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, 1 May 2016

The Vicky Challenge. Recycling and being inventive!

Our week was plagued by colds and germs! Some days I have to say I moved at a glacial pace at best!

But this happens. And sometimes rest is our best investment. We all have times when things have to slow down, there is sickness in the house or over tiredness kicks in.

These are the times when getting ahead pays off. There are meals in the freezer on on the pantry shelves. It is like the emergency fund. That is what it is for... emergencies. After these times then we begin to catch up and get ahead again.

Also this time has made me notice a few things. One is we need more bath towels. Another was the kind of pain killers Andy takes were in short supply. This is because he never takes anything! So when he was sick suddenly he was willing to take a Panadol and I didn't have many. So I have realised a few things to build up in my supplies.

My savings subject this week is recycling. Some things are simply reusing things and avoiding waste. Others are more inventive and might be using something for a totally different thing than it was intended for in the first place.

Some of my recycling around the house includes my use of old ladders. I love them! I have never bought one, they are found and now people know I like them I have been given a few.
They are so useful. I have one in my kitchen for my kitchen towels...

I have one just for drying my herbs and flowers. One in the bathroom for towels and one in the lounge room for blankets and throw rugs.
In my old house I had one hung from the ceiling and all my pots and pans hung from that and baskets went on top. I also hung herbs from it to dry. It saved me so much cupboard space and looked really good!
And old gate might work in a similar way.

Another favourite one is my endless collection of jars and, more recently, baby formula tins. I love these! I have collected jars for years and painted the lids to make sets. Theses were recent ones...

Also I have a set that is still growing of giant coffee jars...

I have a lot of food storage and basically do not pay for containers.

Recently I have had some great photos sent in and this is just a sample that I wanted to share:

Pat and her husband love to recycle. Just now they have been making planter boxes from free pallets they pick up. 

They also are making them to sell to add to their savings. I love them! In our own area free pallets are endless. They can be turned into so many things!

Also Pat has storage in a cellar for root vegetables and they have recycled containers to make this...

As Pat said to me they have been recycling before it was cool to recycle.  Just as Nan did. They saved a lot of money this way. 

Jane's husband made her a butcher block. This was also from pallets plus other recycled wood. (I have shown this before but it deserves a second showing!)

Love it! 

(Sorry to the husbands being identified by who they are married to! But I don't know everyones name...)

Vicky's husband made a wood splitter that is huge! He made it entirely of recycled parts, things he had and things he battered for.

It's astonishing. Look at the size of the log it will split!  Oh and he made it so that it lifts up the heavy logs itself. Not only will this keep them in wood for the fire but he can hire it out or cut wood for others. Plus he has had people wanting to buy it.

Vicky was given a whole heap of told towels and pillowcases. She has been making them into cleaning cloths and all kinds of useful things.

I love these! Old towels are so useful. I also love old flannelette. It makes up into the softer hankies ever and soft dusters that are also pretty.

Rachel's husband made a whole shed out of recycled materials. (plus many other things!)

A shed for your animals could be completely free with a bit of recycling and hard work.

There are so many ideas and I am glad I have the chance to include some of what the boys have been doing!

In our yard we have old barrels that store water and a barrel that stores the laundry water. Andy has the washing machine hooked up so that the water goes into this for garden use. We have a giant container in use as a rainwater tank also for the garden.

We have the side of an old cot hanging in the shed. I hang washing from that in the winter out of the rain. It is so handy.

If you have things you make by recycling or ways you save money please share them. And if you have pictures please send them in as I will do a follow up post as this is an area we can all make things and save money.  Post pics anytime to The Bluebirds are Nesting Facebook Page. Or email me at

I hope we might all get some new ideas and find things to recycle or reuse. Saying that I am just glancing at a pile of wrapping paper from Andy's birthday that I have to fold up. Two gift bags as well. Of course they will be reused!

These are my savings for the Vicky Challenge in the last week:

The usual lunches and coffees packed and sent all week. $100
The fishing day picnic and drinks, saving $50.

A big pot of soup all made from leftovers that really needed using up. I included some chunks of sweet potato and pumpkin I had frozen. It made a lot of soup! I packed it up into some to eat now and some to freeze and give away. I gave Chloe three serves.  I notice pots this size of soup in the supermarket are about $5 each!

Being the end of the month I add in doing my own hair $225
Doing my own nails and toes $120. (yes I paid that once!)

So even that added up quite nicely and wasn't so bad.

I hope you had a good week and found new ways to save. Now that April is over we have another month to total up and a new month of the challenge! The months and the seasons offer different ways to get ahead and things to do. In the south we have cooler weather and darker evenings. This means soups, stews, handiwork in the evenings for me. In the north it must be busy as its spring and time to plant which is a very busy time. I love the seasons!

Have a wonderful week! xxx


  1. What great ideas of recycling, I wish was more handy but we all have our talents and mine is in the kitchen.

    1. Tea lady kitchen skills might be the best of all since we all have to eat everyday and this also can cover gifts as well! We are going to do some kitchen recycling next week! I hope you are having a great week! With love,

  2. Hi Annabel. We are currently in Adelaide and I can't believe hoe cheap the food is at Central Markets. Overall we are finding plenty of well priced or free activities. The Botanic gardens are beautiful, there are free bikes to hire, Glenelg was beautiful. You are lucky to live here 😀

    1. Dear Barb, Welcome to Adelaide! If you get a chance to go to either the Adelaide Hills or the Barossa Valley do as they are both lovely. Andy and I grew up in the Barossa. Angaston and Tanunda are gorgeous.
      I wish I was healthy to be able to say I will show you myself! The autumn leaves are lovely at the moment too. I love it here. Thank you! I hope you re still having a lovely time! With love

    2. In the Barossa at the moment. Had a wonderful meal at ferment Asian tonight. Some experiences are worth the expense! Last day in S.A. Tomorrow .

  3. Dear Annabel , great topic again this week . I was given coffee jars which I am going to use in my pantry and some for food gifts . I reuse biscuit tins ( the ones that you get at Christmas time in various shapes ) for all sorts of things , I have coloured pencils in one tin ,craft stamps in another and pens in another. I am going to make bookmarks out of the pieces of cardboard that divide teabags in boxes of 100 , they are a perfect size for bookmarks . My vicky challenge savings this week were : had 4 no spend days so approximate savings of $40 per day including food, taxi fares etc. so $160 , subsidised cleaning 2 hours saved $36 , 4 meals from my parents $30 approximately,got $10 off my shopping from rewards money so $10 saving.saved $25 on groceries, resisted buying a new dressing gown , I have two that will do another winter or two , saving $60 . I think that is it this week Annabel so a total of approximately $321 this week. I love the ladder and the formula tins Annabel they both look great. Have a great week Annabel and everyone , love BarbW

    1. Dear Barb,
      I love the idea of the bookmarks. And I also love tins and all their uses they are great.
      Well done on your savings! I gave my dressing gown a wash in wool mix and it feels lovely! That really renews things.
      The coffee jars are good too for food gifts. So far I have saved them but once I have enough then they can become canisters for biscuits to give away! Many thanks Barb, Love

  4. Hi Annabel, I hope you and Andy are feeling better. I reuse clear plastic packaging (sturdy plastic) as drawer organisers ie. For bits and bobs in junk drawers, to organise desk drawers (paper clips), my kids drawers (hairclips etc), I use the larger ones in my linen cupboard (my shop) to keep like items together eg. Soaps in a row in one, toothpaste lined up in another etc. Organisers can be so expensive, but these are free, transparent so you can see how whats in it and how much is left and easily replaced if it is damaged. I recycle old worn towels/blankets etc for the pets bedding and cleaning cloths etc. I recycled two metal chairs I found on a clean up and customised them to match my kids room, and reupholstered using thick cotton from no longer worn clothing, silver and white for my daughters room, and black and cobalt blue for my sons, saved heaps on desk chairs and everyone raves about them. I have also reused sheets to cover the pelmet in her room, and it turned out great. This was a two person job though as you need one person to hold and position the material and hold it taut and another to staple. I also found two wrought iron hanging baskets in the clean up and have resprayed and bought coconut fibre liners from a cheap shop for $3 each and planted up with cuttings of red geraniums. They look great. Lisa xo

    1. Dear Lisa,
      The drawer organisers are a great idea. I like baby food jars for little things like safety pins and so on.
      The pet bedding is another one! Thats a good one!
      Your metal chairs sound great. I love a roadside find! Also I love the hanging baskets! You will have them looking beautiful. There are a lot of things if we keep our eyes open that we can do something great with. Its seeing the potential! Many thanks Lisa, with love

  5. You're doing great! Congratulations.

    I wrote about my thrifty week here.

    Please drop by and say hello!
    Harvest Lane Cottage
    ...doing what I can with what I've got where I am
    on a short shoestring budget!

    1. Dear Laura, I was very happy about your husbands job and the pay cheque! With love

  6. Hi Annabel! I love your kitchen towels and canisters and I love ladders too! I used to have one outside with potted plants and birdhouses on it. Everyone is so talented and I love seeing everything and reading all of the comments. It was kind of quiet around here, but we did save $225 on prescriptions and I saved $180 dollars on prom costs by buying Todd a suit and accessories instead of renting a tux and he looked just as good as those who wore tuxes. The vest I got him came with a regular tie a bow tie and a pocket hanky so I am going to get his girlfriend a teddy bear and put the bow tie on it for her since I doubt it will ever be worn. I also saved $20 making mom's birthday cake instead of buying one and also saved making her a birthday meal instead of going out to a restraunt so it was a pretty good week.

    1. That is a big saving on prescriptions, you have tot ell me how you did thet. The suit looked great and yes it will be handy for him to have a suit for other occasions.
      The lovely birthday dinner sounded so nice, exactly what your Mum wanted and would have been a huge saving plus it was custom designed for her! You can't beat that! Well done. I hope the week is going well. With lots of love,

  7. What a fun post! I love Pat's planter boxes and root cellar veggie storage. Thanks for sharing so many pictures!
    Blessings, Leigh

    1. Dear Leigh,
      I love the planter boxes too. They would be great gifts. Many thanks Leigh! Love

  8. Annabel, your blog is such a treat! The photos and doings both make me think.
    Hope you and Andy are both feeling better and back to normal.

    1. Thank you Rhonda! We are on the improve! I have been thinking of you as I use my store points. Its not quite the same but its still making sure they add up and are used and I did get free groceries! Its worth the bit of effort isn't it! With love

  9. Dear Annabel, I hope you and Andy are feeling better and that you had a restful weekend. I pray this week will be better for y'all.
    You really have a gift for taking things and making them pretty and giving them new life! I really like what you have done with your ladder. Also, the ladies' husbands have done a great job with their projects!
    Whenever my husband and I want to build something, we often check the ranch first to see if there are any materials that we can use. It has supplied us with wood and tin for several projects, including our chicken coop. My husband actually made the roost using an old ladder. Pallets supplied the wood for my compost bins and a potting bench built by my husband, as well. Also, I have told him and my FIL to be careful what they throw in the dump lol! That is where I got my window shutter, and my FIL has since saved me a water trough that I will use as a planter and an enamel coated cast iron sink that I want to install in my garden shed when we move. As you know, I had a recent trip to a dump that resulted in all sorts of things. It just pays to keep an open mind. Or look at Pinterest and type in "repurposed ..." That usually helps me out, and so many things can be gotten for free. (If the Lord ever blesses us with a little girl, I am going to make a play kitchen for her out of an old nightstand or entertainment center. Have you seen those?!) Right now, I am having fun repurposing all of the magazines into cards!
    For my savings this week, I did the usual laundry/packing at the ranch and made breakfasts and packed lunches and coffee on workdays. I set a goal to cook every meal we ate and not eat out and I reached it except for a couple meals that were given to us unexpectedly. I am setting the same goal for this week. I did some baking, shopped the grocery specials, avoided a trip to the city, purchased some very nice shoes second-hand, made nine cards using magazine images, and made a gift for a friend. My total for the week is $472.24. I am very happy with this!
    Have a lovely week, Annabel and everyone! I can't wait to see what everyone comes up with in the comments! With love, Kelsey

    1. Dear Kelsey,
      I have loved your finds! Its seeing the potential in things and getting the ideas. Miss Gracie hasn't posted in ages but you can look at the home pictures and she uses old doors, windows and you name it to beautiful effect. Also the photography of her family is gorgeous. I got a lot of ideas from her blog.
      You had great savings this week! The meal making really does help. I try to make double so in the end it is only cooking from scratch three times a week. Then its not bad at all. One night we have something simple like toasted sandwiches. Or a dinner might become many lunches i.e. a large flan or tart might be dinner then cut up for the next three days lunches. So in the end I am not cooking so much everyday. But it saves so much!
      I hope to see the cards you made! Each lot you have made have been lovely! Many thanks Kelsey, with love

  10. Dear Kelsey,
    Yes I have seen the little stoves and cute kitchens from bed side tables! They are adorable. Also similar from old tv stations. Super cute!
    With the chicken coop and old things at the farm from shutters to sinks, good etc it all has so many possibilities! And liking country style then much of it is lovely decor as well. Sugar Pie farmhouse is a good blog for this as she uses this kind of stuff as her decor and seasonal mantlepieces. I love it! Down on the farm country style! Another one is Miss Gracies House. OHHH she reuses all kinds of rustic old things!
    Well done on the savings! That was a great week! With lots of love, Annabel.xxxx

    1. Annabel, I love Aunt Ruthie! Sugarpie Farmhouse was one of the first blogs I started following when I got married. Now I am on my way to check out Miss Gracie's House! Love, Kelsey

  11. Hi Annabel, I had a go at commenting on Sunday, but my internet decided it was not going to play. Yesterday there was an outage and today I needed to talk to a tech to reset the modem. Now it's back up and playing once more.
    Bluey was pretty chuffed to see his butchers block featured again. As we do a lot of living on our veranda, this is where the butchers block is. It sits next to a cabinet which has some gas burners set up on it for me to do my jams and chutneys. It's way too hot to do any of this inside. Bluey told me the bottom shelf was for my fowlers bottler. Clever man. He also made me a number of plant labels to go in the Stephanie Alexander garden at school. He made the labels out of an old pallet and an old steel bed. They look great, are nice and solid and should have a long life. Bluey keeps an eye out at the tip for old pool filters. He cuts the top off and removes the sand. The sand goes onto the paths in the vege patch. The top is flipped over and becomes a bowl shaped pot and the rest of the pot is put to use to grow various fruit tress. He is a very clever man who thinks outside the box.
    I told Bluey about worm towers and how I wanted some in my garden. Off he goes to the tip and comes home with orange plastic pipe. These were cut into lengths and many holes, about a third of the were up were drilled. the holey end was dug into the ground. I filled up to ground level with worms from the worm farm and compost.
    I made a small stuffed bunny out of an old nightie that had seen better days. The rest of the nightie was cut into strips and is now being used as vege ties up in the garden, When I sew and quilt, I save all the strips off the ends. I have now used a number of these strips to sew up a mat for the bathroom. The backing for the mat is an old stained towel. The mat is now doing a grand job soaking up water on the floor and is also nice, bright and colourful.
    Our Vicky challenge has seen both Bluey and I actively looking for ways to use what we have. We both love to take something that is no longer useful as is, and to see if we can give it a life doing something else. We have both been influenced by our parents who led us by example. To us this is just common sense.
    This week the daughter bought up a few bags of bits as she is doing a bit of a declutter, She gave me some old costume jewellery. This is now in the craft cupboard. There was an old dooner cover that I will use for backing small quilted items. A number of girly clothes and shoes will be handed over to a friend with teenage girls who love my daughters taste. My neighbour gifted me a bag of lemons which will end up as lemon butter and winter cordial. Between Bluey and I we have saved $546 this past week, all while being a bit icky. Not too shabby at all. Life is good.

    1. Dear Jane,
      oooh costume jewellery... I am thinking right away what you could make! And lemons! I know you will make good things with them.
      After everything I forgot to put your potted tree in the post! However I will though soon but I could kick myself! I have been running behind since not being well and keep forgetting things!
      I have seen lovely soft toys made from baby onesies in a similar way to your little bunny. Very soft and a keep sake of some early little outfits. Lovely.
      The labels for the veggies are great. They are wonderful for the school but also would be great gifts or even to sell!
      I featured the butchers block again as it got so many comments last time and so many ladies want one! The fact that it was made from recycled materials is very inspiring. You both get so much done and are very inventive. As you say you learned this following your parents and that it is just sensible. Well it is! We need to get back to common sense and using what we have, making the most of things etc. What you are doing is inspiring others.
      Excellent savings this week. I hope the new week is going just as well! With love,

  12. Hi Annabel!!

    Thank you for further expounding the wonder and enjoyment that are associated with Recycling and Being Inventive. I love it!!

    I loved your first section with the ladders and towels and jars .....

    I continued reading the post in another in between moment. When I saw the men's work and recycling, I took time out. That meant it took a while to get that pot of tea made - by the time I shared the post with my husband. That log splitter is professional work applied to home, and great! The potato barrels caught my eye, and Vicky's cloths/towels. It is amazing how even old, weathered timber can be sanded back with lovely effect! Woodwork is special.

    (Keep up the good work, everyone!)

    I just peeked at Miss Gracie's House. The lace and jars and white look lovely.

    Rachel Holt

    1. Dear Rachel,
      There is a lot to be said for using what we have and making the most of things. I love it too. Plus I love old country style things, the shabby and charming things. I prefer them to "art" I would have an old gate as a bedhead over a brand new one any day.
      I love old timer too! I watch for salvaged timer wherever I go.
      Thank you for your comments on everyones contributions. It is great to see what the men make too. I have loved seeing how inventive they are.
      I hope you are having a good week Rachel. Sorry for my slow reply. I am not keeping up well this week... so many thing happening. With love and thanks,


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