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, 27 June 2017

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

I love seeing what you all have been doing and I LOVE hearing about what you have made and all the details!  It is really good to see such a lot has been achieved in June!

Firstly we have Kelsey!   The first picture is of a wedding present Kelsey made for her cousin who has a lime green kitchen.

Kelsey got the measuring cups and spatular from the gift registry and sewed the napkins to go with them. I think this looks just beautiful!  Very professional Kelsey!

Next she made a cake for Fathers Day...

As you can guess it's a carrot cake!

Then she made mixed berry muffins and she used my "use it up" muffin recipe!

And finally she made receiving blankets which are double sided... (for her baby) I love the prints! 

Kelsey your sewing and cooking are both wonderful! You must be very pleased with the month! 

Jeanette made baby gifts also for her hairdresser and friend!  

Booties and baby rugs/receiving blankets!  The colours are just gorgeous. She must be so thrilled Jeanette. Truly lovely! 

Chloe's boyfriend is a farmer and tractor driver.  It was just his birthday on the weekend. I had to show you this! I have always said a cake is one of the best gifts!  

She had to drive it six hours to get it to him!  Well, it was a hit!  Little boy or big boy this is always going to be appreciated!

Cookie had wonderful op shop finds to help her gift making.... amongst other things she found stunning skeins of wool.  You have to love op shopping. They had the original price on them and were expensive but I think Cookie paid 50c per skein.... this is an example...

There were also red skeins and other finds! 

Rosanne completed a blanket for her Grand daughter. Or I would say a bedspread...

It has an intricate flower cutout patter as a strip though the top section.  It is stunning. I can only dream of achieving this! Roseanne this is an heirloom for sure! 

Maria finished a jumper for her Grandson.  This is beautiful and warm for winter right now.

I know your Grandson feels loved when you make him something Maria from comments he has made before! You did such a good job on this!

Well, that is enough for this week!  Next week is shaping up so well too!  If you would like to contribute please email me at or post pics to the Facebook page. 

So far this week I got a series of small gifts made!  It feels good to be putting things away that actually might make it until Christmas!  Each little thing adds up!  

I hope your week is going well!  So far so good here.... this afternoon we get the valuation of the floor... I am nervously waiting for this!

Also thank you all so much for so many helpful comments on Mondays post "Learning with Laine".  I really appreciate that it takes time to comment and help. But so much help came in and I feel very blessed by that. And to top it off I got a letter from Laine. THE Laine!  So next weeks Pantries and Preparedness Post is actually by Laine!  I feel so honoured and excited!  Ahh! what a week! xxx

Sunday, 25 June 2017

Pantries and Preparedness. Learning with Laine.

Last week I headed off in search of cheaper fruit and vegetables and it worked!  This week I am doing the same only heading a bit further south. I can incorporate this with seeing my friend Hilde and a couple of good op shops.  Hilde and I are trading Bay Leaves (me) for Lemons as well.
I told her about my search for much better prices and she became the next person to say to me how much things have gone up.  Everyone I talk to is saying this!  And this includes the US, UK and NZ Bluebirds as well as the Aussie ones!
Since several of you commented on our prices here this week I am going to take some photos to show you the prices in our stores!

My photos are some recent ones from you all! 
This is from Rachel. She made little pies from berries she gathered.

Lately I have signed up for emails from the wholesale butchers,  joined Facebook stockpilers pages,  studied catalogues, viewed catalogues we don't have delivered online and everything I can think of.
Then I have been asking around where people shop? Where do they find the best?

I have learned to make a lot more thing myself from scratch. Overall I have learned a lot in the last couple of years!  A lot of things are thanks to you all!

Finally over the weekend I thought to see what Laine's Letters say about food shopping and budgeting. While a few years have passed and prices have changed her ways were based on scripture and prayer.  These things never change.  So like with other subjects I could delve back into her advice just as I did years ago.
I have spoken about Laine many times before.  Her letters were the first "blog" I followed and had a huge impact on me.  These days her blog is no longer there but it can be read on a web archive. Now I have to hope the links work!
When the girls were little Laine helped me with being a good Mother, knowing my mission, running the home....  now I am reading she is helping me with being a good Grandmother and this current issue of grocery shopping!  There is a whole Laine subject in my index on the right hand side.
Many of you know Laine and are readers already.  For anyone who is new to Laine then reading her letters will do you more good than I ever can.   There is something on every subject and they can be found here:  Laine's Letters.

Two of Chloe's rescue hens. They are gradually fattening up and looking better! 

While prices and stores have changed the way Laine went about things has not changed.  As so many things have gone up the quick and easy grocery shop is over!
I am going to start with Laine's Letter Fearless Food Shopping.  Australia does not have coupons, but we can apply everything else!

I feel I am taking a study. I am taking notes.  How can I apply these things?
Laine treats stretching her husbands wage as a job. She shops at a lot of different places.  There is a lot about stretching meals and using up left overs.

We all probably need a review/revision now and then. We get into habits! Then suddenly our habits no longer serve us so well or no longer work at all!  Last week I did much better and it took changing almost everything!   So this week will be interesting!

We also need to keep up with what is going on around us. Things change.  We can become blind to choices and opportunities.  This was demonstrated to me by a friend who's town was hit by a massive cyclone.  (For the Aust. ladies this was Mackay) Josh told me how after several days there were food shortages.  He walked into town and got bread and a few things from the local bakery.  On his way home he passed a supermarket and there was a queue outside.  Several ladies ran towards him asking him where did he get the bread!?  He told them the bakery.  They replied that there is no bakery in Mackay.   They were so stuck on their routine of one supermarket they didn't even KNOW there were alternatives let alone what they were or where they were located.  Now can you see how we should keep up with what is around!?

So this week I hope to check out some more alternatives, find new places to try and see what I can discover.

Could some of Laine's food shopping tips help keep the budget under control?
Do food prices vary wildly from suburb to suburb and town to town where you live?
We have to consider time and fuel costs of course.  That is another thing to work in.  But how far the food budget goes affects everything from our health, our menu, our pantry, every other area of the budget and our happiness as well!  This one area has a huge impact.  If we are a little bit ahead then we also get ahead with meals in the freezer,  things to store for the future and with lots of food in the house you don't think about take out either.

Some of Mum's Bay Leaf tree as I was picking them to bring home! 

Have a very good new week!  Today I am making fruit cakes. I had dried fruit soaking in juices all night so it is ready to go!  
If you want homework then study "Fearless Food Shopping" and be inspired! 

Thursday, 22 June 2017

Feather your Nest Friday. 23 June, 2017.

I am fairly pleased with this week.  We have had beautiful sunny days which has made it feel like it isn't winter at all except for the really cold nights! It has been so nice. 
Andy had work in bits and pieces all week and as we all know bits and pieces all add up! 

This week was my first week of an experiment in travelling further afield for fruit and veggies. The prices of these have been through the roof and getting worse. The other day I bought ONE tomato to give you an idea.  So this week I headed off to a fruit and veggie shop that I know of and have had success at before, it is just a bit out of the way. 
Well, it was worth it!   Overall things were about half the price they have been locally.  But some things were about quarter price! 

Everything was fresh and lovely and there was a man out the front playing the harmonica! It had atmosphere!  

These cauliflowers were HUGE.  Our local cauliflowers have been $7.  These were twice the size and $2.99 to give you an idea of the difference.
So I did a big fruit and veggie shop and then I got my meat from Aldi.
This really only added half an hour to my shopping day.  I came home with so much more having spent so much less!  
Next week I am trying a different location. Then I will compare...

Where you live are there this wild variation in prices in different areas? 

I ended up making a menu plan to use the things that need using first and it gave me a ten day plan of great abundance! So pleased!

Otherwise some of the ways I saved this week included:
I made two focaccia breads.  I have chives in the garden which Andy loves yet I seldom use them!  So I cut chives and sprinkled all over one and added cheese.

The other one I used up some left over sun dried tomato.... 

They were yum straight from the oven and with our meals during the week.

I made a chicken curry and picked mint from Mum's garden for raita which gave us another two meals. To go with this I made another batch of Naan Bread.  This is so nice fresh out of the frying pan this is really good with a curry! 

I got 16 large pieces so the freezer is re stocked with naan bread.  These are $1.75 each in the supermarket.

I was given a few free lemons.

Also yesterday I washed the windows. All this sunshine showed up how dirty they were so I washed them and it looks so nice. It is like you get twice the sunlight in the house with clean windows!   Beautiful!
I added a ruffled curtain to the bathroom and an op shop crystal vase of pink roses. 

I added powdered milk to my food storage.

I wrote $174 in my Vicky Challenge book.

So that is my week so far!  It will be so interesting to compare prices in another area next week.  And these are just shops I know about... I need to find out about places I don't even know about yet! 

How did you build up your home, save money or get ahead this week?  
Have a lovely weekend! xxx

Tuesday, 20 June 2017

The Christmas Challenge. Gathering.

Firstly, thank you to everyone for participating in this challenge! Next week we will start on Show and Tell for June. So get your pictures ready!

I love the concepts of gathering, harvesting, gleaning... making the most of what you have.  I get around with baskets in my car, scissors and string. I just never know what I might find!  At home I pick my herbs and roses and see how I can incorporate them into gifts.

Cookie recently sent me pictures that made me think how this is a good subject in our gift giving.  She had roses and said they were hanging upside down drying all around her home.

I thought how beautiful!  This is how my home looks in summer.  Fresh flowers, drying flowers in various stages.  Some dry and fall apart and then I have dried rose petals for sprinkling over a pavlova or cake.

Thanks so much Cookie for your gorgeous photos! 

My own roses will hopefully be back in spring but I have quite a lot still saved in cellophane bags.
They have topped parcels,  decorated coconut ice and bath products,  cards, soaps....

Right now some of my gathering has been Bay Leaves.  My house is like Cookie's with Bay Leaves! They hang from cupboard doors, shelves, door knobs and more...

They are quite a reasonable gift given they are around 50c each in the supermarket!  I usually package them up into cellophane to include in kitchen gifts...

I've gathered gum nuts, pine cones, shells, feathers, seed pods, herbs and all kinds of things to decorate parcels, make arrangements and gifts.    I noticed suddenly vases of feathers in homemaking magazines and shops, interesting!  Brown paper parcels, string and a feather.. lovely!

Is there anything around you that you could gather to help in some way with your present cupboard? It could be part of a gift, something to decorate cards (like pressed flowers) or things to pretty up parcels.  

Next week I will start Show and Tell so if you would like to participate please send your pics to  or post them on the Bluebirds Facebook page.   Some have already arrived! Thank you!  I love to see what you have been making, what supplies you have found and even works in progress!

I hope your week is going well!  xxx

Sunday, 18 June 2017

Pantries and Preparedness. Gluten free, Sour dough, tips.

Over the last week I have had some serious luck with finding all kinds of new tips.  Many of them are thanks to you all!
Firstly, thank you to Kallie who emailed me about a website called Cultures for Health.
They have endless sour dough recipes but also recipes, instructional videos and tips for things like fermented veggies,  yoghurt, cheese making, essential oils and more.  AND they have free ebooks including the most excellent Gluten Free Sour Dough bread making which I know several readers would love.
There is also a regular sour dough e book that I am enjoying and it has things like what to do with bread failures, how to make things like sour dough pie crust, pancakes and so much more. It is fantastic!
Just go to "free ebook library access" and you put in your email.  I have downloaded these e books and they are amazing.
I have gone from "what will I try to make next?" to a list of new things I really want to make and can't wait.  The starter is on the bench warming up as we speak!

Kallie's Marmite Sour Dough Scrolls.

Kallie also sent me this recipe Morning Glory Muffins which looks fantastic. This is a regular recipe but could be adapted to Gluten Free I think.

Cookie has also been so helpful with gluten free tips. Because I know that dietary restrictions can really mess with the budget I really hope these tips help some of you.
Over to Cookie:

Thankfully the internet is loaded with information and recipes.  I'm sending the link I've used as there's
just so much information it's easier to do that.  For the flour, I
found one on I like it because it's easy and doesn't
require a lot of exotic ingredients.  I also have used one from  Lots of input
there and many questions asked and answered by her fans.  The next one
Each and every one of these works very well.  I am blessed to have a
high speed blender and can grind my own flours with rice that I have
on hand so I don't need to purchase much.  Potato starch or cornstarch
is inexpensive as is tapioca flour that's needed.

One thing I found to cut the outrageous cost of this way of life is to
MOO. (Make Our Own) We don't buy any preprepared items ever.  

As for almond flour, this is very expensive here to buy.  The
cheapest I found it for was at Costco for $14 for 3 pounds.  On Amazon
it's $48 for $5 pounds.  The flour can be made in either the food
processor or  a blender but you must be extremely careful with the
time and speed as you could wind up with almond butter, which isn't a
bad thing, but not the goal.   I pour boiling water on the almonds to
remove the skins, but it's not necessary if you don't mind a darker
flour.   If you do the boiling water and remove skins then let these dry before the next step. 
Then I carefully grind it up in the blender.  Done.  For the
coconut flour, it can either be done by carefully grinding unsweetened
coconut flakes or by saving the residue and drying it when making
coconut milk.

As for the milks, I decided to MOO because there were so many
chemicals in the ones in the stores. Soak 1 c.up of almonds in 2 cups
for several hours or overnight.  Drain and put the soaked almonds in
the blender with 3 to 4 cups of fresh water and blend for about 4
minutes on high.  Strain through cheese cloth. It will keep in the
refrigerator for 3 days.Sweetner and vanilla can be added to it but
it's optional. It can be frozen, which is what I usually do. The
residue can be dried in the oven and used for baking.  I do the same
with unsweetened coconut flakes except they don't need the soaking
time.  I use one cup of boiling water in the blender then another cup of cold water 
is added after the first amount it blended. Of course the coconut must be gluten free.
  I also make other non-dairy milks this way using flax seeds or hemp seeds.

The quick and dirty way to make a cup of almond milk is to take a 2
teaspoons to a tablespoon of smooth almond butter and put it in the
blender and blend until smooth and strain.  Again, sweetener and
vanilla can be added but it's optional.
I even found a recipe similar to sunshine cake that completely uses
almond flour, two whole oranges and some eggs and honey.  It's
incredibly delicious.

Honestly, this is not as labor intense as it might look to some. I
would rather have the bags of rice, nuts and coconut in the freezer to
be made up as I need them than have bags and cartons on the shelf that
go out of date and become rancid.  This way my pantry is prepared.  By
keeping these supplies in the freezer I can make up whatever I want as
needed and there's no waste of not using something up.

Since almond milk and flour are expensive I hope these tips help someone a lot!

Cookie then added this recipe which she uses for sandwiches.

Flaxseed Bread

Preheat oven to 350F
Put oiled parchment paper on a 10x15 baking pan.

2 cups of flaxmeal
1 TBSP baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 to 2 tsp sugar
5 eggs beaten
1/2 cup water
1/3 oil
Mix dry ingredients together. Add wet ingredients and beat well but do not over beat. Let sit for about 2 minutes to thicken. Pour batter and spread into a rectangle in prepared pan leaving about an inch or two from edge. Bake 24-28 minutes. Makes 12 servings. 

I added some garlic and onion powder to the recipe.

Thanks so much Cookie for all your tips. Making flour and milks are really good things to know. 

I like King Arthur Flour for recipes, ideas and they also have a Gluten free section. Some of their recipes call for sour dough plus dry yeast, which I ignore. I have never needed to add yeast to sour dough.  Otherwise their site is excellent.

Finally, Gluten Free on a Shoestring blog has a recipe index of just about anything. For some reason my link won't work but it will be easy to find.

Given the price of specialty Gluten Free products and the number of people needing or wanting them some of these recipes and tips could make wonderful gifts.  A basket of gluten free cooking goodies or a box of Gluten Free cookies could be such a hit!

I notice that Aldi have quite a range of gluten free things from flours to snacks.  By contrast once I saw 6 Gluten free biscuits for $18 in a deli near us and they were tiny!

If you have gluten free recipes, tips and ideas please share them!
We all have to manage food budgets and special dietary needs just add to the challenge so I am hoping you find the ebooks helpful and that combined we can come up with some big money savers! xxx

Thursday, 15 June 2017

Feather your Nest Friday, 16 June 2017.

This has been a pretty good week! I am adding up my Vicky Challenge as I write this post and it is looking good!

Some of the ways I feathered the nest and saved money include:

On the weekend I was tired and wasn't sure I felt like cooking and Chloe was coming to dinner. I decided to just do it anyway and made a nice meal and made up Golden Syrup Pudding.  Being winter here it is time I made this!  It is so easy and everyone was happy!

During the week I made three potato bakes (one to give away) as I had a lot of potatoes that needed using up.

I had ordered handles for our bathroom cabinet online after finding I could get a box of ten on Ebay for the same price of two nearby.   The eight spare are going to be a lovely craft project!  The two we used look beautiful!

Since the large amount of hot water that flooded my cupboard I had to start again.  This was one way to wash a cupboard out.   So I organised my under the sink area all clean and fresh.

On that note, we had another insurance guy out and this guy agreed with the first guy. Now we are waiting on a third guy. This is not moving fast but the verdict is sounding good.  Soon I get to pick out new floors!  

A beautiful brand of hair colour was on sale in one of the cheap shops!  (At a savings of $10 per box) I grabbed eight packs.  Instant savings of $80.
While I was there I got big packs of magic erasers. I LOVE these. They are $4.95 in the supermarket.  You can clean anything, they are amazing.  The other day I was cleaning the outside of my crockpot. I scrubbed and scrubbed. (stuff had boiled over and baked on...)  Finally I just dampened a magic eraser and used that. Within a minute it looked brand new.  
Anyway the cheap store had packs that were giant slices  that you cut up yourself to whatever size you want. I bought six packs and got four from each.  Compared to the supermarket I saved $95! 
Now I have a big supply!

I pruned the rose arbour.  I did it over three days and it's done! 

I cooked a corned beef for Andy.
And made tuna mornay for an easy dinner.

Yesterday I went to K Mark and got ten bottles of shower gel for 50c each.  I am so pleased!  Following a stockpilers Facebook page tipped me off about this.  

There is a K Mark close to Lucy's house.  The check out girl said "that will be $5" and looked amazed.    

Recently I have found following the catalogues,  stockpiling groups,  specific stores, the wholesale butcher etc. on social media has been a really big help. You get tipped off about some fantastic specials.  I am still adding more as I think of things to sign up to.

I went to an op shop and found a lovely nightie for Kath in the nursing home ($3) plus another that is a fine silky cotton.  I thought it might be a Liberty print as it feels exactly like it.  It is a large size and it has given me a couple of meters of gorgeous fabric. 
I also found two cup, saucer and plate sets that are Royal Doulton for $5 each.

Lately I had broken a couple of cups.  This is the way to have beautiful cups and saucers!  Very happy! 

We need to pack up all the cupboards in the kitchen, lounge and dining room ready for all the furniture to be moved and the floors to come up.  Each day I have worked on this and treated it as organising and spring cleaning. It's a pretty big job. But the whole back of the house will be spring cleaned before actual spring!

Andy had no paid work this week and it is the first week this has happened.  He got on with work in the yard and things that need doing so he was busy the whole time.  However this is unsettling. 
Also I noticed the the price of fruit, veggies and meat has just gone up and up.  There are very few good specials.  And we have been told electricity is going up AGAIN by 18% this time... and that so is water.   So when you look at it that is both basic foods and basic utilities....
I have decided to go further afield at least once a fortnight as I know two fruit and veggie shops that have amazing bargains. They are just further away....   but I can incorporate a couple of good op shops in this trip. 
The same applies to a wholesale butchers that is very good.  We might make it once a fortnight there as well. Last year they had lamb shanks for $1 each.  I hope that is true this year!  (They have a weekly email of specials so I signed up to that).

We had beautiful sunny days and cold nights all week until rain today. It was really lovely.
I added to the pantry as I have spaces since I did a lot of rotating.

I wrote $495 into my savings book.

How did you go this week? I hope you found lots of ways to build up your home, save and get ahead.  
Have a good weekend! xxx

Tuesday, 13 June 2017

The Christmas Challenge. Revision.

Approaching mid year has me reviewing what I have made so far and thinking how can I fill up my present cupboard to where I want it to be!  I have a way to go!

This post will be boring to some (sorry) but from comments and letters I realise that I need to highlight some of my tutorials and my ebook as I think it is a case of I talk so much that they get lost!

So here goes...

I think the biggest help with keeping costs down and filling your gift cupboard is my ebook which you can find here.

Part 2 is here.
Part 3 here.
Part 4 here.

This was written a little while ago, and I would write it differently now, but the message would be the same. Use your skills and your resources. This will help you realise you probably have skills you don't consider! And you probably have resources you haven't realised ARE resources!  It also covers finding time, presentation and all sorts of things!  There are some creative ways to get things done!  I really hope it helps you identify ideas you didn't think of before!

I wrote a tutorial on crochet edgings. These are so useful as they transform ordinary and useful things into lovely gifts.

This  post should get you going! They are really very easy and fun to do. 

As far as crochet goes I notice how far crochet cotton goes and how inexpensive it is as a little bit goes such a long way.  The towels and hand towels I did for the bathroom... well everyone comments on them!

Then I wrote up how to do Grub Roses (Bullion stitch) 

Here are some ideas for using Grub Roses. 
And here is the tutorial...  Grub Roses 1
and here is part two... Grub Roses 2.

These are another example of something that costs hardly anything to do yet transforms things!

I have also known ladies who earn money doing these i.e. charge per grub roses and people line up to have them added to things!

I think paper crafts are one of the loveliest since they mostly cost very little but can produce amazing results!  

This was my tutorial on how to make Crepe Paper Roses. 

And Part 2.

I have made hundreds of these. They are a lovely gift or parcel decoration.   

Also there is an easy card making tutorial here.  Part 2 is here.

Card making is really fun and a huge saver when you consider how many we can buy in a year.  It is nothing to pay $8 plus for cards here. $10 for fancy ones.  But they make lovely gifts!  Package up a few in cellophane or a pretty box, add a pen... a lot of gift potential!  There are some more ideas here.
Like anything else you need to find your own style and images your family and friends will love. 
Making gift tags is so easy too and even these given in a little box are nice gifts as they are so useful.

Soap making was covered here. I tried and shared several methods until I found my favourite.  Soap is a good gift and is also really expensive in the shops. I greatly under valued this until I checked out homemade soaps in a few places.  $8 to $10 a bar seems to be the going rate.

I enjoy this as it is a way of mass producing gifts and adding quite a bit at one time to the gift cupboard.
And everyone uses soap. Hopefully! haha! 

These are some of my tutorials!  

In theory being mid year (almost) I should be half way to having my Christmas presents sorted and I'm not!  I have done ok with Birthday presents but that is about all!  Renovations, sickness, life in general has slowed me down!  So now I am making lists to get myself caught up!

How is your Christmas Challenge going?  Remind yourself of what it will feel like to get to December with most gifts taken care of, without spending a lot of money.  Getting ahead in one area helps every other area!  

It is so sunny and lovely today.  I am heading to Aldi and hanging sheets on the line! 
I hope your week is going well! xxx

Sunday, 11 June 2017

Pantries and Preparedness. Make your own...

This week we are looking at saving both money and pantry space by making more things ourselves.  While I have always made things i.e. crafty things, it is in more recent years that I have been making cleaners, washing power, wool wash, baking mixes and so on.  Many of these things are surprising!  Not only are they very quick and easy they save a lot!

I got hooked on this when I decided we would stop buying our Friday night pizzas a few years ago.  For about a year we had a takeaway night and most often it was pizzas from a local shop that was amazing.   I started to make my own dough and copied some of their beautiful toppings.  When I figured out the savings I was completely shocked and thought they couldn't even be correct!  I was saving a whopping $2,600 a year.  One simple change saving this much was a shock.  
Since then I calculate the annual costs of all kinds of habits and purchases!

Gradually I have made more and more things myself.  Many things we buy we don't even realise that they are so easy to make!  A recent one is dark brown sugar. That stuff is expensive in the supermarket.  I use it often in my fruit cakes.  So it was with great surprise that I found out it is just ordinary sugar with molasses added.  It is as easy as adding one tablespoon of molasses to one cup of white sugar and stirring it.  Seriously!

For maximum savings the way to go is to consider making whatever it is you are always buying, that will save you the most. Start there.  It could be pizza or it might be fabric softener. But if it is a regular at your place you will find that over a year the savings will be considerable.

This subject will take a couple of weeks I think! But lets get started!

One of my most regular makes is Miracle Cleaner.  This stuff replaces so many cleaners and any need for air freshener as well.  Also it replaces anti germ wipes.   You can find the recipe here.
This also means you just reduced chemicals in your house as another benefit. The big trend is cleaning products that are safe or natural and they are expensive. You can make your own so cheaply.

The dusters in the jar are pre moistened for wiping down surfaces and dusting sessions. They smell beautiful!

I also make my own dusters/cleaning cloths to go with this.

I keep a supply of super soft flannelette for when someone is sick as well as they are so much softer than tissues or hankies!

My next best recipe is wool wash and also liquid laundry wash. These work so beautifully, smell just gorgeous and last ages.  You can find these in my sop making series here.

I have been able to give these as gifts as well.  The wool wash makes things softer than you can imagine.  All my blankets, underlays, quilts etc are washed in this. 

A beauty "make your own" is scrub and I wrote this here about an at home treatment you can do that is very close to salon microdermabrasion. (Except over a hundred dollars cheaper.)  Being cheap you can do it weekly which will always have better results than something you do a couple of times a year.  There are so many beautiful treatments you can do yourself.

Another area is making ready to bake mixes. I like to make ready to bake Cornbread mix. But there are so many you could do!

These cookie mixes were given to Chloe by a friend.  How good do they look!?  What a nice gift!

When Harper was smaller we worked out my crockpot full of baby food saved $80 per batch compared to the little pouches or jars you can buy.  We are about to be back to that with Scarlett!

Others include make your own Cream of anything soup mix! This is a serious saving!  
These can be found here and the comments on this post contain a lot of hints too.

Ready mixes can be beautiful gifts!  From all the dry ingredients for soup to hot chocolate they look good in a jar with a label and instructions.  Having mixes ready in the kitchen can mean whipping up a batch of cookies, scones, muffins etc is really fast.

Thinking of Hot Chocolate ... it is winter here.  Good weather to make up some of this.  Compare to store bought mixes and you will be amazed!  You can find MOO  (Make our own) Hot Chocolate  here.

Recently I found out about making your own baking flour (which I shared last Monday) and I am amazed that I keep finding out new things that can be simply made.  Cath from The Cheapskates Club explained it well.  She said clever marketing over time has convinced us we need to buy all kinds of things that we don't and they should be bought at the supermarket. So our lists have got longer and longer with things that are unnecessary and/or can be easily made!  From paper towels to fabric softener our Grandmothers would be laughing.
You can read Cath's article here and follow it up with thirty easy make your own recipes here.  Even if there is one recipe on this list that you can adopt it will be a significant saving.
If you let this sink in it is quite mind blowing.  There is so much we can leave off the shopping list.   Much of the time the homemade version is healthier as well.

Coming up we are going to look at our pantries from this point of view. Instead of trying to store everything we could need what about storing the ingredients to make everything we need?  This frees up so much space and saves so much money.  Everything changes!

It is a huge subject! From beauty to cleaning, cooking and even in the garden making our own has the potential to change your budget enormously.  Pick something to try.  Most are so easy.  Calculate the yearly savings, repeat!  There are things we haven't even considered we can make ourselves as we are just used to the idea that they are bought!  Think "could I make this" and you will see what I mean!

There are exceptions. A few things I get from Aldi are so nice and so inexpensive that it wouldn't pay to make my own. So you have to do a few quick sums! Possibly the biggest savings are things that replace something really expensive or something that replaces numerous products i.e. Miracle Cleaner.  
Even with things that are inexpensive to buy it is good to know how to make them  anyway! There might be a time you cannot buy them!

One of my goals this week is to find more things I can make myself, work out the savings and try them out.

What "make your own" recipes do you use?
Is there anything that you would love to know how to make yourself?

Have a very good week!  I have to empty all the cupboards, pantry, china, glassware etc from the kitchen and living room to get ready for my floor to be replaced.  I'm thinking of it as a massive early spring clean.  xxx

Thursday, 8 June 2017

Feather your Nest Friday, 9 June, 2017.

It was a really big week!  The best part was we headed down to the farm for the weekend to celebrate Dad's 80th Birthday.  It was a lovely weekend! The whole family gathered and we had a big birthday dinner on Saturday night.
Years ago Dad nearly died before he turned 60 and I remember that birthday so well. And here we are twenty years later.  When he turned 60 he was given five years to live by the way!  

Some of the best fun was seeing Harper with the farm animals. She had cows lambs, ducks, chooks, puppies and others to pat!

Harper cautiously looking at puppies! 

It was so nice I could talk about it for a week! 

Dad with Scarlett.

On the way down to the farm we stopped at an op shop and on the way home another one.  Andy got a beautiful fine pure wool grey knitted vest which he just loves (for $2.50) and a heap of books.  I found beads,  a top, and pumpkins that just came in from a local farm. And lemons!

At the farm I also picked Bay Leaves and Mum sent us home with venison as well.

Chloe lives nearby and we drove over to her house for an afternoon. We arrived to fresh baked biscuits and cups of tea.

Each day was sunny and beautiful.  We saw hundreds of cockatoos, water birds, Blue Wrens and Rosellas... and so many more.

It was like a little holiday and I took heaps of photos around the farm. 

Mum keeps interesting things at her front door....

I had my eye on that bird nest!

And there are various spots with wood ready for the fire place.  There is always a big fire going.

A while back I posted about the farm and showed a bit about the kitchen and Dad's old stove and things which is here.

Most of Mum's garden is native flowers.  There was a gum tree just covered in pink!

During the week we had good news and bad news.  The good news is that it looks like insurance will cover new floors in the kitchen and lounge/dining area. The insurance floor guy came on Tuesday and said "yep, that's stuffed"  confirming our suspicions!  There is someone else coming yet and hopefully they can go ahead and get this done.

The bad news was the job that promised Andy 30 hours a week hasn't delivered.  They had him at conferences and appointments but haven't delivered work.  It's been weeks. We can't afford to wait around really.  Luckily he has had private work to keep him going so far.  But it is nerve wracking.   With this and floors that look HORRIBLE I thought of "do the next thing" and just kept doing what needed doing.  Ages ago I wrote about this quote that I learned from Elizabeth Elliot.  It has helped me so much so many times.  Do the next thing.

During the week some of my money saving efforts included making two big pots of Chicken Soup. First I made the stock then I added everything else.  I think I made almost 15 litres of soup!  One lot went to Lucy's house as they have had colds.  Lots was frozen for days when Chicken soup is needed.

I made two trays of ham and cheese scrolls.  This was meant to go with the soup and provide lunches. 

The scroll recipe is just the same as my bread recipe, rolled out and filled.  All the Sour Dough recipes can be found via the index on my side bar.

As far as I can see anything you might put on a pizza is good in scrolls! 

Then I had another go at making Raisin Bread.  This time I added a lot more fruit.  Success! It is beautiful. I think there might be a bit of difference between Australian Raisin Bread/toast and the US.  

My recipe ended up being my couple of cups of starter made into a sponge with a cup of water and a cup of flour. Once that was bubbling like mad I added:

2 tablespoons milk powder,
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon, 
3 tablespoons of raw sugar,
1 and a half tablespoons soft butter, 
1 cup raisins,
1 cup chopped apricot, 
1 cup sultanas,
3 cups bread flour (or substitute)  plus extra.

I kneaded everything but added the fruit near the end (in the mixer) and then the mix was too sticky so I gradually added more flour until it was a nice soft dough that held together.

This made two loaves.  After the first rise I divided it in two, placed in my pans and let rise a couple of hours in a pre warmed oven that I turned off. I was really cold here!  They were beautiful!  I baked in pre heated oven for 20 mins.

They are all sliced up now and most is frozen.  At a cafe last week I saw this for $4.50 per slice!  It is less than that to make a whole loaf!  It is so yummy toasted.  Now I have it to our taste it will be a regular.  Alter the fruit, sweetness, spices to your own taste.

I trimmed my own hair,
Froze a bag full of celery tops,
Pruned all the roses out the front of the house,
Mended a pair of my jeans,
And I took advantage of a half price sale on some vitamins we buy.  To my surprise with this I was given a whole bag of free stuff!

The best things for me were a moisturiser and a good mascara, also some vitamins. There are a few things to give the girls and one item to go into the present cupboard. 

So that is my week!  I need to have a quiet moment to work out my Vicky Challenge total.  It should be good.  

Lucy has started a blog!  It will suit the young Mum's with little ones.  You can see some of my ways have rubbed off on her 😊  It is here The Pitter Patter of Tiny Feet.  All encouragement is welcome! She is right where I remember being so well with two little girls just like me! 

How did you build up your nest this week?  I hope there were some ways to get ahead, save and feather your nest generally! 

Have a lovely weekend! xxx