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.

Tuesday, 25 October 2016

The Christmas Challenge. Progress and getting ready for November!

Next week is November! So we will be focusing on getting our gifts finished and all the things that go with wrapping, cards, cooking etc. We are almost on the home straight now!

Saying that there is still time to make a lot of things!
Once it is the first of November I give myself permission to get everything out of the gift cupboard.  That is a really fun day! It is like a trip down memory lane back to January as I almost always have forgotten some of the things I have stashed in there!

I know I have made a lot. Plus it includes little bargains I have picked up that I hope will go in with various gifts.

Lastly I have added cellophane bags, cellophane rolls, sticky tape etc.
I have a lot of wrapping paper and ribbons already.

In Australia we do not have Thanksgiving. I think it sounds beautiful and a good idea but it is not our tradition. That must impact the timing and getting ready for Christmas in America. I assume you would celebrate that and recover before starting on Christmas?
Here for me I consider November a time to get my gifts sorted out and I want to be posting the international things around December first so they are all wrapped in November.

By doing this I have no nasty surprises or panic in December. Once it is December we put up the Christmas tree and I get into cooking the shortbread and coconut ice etc. I go over to the nursing home and decorate Kath's bedroom too.

Last week I made progress getting all the Christmas cakes made. I am so glad and this gives me a lot of gifts. Some will end up part of a hamper gift. I will add shortbread etc later.

Half the fun of Christmas is making extra and having things to give when you get an opportunity.  This is one of the reasons it is wonderful to make things. You can give more!

The next thing I did was decorate envelopes. I have a challenge to post gifts that will fit into A4 and A5 envelopes.  Last year Vicky sent me a gift in a box. When it arrived it had Christmas pictures on top and looked gorgeous! It was so nice! So I decided I will decorate my envelopes so when they arrive it will be a bit exciting and Christmassy! 

Next I will add the names and addresses in bright red I think!

So my little parcels will go into these!

This week I am finishing off a lot of gifts. Each night I am trying to do some sewing. Last night I added Grub Roses to the corners of a stack of wash cloths.

I can't wait to get all the gifts out!  Doing that is really the culmination of almost a year of work and the rewards of starting in January become apparent! From the last two years I know it is another example of how amazing things add up over time, it is a shock!

Next week will we have October Show and Tell. I love to see what you have been making (as does everyone else!)  Email me at
Thank you to everyone who already has! From photos so far it looks like October has been a very productive month!

I hope your week is going well! I was painting with Allie most of yesterday. Today we have new doors being installed then I will get to painting them.

When do you start sorting and wrapping gifts, Christmas cooking and decorating?  I hope everything you have done so far this year towards Christmas is really going to pay off. It was not until December the first year I did this that I noticed I did not have to buy hardly anything! Oh my goodness my usual Christmas expenses were reduced so much! It was wonderful. I hope you find the same thing plus find you are able to give more to others and someone in need. That really makes Christmas so much fun. I can't wait now! xxx

Sunday, 23 October 2016

The Vicky Challenge. Vicky's Victory Garden and Cellar.

My Vicky Challenge last week a bit quiet and I had a catch up week on ordinary things and cooking.
I wrote $350 in my savings book made up from $100 for lunches, mending clothes for Andy rather than replace them, things he bought from the op shop rather than new and all the cakes I made for upcoming Christmas gifts. So I am pretty happy with this.

This weeks savings subject is kind of two things.  Vicky and I were talking about how much we have done so far this year. We both think we encourage each other so much that we get heaps more done and it is much more fun as well as we report to each other how we are going with all our various projects. We celebrate with each other.
There is no doubt in my mind I have saved more all year because of the Vicky challenge and achieved more just because of her friendship and encouragement.
We really are as good as the people we associate with and it really makes a big difference.
Now it is not always easy to find such friends and they are thin on the ground sometimes as not everyone even values or understands the things we are talking about such as building up your home, building your pantry etc.
The thing is you can cast your net wider thanks to the internet. Vicky and I have never met but it makes no real difference to us. We met right here on this blog.
Having a savings buddy, someone to compare notes with and encourage you along really is wonderful. I know I have said these things before but this week I noticed it so much. I think this is because we are coming to the end part of the year and I am seeing how much Vicky has achieved and how much I have!

Now to show you what I am talking about the next part of todays post is going to show you SOME of what Vicky has achieved this year.

Over to Vicky:

I have decided to call this The Victory Series. 

For all of the regular readers this may be a bit of a repeat, but for anyone just joining in or starting out I hope there is a little inspiration and encouragement. 
Over several years we have had a lot of challenges thrown our way and history is rich with lessons and information for us to glean from as homemakers, mothers or career women. My husband's job loss and the doors still being closed on him has really opened my eyes that there is still so much to learn even if we are good at saving or being frugal and experience is the best teacher! And so comes The Victory Series...

The Victory Garden: 
During WWII women planted Victory Gardens to help on the home front so I decided that this year would be my Victory Garden. Although not the same set of circumstances we are at war with the economy itself. Some I know are having a hard time making ends meet so by planting and canning more my hope was to plant and can enough to help others as well. Which we did. It was hot and tiring and a lot of work, but I kept thinking about our foremothers who had to do the very same thing to have food to last the winter for much bigger families than mine. Who did it without indoor plumbing or electric. Who did it just to survive when there was no help from the government. During any war time it is truly amazing the ingenuity and fortitude that the ladies had and how they made do. From using carrots or plums to sweeten a cake because they couldn't get sugar or during The Depression the meals that were made with very little and very little money to be had. Could we do it? Could we today live like they did? So I challenged myself on this end. And glory be we had a great garden this year so my challenge started off right! 

The Victory Cellar:

My Victory Cellar really is a victory because with my Victory Garden and all of the canning I really needed space to store more. Having a well stocked pantry has gotten us through many uncertain times and emergencies and where there is a will there is a way. We had this cellar that I always overlooked because it was dark and gross and well when I had space under the bed why would I go in that spooky room! So I shut the door and forgot about it's existence. Root cellars were very common and our foremothers filled them up since it was cool and kept things well. I wasn't really sure about it? First I have to tell you that my husband is not the most romantic sort of fellow so when he surprised me with the fresh new cellar that he scrubbed and painted and put in a new bright light and shiny new shelves I was such a happy lady. 
Since the garden had done so well each day as I filled jars with all of the treasures we had grown I was in good company as I would think about all of the stories I had read about what women did to make and keep a household going. Not an easy task back in the day. 

I don't just want to say it I want to live it and experience it. I talked with my mom of how they did things when she was little and her love of picking tomatoes this year getting back to her roots. 
Everyday was involved with picking, washing, cutting and canning and you will see there are still spaces that is because at least 1/3 of what I canned went to others in need and just as much produce from the garden given to others who really needed it. I am also stocking water, oil, store bought sauce and things like that in there too so I am not completely finished and won't until every space is filled.

On a serious note though, being prepared and building a pantry is something all should consider. You can never know from day to day what is going to happen, but we can do our best to be able to get through the best we can if it does. The effort we put into things now can carry us through later and what is work now will be comfort later. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder and to some an expensive purse or fur coat is beautiful; to me rows of colorful jars filled tasty goodness is beautiful! 

And as soon as it is finished next will be Vicky's Victory Pantry! 

Well, I can't wait to see the pantry! I haven't seen it either but have heard about a lot of stages along the way. And you can see I am not kidding about A LOT of work and big things being achieved!  I can't tell you how much fun it is to see each bit of progress along the way but then also see the end result!

Vicky had a vision of what she wanted to do this year and it was huge and she did it!
I had a vision of painting my whole house myself and I have almost done that and will my niece helping me this week I think it is getting close!

It is funny that we both had a cellar that we ignored and never set foot in. I ignored mine for two years. I also thought it was scary and creepy. I never even went down the steps once!
And now we both have turned them into food storage and stocked them up and love them! What an asset!

With a step by step and day by day approach we can do great things! Friendship and encouragement along the way helps so much! Encourage one another! It works!

How did your savings go last week? As it is almost November ... have you had a big project or goal this year and how is it going?
Are you thinking about what your bigger projects and goals will be for next year? I am thinking about this.  Once I am finished painting I am going to have free time to tackle something else!

Have a wonderful week! xxx

Thursday, 20 October 2016

Feather your Nest Friday, 21 October, 2016.

I had a really good week. No painting at all as it has been raining except for yesterday and I used this one sunny day to wash and dry everything!
And now it's raining again.

These are some of the things that saved us money and built up our home this week:

I mended two items of clothing for Andy. One was a favourite and he is thrilled he can wear it again!

I made a huge batch of spaghetti sauce.

We had it twice as dinner and I portioned out the rest and froze single and double amounts. It gave me a big stack for the freezer.

Also I am probably the last one to do this but I made Zoodles... so instead of pasta I used a gadget to make zucchini noodles. We loved them! Best thing ever! I will be doing this often from now on.  In under a minute you have piles of "noodles" and I pan cooked them lightly then served the sauce over the top and added cheese. Really good!

I made a big stack of stationary using the stamp Kelsey gave me...

They are matching cards and envelopes. Now I have a big supply for letter writing and all I need to do is catch up on my letters!

Chloe printed out Jes' book for me. I wanted a hard copy of this as a reference.  It is amazing! And one thick book!  

This would make a very good gift for anyone who is interested in saving money, making beauty products etc and certainly anyone who has fruit trees! (You can find it at Strangers and Pilgrims on Earth Blog)

Andy got a new hat plus two shirts at an op shop. He collects hats so he was very happy.

I made my Christmas cakes. This took three whole afternoons.  I made sixteen! This sounds a lot but it was 3 very large cakes. One of these goes away for Andy's Birthday cake next year.  Then five medium sized cakes and the rest are individual sized cakes that I made in a Texas size muffin tray.
I made this recipe three times.

I am so glad to have these done! They improve as time goes on. The large ones I wrap in foil and glad wrap.  One is going into a tin for my emergency supplies. I always make them in October.

Now to hide them away. This gives me gifts for the in laws, Andy's work mate, Kath in the nursing home gets a little one, neighbours etc.

The house has been smelling good!  Andy LOVES these so he is happy, happy, happy!

Because of the rain things had to change but I just made the most of it. Plan B as Vicky says!
And next week Allie is back! I hope the weather is ok as if it is and we both paint for a few days I think I will very nearly get all the painting done!  
When I am finished you will hear me celebrating! It would have been about eight months of pretty much constant painting all up!

How did you build up your home this week? I hope it was good for you. 
Have a lovely weekend! 

Most of you will remember Teri as she has written whole posts here and we have seen her pantry and canning. She has been laying low lately... her son has a brain tumor. She is really needing prayers. If you would pray and leave a message for her that would be wonderful. xxx

Tuesday, 18 October 2016

The Christmas Challenge. Grub Roses. Part 2.

This is part two in our Grub Roses tutorial. I know some of you are following along and doing very well! And others like Patsy who so much wants to embroider roses will have to follow later as she and her husband are helping others recover from Hurricane Matthew. Sorry about the timing Patsy!

Ok so last Wednesday we covered the basics of the needle to use, dividing your thread, practicing French Knots and Bullion Stitch. I personally do not use embroidery hoops but you can do that or try both ways and see what you prefer.  An embroidery hoop is not needed on thicker things like towels but maybe helpful on very fine fabrics so your work ends up sitting flat.

The week before I spoke a bit about some of the things I used Grub Roses for... it is never ending really. I added just one little rose to the outer side of some little socks for Harper. These look so sweet. And just doing something like the you have a little gift!

This week I am talking about formation, placement and colour.

Knowing your stitches the next thing is forming them into a rose. This takes some practice in the same way learning the stitches does. Really there are no rules. I am just telling you what I usually do.

Mainly I start with a nice plump French Knot. This is the centre of your rose. Now you can work your roses in different colours. Often I will do a deeper shade of pink for the knot, then change to a middle shade of pink for the first round of bullion stitch petals... and then to a really light pink for the next row of petals (if I do a third row).  If you do this you want to choose three shades that are just lighter and darker versions of the same colour.

After the french knot I work three bullion stitches around this knot. You want to get them in close. At first attempts sometimes you have a gap where you can see fabric in between your petals. Just keep going until you get them to sit snug and you don't have these gaps.  When you were practicing Bullion stitch they were like little straight lines! But they will curve... and you can nestle them into a gentle curve and work them to sit nice and snug right where you want them to go. Coax them into position!

As you can understand the inner petals are smaller than outer petals.... to achieve this I work my billions with FIVE wraps each.  And on the first round I work THREE bullion stitch.

On the next round I will work SEVEN wraps on each bullion stitch and work FIVE bullion stitch around my rose.

If I do a third round it will be NINE wraps and there will be SEVEN bullion stitch.

As you work each round be careful to overlap you bullion stitches so they do not line up. It is the over lapping that makes it look like a rose. Think how a brick layer lays bricks... overlaps not rows!

These  are my general rules which are handy if you need a guideline. But I don't always adhere to it and sometimes there will be a gap and I will just go ahead and fill it in. It is quite forgiving and I always look at how is my rose looking? If it looks thin on one side I will add a stitch ... you want it to look right to your eye. So feel free to do what you think looks nice!

With groups of roses I always stick to odd numbers. So I will have one, three, five...

You can use French Knots and larger and smaller roses as you like.  I often use just a fine thread to fill in little stems and leaves or you can work Bullion Stitch in green to form leaves as well.  You do not have to be botanically correct... like painting you are creating the suggestion of things and these do not have to be perfect.  
You can form a rose bud with one or three bullion stitches and a couple of green leaves or a stem.
Adding a few French Knots is lovely and a delicate effect.

The next issue is placement.  If you look at the top pictures these show what I mostly do... I will work one corner on a wash cloth or handkerchief and place the rose right over the seam line in the corner.  Then it covers the "structure" and stitching. Overall I think in terms of making it looked nestled in rather than "on top" or to look like a little kiss rather than a large feature. 

Sometimes when you are working up close on something it is not until you put it down and walk away from it... come back and look at it like everyone else does... from a normal distance away that you think !!! hey it looks nice!  

Just practice. You will soon be very happy with your Grub Roses. I use them such a lot.  

Over time we might get on to some simple ribbon embroidery. All these things work in well together!  Each new stick and different kind of cotton, wool, ribbon, glitter thread etc adds a dimension to what you can do. It is really kind of addictive. 

Work rows of roses this week and if you are happy with them try to use a fine strand of green to suggest some little stems and leaves. 
These really are half the ability to do the basic stitches then half formation and colour etc. 
I hope to see lots of your roses in show and tell in a couple of weeks!

Next week we need to get right onto Christmas! I made two big Christmas cakes yesterday and later this afternoon the next lot of into the oven. Before then I am doing my tax return which I will be glad to have over and done with! (another job to tick off the list!)

I hope your week is going well! See you on Friday! xxx

Sunday, 16 October 2016

The Vicky Challenge. My weekend.

Last weeks Vicky Challenge was a bit quieter. However I counted $200 from painting here and there... it was finishing bits and pieces off and then the front door. Also $100 from work lunches and another $100 when I got all my lounge covers put back on. It was a big job and took me a week! But imagine if I had them dry cleaner or the lounge professionally cleaned... or even if I bought a new lounge rather than continually look after the lounge from my childhood!
So I wrote $400 into my savings book.

Normally I post something on a savings subject. But I was away all weekend and that is just not going to happen so I will tell you about my weekend!

Chloe moved into a farm house. It is on her Grandparents farm. She has always been more of a farm girl...  The girls had the best of the beach and town life and farm life growing up which was wonderful.

We took Andy's van so we could move her BBQ and a few things for her that were still here in Adelaide. And we headed off Saturday morning.
I had seen the house before she moved into it. It is a good house. Big with great views!
She has been painting, pulled up miles of carpet, polished floorboards.... a mirror image of my year really!

As we drove up the drive way the first impression was the view and the amount of water. Since our storms we have continued to have a lot of rain. Everything is green and water is everywhere.

The other thing was the scent of eucalyptus and wattle. It really was beautiful!

This is Wattle. It is everywhere and the landscape is yellow! The Australian ladies will know this already! 

Chloe was waiting for us and had baked biscuits!

The setting is just lovely and I thought to show it as it is so Australian and it is green from all the rain. 

There are so many birds and the Cockatoos in the trees are noisy. In the evening there were flocks of them and it was quite deafening!

Chloe took this photo the other morning as she looked out the window...

Andy took his tools and did handyman jobs that needed doing. We went for a walk and saw the fig tree and various other fruit trees that are very old and flowering but we don't know what they are yet!

Having learned new things in the last couple of years I noticed I now have a source of stinging nettles and an endless supply of Dandelions!  Mel C makes oils and healing salve from these plus I see all kinds of uses for them. 

Plus I have a new place to collect gum nuts and who knows what I will find!

In the evening we sat outside and the frogs were croaking. All night there was a chorus of frogs!

Chloe has put solar fairly lights in all the trees around her. It was beautiful!

These lights lasted all night! 

Chloe hasn't been there long and she has started a pantry. Some of this will sound familiar! She has white and neutral and natural woodwork in the house. But inside her pantry she painted it blue...

It is a good start and one of the best things you can do for family or friends is encourage them and help them to build their pantry.

I will finish with a photo Chloe took in the morning when the fog is over the water and paddocks. 

It is beautiful. We had such a nice time. Mum came over to see us on Saturday then Dad visited on Sunday.  

So now back home to a new week. 
Plans have changed. Allie is helping me next week. So this week I will make all the Christmas cakes and do some ahead cooking.

How did you save and get ahead last week?
I hope you had a good weekend! xxx

Thursday, 13 October 2016

Feather your Nest Friday, 14th October, 2016.

We are in mid October already! I just realised it while typing in the date!

This week there was a lot of catching up to do of ordinary things since last week I was painting mostly. Other things got left behind as they do.

Some of the ways I saved money and feathered my nest were:

I did a shop at Aldi. Mainly of basics such as flour, Olive Oil etc.
I made another big batch of the fruit and nut balls.  I gave some away as well.

The finishing touch on the front of the house was the front door! Finally! I finished that yesterday!  I still have the veranda to tidy up, get rid of all the painting equipment and make it all look nice!
After the last coat of paint I sat on the bed to have a cup of tea and check my emails. And then I realised how nice the door looks as this is my view from the bedroom...
(If the weather is ok the door is always open during the day. We have a screen door for security.)

Next to the front door is a row of Hydrangeas. They are getting quite big but not up to flowering yet.
The door is very pale Hydrangea Blue.  A couple of you guessed! And everyone who guessed pink was pretty much right too as if I lived alone I would totally have a pale pink. Think Strawberry Milkshake/Pink Marshmallows.  But I think with the garden and all the blue and white this works. And I love it.  If you are going to paint your front door have a colour you love!
Before it was a dark greyish colour and a yellowy cream. I didn't like it at all. Also this is the only thing I have painted in a gloss.

I can't wait for the Hydrangeas to flower now!

Now to get the front area all tidied up and pretty. I have a little table I am sitting outside with flowers on top.

And the roses out the front are all about to come out!

When I have everything cleaned up next week I think the roses will be out properly and I can take a photo of the whole front area!  I have about one rose on each bush now but I think there will be thousands of roses when they open judging by all the buds. All this in spite of the storms!

I had to go into the city this week. I need to revise what I count as savings on clothes etc when I op shop! And op shop more. The quality of things in the stores I found to be pretty bad. Everything seemed to be made of rayon and creased before you even bought it. And very expensive. No thanks!

Our local Chemist had a gift bag with purchases. I had several things to buy and got all this for free!

There were several things I use,  things the girls use and a couple of things went into the gift cupboard!

I had an orchid flower. I am not very successful with orchids so this is a thrilling event!

I spotted an idea in a store. This is a garland made of tiny pinecones and string. It is gorgeous! I can think of it wrapped around a brown paper parcel or many other uses! So if you have pine cones, gum nuts etc this could be made pretty much for free! I will be trying to collect something suitable!

I think you could do something similar with shells.
If you wanted to go glittery that would be an option too!

My 100 Day Challenge: I had better pick up where I left off!
Day 47. Friday.  Day of painting out the front.  Spring cleaning was washing some lounge covers.
Day 48. Saturday. Painted door screen with undercoat. Spring cleaning... more lounge covers through the wash.
Day 49. Sunday. Painting... went to hardware store and got door colour mixed up. Spring cleaning...putting clean lounge covers back on.
Day 50! Monday. Half way point!  Painting ... touching up out the front.
Day 51. Tuesday. Finished lounge window which needed touching up.First coat on front door.
Day 52. Wednesday.  Went into city...
Day 53. Thursday. Finished front door! Started cleaning up the painting mess!

I have to say I can really see the results of this challenge! It has pushed me to get a lot more done each day!

And yesterday I got a message from Allie. She is wondering if I would like her to come back and help next week as her work place has closed. Are you kidding me!? Yes! Next week I start painting the whole back area... garage, back fence, side fence and around all the windows...  it is a lot. To have a helper for a few days would be incredible!
I better have a restful weekend. I still have aching legs from last week as I keep going up ladders!

A surge of things done as the year gets closer to the end is really helping me achieve all the goals I set out. This is the thing... there is still time to have a major impact on finishing things off, getting presents made or whatever it is that needs doing.

I hope you had a good week! How did you build up your home? If you are doing an extra things challenge how did you go?

Have a lovely weekend! xxx

Prayer request...
All the regulars here would know Cookie. Her husband is facing a really serious medical issue and surgery. Cookie could really use some prayers right now! They are in a difficult waiting time for this surgery too. Waiting is always awful!  So all prayers would be very much appreciated.
Bluey and Rachel are both going well which is wonderful! Thank you so much!

Tuesday, 11 October 2016

The Christmas Challenge. How to embroider Grub Roses.

I find Grub Roses really useful. We have already covered so many ways to use them to embellish either a pre made item or something you have made yourself. They are pretty quick to do too once you get the hang of them.

I love to combine embroidery with crochet edgings. They are a match made in heaven I think!

Several ladies have asked for a tutorial which I am attempting! I hope this encourages anyone who wishes they could embroider to give it a try. For everyone else this is going to be dead boring! You do not need to have any experience to learn these so if you have ever wanted to learn this is your time!

Firstly you need to know a couple of things that will help immensely.
No. 1 thing is you need the right needles. People fail at bullion stitch not realising that anyone will fail with the wrong needle.

You need Straw Needles. The feature here is that they are dead straight with the same thickness all along. Some needles are tapered and thicker in the middle section which doesn't work.

And you need cotton like this DMC which has six strands together. You need to cut your length and divide off two strands. That is what we are going to work with and this is easiest to learn.
Later you can do other cottons, silks, wool etc. But start here.

To make Grub Roses you need two stitches. French knots and Bullion stitch.

For French knots you are simply coming up through your fabric and wrapping your cotton around your needle.

Hold the wrapped "knot" with your thumb so it stays at the base and pull your needle through the fabric. Then back into the fabric right next to that knot so all you see is this little knot.
This You Tube clip is a good demo of how to do a French Knot. This shows things better than I can hope to explain.
These basic stitches end up being very useful for many things not just roses!
With learning anything on You Tube be prepared to stop it, go back and over and over as much as you need until you get it. You do not have to hurry. I like to hold my needle and copy as I watch.

This week just work rows of French Knots. Pretend you are working a sampler of stitches and just work rows of knots. For your roses your aim is plump little French knots.

Next we want to learn Bullion Stitch.  Again this stitch will be useful in many more ways than just roses but they are going to form all your petals. Just go slow and learn how to wrap around your cotton and pull the needle through and secure those stitches!
Here is your You Tube clip that shows it well.
Bullion Stitch.

Do the same as before, just work rows of these. At first they look like drunken and wayward grubs and nothing like a rose! But get good at these.

You will think rows of these will never end up being roses. But once you know these roses will be easy to make! Trust me on this!

These are the foundation steps to success!
Next week we will start to add our Bullion stitch right next to our French knots...

And then how to build them into roses.

So homework is to get your needles. If you cannot find Straw needles look for long needles that are the same thickness all along except for the point of course.  Plus some stranded cottons and a bit of fabric to practice on.
Work rows of French Knots and Bullion Stitches!  You will see the Bullion stitch has two ends. Learning where it will start and where it will end and laying the "grub" in between is a key skill that will soon have you making roses.

That is enough for one week!

Next week we will finish this rose tutorial and really it will be time to go onto Christmas crafts!  I will have made my Christmas cakes by then. I can see these are going to give me quite a few gifts as I have more dried fruit than I thought!

What are you working on at the moment? How is your present cupboard looking?

I hope the week is going well! Yesterday I got the first coat on my front door! One more to go! Another big think to tick off the list!