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, 15 December 2015

Pantries and Preparedness. Revisiting.

Vicky got me thinking about the word "revisiting" and I will include what she said about it.  I thought this is a good time of year to revisit lots of things! Normally about now I start thinking about what I did achieve for the year and the blessings of the year overall. And already I have a big list of both! After Christmas in some quiet times I will write all that down in my diary. It is great to reflect on the year and appreciate the good stuff. 
The two biggest things for me have been the birth of Harper and the fact that Christmas looked like it was going to be terrible as we were going to lose Dad. And now Christmas looks like it is going to be wonderful with the whole family together! I attribute this to the amount of prayer he had as I cannot see any other reason for this transformation.
This alone makes me cry to write.

This is a post of random photos I want to show you! My little birdie Christmas tree...

One of my big goals for this year was to turn my scary empty cellar into a store. And it is! Actually it is a shock how much you can do in a year. I think the key was I did SOMETHING every week. Usually it was something small. Sometimes I added six cans of something on special. One week we just added shelving that we found. But each week something.  
I really achieved that goal.

Also I added in other areas around the house... I built up the first aid kits, the torches and candles, the car kits, bathroom and laundry supplies in those rooms. 

Doing this I learned a lot. Glenda, Vicky and Teri came alongside me with lots of experience in pantries and preserving. It wasn't just knowledge and experience but encouragement! 
Patsy at A Working Pantry and participating in her facebook group helped me and inspired me every week! Wendy at My Abundant Life motivated me constantly.
Mimi and Helen supported me as always. 
There are too many people to thank especially those who have contributed comments, ideas, photos etc. Thank you so much!

During the year we covered so many subjects. Some that I loved the most where how to build our pantries for free or with very little money. But we covered a lot of subjects! In fact I need to revisit those too.

Now I need to begin to rotate and keep my goods up to date. That will be a new routine to introduce in the new year.

In revisiting the year we can take a look at how far we come, what we learned... and also what we want to do or need to change next year. A goal and a weekly plan make big things possible.

I notice both here and amongst the US girls many people are facing reduced circumstances next year and already know it.  I think there are big challenges to meet. I hope that through learning new skills, friendship, support and creativity we can meet these challenges! Not only that but have a happy time doing it!

Mimi just has written a series Orchids on a Budget. Inspired by a wonderful book by a vogue editor during the Great Depression when so many people had the most drastically reduced circumstances she brings to life beautiful and simple things that are stylish and uplifting. She and Mimi are very alike! Anyway I feel this series is valuable and timely as people increasingly need to pare back their budget just to cover necessities. 

So how can we do well and make progress next year? Well, one way is to revisit our successes and failures of this year. Already I know things I can improve and even drastically change. You know how things become habits? When you stop and wonder why you do this or that it is often habit.
I remember one year I thought about all the things I DIDN'T like and combined that with thinks I didn't like that also cost money. Although you would assume no one would do anything they didn't like that also was costing them you'd be amazed...
I dreaded a social get together of a group of ladies and it was a lunch date type of thing so it also cost a bit. I didn't enjoy it at all. I felt obliged as I was meant to enjoy it. I stopped going to this and I was much happier and saved a ridiculous amount each year. I could maintain the friendships I wanted without going to this. 
I can think of a heap of things I ended up quitting that I didn't enjoy but did cost money! I only freed myself of these things as I had a review. A review is a great thing! (I could spend pages listing stupid, unenjoyable, expensive things I once did! It makes you wonder...)

Rosanne's Magnificent Christmas tree!

This is Vicky's story of some revisiting she did in her life... and also in part an answer to someone who asked a question in comments...

Revisit that is a good word for today.

Someone had asked because she is a little confused if we put the savings in an account or just keep track on paper so I wanted to revisit this and clarify a little better if possible.
To answer that question it is both, but if you are just starting out it may take a little time. Facing income loss can be daunting even if it is a small income. Again the first thing I decided was instead of spending a 40 hour work week paycheck if I could save it. Meaning could I be a better steward of our resources and not have to have that additional income. The little that I made didn't really get us that far ahead and we ended up in the credit trap. We had a lot of debt. We worked for that debt and would have to sacrifice to get out of it and I knew it would not be easy, but was up for the challenge! So this is where the revisiting begun,
I had to revisit what we did to put us in that debt?
I had to revisit all the bills and devise how I was going to manage it.
I had to revisit the budget and create a workable budget based on my husband's income.
I had to revisit our goals and determine if we really had it in us to achieve them?
I had to revisit with my husband on our spending habits and budget and get him on board with changes and how we would save.
I had to revisit all the useless items sitting around that I probably thought we had to have and the overspending at Christmas and birthdays.
And I had to pray for answers that I was doing the right things.
Budgeting can be the biggest homemaking tool we can use. I made mine as simple as possible, we really do have to be our own accountants
We have x amount coming in per month and x amount going out that is a given Example= mortgage, utilities, insurances  We have to pay these regardless. I did not add any overtime into the budget just base pay to see what I had to work with because overtime is not a given, nor bonuses.
As far as the saving goes the old adage a penny saved is a penny earned that is true because it is work to save. Annabel has hit the nail on the head and I'm sure everyone will agree that although those savings may not be actual cash in the bank we are living very well on the cash income we do have.
By keeping track of what you have saved by all of the different things mentioned in the last post it is a good way to see how much of that cash income you are not spending and by not spending it all each month at some point there will be a surplus even if it is small.
Since everyone's incomes and debts are different I can only say that for me it was a lifestyle change and a frugal mindset. A few of the ways that I shifted money towards debt is: Example: My husband wanted a new TV for the bedroom. I budgeted $150 for a new TV and he would have to find something for that price. A week before he was going to get a TV (researching prices and sales) someone set a nice TV with remote out  with a free sign on it since it's not a flat screen. I moved that $150 to debt payment since he no longer needed that item. If the electric bill was lower than I budgeted I put the difference for that month in the savings account.
Some months the money saving efforts don't necessarily equal a surplus of cash in the bank, but the most satisfying part is it is not taking cash out of the bank account and that money is still there for bills. Example: Since it's hunting season here we'll use this(just an example not a given if you don't eat it) ok , so I am almost out of burger and a friend got an extra deer and gave us 20# of deer burger and a few roasts, I now how the burger and a few roasts and spent none of my bank dollars to purchase it. Blessings come in many forms big or small we just have to see them for what they are Blessings. Gratitude not Attitude I say!
If you are reading Annabel's blog you will see all of the wonderful ways through herself and each and every lady that comments there are to make do, cut back, shop wiser, DIY, barter or negotiate to start getting ahead.
I hope this helps even just a little or even makes sense!

Leslie missed Mondays Show and Tell post as she needed her husbands help with this. But I want to include it anyway!
She and her husband made cutting boards and handmade dish towels. She added Bay Leaves, Cinnamon sticks, sea salt, Pistachios and then also was making fudge and snack mixes. 
What great gifts! Cutting boards are a fantastic thing to make especially if you have timber on hand.
(Thank you Leslie!)

This is the last Pantries and Preparedness Post for the year. Have a review of how your year was and revisit what are your goals, aims, needs and what would you like to try to achieve next year? I am thinking the same and think a new year is really exciting! Reviewing and planning can be an amazing exercise. It can result in great changes and progress. 

I know some of the new things I have planned for the new year. The Christmas Challenge and The Vicky Challenge for starters. In the next couple of weeks we will lay down the ground work so we can hit the ground running in the first week of January! Both will be fun and huge money savers.

Just now my goals are to enjoy and truly celebrate Christmas and have some spare cash to add to my freezer and pantry in the January sales. This gets me ahead for the year! 
With love and Christmas Blessings to


  1. Dear friend. I love, love, love this post and I can relate on so many levels about doing things not enjoyable and wasting money. :) I love the idea Vicky has about when her utility bills are less she moves that into savings. I love that. I love Leslie's gift of a cutting board and dishtowels. I am looking forward to what you have planned here for next year.

    1. Dear Chrissy, How funny that we both have done this. I amaze myself sometimes. It is one thing if you REALLY love or enjoy something but why do we do things that are costing us and we dont even enjoy!? This is why reviews are good.
      Thank you so much. I enjoy your blog enormously, by the way! With love,

  2. Annabel, Vicky and all who contributed ... I loved reading every word of this post. There are lots of nuggets of wisdom in this post that I will be 'revisiting' and reapplying to our situation. Thanks for a great series. I can't wait for the new things you have planned for 2016.

    1. Dear Patsy, Thank you! Thank you for everything this year.
      I have lots to think about and lots of revisiting to do! But I kind of enjoy the process. It does me good.
      I am sure we will come up with lots of new ideas and look forward to it too! With love,

  3. Oh Annabel you must have been inside my head this morning - the new Aldi store is opening next Wednesday so that means that the way I do my grocery shop is going to change next year. I am well stocked and apart from a few items like bread, butter, eggs and fruit that may be needed between now and the 23rd when we leave for my mother in laws place I will be waiting to check out the new store in January.

    This means that I can pop into Aldi then along to Drake's IGA that has some fantastic specials and even into Coles, if needed in the one trip.

    I will be saving money and wear and tear on the car and most importantly, time.


    1. Dear Lynette,
      You have reminded me of another big change next year! Our first Aldi's and one near us too. This will be a change to the routine and the budget but I am not sure yet how much it will save me. Helen says Aldi saved her 50% of her grocery budget. If it also saves you time then extra bonus!
      It sounded like you had a lot to do to help MIL. Lucky she has you for support. I hope the week is going well. With love,

  4. Annabel,
    Firstly I am so happy that you will have your whole family together for Christmas! Rosanne's tree and Leslie's cutting boards are gorgeous! Also I am so happy for you that your cellar is now a shop! And that is all it takes is adding something each week even if that something is not much. Jan. will be a year since my husband lost his job so I will be doing a lot of revisiting at the beginning of the year! There is always more to learn! I think my notebook will be very full this year! Also I want to thank you for the fantastic friendship you have given to me and all of your helpful and beautiful posts I have loved them all!

    1. Dear Vicky,
      There is something about the things you say that so many times I think "write that down!" yep its a Vicky thing! I really appreciate all your support and help and friendship. The Vicky Challenge is so exciting for me. I dont know why I never thought to add it up but that is awesome and probably very revealing.
      Lets hope 2016 is an awesome year for us all! With love

  5. Wow! Thank you so much for including my gift ideas! And thank you for the kind words. What a blessing it is to be part of this community of women. I'm so excited to meet Annabel's challenges. Vicky, I know there are so many women that need to hear your wise words. It will save their marriages and their families.

    1. Dear Leslie, What you say is true... wise words can save households and marriages. Which is pretty big!
      I was never going to leave your lovely gifts out. They are great and these ideas might click with someone else.
      Thank you so much, Love

    2. Thank you so much Leslie!

  6. Dear Annabel
    I can so relate to this wonderful post. This past year has most definitely thrown me a few curve balls but today as I sit and think I realise that there are many more lessons learnt and bountiful blessings in the year than there were hardships.

    I have begun my gift making for next year and I need to include a gift for my dear friend's birthday and her Christmas gift also. We are both single mothers who bought their first homes when we were in our 50's. Our youngest daughters are friends and we have banded together to support each other. She has dropped the girls to school and I have picked them up. I have dropped and picked up her daughter from work and she has done the same for me. When we see a special we let each other know. This friendship has saved me hundreds if not thousands of dollars and so this friend needs a thoughtful gift. I have thought of taking this concept of finding people in the community that you can band with to support each other and in the end save money by swapping goods, sharing knowledge and the list goes on and on. Certainly I am learning daily from "cyber" friends here and on other blogs.

    I am all geared up for the new year and the exciting challenges coming up.

    God Bless and a very Merry Christmas to you

    1. oops Mel, your reply came out one post down.. sorry!xxx

  7. What a great post. Thank you Annabel and Vicky for great ideas. Annabel, they are in deed big blessings and aren't you wonderful to really stop and be thankful. I am so glad your Dad is ok. I too am counting my blessings. I'm excited about Christmas because DH gets two weeks off. We will be able to spend lots of quality time together and that is one of the biggest gifts. I love the sound of your pantry Annabel and it's such a clever use of storage. Vicky, I love the way you think about your savings, for example the tv. We are on a mission to pay down our unit mortgage so we can get a house (with less of a mortgage) in 2 years time, so I'm thinking hard about each dollar. Friends of mine love to catch up at coffee shops and do lunch dates. I'm going to change this next year. I simply need the money and I'd rather be at home with my son, than working to pay for lunch dates with friends. I am also working on my mentality of gifts. I have received some great gifts and one was a budgeting (tracking spending) spreadsheet that my friend gave me. I couldn't put a price on this. So I don't need to go to department stores for gifts all the time...that was my old mentality anyway. I'm going to try and make your shortbread on the weekend Annabel, I am excited. Leslie's gifts are beautiful! Lots of love, bridge

    1. Dear Bridge,
      What a great present to get a budget spreadsheet! These things can be very helpful. You have had a big year and some changes ie a baby! You cant get much bigger change than that! But your priorities change and you are right to stick with your plan about getting a house in a couple of years and let nothing get in the way of that. Lunch dates and department stores are not your friend in this. Nor any of ours! (sounds like a good name for a post!)
      For the friends you want to keep in touch with and enjoy then little afternoon teas work well. I think set the table prettily and ask someone over to scones or something and really they love it. I even use my three tier plate and just did this yesterday for my Uncle so there will be a picture on Friday... and it was toned down since he is a man and I didnt do pink! But he loved it!
      It is really great DH gets a fortnight off! Enjoy every moment! (I know you will)
      Celebrate the year and take it all in and enjoy planning 2016. With lots of love,

  8. Dear Mel,
    It is so wonderful you have a friend like that! And you are right besides the moral support and understanding you can help each other ie shopping specials and so on. We all need this! (but it is not always easy to find such a friend).
    You have done very well as I know you have had some major things to overcome this year. I admire you greatly for how hard you work and all you do and still being kind to others as well.
    I hope 2016 is a great year for you and your family! With love Annabel.xxxx

  9. i have thoroughly enjoyed this blog this year & am looking forward to what you have next year, i have learned some things here which i hope to put to good use in the new year
    hope you have a wonderful xmas & a happy & safe new year
    thanx for sharing

    1. Dear Selina,
      Thank you so much! I really appreciate that.
      You have a wonderful Christmas too and I hope 2016 is a great year for us all! With love,

  10. Thankyou Annabel, this is a great post and already has me thinking about lots of things i know i do want to change for next year. I really enjoy reading all of your posts and love that you love to include everyone, your a very sweet woman and im looking forward to your challenges in 2016. Have a very Merry Christmas and a wonderful New Year Annabel xoxoxo

    1. Dear Karen,
      Thank you so much! A new year is like a new chapter. I love that. We can make changes and do different things and hang onto the things that do work!
      I hope you have a wonderful Christmas and I look forward to all we will get up to in the new year! With love and thanks,

  11. Very good points on living on a budget and paying down debt. For several years we put every penny we could find into paying down our mortgage and we paid it off! After we started on it I found there was an awful lot we could do without to achieve our goal.

    Annabel, I love the birdie tree! I have a bird on my tree that was part of our oldest daughter's wedding decorations and it makes me smile to see it every year. I am so glad that your Dad is doing well and you are so right that prayer is healing. Merry Christmas to you and all your family.

    1. Dear Lana,
      When I was little my Nan had a couple of glitter birds on her tree. One was pale blue with silver glitter and real feathers for the tail. Well I loved that ornament! Not much has changed!
      Well done on paying off your mortgage what a wonderful thing that is.
      Merry Christmas to you too with love,

  12. Dear Annabel, This post was excellent. I am looking forward to planning for this new year and giving this past year a review. One of the things that comes to mind right away is that my husband and I made a commitment this August to really cut our spending (after already living frugally) so we can pay our house off in 2016. We had also made a commitment to attend an event in September, one that we had been looking forward to attending all year. The event itself was not expensive (we paid for it in advance to get a discount) and we REALLY wanted to go, but we would have to travel for it, pay for food for four days, and spend three nights in a hotel. In other words, we would be spending a LOT of money. Well, we cancelled our hotel reservations and called up the nearest campsite. Yep, we camped. We got some funny looks when we told people we were camping, but I knew it would pay off. We stayed two nights instead of three, and I packed ALL of our own food. Not including gas, the trip cost about $40 instead of $500+. At the last minute, our church unexpectedly blessed us with enough money to cover fuel expenses since the event was church-related. We can all save like this if we are determined. I know that these things involve a lot of circumstances, and everyone's circumstances are different. We could have cancelled all together. But my point is that it helps to have goals and a plan of attack. I can look back too and kick myself for all the times we ate out this year. My plan for next year is to have freezer meals as back up.
    Your blog has helped tremendously in giving me ideas and encouragement. I look forward to every single post and read every single comment, and I am SO grateful for this little community and friendship, too, even if it isn't in person. Thank you, Annabel, and every single lady that has contributed. With much love, Kelsey

  13. Hi Annabel
    You have no idea how much your blog has inspired me this year! I love living a frugal life here in Canada, but many people really don't seem to "get it", so it's great to know that there are people out there who are likeminded.
    Your posts and responses to commenters are always so thoughtful and kind.
    I'm looking forward to the Christmas challenge in the new year! I wish you and your family a very Merry and Blessed Christmas.

    1. Dear Marie, Thank you I appreciate that so much. It makes me feel like I am achieving something and that is my aim... to just encourage as sometimes there isnt much encouragement in building up the home.
      Helen went to Canada last year and tells me it is gorgeous!
      Marie stick with it. Many people dont see the need but they live in such a way that they would be in real trouble if one thing went wrong. Living within your means and even better living with a little back up plan is a very good life!
      Thank you so much and have a wonderful Christmas. I will love having you on board for the Christmas challenge in 2016! With love

  14. Dear Annabel,

    This is a wonderful post! I love the photos and Leslie's cutting board gifts are really beautiful!

    Ok.....REVISIT....seriously, just grabbed a cup of tea and I'm going to sit down now and have a revisit of my year and various other things. I have a little time to myself unexpectedly-1.5 hours to be exact, and that is exactly what I am going to do. Thank you for posting Vicky's words. Also thank you for sharing your example of the ladies' lunch. So draining! Financially and emotionally I'm sure. Oh my it is so good to ask ourselves these important questions when we're trying to turn things around.

    I still have much to do to get ready for Christmas, but I need the perspective that a good revisiting of things will bring right now. This post is exactly what I needed today!

    Colette xxx

    1. Dear Colette,
      I am happy you had an hour and a half of peace and doing some revisiting is a great thing to do. Sometimes it is amazing what we can take an axe to! Well, you cracked me up. When you said about the ladies lunch being so draining... well that is how I found some of these things and I felt bad about it since I thought I should be having a wonderful time. Another one is here in Australia Melbourne Cup day there are usually luncheons to go to and it is pretty average to wear a ridiculous hat, get dressed up and people drink way to much and it all gets pretty ugly. Well for years I went along with expectations and one year I thought it was coming up and I was looking forward to it to the same degree as a fork in the eye. This is only maybe three years ago? I havent attended anything since and it has been lovely and probably saved me a lot of money too. Now I do not dread Melbourne Cup day. But isnt it funny, the things we might do because somehow we think we should! A review or revisit can set us free from some things that as you say are draining or costly or time consuming and we might be better off without!
      I hope you can do the things that are important to you and the family for Christmas and it all turns out wonderfully.
      With lots of love,

  15. Dear Annabel, what a lovely, fulfilling post. I have to thankyou likewise for your support this year, and thankyou for the mention. I am really touched. I have to sit down and do a revisit. I know that I have achieved much thanks to our wonderful support network, and I'll look forward to sharing that here. Lots of love, Mimi xxx

    1. Dear Mimi,
      Your Orchids series is just wonderful. I could read that forever.
      Taking a break and revisiting is such a good exercise. We get so busy, help others, work, family, friends etc and the more we do I think the more we need a break to THINK and decide what stays and what goes or what we need more of and what we need less of.
      I am thinking on it now but my real time will be after Christmas in the quiet days before NY. I love that time!
      I hope your week is going well with love,


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