Five Frugal Things

by Katy on December 18, 2023 · 78 comments

  1. Now that Chanukah is over, it’s time to pull out my two bins of Christmas stuff, which means our enormous garbage picked artificial tree and the hodge podge of hand-me-downs and thrifted decor. Cheap and irresponsibly manufactured holiday products have somehow become a normalized component of the holiday season; and it’s downright depressing to witness the store to landfill waste stream.

    I just want you to know that it’s okay to decorate lightly with what you already have.

    Sometimes it’s best to just tape a red nose on your existing decor!

  2. I took the last of a gallon of slightly sour milk and made a bit of ricotta cheese by simmering the milk and adding a splash of white vinegar. I then strained it through a dish towel to separate the whey from the milk solids. The whey can be saved for bread baking and the “ricotta” paired  with pasta. Easy and without food waste.

  3. I made a big pot of chicken soup using just a single frozen leg quarter. Of course I also added onions, garlic, dried chives, carrots, potatoes, peas, herbs and spices. I love using my Instant Pot for soups and beans, as it’s as easy as pushing the buttons that says “soup” or “beans.” I know that Instant Pots are a trend that came and went at this point, but having a pressure cooker that doesn’t require babysitting is a game changer. Game changer!

  4. • I sold a thrifted University of Portland diploma cover to someone in Guam. Thanks, eBay!
    • I carpooled to Trader Joe’s and the hardware store with my friend Lise. I hadn’t planned on shopping on a weekend so close to Christmas, but I couldn’t turn down the offer to combine an unpleasant task with socializing. Plus, I needed a fresh gallon of milk.
    • I held off on buying a couple items from my grocery list at Trader Joe’s as they were significantly more expensive than Winco. Example? $3.29 for a bag of onions, versus $1.29 at Winco.
    • I listened to Jennette McCurdy’s I’m Glad My Mom Died through the free Libby app.
    • My across the street neighbors let me set our yard debris can out with their pickup, so I raked their front yard as a thank you. We share garbage service with other neighbors, which means we our yard debris turn is only every other week.
    • I made a double batch of ginger snaps to give as gifts and immediately put them in the freezer so we wouldn’t be tempted to snack on them.
    • My next door neighbor accidentally bought two bags of rosemary crostini bread, so he gave them to us. I stuck a bag in the freezer and grilled and served the rest with the chicken soup. I gifted him a jar of homemade butternut squash soup as a thank you.
    • I went to watch my husband play hockey and found a quarter, two dimes and a penny outside the rink. That is my idea of a spectator sport!

  5. I didn’t buy a Lear Jet.

Katy Wolk-Stanley

“Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without.”

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{ 78 comments… read them below or add one }

Bethany M December 18, 2023 at 5:02 am

I took my 8th grade science class on a free field trip to the glass blower in town. Spread the small business love too. So many had never heard of the place. It was amazing.

Visiting my parents over the weekend. Talked my husband into $6 homemade packed dinner for the road instead of a $60 McDonalds artery clogger.

I saw a cute plant and I wanted it. Only 5.99, but then I knew I’d have to buy soil and another pot since it was root bound. I was so proud of myself for walking away, and who knows someone on the Buy Nothing group might post one for free later. I do have 2 nice indoor plants at home already.

Made dinner each school night of this first semester of teaching. So many times I thought of picking up a pizza or grabbing fast food on the way home, but hubby really pitched in on dinner clean up and we made it work.

I bought a $10 clearanced boneless leg of lamb and threw it in the freezer. I wanted to order a shawarma seasoning, but I looked for a recipe instead. I had all the spices I needed. Then I took time to inventory my spices. I will restock at Winco when we visit my in-laws in Oregon this summer. I painfully miss Winco ever since we moved away from the west coast.


Kate December 18, 2023 at 5:47 am

Katy, after years of hearing about your friend Lise, I can’t help but wonder how “Lise” is pronounced. Like “Lisa” or “lease”? Or something else I can’t think of?


Katy December 18, 2023 at 8:05 am

It’s pronounced “Leeze.”


Kate December 18, 2023 at 10:37 am

Thank you! 🙂


Amy December 18, 2023 at 5:53 am

My mom used to call her many bins of Christmas decorations. Christmas Crap. And I inherited about 60% of it. Plus, some of my grandmas, my husband’s grandmas, and a couple random relatives. So, I think other than finding a couple replacements at rummage sales, the only new things I have bought are lights. BTW if you can switch out bulbs and fuses on those lights and still get them to turn on, you are a light changing hero. I have tried and failed many times. Now I give them to my brother, and he fixes and uses them.


Jill A December 18, 2023 at 6:09 am

I think Christmas lights are one of the most frustrating things ever. They have brought me to tears many times.


Jill A December 18, 2023 at 6:06 am

I’m still hoping for an Insta-Pot that someone has lost interest in at a garage sale.
1. I purchased my Christmas gift cards at Meijer, they had a spend $50 and get $5 in bonus rewards points. So now along with some other miscellaneous rewards I have almost $40 that I will use when I buy my Christmas dinner rib roast that is also on sale this week.
2. I portioned out all of the ham from a spiral sliced that I split with my Mom and sister. I froze it in cracker bags that I washed out and saved. They make great freezer bags.
3. I stopped at a thrift store and found three pair of jeans in my size. One pair still had tags and the other two were in barely worn condition. I may lose more weight so these may not fit in the future but they are good brands that I can resell.
4. I joined the next trendy appliance craze and purchased an air fryer and toaster oven combo on sale at Costco a couple months ago. My sisters and I also purchased one for my Mom for Christmas. I’m using this in place of my large oven for meals for youngest daughter and I, and I love it. It is also a dehydrator, so I plan to use it for my home grown herbs next summer. My herbs that I air dry end up covered in dog hair from my daughters giant Newfie.
5.I gave my dog a bath at home in my shower. The new shower head with a wand I purchased a couple years ago is paying for itself.


Bee December 18, 2023 at 6:30 am

Jill, I’m still trying to get through Yellowface. I definitely have a love hate relationship with this book.


A. Marie December 18, 2023 at 11:41 am

Bee, I’ve always said that we are under no obligation to finish a book we are not enjoying. Life’s too short.


Bee December 18, 2023 at 3:35 pm

I really want to know how it ends. I just really do not like the main character. I am hoping that she will redeem herself by the end of the novel I may just read the last chapter.


Jill A December 18, 2023 at 4:31 pm

Bee, I would given up on it if not for the fact that it was on the must read lists.

Teri December 18, 2023 at 4:08 pm

Would you mind sharing the make and model of the air fryer/oven you purchased? This sounds like just what I need for 2 people.

Thank you


Jill A December 18, 2023 at 4:28 pm

It is a Ninja Foodi Digital Pro Air Fry Oven. It tilts up out of the way when you’re not using it.


Amy December 19, 2023 at 7:13 am

Same feeling on the Instapot. Every bread machine that has came into my home has been a giveaway, thrift or garage sale find. I have a Forman grill that was part of my husbands inheritance from his grandmother.


Bee December 18, 2023 at 6:28 am

Katy, I agree with you about Christmas decorations. Very little of mine my decor has been purchased new and some things have been a part of the Christmas in my home since I was a child. I also use a lot of greenery and natural elements that I forage – pine, holly, magnolia leaves, moss, pine cones and so forth. Fresh fruit such as lemons or apples also look beautiful with the greenery.

A Costco rotisserie chicken is the gift that keeps on giving. After providing four meals, I made a big pot of chicken broth that was the base for a very fragrant and delicious bowl of gluten-free Ramen. I took out the carrots that I used in the broth and save those for my pup. She loves these and absolutely knows when I make chicken broth. On a side note, I also use my Instant Pot for this. It makes the best broth with no fuss.

Frugal/Unfrugal. Smart/dumb. I could not find my car keys earlier this week. My particular car key is like a thumb drive that you plug-in to your car to start it. They are extremely expensive to replace. So when mine was not on the hook in the kitchen as it usually was, I spent three hours looking for it. I found it protruding out from under my dishwasher. I must’ve missed the hook when I was coming in with my arms full the night before and it skidded across the floor. I decided to invest in an $27 Apple AirTag. I never want to have that happen again and I do not want to ever spend $400 on a replacement key. Perhaps this is an unnecessary cash outlay, but it does have the potential of saving quite a bit in the future.

I had a craft day with a friend. We made Christmas trees out of vintage jewelry that was no longer wearable – missing stones, broken clasps, etc. This is what they look like These were popular to do in the 1970s. A bit kitschy and a lot of fun.

I had ordered my Christmas cards with envelopes that had a preprinted return address. Unfortunately, I received plain envelopes with my order. I contacted the company online to receive a partial refund. This took some time to get done. I had to get past the digital assistant and I was 99th in line to chat with a representative. However, I endured and my $12.60 was promptly refunded.

When running errands with a friend, I mentioned that I needed to run by the dollar store for large Christmas gift bags. She said that she had too many and asked me to please take them from her. I accepted her kind offer! How else was I going to wrap golf clubs. The other gifts are being wrapped in recycled Christmas bags. I do believe some of them have been in the family a decade or more!

All the usual things and more. I’m listening to a heartwarming book using my Hoopla app, The Lonely Hearts Book Club. I also “checked out” a binge pass for the Hallmark Channel. Unlimited corny Christmas movies are a seasonal favorite. I am wearing a warm pair of thrift-store, Christmas pajamas that were NWT when I purchased them. I returned something to the store for a refund that was the wrong color. During a huge storm that pummeled Florida this weekend, I finished reading Ruth Ware’s moody mystery, One By One.

Wishing everyone love and peace this holiday season!


Heidi Louise December 18, 2023 at 8:38 am

Glad you prevailed with the telephone call for your credit!
Maybe this is common knowledge, but I mention again: If you are on hold for ages, put your phone on speaker so you don’t have to keep it up at your ear.


Bee December 19, 2023 at 6:20 am

Unfortunately, this is one of the many companies that does not allow you to speak with a human. You have to go through online help, then request additional help from a virtual assistant. Then they chat with you via text. If for any reason your phone locks during the wait or you have to navigate away, you are kicked out of line and have to start over. Customer service has gotten sooooo bad. This was the third time I needed something during this Christmas card order. If I could have spoken to a real person, I’m sure it could have been fixed immediately.


Lindsey December 18, 2023 at 10:04 am

I loved some of the pieces made out of vintage jewelry!


A. Marie December 18, 2023 at 12:18 pm

As another survivor of the 1970s, I too recall those jewelry Christmas trees. I seem to remember that there was a fad for making these on the sides of purses that were actually wooden boxes with rope handles.


Christine December 18, 2023 at 3:25 pm

Although I was a 70s teen and remember some of the crafts (rug hooking, macrame, gimp) I don’t remember the jewelry Christmas trees in frames but went to the link and found them very pretty.


Ecoteri December 19, 2023 at 2:55 pm

@Bee, my pup (well, she is 12) also knows when I have had chicken or bones in the instant Pot. She, too, loves the carrots (I am making the bits bigger so they are easier to spot when I am doing a mess of bones). She also gets the skin. if there is too much a small jar in filled and put in the fridge to amend her dinners. Yes, yes, there are many who don’t feed their dogs people food. I have and I do and she is old and spoiled and doing VERY well according to the vet. I only need to wipe up a TINY bit of drool when I am dealing with the chicken and carrots before her supper!
As for the car keys – my truck key is a fob that doesn’t even have a key part . I got two when I got the truck, but one of them disappeared about a year ago. I finally admitted that either it is in a coat of mine somewhere, or that #2 son has misplaced (former more likely, though) and purchased a new fob from the battery store – much cheaper than at Toyota. The first week it came back, I misplaced the older one (in my gym bag!! – no key required, right? Just has to be in the truck). So glad to have the other one available until the first one showed up. DOH. Key lanyards for the freaking WIN!


kathy December 18, 2023 at 6:36 am

Yippee I’ve had a steady sales on ebay, Mercari and FB marketplace since Thanksgiving. I’ll only be working my part time job 8 hours between 12/23 and 1/7. Due to low occupancy at work over the holidays plus I’ll be on jobcation from 1/2-1/7.
I redeemed Southwest airmiles and Focus group EVisa $$ for gift cards. My sister’s birthday is today and I used Kohl’s rewards plus $$ for her birthday gift (new pjs)
Decluttered the house and donated many new items from subscription boxes for Christmas wish lists provided by local agencies.
We did buy a new fake Christmas tree as we didn’t move the old one when we relocated 1300 miles 3 years ago. I bought one new ornament.
I was gifted a box of Sees candies and a box of Godiva chocolates which I’ll bring one box to nephew’s on Christmas Eve and break out the other for Christmas Day dessert.


Ruby December 18, 2023 at 7:10 am

DH and I have a minimum of decorations, but that’s our philosophy for the other parts of the year as well. We don’t deal well with a cluttered house.

1. Last night I mended three gnawed-on dog toys using some of the funky orange thread gifted to me by a long-ago neighbor.
2. Read three library e-books using the Libby app.
3. Cooked a big pot of kibble topper for the dogs using bought on sale ground turkey and chicken stock, rice from Dollar Tree, frozen peas and carrots bought on sale, and eggs bought with a coupon.
4. Still using the nearly half a jam jar of lotion scraped out of a pump bottle that stopped pumping.
5. Making sandwiches with a discounted loaf of bread from Aldi. Tastes and looks absolutely fine.


Kathy December 18, 2023 at 7:14 am

Ruby My dogs love it when I treat them to veggies: squash, green beans, carrots


MB in MN December 18, 2023 at 7:26 am

1. Received a $3,500 bid from a tree company to remove a fancy treehouse (with a huge climbing pole and swing), tree, large log, and high limb at our new home. Instead, we listed the treehouse for free on Craigslist and the person who dismantled it did the rest of the tree work for us for $600.

2. Several things broke during our move. The moving company is reimbursing us for those items or providing fix-it services.

3. Created a rustic pot for our patio using items foraged from the tree farm where my husband works: leftover boughs, birch branch, grasses, red twig dogwood, and pinecones. We already had the container and the potting soil was left by the seller. Done, free, easy.

4. Sister-in-law gave us two sets of sheets that she wasn’t using. One set is flannel and I’m looking forward to using it when Minnesota gets to “normal” low winter temps – we’ve been unseasonably warm with no snow. I dislike winter but I dislike more what’s happening with our weather patterns. It’s just not right or good.

5. Visited our car dealer to have them answer some questions we had about the used car we purchased a year ago. Mentioned that we needed to buy key fob batteries, too, and they replaced them for free. They also gave us a pro tip: store fobs as far away from the car as possible so that the batteries don’t need to be replaced as often (e.g., don’t hang them next to the door to the garage). Also grabbed a granola bar from their complimentary snack area. I think I squeezed everything possible out of that visit!


Heidi Louise December 18, 2023 at 8:48 am

I smile nostalgically at your key fob story. My Dad in NW MN bought a Subaru, and had the worst trouble with the battery dying when the car was stored in the garage. He took it to the dealer in the Twin Cities where he worked part time and they couldn’t find a problem. He took it to the dealer in Grand Forks, ND, and the first thing they asked was whether he left his keys in the car.
Well, of course he did. That’s what one does in northwest Minnesota. It never occurred to the St. Paul dealer that anyone would do that.
So the keys were ever after inconveniently stored on the far side of the kitchen. But the battery stayed charged.


MB in MN December 18, 2023 at 3:51 pm

Heidi Louise, that’s a great story!


Bee December 18, 2023 at 1:12 pm

I love your first FT. It is great that you saved so much money, but I hope that fancy treehouse will make a child very, very happy.


MB in MN December 18, 2023 at 3:51 pm

Bee, I hope so, too. It’s even got electricity, heat and a front porch!


Christine December 18, 2023 at 3:33 pm

I love your #3. I did something similar. My son in law gave me a bunch of fragrant boughs he needed to cut off their Christmas tree to make it fit into the stand. I added foraged red Winter Berries, White Pine branches and Rhododendron stalks (I’d use Laurel but it’s illegal to cut it here in Massachusetts). I put them in a milk crate on my front porch. Like you said: Done, free, easy.


MB in MN December 18, 2023 at 3:54 pm

Christine, a milk crate is a great idea! I’ll try that next year.


Blue Gate Farmgirl December 18, 2023 at 8:53 am

I still remember the day I found my InstaPot at a garage sale, still in it’s Macy’s gift box in a bougie neighborhood. I loooove my pot! Yesterday I worked for 8 hours on rebuilding pasture fence and could barely walk into the house, but there was Ivy the instapot, keeping my hearty stewp warm and ready along with the bread machine loaf of gf oatmeal honey bread. It took me another 10 minutes to chop a salad and we had a delicious meal.
Today the Christmas tree goes up and non breakable ornaments thanks to a raucous puppy.
Thanks to Utube, I was able to properly clean, change oil and sharpen my chainsaw, saving me a $200 tune up bill and time without the tool.
A new to the farm kitty was dumped on the County road, so I set out a feed dish and heated water bowl. I turned on the pet safe heat pad in the cat tree house that I built in the barn for such beasts. She/He is a beautiful long haired kitty, smallish, so I’m not sure how old it is.


Christine December 18, 2023 at 3:34 pm

Bless you for providing food, water and a warm bed for that poor kitty.


Selena December 18, 2023 at 8:17 pm

And so am I. I get SO mad at cretins who dump animals in the “country” thinking all will work out well. Most of the time it does. Our current two are dumps and we have no regrets about taking them in. Frugal dollar only wise – nope it was not. From a companionship and entertainment perspective, priceless. I’ve been feeding a feral/dump for over 1 1/2 years. Would like to set up a pet safe heated pad but the current shelter has worked out.


Christine December 19, 2023 at 7:18 am

I agree Selena…priceless! Our 13 year old cat was a “dump” on my husband’s mail route. Heartless but such a bonus for us. He’s in my lap as I write this. Sweet, gentle boy.


Jiya December 18, 2023 at 9:11 am

I volunteer at a local thrift shop once a week, and I have been stalking the aisles for an Instant Pot. Scored one last week! I promptly made a soup from black eyed peas and leftover ham — it was delicious.

The big risk at the thrift shop is that I want to take home ALL THE THINGS. I have been working on taking just what I really need (still a work in progress on this!)


Heidi Louise December 18, 2023 at 9:16 am

1. We had a light snowfall this morning, just enough to clean the kitchen broom when I swept the front steps.
2. We have only two grocery stores in town and are very familiar with one, so I know where to look for mark-downs and how to use their rewards program. I also have time to do this; part of saving is having time to shop.
3. My artificial evergreen outdoor wreath is sparkly green this year. Over the past decade, it has been silver-blue and red. I just change the decorations with whatever bows or accessories I have. Otherwise, my main decoration is changing the paper beverage size napkins in dining room table basket to match the seasons. Those are easy to find at yard sales.
4. Accepted the annually offered one month free of Amazon Prime to watch some movies. Doesn’t mean I have to buy anything. (Though why is chocolate covered marzipan so rare in the U.S.?)
5. Found a new author and character I like: “Jade Dragon Mountain” by Elsa Hart, with Li Du as the central character in 1700’s China. Very interesting cultural clashes, history, and science. Will get the next two books from the library.


Karin December 18, 2023 at 1:48 pm

Re marzipan, if you are near an Aldi, they have it for Christmas, and not too pricey, though you have to be quick – my Aldis are already sold out.


Heidi Louise December 18, 2023 at 1:54 pm

Thank you, Karin! If we are in a nearby city, I will look there.


Jill December 18, 2023 at 9:22 am

1. We use the Kroger app for grocery savings and earn points on fuel purchases. We were able to fill up our gas tank for $1 per gallon off for a total of $16 to fill the tank.
2. My daughter is home for the holidays from NYC so I have planned a week of meals – with the exception of 2 nights when we will be out and about – from the freezer with already purchased food from sales. We have a week of home cooked meals, holiday movies and walks to see lights planned which sounds wonderful.
3. The two nights we won’t be home are to take the family to Lights at the Zoo and my daughter to a local theatre production which are some of their Christmas gifts. Experiences are my preferred method of gifting even if they are a bit pricier sometimes.
4. We are taking our daughter to the zoo with our grandson with a free guest pass that came with our zoo membership.
5. – I’m reading two library books The Old Success by Martha Grimes and Dopamine Nation: Finding Balance in the Age of Indulgence.
– I didn’t come into as much money as Katy but I did find a penny on the ground outside of our local thrift store
– Checked out the second season of Annika, my current obsession, from my library
– used up bananas and made more banana bread for my grandson (and all the rest of us, too. It’s just his favorite)


K D December 18, 2023 at 9:50 am

I still use my Instant Pot, purchased on sale several years ago, regularly. It’s great for sweet potatoes as well as beans, soups, meats, etc.

1. I passed along a box of nuts we received and didn’t appreciate to a friend . We don’t exchange gifts but do nice things for each other.

2. A neighbor had a big bag of Brussels Sprouts that they were not going to use, with an approaching use by date. I happily accepted and oven roasted them.

3. We were curious about Rao’s frozen pizza since we love their sauce. Several weeks ago we bought one on sale. We baked and ate it last night and found it just okay.

4. I finished The Wishing Game and started Counting the Cost, borrowed from the library.

5. I did not buy any Christmas decorations this year. We have plenty from the past and enjoy putting them out each year. I have culled them over the years and it seems we have just the right amount.


MommaJo December 18, 2023 at 10:21 am

Holiday Frugal things:
1. Made cinnamon spiced pecans for my office staff. I ordered the pecans early at a really great price in bulk. I saved glass jars all year for these. Used twine for a bow and a free printable to make the lids pretty, and cover up the Spaghetti brand on the lid. 🙂
2. Regifted a lot of the store bought treats, DH and I can’t eat them all. Gave them to people I know would enjoy them with their families.
3. Took home some gingerbread from an office party, its in the freezer to serve to overnight guests next week.
4. Trimmed back my rosemary bush before bringing it in for the winter. Simmering some on the stove in water with cinnamon sticks I already had. The house smells wonderful.
5. Set up a gift wrapping station in a spare bedroom with an old card table. How wonderful to put everything in one place, using up what I had and saved, and not have to hunt for things.
Not frugal: our dryer died. I have no time to hang laundry, so we bought a new one. The old dryer made a horrible banging sound for the past two years, so I’m kind of glad for a new quieter one. Used a credit card that gives me points, bought it from a local small business that does their own maintenance (good labor is hard to find where I live), and found a rebate online from our power company for purchasing a low energy appliance. I looked to see if I could get a tax rebate too, but not for dryers.


Michelle H December 18, 2023 at 10:29 am

Love the deer with the red nose!
I’m not a big holiday decorator, but 2 of my kids are, and they have a blast finding stuff around the house to use. We display my husband’s childhood Tonka toys in a cabinet year round, and at Christmas the kids pull them out and arrange them on the coffee table full of ornaments and tiny presents they wrap up from scrap paper. Scrabble pieces spelling out Merry Christmas and Feliz Navidad complete their display.


Christine December 18, 2023 at 3:40 pm

Your decorations sound beautiful and nostalgic plus I’ll bet your kids have fun setting them up. Very sweet.


Lindsey December 18, 2023 at 10:46 am

Katy, you may not be aware of this, but you can eat cookies straight out of the freezer! HA!!
1. A friend is moving to Las Vegas, which I totally do not understand. Anyway, I am her destination for anything she wants to get rid of. (I hate ending sentences in a preposition!) So far, more frozen food than we will eat in months, Tupperware, several bottles of Dawn that have never been used, a knit lap blanket, and Swifters galore.
2.Pound Hound hates my accordion. As soon as I pull it out of the case he starts running toward it and maniacally barking. Strangely, or perhaps not so strangely given how much better my husband plays, the hound never barks at his instrument. Anyway, since we seldom play at the same time, I decided to get rid of mine because I can just play my husband’s when I am in the mood. I was telling the neighbor about this and she said a friend’s daughter has begged them for an accordion. I passed it on to the kid because, really, how many 15 year olds beg for an accordion? I told her I did not want any money but a few days later it snowed like crazy and her plow owning husband cleared our driveway. That saved us $65 so it was a good deal for both of us. This makes two accordions out of the house in a month.
3. In the store a woman offered me a coupon saying she could not use it. It was for $10 off $40 worth of groceries. I put it to good use!
4. Did two gas shops, so $20 worth of gas for free.
5. Had one serving of soup left. Added some stock from the freezer and a bag of mixed vegetables, making enough to feed us both for lunch.


A. Marie December 18, 2023 at 11:49 am


(1) It’s perfectly OK to end a sentence with a preposition. (As the story goes, when Winston Churchill was chastised for ending a sentence with a preposition, he responded, “This is the type of arrant pedantry up with which I will not put.”) And your friend moving to Las Vegas sounds like the kind of friend I like to have!

(2) I too have had pets who are music critics. I am a thoroughly untalented pennywhistle player, and every time I get out one of mine, the cats have all covered their ears (metaphorically speaking) and fled to another floor of the house.


Christine December 18, 2023 at 3:47 pm

It’s nice to see a young person still interested in playing the accordion. I remember back in the Dinosaur Era (the 1960s) many kids played them, including my best friend’s brother. He eventually gave it up but his uncle who just turned 90 still plays. Until recently, this uncle and his wife were snowbirds, going every year from New England to Florida. Guess what accompanied them in their car on every trip back and forth? Yep…his accordion.


Heidi Louise December 19, 2023 at 8:49 am

I do like imagining that accordion being packed up in the back of the car!

A colleague played accordion when he was a child, largely for his grandmother’s friends at coffee parties. However, when his Mom was going to upgrade him to one with speakers, he balked and did not continue his studies.


A. Marie December 18, 2023 at 12:38 pm

FFT, Minimalist Edition:

(1) As noted in various earlier comments, my own holiday decorating is rock-bottom minimal. DH and I stopped having a Christmas tree back in 1991 (the year we had a new kitten and didn’t want to tempt him beyond his endurance), and my bough of curb-picked evergreens on the front of the house and a display of hard-copy cards in the living room are as far as I go these days.

(2) But, fortunately, the Bestest Neighbors are willing to share as always: I helped them trim their tree Saturday evening. As usual, I made myself useful as the third-party arbitrator in disputes about light/ornament placement, etc.

(3) And I enjoyed both Dr. BN’s last-day-of-Chanukah latke party on Friday (the BNs are a mixed marriage; Ms. BN, like me, is a lapsed Episcopalian) and the carol party I attended after that. The latkes and the carols were both excellent.

(4) At the carol party, I requested and got the one carol I never hear anywhere else around here: “Thou Who Wast Rich” ( Having been pursued whenever I’m out and about by my nemesis carol for this year, “Santa Claus Is Coming to Town,” I thoroughly enjoyed this moment of true beauty. (Does anyone else have nemesis carols? If so, I’d like to hear about them.)

(5) And since Friday night was a true rarity for Central NY–a mild, clear winter night–I enjoyed some stargazing on my way out of the carol party. The planet Jupiter was an excellent substitute for the Star in the East.


Heidi Louise December 18, 2023 at 12:55 pm

I have not heard of a nemesis carol, though suspect I could have several.

Are you familiar with The Little Drummer Boy challenge?
Starting the day after Thanksgiving, attempt to avoid the song through Christmas Eve. You’re out of the game if you hear it. No specific prize except the heartwarming knowledge of having avoided The Boy for another season. One’s progress can be posted in an online or facebook group for others to mourn.


A. Marie December 18, 2023 at 1:09 pm

Heidi Louise, “The Little Drummer Boy” has been on my nemesis list in years past, though I haven’t heard it so often this year. (Possibly everyone else is as sick of it as you and I are?) And I’m much amused by the TLDB challenge.

To give my definition of a nemesis carol, it’s one that (a) you hate and (b) you seem to hear everywhere you go during a given holiday season. Past winners for me, in addition to TLDB, have included “Simply Have a Wonderful Christmas Time” and “Do You See What I See?”. Other contributions are encouraged.


Karin December 18, 2023 at 1:59 pm

Nemesis carols to add to the mix:
Santa Baby
Jingle bell Rock


Liz B. December 18, 2023 at 3:31 pm

Karin, YESS!! On my list, besides these, is “Last Christmas” (Wham), and pretty much any Christmas song by Mariah Carey.

Bee December 19, 2023 at 2:06 pm

The Christmas carol that puts me on edge is “Santa Baby.” Just wrong on so many levels.

Ecoteri December 19, 2023 at 3:21 pm

@Bee, did you see this remake of Santa Baby? great fun

Heidi Louise December 18, 2023 at 3:47 pm

I am enjoying the Amazon TV commercial with the llamas singing, “Mamacita! Donde esta Santa Claus?”, from 1958. But I fear it will be mainstream next season. I had not heard it before.


Ruby December 18, 2023 at 7:45 pm

Christmas music sung by Mariah Carey makes me slap the car radio off at lightning speed!

Lindsey December 18, 2023 at 8:20 pm

I feel like I have to stand up for the much maligned Little Drummer Boy. That is one of my favorite carols. On the other hand, I own the CD, It’s a Cow Christmas, with such timeless lines as “We wish you a dairy Christmas and a happy moo year.” So I guess there is no accounting for taste…


Kris December 20, 2023 at 5:40 am

The Little Drummer Boy duet with Bing Crosby and David Bowie is one of my “must listens” every year. Give it a try 🙂

Christine December 18, 2023 at 3:56 pm

A Patridge in a Pear Tree could never be played again as far as I’m concerned. The endless verses and the drone of Five…Gold…Rings…is NOT music to my ears.
I recently heard of a challenge similar to the one Heidi Louise mentioned except it involves the song Last Christmas. If you hear it by anyone other than Wham, you have to turn it off or run out of wherever you are (perhaps screaming).


Ecoteri December 19, 2023 at 3:24 pm

I too am not a fan of TLDB (gah) and Partridge gets a bit old and droney. My Ex just HATED Feliz Navidad. Like, almost frothing, didn’t find it funny that we found it funny how much he hated it. It was actually one of the few things I saw that made him furious. Strange, huh, the triggers we all have.


rebecca December 18, 2023 at 1:02 pm

1. My health insurance was reduced by $100 by changing plans.
2. Eating from the freezer.
3. Bought a turkey breast on sale and put it in the freezer.
4. Planning another game night with friends to keep expenses down. So easy to host, popcorn, small chacuterie board with items under @12 and bake some brownies.
5. The usual-hanging laundry, coffee and water from home ect.


BettafrmdaVille December 18, 2023 at 1:41 pm

1. Went to family Christmas party in another state and carpooled with my nephew, splitting gas & tolls.
2. I forced him to wait 30 minutes while I did a mystery shop that was en route. Put that $18 toward the gas/tolls.
3. Both my partner and I are sick today. Unfortunately, it means I had to call in sick to my new part-time job (working for friends). We went to buy wonton soup from our favorite Chinese when I realized that I could just make some Asian-ish chicken broth (I added ginger, garlic, soy, sesame oil, and a small amount of ground porcini mushroom powder) and eat it with frozen dumplings that I had in the freezer. Dumplings were on sale, with a coupon, with Swagbucks so $1.04 for the bag. Chicken broth was from Aldi sale.
4. Our family holiday party had a theme of steampunk. I borrowed goggles from a colleague and cobbled together an outfit from stuff that I had already at home.
5. My nephew had borrowed my brother-in-law’s car while we were out of state. Realized that he kept the keys, so we ended up waiting for brother-in-law at a coffee shop. Used an app for $2 off a coffee. (So frugal, but also frugal fail…)


Christine December 18, 2023 at 3:15 pm

Goldie Fawn looks great with her Rudolph nose!
1. I had a $5 coupon at Kohls, so I used it for $6.69 bag of Lindt Chocolate balls. I’ll use this for a prize for one of our Christmas trivia games on Christmas Eve. That was all I bought at Kohls. Crossed the mall parking lot to Yankee Candle where they had their 3 packs of air fresheners on sale for $2.99. Bought two for two more game prizes.
2. Although we’ve had rain and wind last night and all day today here in the Northeast, it’s been unseasonably warm for three days, so our heat has not come on once.
3. I highlighted my own hair. I don’t know what they charge now for the same service at a salon but the last time I had it done there it was well over $100 for the highlights and a haircut. That was about 10 years ago, I’d guess. Now I buy the kit at the pharmacy. The last two I bought were on clearance for $3 and change. They’re pretty easy to do too.
4. A friend signed me up for a free subscription to Consumer Reports On Health newsletter. He’s done this before and when the subscription ends, it ends. They don’t keep sending it to you and expect you to pay for it.
5. Katy, I see you decorate like I do. What I have is old, mostly inherited or gifted, and that’s what goes up. The newest thing I have is my artificial Christmas tree because I got sick of paying the high prices the sellers want for Christmas trees around here. I know they’re just trying to make money over and above what they have to pay for them themselves, so I get it. Just not willing to part with that kind of money for something we’ll enjoy for only a few weeks.
Happy Holidays to all!


Teri December 18, 2023 at 6:24 pm

Help me save $$$! Tell me what kit you use for highlights and maybe share your secret technique as well!

Thank you!


Christine December 20, 2023 at 10:47 am

The kit I currently have is L’Oreal Paris La Petite Frost. I have hair in between jaw length and shoulder length and there is plenty of product in this kit to highlight. If you have long hair, you’ll need one that covers more. Warning: you do have to put on a plastic cap and pull pieces of your hair through with the tool included in the kit (resembles a crochet hook). There are dots on the cap you can follow to give the highlights a more uniform appearance or a frame for your face. After all these years, I just stick the tool in and pull hair out pretty randomly until I have my whole scalp done. This part is the most work. Then you mix the packets and bottle of product and cover all the strands pulled out of the cap. These instructions are included in the kit. You’d be amazed how often I find them on clearance. I pick up several at a time when I see a low price. I highlight about 2 or 3 times a year. Hope this helps.


Selena December 20, 2023 at 4:44 pm

Accurate description – I’ve had my hairdresser do it that way (I don’t muck with my hair!). But beware, some hair bleaches faster than others regardless of your natural hair color (ask me how I know). Defeats the purpose of doing it yourself if you have to turn around and cover white highlights!


Ashley Bananas December 18, 2023 at 4:51 pm

1. I was gifted an abundance of wine corks for my craft club I teach at work. I used them for stamping in Novembers craft, but had so much left that I found a craft to use the rest of the wine corks for a different project later in the year. Hello American flag wine cork art!!! Score!!!
2. We had a potluck at church this Sunday. I made two batches of rice crispy treats. I had all items on hand, and they came out great. I may just buy a jumbo bag of malt o meal puffed rice again once a year or so just for this purpose. It’s inexpensive and nice to just pull out of the cabinet for events where I need to bring something. Additionally, we took home left overs and are enjoying them.
3. I did some Door Dashing last week and brought in $190. I will put this toward paying down debts.
4. I started cleaning out my laundry room. I want to use it as a personal space for crafting etc, I found several things I could let go of. I put them on the curb and they were all gone before trash day. Happy they found a second home.
5. A patron at work said she wanted to take up sewing and was buying a sewing machine. Little did she know I have one in my laundry room and offered it to her for sale. I have it in my car and after looking up the value may just give it to her for free. It’s something that was left in a house I bought, and I’m happy to pass it on to a friend.

Hope everyone is having a great week!


Jennifer December 18, 2023 at 5:55 pm

1. Read a magazine from the library and enjoyed my made-at-home mocha as my entertainment today

2. Made a batch of pumpkin chocolate chip muffins and managed to get half in the freezer for later. My whole family loves these for breakfast

3. Made an extra principal payment on our car loan. The company makes it very difficult but it’s worth it

4. Remembered to redeem Kohls cash from black friday shopping (shoe purchase). I used it for a free blanket and a free bar of fancy mens soap. Both will be gifts.

5. I’ve been washing my hair every other day. A savings of shampoo, hair gel and electricity since I’m not drying it on those days


Kara December 18, 2023 at 7:58 pm

1. I got Kohls cash and put a note on the calendar for the day that I could spend it. I got a toy for my grandson to play with at my house for no money out of pocket. I got the Kohls cash for an item that I ended up returning, so it really was free money. I try to add one toy to my stash here at home each time my grandson visits. I got this toy at Kohls, and one from my Buy nothing group. So I’m set for next visit!
2. My husband has made some needed repairs to our original 1960’s closet doors with help and parts from the woodshop teacher at the school where he teaches. What a wonderful help!
3. I froze the extra gluten free gravy at Thanksgiving and it will be brought out for Christmas. Yay for a bit less work.
4. I shopped for a needed item at Joann’s and used my teacher discount. Went early to avoid crowds and walked out with the single thing that I went in for.
5. Drying clothes on racks in the house. Not a welcome addition to the decor, but mostly it’s not seen by anyone other than us. I have a tall skinny rack that fits nicely behind the recliner, and right over a floor heat vent. Today there are cloth napkins and dish towels on the rack.


Vickey December 19, 2023 at 7:18 am

Laundry drying over the heat vent is a double-win – passive humidification of the dry winter air!


Anne December 19, 2023 at 4:35 pm

I do believe that when you return an item to Kohl’s for which you received Kohls cash, the cash is then canceled.


Kara December 20, 2023 at 4:24 pm

I spent the Kohl’s cash before I knew I needed to return the original purchase that earned the Kohl’s cash.


Evie December 18, 2023 at 9:45 pm

Your commitment to reusing existing decor is fantastic! It not only promotes sustainability but also adds a unique touch to your holiday celebrations. i am trying to get discounts on every online purchase i made, websites like EMUCoupon is helping me alot. Have you discovered any other creative ways to repurpose items and minimize waste in your seasonal festivities?


mary in maryland December 19, 2023 at 9:23 am

1. Yesterday I scored a pizza from a close neighbor on Buy Nothing just in time for lunch. Delicious—but it suggested that the crust I make is way too hard.
2. In the past I’ve canned tomatoes in quarts and 1.5 pt jars. It would save on lids to do it all in quarts. I was sorely tempted by a Craigslist ad for a dozen quart jars for ten bucks. But a long drive, especially the week before Xmas, and I only need five. Eureka! Yesterday on freecycle someone offered “jars” close by. I bit and received five quart canning jars, two artichoke jars that match the ones I use to store leftovers, and several small vinegar jars that I passed to a friend who gives homemade vinegar samplers as gifts. I really feel like I got my present early.
3. For my B-day/holiday gift I asked the Mister for some carpentry work in the basement. He lowered one of the shelves where I store my canned tomatoes, so that all three shelves can accommodate quart jars. And he installed another shelf under the workbench for emergency water storage.
4. Someone in the hood empties four one- gallon jugs of water every week. On trash day I harvest them from their recycling bin for my emergency water storage.
5. The day after the Mister pointed out that we hadn’t much firewood, someone offered some on Buy Nothing. We now have about three days’ worth in case of loss of power.
6. We have one box of Xmas décor. Yet all we use are the electric candles in the windows. The neighbors say how much they enjoy looking at them every year.
7. I’ve been drying the rack laundry in our bedroom. More humidity and no need to walk nude to the basement for clean underpants.


Michele December 20, 2023 at 7:06 am

1. Doing a little meeting/party for RNs I supervise and I’m making punch, a cheeseball, a fruit tray and cracker candy.
2. I tend to keep shopping even when I’m done, so saying “enough!” to myself.
3. Taking over Christmas Eve duties for my mother in law, so asked my son what his FAVORITE food at Grammy’s Christmas Eve instead of re-creating it all.
4. Printed out The Legend of the Cardinal and included a note for a dear friend who will spend Christmas with us as his wife just passed. Paired it with a cardinal mug.
5. Doing all the normal stuff- brewing coffee at home, Aldi’s, packing lunch, making meals at home.


Cindy in the South December 20, 2023 at 7:24 am

I pulled out my $5 tacky neon blue tabletop tree purchased years ago from Dollar General, pulled out my mom’s Christmas kitchen towels that are 40 plus years old, and I am done with decorating…


texasilver December 20, 2023 at 11:02 pm

1. I baked a chicken. Made bone broth from the bones & used it to make chx soup after most of the chx was eaten.
2. Got a free Dunkin holiday coffee using my app. I had to buy something which resulted in 3 munchkins for 99 cents.
3. Found 33 cents in the drive thru at Dunkin when I paid.
4. Found a huge amount of out-of-date cereal in the Dol Gen dumpster. My husband will eat the Raisin Bran. I think I will take the rest to the local shelter.
5. Found a box of winter clothes for girls. I washed these & took to the nearby elementary school.
6. The hood of my car had defective paint. My husband got it painted for 200$. I guess that is my Xmas present. A useful gift & he negotiated the price down to a reasonable amount.
7. Earned a 50$ gift card after I participated in a home visit from a NP. My insurance company offers this yearly. You can earn $ placed on your gift card for getting a physical, and other health promoting behaviors.


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