The little birds...

If you watch little birds you will see they are busy and happy! Using whatever they can find they create the most gorgeous little nest.
I would be the little bird with some glittery thread in her nest!
We can be like this. Happily working away with the things that are available to us to create a beautiful and happy home.
All the while with a little song in our heart.

Banner by Free Pretty Things for You.

Thursday, 31 March 2016

Feather your Nest Friday, 1st April. 2016.

Welcome to April! And almost April if you are reading in the north! I need some time to look at March as a whole and think about the new month a bit. This week has been busy but I felt I didn't get so much done.

In this case sitting down to look at what we did do (rather than the things I never got to) has helped me see we achieved plenty and I should feel much better about it than I do!

Also last weekend and Easter seem a long time ago!

Since my last Feather your Nest post we took up that old carpet and transformed the office. It looks really good now and somehow more stylish and professional.

Over Easter my present to Andy was a tray of Brownies. Since Valentine's Day he has been talking about Brownies!


Never making one of anything I made two trays. I found last time it froze well. Some will come on our trip and some will be handy in winter, probably when I have made soup for dinner and we have a desert. 


Andy trimmed the hedge out the back.

I made a tuna mornay and one night served it in vol au vents and another as a casserole. 

I altered two tops that I never wear as they were too long. Fixed! Now I love them.

When at the Chemist I was offered samples. Just after talking about samples too! So I said yes pleased I love samples!  I think she gave me more due to my enthusiastic response as it was about ten items and included a lovely hand cream, a cleanser, a moisturiser and one was a Burts Bees face cream.

I made three more heat packs. One of these was for Lucy. She likes velvet like I do. This was a remnant from Spotlight.


We planted an apple tree last year.  The first apple has appeared! 


Well, it's a start!

What I didn't do was any painting and I haven't finished replying to your comments on Wednesday. 
My back is heaps better so I am set to start painting again this afternoon and tomorrow. And replies are coming!  

So I did get some things done. The office floor is the biggest thing and huge home improvement. 
I have two new tops to wear since I fixed a fault with them. And I got ahead with a few deserts in the freezer.

Nightly "our" two Mud Larks come to visit. This one will sit on Andy's head. 


But the last few weeks a Willie Wagtail has come too. You can see him in the background just past Birdies Head.  He is getting quite tame too. These guys entertain us endlessly!

I hope you had a good week! And I hope April will be good for us all. I am aiming to get my front fence painted this month. If I get that done then I will go onto the front veranda and lattice work etc. This is exciting as it is going to change the look of our house so much! I think it will be really pretty.

How did you build up your home and save money this week? What are your hopes and goals for April? A new month is a good time for a review and stock take. I think we got a lot done in the first quarter of the year so I am happy with that! 

xxx





Tuesday, 29 March 2016

The Christmas Challenge. Show and Tell for March. Part 1.

Today I was going to ask for everyone's Show and Tell photos as we are at the end of another month already! I hope this has been a productive month for you and would love to see what you have been making. It gives us all inspiration and ideas! If you would share your photos please email me at brinkzi21@hotmail.com

Quite a few of you knew what was coming and already sent me gorgeous emails and photos! Thank you so much! There are so many ideas that my own list of things to do is ever growing! But this is good, having the ideas is half the battle. It is also exciting having plans of what to do next!

Firstly, Debbie has been crocheting.  She made a mermaid tail rug for her Grand Daughters Birthday. This is amazing...


When I was little I wanted to be a mermaid so I would totally have loved this! I think its stunning. I'm sure she will love it Debbie.

Also Debbie's daughter in law has a photography business and Debbie has made her little outfits for baby photos. 

Check out this baby mermaid outfit...


The little bra top!!!

And she made a Cookie Monster themed pair of pants...


Wonderful work Debbie!

Rachel made up the Wool Mix to give away. She made these so charming by writing on the directions for use, using pictures from calendars and magazines for the tops and souvenir spoons for the scoops! I love this!


Once again Rachel's work looks like something from a Country Life magazine. Very inventive.

Jane has also been busy! 

Fist of all her husband made a butchers block for her out of recycled materials and basically for free!


This is BEAUTIFUL. I think I need to do a husbands page one day as I have quite a few amazing photos of what the boys have been making!

This is to be strongly encouraged, obviously!

Janet also made a rug for her daughters friend...


And crochet piglet booties for her Grandchild...


How cute are these!  Janet also covered notebooks, made pencil cases and edged towels. So she made a lot of progress for her gift supplies.

Marian made a kitchen gift with Bread and Butter Cucumbers...


The colour scheme and the Handmade Crochet Goodies label makes this look so appealing and professional.

Also she made a t shirt and shorts...


And the shorts and pants here she made out of a mans shirt...


I am so impressed by this. This is a lesson in you do not have to have the money to buy expensive fabrics, they can be found and recycled!

Janine also added a lot to her gifts.

She made an appliqu├ęd kitchen towels....



The detail in this amazes me!

Also a pedicure set for a friend...


And an embroidered towel...


Stunning work Janine.

Maria baked for Eater and for her Grandson's birthday. For Easter her Grandchildren came over and her little Granddaughter gasped with delight at the sight of a pretty table and all the goodies!





Maria reminded me of something really important. She said something about setting up for Easter and that she remembered what Flylady says... don't get stuck on perfectionism. This is so true. Her Grandchildren couldn't have been more thrilled. Yet we can think we have to have the perfect decorations, table setting etc. Perfectionism is the enemy! Just do what you can when you can! 
I continuously hear it... people who say they don't do this or that as they can't do it as well as someone else. They are not very good at something...  It doesn't matter! Don't let perfectionism stop you from trying things and enjoying them.
Ironically all Maria's cooking looks perfect! lol so this argument doesn't seem to apply, but still...

Fiona made a memory board...


She found a large frame in an op shop and made this! It is gorgeous! I think for gifts they are great i.e. themed for a little girl room, a teenager... a friend. Just lovely. 

Thank you for all sharing these with us. It is so impressive to see how busy everyone is especially since you already have busy lives. But the present cupboards are growing and also it is about keeping up with gifts we need during the year. 

There are so many good ideas. Many of them are made very inexpensively too yet make beautiful presents. Again, if we knew retail value on all of this it would be astounding.

We will be back next week with part 2, I look forward to seeing what else has been made this month!

Going into April and the weather cooling means I am crocheting. I made heat packs this week and finished them yesterday so I have made seven. This gave me a supply at home and gifts. I just love evenings crocheting! It is so soothing and I am amazed how much keeping at it adds up. 
Our Daylight Savings ends next weekend. We are coming into dark evenings and having things to work on makes them lovely.  I am happy if I have something to work on! 

Have a good rest of the week! I am off to babysit Harper. Mum calls her "our baby". xxx











Sunday, 27 March 2016

The Vicky Challenge. Saving with samples.

I am pretty excited about the amount we got done around the house last week and the savings for The Vicky Challenge! Doing household repairs, renovations, decorating or cleaning is worth a surprising amount of money when you look at hiring someone to do things. While there are some things we cannot do ourselves there are lots we can. Last week I saved $300 on fixing an outside wall crack. It was really easy. This week it was more!

But first, our subject of the week to add to our ways to save, is Samples. Vicky wrote to me on this and as usual inspired me!  This is what she wrote:

Samples. Such little bits of things, but they are very helpful with either building the pantry or saving money. And there are so many out there.  The ones pictured are just a small amount of what I have I could probably cover half my table. From pet food to hygiene products it is a good way of taking advantage of being able to try things before we buy them, but to use them to our financial benefit as well. No maybe not a huge amount, but if every penny counts in your household let's look at how they do help. 


 
If we run out of something they are handy in a pinch.
They make great stocking stuffers or basket fillers.
It's easy to make a small emergency kit with them from band aids to cold medicine and oral hygiene products.
Why do I have diapers and no baby? Many times someone has come with a baby to visit and forgot a diaper. I now have one to offer. Or if money is tight I can do a basket of baby themed items and still have a gift for a new parent. 
They can be a little something new to pack in a lunch.
They can be bartered or donated.
They are not always the small sized ones and are sometimes a full sized product. I have gotten coupons for free pizzas, makeup and juice for example. 
Sometimes the coupon that came with the sample netted me a free item at the store. Like stick packs of instant coffee. 
I have smelled good for free from perfume samples.

And one of the things I do is when I amass quite a few I give the grocery budget a little boost! I get them out and decide which ones will be used up and I use the money I was going to spend to add a few extra things to the pantry plus it helps to get my sample stash used up.
 
Example: Deodorant is not on sale and I am going to need it. I have enough samples to get me through 2-3 weeks without having to purchase any. I will use up my samples for those weeks and add a few small things for the pantry like on sale canned goods. Or I will put it into my savings account. Usually within a week or 2 deodorant goes on sale and I didn't have to spend extra on it. So by doing this I added a little to the pantry or savings and was able to not have to pay full price for an item I needed win win! 
Cheap? Yes! Smart? Oh Yes! 

XOXO
Vicky
 
Well, I had a review of my samples after this. I am a sample collector but not very good user.

This was what I had on hand in a couple of areas of the house:


I have a lot of perfume, mini makeup sizes, face creams, mini soaps and some tiny laundry power samples etc. Many of them are also beautiful/luxury brands.

But they are not saving me money if I am not using them! 

I have started to pack moisturisers, mini soap for our trip away.
Used several samples for hand and feet treatments.
Packed mini shampoos and conditioners to take away.
Put hand cream samples into my hand bag and car to use when waiting somewhere.
Sat some near where I sit in the lounge to egg myself on to rub into my hands while watching tv.
Some larger ones have gone into the gift cupboard to pair with a soap, wash cloth gift.

So that is my challenge, to use samples and let them be a money saver in various ways. I could use samples of moisturiser for several weeks at least. And also to collect more and keep using them!

Now to my Vicky Challenge this week...

We spent a day working on Andy's office. All the old carpet was removed and emptying the room also meant a clean out, spring clean, tidy and re arrange. I am not showing the horrible old carpet!  (seriously it was BAD) But this is what was underneath...


I think if we paid to have this done it would have been at least $400.

Andy rang a radio station with a tip about how to keep possums off your trees and won two movie tickets worth $30.

I sent all lunches $100.

The fish Andy caught and filleted were worth $24.

I sent a picnic on the fishing trip saving $50.

The Quince paste I made I compared to the Maggie Beer brand in the supermarket and by weight I had nine times the amount in a tub you buy. This equaled over $50.

Painting was a fail though as I had a really sore back and I just didn't paint.

I did sew... I made four large heat packs. These are $30 each in the shops. After buying the filling (barley) I will count $100 saving.


These are folded in half. One was for Chloe and one was for Mum. The other two are for me! I make them larger as they keep hot such a long time and longer so they wrap around your neck which seems to be our families achy bit!

This was the softest fabric which was a remnant at Spotlight. I also have enough for three more from a velvet remnant. Will get them done this week and one will be Lucy's.

So that is $754.

I know it was home DIY that bolstered that up! The Easter long weekend really helped us get things done.
Here we have a holiday Monday for Easter (I am not sure if everyone has that?) so it is still a day to get some more things done! 

This challenge has taught me a lot about the savings in repairs and maintenance type jobs. I was not familiar with how much these were worth at all. 

How did your week go? We are almost at the end of another month and I can count up my savings for March. Keeping track is fairly automatic now and it makes me think "how can I save on this?" all the time!

I hope you had a lovely Easter and have a great new week! xxx



Thursday, 24 March 2016

Feather your Nest Friday, 25th March, 2016.

Happy Easter to everyone! I hope it is special and you had a good week.

Over the weekend we have a lot planned. The carpet in Andy's office is being ripped up (by us) and hopefully the floor underneath is the same as everywhere else which is the gorgeous floorboards. The carpet is yuk and this means emptying the room. So a total room makeover, clean out etc all at one time. Plus painting!  This will be another room done and I will be so happy to have this finished!

Yesterday I delivered my Easter presents. First of all my Bunny biscuits...


I made quite a few packets so there were spares. Chloe's neighbours got a packet each as well.

For the girls I didn't include much chocolate. Instead I made "winter preparedness packs" (remember it is autumn here)  I included Eucalyptus spray and oil, cough lozenges, anti bacterial wipes for the car, tissues and so on.



Some of the other ways I build up the nest this week included...

I made baby food in the crock pot for Harper...



I portion it into muffin trays then when frozen pop them into a snap lock bag. I got twenty dinners.



I also made her a baby baked custard in the smallest one dish ever! We had one too so this was just a little bit set aside.



We had "fridge pizza" which is becoming a weekly special as a use it up meal. They are always really good!



I planted thyme. I was down to one plant and I use more than it can produce so I planted more.

Andy caught fish...



We combined our efforts and made fish and chips.
For Jen... this batter is just SR Flour blended in a can of beer. (Which is about two cups I think) and it is amazing! You just keep adding flour until it has a thickish batter consistency.

This was pretty nice!




Mum gave me a packet of paper serviettes with a nest and egg image. They are gorgeous! I see these becoming cards and maybe a tray or something I can enjoy everyday...


I made my Quinces into Quince paste. This is so beautiful on a cheese platter. Tiny amounts are really expensive in the shops. I got four small pots full...




One of these will go on holidays with us and I will pack cheeses and crackers.

I didn't get any painting done this week so far as I hurt my back. I hope to get some done over the weekend.

I started an infinity scarf in a colour I love.

We had beautiful autumn weather. Glorious! Plus last night it rained and today is sunny. Just lovely.

I want to share what I thought was the nicest idea. Nanna Chel wrote about Prayer Shawls and how they are the gift of love, comfort and care. You can read her post  here.  I am going to use this with knee rugs, scarves and shrugs. A shrug is a kind of shawl/ wrap. I love them! I will print out the little poem to go with them. I just love it and it is a great gift idea.

How did your week go? I love hearing about how you built up your nest and saved money.  Have a wonderful Easter and long weekend as well. xxx

Tuesday, 22 March 2016

The Christmas Challenge. The gift of cooking.

We are building up our Christmas present cupboards but also making as many gifts throughout the year as we can. I won't even try to add up how many gifts that is!  Between Birthdays and celebrations like Easter it is a lot! But then there are gifts of help and kindness, surprises and more. If I didn't keep up with these as well as put gifts away for December I cannot imagine managing them all!

One gift I give over and over all year round is gifts from the kitchen. You don't have to be a fabulous cook to do this. Many basic things are lovely to give and helpful too.

Many times I give little hampers and include a cake and some jams, herbs from the garden, a bunch of Bay Leaves etc.

A birthday cake is a lovely gift. You usually get great reactions if you make someone a cake! I am not a fancy cake decorator although I wish I was. I usually just add flowers from the garden and that is it!



A basket of scones (US biscuits)  is always a hit if you are visiting someone. Or a tray of shortbread. I save flat boxes as they are so handy to give a dozen muffins.  So easy too.

If someone has a baby or is unwell a gift of a family pie, a lasagne, soup, a large cake... all very helpful and practical.

Being Easter I just made a dozen Easter gifts. I found a cute bunny cutter and just added a little marshmallow for a tail. For this I used my Honey Gingerbread recipe. (all recipes are in the recipe section) A batch of Gingerbread costs me just a few dollars and the marshmallows were another couple of dollars. I have most of the packet left for something else.  It didn't take long either!

The recipe is  here.


I sent a packet of these to Andy's work mate Rodney today. You are never too old or tough for bunny biscuits, right?


And I have a whole tray full for the girls, neighbours etc.



I give a lot of foodie gifts at Christmas too. Every year I give Christmas cakes as gifts and they can be made months ahead so I am not cooking at busy times.  This cake is also a favourite for a birthday cake for my husband or a gift for my Dad. As it keeps at least a year I will make a few and bring them out as needed.


As with any cake you can make a suitable size or many small ones. I often will make individual cakes in Texas Muffin tins...


These ones were in a mix of tins and I just gave a suitable size as each gift...


This Christmas cake recipe (which you can use anytime for a fruit cake that will keep) is here.

If you look in the shops and get an idea of the prices of homemade food you will see these are expensive. I saw a packet of six gluten free biscuits for $18. A Christmas cake for $50. And people pay this apparently.  So think of making a cake for a birthday or a dozen cup cakes...  or a tin of biscuits as a gift.

If you don't like to cook you can assemble. Here I made Lolly Kebabs for little girls and they were a hit...


With Easer this weekend some ideas I love are a carrot cake with cream cheese icing. A chocolate cake covered in chocolates or Easter eggs is really easy too and looks spectacular.

The amazing thing is that a few ingredients costing very little produces quite a spectacular present. An hour of your time here can be a massive money saver. As usual I do big lots of things so that we also have a cake put away for a picnic or bunny biscuits for desert and lunch boxes!

Andy and I share the same memory of when our families went away on holidays our Nanna's would send a big jar of biscuits with us. And both our Nan's made ones with pink icing that glued them together. They were called Cockles. Maybe they were in fashion at the time? Anyway we loved this!  It is a favourite childhood memory. From this I know that the gift of cooking is beautiful. It forms a wonderful memory as we are still talking about those big jars of Cockles and the pale pink icing all these years later!

Like sewing, knitting or crocheting something for someone cooking is a gift of love. It melts hearts and makes them feel special. Many times people cannot believe you made something FOR THEM!

What are some cooking gifts you have made? If you have an easy ones please share!
Having even one or two cooking gifts that you are confident to give will save you a lot of money and help keep up with gifts throughout the year. xxx


Sunday, 20 March 2016

The Vicky Challenge. Use it up.

This week I want to add to our savings with a Use it up Challenge.  There are so many ways this will help.... it will save money. It will clear cupboard space. It will clear freezer and pantry space.
It will make room in your craft supply cupboard as well. Maybe also your bathroom and linen cupboards!

Getting ahead can be hard. A Use it up Challenge can free up some funds for your pantry, debt or savings.

Many of us have purchased cleaning products that we had great intentions with but they have been sitting around for ages taking up room. Lets use them up! Do not buy cleaning products until they are gone! Save the money for something else and use them. Better still have a cleaning blitz and that will result in a super clean house as well!

Clean out the fridge and be inventive with what needs using up. This might save the cost of a meal or two.

Have a meal a week to use up meals from the freezer or odd bits and pieces. It will reduce the weeks grocery budget and help you get ahead.

If you are in Spring look a what seeds you have. Use them! They do not last forever and if you get them going they could bless you with so much produce! Get some going in pots to give as gifts.

Do you have a moisturiser you never use but paid good money for? Really if you don't love it use it as a treatment for your feet or hands. Just now while I am painting I am using some of these up then I put gloves on to paint. It is a treatment then and doing my hands the world of good! You can have a cleaning session with gloves on and this is a great hand treatment.

The same goes if you have shampoo or conditioner, bubble bath etc that you just put off using... they can all be used up as detergent for hand washing, swishing the toilet... as Flylady says "soap is soap" and you can use them in many ways.

In the craft cupboard... if you have lots of odd bits of yarn make a rainbow blanket. Several ladies have shown "use it up" yarn projects recently and they are all wonderful! Or look for small projects such as dish cloths.

Same with other craft supplies.... have a look at what you have and plan projects to use it all up. No buying until these things are used! Add to your gift cupboard for free!

Take a look around... what assets do you have that you could sell, trade, donate or use? Turn them all into something useful. Maybe plan a garage sale? Or see a few things on E Bay.  Sometimes we don't see what we have as we are so used to it just being there!

If you haven't cleaned out your linen cupboard in some time this is a good time to do it. Things you don't use may become fabric for future sewing projects. Pretty sheets or doona/duvet covers, even pillowcases can become table cloths, napkins, aprons, fabric for all kinds of projects. You might make room in your linen cupboard and it will look neater and you will have sewing supplies.

There are just so many things that we can use or substitute. Each one can be a big money saver plus reduce clutter at the same time.

Ok! My Vicky Challenge went pretty well last week.

We had Chloe's Birthday at home and it was lovely. I would estimate it saved $200.




I did more painting (it just about goes without saying now) and I think I will count $200.

We lived on left overs for two days... $20 This included "Fridge Pizza" as I had heaps of tomatoes...



I did repairs in our plaster and stone work. From work I had done once at another house I will estimate this saved $300.

Painted nails and toes with a DIY pedicure which saved over $100.

I made baby food in the crock pot for Harper and froze in portions. I got twenty serves for a saving of $35.  (besides it is better than bought!) I cooked a lamb shank with pumpkin, sweet potato, potato and carrots.



Packed a picnic for Andy's fishing trip. $50.

Packed all lunches for the week $100.

Amazingly this equals $1005 which is way more than last week.
I think taking on the job of the repair to the wall helped a lot. At my old house a painter came in and did this, repaired the crack and colour matched the paint and so on. I spied on how he did it and it was nothing to it. Then I kicked myself about hiring someone. And doing this was roughly half an hours work. Yet he charged over $300. Never again. Saving that feels a lot better.

What do you have that you could use up and save money?

How was your week? I hope you can see your efforts are worth a lot. Imagine paying someone for it all! Now I understand a little more what "she is worth far more than rubies" means. You are an asset to your family beyond measure in every way! xxx