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 January 2017

Feather your Nest Friday, 20th January. 2017.

Every Friday I am amazed at the good it does me to stop and look back at the week.  Last Friday seems like a month ago at least! I am so thankful for my little notes on the fridge or I would not have a clue about half of the stuff we did this week. It is my moment to appreciate all the blessings that came our way  and what we achieved. I feel so happy when I do this.  If we don't consider how we are going I think then we are only looking at what needs doing which, lets face it, is never ending.  So I love Fridays for this reason.

This time last week I had figs and had used some for dinner. Then I went on and made four large pizzas with them.  They were really tasty and easy.  I spread the bases with cream cheese and sliced figs and baked. Then I topped them with rocket and drizzled sticky balsamic vinegar over the top.  Very simple.

All the remaining figs I made into jam.  This is good as you can use it like fig paste with cheeses etc or with cream on scones or toast.  I add almonds.

I got ten jars. Two for Dad, two for my sister in law who gave me the figs, three for gifts, three for us. 

I used the labels Chloe made for me...

I had free bananas so I made four dozen banana muffins.

Also a lot of basil ready in several pots.  I picked most of it and make pesto. This was another dinner and a gift.  

I forgot to take a photo of the pesto. It was so bright green!

My Hydrangeas this year haven't been very good. I picked some that have dried off and used them to fill a bowl and make some use out of them.

I had too many eggs so I made a huge baking tray of self crusting quiche which also used up a few left over sun sided tomatoes, a few leaves of spinach, herbs from the garden...

I have been asked how I make quiche.  I don't really use a recipe as to me its something to use things up but I used ten eggs, a large carton of cream, grated cheese, two fried onions, a bit of bacon, left overs all went in. I had no pastry so I added about 3/4 cup SR flour. Line a pan with baking paper. I pour it in and let it sit for a few minutes so that the flour hopefully sinks. Then you get a crisp edge to make up for no pastry!  It is very flexible. I might use milk, cream or evaporated milk or any combination depending on what I have. More eggs make it more eggy, less makes it more quiche/custardy.  Other use it up ingredients are grated zucchini, ham, tomato... or things like roast sweet potato which them make it more like a frittata. Truly use what you have. 
Anyway we had it with salad and relish for dinner then it was lunches/lunch box food.

This week I picked another ten kilos or so of peaches. So far a few have ripened and we have eaten those fresh. Sometime soon a lot will all be ripe at once then I will start working on them. I have a fair few more to pick yet. So between basil, figs, peaches this has been quite a lot of free food with a lot of potential for different uses. I have big plans for these peaches. I think everyday next week I will be busy on these.

On Monday we were talking about free ways to improve our preparedness.  Jane mentioned having a bike and using it in case fuel was in short supply etc. Joy agreed and so did I... I have thought about this before even looking at bikes but didn't go ahead and do it.  Lucy's house is only a few kilometres away.  If feel and communication were out I would want to get there. A bike with a basket to carry things could be a very good thing to have.  
I had been shopping and driving past the flats around the corner from us there was a bike. I had noticed it earlier but did not see the sign on it.  
The sign said "FREE" I could not believe it!  Vicky always says free is her favourite price! We have had a lot of laughs about that.  

It is a ladies 18 gear bike. I said I only need one gear (downhill) but all I need is a basket.  We also laughed how the free sign is so neat.  Very nice.  
So I am going to get that basket and consider this part of my emergency preparations.  So Jane we better get into training!

Also I found a beautiful old chandelier shaped light. It is quite big with scrolly pretty arms and a lovely shape... but without crystals.  I am going to make it over so we will have a chandelier at long long last in the bedroom! 

In the mail I got a $40 grocery voucher from Flybuys. Mostly I earned this using dockets that got me thousands of extra points. I stick the weekly deal tickets in my diary and make sure I hand in each one. It paid off!  I will turn this into $80 by waiting for half price deals and will build up my pantry with it. Yay!

My Vicky Challenge: 
Packed lunches for a short week $80
Four large pizzas for almost free $80
10 jars of fig jam  $30
10 kilos free peaches.... $40
Use it up meals plus quiche $20
Free bike $100 ( I counted $100 as it would cost at least that to go buy a second hand bike)
2 big jars of pesto $10
My $40 voucher.
So I wrote $400 into my savings book. 

Last night we had another storm. This one we got a red alert on the phone and by email. Other storms have been an amber alert.  When this came the sky is perfectly clear.  It was late afternoon. We had dinner and it was still clear. I decided to go pick more peaches while it was ok as strong winds and hail were in the warning. 
I got a basket of peaches and then brought in  everything from the clothes line.  By then we could see a storm was actually coming.  Then another warning came and it hit fast! 
For us it passed fairly quickly and although a mess the garden is well watered. But thousands are without power again and traffic lights are out again as well.  Our power stayed on so I am thrilled about that! 

How was your week? How did you feather your nest, save and get ahead? 
Have a lovely weekend!  xxx

Tuesday, 17 January 2017

The Christmas challenge. Beautiful bath products.

This week I went on from soap to other bath products. My trip to Lush and snooping at labels and prices led me to the website that also contained glorious ideas and ingredients.
Then I looked on Pinterest and followed some DIY Lush links. Oh my goodness you can make so many very similar things so easily!

I love things that smell beautiful and bath and body products generally! Mum gave me some money at Christmas so I invested in some essential oils that I know I love and have a good effect on me. These are Rose, Geranium, Patchouli and Ylang Ylang.
These are all relaxing, nurturing, calming... help me sleep etc. You have to find the scents that work for you. You probably already know what you love. It is interesting checking into the properties of each of them.  So I invested in these.

 I made gifts for myself and for the present cupboard. The idea is I will build up a theme of spa/beauty gifts and give little kits. I need to be watching out for suitable containers or little baskets.
Also hopefully this year we will make over our bathroom. So I have a new bathroom glory box and I am putting away some lovely things to bring out when it is done. I have candles, towels, pretty soaps... now I will add some jars of bath soak etc to this collection.

The first thing I made was bath bags that I have made many times before.  They are just squares of muslin filled with powdered milk and fine oatmeal. You can also add almond meal to this which is gorgeous but I didn't as this makes them a bit expensive. I added a drop of each of my oils to them.

In the bath they release the softening milk, oatmeal and scent. Then they become kind of soft and mushy and you rub the bag on your skin and it very gently exfoliates. They feel beautiful. I wash my face with these and can get two baths out of each one.  They are so soothing.  Every time  I make them I think I will make a years supply then I consider the volume! So they are more a treat.
The ones for me have gone into big jars. You want to seal in the scent and not lose it.
The ones for gifts I packaged into cellophane bags...

I used more of my dried rose buds to decorate them.  This gave me a little pile to stash away in the gift cupboard. 

Then I made a bath soak you can keep in a jar and scoop into the bath. I made this with the same scents, powdered milk and epsom salts.  I packed some up to go into my spa gifts.

In op shops I always watch out for pretty containers and had several cut glass lidded jars to use.  The scoops are baby formula scoops I have been saving up knowing they are just lovely for something!
I would say this is very soothing, softening, calming...  Epsom Salts are really lovely to soak in. Good spas all over the world use this as a detoxifying soak and it is so easy to do at home. Your skin feels lovely.

Then I made a fine rose and sugar scrub. This turned out really well. It works wonderfully. I don't get on with coarse scrubs as they are scratchy.  Dark brown soft sugar with honey is my usual scrub.
I saved rose petals all summer.  I blended these with about equal castor sugar. That is super fine sugar.   
The blending make it even finer. Then I added a drizzle of almond oil. Not enough to make it wet but it just softened it further.

This was kind of an experiment.  I have used it on my face everyday. I just love it.  Now it has occurred to me to try it with fresh roses as they would have oils in them... but it might not keep so long.  I will let you know on that.
I truly think exfoliating is the best thing you can do. Then your moisturiser just soaks in so much better and you look fresher.  This worked so well I basically can't make enough of it!  I am packaging it up the same in cellphone bags. 

So that is my week of gift making.  It was really good fun and my bath has been bliss!
I have a list of other things to make because I found recipes I really want to try. These include hair masks, powder and a Lush copy of a cleaner bar.   I ordered white clay online for one of these so have to wait until it arrives!
Most of the ingredients are simple ones. The most beautiful body power Lush sell feels like silk. It's main ingredient is cornflour. That is on my list to make and I have powder puffs I made last year!

How is your gift making going? What are you working on? 
It is really amazing how week by week the gift cupboard begins to refill!  And as a bonus we get some lovely things for ourselves and our homes as well.

It has been really hot here but today it has cooled down and there is a lovely breeze. I have every door and window wide open letting it flow through the whole house.  And we have been picking peaches! 

Sunday, 15 January 2017

Preparedness. Totally free ways to get better prepared.

It is hard to decide what order to tackle my subject list! I decided to start with something we can all do given a few minutes here and there and things that are basically free to do (or VERY inexpensive in a few cases!)
When things are free to do it makes us wonder why we didn't already do them!  Hopefully there will be some ideas here that you can implement and they will add up to making you better prepared in many ways.

This is my list to get us started:

Make sure you know how to turn off the utilities in your house. If you don't know get someone to show you. This could save your house from all kinds of disasters i.e. if a water pipe bursts.

Take photos of all your valuables and each room and contents. If you have an insurance claim it is much easier when you have a bunch of photos. Plus they help you to remember things.

Have a printed list of all the phone numbers in your phone. People lose their phones and can't remember any of the numbers as we are all used to just pressing the persons name.  Have back ups and keep in a couple of places.

Organise your pantry so there is room to build it up. Mine contained a lot of things that had nothing to do with food!  A clean out created a lot of space I didn't know I had.

Consider your home. Vicky considered hers and realised she had a cellar virtually unused and last year worked and worked until it became another part of her pantry.

I also had a space I had never thought of using and just making the decision to clean it up and use this space made a big difference. Many of us have an unused or seldom used area.  It might be a spare room that is used rarely, a cupboard that is full of junk, bookshelves full of books we don't read, a shed full of old golf clubs... they could become major assets to you and during this series and over the course of the year you will have built up emergency supplies for your family.

This is part of Teri's pantry. 

Make a copy of your bank account numbers, drivers licence number, medical, passport and everything that has a number on it. If you lose your purse all these are usually lost.  I find it easiest just to sit all my cards on a photo copier and copy the lot. Or take a photo on your camera. Although I would not do this on any kind of media or store it on any cloud!

Fill drink bottles and jars with water. They may as well contain emergency water as sit empty.

Fill any gap in your freezer with a container or bottle of water. If the power goes out your freezer will stay solid and cold much longer if full. It is more economical to run if full as well. If the power is out for days at least after a few days you have nice cold drinking water. In a heat wave this could be the only cool drink you get.

Get some free apps on your phone i.e. first aid, weather alerts. Learn how to use them so they are familiar to you.

Increase your home security. There are lots of ways to do this for free and that's another post.

All over the internet the theme is decluttering. If you don't love it toss it out they say.  You might not love your winter coat, manual tools in the shed,  wooden blankets and your old camping gear. But you might really really love them in an extended blackout.  Hanging on to things that could be very useful is free.  And the fact that other people throw out so much is also an opportunity to get many amazing things for your household preparation very cheaply or free.
Similarly advocates enthuse that you can go to the shops everyday and to keep supplies is clutter.  Ignoring advice like this is free and could save your family from disaster. No you cannot go to the shops everyday. Even currently I know millions of people are in snow and ice storms and have to stay home. I hope they didn't listen to that advice as they will be regretting it about now.

Read up and learn skills. Revise your first aid training.

Consider your choices and expenses. I consider "swaps" a free way to be better prepared. In my first year I swapped my weekly coffee and cake for as many items I could get for that price to put in my pantry. It doesn't sound like much but boy did it add up over a year!
You could swap gym membership for gardening and grow food like Vicky does...

This is an interesting subject! Swaps can create time, money, space....

Put some useful things into your car. If you have a spare blanket, flash light, first aid items etc then set your car up well. Include flat shoes, a bottle of water, some cash...

Keep emergency cash in your purse. If the power is out how will you pay for anything if you don't have cash?
Do the same in your house. A power outage, computer glitch or natural disaster can mean no way to pay for anything unless you have actual cash.

Look up emergency numbers and put them into your phone and write them in the house. I keep these inside a pantry door. You do not want to be searching for these numbers in a crisis!

Learn how to cook outdoors on your BBQ, outdoor fire or on a gas burner.  Plan back ups to cook and boil water.

Get to know neighbours. There are times that helping each other would be so important.

Make a habit to always keep the fuel tank at least half full.
Similarly keep things reasonably charged, do not get down to the last few prescription tablets if you can avoid it at all.

Organise. Know the location of things and put flashlights where you can lay your hand on them in the dark. Know exactly where things are. Frantic searches in the dark or in a crisis are not going to help.

Plan a list of easy meals you can make from your pantry. You can even group items together into emergency meal packs.

Have an evacuation plan.

If you have emergency back ups practice using them, getting them started etc. I found out in a blackout I didn't know how to use something and reading the directions then was a nightmare!

Sign up for alerts and extreme weather reports.  There is a lot you can do with plenty of notice. You can plan ahead and not be on the roads for one.  Being watchful is free. Sailing along in oblivion is nice until you get a nasty surprise.  I think keep one ear to the ground and be watchful. This will give you the heads up to all sorts of things it would be wise to prepare for.

Write yourself an action plan. If you had warning that something massive is coming do you have a plan?  A warning is a huge opportunity to get prepared. If we have already thought about what actions to take then we can do a lot in a short time.  Grab the list and get going! Hopefully your plan has tasks for everyone to do. And that is what we are working on next week. Making your action plan.  Mine is inside my pantry cupboard door.

We will also have a post on how to build up your pantry for free.  I am doing some of that right now and I love it! Its called making hay while the sun shines!

What can you add to this list? What could you do for free at your place that would make you better prepared?  If you can implement some of them this week then that is a good start.
Mine is to better organise the first aid supplies. I have built them up. I know where it is all located. But it is kind of a jumble.  So I am getting it well and truly organised. This won't cost anything but will mean I can lay my hands on things faster and also see when any supplies get low or need replacing. Free but an improvement!

Have a wonderful week! xxx

Thursday, 12 January 2017

Feather your Nest Friday and the Vicky Challenge. Week 2.

How was your week?  It was good here with a bit of everything!  We had a big storm coming last night and pretty much as soon as it started the power went out.  Luckily it was at night and not too hot. I got out my new battery operated fan and turned that on and it was beautiful. Ahh preparedness!

This morning we just have rain and that is good. The garden and farm can soap up a lot of rain!

By contrast there was a fire near the farm during the week. It was a worry at first but it was soon brought under control. However the next morning this was Chloe's view...

It is out now. And raining as well just to be sure.

Some of the ways I built up the nest this week include:
I cleaned out my fabric cupboard.  I made ham bags for the fridge. Several old sheets that the material was not so good in I used to cover my Hydrangeas in the scorching sun. Some soft fabric I made swiffer covers and dusters. Then I made a pile of fabrics suitable for some projects plus a few things to mend. I will get to these on hot days.

I made pizzas for dinner, one to give away and for the fishing day picnic.
I made a big chocolate cake for lunches and the fishing picnic.

I did my grocery shop at Aldi.
We had a big potato salad and I picked parsley from the garden to sprinkle over the top.
My sister in law gave me about two buckets of figs. They are huge!

The first night I filled some with cream cheese and wrapped them in Prosciutto...

They go into the oven to bake and come out all caramelised and beautiful. I served with rocket and balsamic vinegar. They were so good. Tonight I am making fig pizzas with cream cheese. Tomorrow the ones left I will make fig and almond jam.  

I also got some peaches. They are not quite ready. After this rain I think next week I will have loads of peaches to pick.

I hope so! I have big plans. We will use a lot fresh and I will give the girls heaps.  Then I will make crumble (crisp) and stew some. I like to poach them whole as well. I check the tree daily to assess the situation! Once the birds get into them very much it is time to pick them fast.

We have been picking strawberries. These are in my herb stack a the back door.

Ive been making bath soak and the bath bags from muslin. Also rose petal face and body scrub. This has been so much fun but I will save for Wednesday! 

Andy caught Blue Swimmer Crabs. He shared the haul with his son so they had 6 each. This was his dinner for two nights.  He loves them! 

Between the crabs and the figs I was able to save the meat I have bought and freeze it. I am now well ahead and with pizza tonight from the figs even further ahead.

I have to show you some cuteness. Mums friend comes to see her with her babies with her. 

When I was little we had a baby Kangaroo that we bottle fed. It grew to over six feet tall!

Outside a window this week I noticed we have a nest! It is honeyeaters and I took the best photo I could but it is still a little fuzzy...

Yesterday they got out of the nest and sat on the branch. I look at them about 100 times a day! Poor Andy hears a running commentary of what the birds just did. 

My Vicky Challenge:
After huge savings last week that were due to a lot of DIY and fix it ourselves projects  I thought this week would be much lower.
Also I went into Lush and had a really good look. I counted way too low on the soaps I made. A medium soap in a slab in there is now $14. I was amazed by that but took photos to prove it!

Speaking of... I checked on the price of figs and they are currently $2 EACH here. They are sold in packets of two...

$4 for two figs.  I thought no one will believe this so I snapped! 
My sister in law gave me 68 lovely large ones. That's $136 in figs.
I made 32 bath melts/soaks. They are $9.95 each in Lush that is $318.40
10 tubs of rose petal scrub... theirs is $16.95 thats $169.95
The crabs were $44 retail.
The peaches $3.90 a kilo. 
I made the lunches and the fishing day picnic $150.
Six pizzas for entertaining, lunches, fishing day... I will count $100.

The total I wrote in my book is $922.25

Now personally I think some of these prices are ridiculous but I write them in as theses are the real retail prices and we enjoyed all this for free or for not much! 
I certainly saved on groceries this week.
Tonight we are having the fig and cream cheese pizzas and a salad.  
I don't even have to buy yeast ever again as I have the sour dough. 

It was really a lovely week! So many nice things happened! The rain has settled in now without the wind so this is good.
How did you build up your home, save or get ahead this week?  
Little bits add up! 
I hope you have great weekend! xxx

Tuesday, 10 January 2017

The Christmas Challenge. Off to a happy start!

My first week back to the challenge I made soap. I thought if I make it early in the year it has time to cure for gifts later and for Christmas.  Also I have found that doing things in batches gets you ahead with gift making.
Last year I was really inspired by some gorgeous soap Mimi made and I love the shop Lush but not the prices so much! However if you like body and bath products go into their store or look online as the ideas are lovely. I went in there this week and I am way off in my soap prices. A medium bar of soap was $14.

Last year I wrote about the types of soaps I tried as I made about five types and this gave me a lot of gifts including laundry soap and wool wash.  In the end it is personal preference but my own favourite recipe is from Cath and you can find the recipe here.
This is easy and you don't have to worry about caustic soda.  I times the recipe by 6.  It was a lot to handle. If it is your first time I think make the recipe as it is. I would love to try this in the crockpot too but I haven't done that yet so I cant report on that!
In it I use goats milk and power, both from powder.
It qualified in my use it up challenge as I had most of the soap flakes, the powdered milk and all the rose buds that I dried last year.

The Lux soap flakes are something Australian readers will know but overseas this may not be known. It is pure white soap flakes. They look like this:

You need a very low heat and keep stirring and milk is added. It begins to melt and look like mashed potatoes.

Eventually it melts and you keep going until it is runny and looks like potato soup!  When I say eventually I mean for this amount I would say this took close to two hours, on a low heat and stirred most of that time. This was my own doing making such a big batch. I think the single batch still took about an hour to go from flakes to beautiful liquid. Patience.

Follow Cath's directions. Mine are just added observations. 
Once it is runny I then use my stick blender and blend it until it is smooth and glossy. It becomes quite shiny and gorgeous.  At this point I added a big spoon of vanilla bean paste. This gave it a lovely colour and the seeds gave it little flecks. And a yummy scent!

I had been looking for a good container for a mould. Then I noticed my caterers size glad wrap box was just right! I filled it with baking paper to line it. 

The weight of the soap made the box sag so I wedged something heavy on each side to hold it straight! 

When the soap is liquid you have to move quite fast as it re sets pretty quickly.
Then I dotted on my rose buds. I did this in rows so when I cut it into slices I wouldn't make a mess of them.

Also I had a bit left over so I filled two little bread loaf tins as well. They were lined with baking paper.

At this point it was so much fun!  The melting part took forever and I was thinking why oh why do I always multiply things? And will I ever get this stick blender to not smell like soap? etc.
But once it is melted and gorgeous it is all worth it! 

Then it took all my strength to leave it alone to set. Late at night, long after I went to bed,  I got up and decided it was set enough to slice up.  This was also so much fun! 
I made pretty giant chunky slices.

It is sitting like this drying out.  I really like it!

I am planning to make bath soak, wash cloths and bubble bars. Then I would have individual gifts and the makings of bath and body gift baskets or kits.  Plus I will have lots to use myself as I love anything bath related. A soak in the bath is heavenly to me.  
So this week I am making the bath soak and maybe some muslin bags full of oatmeal, milk power and scent. 

Jane mentioned one of her resources is shells. I am thinking how shells would be lovely in a bath themed gift to decorate a basket or jar and how the right shaped shell could be used as a scoop for bath salts or soaks.  

I just realised I have two baskets of rose petals so they can go into what I make next and maybe a body scrub...

So that was my week one!  Have you started making something to build up your gift supply? 
As the year goes on I notice I end up with a mix of things.... projects that take ages, batches of things that are quick and easy.... works in progress. They just all add up over the year. Come December you have a lot to choose from.  And with things you love you also have luxuries that would cost a fortune in the shops!  It is lovely! 

Today I am going back to my cupboard to see what I have that I can use. I have jars, bottles, muslin, scoops, little boxes, milk powder, rose petals....    Think of what you have that you can use up and turn into lovely gifts!

I hope you are having a good week! 

Thank you so much to everyone for comments and helping me to reply and help where

Picture for Lorraine (see below!) 

Sunday, 8 January 2017

Preparedness and Pantries 2017.

During the last few months of 2014 I started to have a feeling that I should do some things to be more prepared and to build up my pantry.  I already had reasonably sensible basics like a first aid kit and a pantry that would have kept us fed for a good few days if I couldn't go to the shops.  But that was about it.

I also had a tiny little cellar that was empty and I had never been in it! When we bought this house I considered it an unused wine cellar and it was set up that way. It was dusty and the steps were steep.  I wasn't going down there!
As I started to consider building up supplies so that we are much better prepared I realised I had an asset that was wasted.  So I made it my goal in 2015 to clean up, add shelves and fill this cellar. And I did it! Like everything else I did it a little bit at a time and week by week. By the end of the year it was well stocked.  I bought specials and mostly saved in one area to build up another... and took every opportunity to add to it. You can read about it in my 2015 series Pantries and Preparedness.

In 2016 I knew I wasn't done. Last year I still added to it. We went further and bought a generator, a new BBQ and spare gas bottles, we worked on our emergency fund and tried to learn more and more.
As it turned out all year we had demonstrations all around us to remind us why we were preparing.
In our own state we had massive storms, floods, hail that destroyed crops, the entire state went off the grid in a massive power failure, several more blackouts that lasted days in some towns, banks had glitches and online banking and ATM's didn't work, phone networks had breakdowns and phones and internet didn't work...
Meanwhile I had friends in the path of a hurricane and some that were facing huge price hikes that were crippling. And several friends who's husbands came home one day and with no warning at all had no job. Or car. Or phone.  Just like that.

In our own city we had the big blackout and massive storm and roads blocked from flooding.  While I had been trying to learn more about preparedness it turned out I got a practical real life crash course!
Because we had been working on this we were able to listen to the battery operated radio and hear what was going on, what had happened and that was really helpful. Without a battery operated radio you could be completely in the dark in more ways than one!
That is because phones also went out.  I thought if I keep things charged they will work.  Not so. The towers that transmit mobile phone signals are run on.... you guessed it ... electricity! They have a battery back up but it didn't last and soon phones didn't work.  I didn't know that!
In our city trains are electric. So the trains stopped. People went to fill up their cars with fuel and the fuel wont pump without electricity.  People got stuck in lifts and even on the trains as the doors are ELECTRIC.  The shops soon shut as the cash registers are .... electric. Most just closed.
But before they closed every battery, torch (flashlight) candle, match sold out and so did basic foods etc. If you don't have these things before a crisis you are pretty much going to have to go without. They also took weeks to be restocked.
People couldn't get home, there were cars that had run out of fuel and then there were no traffic lights! And then the railway crossing signals and gates also failed and got stuck shut.
In a short time everything stopped.
We even had a hospital that had no power and peoples life support stopped.  Hospitals have back up generators and the generator didn't work either.
To say it was a mess and frightening how unprepared we are is an understatement.
No power means no money, no shops, no fuel, no food, no communication.
It was an eye opener. More and more things depend on electricity than even a few years ago.

We did ok. We had fuel and we started up our generator. I cooked dinner on the BBQ and we had hot water heated up there as well.  We stayed in, the generator kept the fridge and freezer ok. We were fine.
I couldn't reach Lucy as her mobile network went out but I could reach her husband so I found out they were ok.
As things happened I wrote them down. Since then we added a lot more to our preparedness.
I have come to think of being prepared as better than money in the bank.  When something big happens you are on your own. In a mass event no one is coming to help you as the demand is just too high. It might be days or weeks or more before there is assistance.

Rachel routinely cooks over a fire as she has no electricity.  
This is her having a cook up!  
I had to share her picture as these kind of things are skills that are really good to have! 

This year we are still trying to improve our position and learn more. And if I can influence you to look at your preparedness then I will be very happy as it could make a world of difference to your family.

This was my recent side of the road find (repainted) and it is now part of my pantry. 
You wouldn't know it as it is in the lounge room but it holds back up supplies.

One thing I am doing this year is joining in a class that Patsy is running on A Working Pantry. She is running a disaster preparedness class starting Feb. 1.  I am signed up for that. It is a totally free class.  Her experience is much greater than mine so I am in! She still has spaces and I know this will be a lot of fun as well as a learning experience.
She also has a free ebook. If you would like to build up your pantry this year download this book and study it. It is called Yes you Can have a well stocked Pantry.  I printed mine and refer to it often.

We want to have a pantry that will keep our family fed for quite some time. At first I aimed for a week, then a month  and then three months.  Many families aim for a year.
But that is not all. We are going to think about first aid supplies,  what to keep in your car, alternative ways to cook and heat water and many other areas that make us much more able to manage when things go wrong.

Each week we will have a different topic.   I am not an expert. I am a homemaker trying to be prepared.  Together we can make a lot of progress this year!
Some subjects  I am working on right now and are coming up first are:
Things you can do to be more prepared that cost zero.
How to be prepared when you don't have much space.
Making an action plan which you can use if you are blessed with a warning.
How to fit more into your pantry.
Learning the skills you need now and not trying to learn them in a crisis situation.

This week think about why you want to build up your pantry and how it could help you in so many circumstances.  Think about what are the greatest threats where you live? I would prepare for the most common things in your area first. I feel ours are power outages and storms followed by job losses.

It is not doom and gloom is it wonderful. It is making hay while the sun shines! It is why the Proverbs woman was not afraid of the winter. She had brought in food from far away places and was the guardian of her home. She knew there would be good times and times of having to stay indoors, shortages etc. Think back then how hard she worked to achieve this kind of security!

What are you preparing for you your area?  Have you experienced something that made you decide to be prepared in the future?

I have already found out that little by little and week by week a year makes a world of difference so let me know if you want to join in.  2017 will be a year that puts us in a much better position and we will have fun doing it!

Thursday, 5 January 2017

Feather your Nest Friday and the Vicky Challenge 2017.

The first week of the year is not over yet and I feel so happy I was able to hit the ground running! The list I keep on my fridge is long!

As I wanted to set the scene this week for the whole year I have to face up to another change I need to make. Rachel prompted me by being a good friend! For ages I have known I can't continue to individually reply to all comments every time. It goes against what I think is important. I have followed blogs and commented, sometimes repeatedly, and never had a reply and felt there was no point commenting. I also think it's rude. I have always tried to read every comment and reply. I am so grateful for all the participation, help and ideas you share.
Rachel wrote to me and said "Annabel you cannot try to keep up with all this yourself anymore" (or words to that effect! And she is right. She also said she and others can help with replies and that is already happening quite often which I really appreciate!
I know this is all true and that it  takes a good friend to tell you the truth.  Unaddressed it will lead to me not being able to write the blog anymore due to the volume of replies and behind the scenes correspondence. (which is at least the volume of replies)
But I don't want to disappoint anyone and I still feel rude if I don't reply! And I love reading all the comments and this is how we get to know each other and gather so many new ideas. That is a joy for me as in a break I made a cup of tea and sit down to read what you have been doing and making!
I will still reply and read every comment, just the replies will be a bit less. And if you would help anyway you can by answering a question or offering an idea etc then that would be wonderful as this is a little community now with quite a lot of friendships formed.
Thank you for understanding. I don't like it. I just am facing that it is a reality I have to work out a way to manage.

That said, I got heaps done this week and still wrote my blog and my replies!

These are some of the things I did to feather the nest this week:

Yesterday I made soap! I have gifts made for week one!  Instead of pretty moulds like I used last year this year I was inspired by Lush which is a shop here that sells soaps and body products. I was also inspired by Mimi who made the most divine soap on A Tray of Bliss just before Christmas. You get chunky slices of soap and each one is quite large so it is a gift in itself. I will share how I did it next week but this is it so far...

I made a tray of bacon and cheese scrolls for Andy's lunches. I love making these as you don't have to cut and fill sandwiches the filling is in them already! And they freeze well.

I was given three bananas which I froze to make Banana Cake.

This is my Vicky Challenge for the week:

Andy saved us a lot of money. He fixed my Kitchen Aid Mixer. It was in big trouble bouncing around and leaking black oil! I thought it was dead. He watched this problem get fixed on you tube and spent two hours on it. It now runs like new!  Saving $200 in repairs. It kneads my sourdough bread for me and is a huge help. I could count a lot more for the cost of a replacement. This was a gift from my Mum and I hope to keep it going forever.

He spent an afternoon cleaning up the yard after the storm we had, go out the blower vac, trimmed, mowed etc. If we paid for someone to come in it would have been at least $180.

He cleaned out the gutters before the storm. If we paid for that it is over $100.

I had been bitten by bugs for several days. Mozzies don't usually bother me. Something was biting me all over. I normally don't like sprays but this got out of hand and I started feeling unwell. Andy bug sprayed the entire yard and outside of the house. It cost $60 in supplies but when I checked how much would this cost in Adelaide it was between $300 and $400. So I will say it saved us around $300.

Then he fixed a blind. It was a fairly major fix and it saved us buying a new one so that was $80 saved.
He also got a tyre fixed and the man didn't charge him anything for it!

All this was over the weekend and at the end I told him he had saved us $860 . He was amazed and I could see he felt good.  I also haven't had anymore insect bites!

As the week went on it got hotter and hotter. Yesterday I decided to put this to good use. I washed the underlay from our bed. It is very thick wool. I used the wool wash I made. It came up beautifully and smells lovely. Lucy gave me bluebird clothes pegs! 

It was completely dry in a few hours. I also washed the pillow protectors, bed skirt, quilt/doona, doona cover and all the linen. By evening it was all back on the bed. All the washing water was on the garden giving it a drink in the heat. Win win!
There is nothing like climbing into bed with all this fresh and smelling like sunshine. 
I googled how much is it to get a large doona washed in our city. $99! was the answer. And the same for the underlay.  (this sounds like madness to me but they are the prices)

The soaps I was copying are $6.95 each but mine are about double the size. I got 20 bars. Less costs this is a saving of about $120.  

I made two large focaccia loaves. Saving $12.
The scrolls, saving about $30.
I made a dress into a top. I never wore this dress but liked the top of it. I will call it a $50 new top!

I washed all the outside windows. My idea was to start the new year with sparkly windows! I googled this is $100 on average here. 

So I wrote $1342 into our savings book for this week which is massive.  Sharing this with my husband has really paid off. He loves it. 
I forgot to count lunches for a short week $80! 

So we had a week of getting heaps done, some major repairs, washing big things, cooking and the present making has begun! I am really happy with that!

Today and tomorrow are pretty hot.  I am getting out the sewing machine to sit and quietly sew while staying out of the heat. I am planning "use it up" pizzas on the weekend!

How did you build up your nest this week? I hope it was a wonderful start to the year.  
Have a great weekend!  On Monday we start our preparedness series for the year.  I am hoping by the end of the year your present cupboard will be full and also your pantry! xxx