Bluebirds on the Ground. Patsy, North Carolina, USA.

Hello everyone, I’m Patsi from A Working Pantry.  It’s an honor to be asked to be a part of Annabel’s Bluebirds on the Ground series.  I am what some would consider a senior citizen, in the 65 plus age group.  I grew up in a frugal household, some even said we were poor.  I didn’t know others considered us poor while growing up until one day at school a girl in my class commented on the fact that I was wearing a dress that used to be hers.  Her mom had given my mom a bag of children’s clothing for our use.  I still remember that day and how it made me feel as the girl was condescending in what she said.  No worries, though, as it turned out to be the first of many lessons’ life would teach me on being frugal.

My mom was born during the great depression and was a product of the frugalness required to survive that period of time. She taught us well!  Consequently, I still accept hand-me-downs from others and consider them a blessing.  Sometimes, I repurpose them into things we can use in our home, sometimes I take garments and remake them into something I or someone else can wear and sometimes I wear them as they are if they fit and are my style.

I’ve had 43 years of frugal living experience as an adult so these difficult times we’re in now, we’ll I guess you could say when you add in the ‘training’ I received growing up, that I’ve had a lifetime of preparation for such a time as this.

In my area, SE USA, we are seeing price increases on absolutely everything, frequent and sometimes huge price increases along with shrinking size in packaging.  Grocery shopping has to be done with strategic effort.

Availability is and is not an issue.  If you’re looking for something specific, it very well could be an issue if you are set on a specific brand, etc.  Availability issues seem to change from week to week though.  Last week we were bargain shopping and I noticed a sign over the fresh carrots that said, ‘due to growing conditions in areas where carrots are grown, product may not be available.’  (Hmmmm … growing conditions … is it only carrots???)

If you’re not set on a specific brand, etc, you can usually find something similar … if you can afford it!

But then, the next week when you’re in the same store, there might be lots of bare space on multiple shelves.  It seems to be feast or famine, hit or miss.  This makes grocery shopping more difficult and requires one to have a backup plan in place.

Eating out has almost become prohibitive as restaurant prices keep increasing.  I really fear for some of our local mom and pop restaurants as their ability to keep prices affordable while absorbing the increased price in foods is a real struggle.  They are literally being priced out of business!

Prescription medication has really become an issue both in availability and price.  One medication my husband needs is $1200 per month without insurance … $800 with insurance and $500 with insurance and a company coupon.

Of course, this is not affordable, so we have done a lot of praying and researching.  With the help of our doctor and pharmacist, we have been able to get it for much less each month.  It is a month-to-month thing, and we rely on God and others while doing everything we can to find the medicine at the best price.  It is so important that we help those we can in whatever way we can when it is appropriate.  I believe that in so doing we are being the hands and feet of God.

Any way you look at it, hard times are here, so, what are we going to do about it?  Here’s what our game plan looks like …

We are not focusing on what we can’t do but on what we can do instead.

I’ve always had a can-do attitude and it is serving me well in this season.  Where there is a will, there is a way!  It might require us to totally rethink the issue at hand and come at it from a different angle, but if we’re willing to put forth the effort a way can usually be found.

I do something every day towards preparedness no matter how small it is.  Sometimes, if money is an issue, I work on skills.  This week I taught myself how to crochet roses.  One might ask what does knowing how to crochet roses have to do with preparedness.  For me, aside from gift giving purposes (think embellishments), it brings beauty into my life.   During hard times, beauty is so good for our mental state and our mental state has everything to do with our willingness to fight the good fight while we keep on keeping on.  

her times I might learn how to use leftovers in a new and different way or maybe research how to grow something better.  Of course, if we have extra money to spend toward preparedness, we do that.  Truthfully though, most of my daily activities toward preparedness don’t involve money.

We bargain shop!  I mean we really bargain shop!  Seventy-five percent of the food we purchase at the grocery store is marked down or on clearance.  If it’s not, we don’t buy it.  The lifestyle we live of keeping a well-stocked pantry allows us to be able to do this.

We utilize the space we have both inside and outside our house.  Our home is small, as in 925 sq ft small, which means space is at a premium.  We utilize every inch of it, and I continue to learn ways to utilize it better.  Clutter and unnecessary items are not allowed, baskets, jars, bowls and shelves are utilized to their fullest.  Outside, we use our space in the same way.  We have less than an acre of land and we have it planned in such a way to get the most from it while keeping it functional and pretty.  Pretty is important to me!

We garden … our soil is super sandy which makes gardening difficult.  However, again, where there is a will, there is a way.  Through trial and error, we’ve found ways to have a profitable garden in a climate that is hot, humid, subject to hurricanes and made up of sandy soil.

We eat from and preserve what we grow.  Maintaining a well-stocked pantry is a way of life for us and a good part of our pantry is grown in our garden.

We don’t turn down anything we’re offered if we can use it!

We glean and barter and get creative!

We take advantage of ‘free’ information available online.  There is lots of info to be gleaned by simply doing a search.  My method of researching online is to read or watch a video from several of what I consider reliable sites on topics of interest, glean the info they all agree on and then compare it to books I have on hand on said topics.  Then if I know someone who has personal knowledge about said topics, I will reach out to them.  There’s a lot of ‘false truth’ out there in the online world amongst the ‘true truth’ and we need to be wise in our learning.

Speaking of books, we have a well-stocked library that we’ve gleaned from thrift stores, sales, clearances and from being gifted.  Sometimes, if it is a book that will be helpful to us in an endeavor, we will buy it.  Both online info and books are invaluable when you want to learn something new.

We treat minor medical ailments at home.  I have been studying herbs, essential oils and home remedies for several years and feel confident in managing minor things at home.

We network with others.  This year we needed to replace our flock of chickens with new ones, but the price of baby chicks was and is prohibitive.  We have a friend who has a chick incubator who offered to hatch eggs for us in return for enough eggs to hatch some for her.  It was a deal, and we now have enough baby chicks to replace our aging flock.

We stay busy!  Idleness leaves too much time to dwell on things we can’t do anything about.

We do all kinds of little frugal things, like wash and reuse zip lock bags, that help us grow in a lifestyle of frugality.  The goal of frugality is reached and maintained one, sometimes, mundane baby step at a time.  It all adds up!

We have a deep faith in God.   When we’ve done all we can, we know that He is there to do what we can’t.  The key is that sometimes God’s answer to prayer comes dressed up in hard work and or effort.  God does not reward laziness!  My constant prayer for a long time has been and is, is that God would go before us and prepare the way for whatever is ahead of us … He has not failed us yet, nor do I expect Him to.

I have been young and now am old, yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken or his children begging for bread.  Psalm 37:25 ESV

We do not allow fear to paralyze us.

You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You.  Isaiah 26:3 ESV

We accept that we might have to learn to live without some things or make substitutions.  Hard times or not, this is life … it’s called adulting!

We accept that right now, this is the way things are.  A poem/quote by Amy Carmichael is a great   reminder … In Acceptance Lieth Peace!

We make this journey as fun and enjoyable as we can … yes, even in the hard times!  We have a good life and do things we enjoy within the confines of our budget, again … even in the hard times.

Little did that young girl know all those years ago when she commented on what I was wearing that her actions would set the stage for an education in frugality that would serve me well.  I am so thankful, what she meant for harm turned out to be for my good and hopefully for the good of others as I share and teach.

  I hope there has been something here that will help you in such a time as this.

patsi @ a working pantry

Thank you so much Patsy for your fantastic report.   I think I first met Patsy through her blog and she has taught and inspired me ever since.   I also took a couple of online pantry/preparedness classes Patsy ran.  Each report has given me new tips,  encouragement and new things to consider.   If I could sum up what I have learned so far from Patsy it would be that consistency and taking every opportunity,  over time,  amount to more than you would ever imagine possible.   

Have a good week, see you on Friday! xxx


  1. Thanks Patsy. You are so encouraging! May God continue to bless you.

  2. Patsy,
    What a great read and wealth of experience you have to share. Like the others who have written reports on the ground I have been absorbed by your words. It's interesting how the world seems to go in cycles. We have the years of conspicuous consumption and then as people grow weary of excess, spending,me, me,me and difficult times economically and globally rear there head once again, the drive to a return to doing things yourself and simple living comes back into 'fashion.'
    Of course those who don't follow fashion are already in the know and simply continue to live as they always have, whether by choice or necessity. I really enjoyed your account of life in your neck of the woods. It is eye watering to hear the cost of some of your prescriptions when most of ours cost around $5. Having said that our cost of living and relatively low wages in comparison means we are paying dearly for other good and services and for some even $5 is. Unmanageable.
    I am truly thankful for what I have and can manage and do and like you focus on what I can do and experience.
    Many thanks for sharing.

    Mandy (NZ)

    1. Mandy, thank you! We're all in this now and the choices we make will determine how well we mentally and physically survive it.

  3. Thank you Patsy for your positive and informative narrative of how life is for you in your part of the world. It seems to me that no matter the distance between us all we are all dealing with the same increases in the cost of living, and the lack of availability of a lot of medications. I hear you when you say that hard work and keeping busy is the best way to deal with life.

    1. Jane, yes, we are all dealing with similar things regardless of the distance between us. Networking among our online friends is a valuable asset for such a time as this!

  4. Thank you, Patsy, for observations from your part of the States. Like you, I try to buy on sale or clearance or make “adjustments” to my plans. I was in the grocery on Friday in preparation for a BBQ we were hosting with about 32 of our family members (children and grandchildren). I decided to tell our kids NOT to bring any food. I felt shocked when I wandered the store, trying to buy things without a very specific list of groceries that were on sale or extremely reduced. It was hard to imagine how families with both parents working could afford their weekly shop without a pantry to fall back on! Real eye opener.

    Gardenpat in Ohio

    1. Gardenpat, my hubby and I have made that very observation when we bargain shop. How do people without a pantry do it!

  5. Patsi, thank you so much for this post. I have read your blog for years! And as was said in a comment above, one of the things I see reinforced in your writing is consistency…or taking small steps each week. I know you are busy and wanted to say thank you again for the time you take to share your learnings and experience. Hilogene in Az

    1. Hilogene, thank you and yes, small steps is my method of building and maintaining my pantry. It makes it doable.

  6. Patsi, thank you for this report . You are such a blessing to so many, myself included. I've learned so much from you over the years. Cookie

    1. Cookie, thank you! I have learned so much from you as well!

  7. Thank you for such an encouraging post, Patsy. There are so many good techniques, values and ideas within your words. May God bless you abundantly.

  8. Dear Patsy, it was a pleasure reading your post, as it is for me reading your blog every week ( I have found you thanks to Annabel). I find myself in many of your life experiences, including the mean girl at school but also the joy I had receiving hand-me downs. To this day I am glad to have new-to-me clothes - I wear them, or modify them, or use up to totally different projects or gifts.
    Thank you for all the good advice, I really am learning from each post and each Bluebird.
    Thank you, Annabel.

    Wishing you a nice day, Laura_s_world from Romania

    1. Laura, thank you! Bring on the hand-me-downs, they have many uses don't they!

  9. Hello Annabel and Patsi.
    I am really not sure where to start as I have been reading so many posts written by the Bluebirds but I have never commented. Except last night I sent a message to Out Back Tania.
    Patsy, tonight I was tired from a busy day and hungry and wanted a nice dinner. We had leftovers with a bit of French Onion soup mix sprinkled over, a couple of spoonfuls of cream of chicken soup into quarter cup of water stirred in and your pot pie pastry over it all and baked till cooked golden brown and delish. For dessert we had Tania’s apple slice and cream. Ate like king and queen, beautiful food and frugal as well. Thank you to all the ladies who so very generously give their time to write blogs and share all the recipes, tips and hints. Than you Annabel for the jar mix recipes too, so useful. Lots of blessings to you all.
    Chris in Perth WA

    1. Chris, that pot pie pastry is wonderful isn't it! Thank you!

  10. Thank you, Patsy! You are, as always, an inspiration to me in so many ways. I appreciate all you do.

  11. Your story about the hand me down dress hit home for me.
    We were so poor I used to steal clothes from the goodwill donation box when I was little .
    I was always afraid someone at school would see me in their old dress!
    I'm a frugal southern girl as too.
    I'm busy picking,washing,cutting and blanching squash,peppers,green beans and corn. Getting it all ready for winter months.
    I have beautiful gardens mostly grown from seeds and cuttings and clippings.
    The cost of gardening has become insane! I had a lady drop by today and asked for some cuttings from my roses. I sent her home weighed down with rose cutting and petunias.
    That's what I love about gardeners,
    They are always willing to share their bounty with others .
    Thanks for the lovely post.

    1. It sounds like we have a lot in common! You're right about gardeners! Thank you!

  12. Dear patsy and Annabelle,

    Its so good to find like minded Christian women of faith, reason and practicality.

    Todays trip to the supermarket was just a head shaker. A box of chicken broth was $7.99 before tax. A box of plain cheerios cereal was $7.00. There are jars of spaghetti sauce running ten dollars. Coffee, cookies...its all out of control not to mention buying meat. I live in the USA in the rocky mountains. I am grateful that i can make my own broth, spagetti sauce and cook all of our meals from scratch. The Lord rewards our diligence to watch over our spending as stewards.

    I love all the creativity on this blog, and the freedom and joy to be less commercialized i
    our gift giving. I realized today that I have quite a surplus of mojito mint this year from all the spring rain. It makes the best limeade ever! I am going to be harvesting and drying it as a frugal gift along with the recipe.

    Our property taxes are going up to the tune of close to 30 percent. Not to mention rising home owners insurance. We have to make cuts some place and I find support here on this website to not feel like i am being cheap by making gifts.

    Blessings to all the bluebirds wherever you live. And i too am always grateful with anything given to me..hand me down, pass it around, new to me, or whatever other name we use. God provides in many ways. I hope you can erase the feelings that girl caused you. She was wrong and it shouldn't have happened. I read once of a girl who had nice clothes being snobby to the other girls who didn't. When her mother got wind of what her daughter was doing at school, she confiscated all her daughter's trendy high fashion clothes completely. She took her to a thrift shop and picked out clothes that were decent but old and out of style, and for het punishment and to teach her a lesson that is what she had to wear to school for a certain amount of time, a month or whatever. Needless to say her daughter was humbled and learned the lesson not to look down on others because of what they wore. Hopefully such firm intervention changed her heart for the rest of her life. And brabo to such a mother who stood her ground and saw it through.


    1. Elaine, that would have been a fitting punishment to remold her character, but honestly, it doesn't bother me anymore and hasn't for a really long time. Thank you for your care and thoughtfulness.

      Annabel's blog is a gold mind for sure! I've gotten several gift ideas and bunches of inspiration from it!

      I would love to have your mint limeade tea recipe, is it one you can share?

  13. Thanks, Patsi! My part of Ohio is the same.... can't always find specific brands or items. I can usually substitute as well.
    I appreciate you sharing about your childhood memory. I worried how my own children would react to hand-me-downs. But they loved wearing an older friend or sibling's garment. Like Elisha wearing Elijah's mantle.😊
    I appreciate the Bluebird on the Ground posts, Annabel. Not only are we challenged to prepare for the worst, but we draw closer to other Bluebirds. I always am determined to learn and pray for my fellow Bluebirds.
    Blessings, Leslie

    1. Leslie, I like your comment, 'like Elisha wearing Elijah's mantle'! What a special way of looking at hand-me-downs!

  14. Thanks Patsi, that was amazing to read and really encouraging

  15. I love hand-me-downs! It's cheaper than the thrift store! LOL. The thrift store has really gone up lately. I assume it's because their costs have increased too. I only have one person who gives me clothes and that is my daughter. Oh and my husband! Lol. I use his old shirts to make my grandson clothes or crafts like bags or purses.
    I love your thought that skills like crocheting adds to the preparedness.

    1. Margaret, thank you! Thrift stores in our area have increased their prices too! Love your ideas!

  16. Great report! I just have to add for the readers that researching Patsi's blog will net you loads of good tips. I love the little series about how they built their home on a budget!

  17. This post was enormously encouraging today! Thank you so much for sharing it.


Post a Comment

Popular Posts