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, 15 March 2015

She brings home food from far away places.

I have had a really good summer season and we had so much free fruit. My photos are some of the free produce we had this year, so far, which has been a huge blessing. Much of it is thanks to my Aunt. Also the Bay Leaves are from Mum's tree at the farm. The peaches were from a neighbours tree. They were going away, we knew that, so we asked if we could pick the peaches and they said yes!
I always keep a basket in the back of the car. You never know... I am always on the look out!

Several times recently I have mentioned and thought of the verse "she is like merchant ships, she brings home food from far away places" (Prov 31. 14) You know how you can read a verse a hundred times then one day something hits you about it? Well, I've been thinking on this verse and I keep seeing it in action.

Most recently I saw this in action in Pasty! She diligently checks prices and shops around and so it is not a big surprise she finds some amazing specials! Plus she does something else. Like Laine she prays before she shops! Well, she had a haul of specials that you wouldn't believe. I'll let you read about it here.

So what does the verse mean and how can we apply it? Firstly I notice "she brings home food like merchant ships" so it's "ships" not "ship". She is bringing home a lot of stuff from different places! Merchant ships still exist but back when this was written ships really brought back amazing and exotic things from different parts of the world you never would have even seen before. Very exciting possibilities! They provided a far greater variety than otherwise existed. Now the world seems smaller. Routinely we have so much choice! But the verse still applies and there are other ways of bringing home food from far away places.

We have online shopping. We can compare prices, products and details easily online and we can order things from just about anywhere!

We can compare around using the junk mail we get. Sitting and going through the catalogues updates us what is in our own area.

If we are travelling we can look for specials and specialities in the area. The simplest way is to ask the locals. Locals know! We do this with op shops too. Chatting to locals you find where the best markets, op shops, fruit and veg shops etc are. This is so helpful. We have come home with some amazing things, some bargains, some free. Last trip a huge basket of free lemons!

We can shop in different supermarkets, farmers markets, private fruit and veg shops and a whole range of places. Here in Adelaide we have a good wholesale huge warehouse called Giganis Bros. It is everything from cookware to beans, herbs, pasta, dehydrated products all at wholesale prices. (Bacon Street, Hindmarsh) This is a great place to stock up and save money.

Last week I mentioned how in Wendy's family all watch out for specials. Her husband does, her daughters do, together they all are on alert. This team effort really is a help. You can do this with family and friends, neighbours... you can do it online via Lasoo here in Australia (it is all the current  specials catalogues), your junk mail, My Abundant Life as Wendy lists the best specials and where they are located, I follow a wholesale butcher on face book so I always know the specials (mine is Specialty Foods Thebarton, South Australia) Doing this you don't just widen your net you are increasing the number of fishermen!

When I lived in the country I knew a lovely Christian lady with five sons. This woman really was like the merchant ships. She knew all the best places to shop. When they went to Melbourne she knew a factory that sold pies direct to the public at amazing prices. She would take a huge esky (cold pack) and fill it and bring them home. She knew places in Adelaide, she phoned around the butchers and would get 50 kilos of mince meat at the best possible price and then package it into portions, she knew how to use Rain Checks at various supermarkets and shop in bulk. She also cooked non stop and timed the bread maker to be just finished as the boys walked in from school! She made giant biscuits on trays, instead of making 12 to a tray she would make 4 or 6 giant ones. Faster and sensible for big boys. She was one industrious woman. She decorated cakes to bring in extra income. I think of her so often. She shopped far and wide to feed her family.  Once the boys were teenagers she had the expense of feeding six men.To do it she really used the merchant ships method.

All of this takes some doing. It is a priority. It might mean shopping in more locations. It might mean travelling further but doing it less often. I think there is something else. I think the idea of bringing food from far away places and merchant ships means this woman cared what she fed her family. It is not rubbish it is good food, good value. I can't imagine that after all these she wasted anything either. Cooking and storage and stocking the pantry for winter were all the next steps in this process as was helping the poor. We all know this all takes loads of work. Lots of diligence. Lots of reward.

When I lived in a country town the prices were high. I used to do a once a fortnight shop in a town an hour away. The first couple of purchases covered the petrol then as the savings were so significant. Then a couple of times a year I would go to a further away town. That one was an hour and a half away. But it was worth it. Of course you have to consider petrol prices when it's travel related and postage or delivery prices when it's online shopping. My favourite "free" way to do it is if you are in a different area for any reason then while you are there check out the shops, specials and prices if you can. Different areas just have different specials. Some places have factory direct sales, whole sale butchers, shops that sell seconds, road side stalls, pick your own produce... all sorts of possibilities! If you have a long trip you need to take then you can plan to do both things. This is mainly how I shop in far away places so I save petrol which has to be considered in your costs.

For many of us food prices are just going up and up. And for many of us incomes have become less reliable. Or both of these at once. And many of us feel the need to be prepared and be prudent.

In our pantry challenge we are doing our best to create a buffer between ourselves and hard times. We are storing up, preserving, preparing and stretching things the best we can. To do it I am sure we will do better if we consider this advise from Proverbs. Maybe there are possibilities that we haven't thought of that might help us in our food budget.

How do you maximise the amount of food you get for your money? How are you like merchant ships? I would love to learn more ways we can be like this. If it helps our food budget it will help our pantry also. Somehow I just know that this verse being on my mind so much is going to lead to some good discoveries!

Have a great week! xxx


  1. Thank you Annabel for the mention! We are still in awe over the whole thing! I have a question ... what is an op store? I've read it several times in your posts but am not sure what it is. I love your mindset and the lovely things you continue to share. Thank you for all you do!

    1. Thank you back Patsy! Op shops I think you would say thrift store. Op is for opportunity.
      I have the same thing as you sort of... people say to me they never find anything good in op shops like people say to you they never find specials in Sams Club. Now I know shops vary but it has turned out people who said this to me have been shopping in the SAME op shops. You have to look. I am happy to sit on the floor and go through boxes and so on. I go often. I get friendly with the staff and they are helpful. Seek and you will find! Same as at my most usual grocery store I have had people say to me they never find specials like I do. Then I say oh do you look on the racks they put the bread and bakery specials? do you compare the deli to the meat departments to the freezer department (etc) and do you try different times of day and days of week? Same store, different reviews!
      I do think praying of course leads you to have eyes to see for one thing. That was a little bit off track! But I noticed this "factor" in both our worlds!
      So I am praying before our trip to find the things I am needing for my pantry and crafts through winter. So excited! Have a wonderful week! xxx

  2. Sam's Club is a huge supermarket/department store where club members pay a fee to belong and can purchase in bulk/large quantity.

    Thrift store in the US = op shop in Australia

    Today's post has blown me away. Great advice and wisdom.

    Hugs and happy weekend,

    1. thank you Kelley! The different names we have to so many things! I am wishing we had Sams Club thats for sure!
      Also thanks for what you said. I take this as a big compliment because I think of you are a truly good Godly woman. I have read enough of your blog to know this is true. So thank you. xxx

  3. Annabel, what a wonderful post. I love 'following the specials' and always do my research before I leave home. By shopping carefully and judiciously, and 'bringing home food from faraway places', we truly can feed our families well, plan for lean times, make the budget stretch so much further and make new friends in the process. Here in our city, the larger fruit shops have no equal for fantastic produce, delicatessen items, healthful 'fast' food like stuffed field mushrooms and home made tabouleh, and specialty rices and produce that are hard to find like Carnoli rice and sugar plums and pomegranates. It varies according to season and availability, but shopping at these fabulous fruit and vegetable vendors first, then topping up at the supermarket, really leads to healthier eating, more slender waistlines, and true taste sensations.....Mimi xxx

    1. Mimi I think you are really good at coming up with things to do with the ingredients you find. You are really inventive. Also I picked up from you the hold one thing back to use for another meal tip. Often I can do that. It can be a real stretcher.
      Shopping here, there and everywhere does increase our variety. Its quite educational, more comparisons are made.
      Thank you so much for your wonderful comments! xxx

  4. Hi Annabel. I always pray before I shop and God has provided me with amazing bargains. One time in particular, Darren and I were in Coles just as a worker was reducing Dynamo laund liquid ( small bottles ) down to $2. The orginal price was almost $8. We purchased more than a dozen bottles and rationed them out over many years. I still have three bottles left. I dilute it and only use it for smelly dirty laundry.

    I'm not store or brand loyal. I'll buy where I can get the best deal and always buy on special or no name products. If something is a really great price I'll clear the shelf.

    1. That was an amazing special Wendy! I really admire how you operate as a team. That is a wonderful thing. And you have reminded me to always pray before shopping.
      When the girls worked in the cosmetic industry I found out some insider secrets about brands that were amazing. Like some brands were one product packaged in cheaper packaging and sold as brand A or more expensive packaging and sold as brand B. The price difference might be $100 per item. But the contents the same! So if they do this I bet the food companies do too!
      I cant wait to hear your next specials! Many

  5. Yes! I must remember to pray before going grocery shopping. Thanks for the reminder. I have been remembering to pray on my way to work to have a good day and I pray during my morning tea break as no one at work is on their break at the same time. Since I have been remembering to pray for a good day at work things have been going along better for me.

    1. Sherri I am the same. I needed the reminder and I got it from Wendy and Patsy. It makes a big difference. We need eyes to see. Also often we forget to ask for what we need. So many times I have found it is as simple as "ask and you shall receive" I just forgot to ask! In both prayer and in relationships etc. Today I plucked up the courage to ask someone I know who is good at selling on Ebay if she would sell some things for me and we could split the profits. She said yes! In fact she jumped at it. Now why didnt I just ask her before!? We just need to pluck up the courage to ask!
      I am so glad your prayers have helped you at work. That must be a big help. Have a lovely week, thanks

  6. Dear Annabel what an inspiring post.

    We as a family also work together to find bargains and it is almost a grapevine effect when we see something really good we send out bulk texts. My eldest son lives at the other side of Adelaide from me yet he knows what we buy to eat and will ring to say I say this or that for sale thought you could use it, or I will ring him to let him know when I see his bulk needs. We share our Costco membership between us all and I am more than happy to take one child or another with me when I go. I visited my daughter this past weekend and she was proud to tell me she had saved $5 on eggs this past week. My second son knows I love rack of lamb and one Sunday I came out of church to see six missed calls from him. I rang him back worried something was wrong but he wanted to tell me a butcher near me had a one day special on rack of lamb, he had heard it on the radio, you have to smile.

    I have also found that by living this way I have been able to encourage another family to slowly (and I mean slowly) change their mindset about the way they shop. I here from the Mother often asking "Is this a good price on lamb?" or "If the price of chicken is X how many do you think I should buy?". Encouraging others to be good stewards of their gifts not by nagging or lecturing but by encouraging them through example is as good a way as any of spreading the Word.

    Op-shopping is natural way of finding our needs at a price we can afford in our family and also a way of affording the little treats and pleasures in our lives. Just as home made gifts are encouraged and valued in our family. We would all much rather receive something made with love, as would all my true friends. Were things always like this? Not at all but we are on a journey and it is never too late to start it I believe.

    God bless and have a great week

    1. Mel you have a great system going on in your family! That is casting your net wider and smarter.
      I think many more people are having to really review everything, their spending, food budget, general management. If you can help anyone that is wonderful. We are all learning from each other too.
      Very good idea on sharing the Costco membership.
      Many thanks

  7. Dear Annabel,
    What an inspiring post! As always the comments are excellent and I love everyone of them. I maximize the the amount of food I get for my money by being a student. Unfortunately my sister and I got a late start, as our mom wasn't interested in teaching us about cooking, budgeting, stretching a meal, stocking and rotating a pantry, grocery shopping, etc. We were not permitted to be a part of any of those activities when we lived at home and it really got us off to a late start. So when you do not really have any mentors, you make lots of buying mistakes, frugal fails, and have a lot of catching up to do but it can be done! God has helped me the most, by giving me the desire to learn and to be a good steward. I studied the grocery store ads weekly for over a year. I started a price book. I know the lowest prices for the items we buy and stock up on what we need during the current ad until it cycles around again so we do not full price for them. I have learned that coupons are truly not worth my time unless they are for an item we use regularly. I've learned the final price on those couponed items at the grocery store are often not such a good deal compared to buying bulk at Costco. I'm happy for anyone who finds couponing regularly beneficial to their bottom line, it's just not for me. Some coupons are worth my time, but they are only a help they are not how I stock our home. Fresh food rarely has a coupon, that's why I focus on scratch ingredients. I concentrate on the food my family eats, keeping it in stock/on hand at home, getting it at the lowest price possible. I am surrounded by several stores as I've said before, and they are all close enough that I will stop at 2-5 in one day if the prices are right. Also, we do monthly shop at Costco for bulk items (toiletries, coffee, spices, condiments, rice, meat to be broken into smaller packages, frozen french cut green beans, baking items) Two years in a row I've purchased a 50 lb bag (or 22.7kg) of white rice at Costco. When costed out versus smaller bags on the best of sales, the price cannot be beat. Our boy Cole (Bill's son) is autistic, and although he's become much more adventurous in his eating, rice always agrees with him therefore it is a staple for him. Of course we also use it in many dishes and "rice sides" that I make to accompany our meals. After buying rice in bulk for two years, I never want to purchase it in smaller packages again, the savings are so significant! I'm rarely brand loyal with a few exceptions. I had my first garden of my adult life this year. I too learned from Laine's Letters to pray before, during, and after shopping. I thank God every day. I'm truly thankful for the health he gives my husband to work as hard as he does, and I'm respectful of that income. The best lesson has been to IGNORE the marketers and advertisers! When I consider them, I imagine they are applying for a job (my attention) so they can gain favor (get me to spend my money) on their goods. Can I make that item myself? Do I really need that item? Will I have buyer's remorse? I really think before I part with my husband's hard-earned money. That is a large part of my job for my home. So thank you dear ladies for sharing all of your tips and knowledge with me, it is really appreciated! xxx

    1. Dear Colette,
      This makes me smile. We are all learning. It is so good to be learning together!
      I liked that Laine was not a good cook at first. Do you remember that the first meal she cooked her husband made him sick? It was that bad. lol So there is nowhere to go from there but up! And she made a study of it. And so it is with the things we need to learn. Often people say to me oh they wish they could do this or that. Well I say learn! Wishing never taught us anything but we have every chance to learn. We didnt have to learn as children to learn now. That would be an excuse.
      No God provided the instructions (such as the verse) and He will provide the teachers and mentors too. We just have to ask and have teachable hearts. I love you because you have this teachable hear and want to learn and find it exciting as I do!
      I had pretty good teachers but I didnt always listen. As a teenager I couldnt understand why Nan and Pa studied catalogues and went to different stores. Now I do. I wish I had been a better student then.
      I also look at sales techniques, anyone who wants my credit card details etc as the enemy! They do not care about our family. Fair enough they are trying to make money but it might be at my detriment. So I look at this with suspicion and know my budget is first. And to me it is a big thing, when a man works really hard and does long hours, to say to them they didnt earn enough money is awful for them. I mean it happens of course sometimes to be true but I avoid that like crazy as these good guys work so hard to provide it is like a kick and a failure when the money is just gone. That makes me careful. Once again this reminds me of Laine. She saved money for ages and surprised her husband that they had funds to go to Scotland. He couldnt believe it! She made the money he earned go FURTHER than he ever would have believed. That really spoke to me.

      Thanks for your wonderful post. It is exciting to me that I feel like I am learning so much new stuff!
      Lots of love,

    2. Wonderful, uplifting and beautiful posts ladies. I've had tears of joy over them. Really heartfelt thoughts here xoxo

      I've always prayed for eyes to see and ears to hear and most of all a teachable heart. So this post really resonates with me. Thank you Annabel xo

      I was overjoyed to hear of your blessing Patsi. I've been praying for provision, so wonderful news xo

      I pray for everyone who reads or comments here for abundance and blessing to come your way, you're such an uplifting group of ladies!

    3. Thank you Kaye! I agree everyones comments are so helpful and inspiring. It is wonderful that you prayerfully support everyone here. I think we should all think of doing that along with praying about our shopping and work in general. Lovely!
      Kaye I will pray and think about your needs and provision too. I hope you have some great finds and things come your way. It is exciting to see what can happen!
      Thank you for such a nice comment.xxxx

  8. Hi Annabel; I have been following your blog for a few months now, and I must tell you this is one of your best written posts! Such great ideas and how to implement them! I love Proverbs 31, it is one of my favorite verses. We have a Prov. 31 ministry here in the States, it is wonderful too. So many good suggestions and so many overlooked chances to get great deals!! Thank you for such wisdom. Hugs, Nana

    1. Dear Nana thank you so much that is really encouraging to me. I am learning. You are watching me learn as I go!
      I love Proverbs 31 too. I have always had it printed on my fridge or somewhere so I can see it. I just love it.
      Nana I tried to snoop and find your contact details as I wanted to send you something. But I cant find anything. If you would be comfortable to give me your postage address email me at Its ok if you dont want to do that!
      Thank you for your encouragement. Love

  9. Great post Annabel!

    I like that you asked your neighbours for the peaches and they said yes.

    I was discussing with mum and dad to do this if they see trees around their town with fruit just falling on the ground. I told them to knock on the door and asked, the worse thing that can happen is they say no, and that doesn't happen very often. Most times they will be glad of someone to make use of their excess :)


    1. Tania this is so worth doing! The promise of returning with a pie or with jam seems to do that trick! I have ended up with fruit year after year from the same people by doing this as they have said "see you next year!"
      One was with an old lady. She was lovely. I gave her eggs and she let me pick the fruit. She has passed away now and her son cut down every tree. She had the best plum and apricots I have ever seen. I could have cried. I was sad enough that she died. I made a friend in her all because I saw her falling fruit... she was on my old street. So always ask! xxx


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