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Monday, June 29, 2020

Howdy, Friends!

I've been taking this past month off from blogging, just trying to take better care of my health. I've had several health challenges this spring and now summer. This has been my wake-up call to do better. 

So, that's where I've been. I truly could not string together enough words to create an upbeat and positive blog post and still have energy to take care of my family and myself.

We've still been living frugally -- who hasn't during the pandemic when you couldn't go out shopping, eat in restaurants, go to the movies, theme parks, or any other activity that has an admission fee.

To restart my blog posts, I thought I'd list out some of my recent frugal activities with 

the penny-wise dozen edition

  • 1) cut my own hair, several times over the course of the last 4 months
  • 2) colored my hair with a kit in a box

  • 3) made rosemary and rhubarb preserves
  • 4) restocked and expanded the pantry to develop an emergency pantry while we seem to be in a good place with grocery shopping -- store shelves are full once more and autumn stockpiling has yet to begin. I used our vacation fund for 2020 to pay for the purchases. Also, we've increased our monthly grocery budget to $250.
  • 5) made a long-term food use plan and have been sticking to it. Doing so ensures we have well-rounded meals for a long stretch of time.

  • 6) still baking sourdough bread -- loaves, hot dog and hamburger buns, and pizza crust

  • 7) making yogurt on the reg. I'm a creature of habit and have a small cup of vanilla yogurt every morning and another small cup of chocolate yogurt after lunch.
  • 8) I'm harvesting from our garden. Not everything did well. However, in the places where seeds failed, I replanted with other veggie seeds. It looks like it won't be a green bean year -- boo.

  • 9) the hanging lettuce baskets are finally looking like I could pick from them

  • 10) drying sage, oregano, thyme, lemon balm, and peppermint and freezing rosemary and basil for use in the coming months. Lemon balm and peppermint iced tea has become a favorite in the afternoons.

  • 11) playing with ring and pin designs using wire wrapping techniques -- the pins are in gold wire and the ring is double wire (one silver, one gold)
  • 12) knitting another dishcloth using leftover yarn (this one is lavender)

What are some of the ways that you've been penny-wise (but not pound-foolish) these last couple of months? Add your list in the comments.


  1. Welcome back, Lili, I have missed you!

    Some ways we are working to be smart (maybe not, I'm not sure) is that when this "thing" started we did a bit of stocking up on things. Now, since the stores have few limitations, I feel like we can go ahead and use what we have been stocking up. First, I will say that the grocery bill has been somewhat higher than normal and that is because of a couple of things--stockpiling and more people to feed. We have four adults home and with three meals per day we are going through a lot of food.

    We have been always looking for deals in anything at all and would freeze what we could. The freezer was full to the brim. Our "new" of meal preparation is to use the first thing thing that our hands touch in the big deep freezer. That has been interesting. But it has been kind of fun too. We are seeing a bit of dip in the freezer levels and now I can move things around to find something I need.

    A ham from Christmas was used last week, meatballs and a jar of peach jam and BBQ sauce made a great meal. Stromboli using spaghetti sauce and any meat leftovers. We have surely been creative! A big struggle is using a bag of potatoes before they start going bad so I have decided to buy instant potatoes in the little pouch and just add boiling water.

    Dad and I had a conversation last week. He admitted he just can't handle a big garden anymore. I told him that I loved that he took care of us with homegrown goodness but that doesn't have to be on his priority list. I told him to do only what he could handle for him and mom and we can help where we can but expect nothing. I asked that he only do this on a small scale. It almost sounded like he was asking how we felt about not getting anything. I'm fine with that. I just feel like he's not doing well but at 89 years old, I guess that is to be expected.


    1. Hi Alice,
      Good to hear from you, too. I'm glad your dad is making good decisions for himself. As parents, ourselves, we understand the drive to want to do whatever we can to help our kids. But there does come a tim when we have to put on our own oxygen masks first.

      I hear you on going through unbelievable amounts of food with all 4 adults in the house 24/7. I've been shocked how much we are eating and how fast the groceries disappear.

      Have a great day!

  2. I'm so sorry Lili that you've had health challenges, but I'm glad that you feel well enough to be blogging again. Looking forward to seeing your posts.

    1. Hi Live and Learn,
      Good to hear from you.
      Thank you. I will not be blogging everyday, but at least once or twice each week.

      Have a great day, L & L.

  3. Howdy Lili! It was such a treat to have your post in my email this morning! I am glad to hear that you are taking care of yourself and setting up boundaries. It is important for us to do that. I have been trying to use up every scrap that I can. So much so that hubby commented on it last night. Lol.
    Our school is providing a bag of food per week for anyone of the ages 18 and under. We have been diligent to use most of the items. The bags are not based on income, it is available to everyone in the county. We pick up so that at least one bag doesn't end up in the dumpster. My son doesn't care for some of the processed items, so we pass those on to someone that does. We had "garlic toast" last night with 1 piece of bread, 2 hamburger buns, and 1 roll cut in half. I didn't have garlic powder so I smeared on a thin layer of butter, sprinkled with onion powder and a bit of salt. We are making do.
    I had 2 flour tortillas that were a bit to hard to salvage last week. We tossed those to the birds. I got to thinking though, that was .30 thrown away. I could make them cheaper, but the truth is, I won't. My mind has not been set on food waste. I am listing anything that is thrown away with an approximate price by it. This is to remind me of the waste that I do have. I definitely need to tightened up in this area. I have not been writing down what I have fed to pets as that still isn't waste, therefore I don't have to pay for that portion of pet food if that make sense.
    Our youngest is now a teenager and has had a significant growth spurt. We carefully went through all of his clothing and donated them to someone that could use them. We purchased 4 new shirts for school, along with shoes, underwear and socks. I have found a couple of jogging pants new, new set of pajamas, but will be searching for some jeans/khakis at the thrift stores.
    I have been stocking our pantry back to prepare for 2nd round covid 19 for the fall. When the 1st round hit, I was in use it up pantry mode. We didn't have some items. I want to been better prepared just in case things shut down again. It did cause a bit of anxiety for me. We were able to find what we needed, but I like buying things at the best prices.
    I hope that you all have a wonderful day!😊

    1. Hi Lona,
      Thanks for the welcome back. Good to hear of your life and activities. Your garlic toast made with onion powder sounds delicious. There may be other possibilities to try, too, in a pinch. I'm thinking chili powder might also be a tasty sub for garlic. Just thinking out loud. . .

      Hope you have a great day, Lona!

  4. Welcome back, my friend! So happy to see you post. Loved all of your frugal activities, as always. The preserves sound so yummy, especially. I'm glad that you're able to stock up some for a while.

    Try to take good care of yourself. Lots of people love you, including me.
    Best-- Sara

    1. Hi Sara,
      Thank you for the welcome! I'm working on taking better care of myself. I've not made myself a priority in the past and it became clear that this is a necessity and not an option.

      The rosemary-rhubarb preserves are very tasty. I'm thinking this would be a good accompaniment or glaze for savory entrees. Right now, I'm just enjoying it on toasted sourdough.

      Have a great day, Sara!

  5. You've been busy, Lili. I hope your health is doing better. Your rosemary and rhubarb preserves in the jar are so pretty!

    1. Hi Belinda,
      Thank you. Good health is a work in progress; probably always is, but I'm just now more focused on taking care of myself. I hope you are doing well.

      I agree, the color of the preserves is lovely.

      I hope you have a great day, Belinda.

  6. Glad to know you are feeling better and your family is ok. I'm still looking for Clorox wipes and keep adding food each week. Our numbers in my county are low but seeing what is happening around this country and some that have no sense I worry.

    1. Hi Cheryl,
      Thank you. I appreciate your kind words and concern.

      I've given up on finding commercial Clorox wipes and using homemade bleach wipes when needed. I suspect that a lot of the Clorox wipes are still being diverted to healthcare facilities. But I have read reports of some folks finding them at Costco, with limits of course.

      The numbers in my own county are flat, but not declining. It's the county where Seattle is located that is most troublesome to me (one daughter and husband work in Seattle). Yesterday's case count was triple what it was one month ago. I just keep praying.

      Have a great day, Cheryl!

    2. Hi Lili,

      I have occasionally found sanitizing wipes (sometimes Clorox, sometimes store brand) and our local QFC (Kroger), but you have to check regularly in the morning hours. If you aren't going out often, it's going to be more difficult to find them. I did stop at Target (in Woodinville) yesterday afternoon, and they had a bunch in stock then (store brand). It's just hit and miss, and you have to check often.

      - Tina

    3. Good to know. Thanks, Lisa!

  7. So glad to see you back - this is a hard time. The community you have built online is such a blessing and I'm grateful for your posts.

    A couple of things I have been doing is enjoying audio books through the library system Libby. I have thoroughly enjoyed listening to "The Best Cook in the World" by Rick Bragg. I love to clean, work in the yard, and knit while listening. I have been getting some knitting projects done while enjoying a little Netflix at night as well. I'm working on Christmas gifts so I have to start early and not be overly ambitious about what I think I can accomplish.
    Take care and so glad to have you back!

    1. Ruthie, I loved Rick Braggs' book, "The Best Cook in the World".

    2. I loved learning how they think about food! It brings the whole community together and the memories that are passed through the generations is so interesting to me. Did you try any of the recipes?

    3. Hi Ruthie,
      Thank you for the welcome! How have you been, since recovering from your surgery? I hope well.

      One of my daughters likes to listen to audio books. I don't know if it's Libby, but the books she gets are from our library as well.

      Good job on getting started on Christmas gifts! That's impressive. I've been making up a list for this next Christmas and have accumulated a few gifts, but haven't begun making anything yet. Thanks for the push.

      Have a great day, Ruthie!

  8. I am so happy to see a post from you Lili! I have checked daily to see if you had posted. When I realized you were clearly taking a break I I prayed for you everyday. I have never commented before, but I'm so glad to see you back and doing well that I had to let you know. Amanda

    1. Hi Amanda,
      Thank you for your prayers. I can't begin to tell you how much that means to me. I'm sorry that my disappearance all came so suddenly. I didn't know if this would just be a few days or not, but it just took me a lot longer than I'd hoped to pull myself together. I hope to have at least a weekly presence, here, (maybe more some weeks) going forward.

      I hope you've been well during this pandemic. Wishing you a great day!

  9. Hello there! Good to hear from you. I'm sorry you've been struggling with your health but I'm glad to hear that you have been taking steps to take care of yourself. Sounds like you've been busy. Your jewelry is lovely and the lily (I think that's what it is) in the first picture is so pretty!

    We're keeping well here. We just got back this afternoon from a camping trip in northern Michigan. My husband and I talked it over and felt like it was something we could do safely. We went to a rustic campground (vault toilets--which may sound icky but there's no flushing to release plumes of germs in the air, only one person at a time can be in them, and no one lingers long!). It was a nice trip and good for my mental health to get away. We are having a heat wave but in that area, the temps were cool at night, so we slept well, and it's on an absolutely beautiful lake so there was a lot of swimming for us to cool off! We did some hiking in the mornings and drove around in the afternoons looking for highlights of the area (in air conditioned comfort ....). It was good to be away from the constant news reports for a little bit.

    Anyway, glad to see you and everyone else back here!

    1. Hi Kris,
      Thanks for the welcome!
      Yes, that's a pot of dwarf lilies. When it began to look like I would not get to a nursery this spring, I dug the lily bulbs from a couple of pots and combined them into one group. The pot sits right outside the bedroom window -- a nice morning treat to see each day.

      Your camping trip sounds like it was revitalizing for you and your family. It's good to get away from the news right now. I'm glad you were able to do this.

      Have a great day, Kris!

  10. Welcome back and hope all will be smooth sailing for you and your family. And I am sure you have heard this numerous times, but even though we are alone (quarantined), we are still in this together! Missed reading your blogs; glad you are back! Take care! Lisa

    1. Hi Lisa,
      Thank you. And you're right, we are all in this together! Thanks for the reminder.

      Have a wonderful weekend.

  11. Welcome back, Lili! Glad to hear that things are going better now and that your health situation is improving. I really missed reading your posts. I was sending good thoughts your way and hoping that everything was ok. Best wishes to you and your family.

    - Tina

    1. Hi Tina,
      Thank you for the welcome and good thoughts. I hope all is well with you, too.

      Have a wonderful weekend, Tina!

  12. So good to see you posting again! Glad you are feeling up to it again and taking good care of yourself. It's been a crazy few months, hasn't it? Add me to the families going through crazy amounts of food. Our college student who had been living in the dorms away from home had to come home, of course. And then with her and 3 other teenagers home, and a 10 YO growing boy, we have been going through the food. Combine that with doing store pickups for a bit, and having many items out of stock or not available in the most frugal option, and our grocery bills were up there. However, this past month, I've been able to get things back down.

    Frugal stuff:
    Gas savings, of course.

    Planted much more in the garden this year. Along with that, we went through a tote of various supplies I had bought several years ago to make Steve Solomon's Complete Organic Fertilizer recipe. I was able to make up a full batch of that and have several of the minerals left over (manganese, zinc sulfate, etc...).

    I've been knitting dishcloths like crazy. The repetitive movement is stress-reducing for me, and it's nice to have some new dishcloths.

    Booked our anniversary trip using reward points for most of the nights. Camping the other two.

    Paid for camp for the two boys early enough to get the early bird discount. Every bit helps!

    Oldest daughter got engaged-she has found a beautiful, reasonably-priced wedding dress on Etsy and is fully on-board with having a more frugal wedding. Her fiance's dad is a pastor and will do the ceremony, probably on the lawn of his church (the kids' choice).

    There's probably more, but that's what I can think of for the moment.

    1. Hi Cat,
      Thank you for the welcome. And big congratulations to your daughter. Have they set a date or are they still just enjoying engagement.

      It sounds like you've been quite busy, but still keeping it frugal. Bravo! I'll have to look up that fertilizer recipe. Thanks for mentioning it.

      Have a great day, Cat!

  13. Thank you, Lili. Yes, they are planning on March 13, 2021. At the beginning of spring break, due to her still being a student. Oh, and another frugal wedding-related thing. They met at a Christian camp where my daughter has worked several summers. The camp also owns a large beautiful home up on a hill, often rented as a wedding venue or for other events, and also run as a bed and breakfast. Because they've both spent so many hours working at the camp, the owners offered them the options of either using the home for their reception, or staying there two nights as part of their honeymoon. I think they're planning on the two-night stay. Such a kind gesture!

    Here's a link (if that works here) to an article in Mother Earth News where they featured Steve Solomon's COF recipe. I first heard of it reading his book, The Intelligent Gardener. I did the soil testing he recommends to first see what deficiencies we had, then used the COF after correcting those. These days, I just buy Trifecta (from MI Gardener) as it has all the sorts of things I would add anyway, without my having to source and store so many ingredients. But the COF is good stuff and I'm happy to have a batch of it to use, as I will be replanting with fall crops as summer ones come out.

    Have a great day!


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