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.

Sunday, 20 May 2018

The World Within our Walls. Getting ahead with meals.

We have talked about how important meals are to the comforts of home.  Not just filling bellies but the smell of cooking when family come in the door, meal times together. Celebrations.  Soup on a cold night.  There are so many beautiful family moments around the table.

Achieving all these meals is another thing!   There is shopping, budgeting, menu planning, leaning new recipes, using up left overs,  staying ahead of life little surprises like visitors, illness, storms and simply sometimes running out of time.

I am a member of quite a few Facebook groups and blogs and one thing I continually see are posts by people who are simply out of food.   They have children to feed and they have run out of money before pay day and the pantry isn't in good shape either.
Then of course there is illness and other things that go wrong where even if the fridge is full we are too sick to do anything about it!  There are too many reasons we might fail to get dinner on the table to list!   It happens.  It has probably happened to us all at some time.

If you are new here I have lots of posts on Pantries and Preparedness in my index.  I have spent a few years now building up my pantry and supplies so I always have lots of meals I can make even if the shops were shut.

Having a baking day or a baking afternoon is a great way to get ahead with meals. 
And use stuff up!  This is a post with some handy recipes.... The money saving baking day.

It was with the help of Laine that I really changed my shopping habits drastically.  I went from going to the supermarket and getting what I needed and coming home to shopping many different shops, markets and locations every month and menu planning from what I had, what needs using up and what great deals I have found. It kind of flipped grocery shopping upside down!  Shopping this way roughly doubled my stock or halved my bill whichever way you want to look at it.
You can read this post and Laine's menu planning here.

Once I got going on menu planning I developed a system where I keep a list on the fridge of all the ready to go meals I have in the fridge, freezer and pantry currently.  This list is always changing but I like to have at least thirty meals listed.
My pantry itself holds more possible basic meals but my list is usual meals I either have ready to thaw or cook from the fridge.   These are good backups but I also want actual ready meals too, meals that just need thawing with no work involved for times I might be sick or unable to think!
Once I did this it became both a challenge and a form of security.
All the time I am working on building up my list!

During a week I will cross off things as I have used them.   When I shop or do some cooking I will love to add all the meals to my list and get a few more!   Trying to do this has made me see many more ways to stretch a meal, use things up, create a new meal with left overs....  save something over for another meal. I will think about how I can add a meal to my list!
The list also stops me from forgetting something at the bottom of the freezer and later finding mystery packages that need carbon dating to identify!  So less is wasted!

When I cook up some spaghetti sauce this is a chance to freeze a few batches for later.

I will also make up a Lasagna. 
When it is cold it slices neatly and then you can freeze single portions. 
These are so handy! 

Saturday night Chloe came to watch the Royal Wedding.  I had a huge crockpot going full of pumpkin soup and I made pumpkin scones (gf) as I love soup and Chloe loves this pumpkin one.   Andy ate left over roast chicken pieces and scones.  This was all in front of the TV where we were snuggled up!   It wasn't a normal meal but everyone was happy.
Last night I had more soup and I heated up a Spaghetti Bolognese pasta bake for Andy.  I had one individual portion frozen from another time.  He loved that and I loved my soup.   Sunday nights are often a use it up night.  This is a breakthrough for me as years ago I though everyone needed to have the same thing for dinner (for some reason) and now if there are a few things left over then we will have a meal of this and that.

Other ways to build up some spare meals are to simply always double a recipe if you possibly can and put away a meal.

 I have had it where people keep coming back for more regardless of how much they just ate.  (Years ago I had this problem although not now.)    I learned to set it aside immediately and put it out of the way.  

Add a side to a dish that can be stretched to two meals.  And/or add a soup or a desert that will stretch it further into "enough".

To make up casseroles in the slow cooker and bulk them up with lots of veggies.   The left overs then make the most wonderful pie fillings.   Keep some puff pastry in the freezer.   Pies freeze as perfect instant meals.  You can make family sized pies or individual ones.  Little ones in muffin trays are lovely for children.   Pies are great emergency meals!

Have a use it up night and create a pizza, fried rice, soup or something with all your odds and ends left over.  Make extra and fill the lunch boxes for tomorrow.

Serve up lots of left overs Indian style in little bowls,  add some rice, bread, salad or something to make it go further.

Have a toasted sandwiches,  eggs on toast night.   Toasties and soup used to be one of my favourite dinners.

Save ingredients for another time.  Mimi mentions this... be aware of what is enough and save something for another time.  Over time you get extra meals this way.

Half your expensive ingredient and double the rest.   i.e. if I am making something like Blueberry Muffins I will use a single recipe amount of the berries and I will double the rest.  Same with chocolate chips etc.  No one notices, you just get more!   This recipe will use up a tiny bit of anything and turn it into a tray of muffins....  Miracle Muffins.  (sweet or savoury)

When you have an abundance have a cook up.   These were cobblers I made in my last house when I had lots of apricots.  I would just make as many as would fit in the oven....

They were great on soup nights!

The same with baking....  if dinner is a smaller meal I have fruit cake on hand to offer.

Then I am glad I had a baking day and stored these away!

Right now I can get extra meals by having a quick look in the fridge and crisper.  I can freeze some portions of soup giving me a couple of emergency meals.  I know I have two zucchini to use.  I will see what else.... then make a plan to use these up in the next few days.   Doing this I very often get a couple of extra creative meals.  I can build my list!  

The slow cooker is a big help to me as when you make soup, a casserole, curry etc you can add so many things that are left overs...  my pumpkin soup on the weekend had a bunch of broccolini stalks thrown in.   My last casserole had a few tomatoes added that needed to be used.   Spaghetti sauce is a place you can hide all kinds of grated veggies.   So is meatloaf, sausage rolls, hamburgers, rissoles... you can fill all of these with veggies that need to be sued up and greatly bulk out your meat.  (and also trick kids who are being difficult!)

How do you speech ingredients and make more meals from what you have?
Do you have tricks to get ahead and save?   
I think our Mum's and Grandmas were experts at this!   My Nan used to make a tomato bake Nans Tomato Pie  that consisted of zucchini, onion, tomato, bread and cheese topping.  She also make great stuffing!   These were served with roast meals.  I LOVED them both.  It took me years to realise she was stretching the meat much further by all the sides she served! 
Other cultures do this wonderfully... the English add Yorkshire Puddings.
Asian cultures tend to add lots of little bowls of sides and the meat part is actually quite small but it goes such a long way!  You have wonderful sauces and condiments, rice and veggies... the meat portion goes a mile! 
We can learn a lot from this!

However you achieve it having meals to fall back on when you need them adds a lot of peace and security to your home.  I look at my list on the fridge and think that actually when I shop I need nothing.  The only money I will spend is on absolutely fantastic deals.  With luck these will get me further ahead!

I hope you have a wonderful week!  I have lots of plans including a further afield shopping day and seeing Hilde.... this always builds up my pantry. xxx

Thursday, 17 May 2018

Feather your Nest Friday, 18th May, 2018.

I had a good week!  It was cold and rainy... the rain has kept coming and everything is green and rainwater tanks are full.

We had a wonderful Friday night last week, Luke and Chloe came to dinner and we had a celebration of sorts as well.  During the day I had been with Chloe for her wedding dress fitting.  Getting exciting!

Then we had Harper's 3rd Birthday on Monday so that was wonderful.

She is growing up so fast.  She always wants to be helpful.  She loves anything to do with making things.  💗
Lucy made her cake and we had sparklers!

I found some bargains including sausages which I divided up and froze in meal size portions.  Also cartons of cream for 40c. 

I made a giant cauliflower cheese bake and baked apples in the slow cooker.

After a few hours these are caramelised and delicious! 

I was blessed with parcels in the mail!  
Tania sent me wonderful books for my medical cabinet... they are my current reading and some of the tips will be in a Home Pharmacy post.

Mimi sent me a lampshade. It is silk!  Ages ago I found this beautiful lamp base in an op shop and grabbed it.  I LOVE it.  When Mimi saw this she said "don't buy a shade I have one" and she had bought two shades on a good deal but only needed one of them.   So this week the shade arrived.  Now what are the odds that this shade would be the perfect size and proportions for my lamp base?

But it is perfect!  Now I have my lamp out on display and in use! 

Next I get a parcel from the USA from Vicky.  She had a pair of beautiful and expensive black bras sent to her in one of her amazing deals.  Except they weren't her size!   Once again... what are the chances they would be perfect for me (hahaha again we are talking what are the chances of perfect size and proportions!)  Well, they are perfect!   They are so pretty and exactly what I would buy! 

THEN a beautiful reader Belle sent me a package of medical supplies for my cupboard.

Because I try to add to my supplies all the time I have a fair idea of the prices of things and rolls of bandages, compression bandages, dressings etc are all very expensive.  This all was worth a fortune.  Yesterday I spent some time putting it away and adding some to the car kits as well.  Just wonderful.

So it was amazing and I thank you all for so many big blessings this week!

I found some post Mothers Day sale items and this included $3 stainless steel drink bottles we were wanting and some gifts for the present cupboard.

A local supermarket has been having amazing specials.  I think it is because they have found themselves really close to Aldi.   Last week it was the pork roasts.  This week it was Andy's favourite coffee for $10 a tin.  This is usually $22 a tin in Coles or Woolworths.  (The big nescafe tins) I got five as the date on them is mid 2020.  So I saved over $50 there.

I have been doing some trades and my essential oils have been great for this and also gifts.

Now that I have supplies I can put together some rollers suitable for a persons needs and it isn't too expensive.  Yet to buy rollers of a blend can cost $30 + each so this is a great start for someone.   As I got started because of a gift Chloe gave me I also hope that a gift like this also starts something wonderful.

Andy was busy and he told me to say he saved over $400 in his Vicky Challenge.  

So that was my week!  
Today I am heading off to see my Aunt.  I have farm honey for her and photos.  On this trip I do a kind of loop and go to Spotlight,  several op shops, my Aunts and a wonderful fruit and veggie shop that usually has amazing bargains.   With luck I will have veggies to make a big pot of soup over the weekend! 

I just heard from Jen in NZ.  Several people wished her well for the imminent birth of her new baby.  She has a baby girl!  So wonderful to hear. Congratulations Jen I am so thrilled for you!

How did you build up your home this week?  Didi you save, get ahead, add to your pantry or preparedness?  I hope it was a good week and you have a great weekend.  Tomorrow I am setting myself up to watch the royal wedding!   I remember watching Princess Diana and Charles marry. I was in college then.  I love how literally millions of people will come out to celebrate! 

I better get going as I have a busy afternoon! xxx

Tuesday, 15 May 2018

The Christmas Challenge. Lately...

My latest additions to the present cupboard were clearance items after Mothers Day.  Nothing actually was obviously related to Mothers Day i.e. colouring in books, drink bottles, socks...  even Andy scored stainless steel drink bottles for taking to work for $3  (down from $12) and they were plain green not even girly so he is none the wiser!

Otherwise I have been card making and using up some of the bargain books I got from the op shops.  In the evenings I am crocheting.

Card making is a big saver.  Throughout the year we need cards and it is nice to have plenty on hand. As well as for greetings, notes and best wishes cards can make an actual gift i.e. a pack of five or six in a pretty box or in cellophane with a ribbon around them.  I have sometimes added a pen, stamps or address book.

I love having a good supply on hand and if I go away on holidays I love to take writing paper and cards and write actual hand written letters.  I keep a box for this and a card making session stocks it up again.

This month I got busy and cut up my rose books and made myself a fresh supply...

I had three good books so I ended up with main themes of colourful photos,  beautiful gardens and rose paintings.   All worked well.

All the little bits left over go towards making gift tags.

In earlier posts I have shown lots of cards I make and how they are useful.
Here is a link to a post about cards as gifts and some presentation ideas...  Cards as Gifts.

For some really easy instructions have a look at my tutorial Card Making Part 1   and Part 2 These are super simple!  If you are not confident with crafts this is a good way to get started.
When we are trying to save and get ahead there is nothing that gives you a boost more than being productive.  Saving is one thing... producing things is another.  Believe me... together they are a powerful force!

I tend to go through stages with my card making from fancy to simple.  It also will depend on the supplies I have.  For ages I loved to do ruffles and appliqués...

I like flowers and birds as my themes best but I have made a lot of childrens cards and I will choose books i.e. Beatrix Potter,  Winnie the Pooh, woodland creatures and so on.
For men I will get wildlife books and do deer, eagles, fishing type themes.  It is good to just follow someones interests and go with that.  In my family wildlife works but you could do trains, motorbikes or pretty much any theme.

Every time I am in an op shop I look for books with great images.  Old calendars can be good too.  Sheets of music, wrapping paper, magazines with good quality paper.... then think of bits of lace, appliqués, broken jewellery, ribbon, glitter, stickers, wall paper samples.... so many possibilities!

Today I am off to Aldi and the same supermarket that had the big special on roasts today has a big special on coffee.  Really big!  They just be trying hard to get people in the door!  Also it is sunny so the washing is going out!
I hope you are having a good week!

What are you working on now?
How is your present cupboard going?  
See you on Friday! xxx

Sunday, 13 May 2018

Gardening with Sewingcreations.

Regular readers here all know Sewingcreations and how she and her husband work so hard toward building their house deposit fund.  Gardening always features in her household savings.  Eventually some of us started saying that we just have to see this garden and learn more!

Very kindly Sewingcreations is taking us on a garden tour and giving us her tips on how to garden inexpensively.  I could have almost included this post in The World Within Our Walls as really our garden and surroundings are such an important part of the world we create and live in.  A garden and a beautiful setting are so wonderful.  Over to Sewingcreations...

We have around 188 square metres of herb, berry and vegetable gardens here which supplies us with most of our vegetables all year round which we blanch and freeze and use fresh as well.

A little story about the gardens is that none of the back gardens were here in our rental property when we arrived and we put them all in ourselves as we had the money to do so. We funded everything piece by piece by doing cleaning and gardening jobs. The back garden beds were set up for about $400 with the drip irrigation systems and we also funded buying 2 x 1100 lt water tanks by doing paid gardening jobs for others too. I might add ask permission if you are in a rental whether it is okay to put in garden beds but most real estates are only too happy to see lovely gardens set up in rental properties.

Our on going vegetable garden costs are mostly covered by selling saved garden seeds and dried herbs we produce in our gardens on the internet as well as a bit of paid gardening work that DH does.

The ways we save money in the gardens are -

- To buy our cow manure from a local livestock transport company for $25 for 3 cubic metres and likewise buy our horse manure from a local horse stud for $20 for 3 cubic metres that they both load into our trailer by front end loader. This saves an absolute fortune over buying bags of manure in our local garden centre for the same quantity.

- For our mulch we mix half dried grass clippings, leaves and half Lucerne hay we also buy for around 1/3 saving from a local horse stud to mulch our gardens with. We run over this in piles with our ride on lawn mower with a catcher and then back it up to the garden beds to use. This saves so much money not buying hay as often as the price of hay is getting expensive here.

- We save around 50% or more of our own seeds that we plant year in year out which saves a huge amount on buying seeds from the local garden centre. For instance as we have bred heirloom tomatoes over the last 4 years that are now frost resistant we squeeze the seeds into the ground and have fresh tomatoes all year round.

- From our fellow gardening friends we get plant cuttings and bulbs which we use in our gardens and we trade amongst one another which saves a huge amount on buying plants and herbs.

- When planting seeds in the gardens we plant directly into the garden beds in bulk around a few drippers and then transplant them when they get bigger. This saves on rain water usage for supplement watering rather than planting in every drip irrigation hole.

- The household lawns and flower beds get watered with saved grey water from our showers and washing machine as we use biodegradable products for both. We also use our white grey water for watering vegetable seeds in on occasion if there is severe water restrictions and we alternate with fresh town water watering too.

All I can think of currently but I hope this gives people lots of ideas to save money in their gardens and know that even if you are renting you can supply food for your families all year round just as we do.


Thank you so much I love it all!  My ambition!  I love the row of pumpkins. I want the biggest pumpkin patch that is my dream!  Whether we have smaller or larger gardens it is a matter of making the most of the space.   Sewingcreations what you have done on a rental property is amazing!

I hope you all have a good week!
Do you have any money saving tips that help set up, maintain or plant a garden?

Thursday, 10 May 2018

Feather your Nest Friday, 11 May, 2018.

We had a busy week!  Also we had rain both here and at the farm so it is wonderful.

It is lucky I write things down as already I had forgotten things I did last Friday and Saturday and I had got the new week off to a good start!

Over the weekend I started some card making.  With three rose books to use and my supplies it was easy to make up sets of themed cards.

I made almost thirty so I can package some up as gifts and use others myself for Birthdays etc.  Now that cards have gone over $10 to buy this is even more of a saving then ever as they are under a dollar to make. 

Being colder I did lots of cooking.   I had a spaghetti sauce cook up then I made Lasagna and Pasta Bakes.  I gave two Lasagna to Allie as she cleaned our gutters and this was our trade.  She was happy!
I put one in the freezer for Chloe when she comes which is today!

This gave us several meals as well.

I cut up a big pumpkin and added sweet potatoes and onions and made soup.

Then I froze single serves.   I add Turmeric to my soups now for added benefits.

I made pink playdoh with purple glitter for Harper.

The crockpot helped again with a leg of lamb.   Just now a leg of lamb is a good buy.   It goes into the slow cooker with as many veggies as I can get around it.  Some thyme, some mint jelly and pepper.

Later in the day when things have cooked down a bit there is more room and then I add peas, broccolini etc.   This was beautiful and made several meals.

I made 21 banana cup cakes.  A dozen went with me to see the girls.

Out came the endlessly recycled cake toppers!

I taught Harper the art of  getting extra icing sugar by tipping your are upside down and dipping it into the icing on the tray.   She caught on quick to this...

This occupied a good half hour of baby sitting time! 

I made up some essential oil rollers for Lucy who is now rather interested too.   I am fining my supplies are giving me both gifts and trade-able items too!  To someone starting out having someone to make a blend or a roller is a skill and helpful to them.  So that was fast, I knew nothing and now I can help others get started! 

I always study every catalogue that comes in the mail.  This finds me some amazing things!  This week a Supermarket up the road had pork roasts for $3.99 a kilo and around here I haven't seen prices like that for years.  So on Wednesday (which was the first available day) off I went.   They were great.  I mentally calculated my freezer space and Mums!  I stocked up.  When I got them loaded in the car I felt like in the IKEA add where the lady shouts "start the car! start the car!" lol

A couple of weeks ago I turned my $50 voucher into $150 free hair care.  Every time I go to Coles I notice they have still been clearing shampoo, conditioner and hair lines.  Yesterday as usual I checked and it must be coming to an end as now they had some great brands for $1.  The new lines are out on display and things have gone up dramatically.  I got Shampoo and Conditioner for Chloe that in their new packaging are now $15 each.  I paid $3.   I got some for Andy that is also now $15 each and paid $2.  There were many that are around $8 and I got them for $1.   I stocked up.  I refuse to pay $15 for a shampoo!   With my docket at home I worked out my savings.... $287! 
When Chloe gets here today I have some for her, they are luxury products and she has waist length hair...  so happy!

I am counting $100 also for making and sending all work lunches and drinks.

I haven't added up my Vicky Challenge yet.  I have all my numbers and I need to add up the last few weeks! 

Today Chloe is coming and we are going to a wedding dress fitting!
Then tonight Chloe and Luke are having dinner with us.  As I will be out most of the day I have Lamb Shanks and potatoes, pumpkin, sweet potato and onions in the slow cooker.  Tonight I will just steam some greens and dinner will be ready.  The weather is cold!  This will be a good meal.   For Lamb Shanks I just pour over a jar of tomato pasta sauce... it miraculously becomes a rich gravy. Done! 

How did you save, get ahead and build up your home this week?
Have a wonderful weekend.  xxx

Tuesday, 8 May 2018

The Christmas Challenge. Show and Tell for April Part 2.

On to the next photos for Show and Tell!  Thank you everyone!

Fiona made her parents 50th anniversary celebration cake.  It is just outstanding!

Fiona I am sure your parents were thrilled and you should be so proud.  This is just gorgeous.

She also make her nephews personalised pillows in their favourite theme...

This was another hit!  Well done Fiona what great work.  You also saved a fortune with all of this work! 

Bluey has been busy!  Jane isn't the only one smashing out amazing crafts!  Bluey has been making 
Lazy Susans.  First he made one for Jane then went into production...

How beautiful!  I personally think he could sell these as people could order them in various sizes to fit their tables etc.   

Phyllis has been busy!  She made Star Wars figures for her Grandson... (he is mad keen on Star Wars!)

The detail in these!  They are fabulous. Phyllis you are very inventive and clever!

Also she showed me how she makes package bows just using the wrapping paper she has...

Phyllis draws and she showed me how she makes a card to go with her gift... i.e. here the gift was a picnic set so this was the card...

So clever!  I love this sweet idea.   Phyllis you amaze me!

She also made doll clothes with a matching hat!

Melissa has been card making.  In one weekend she made herself a good supply!

Beautiful work.  

Cookie made one of her beautiful purses for her Granddaughter and she re strung her own Grandmothers pearls to make a bracelet.  What a special gift...

Thank you so much everyone.  I hope I didn't forget anything... if I did it is because I am unorganised and not on purpose!  

Now to get cracking and be productive for May!  I have made a lot of cards using my rose books.  I am working on a crochet blanket.  And I have added some bargains to the gift cupboard too.

Today I am heading off to a supermarket for some roasts as there is this amazing special.  I am getting as many as I can fit in the freezer plus one to cook tomorrow. Then on to Aldi!  

I hope your week is going well!  See you on Friday!  Thank you everyone for sharing your photos and inspiring us! xxx