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, 31 January 2017

The Christmas Challenge. Show and tell for January.

We got off to a really good start for the year! January is the time to replenish our gift cupboards!
Last week I forgot to say it is time for show and tell but some of you just knew to go right ahead and send me your photos, thank you!  We will have part two next week so I will give my email address at the end of this post as I should have last week!

First we have Tarin. She made a dream catcher for a friend. She had everything on hand and stuck to neutral clouds as this is what her friend likes. I think it turned out beautifully.



Then she made a gift for her Mother in Law who has a beach themed living room plus she is a lady who appreciates handmade gifts. I think she would have loved this!



Tarin also mentioned the joy of having a day off, turning on some music and getting creative. That is so much fun and this is the way to get the gift cupboard stocked back up! Thank you Tarin these gifts are just lovely.

Melissa K has been busy making bath bags and soaps....


So pretty and I am imagining smell beautiful!

And gorgeous cards...



Beautiful Mel. I must get card making again. I have supplies I just need to sit down with them and create. I love yours. Cards are worth at least $8 each here. They are expensive! A whole stash of lovely cards to se all year is a huge saving. Yours are stunning.

Jane hit the ground running and made lots!



Jane made a new kitchen mat, Kombucha with a cover she made, knitted dish cloths and Minion pillows and bunting for her daughter.


Here we have scrolls, an iPad holder on the back of a car seat... so her Granddaughter has a travelling screen to entertain her on long trips. (genius)
Food covers/bowl covers.... I need these especially for all my sour dough bowls!
And a new and beautiful lining for her pram!
Jane you are a blessing to your family! What a help to your daughter in law you are.  What a good start to the year!

Rachel had great success finding some beautiful yarn in an op shop!


I cant wait to see what this becomes. The beauty of fine thread is it goes so far.

She has been making preserves. I love the packaging Rachel! And your photo!


Cookie has been painting jars. This is an example of taking something ordinary and making it beautiful!


Her idea is to use them to give bath salts and other gifts. However I would be happy with just the jar! 


I love these so much. I know I have a thing for jars but I keep looking at these...
For the painting challenged I am thinking how a decal/ transfer could make over a jar maybe.  But these are a stunning gift in themselves. Thank you Cookie!

January really got off to a good start!  And today is February 1! I am hoping to have a wonderful February and get so much done this month. 
Tomorrow we are welcoming a new baby into the family so that is about all I can think about! 
Prayers are welcome. I get anxious about now and take nothing for granted.

Next week we will have part 2 of Show and Tell. My email address is brinkzi21@hotmail.com  or you can post pictures on the Bluebirds Facebook page. 
No thinking "my craft work isn't good enough" type thoughts. Yes it is. If you are learning a new skill I love to see, it can be something you are working on but is not yet finished, that's ok.
It can be supplies you have, cooking, it could be your newly organised craft space! 
We are working together to make our gifts, build up the present cupboard and save a lot of money this year, especially in December, but all through the year as well. 
Thank you to everyone for the beautiful photos in this post! 

I hope your week is going well! What do you hope to make in the new month?
Even making a few items per month will see you have wonderful supplies by Christmas.  That is the power of little things adding up!
xxx









Sunday, 29 January 2017

Pantries and Preparedness. Your emergency action plan.

I don't know about you but in a crisis I am better if I am busy doing things that will help and if I have a plan.  We are all different but many of us hit with a looming event will kind of freeze and wonder what to do first.  I think it is a real thing that when we have a panic response we do not necessarily think so clearly.  So before an event is the time to plan. Then we are thinking straight and have plenty of time.

Now not all disasters are kind enough to give us a warning. But many do. And thanks to technology and communication we can be fortunate to have several days or even more notice of many things such as an approaching cyclone, hurricane etc.  So we would be crazy not to use this time to our advantage!

Having a plan means we can achieve such a lot in a short space of time. Our plan will come in handy for many times but we need to think about what is the most likely crisis in our area.
At the farm this is really a bushfire.  A lot of planning and actions go into that.
Here, for us, it is either a heatwave where the power goes out or a storm and power loss.
I am going to share my plan and aim to improve it and hope that you will develop a good plan for your household.

(Throughout this post I am sharing some preparedness pictures that have come in, thank you everyone who has written and sent photos!)


This is Jane's beautiful old cabinet full of her preserves. Lovely!




My plan is written so that I have several days of actions, assuming we have a warning that gives us this kind of time.
I also have highlighted parts of it that I can do quickly in the event that we do not have a warning and just have to do what we can as fast as we can.
Also my plan takes into account what we already have... we have batteries, gas, fuel, food  and many other things in place already. This in itself is a big time saver.  If you don't have any of these they will need to be on your action plan.  Honestly, the more we have in place the easier it will be.

First actions:

Make a list and grocery shop.
Get my laundry washed and dry.
If summer: turn the temperature of my fridge down a bit lower.
                   Fill every gap in the freezer with bottles of water.
                   Fill every gap in Mums freezers with containers of water.
(this keeps them frozen solid for a lot longer if the power goes out. If the worst happens and the power is out several days or longer at least you have cold drinking water for quite a few days and it may be the only cold drink you have)
Fill cars with fuel.
Check gas cylinders and fill.
Fill prescriptions if needed.
Warn family so they can be preparing.
If a storm is coming clean gutters, secure things, put things away.
Fully charge everything... phones, iPad, fan etc.


Hours before:
If winter: Fill thermo's with hot water for hot drinks.
Get out torches/flashlights etc.
Set up generator so it's on standby.
Cook what I am intending to make for dinner.
Get radio out and ready.
I would also have a bath, wash and dry my hair if time permits.
Again many things are already done. We have emergency phone numbers at hand.  We have small appliances that runoff the generator such as an electric frypan.




This is Rachel's Eco Billy. You have a little fire burning sticks and leaves inside and it heats up your water!  Being able to boil water is so important.  In my world a cup of tea also improves everything! 

Last week preparedness was in our news and this is a seldom mentioned topic here. There was a report released into our state wide blackout that occurred last year.
An X Police Commissioner reported the findings. He said too many South Australian's have "unrealistic expectations" about what emergency services can do for them in  crisis.
He said both governments and individuals are responsible for looking after things in a crisis and that households should consider buying a generator.
Also that in a crisis people need to realise it could be some time before help arrives due to the sheer volume of calls.
There was a lot of outrage from the suggestion that we should prepare ourselves in any way I noticed. Yet if we don't the writing is on the wall, pretty much!
Mind you, they offered no advice as to how people should prepare and no links as to where to find information. Nothing.
To those listening it was a bit of a warning though and I wonder how many will actually do anything to help their households be better prepared?
In QLD I know they are used to big storms and cyclones and the government has a web site and a programme you can join to week by week prepare your home. To my knowledge SA has nothing like it.  But maybe this will become a subject of interest as some decide that really we are responsible to be prepared as far as we can.
I see in the US there are excellent sites that advice it is each families responsibility to be prepared and list what should be the minimum things you should do, things you should have on hand. I think that is excellent. What percentage of the population follow this I don't know.


Rachel has a stash of cans out in their shed. Whole trays of them! 


Rachel's husband set up a fan that operated from a car battery! Clever!



Jane uses this gorgeous old sewing machine for storage... the beautiful little drawers are medical supplies.


Rachel can cook olive oil chips on her gas flame. 
What crisis isn't better with chips!?

My written plan is inside my kitchen cupboard door and on my iPad.  There are things for both of us to do and think about that... have everyone helping.

What are the main things you need to be prepared for where you live?
Do you have an action plan for when you have a warning?
Taking some time to work out your courses of action could really make a difference!
xxx






Thursday, 26 January 2017

Feather your Nest Friday, 27 January, 2017.


It has been a good week. We were really lucky with mild days which helps a lot.

Some of the ways I feathered our nest this week include:

I used my $40 Flybuy points to pay for the groceries and mainly used it on specials so it stretched a long way.
Then I sat and stuck the next weeks vouchers into my diary. Basically there is one a week that if you get it scanned you get lots of extra points. It is just keeping track of them and being organised that pays off. So they are in my planner then I stick them to my shopping list each week before I go shopping. It is like a lot of things... a few minutes invested end up paying off later.

We had a meal using the Pesto I made and so did Lucy. This is what she made... Pesto Chicken!


Basically she cooks some chicken breast, mixes the pesto with cream in the frypan and pours this over the top.  Well, I thought it looks pretty good and will do this with my next lot.  Or make a pesto pizza...

I picked more peaches. I think about 12 kilos. 



We have been eating them fresh but now they are ganging up on us and need using faster.  In the spirit of using things up I gathered ingredients to make a crumble...

I had cereal from when we stayed in a motel plus plain biscuits they gave us each day too, a box of muesli I was given that was rejected by someone else, a jar of random fruit and nuts...


The bits that needed crushing up I just put in a big snap lock bag and belted them senseless with the rolling pin. Then I added butter, flour, brown sugar and cinnamon. I just taste it and if it tastes good then its ready! 

Now I have a huge bowl of crumble ready in the fridge.
Wednesday night I made my first crumbles.  The peach version is beautiful. I am pretty sure it was Lana who got me started on that.


I will be making a lot of these in the next week and freezing them. 

This week I made two trays of scrolls. I have been asked for the recipe so here goes...
I use sour dough starter. So in the morning I wake up my starter for an hour or two. Then I make my sponge from at least  a cup of starter, a cup of flour and a cup of water.  Stir and let that sit until its lovely and bubbly.
When bubbly I add a good splash of olive oil, a pinch of salt, a small spoon of honey and about three cups of flour and knead. I put it in the mixer and let it go. I reserve some flour as there is never the same amount of starter. But you don't want it to be too soft.  I followed a blog called Gully Grove to get going with sour dough and this is based on her recipe. It works so I just stick to it for everything from rolls to focaccia etc.
When nice and stretchy I sit it, covered,  for most of the day to rise.

A couple of hours before I need the scrolls I roll out the dough in a long piece like this:



Then I cover it in my filling which was vegemite and cheese (above). The Aussie girls will know about Vegemite and boy is that hard to explain. It is a bit salty, savoury spread. There is a bakery that makes them and they are really massively popular. I need to check on the prices they are charging!  

The other one I did was bacon and cheese...


You could use some cooked onion, tomato base and make them pizza scrolls... etc.

Then roll them up in a long tube and cut into 12.



Twelve fit into my biggest baking pan which I line with baking paper.
They look sparce at first...


Then I cover them and let them rise again.... and then they bulk up nicely.


I have to say sour dough starter rises better for me than dry yeast ever did. Also with a starter you never need to buy yeast again.  

I brush or drizzle them with butter and bake them for about half an hour.

These make great lunch box fillers. Mobile breakfasts. Serve with soup for a meal. Good for using up left overs! And what I love the most if I have these it is much faster than filling sandwiches or rolls as they are already filled.   On busy mornings this is a big help.
They are really easy and as far as I can see you can use any bread dough recipe. If I had a bread maker I would just start bread and get it out before it gets to the cooking stage, roll and fill.

They freeze well and I just microwave or put them in the oven and they are like fresh.



You could do wholemeal, grain, sprinkle with sesame seeds or basically anything you like.

I altered two tops so I can wear them more often. 

I made Lucy a birthday cake.  While I was at it I doubled the recipe and this gave us a cake as well.

Andy trimmed the hedge and serviced my bike. I told him (after looking up the prices) that he just saved us $219.  As usual he was amazed but happy!

My Vicky Challenge:
The weeks lunches $100.
The fishing trip food and drinks $50
My two tops $25.
Two cakes $40.
Two dozen scrolls at $3 each $70
The hedge $120
The bike service $99 (yes really this is what the stores are charging for the most basic service)
12 kilos free peaches $48
Being the end of the month I add in my hair savings (from doing my own cut, colour, treatments etc) $220
And the same from doing my own pedicure and manicures. $160.

So this made it a big week and I wrote $932 into my savings book! The best week so far!

Today is lovely and busy! I need to get my linen done, some shopping, errands and so on. 
I hope you found lots of little ways to get ahead, save and get things done this week.
Have a wonderful weekend! xxx




Tuesday, 24 January 2017

The Christmas Challenge. A beautiful idea from Marilyn.

The last week saw me add bottles of vanilla essence to my gift stash. I already gave two away. I started this brewing in about October last year. Finally I had some lovely bottles to use and printed some labels I found online to finish them off.


They are generous sized bottles and I think they will go in with kitchen gifts well. A bottle of vanilla, some jam, some bay leaves...  that kind of thing.


There are printable labels for just about anything you can think of and these make things look much better!  This one had great instructions I thought.

My bubble bars were not very successful. I have been using them but they won't be gifts. They didn't dry hard and remained mushy! Still they smell good and do bubble so at least I can use this all up.  Back to the drawing board on that one!

Now over to Marilyn B.  She emailed me with a great idea that I think needs to be shared. This covers everything we are talking about... something that can be made from what we have,  inexpensively and even really good to post.  And very versatile!

Marilyn decorated her Christmas table with coasters she made from old cards.
She laminated them so they are sealed,  waterproof and re useable.


I love to make a table setting special and straight away thought oh my goodness you could do this for any occasion! Valentines Day,  Easter,  children's birthday parties with any theme you want,  a baby shower with Beatrix Potter or Wiinie the Pooh coasters! 

Marilyn used cards she recycled. You could also use any gorgeous images you have,  picture books, magazine images. If the image had writing on the back you could just have a layer of plain cardboard to conceal that.


Then she made them into little gift packs as well to give away...


And next she applied the same thing to making book marks...


I have access to a laminator as Chloe has one. But you can look online and see that you can use an ordinary iron to seal laminating sheets!  
So I am looking for the images I want to do this with.  I want to do both coasters and bookmarks.  Watch this space as I am planning on sealing glitter and sparkles, confetti, rose images, birds and some of my favourite verses.  
I also thought how you could make children's place mats from pictures they have drawn or an image you know they are going to love.  There are so many possibilities! 

Thank you so much Marilyn for sharing this with us and taking the time to email me with photos and explaining what you did.  What a great idea, thank you! 

I noticed Aldi recently had laminator pockets. I hope they might still have them!

This week I am making (or trying to) a copy of Lush "Angels on bare skin" cleanser.  I hope this is successful!  I think so as it doesn't have to set, it goes into a jar.  
I am crocheting little cotton wash cloths to add to my spa themed gifts and packaging up Bay Leaves as they are now dry.  (they will go into the kitchen themed gifts!) 

Truthfully, I might not get so much done as we have a new baby due in 8 days! I would really appreciate prayers for Lucy and the new baby if that would be ok.
Also Mel S (she is the one who lives in Adelaide also... we have more than one Mel!) has lost her Dad and if you would pray for her that would be wonderful.

I hope your week is going well! It is sunny and mild here and perfect just now! I have a few more peaches to pick! 
What have you been working on? Finding wonderful bargains, adding wrap, cards or anything you need for gift giving also counts towards your gift cupboard! xxx






Sunday, 22 January 2017

Pantries and Preparedness. Finding space.

Thank you to everyone who helped last week with free things we can do to be better prepared.  We ended up with quite a list.  When you find an idea that would help your household write it down. I really need to put things into my diary and plan to do them or just do them straight away or they kind of evaporate!
I did think to add that if it is relevant to your children's ages... if they are parted from their phones do they know how to call home? Do they know the numbers?

This week we are taking a look at finding space in our homes for increasing our pantries and preparedness supplies. Almost everyone feels they have a space issue.  I wrote about this in my 2015 series but I think I have learned a lot since then.

Many ideas are not a solution in themselves but added together you can be amazed how your house has places for all kinds of supplies.

I began with cleaning out my kitchen pantry. There were things in there that made me think my pantry was full but it wasn't. Many things were nothing to do with the pantry! Re homing non related things and having a clean out left me with more room than I thought.
Repackaging things is an immediate space saver as anything in packets is usually about half full only when you look inside of it.
If there is a lot of space above your rows of shelves then more shelves can go in. There are booster shelves and under self baskets as well that you can get for this. Places like IKEA have them and they are brilliant and not expensive.

There are often spaces that just seem useless. Chloe had a fake cupboard in her kitchen that is very shallow. She converted it into a spice and oils cupboard with a stick on spice holder that cost her $3!



After the big clean out and re arrange  I worked on actually filling my pantry!
Next Andy built me a long shelf in the kitchen that holds a lot of really big jars. I got all the jars for free and make labels for them. They hold a lot of dry goods like pasta, rice etc.
We added more shelves on an empty wall as well. I have a row of baby formula tins that I decorated and they are full of bird seed and chicken food as emergency back ups.

I began to realise I should count laundry and bathroom supplies in my pantry too.  I found a giant old trunk on the road side and did it up to become my blanket box.



This gave me empty  shelves in my linen cupboard and these became my stash of shampoos, conditioners, soaps and so on.
Many things were like this...  I moved, cleaned up, cleaned out and re arranged myself into more pantry space.
In the last series we had the story of Mel S's Grandmother. She had saved soaps and lined her drawers with a layer of them. When WW2 hit her big supply of soaps supplied the family and she used them for gifts and to barter with. Those soaps had become gold! They didn't take up any noticeable space due to the way she did it!

Later we added risers to the bed and now I slide underneath low storage tubs which contain all kinds of supplies. Back up cans, dry goods, you name it!

Then I found the IKEA cube shelves,  made them over and filled them with baskets that act as drawers. This looks so neat and you would never guess it is a back up pantry!
The idea to use baskets as drawers can also apply to under cupboards. Cupboards with legs have a space underneath. If you can find baskets to fit that space they can pull out as drawers do and look so nice as well.
Space across the top of cupboards can also have a row of baskets. Not for things you need everyday of course but I keep emergency stuff like spare toilet paper, paper plates and cups etc in places like this.

I asked Vicky what her ideas were especially for those with small spaces...

            Preparedness and small spaces......

When you live in a small place and space can be limited, but you still want to be able to prepare there are a few things that need to be considered. Basically the size of the spaces you will be using and the items you will be putting in them. It is possible to build up a good stash of emergency supplies or nice sized pantry to get you through or to take advantage of good bargains that you find. Really if you don't have the space to store 500 pounds of beans and flour and barrels of water you can still have supplies just on a smaller scale. And if you don't have space at some point on an item enough is enough. You don't want to store 100 tubes of toothpaste when you don't have room for them and would never use that many anyway. Think more along the lines of variety. 
I do know people who have small places, but don't prepare in any way because it doesn't go with their d├ęcor and they think of it as clutter. It can be, but it doesn't have to always be an eyesore, be creative with your spaces, look up and down and under and over! There is actually a lot of places we can store things if we really want to and in emergencies the more you have to work with the better off you will be in being able to take care of yourself and family or whatever circumstances you may find your self in. 

First- Packaging takes up space! And cardboard can harbor bug eggs that in the right environment can hatch so by removing some things from the packaging you can fit more in a small space and help eliminate pantry bugs. When you have a box of something and half of the box is air that is just a waste of space. Plastic shoe boxes are fantastic for storing and stacking. Just keep the directions if they are boxed mixes. 



Size matters- sometimes smaller is better. Example: a can of tomato paste is very versatile and is very small so takes a lot less space than a can of tomato sauce or a jar of pasta sauce, etc. Dehydrated foods can be vacuum sealed flat or even store bought items like oats. This takes up much less space than the containers they came in and makes storing more far easier. 

Do you have a closet? Closet walls behind clothes are a perfect place to put the hanging organizers that have pockets. There you can store all kinds of things. Alternatively if the closet has a higher ceiling an extra rod up high or a shelf can help maximize the space. 

Under tables, beds, mattresses, behind furniture, in decorative trunks or hat boxes even a cleaned out junk drawer can yield space for something. Not everyone has a huge walk in pantry to fill, but as always we can make do. 
I use hat boxes and the extra space on the TV stand to store dried beans and vacuum sealed dehydrated veggies. 


Do you have shelving where the spaces in between are quite large? Consider adding more shelves in between them to maximize that space and keep it more organized. If there is a foot of air space between each shelf that is a waste of unused space. 


Trunks are great storage. Have room under a window or the end of a bed or even as a coffee table? You can fill trunks with lots of things even if it is a smaller size. 

I have a lot of spices, but instead of them all being in a cupboard I put  some of them in Ziplock bags and roll them up and have them in a small drawer. For me it takes up a lot less real estate since I only have so many cupboards in the kitchen. 

No matter how small your space is you can still store a good pantry and emergency supplies. We just tend to overlook space that could be utilized in a better way. 
XOXO
Vicky

Vicky's use of the above the door space is brilliant!  You will start looking at wall space and glancing around with new eyes!

I have seen whole spare rooms converted into a pantry, hallways lined with built in shelves, a whole wardrobe converted with shelving. Decluttering to make room for more important things can possibly also finance your emergency supplies. Decluttering is not the same as minimalism. We all end up with stuff that is outgrown, no longer useful etc and a clean out can create space.

If you have a car this can be a surprising place to keep quite a bit of your preparedness. We will have a post about what to keep in your car.

If you have a shed then this can also be part of your preparedness storage. Ours is full of tools and things that are in reality really useful and prepare you for anything. Also fuel, our generator and so on.
Rachel sent me a picture of her overhead storage space in her shed. She uses this to store things that she doesn't want mice or anything else to get into!


We have a similar set up in our shed and all kinds of stuff goes up into that.

Rachel also made the point that your fruit trees and veggie garden are kind of part of your own personal pantry supplies! This is true!

Most houses I have lived in I end up with a gap between the fridge and the wall. In this house I have a gap like that in the laundry as well. About 5 or 6 inches wide.  Take a look at this...
Roll out pantry.  This idea could apply to any space like that.  It looks neat and is just the right width for jars or cans. It fits a lot!  I am seeing ready built roll in and out narrow shelving units online now. They are fantastic!
Also there are so many clever added storage shelves i.e. over the washing machine or toilet shelving units that can then store supplies.
Then there are back of the door storage systems and shoe storage hangers. In my last home on the inside of the pantry door I had a shoe hanging system and I kept all my herbs, spices and packet mixes in that.  I have more shelf space and could also see what I had so easily!

My bed side drawers hold torches.  I love that many emergency basics really don't take up much space at all. I have a mini torch (flashlight) on my keyring as well.

I hope we have given some ideas that you can use. Like everything else it is a case of little bits adding up.  Even in a really small space there are things you can do to improve your situation.

Jes has started a preparedness course at Strangers and Pilgrims on Earth.  I am in! The first post is here... Proverbs 31 Preparedness Series.  I am printing up my binder as I find I like printed copies of things and to write things down. This is worth thinking about. This is why I have printed copies of all of Laine's Letters. (and thanks to Helen)  What is on the internet can be here one day and gone the next.  Keep printed copies of water is important to you.

If you have some clever or interesting places to store things please share!  If you have a storage problem let us brainstorm for you! We love to help!

Have a good week! xxx
















Thursday, 19 January 2017

Feather your Nest Friday, 20th January. 2017.

Every Friday I am amazed at the good it does me to stop and look back at the week.  Last Friday seems like a month ago at least! I am so thankful for my little notes on the fridge or I would not have a clue about half of the stuff we did this week. It is my moment to appreciate all the blessings that came our way  and what we achieved. I feel so happy when I do this.  If we don't consider how we are going I think then we are only looking at what needs doing which, lets face it, is never ending.  So I love Fridays for this reason.

This time last week I had figs and had used some for dinner. Then I went on and made four large pizzas with them.  They were really tasty and easy.  I spread the bases with cream cheese and sliced figs and baked. Then I topped them with rocket and drizzled sticky balsamic vinegar over the top.  Very simple.


All the remaining figs I made into jam.  This is good as you can use it like fig paste with cheeses etc or with cream on scones or toast.  I add almonds.


I got ten jars. Two for Dad, two for my sister in law who gave me the figs, three for gifts, three for us. 

I used the labels Chloe made for me...


I had free bananas so I made four dozen banana muffins.


Also a lot of basil ready in several pots.  I picked most of it and make pesto. This was another dinner and a gift.  


I forgot to take a photo of the pesto. It was so bright green!

My Hydrangeas this year haven't been very good. I picked some that have dried off and used them to fill a bowl and make some use out of them.


I had too many eggs so I made a huge baking tray of self crusting quiche which also used up a few left over sun sided tomatoes, a few leaves of spinach, herbs from the garden...


I have been asked how I make quiche.  I don't really use a recipe as to me its something to use things up but I used ten eggs, a large carton of cream, grated cheese, two fried onions, a bit of bacon, left overs all went in. I had no pastry so I added about 3/4 cup SR flour. Line a pan with baking paper. I pour it in and let it sit for a few minutes so that the flour hopefully sinks. Then you get a crisp edge to make up for no pastry!  It is very flexible. I might use milk, cream or evaporated milk or any combination depending on what I have. More eggs make it more eggy, less makes it more quiche/custardy.  Other use it up ingredients are grated zucchini, ham, tomato... or things like roast sweet potato which them make it more like a frittata. Truly use what you have. 
Anyway we had it with salad and relish for dinner then it was lunches/lunch box food.

This week I picked another ten kilos or so of peaches. So far a few have ripened and we have eaten those fresh. Sometime soon a lot will all be ripe at once then I will start working on them. I have a fair few more to pick yet. So between basil, figs, peaches this has been quite a lot of free food with a lot of potential for different uses. I have big plans for these peaches. I think everyday next week I will be busy on these.

On Monday we were talking about free ways to improve our preparedness.  Jane mentioned having a bike and using it in case fuel was in short supply etc. Joy agreed and so did I... I have thought about this before even looking at bikes but didn't go ahead and do it.  Lucy's house is only a few kilometres away.  If feel and communication were out I would want to get there. A bike with a basket to carry things could be a very good thing to have.  
I had been shopping and driving past the flats around the corner from us there was a bike. I had noticed it earlier but did not see the sign on it.  
The sign said "FREE" I could not believe it!  Vicky always says free is her favourite price! We have had a lot of laughs about that.  


It is a ladies 18 gear bike. I said I only need one gear (downhill) but all I need is a basket.  We also laughed how the free sign is so neat.  Very nice.  
So I am going to get that basket and consider this part of my emergency preparations.  So Jane we better get into training!

Also I found a beautiful old chandelier shaped light. It is quite big with scrolly pretty arms and a lovely shape... but without crystals.  I am going to make it over so we will have a chandelier at long long last in the bedroom! 

In the mail I got a $40 grocery voucher from Flybuys. Mostly I earned this using dockets that got me thousands of extra points. I stick the weekly deal tickets in my diary and make sure I hand in each one. It paid off!  I will turn this into $80 by waiting for half price deals and will build up my pantry with it. Yay!


My Vicky Challenge: 
Packed lunches for a short week $80
Four large pizzas for almost free $80
10 jars of fig jam  $30
10 kilos free peaches.... $40
Use it up meals plus quiche $20
Free bike $100 ( I counted $100 as it would cost at least that to go buy a second hand bike)
2 big jars of pesto $10
My $40 voucher.
So I wrote $400 into my savings book. 


Last night we had another storm. This one we got a red alert on the phone and by email. Other storms have been an amber alert.  When this came the sky is perfectly clear.  It was late afternoon. We had dinner and it was still clear. I decided to go pick more peaches while it was ok as strong winds and hail were in the warning. 
I got a basket of peaches and then brought in  everything from the clothes line.  By then we could see a storm was actually coming.  Then another warning came and it hit fast! 
For us it passed fairly quickly and although a mess the garden is well watered. But thousands are without power again and traffic lights are out again as well.  Our power stayed on so I am thrilled about that! 

How was your week? How did you feather your nest, save and get ahead? 
Have a lovely weekend!  xxx











Tuesday, 17 January 2017

The Christmas challenge. Beautiful bath products.

This week I went on from soap to other bath products. My trip to Lush and snooping at labels and prices led me to the website that also contained glorious ideas and ingredients.
Then I looked on Pinterest and followed some DIY Lush links. Oh my goodness you can make so many very similar things so easily!

I love things that smell beautiful and bath and body products generally! Mum gave me some money at Christmas so I invested in some essential oils that I know I love and have a good effect on me. These are Rose, Geranium, Patchouli and Ylang Ylang.
These are all relaxing, nurturing, calming... help me sleep etc. You have to find the scents that work for you. You probably already know what you love. It is interesting checking into the properties of each of them.  So I invested in these.

 I made gifts for myself and for the present cupboard. The idea is I will build up a theme of spa/beauty gifts and give little kits. I need to be watching out for suitable containers or little baskets.
Also hopefully this year we will make over our bathroom. So I have a new bathroom glory box and I am putting away some lovely things to bring out when it is done. I have candles, towels, pretty soaps... now I will add some jars of bath soak etc to this collection.

The first thing I made was bath bags that I have made many times before.  They are just squares of muslin filled with powdered milk and fine oatmeal. You can also add almond meal to this which is gorgeous but I didn't as this makes them a bit expensive. I added a drop of each of my oils to them.



In the bath they release the softening milk, oatmeal and scent. Then they become kind of soft and mushy and you rub the bag on your skin and it very gently exfoliates. They feel beautiful. I wash my face with these and can get two baths out of each one.  They are so soothing.  Every time  I make them I think I will make a years supply then I consider the volume! So they are more a treat.
The ones for me have gone into big jars. You want to seal in the scent and not lose it.
The ones for gifts I packaged into cellophane bags...



I used more of my dried rose buds to decorate them.  This gave me a little pile to stash away in the gift cupboard. 

Then I made a bath soak you can keep in a jar and scoop into the bath. I made this with the same scents, powdered milk and epsom salts.  I packed some up to go into my spa gifts.


In op shops I always watch out for pretty containers and had several cut glass lidded jars to use.  The scoops are baby formula scoops I have been saving up knowing they are just lovely for something!
I would say this is very soothing, softening, calming...  Epsom Salts are really lovely to soak in. Good spas all over the world use this as a detoxifying soak and it is so easy to do at home. Your skin feels lovely.

Then I made a fine rose and sugar scrub. This turned out really well. It works wonderfully. I don't get on with coarse scrubs as they are scratchy.  Dark brown soft sugar with honey is my usual scrub.
I saved rose petals all summer.  I blended these with about equal castor sugar. That is super fine sugar.   
The blending make it even finer. Then I added a drizzle of almond oil. Not enough to make it wet but it just softened it further.


This was kind of an experiment.  I have used it on my face everyday. I just love it.  Now it has occurred to me to try it with fresh roses as they would have oils in them... but it might not keep so long.  I will let you know on that.
I truly think exfoliating is the best thing you can do. Then your moisturiser just soaks in so much better and you look fresher.  This worked so well I basically can't make enough of it!  I am packaging it up the same in cellphone bags. 

So that is my week of gift making.  It was really good fun and my bath has been bliss!
I have a list of other things to make because I found recipes I really want to try. These include hair masks, powder and a Lush copy of a cleaner bar.   I ordered white clay online for one of these so have to wait until it arrives!
Most of the ingredients are simple ones. The most beautiful body power Lush sell feels like silk. It's main ingredient is cornflour. That is on my list to make and I have powder puffs I made last year!

How is your gift making going? What are you working on? 
It is really amazing how week by week the gift cupboard begins to refill!  And as a bonus we get some lovely things for ourselves and our homes as well.

It has been really hot here but today it has cooled down and there is a lovely breeze. I have every door and window wide open letting it flow through the whole house.  And we have been picking peaches! 
xxx