The little birds...

If you watch little birds you will see they are busy and happy! Using whatever they can find they create the most gorgeous little nest.
I would be the little bird with some glittery thread in her nest!
We can be like this. Happily working away with the things that are available to us to create a beautiful and happy home.
All the while with a little song in our heart.

Banner by Free Pretty Things for You.

Thursday, 19 October 2017

Feather your Nest Friday, 20th October, 2017.

It's Friday!  It has been a good week!
First of all thank you to everyone who participated in the swap party!  For my part all the parcels will be ready and posted on Monday.  I have been busy drying heaps of sour dough starter and that is all ready too.
I just published some more comments in the swap post so be sure to check and let me know if you need any more contacts. I think I will say Sunday it is closed down for this time and we will do it again early next year.  I hope everyone gets lovely parcels in the mail!

This week I built up our home and saved money in lots of little ways...

I added a kettle to our BBQ set up for boiling water if the power is out.  Previously we just used saucepans but this is easier for making cups of tea etc.

I got two sets of good sheets on a huge bargain!

My spray bottle was almost empty so I refilled it with miracle cleaner.  To do this I simply put in about an inch of the cleaner into the bottle then fill the rest with water.  Cost is a few cents!   The recipe is here plus how to make your own cleaning cloths etc.  This all saves a fortune and your house never smelled so good!

It was a week of roses!   Our garden is blooming just now and it seems to have come all at once.

We have yellow roses down the side and over an arbour...


Yesterday I started picking them.  Jane made me realise that I could use dried rose buds as gifts and in swaps!  So while I usually dry lots to use on food like my coconut ice and on soaps and bath bombs etc. I am going to try and dry enough over the summer to make up packages for my gift cupboard.  Jane also told me you can buy dried rose buds by the gram and they are expensive.  
This is what I picked just yesterday...


The buds will today be hung upside down to dry. The flowers I will just enjoy and then dry the petals.

Out the front we have a tree covered in palest pink blossoms.  It is now raining petals every time there is a breeze.  


I just love all of this and the scents are beautiful too.  I have honeysuckle at the front door and this is always open if the weather is ok so the whole house smells beautiful.

I made peanut butter biscuits again this week.   I am making them every week as Harper likes them so much but also I am doing an experiment with going grain free.  My whole life I have suffered aching legs.  Some of my early memories are Dad rubbing my aching legs.   That has been my normal.  But since early this year when I got the spider bites and infections on my arms I have had badly aching arms.  After months of this I found I was taking tons of painkillers as aching legs plus arms makes it seem like everything aches.  I was getting fairly miserable.  I read a lot that many people go grain free to reduce pain but that sounded mad to me.  But then Laine told me she is grain free as she has a chronic condition which causes a lot of pain and by doing this she has improved her life and can still do things she couldn't otherwise do.  And I was willing to listen to Laine as she gets so much done! 
At this point I was desperate and thought I have nothing to lose!  So I got organised and on October the first I went grain free.  I thought as an experiment only.  
On the fourth day my leg ache and arm ache disappeared.  Today is the 20th day. I have had two days with mild aches rather than 20 days with major aches.  I am amazed.  I have more energy too. MUCH more energy.  Each day I am still improving.  And this week we started our summer swimming so now I added lapping the pool and still haven't ached!  
I also went to the doctor this week.  I told her what I was doing and I expected her to roll her eyes but she didn't!  She said that apart from anything else for a woman my age (menopausal) this was the best thing I could be doing!  WHAT? No one ever told me that before.  
I am not telling anyone to do this or that it would be right for them. But this has amazed me and I cant believe the benefits so far so I thought I would share it as there might be someone reading who is suffering quietly and you just never know. 

These cookies are just  1 cup peanut butter (easier to work with if it has been in the fridge) 1 egg and 1 cup of sugar rolled into balls.  (I use much less sugar though)


Press with a fork, bake in a low oven (they burn easily) for about ten minutes or until lightly browned.   They are very filling.  No flour!

I am still baking things like scrolls and cakes for the family.  If I have something for myself like these cookies I am ok and not bothered.  That is not to say I won't fall off the wagon at some point!

This week I did a big spaghetti sauce cook up. 


Chloe came home from her trip!  I sent her home with two nights worth of the sauce.  For us I made zucchini noodles and Andy likes these and so no pasta.   This all gave me four dinners to give away,  and eight batches to freeze plus two nights of dinners for us.

I made vanilla yoghurt.

At the discount chemist I got a cleaning product for one cent! 
And we have hit our safety net amount and the rest of the years prescriptions will be only the minimum amount which I think is about $5.

We started having BBQ's.  This keeps the kitchen clean, the power bill down, we eat outside in the evenings and it is lovely.  Usually this time of year we do a couple of BBQ's a week maybe three times a week in summer. 

My dried fruit is soaking for my Christmas cakes.  This year I got most of the fruit from Aldi and it is lovely.  


I have enough for four large cakes but I will make them up as 8 smaller ones.  That is part of my work today. This will take 20 eggs! 
I always make these in October as they improve with age. And they last a year so I usually hide a couple.  That recipe is here.

Coles sent me a $40 voucher and coupons to save more points.  I will sit and stick these into my diary this weekend.  Usually it is one coupon per week.   Doing it last time earned me this $40.  I will use this on half price items and turn it into $80 value (at least)  It is a great way to add to the pantry.


So that is my week!  It was pretty good! The highlight was Chloe getting home!

I hope you had a good week. How did you feather your nest, get ahead, save... build up your pantry?
I am off to get these cakes cooked and hang up my rose buds.  
Have a lovely weekend! xxx









Wednesday, 18 October 2017

Sorry for no post today!

Sorry I didn't get my Christmas Challenge post up today. I have been drying sour dough starter, replying to all the emails and sharing addresses etc to make sure everyone gets their swaps!
There is still at least one new swapper with a wonderful list so be sure to check that out!  I will run it to the end of the week then we can start again in the new year!
If anyone did not get the email addresses they needed please let me know.  I hope everyone has lovely parcels arriving in the next week or two!  See you on Friday! xxx

Thursday, 12 October 2017

Pantries and Preparedness. The first Bluebirds Swap.

Thank you to everyone who already wants to join in the swap party!  And for all the photos as these are very helpful.  I can already see this is going to take a while but it should be wonderful!  And if it is a success then maybe we can do it several times a year... we will see!

Here is how it will work.

In comments post if you would like to offer a swap to anyone who has posted pictures today.
Post 1.  What you have available to swap.
        2. What you are looking for in exchange or hoping to find.  If not sure say open to anything!
        3. What country you are in and if you want to keep it within your country or are willing to post internationally.  An envelope size restriction could work i.e. I am going to say I am willing to post up to size A3 envelope overseas.
        4. It is fine for someone to get multiple offers. They can choose the best one for them or divide their goods up etc.  No one should feel obliged to make a swap and no one should feel offended. If this swap doesn't work out another one will!
     
If you see someone if offering a swap "speak" to them by replying to their comment.
Watch your comments to see if someone has replied!
If a swap is agreed on email me at brinkzi21@hotmail.com and tell me who you are swapping with.  I will need email addresses to exchange.  I will then let the two parties nut it out and exchange postal addresses between themselves.

Most of the ladies here I already know or have corresponded with.  I have found everyone so lovely.  But I can't offer guarantees! This is a goodwill exercise.  Don't post anything of enormous value.
Seeds, food and plants cannot be posted into Australia.
Give me some time as I could end up with my hands full! 😊

I think that is it!

First we have Vicky.  She makes gorgeous little girls Tutu's.   She can make any size, length or colour.



Vicky does Tutu dresses as well.  She is willing to swap for lots of things!  She loves things to build up her pantry, gift cards, vouchers, items for her present cupboard.  So very flexible! Vicky is in USA but I think she can post anywhere if postage is covered.  She wants me to note she does the skirts and dresses, not the cape in this picture.

Next we have Belle.  Belle in in Australia.   She has a treasure trove of buttons,  handmade papers, organza ribbon, gift tags,  paper flowers...









There are a lot of amazing things in these pictures.  It might make it easier to make an offer for things by saying picture 1,  picture 2 cut outs etc.  


Next we have Tanya.  It is really Tanya who gave me the idea of a mail swap! Thank you Tanya!


Tanya is in Australia. She has hand towel and washers, Homemade Beeswax candle, pretty paper clips, handmade Christmas Cards, handmade scarf, lip balm in a little case, lavender soap, ribbon bag,  Trim Healthy Mamma Cookbook, spices, baby clothes, recipe cards.   Tanya is in Australia and offers to fill a 3 kilo bag of goodies. She would like to swap for fabric bowl covers, (she loved the ones Jane made me) pretty country flannelette fabric wipes (like we do in the miracle cleaner jars) and I think she is open to all kinds of suggestions too.  It was Tanya who sent me all the beautiful swaps I showed the other day and each item was presented gorgeously.
Update: I told Jane about this and she already made the blow covers especially for Tanya!

Barb has die cut shapes for card making. She has bird and teapot designs that are lovely.  She makes embossed papers...


Barb has sets of lovely sticker labels for craft items...


Also Nautical themed cut outs...


Barb is in Australia.  She would like to swap for handmade cards, soaps or Twinnings English Breakfast tea her favourite. I already struck a deal with Barb! 

Lorraine made six beautiful Christmas cards. She is in Australia.  


Ok, I am in love with the bird one! 



Thanks so much Lorraine! These are wonderful.

Rachel has knitting patterns.  She is in Australia.   She just wants them to go to a good home!



Vickie makes peg bags. She is in the US but says these are very light and doesn't mind posting anywhere.  


I think Vickie can make them in your colour scheme ...

Cookie is offering 100% cotton fat quarters...



Also patterns...  Cup cake oven mitts!   A gorgeous ruffle bag...


Quilts patterns...


Cookie is in the US. She doesn't mind swapping things individually i.e. you can pick a pattern or particular piece of fabric etc...


Holley has a whole selection including greeting cards, black cards, bookmarks, ribbons and she is including a bracelet...



Holley is in the USA.

Amanda has made gorgeous Christmas cards to swap.



Thanks so much Amanda! She says she doesn't mind posting anywhere as they are light. They are just lovely!

I forgot Jane's swaps!  Well I just didn't see and missed part of her message!  She has several key rings a trinket box and her handmade  heat pad which she says is about the size of a normal placemat..



She has beautiful hand crochet 100% wash cloths, scrubbier and make up remover pads...


I love these!  Sorry Jane for my mess up.x


My own current swaps are packets of organic Bayleaves from Mum's garden,  vanilla beans and sour dough starter.  I will post anywhere! 

Jane made me realise that dried rose buds are something I could be using as gifts and swapping!  I never thought of that so I am going to start drying lots more rose buds!   These will be ready for the next swap!

Be brave and jump in as you never know... your surplus might really bless someone else.  We might have happy spin offs too.... nice things in the mail,  maybe friendships formed, maybe pen friends! 

And obviously swaps will be taken up and they are limited but there is nothing to stop any of us from saying ok I will get to making some more, collecting some more and I will get back to you! 

If you agree on a swap please then email me at brinkzi21@hotmail.com and let me know who you are swapping with and either I can pass on your address to them or you can email them yourself... let me know which you prefer please.
Give me a little time too as this could be like unravelling a can of worms! lol!

As well all know craft and handmade items are expensive.  I hope this swap helps everyone along with their present cupboard or pantry in some way!

Have a great week.   Chloe is on her way home now!  It is warm and sunny and lovely. xxx

Feather your Nest Friday, 13 October, 2017.

This was a much better and more normal week!   I love Fridays when I have plenty to report.  😊

Friday night Chloe came over to dinner before flying out on Saturday morning.  It was a lovely night.
I made my super easy crockpot cheesecake.


We had leftovers for the weekend! 

During the week I made cupcakes for Harper.  I made them ballet theme!   I got these little decorations on Ebay and have a big pack of them.   


These were a hit!  She would eat a bit then put the ballerina back in what was left.

I made vegemite and cheese scrolls.  I love the sight of dough rising!  I made man sized ones and child sized ones...


We saved a lot of money!  Today we have cement being poured in an area in the back yard.  I have been waiting to get this done for so long!  It is too much for Andy to have done on his own.  We got a quote and considered it.  Then I used the local suburb newspaper and rang around for comparison quotes.   A guy came to look at the job.  Then we offered him cash.  Well, that had a magical like effect and we saved $1,100! 

I found several bargains at the store including Brie for $1.90 so I got several. 

I potted up the little succulents from the garden day.  These pots needed filling and replenishing so I started with those...


It must be succulent week as I had a road side find!   This time it was a case of having to ring Andy as there I was with two big Agave plants that I could fit into my car and one that I could not even lift! 


The big one in that tall bucket is taller than me!  I would love to know what a nursery would charge for that!  They are all for Chloe who is planting a garden that can handle times of no watering.  I showed her a picture and she is thrilled! 

I sat and packaged up Bay Leaves.   The packs in the store have five or six in them.  I make my packs about twenty each at least.  I got 21 packs.


I haven't worked out my Vicky Challenge but this will be a big one!  Bayleaves alone are worth 50c each in the supermarket.   Scrolls are $4.50 at the bakery!   So I better do my maths!

This week we have had beautiful days and soaking rain which is pretty much perfect!
By the end of today a messy area of our yard will be cemented.  This is an area Andy uses as a workshop, tools etc.  I will be so glad to have it done.

There are a lot of flowers coming out.  Things are starting to look lovely!

How did you build up your home, save money and get ahead this week?  It all counts!   I hope it was a good week for you!  xxx








Tuesday, 10 October 2017

The Christmas Challenge. Easy felt craft.

It's Wednesday and I haven't even finished replying to Monday's comments yet, I am sorry.  This week is flying by and it is probably because I am keeping super busy while Chloe is away.  That is what I do, clean and cook...

This week I am going to share a really easy craft that makes a good gift for a child.  When I was little we had Fuzzy Felts.  I loved mine!  It was a felt background and a collection of felt shapes and you made pictures from them.  I think mine was farmyard theme.  Anyway I loved it!
I went in search of some for Harper but without success.  So I decided to try and make a set and see how it went.

Our craft store had felt in a few awful colours so I looked online and found I could buy large packs of so many colours much cheaper!  You can even buy glitter felt!

As Harper is ballet mad I decided on a ballet theme. Not being too artistic I bought a ballet sticker book for my patterns.


I traced the ballerinas and some of the clothes onto paper and used these as my patterns.   The book then went into the present cupboard for when she can manage larger stickers.  

The sky is the limit here.  You can do any theme.  Fire trucks, horses, farm yard, zoo.... anything!   A book can give you the shapes, a colouring in book...  pretty easy as you just want basic shapes.

I wanted a base so I considered a large lid from a shoe box or a tray.... I got a plastic tray for $3 which is sturdy, light and has handles.  

I covered this in a larger piece of felt. This bit was from some you can buy by the yard rather than the little squares. EBay once again.


First I cut out the ballerina figures.

Then I started on the clothes...  


We went with subtle and understated outfits haha!  And handbags lol

The glitter felt was a hit.  I ended up adding a little glitter glue as well.   


I just kept on cutting out clothes, bows, tiaras and so on until I had a good collection and endless outfits.


Anyway it was a hit!  And I have a ton of felt to make more of these or other crafts.   Something like this is a good quiet activity to bring out when a child is not well.  Mum always had a stash of things that only came out when we were resting or unwell.  These provided hours of entertainment.

I settled on a snap lock bag to keep the pieces in when putting it away. 

The little ballerina loves it!


This is at class. Her teachers name is Princess Rose.  😊


Princess Rose is VERY popular. 

I hope your week is going well!   How are your Christmas gifts coming along?   
I am going to Aldi this afternoon and hope to then have all the dried fruit I need for my Christmas cakes.  Next week I will get them made! xxx





Sunday, 8 October 2017

Pantries and Preparedness. Swaps!

I have always loved bartering!  There have been times when I have done lots of it and it's been wonderful.  I do think bartering is a way to build up your pantry, save money and build up other areas as well.

Recently I have been looking at how to do more of this and suddenly I have had several opportunities.  I am following a local group on Facebook that meets up and exchanges produce.  Then I had a blog reader write to me and ask if I would like to do a swap by mail!  This was interesting as I didn't really think of that due to the cost of postage but it led me to consider small things that can be mailed to make a very nice exchange.
Then my Aunt had a garden day at her home as she is a member of a garden club.  They get together and have a trading table.  And this was yesterday so off I went!

It was a beautiful, perfect Spring day.  An afternoon in a gorgeous sunny garden did me good. It was glorious.  My aunt is over eighty now and she does all this by herself after she established it from plain lawn...


She also has no car and rides her bike to the shops to get her stuff.


This is her front garden. The back and side gardens are full of plum, citrus and Quince trees.  The citrus were covered in blossoms and the scent filled the whole yard.  Honestly heavenly.

There was afternoon tea and endless cups of tea...


My aunts huge dining table was covered in china and homemade goodies.


I took Bay Leaves, homemade soap, magazines and four little potted herbs for the trading table.   This was covered in lots of lovely things.  I loved a tray of baby succulents...


And I chose Borage as this is a herb I don't have yet...


A day of sunshine and gardening was very nice.  I met some lovely ladies and one named Sarah who loves.... op shopping, knitting, gardening, making things...  so you could say we had a lot in common!

Last week I put together items for my postal swap.  Going on the things I knew Tanya liked and might need and what I had I put together a little parcel that wasn't very much to post....


And later in the week I received TWO parcels from Tanya.  One was the swap parcel and the other was gifts!  


There were beautiful handmade things all gorgeous.

And useful and practical things for crafts and cooking...




It was all really beautiful and fun!  Thank you so much Tanya. 

It often turns out that we have a lot of one thing and this gives us something good to barter with!  
There are endless possibilities.  You can swap a service for goods.  Jane mentioned how they look after the neighbours yard while they are away and get produce in exchange.  
You can have a clothing swap party,  a garden day like my aunt.  Bartering any kind of goods, produce or service is possible!   Turning your excess into something else can give you so many new ways to build up your pantry for free! 

Next week we are going to start a Bluebirds swap.  This will be a mail swap so we need to take into account the cost of postage and keep to small things but I just discovered this is much easier than I thought!   Also we will need to remember we come from different countries and take that into account. 

Another thing will be plant goods can not be posted into Australia. 
But still I think there are a lot of possibilities! 

So this week consider what do you have excess of that you would like to barter with? Smaller items could include fabric, yarn, sewing items,  seeds, cards, ribbon, paper crafts, lace, small books, recipe cards, baby clothes, buttons, labels, stickers, teabags, herbs, spices,  .... the list goes on and on!

We will get going next week but if you have items and a photo would be helpful (which is the case with colours and designs etc) then send pictures!  You can email me at brinkzi21@hotmail.com before next Monday.

I hope it will be fun, useful and maybe even will lead to some friendships and pen friends.  We will only exchange details like addresses between the two agreed "swappers" behind the scenes via my email so no personal details will be online.

I hope you have a great week.

Thank you everyone.... Chloe arrived to her destination some hours late (which was stressful!) and was pretty worn out after a seven and a half hour trip in the middle of the night so it was over thirty hours all up. All she cared about at that point was a shower!  But she is safe! xxx