. I’m, unfortunately, one of those who gained weight during cancer treatment. Still exercising for free to build strength and endurance.

    -found a dime and penny and put them in the change jar
    -fortunate that my DH bought extra meat when he went shopping last week. We (my husband) actually shop more often now that there are limits on items. We don’t need much, but seem to always have something to get along with the milk.
    -I just cannot find the other parts of the grow lights, so ordered some as they’ll be necessary for the greenhouse. I also cannot find my pot maker (uses newspaper), so I’ll be using toilet paper rolls since the store is all out of peat pots. I’ve saved them for making fire starters. We have a fire less often now that the weather has started to warm, so no need.
    -the greenhouse is up even though it is more in the shade than I’d like. It isn’t as shaded as it would have been before my DH felled a dead tree. We’ll use it for firewood and have prevented a future safety issue.
    -dropped off some neighborhood gifts to keep the spirits up in our area.
    -mended Pj pants for DS
    -no food waste and decided to try my hand at growing onions cut from the bottoms of the ones from the store. Looks easy enough and will be a fun project. Watched a couple youtube videos on the topic. I’d try growing carrot tops from the carrot ends, but I’ve never liked the taste of them. I did see a recipe for carrot top pesto that I’ll try to see if anyone will eat it. We do like pesto. Looking for even less food waste as composting isn’t encouraged although I might try it with strictly vegetables only to avoid the bears and raccoons.
    -the bottom drawer pull on my childhood dresser (handed down from my grandmother) broke and I’ve been using it like that for awhile now. It doesn’t work well, but I just cannot find a replacement. I just remembered some antique knobs I have and will use them on the dresser.
    -I mentioned to my tea loving son about the difficulties India is having getting workers and that tea might not be as inexpensive or plentiful next year. He immediately ordered his favorite teas and we now have quite a supply. I cannot complain since I put in an extra order for coffee just incase supplies become limited.

    Made masks for three more families to keep safe. Just after I mailed them, the N95 filters came in. I mailed the filters (they fit into the pocket of the mask and bring the cloth masks to 95% effective if used correctly) to the families I’ve made masks for. Glad to be able to do something for those in need right now. There is so much I cannot do, this allows me to contributor some.

    Blessings and keep safe.

  65. It’s hard to believe that we’re closing in on May! I hope you had a wonderful birthday, Brandy!
    -Due to the stimulus check as well as the boost to unemployment we have more money on hand than we’ve had in a very long time. We tithed 10% of it and we’ve spent an additional 10-15%. Mostly we’ve purchased things we’ve been unable to purchase over the last several months since Dan was laid off…undergarments for several people, some clothing for my husband (who always is willingly the last person to get new things), math curriculum for next school year, and bulk food items. The rest will be saves/spent slowly as we have other needs. I have had to deal with some guilt…guilt at receiving a large stimulus check (we have a large family). I’ve had to remind myself that we didn’t ask for that money and that the best thing we can do is use it wisely. Also, guilt at spending money. It might seem that spending money would be freeing since we usually don’t have money to spend! The opposite, however, is true…spending money causes a lot of anxiety for me, especially in large amounts and even though I know right now we can afford to buy these necessary things.
    -I went to the store, but I’ve found that I’m changing the way I shop. I think it’s more similar to how Brandy shops. Instead of buying the same things week after week, I’m purchasing a handful of things every week or two but in quantities to last several months.
    -We purchased a box of bananas for under $8. We are a lot of them fresh, but we also made a lot of 3 ingredient cookies-just banana, oats, and chocolate chips.
    -I continued to use powdered milk and eggs to make the supply of fresh last longer.
    -I picked up some wheat berries for a friend a dropped them off on her porch. She gave me so!e freshly ground flour in exhange, which I used to make pizza.
    -My husband accepted 7 loaves of bread from a friend of a friend. We’re looking forward to French toast when our syrup arrives from Amazon.
    -I started sewing matching outfits for my four daughters. We don’t have anywhere special to wear them but I’m having fun and using up fabric.
    Have a wonderful week, everyone! Stay safe!

    1. Yes, that is how I shop. I never buy the same things each week. I stock up on items on sale and in bulk so that I don’t have to buy them for a while. It saves me a lot of money to do it that way.

      1. I think the reason I haven’t done it that way before now is that the regular prices at Aldi or Save-A-Lot beat out sale prices anywhere else, so I didn’t see it as necessary. If I will get the same price next month, why buy it all now? But now that trips are limited and I’m sure prices will increase I’m being careful to stock up on the basics and I’m seeing the wisdom of your approach. I’ve also changed where I shop to some degree. I never bought food online before (though I did usually buy our household items online) but now I’ve been able to find bulk food items online for a reasonable price and saved a trip into a store. I’ve also started buying more from our Mennonite store. The prices aren’t necessarily the best I can find, but the quality is good and if I order in bulk items, I’m not stripping the store shelves. I bought 50 lbs each of flour and sugar a couple of weeks ago. Now I have an order in for 50 lbs each flour (again), rolled oats, and popcorn.

  66. Always a pleasure to come here to your beautiful site. Brandy your photos are stunning and very much appreciated this week.
    I am a bit late commenting this week as our weather has finally been nice and I have been outside doing some yard work and projects.
    We were able to turn heat off this week. Hung up laundry to dry on my indoor rack. I carefully meal planned to avoid any food waste. All meals were at home. Only 1 trip out for groceries this week for ourselves and my parents. I was able to purchase most items on my list. I did omit a couple things due to price. Our grocery prices are fairly stable but I am used to only purchasing things on sale. Gas prices also remain very low but I have only used a quarter of a tank in the last 6 weeks.
    My big project this week was to deep clean, paint, and reorganize our home office. I repurposed a few items, moved a few pictures and used paint and supplies we already had. No money spent. I was very pleased with the outcome and the room is such a pleasure to be in now.
    I listed a few books and household items on my buy nothing group that others could use and less clutter for me. I did accept some new chocolates in sealed package and an outdoor bistro set that needs to be refinished from my buy nothing group; all using the porch pick up system.
    I also listed a few items for sale that sold – left out for pick up and money placed in my mailbox.
    Wishing everyone a good week ahead, I always feel inspired by everyone’s comments. Thanks

  67. Happy Birthday, Brandy!

    We worked hard last week to get our garden tilled and planted. After planting cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, Brussel sprouts, and potatoes we were hit by the Easter night storm which knocked huge trees down in our yard right in the garden. We were blessed though, no one was hurt, and no buildings were hit. They did land right on the garden though, so we will see when the tree removers get here how bad that is going to be. No sense fretting over it and so very thankful there wasn’t more damage! One thing that will come from these trees being down is now I have a fence line that is begging for some fruit trees. I’ve been researching espalier and plan to use that method to maximize production.

    I want to thank everyone for posting their favorite Youtube links, television shows, and book recommendations. I have enjoyed so many things thanks to the great commenters here. These past few weeks I have enjoyed Clara’s Depression Cooking and especially audiobooks from Libby in the Inspector Gamache series by Louise Penny. Are there any other vloggers that you especially enjoy? I have enjoyed the Minimal Mom recently for her upbeat and positive motivation to keep things simple!

    I also appreciate hearing what is happening all around the world. Thank you to everyone and especially you Brandy for hosting this amazing place!

  68. Brandy,
    I’m interested in a solar oven. If you could post your affiliate link to the one you like I’d love to purchase it in a way that supports your blog.

    1. Sara,

      This is the one I have. I have not used it to bake bread. This is my affiliate link: I use it mostly for beans and for cooking a chicken or pork. When I bake bread, I made four loaves at a time, which would not fit in this size oven.

  69. I began working from home last week, and since we are all home, I needed to create a work space. My husband and I found a partial piece of OSB in the barn. I used the staple gun to cover it with fabric and used those rachet straps for trucks to ‘attach’ it (without really attaching it) to the legs of a small table in my craft area . The straps, and the back of the board are not the prettiest, but that’s not the side where I’m working, so it’s not a distraction. It gives me a place to put notes, to-do lists, and to just park all my stuff. I am doing lots of virtual meetings, and draped a plain sheet across the cabinet (it has glass doors and contains craft supplies) that are behind my ‘desk’, so that it’s not a distracting background. Zero spent, and I have a good workspace that helps me separate work from the time I’m home (and not working).

    We are cooking from scratch, staying home, and preparing our gardens. I have some seedlings growing and set up cold frames this week as well. I’ve been reading an e-book a friend recommended, that I borrowed from my library, and using Facebook to stay in touch with friends. I’m taking a free class from Coursera – Yale University’s Science of Well-Being class, and learning a lot there too! We live on a dirt road in the country, so we go for walks on our road. I’ve been listening to podcasts while I do various tasks, and getting a little more sleep.

  70. Hi Brandy! Thank you so much for all of the work you put into this blog. It really is appreciated. Your flowers are beautiful! Since I live in Illinois, it is rare that my parsley goes to seed. I cut it in the fall, clean it and lay it between towels to dry a bit. Then I lay out the leaf bunches on a cookie sheet and freeze them. Once frozen, into a ziploc bag and back in the freezer. When I need it for soup, lasagna, or whatever, I just grab some out of the bag and crumble it (because it is frozen it breaks up easily so I don’t have to chop it) and it tastes just like fresh with the same consistency. I have been using up bits of things and using up older items in the freezer so I can replace them with newer sources (like broth). I had almost 20 pounds of carrots! An oops, I already had some, buy. So I made carrot jam for the first time. Added cinnamon, clove and nutmeg. It turned out well and I have given many jars out and people are raving about it. Great way to use up some of the carrots. Also made crockpot yogurt for the first time. I am using many tips and ideas from this community here. Much of my life revolves around politics and government, so I find this such a breather and normalcy. Thank you.

  71. Hope everyone is staying healthy. Hubby and I are still on the tanks of gas we got in the middle of March. My son has gotten some since he is working still. He paid $1.93 a gallon. Can’t tell you the last time it was that low in NY. I finally went food shopping. It was an odd experience. Arrows are all over the floor so that you can only go one way. Gloves and masks are mandated or you are not allowed in. I went while it was raining so it was very empty. They had lots of produce which is what my family wanted most. Some shelves were still bare like paper goods and the baking aisle. Prices were higher but that may be the new norm. When I came home, we disinfected everything.
    My youngest made some chocolate treats. She dipped a few strawberries, marshmallows, apples slices and banana slices in chocolate. They were delicious. I got ham while at the store and cooked it. I froze the bone to use in soup. Hubby sliced the ham very thin so we could use some on sandwiches. My son takes lunch with him to work everyday. I chopped some up to use in soups and omelettes. That also went into the freezer. Cooking everything at home.
    I visited the man I help for his birthday. I wrapped him up some cookies and used a card from my stash. We sat outside for 45 minutes talking. We sat apart but it was good for him to get outside. He is very lonely and it breaks my heart. I call him everyday but it isn’t the same thing. Hubby went to his parents over the weekend. He sat outside and talked with his dad for an hour.
    Hubby’s company got the loan through the government so no lay offs should happen now. Thank goodness. I wasn’t worried about Hubby’s job. But his company is really a close group and I would hate to see any of them struggle. My indoor plants for the garden are doing great under the grow lights. Can’t wait to plant them. Just very thankful that we are all healthy.

  72. It’s been another frugal week!
    This week, we hardly spent any money. Staying home makes that easier.
    The kids and I picked a lot of blackberries. They grow all over in vacant lots, in the reservoir behind our house, etc. I froze about two and a half gallons and we ate a lot of them fresh.
    We’ve been doing a lot of cooking, and the kids have helped me.
    The grocery store is a big adjustment. I used to pop in different stores for loss leaders and markdowns. Now, I’m paying much more for items when I do go. But, we have plenty. I would have been hitting up the Easter clearance if we were shopping, but it’s definitely not a necessity.
    We are still in the market for a van. I keep looking, and a couple of promising prospects sold before I could jump on something, but I am sure that there will be something else out there.
    The kids helped me organize part of the garage. We cleaned out about 75% and it’s better. I sold some things that we weren’t using on facebook. Cash in, junk out!
    I did pickup two things out of neighbors’ trash: an electric lawn mower and a kid bike. The lawn mower works, but the cord makes it tough to mow. One son mowed the front and backyard with it anyway, but I may post it for sale, since we already have a lawn mower. The bike is the right size for my son who is learning how to ride, if I can get the chain put back on.
    Offered a kid picnic table to my brother and sister-in-law for my nephew.
    One daughter has started to do her own laundry, which may save me some time.
    Have a nice week, ladies; stay healthy and well!

  73. I am very late to posting, but I wanted to wish Brandy a Happy Birthday! Your blog has been such a gift to me & for this I sincerely thank you.
    I am thankful that we are both getting paid, I am still working outside the home & my husband is a teacher so working from home. We are saving money on gas like so many others as I am the only one driving and I am traveling less. Work has been very busy & stressful as we are trying to keep the physician practices financially solvent while at the same time trying to keep as many staff employed as possible. My husband has taken over the cooking duties & I am exceptionally grateful. He enjoys cooking & is very creative, we have virtually no food waste. On the weekends I will bake a few things and share with our extended family who all live within a few blocks. In turn, we have received food items back. Our family has always done this just more appreciated at this time. Hubby was able to order a part & fix our Kitchen Aid mixer. Hope everyone stays well during this trying time.

  74. Hello Frugal Friends,
    I hope that everyone is having a great week and staying safe. Here are some frugal accomplishments this week:
    – We have been getting free meals at the school (drive up) for my kiddos every day. This helps stretch what we have at home and allows us not to go into the store as much.
    – I have sewn several (hundreds) of masks lol. I have given most away for free. But I have traded with people as well if they wanted to for things such as eggs, toilet paper, paper towels.
    – I have been working on Swagbucks and MTurk to be able to earn some money since my real job I am not able to do right now.
    – Right now I am trying a new recipe for bread made in the Dutch Oven. I am excited to try it. It only requires 4 ingredients: flour, sea salt, water and yeast.
    – I have posted a few freebies on my blog:
    – I have been doing fun, inexpensive activities with my kids such as pinecone bird feeders, bouncy egg experiment, and growing grass seeds in a pantyhose and making it a little guy with hair. My third grader and 9th grader both like to do these.
    – My son is learning to draw on the Procreate App by watching You Tube videos to keep himself busy.
    – My kids are riding their bikes a ton. They both had flats so we got some of that green goo stuff to patch it up and they have been fine ever since.
    That’s about it for now!

  75. Happy Belated Birthday! You are a gift to humankind!

    This week to have space available in the freezer I rounded up all my frozen chicken parts and pressure canned 6 quarts and 5 pints of broth and 3 pints of chicken vegetable soup.
    I bagged grass clippings as I owed to use as a light layer of “mulch” for our flower/vegetable beds.
    Mowed my parents lawn as well and safe distanced visited, my mom gave me some great garden magazines to read.
    Recovered bootie heels (the part that is the heel, not the sole) with reclaimed leather from a pair of worn out boots. The fixed pair are in great shape the faux cork trim was peeling off. Booties look brand new.
    Being mindful of food consumption to avoid grocery shopping, we have each lost some weight and feel satisfied eating less. We are the kind of people who can always eat and the battle of portion control is not usually won. Thinking about it terms of half an apple today, means there is half tomorrow does not cause mental distress or fake hunger. Loving this.
    Virtual hugs to all who can use one.

  76. I’m worried that I may be sick but getting tested in our rural area is impossible. I’m on day 14 and symptoms are not extreme. The worry is heavy. All the children are self quarantined to their bedrooms. We have plenty of precautions in place. Thankfully after growing up in a home where their doctor father was an extreme germ phobic , this comes easy. They were well trained. All the leftovers in the freezer have been consumed. My supply of canned items I call heat and eat have been of great help. The cereals and oatmeal etc have made it easy. Everyone is try to stay out of the kitchen. We have plenty of food in storage but at some point , we will need to cook from scratch. The kids are creative. One son had pizza ordered and had delivery driver being them to the bedroom windows. Sugar cookie is completely secluded in family room as she is my highest priority. We are having great conversations over our phones and texts. I filed taxes for two of the children. I sleep a good deal but am exhausted. I had submitted my DNA several weeks back with a kit that was on sale. My son hooked up my thrift store printer and set it up w an old laptop. I used my $3.00 ink I bought at the Salvage store and have my own little work station set up. I’m my good moments ,I am tracking my genealogy. It’s been quite enlightening. I messaged several people who were kind enough to let me into their family trees. When your parentage is not known, it leaves many questions. I won’t be contacting any family members but I do have answers. This has given me the greatest happiness. I figured this cost about $75.00 which was considerably less than the $2500.00 fee I had been quoted. This is a strange time for me. I’m hoping things change soon. I hope everyone is able to make the best out of all of this challenging time.

    1. Lilliana, I’m so sorry to hear that you have been so ill. I hope that you continue to recover and that your children stay well.

    2. Lillianna,
      I hope you recover quickly, and that none of your children become ill.

      I’ve noticed so many times that the complaint is that we have no food, only ingredients! Plenty of those, but someone needs to cook it up, that’s for sure. I hope you feel better enough to cook some up pretty soon, or the kids can get going on that project. I’m glad you have a project of your own to keep you busy in your room.

  77. Last week’s groceries cost more than we’ve spent in a single week, probably ever. At least since 2015. I hope that things will ease up eventually. It’s hard without my normal access to multiple stores and dried beans and rice. I placed an order for nuts, grains, and lentils online. I paid more than I would at the local stores, but the stores have been out of many things. Maybe in mid-May it will be safe enough to shop more often. More than the shopping, I’m getting weary of meal planning around what we have. It’s harder than normal right now. My teenager hates rice because it gets stuck in his braces. He was supposed to get them off in May, but everything has been pushed out at least a month.

    We saved money by eating at home! Last week’s one meal of take out was Dominos (which I can’t eat), which is at least cheap. I baked two loaves of bread, made homemade ramen. We had pastas and salad and curry with rice. I made crockpot black bean and sweet potato chili.

    For fun, we watched shows and movies that we already have. Also, it’s gotten hot here (80s, which is hot for here this time of year). In the depths of the shed, we found the blow up kiddie pool that we bought 8 years ago. We were in a drought for so long that our 7 yo didn’t know we had it. We set it up on the patio with our plastic slide and he’s been having a blast staying cool. Water is not cheap here, but at least we are able to save the water to water the garden and the plants.

    I took the ends of a head of romaine and from a few onions and put them in water in a sunny spot. The onions have done nothing, but the lettuce is starting to grow. I hope to replant, and will try with more lettuce and onion and green onion that we have gotten this week.

    As usual, I have been exercising at home, running in the mornings, and going for walks in the neighborhood.

    I’m not sure how much gas costs in my area of California. I drove my car this week for the first time since March 16. I have a full tank.

  78. -Received our grocery order from InstaCart. I don’t normally use this service but I could not get a pick up time and my mother(whom I get groceries for) was out of many important items. My mother is 88 and I have a couple of co-morbidities so I don’t want to take any chances going inside a store right now.
    -Trying Clara’s Depression Era cooking’ on Youtube) bread recipe. She bakes several loaves at a time, it was simple and delicious
    -My mother paying for my groceries. I certainly did not expect it, nor need it but she insisted for me running her errands for her.
    -Planting Tomatoes, chinese broccoli, parsley and basil. Watching Youtube for instruction and ideas of what else to plant
    -Using our all electric car to deliver groceries to my mom. Costs us about $2.00 in Electricity.
    -Making Brandy’s Eiffel tower cupcake recipe turned into a sheet cake. It was a hit at my house
    -My oldest daughter’s bio-dad is taking over her auto insurance for her last two years of college beginning May 1st. This will save us $234/month.
    -Cooking every meal from scratch
    -Getting out for walks and appreciating the trees in my neighborhood. Free entertainment=)
    -Participating in a Zoom memorial for my FIL. My MIL is still in the hospital with Covid-19(over a month) we thought it would be good to give her a way to grieve while she is still in there. I was surprised how lovely it turned out and thankful for this technology.
    -Using the internet to make substitutions for Items I don’t have.

    1. Hi, I also have enjoyed Clara’s Depression Cooking on YouTube. I enjoy her stories.

      This week was good I was able to buy water skiis for $1, a UA gym bag for $2.50 for my oldest’s birthday and I found a outdoor lidded storage bin. It needs a hinge repair. I repaired and refreshed some items. I had an old ugly fan that no one liked. I spray painted it black and now it’s being used. My youngest wanted to buy Yahtzee and so we printed it out and used dice from another game. The patio slingback chairs broke. I am experimenting fixing the seats with cedar fence posts that I have cut and sanded. I will try to fasten it with metal screws to the existing metal track. The back is still in good shape and it costs only $3 for the fence posts.

      I planted more green beans, cantaloupe, lettuce, watermelon, pumpkin and I bought my first fruit tree a self pollinating Meyer lemon. I keep inter-planting knowing that most of my greens will bolt. I got the Swiss Chard that you suggested and I will plant it near the spinach that will burn up soon! 😉

      Have a great week!

  79. -I live 15 miles from town. Usually leave the farm several times a week but recently only on Tuesday for grocery run and errands. Start with senior hour at Kroger, no sales but have almost everything in stock st 7am. Buy for our two person family plus my 96yo great aunt who lives 1 country mile from us.
    -While I’m in town I get 1/2 price Coke at Sonic for treat and free Tuesday Taco for a few weeks now at Taco Bell. I have parking lot picnic between errands. Free taco again on 28th.
    -Go to Civic Center and use high speed free internet that utility company is providing. Download ebooks for the next week.
    -Right before I leave town I call and get curbside Mexican from locally owned restaurant. My mom and I share, last week we got 5 meals out of $15 purchase. Support local plus I don’t have to cook, (I hate cooking).
    -Combined email discount and free shipping for new shirts for spring/summer. 10 short sleeved shirts for $43. Free shipping had gone away during two days items were in my cart but I called and she gave me a code plus another discount.

  80. We have had lots of rain this week so we turned off our irrigation system and should be able to keep it off most of the spring and summer as we enter our stormy season here in the Florida Keys. We had a huge harvest of bananas in our yard back in March, I made 8 loaves of banana bread and then ran out of flour and couldn’t find more in the store for a few weeks. I froze most of the bread and we’ve been defrosting them one at a time for breakfasts and snacks. I also peeled and froze about half the bananas, this week I was able to find flour and make more banana bread from the frozen bananas. I gave my husband and two boys and one daughter haircuts (I normally do their cuts, not a pandemic thing for us). I normally do my own hair color as well but I’ve decided to let it go natural for a year and see what I think then, i feel too young to be so gray but people pay good money for platinum hair now so maybe I will like it! My husband is still working as an essential employee and wears uniforms. He normally sends his uniforms to the dry cleaners but since they are closed here, I’ve been washing and pressing them and I think I have him convinced that I do a good enough job to continue to save this expense in the future. I only needed to purchase some spray starch and use very little so it will last a long time. I took advantage of a 14 day free trial of Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace and watched the videos with my husband. We had porch photos taken last week, a local wedding photographer was offering a session and 5 photos for $30. We got several good family photos for a very fair price! I will take individual photos of our kids with my husband’s iPhone this week and save the normal several hundred dollar fee for a full photo shoot. Normally, I’d happily pay the fee but my husband works for an airline and we anticipate furlough by this fall so we are really cutting back. Wish me luck this week as I attempt to cut our diaper costs in half by potty training one of our toddler twins! Love the blog and your photos are so beautiful!

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