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, 2 July 2020

Feather your Nest Friday, 3 July, 2020.

This week has been cold and wet!  We now have had enough rain that water is laying in the paddocks and some places become wetlands. This is good!

Some of the ways I managed to get ahead and build up the pantry and garden were:

If the rain stopped I ran outside and did all I could.  I managed to add some wheelbarrows of hay into my raised garden beds in these times.

We had a working bee on the cottage.  It is painted outside now!!  Soon I will put up some before and after photos.   I made up morning tea and lunches.

To do the stuff I can't manage I hired three local young men.  They seemed to feel it was great fun and had a good day.  One of them had a spray painting set up so the outside of the house and the shed were painted so quickly.  It looked dumpy. Now it looks fresh and new.

I have cupboards to clean and a wooden floor to restore as it was covered in a nasty glue.  But we are really getting there on this project!

I continued to work on my pantry.   Over the last few weeks I have organised, re homed, added shelving and anything I can.  I turned some household cupboards into a pantry extension.  This week I added a little shelf in a blank space.  It is just right for all the cake decorating bits and pieces.  So now I also have a free basket for something else.   It will be cute as the girls will be able to stand on the steps and pick their sprinkles! 

The little shelf was from the cheap shop. Many things for my pantry have been from the op shop (thrift store) or the cheap shop.   Also I use free food grade buckets.  Many restaurants and cafes throw these away!

I made up some baked rice custard.  I worked out if I do it in smaller containers and fill them up with my cups... there is less hot water to splash around.  So this is how I do it now.

I like cinnamon as you can tell.  This is a great way to use up eggs, milk and left over cooked rice!  

I participated in The Working Pantry challenge for the week.  It was simply to add an extra or extras of anything we were buying.   So these were my extras.

I put as much into it as I could as getting ahead with my pantry is a big focus right now.   

I did find a few good deals at the stores including marked down apples and pears. 

There are a couple of ladies I look to for wisdom.  Most people are aware of their local situation.  Some people are aware of their countries situation.  Not many people are aware of the world situation.  I get strong feelings about what I need to be doing.   And I am glad that when a few years ago I felt to begin to stock up and LEARN that I did put it into action.   As 2019 went along I felt it with great urgency.  Several of these ladies told me they felt a great urgency to prepare around Christmas and New Year.  Well, they weren't wrong!  Now I am so thankful I had so much confirmation to get on with it.   Because of this we even added generators,  freezers, chickens... I can't even list all we have been doing.  Oh, lol, I should mention we actually felt to move out of the city and to the farm and we did that!  

So I was discussing with my trusted friends and older ladies the subject of where are we now and want to do next?!

One of my most trusted long term friends lives in California.  She wrote to me early in the week and she told me something that shocked me.  She said people she knows there feel that the first half of 2020 was "The CALM before the storm"   This is from the person I think most highly of.  mmm

I discussed this with another friend who said she believes this could be true.  So I prayed and prayed about this.  We can't know the future but we need to be watchful, prudent and do what is needed.  This is part of why the Proverbs 31 woman is not afraid of the future!    Apart from faith she has wisdom and action.  For a whole evening I prayed and though on it.
The next day I went into town.  I needed to go to the post office and I got there and the doors were shut!!   An old man was waiting and he told me it would re open in ten minutes.  He said "the world is upside down now, you know."  I said "yes I know!" 
I decided to wait.   He turned to me and said "I lived through the Great Depression you know, I've seen it all before."   This hit me like a bolt given my prayers the night before.   So we talked.  He said that he lived through the depression, actually in an area of our state where my Grandmothers family lived.  He said he believed we are going into a depression and he said "there will be no food you know."   I asked him how on earth do you know when you have gone from a recession to a depression?   Like where is that line?  He said "oh you know.  It is not a gradual thing.  It is a day.  One day you get up and everything is shut.  Everyone knows.  It is like a collapse."  And so I used this ten minutes to ask him everything I could think of remembering last night I had prayed for answers. 
As the Post Office re opened I thanked him so much for talking to me and sharing his knowledge and experience.  He was just lovely.  

Later I thought !!! I prayed for guidance. I got this!!

Still I doubt myself and wonder did God line him up for me to get the message through my thick head?

The next night I turned on the TV for the news.   There was our Prime Minister.  He looked pretty sombre.  He was making announcements and he said how the world is looking increasingly like the world looked in the 1930s.   He repeated the 1930's two or three times.  So here we go again.  
So by now I accept and believe that I can't get away from the same answer over and over.
If you are younger go read up on the 1930's.  

Our neighbouring state has a major outbreak of the virus and they seem to have gone from bad to worse.   This is all too close for comfort and Lucy has 5 days to go to "baby day!"   I feel it is a race against the clock.

When we have some information coming in, life seems upside down,  the news stations are not reliable and even try and inflame situations,  everyone has an opinion...  we just want things to go back to normal... it is very easy to get battle fatigue and switch off.  But I encourage you to be awake and watchful and to pray.   If I can find it I am going to re post a story from Mel who shared how her Grandmother listened to her mother in law and prepared.  It is the most wonderful story that is very motivating.  What we do now makes a difference. What we do now affects several generations! (at least!) 

How did your week go?  Were you able to add to your pantry or garden and build up your home?
What are you seeing in your state or town?  I am about to go into our town so I will soon find out.  I know restrictions are back on what you can buy.  

Please pray that Lucy and Kato's baby can arrive safely in a covid free hospital. xxx

I found Mel's family story.  I hope this blesses you. 

One story that I have shared with Annabel and would like to pass on to you. It sits with me because I needed to learn this lesson. I have often found it hard to take advice, on some fronts. As I have grown older I am eager to learn from others but as a young Mother I was prideful and did not always listen to others seeking not advice but wallowing in my ignorance. 
This is why I am so amazed by the actions taken by my grandmother when she was a young woman. As I have mentioned before both my grandparents were very frugal and did not spend unnecessarily. Despite their limited income they did put away for the rainy day. So as a young woman and new mother my Grandmother no doubt was caught up in daily life and not overly interested in current events but her Mother and Father in law had lived through WW1 and no doubt feared what was coming in the early 1930’s. My great Grandfather was an ANZAC and my great Grandmother had been home with young children on her own. 
When they feared the coming war my great Grandmother advised my Grandmother on what had become in short supply during WW1 and what to stock up on. Namely soap and other toiletries, sugar, fabric, wool, first aid goods and luxury items such as stockings etc. Now with plenty of other things to spend their money on my Grandparents took this advice. My mother tells me all their clothes were taken out of their drawers and a layer of cakes of soap was laid down and then their clothes put back on top. This happened in every room (this also deters moths). Then my grandmother bought a barrel of sugar and old jumpers second hand from the markets to unpick. She also stocked up on cottons and went into overdrive in canning her home grown goods.
There were other things they did like finish off everything needed doing in the house and prepare their garden. It is great to grow fruit trees but we all know they often take a few years to take off. Vegetable garden was increased and Golden syrup stocked up on. As well my Grandmother had a stockpile of sheets and towels. Now we know how helpful extra sheets used for fabric or bandages or many other uses can be but at her age it would not have been my first thought.
During the war my mother and her sister were always clean. Soap was grated to wash clothes, and for bathing. My Grandmother made pulled candy and all the local kids got a few pieces on their birthday during the war and when sugar was rationed. My grandmother was able to feed and clothe her family simply because she listened and took in this advice which I must say I might have shrugged off in her position. Six years is a long time to struggle thro ugh without many basics and also rationing went on for a while after simply because many things were in such short supply.
Today I read:
Proverbs 19:20
Listen to advice and accept instruction, that you may gain wisdom in the future.

Thursday, 25 June 2020

Feather your Nest Friday, 2020.

Last weekend I had Scarlett come to stay so we were busy for a few days. She is just happy to do everything along with me.    Lucy has less than two weeks before the baby arrives.  She isn't sleeping and could do with some prayers.

Of course we had to go visit Aunty Chloe and see Paddy...

Paddy was so dirty from rolling in mud!   🙄

At home we made Honey Crackles.  It is so many years since I made them.  I had to dig out my old recipe.  Being easy Scarlett pretty much filled all the cup cake liners herself and it was a case of eat a bit, put some in the pan, but she loved it.

I told the girls how Mummy and Chloe used to take these to school.  Anyway, they loved them so honey crackles are back!  I love how many of the old recipes are so good.  Nan used to make Rock Cakes.  This is another one I would like to resurrect!

I finally finished my rug for the lounge.  A rug in Australia is a blanket, or a badly concealed coupe. haha.  The things that go on the floor are mats.  I learned to say this because in The Tuesday Club it was very funny as people were wondering why I would put this on the floor!   So it is to be on my lounge, in the cold months, to be warm and snuggly.  It took forever!

It is all pure wool and I have left overs so now I am working to use those up.

My A Working Pantry assignment for the week was to add meals to the freezer.   I made several Shepherds Pies.  I cook them a little under so when they are recooked they will not be too dark on top.  So they look a little pale.   We had one for dinner and it was beautiful.   Meals added to the freezer is a good thing!

I also stood and made up ham and cheese rolls and croissants to freeze.  Both rolls and croissants were half price.  Made up rolls are so handy.  I warm them up quickly and they are like fresh. 

If I ever have ham or roast meat left over (that is not enough for a meal) I usually make up rolls to freeze.  

I added to my raised garden beds.   In went squashed cardboard boxes, manure and a dead rabbit.  I think Andy might wonder if I am the only person alive who can be pleased about a dead rabbit. 

Buddy has been promoted to the orchard paddock.  He is a month old today.  And a very good little eater.  He has a morning and evening bottle now.   

We have underground water and rain water.  Most of the time the house is on rain water and the garden on bore water.  Rain water is beautiful but gets gum leaves in it sometimes and this affects my white linens.  I decided to give up on so many whites and dyed two sets of cotton sheets.  They turned out wonderfully and look fresh and new.  Not quite white looks dingy so this was my solution.

I made a cake to take over to Chloe and one for us and some slices for the freezer.

Things have been pretty good, supply wise, at our local supermarket.   But now our neighbouring state is experiencing empty shelves again.  This has come about because the virus has taken off there again and they really do not look like they have it contained.  While the shelves have been good I restocked everything we needed and we have even been able to get hand sanitiser, masks and many things that were impossible to get a couple of months ago.   They will all probably disappear again.   I got ahead with towels and linen also.  I keep working on my pantry.   Gradually (after lots of sorting out cupboards and re arranging) I have re homed things like canning supplies to other cupboards.  This has given me more room in the pantry for actual food.  When I stocked up fast a lot of things were put in funny places.  Now I have things so I can actually see how much pasta do I have?  How much rice? And so on.  All my jars are topped up.  Keeping a well stocked pantry is kind of an endless job but so important.  I have dried parsley to add to a jar today.  

With so many things going on and changes to our normal lives we need to think differently.  While we need to be awake and watchful we don't want to be fearful.  Being prepared takes a whole lot of pressure off.   The wise woman is not afraid of the winter.  It is true.  Prudence and ingenuity might be the words for the second half of 2020!

How did you manage to build up your home, pantry or garden?   It all counts! xxx

Thursday, 18 June 2020

Feather your Nest Friday, 19th June, 2020.

It has been a busy but good week!   Today I think the week has over taken me and I am not keeping up!  So I will try and slow down and look at what WAS achieved. It is good to do this.  Consider how far we came, rather than just look at the list ahead.   Things really do add up even if it is a little each day.  This is how I tackle most big things... a bit each day.

Some of the ways I got ahead this week and built up our home were:

I sorted through the linen cupboard.  I matched up sheet sets and retired some that had suddenly hit the too thin and worn to mend stage!  I also retired two bath towels  (old linen is kept and towels become animal bedding etc) and bought a couple of new towels.  I noticed our store, which is Target, had almost no towels and rows and rows of empty shelves.   The lady in the store told me she doesn't even know when more might come and said they don't know what they will do.

I made Gingerbread biscuits and Pumpkin Scones...

On Monday I went to the local town north of us to meet my friend Wendy and also to see if the op shops were open.  That was a wonderful day.   Wendy had beautiful velvet fabric,  velvet ribbon and two pure wool blankets for me (op shop) and I was thrilled!

At the op shops I found some pure wool yard, soap moulds, space vac bags for $2 and several craft items.  

While in one op shop a lady came in with a box of jars.  They were the good coffee ones with a wonderful glass lid that seals.  But the op shop lady said they had too many jars and didn't want them.  When I went to the car this lady was still parked out the front.  I asked her if I could offer her something for those jars?  She said "no, you can have them"  and handed me the box.  It was a big box of great jars! yay!

On Tuesday I went to the town south of us to pick up six new chickens.   Because chickens are harder to get now I put my name down in two places.  It looks like I might end up with both.  But that is a good thing.    These are at the late teenager scrawny stage.  They will be good laying birds...

Of course while I was there I went to the op shops in this town.  I got a beautiful Sheridan Queen bedspread for $5.  The Australian ladies will know this is a really expensive brand.   It has had a big soak and wash and came up beautifully and it is GORGEOUS.

Also found some childrens classic books.   I buy these for the girls for when they are older.  Heidi,  Anne of Green Gables, Black Beauty...  Plus a bag of pink satin ribbons.   
I found a brand new,  in the box,  Sylvanian Families House.   The girls played with these when they were little and they were just lovely.  I kept the little mice.  So now I have a house!  The girls will love to  play with this here...

What luck! 

I also got some brand new books that were prefect subjects for people on my list.  These went straight into the gift cupboard.  

I took part in Patsy's Pantry Challenge.  Her website is on my side bar... A Working Pantry.     This week the task was to find all the loose change you could in the car, old purses and so on and turn it into items for the pantry.  I found a heap of change and a whole jar I keep.   I found a full purse of change I usually would have used for op shopping but it was building up as the shops had been closed for months.    I managed to convert it into all of this:

After this I still had change.  I counted it up into $5 envelopes.  It got me bags of manure for the raised garden beds!  

All the light bags are manure.  The black ones are full of free shredded paper.  It added a lot to the raised beds!  
So that was a good challenge.

The cottage project continued and we now have a fridge.  Also a pressure cleaned roof that looks like new!   

In the pantry I kept organising to create room.  I also sat a big bucket of honey near the fire for a few days and then poured it into jars so it is much easier to handle.  Look at the colour!  This is honey from here on the farm.  The farm naturally has Manuka growing so our honey is at least in part Manuka honey. 

I made two chocolate cakes. I took one over to Chloe and Luke.   

This gets me to today!   Mum and I are going to see the girls tomorrow.   Scarlett is coming back with us for her turn to stay over.   So I am getting ready!

I hope you had a good week.   We can't say much has settled down around us!  So we do what we can.  In many cases that is a lot extra, maybe home schooling,  maybe isolating and possibly trying to cope with much more expensive groceries and other challenges.   We are not in it alone that is for sure.   There has been loss of life, livelihoods, homes, businesses,  peace and confidence... all around. It really is a time to take stock, watch out for others and do what you can with what you have.   We can think outside the square and see new ways to do things, new things to cook and ways to save.   

I have good news too, Jess from Strangers and Pilgrims on Earth is blogging again.  If you would like encouragement drop in there.  She has endless resources on canning, all things pantry related, crafts and homemaking.  

How did you manage this week?  Were you able to build up your pantry or garden?
Have a good

Thursday, 11 June 2020

Feather your Nest Friday, 12th June, 2020.

This week was busy and good.  I had Harper come to stay for a couple of nights and she was my little helper.   We have a lot of fun but I also try to teach her things.  At this age they remember everything.   She knows to use a spatular to get one extra cup cake from the mix!  
Luckily the things I do everyday are exciting for her and she enjoys them all.  Harper took over the feeding of Buddy...

Speaking of Buddy.... he is very energetic but if I hold him and stroke his face he is asleep in under a minute.  It is so funny that it is irresistible to do.   He will wriggle then he calms down then I hear his breathing goes slow and his body goes limp.  Then he has a little snore.  It is so funny.  Andy watches with amazement and he took a couple of photos...

If I dare take my hand off his head he wakes up instantly!  Anyway this cracks me up! Harper could hear his little snore and she thought it was so cute.

Of course we visited all the animals  (with biscuits) and we took these pictures for Harper to take to Kindy.

We made cup cakes to take home and I left the icing to Harper after lining up things she could use to decorate them.   She was happy working on this for ages.

She was so proud of them.  Certain colours and combinations were for certain people.  Scarlett likes yellow so you can spot hers!

Another good part of the week was I got to go op shopping!  After months of no op shops (thrift stores) one was open!  I found Harper a perfect winter Frozen themed dress.  I washed it up and gave it to her.  Well,  best $3 I ever spent!

It has a skirt that swirls. All important.

Some of the ways I built up my pantry, saved and got ahead...

My "no mans land" area in the pantry was behind the door which was an empty space where I hid anything I didn't know what to do with.    I found some shelves that were only 4 inches deep and totally tidied this area up.  Now it holds some of my spare bottles and jars.  I love it!  And I ordered similar shallow shelves to go on the back of the pantry door for more storage.  My pantry is getting better every week!  Each time storage is better I gain more space.

Looking around I realise that these days there is a storage solution for every odd sized gap, space, door... which is wonderful really and can really help.  If you have a similar "no mans land" area get onto Pinterst and find some ideas. 

I almost have my box raised garden bed full.  I also added a bucket of ash from the fire when I cleaned it out this week.  All the ash now gets used for one thing or another.  Chickens also love ash.

I made my pumpkins into a big bach of soup.   It is delicious and I have some to share.

Lucy gave me a coffee table for the cottage. 

I work each day on mulching ... now each fruit tree is mulched and most of the flower garden.

Mum had given me some venison.  I cooked some up and it was beautiful.

I made yoghurt then coated chicken pieces in it and then dipped them in gluten free bread crumbs.  Baked until golden this is the easiest and yummies crumbed chicken ever. 

I found  beautiful old window.  I am thinking I will use it as a picture frame. 

Andy is working on the raised garden beds.  I will have pictures next week.  They are going to look so nice.   We need to go back and collect those baths too.  I have been studying up how to turn an old bath tub into a worm farm... so this might be why I use one for.  If you have a worm farm let me know how it helps your garden?

I have a baking day today as we are going to see the girls tomorrow.  And a change is coming.  Each day was beautiful, sunny and perfect.  The nights were cold.   Now a change is coming in.  That is ok, we want the rain!  But I will change from so much outdoor work back to maybe some sewing.    I go by the weather.   If the weather is nice I try to get as much done as I can outside.   I want my garden beds ready to plant in spring. 

Last week we joked about how 2020 is too unbelievable to be a movie plot. In the week since I have seen that, nope,  things did not quieten down.  Now these seems to be complete anarchy across many nations, tearing down historical statues,  attacking police buildings, talk of defending the police departments,  the modern version of book burning... removing classic books and movies from libraries and online.   Many many Bluebirds have written to me they have not felt safe at home with protestors and or rioters close to their house.   Many letters on the subject of food availability and some shocking prices.  Also the madness of things like you can only have 10 people at a funeral but you can have 10,000 if you call it a protest... as corona virus apparently spreads worse at funerals and not at mass gatherings. ..   And so 2020 hasn't exactly settled down.   

I get my own opinions and sometimes strong feelings on things.  But my confirmation will come from the ladies that I trust and respect and look to.  They are all building their pantries and planting their gardens like there is no tomorrow.   When you feel to do something I consider most times that is a whisper from God.  Trust and do.

How did you keep your home a haven,  build up your pantry or garden this week?   I hope many opportunities came your way.   Now opportunities are a funny thing.  Many people will not notice them and pass them by.  Pray to have your eyes open to opportunities. 

I want to mention one more thing.  Do not be discouraged.  As things go downhill in the world there will be plenty of people who want to tear you down.  Nothing upsets some people like a woman happy at home.  They can't stand it.   Ok nothing except a woman at home who is canning and preserving and enjoying it.  Yes this really upsets some and they don't mind telling you.   Well, don't take any notice!  A wise woman builds her home!   You will find sisters that will come along side you and encourage you!   These are the ones you can share with, trade with, learn from!    

Have a wonderful weekend!  xxx

Thursday, 4 June 2020

Feather your Nest Friday, 5th June, 2020.

Winter has started here.  We had rain and then a couple of beautiful sunny days.  This all has made everything so green and gorgeous!  I love it!
I read somewhere "2020 the movie... Produced by Steven Spielberg. Directed by Quentin Tarantino."
Well, even they would have trouble coming up with the script for this year so far.   The farm is a beautiful place I am glad to be. I appreciate it so much.  It is so beautiful.  I am amazed the journey we have been on to get here.

Scout is pretty sure it is part of her job to keep an eye on everyone.

I continued to mulch the garden beds, fill the raised bed,  dig greens for the chickens and ducks and get the tennis court ready for the big conversion to an animal yard.  We have four weeks until the new chickens arrive.

We headed off to collect more wood for our new raised garden beds and to get the old windows we found. These are becoming covers on some of the beds (that can be removed) to make a greenhouse like effect.  I picked more stinging nettles and used these in my compost.  We were quite loaded up so another day we will head back as there is an old bath tub in the shed that I thought would make an awesome duck pond.  
Every time we take this trip I explore a bit more.  As we do this the setting is a lake and Emus and cows together grazing between us and the water.    
So I walked further and there are old stock yards.  In the middle of these I found something that really made me smile.   Another bath tub.  But this one is pink!

It comes with free dirty water!! haha!   So now I have a pink trough from my goats.  Seriously, what could be better?

Oh, I know what!!   We were driving home on a dirt road and I was looking out the window at the scenery.  Suddenly Andy braked and I thought of the windows in the trailer and assumed it would be a Kangaroo on the road. I looked ahead and there on a crest, right in the middle of the road, was a newborn lamb.   We had to stop or we would have hit it.   It was just standing there.  I got out and picked it up.  It was in good condition, still damp from birth and had either a deformed or broken tail... it still wags but it is at a right angle from about halfway down!  It was just so out of place and unusual.  We went up and down the road sides to find the mother.   Then we went up and down the fence lines to look in paddocks on each side.  Nothing.  So that was it.  It was a mystery. We couldn't leave him there.   So now I have another lamb, the first of the season.

His name is Buddy.  He is the loudest and hungriest lamb I ever had.  I made him a little jumper. 
So when we arrived home we were truly loaded up with timber, windows and livestock haha! 

In our cottage renovation we took down an old water tank on a tower.  Andy cut a hole in it and later I filled it with hay to make Buddy an apartment.

I made peanut butter cookies,  tuna mornay and a big batch of Vicky's Enchilada sauce.   This is delicious.

My pot had 5 chicken breasts cut up... the sauce... (minus the stock and flour, I just use chicken stock cubes and more tomato ...)  For this amount I quadrupled the recipe.  I let it simmer for ages.  Anyway this sauce in a jar from the store is expensive and I like to make a big lot so it is a huge saving and better than store bought.

I did lots more work on the pantry.  I found a better home for my soap making supplies and so this made more pantry space and never should have been in there in the first place.   It is amazing the space you can find with cleaning and organising though. 

We are getting more Kangaroos and Deer on the property.  Andy took this photo...

So that was my week.   It was lovely and felt normal even though the week was another 2020 shocker for many. 

My mind spends a lot of time on thinking about how we can produce more, make more and be ready for whatever happens next.  With this in mind I am considering getting a greenhouse. I have a lot of research to do on that!

How did you make your home a safe haven, build up your pantry or get ahead in anyway? 
I hope you have a lovely and peaceful weekend! xxx

I am publishing early as tomorrow is an early morning off to see the girls and bring back Harper for the weekend.xx

Saturday, 30 May 2020

Pantries and Preparedness. Pantry meals and expectations.

For many reasons, all added together, our meals have become much simpler.  They are usually delicious and nutritious but overall I have completely let go of some past expectations.   We have all been impacted by so many things in a short time.... not being able to shop, shortages, rations, price rises and more.   On days when someone isn't well or in a storm I have always thought a toasted sandwich and soup are a fine achievement.  Now I just think this more often!
One of my very favourite You Tube channels is Roots and Refuge Farm.   Jess was talking about how if you have a homestead dream you should act like a homesteader right now.  She says normal consumers dream up what they feel like eating and plan a menu and go out and buy the stuff to make it.  Or they just buy it ready made.   A homesteader, gardener, budgeter ... will see what they have and figure out what on earth they can do with it that will feed the family.  Big difference.   Many of us may have become better at this while the supermarkets haven't had usual choice or while we are staying home and eating what we have.  And this is a good thing.  This is a skill and a skill worth practicing.     Like in some cooking shows they give them a mystery box and they have to use just what they have.   Well our pantry, garden, fridge, freezer and what we might have found on a good deal are out mystery box.  
When we were kids  (and when my parents were kids) no one asked "what do you feel like for dinner?"  It just wasn't a thing.  Mum or Grandma put a meal on the table using what she had and usually it was something really good.  They didn't cook 19 different meals either they made it up and my Nan would set it out on the table in a serve yourself fashion mostly.  It was usually a meat dish with a lot of vegetable sides.  But on our own (rather than with everyone there)  it was very often soup and toast.  I loved Nan's soup.  And we were happy and grateful for Nan's cooking.

Vicky wrote me on this and here is part of her letter:

Life has certainly been a bit different these days, but once again if we look to our foremothers there is still lessons we can learn from them. And I always look for ways to draw upon their experience and knowledge. I also wonder if some peoples' mindset have changed during this pandemic? Not long ago I was told gardening and canning is for old ladies who don't know how to eat organic! And the statement was made of who wants jars of gross looking food sitting around? Beauty is in the eye of the beholder and I guess for some seeing what's in a jar is off putting and gross, but the same thing in a can is fine. That really isn't my issue, but the fact that so many overlook the resources right in front of them. We are lucky that we can politely or not snub ingredients, but that wasn't always the case. Again looking back to the Great Depression, WW1, WW11 and even beyond to the Civil War here in the states and the first peoples to settle our countries they couldn't be as choosy and persevered through way more than we can imagine. 
A few weeks ago while I was at the post office I overheard a conversation that got me thinking. Well having to stand 6 feet apart it's kind of hard not to hear a conversation haha! 
One woman said she didn't have much to make meals and the other said her problem was they had a lot of food, but nothing to eat. What?!
I think now is a good time to take a good look at the versatility of the ingredients we have on hand or are able to get. Not only to prevent waste, but also to realize that if things get harder we may still be able to do more with what we have should our ingredients get on the slim side. 
Some of the stories I've read at times the only meat available in some cities were hot dogs, bologna or Spam. And of course we know about sugar and butter shortages among other things that happened back then. 
What constitutes a meal? Or a treat? Is it a table full of food or just the blessing to have something to put on a plate or in a bowl? I would have to say right now is the time for us to think on this.
And I am learning. I made a cake that was way too crumbly and impossible to eat since it fell apart so much. Well a little research and a ration recipe came to my rescue. That cake became a whole new cake using those crumbs, a little flour, etc. 
Stale cake was steamed a bit and served with a toffee sauce.
Self rising flour and milk, yogurt or sour cream became little drop donuts. Two ingredients became a treat and let me tell you they are good! 

Also like Annabel's pizza base plus dinner rolls and so on variety from stemming from one basic ingredient.
Vegetables whipped or pureed can be added to scones or biscuits for a bit of variety in flavor. Pumpkin or squash is especially nice. 
Herbs can be used in salads, teas or herbal drinks, freshening the home etc. and have many, many health benefits. 
Well I could go on and on, but if things get worse before they get better I want us all to realize that we can do so much even with a limited pantry as most ingredients can be very versatile. 

As Vicky is saying I have changed a bit on what constitutes a meal.   Right now a lot of people are struggling.   There are also some pretty significant meat shortages and restrictions in some places. 

I thought what Vicky said about all that food and nothing to cook is like when we have a wardrobe full of clothes and nothing to wear! haha!   We might need to get better at some more adventurous mixing and matching!

I have heard people who have been away on a swanky holiday saying they just couldn't wait to get home for some mashed potatoes and home food. haha!  I understand this!   At the end of the day really I have to admit in the same way I would overall rather stay at home, I would rather lots of vegetables, veggie bakes,  a roast, tuna mornay, fried rice, scones, pancakes,  soup, a toasted sandwich...  stuff like that!   If you have visitors I have noticed home style food like a roast, gravy and veggies seems more thrilling to them than something "fancy."  To those that never get a home cooked meal this is really actually positively thrilling.  You don't need a 95 step recipe... just a few basic ingredients.   My go to is if I have a guest the fruit cake comes out, I made scones and put out homemade jam.   Everyone loves it and it is actually so cheap it is hardly worth counting.    Many soups made from what we have that needs using up are just about free meals too.
Tonight we are having mashed potatoes, carrots and broccoli as they are what I have and sausages I dug out of the freezer.  I have some venison so tomorrow I will make a stew using that and every vegetable I can find.  It will be beautiful and I am blessed to be given venison!

I have read things on social media that make your eyes water.  Like young Mums working out how they can buy enough school snacks for their children.  The amount they budget would make several hundred pikelets, cookies and other homemade snacks and they are genuinely struggling but they just don't know snacks do not have to come in a packet!   We really need to help and teach each other the simple basics.

The old cookbooks are wonderful.  They don't use fancy and expensive ingredients.  Whatever you have you can look it up and there will be recipes!  
Knowing your substitutions is a help.
Knowing you can halve (or less) your meat and double your veggies and sides is a help.
We have talked about this subject in different ways over time.  But now this is an area we really need to be happy to get back to basics.

If you have any family recipes that make something good out of nothing please share them! For Mum's with hungry teenagers, toddlers and babies... if you have tips please share.
For those packing their husbands and or school lunches please share your ideas.
What about those with kids who walk through the door at the end of the day ready to inhale the whole contents of the fridge?  
How about recipes that just use pantry ingredients?
I will add some recipes in the comments.  
It is ok to be basic and it is ok to be simple.  Simple is good.  At the end of the day single ingredients are better anyway, we know what is in them!  
If you have a question or struggle in this area ask away and let the Bluebirds help you!  We love to help!  xxx

Friday, 29 May 2020

Feather your Nest Friday, 29th May, 2020.

I would say we have some rain coming as the internet isn't working too well for me!  It has been another pretty productive week.  I am glad to take some time to look back over it.

Each day I work on my ongoing projects.  My standard way to tackle lots of work is to do some every day until I get there!  So each day I move one wheel barrow load of mulch on to my garden beds.   Each day I add one wheelbarrow of manure to my raised garden bed...  as I go about my routine I add in habits.  On the way to feed the chickens I push the wheel barrow up the hill.   I use the fork to dig up several huge clumps of grass to give the chickens and the ducks.   I have my bucket of scraps I have collected in the kitchen plus any other weeds I might find on the way.  This supplements the chickens food a lot.  Due to foxes I cannot let the chickens free range.  They wouldn't last a day.  But their coop has a huge yard and they get a lot of greens everyday and have a big area to scratch around.

I collect the eggs and bring them back to the house and put them into cartons.  If things are going well I get twelve eggs.

On the way down the hill from the chicken shed I collect sticks and pinecones.  These go into baskets for kindling.  There are pine tress and the pinecones are never ending so I will never run out!

My other big project I am chipping  away at is the cubby house (play house).   For anyone who missed this, my brother gave me a huge wooden box.   Inside was another box!  The small one is now a raised garden bed... the large one I am making into a cubby house for the Grandkids.

I am ready to show a little of what I have done so far.  It is not finished and doesn't even had a roof yet.   We salvaged windows from the old shed where we found the timber for the new raised garden beds.

I began by painting tree trunks.   Then I cut out kitchen sponges into leaf shapes and stamped on leaves.  I cut out paper napkins with nests on them and decoupaged them on.  

The theme is nature, maybe a nature lodge!    I am sticking to things that are found here on the farm.   For the animals I bought some nursery decals which I have varnished over to water proof them.

A fox isn't a native animal to us but we sure do have them! Same with deer.

We have owls so I included those.  

This is the back which is on a fence line...

I am really enjoying it.  I just do a bit each day as I can.  Then I look at it for a while (as it is outside a window I sit in front of)  and plan what to do next.  

Because of being in plain sight I thought I better make it something that I enjoy seeing every day as well as thinking of the kids.   I have some old telephones so it will have an inside and outside phone on the walls.   (To report wildlife sightings, of course.)

One bird I really want to include are the black Cockatoos.  I found a decal to use!   This one has not arrived yet but I can't wait as these are really a feature on this property.

We made progress too on the cottage project.   Some progress on the new raised garden beds...  I am so excited about those!

I made three large dark fruit cakes.   One is for my Dad's Birthday.  One will go away as these keep for at least a year.  One is for Andy as he loves them.

During the week I also made scones, apple sauce, little cakes, baked rice custard and the usual meals of course.

I am trying to rotate what is in the freezer and organise it as I go.   

After making lots of little bird cards with envelopes I packaged them up into sets of five.  These are now in my gift cupboard for future gifts. 

I did an experiment in the garden.  In each row of seedlings I used a large upturned jar over one plant.  After a week these ones were slightly bigger than the others in the row.  After two weeks they were noticeably bigger.  Since this was taken they are almost at the top of the jar and more than twice the size of the non covered seedlings.   So now I will use many more.  Lucky I have a lot of jars! 

This week I did another trade.  This time was four dozen eggs for a little hall table.   Yes a very good deal!  

Each week I am trying to increase my network and be able to barter more.   
It is an exciting time as I am working towards the new chickens coming and baby miniature goats!   And having raised garden beds ready to plant in spring! 

How did you build up your home, pantry or garden this week?   Keep your eyes open for opportunities!    Have a wonderful weekend! xxx