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 29 January 2015

Feather your Nest Friday. 30th January 2015.

The last week of January! I always think January is a big month. Recovering from Christmas and holidays and possibly a time of recovering from spending more money than usual. Then thinking about what it is we want to achieve in the new year and our goals and dreams.
Then we get back into regular life and it flies! So it is really good to keep our goals in front of us and have a little review. So I'm looking over the month and having a little plan.

I had another really good week! My pantry is going ahead in leaps and bounds and my cellar is up and running.

So the ways I saved money and feathered our nest this week include...

My afternoon with my friend Hilde and all the pantry tips she gave me. I posted some of these in comments on Wednesday but more to come! It was so much fun and she gave me so many ideas  just on pantry recipes that will be so handy.

Plus we went op shopping. I had wonderful luck and got three gorgeous cardis. I have a thing about really fine knitwear. I don't like thick or chunky things at all. But really fine knitwear is usually expensive. I found a blue/grey longline very fine knit Witchery brand cardi for $4, A fine Laura Ashley black knit cardi for $5 and a leopard print cardi, also really fine... for $4. I love them all. I washed them up and am so pleased. I was so excited about these as I live in cardi's in winter.

I also found a lovely vintage cotton sheet with pink roses on it. I always buy sheets if they are good cotton and pretty prints that look Shabby Chic-ish. Where else can you get several wide meters of pretty cotton fabric for $3 or so? Also if I see sheets in very old or soft brushed cotton/flannelette I get them and wash them up and tear them into large hankies for when anyone is sick. They are so soft they are the kindest thing for bad colds etc. These are the softest hankies you ever had. You can throw them in the bin, it was cheaper than packs of tissues. If I have plenty of these I made cleaning cloths. I fill big jars with them and pour over some miracle cleaner so they are moist and ready to use.

 My friends daughter had a baby girl. I am able to go to my cupboard of things I've made ahead and find a gift that I can send her. My gift cupboard is wonderful. I am now trying to keep a selection of baby things. Mum does this, she knits and crochets plenty of baby rugs, little hats and things and she always has them ready to give far and wide. They are beautiful hand made things. So I was able to do this and wrapped in pink tissue and ribbon my soft pink rug to post....

I had a use up left overs night and made pizzas. I used up so many bits and pieces and they were really good. Also they made several work lunches.

Our neighbours went away and said we were welcome to pick fruit. I went over and picked peaches. So yes I have MORE peaches. I needed a ladder and even them used a broom to pull down branches. It was up and down a ladder for an hour and I got about two more buckets full. They are really big white peaches. We have had peaches fresh and cut up every night for a week. The freezer is full of poached peaches and pies. I have kept the girls in fruit as well. I've made peach jam. Now I need to act on these immediately as they are pretty ripe.

Over the last couple of weeks we got a few around the home repairs done, general tidying up and due to milk weather the garden is looking lovely! These all help!

What did you do to build up your home and save money this week? I hope it was a good week and that January started the year off well.

It really is amazing how much all that we do saves money and generally builds up our homes. If we can think of a list of little ways to save money on food, gifts, services, utilities and ways to build up our pantries, emergency funds etc they all add up and we build a buffer too that protects us when unexpected things happen. Mimi baked a divine chocolate cake and said that in a cafe it would probably be $7 a slice or more. It's true! The whole cake doesn't cost $7 to make and we can enjoy sharing it all week! (for her recipe pop over to A Tray of Bliss) This is an example of what is in the shops vs what we can do ourselves!

I normally post Pantry/preparedness on Wednesdays. This week I made some discoveries that I think amount to urgent information we all need so I will post this on Monday. 

Have a wonderful weekend! xxxx

Tuesday 27 January 2015

Building up our pantries. 7

Last week Helen posted that in hard times, the times we are depending on our pantries and our supplies, we probably need some nurturing and comfort. Whatever circumstances that have come about something has gone wrong and that is why we are relying on our stockpile. Having supplies to see you through is a big comfort of course but having things that your family like and are nurturing is such a good thing. Adding little treats and luxuries, comfort food and drinks, is going to make things much better if you can possibly manage it.

Thinking about this and reading all your ideas I had added to my storage list. My additions include Golden Syrup, Sticky Balsamic, Coffee Essence, Vanilla Concentrate, Condensed Milk, special tins of tea, a tin of caramels, chocolate, sun dried tomatoes, tinned custard powder, tinned hot chocolate. So far... I am sure I will come up with more. Thank you for all the replies to Helen's question. This helped me lots!

I have progress to report in the cellar! I have food on my shelves! There have been two good things... one was a better fortnight for us and some savings and the other some great specials I found.
I also decided with every saving I make to use some of it for something for the cellar or pantry.

My bathroom cabinet is really large. That is big enough to keep spare shampoo and quite a few things. So I am building that up also. I added toothpaste, soap and hand wash to that.

Here is a pic to show my progress from my original cold, dark, empty and scary cellar!

It truly is amazing how things add up when you just add something every time you can.

Following on from Helen I thought ok I am storing up foods that keep and we like and I am adding things that will really add flavour as well as some treats. Now what meals can I actually make form all these components?

So far I have a list I am keeping of things that can be made entirely from what is stored. I think we can include whats in the garden and if you have chickens you could include eggs. But rather than just a random collection of things to think what meals could I make up from this collection? Thinking this way we might realise we need to add this or that and we would have a complete meal. I have my regular kitchen pantry and by then end of the year hopefully a well stocked cellar.

Then I always seem to have plenty of a fair variety of herbs. I have two towers I made like this one... this was when this one was first planted, or early on...

I made them out of recycled pots (that means I found most of them on the side of the road!) and these are near the back door. This is how they look now...

They are jungles of herbs, some chilli and capsicums,  and I pick so many!  I pick bunches for the girls and to give away as gifts. And I add fresh herbs to everything. I will always keep them going as they really are lovely adding flavour, colour and a burst of vitamins and minerals to everything. In a crisis they would be wonderful to be able to add to stored foods.

Anyway, from what I have so far I could make custard (from powdered milk and custard powder)
with plum pudding (tinned Christmas pudding) or tinned fruit.
I could make tuna casserole/mornay.... (powdered milk, tins tuna, corn, chicken noodle soup...)
which I could serve over pasta or rice. Or corn fritters.

I could make simple pasta and tomato sauce with fresh herbs,  pancakes  and served with any of several homemade jams. Scones, simple fruit cobbler using tinned fruit and a cake batter.

We like soup and even tinned tomato soup is nice so I would be quite happy with that. I could add fresh herbs to tinned soups to make them healthier.
I actually like baked beans and would find them a good meal.
I could make damper (simple bread).

So now to add to my list!

Doing something toward this week by week is really working. We are still in January and I have got this far so by December I think I am going to be amazed!

If you would like some wonderful reading on the subject Patsi's blog A Working Pantry is a wonderful resource. She has started a series I am following.  I am loving it already. Start here here to read the introduction. Thank you Patsi for making this free for everyone. I feel as if I am building up my pantry with a great friend beside me. She posts Wednesdays and so today will be part three I think. (which I am looking forward to).

While I've been adding things to my cellar shelves and writing this there is a great storm approaching the east coast of America. I have been watching updates. This is a situation people have had a warning, they know its coming and have time to prepare. Knowing what needs doing and getting it done before the storm comes in. I saw photos of empty supermarket shelves already.  After that cars need to be off the road and people need to be safe indoors. By the time I post this it will be well underway. I hope everyone is alright, there are millions people are in the way of that storm! In fact here are more people affected by the storm than there are in the whole of Australia. Like twice that many. My mind boggles. I saw pictures of the biggest supermarket I have ever seen in Boston and everything from the fridges and freezers was gone! Empty. It really makes you think!

What meals can you make from your pantry when a storm comes in and you can't get to the shops? Or when there is another reason that you cannot shop? I would love to learn some new ideas to add to my list.

As Helen said when a blizzard comes in or someone is out of work those are the times that a comforting or warming meal would be especially restoring and encouraging. A little planning is what we are doing!

I am hoping everyone has a staple pantry/emergency meal like my trusty tuna mornay and between us we will come up with a good list! Many thanks in advance...

It is lovely to make progress and to work on this together. Little bits add up! And there are small opportunities that crop up. I just got a $10 Woolworths gift card. If I use that on some good specials I can add more to my cellar!

I hope you are having a good week! xxx

Sunday 25 January 2015

Made with love.

Last week I had a very special day. Lucy and I had an afternoon going through the baby things that I have kept stored away since the girls were babies. These things have moved houses numerous times and have been kept here up in my high cupboards.

A row of boxes contain baby cards from when both the girls were born, precious baby clothes, the outfits the girls came home from hospital in, special dresses they wore and all kinds of little treasures. It includes the hand made things of five generations! The oldest things I have were made by my Great Grandmother Annie Susannah Pratt. But she is Lucy's Great Great Grandmother of course. And the babies Great Great Great Grandmother!

Annie Susannah is the Great Grandmother who's Bible I have with all her markings and notes and the unbelievably beautiful letter she received from a friend when my Great Grandfather died. She had 13 children and my Nan was the youngest one. When Nan was born she slept in a shoe box lined with cotton wool she was so small. Annie Susannah was also tiny. She was 4 foot 8. Lucy is almost as tiny at just 5 foot exactly. So there is plenty of Annie Susannah in Lucy I think!

Here are some silk crochet garments she made. The little booties are just beautiful. I don't know where she got the silk thread from and this must have been very special as they didn't have money... they were farmers and hard workers. The silk things in the middle you can see, have sheen to them.  The blanket (Winnie the Pooh) I made, the cardi on the top left Mum made, the dress Nan made.

Next I have things made by Nan (her daughter) Cora Jean. Nan had black hair, fair skin and blue eyes. She sewed, knitted and made so many things always for us all. She also spun her own wool and dyed her own yarns. She provided so many things for us and everyone she knew.

Also Nan's friends made me things when the girls were born. I have talked about Loris Smith and Mrs. Mann before and how wonderful they were. This is a little dress Mrs. Mann made for Chloe which she wore and wore.  Then Lucy wore. I could cry at the sight of it now!

Out came Lucy's baby album. She could see what she wore when she came home from hospital and then there it all was kept for her. Over and over she could see her little dresses in the album and then see them in real life. Here is the album with Lucy in a little dress Great Gran made and the dress next to it.

Then there are so many things made by Mum, Patricia Ann. Mum made things from newborn right through their childhood. Mostly knitting but some sewn dresses as well. I still have most of it and even though it was all worn constantly it all is in great shape.

There there are things I made. One of Chloe's favourite things is when she was at kindy she went dressed to something as Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz. I painted a little pair of shoes bright red then layered them with red glitter to make ruby red slippers. At the time she could hardly walk in them as she had to stop and admire them so constantly that progress was slow. She has these on display in her home now as they pretty much set the standard of her love of shoes!

Over the years as I have sewn, embroidered, knitted and crocheted, I've stashed away things for one day for the girls. I used to sew for a baby boutique and I made a set of everything for both the girls. Pram sets, sheet sets, baby rugs, embroidered blankets... singlets, muslin wraps and wash cloths... piles of stuff.

It was so much fun getting all this out!

Then there was a box of things that were little dresses worn through childhod. Lovely smocked liberty print dresses, knitted dresses and more! A little velvet dress I wore when I was four in a wedding!

I think Lucy was surprised by how much of it she loved and thought she can use. Of course if she has a girl there are more things but I have made things suitable for boys as well as girls so there is lots there.

Everything represents love to me. I appreciated it all at the time but even more now.
If Great Gran and Nan were here now they would be so excited! Mum is and you guessed it she is probably knitting as we speak! Luckily Lucy adores knits and cute things. Her baby will be wrapped in things made with love from the minute its born.

The things these women did everyday so influenced me so much.  And the girls and now a new baby. I am so glad I kept these little treasures. And my line has been filled with sweet things as I have washed it all up and hung it in the sun. This was my line today... I'm up to the bigger dresses! Lucy is set if she has a girl. But if the baby is a boy Mum and I will create a new supply!

Really this was an afternoon of loveliness. Gran and Nan kept us company as we thought of them and all they did.

I took over 80 photos of mostly differnet things. Another day I might post more of my embroidery as there are little outfits with Winnie the Pooh themed stories on them and mice getting married and pushing prams and all things I made up!

It makes you wonder what are we making that will be handed down the generations and treasured? Not only that but just how much we are remembered and how much we influence our children, grandchildren, great grandchildren and so on...

We have the opportunity to be a great blessing to them all!

There is the saying that some days are diamonds. This day was one of them! xxx

Thursday 22 January 2015

Feather your Nest Friday, Jan 23 2015.

My hopes and aims were that this week would be good and we would do some getting back to normal and catching up!

And we did!

I had more free fruit. The first peaches were yellow ones and smaller. These are much larger white peaches.  Wendy suggested I made jam with some which I did. She said to me that peach jam tastes like summer. That sold me! It turned out a beautiful colour too. I used the yellow peaches as I had some that were fading fast and this used them up.

My aunt gave me beautiful plums. They are the most glorious colour! You could have them in your kitchen as decor they look so nice. There have been so many comments on various photos I have taken in my aunts garden. The series of lovely fruit on all her trees. I think we all love seeing fruit and dreaming what we could do with all this produce! Her recently released book is partly about her garden. It is called "A fig at the gate" (By Kate Llewellyn) and she literally does have a fig at the gate...

I made plum cobbler using the recipe I mentioned Monday on the post about using up what comes your way. You simply grease a pie dish and spread your cut up fresh fruit over the dish. Then you make up a batter that you pour over. Bake until risen and golden, about one hour on a medium oven.
Sever with cream or ice cream.
These can be frozen to use later in the year when there is no fruit.  I took a photo as I filled the dish as the colour was so lovely.

I also made plums into my trusty Use it up fruit cake. I called it "Ruby Cake". It looked and tasted so lovely. The fruit looked a deep ruby colour, very pretty.
I have kind of let the secret out that I make all these things and call them fancy names and they are all really the same. (I linked to these recipes in Mondays post, they are super easy recipes designed to use up what you have)

A  cake like this would make a lovely gift. For a birthday present or just a gift of kindness, a cake is a beautiful thing to give someone. From now on I will call the plum version Ruby Cake.

So from free peaches and plums I ended up with so many things including gifts to give. I made plum jam also which turned out the most pretty colour.

Working my way through all this fruit I felt very blessed by great abundance.

Andy walks in saying "what smells so good?!" which is nice I think and he comes snooping to see.

My next frugal thing was a great find. Two doors away there are a block of units. People seem to move out and leave half their things on the side of the road. Many times I think the tv's etc are better than ours and consider a swap. I'm not kidding either! Recently I was thinking my washing machine is getting on and worrying about it a bit. So the other day what appeared to be a brand new washing machine was put out next to the rubbish with a stack of appliances.  I went and looked. It had the new stickers on it and appeared new. Why would anyone throw out a brand new washing machine? On closer inspection it all seemed good. And fancy. I googled it and it was over $850! It has a function for everything. Much fanccier than anything I have ever had.

Soooo... I convince Andy (who says it mustn't work. No one would dump a brand new washing machine) to collect it and test it. He hauls it home, connects it up and says "away you go."  He was skeptical! I googled the manual and pressed the right buttons and away it went. Andy stood there waiting for it to explode or something. It ran it's cycle and we concluded there is nothing wrong with it. Maybe someone bought it PLANNING to wash something and never did?

So here it is. I now have such a fancy spare washing machine that I wish my current one would hurry up and croak. And when it does I will save myself hundreds or to be precise $850!

Next, my daughter is having a clean our/decluter and offers me a heap of skin care that she has mostly been given as gifts and things arent't right for her skin... would I like any of these things? There was plenty that I would love and suit my skin! So I had a little haul of all brand new things that would amount to a few hundred dollars worth of skin care.

During the week I did all the things I always do... line dry the clothes and linen, water the garden with household water, cook all our meals and send all the work lunches and coffee etc.
With the fruit coming in I added fruit to the freezer, jam to the pantry and was able to share it as well.

It was a really good week and it went too fast!

What did you do to feather your nest or save money this week? I hope it was a great week and you have a lovely weekend. Mel said to me that Feather your Nest Fridays help her as she goes along and thinks how she can add this or that to her list! Well, it helps me too and hearing what you have been doing is wonderful to me! xxx

Tuesday 20 January 2015

Building up our pantries. No 6. Introducing Helen!

Today I am handing the Pantry Challenge over to Helen. Everyone who reads Bluebirds has heard of Helen!  Helen and I used to write together about saving and making a happy and lovely home for very little. This was such a good thing as it led to us becoming friends and both going on to things we could never have dreamed of!
For those of you that don't know Helen she reminds me a lot of Laine. So you are going to be blessed by getting to know her!

Over to Helen!...

Pantry Comforts

Dear Friends and friends in the making, “hello”, my name is Helen. Annabel and I are dear friends from when we were dreaming our way through frugal indulgences that literally changed your life. Around us gathered a group of ladies that generously shared their tips, dreams and challenges.
Annabel has invited me to sit and share in the beautiful world of “The Bluebirds are Nesting”, amongst you all. I’m excited at what we will discover together! I’m a wife to my darling Glen, and a mother to our two adult sons Tom and Andrew. I love Jesus. He is my friend and Saviour.

Today I wanted to talk to you about Pantry Comforts. Pantry Comforts are the treasures that you find when you are in “heart” need. When the miseries strike and you’re down in the dumps, food transformed by love and memory becomes a warm blanket for our souls. This week deep in the winter snows in Japan, our son Tom opened a parcel from home and found tea and Walkers Shortbread. A childhood favourite. The message I got from him was....”best mum ever”. 

 My hands had reached across the miles and brought him the simple comfort of home. I have been joining you all on the Pantry challenge that Annabel has set before us, and while my mind has been fixed on such practicalities as tinned tomatoes and bags of pasta, there has been a niggling of my spirit that has said make sure I include those things that move us emotionally, that cause our hearts to light up with pleasure when we see them. And to that end, each week while I have been busy balancing budgets, I have also included some things like a favourite Chilli Relish, Jamie Oliver’s Sticky Fig and Balsamic dressing. 

 I love what Chef Sophie Gray has to share from her Destitute Gourmet Books, that the bulk of her frugal grocery order consists of basic pantry ingredients but she includes a couple of ingredients that move her meals from mundane to memorable. Some of the things that she buys are heavenly dark chocolate, gourmet berries, special cheeses. Each week I’m joining with you in building my pantry and considering not only the food that we need but what do we also relish with delight. For if I am to rely on this pantry due to sickness or unemployment or need of some kind, surely it’s my aim to not only feed my family but also to nourish their hearts with the appearance of favourite food at our table?
I’ll close with quote from a favourite author Sarah Ban Breathnach from Simple Abundance: “Comfort food is hearty. When hearts are heavy, they need gravitational and emotional equilibrium: meat loaf and mashed potatoes, macaroni and cheese, chicken pot pie, creamy risotto. Food that resonates that we will survive. With such sustenance we can keep on going and going especially when we don’t want to take another step.”

 So dear friends, what are your Pantry Comforts?  Love Helen.

Sunday 18 January 2015

Making the most of food that comes your way.

I just noticed that at exactly this time last year I was posting about using up abundance! Well, this is because we are mid summer and this is the time I am most likely to get free or cheap fruit and some vegies too (and if I'm lucky a box of tomatoes!)

 It is a big chance to fill shelves with jam, make pies, stewed or poached fruit, cakes, muffins etc to supply us all through winter. Plus enjoy fresh fruit, smoothies, salads and pavlova covered in fruits! The thing is making the most of it! It is a huge opportunity to save and help the rest of the year.

The downside is it all usually comes at once in large quantities. And I never say no if offered fruit or the chance to harvest fruit from a tree. Wild horses couldn't keep me away!
I know this season comes at different times as many ladies are reading from the US. And not everyone gets free fruit, it might be more a case of when things are at their very best price for the year or an amazing special. But when it is an abundant season and free things might come our way make the most of it!

There are a few things we can do to be ready. All year I save up jars. Also foil trays and boxes or anything else that might be good for packaging cooking. And knowing this time is coming I try and use up things in the freezer and clean and tidy it so I can fit as much in there as possible.

On Friday I posted a picture of some peaches we have. I had three buckets of peaches and I have a bucket of plums coming this week.  I also have zucchini and spinach.

The peaches were not quite ripe. To keep an eye on them I spread them out on platters on the dining room table. They ripen faster than you think and if you turn your back they end up wasted. So each day I pick out the ones that have ripened.

We are eating fresh peaches just as they are. But if I didn't use them up in other ways we wouldn't get through them. I gave Chloe and Lucy a dozen each as well. Knowing I have plums coming I want to get the peaches made into things or I will be under a mountain of fruit. (good problem to have though...)

Yesterday I made peach cake. This is delicious and so quick and easy. This recipe will use up stone fruits. I have used plums, nectarines and peaches all perfectly in this. And you can cover the top of the cake as thinly or thickly with fruit depending on how much you want to use up. The recipe is here...  Use up fresh fruit cake. This is how it looked.  I served slices with cream drizzled over.  And I made a spare as a gift for today and also several to freeze. In winter these are so handy.

Today I poached some peaches. I just wash them and fill a saucepan. Add a cup of sugar and some vanilla extract. (that is optional) Cover. Bring to a thumping boil and turn off. The residual heat will do the rest. Served with ice cream, cream or custard these are amazing. And I fill some containers with these and pop them into the freezer.

Another easy desert to use up stone fruit is a cobbler... The recipe is here here.  In my old post I made it with apricots. This time I am using peaches and later in the week I will probably use plums. Plums look lovely as the pie is deep pink! This is a chance to be able to give lovely pies away as well as freeze some for during the year.

My go to pie to use up vegies or leftovers such as ham, cheeses, eggs etc is either Impossible Pie or Zucchini Slice. Both seem to thrive on variations according to what you have. Plus no pastry to make!

Impossible Pie is just wonderful. I usually serve it with a relish and salad. I never call it impossible pie. I call it something like "Spinach and Sun Dried Tomato Tart"or something I make up according to the ingredients I have. Sounds fancier :) When Chloe was little she declared she didn't like quiche. After that I called it egg and bacon pie. She ate that quite happily! So there is a lot of power in the name!

The ingredients are
4 eggs
2 cups of milk or cream or evaporated milk or any combination of these.
1/2  cup flour. Really just about any flour will do.

Wizz these together.

Place your added ingredients into a well oiled pie dish. These can be-
one or two chopped and fried up onion,
bacon, ham,
chives, parsley,
sun dried tomatoes, spinach,
roast sweet potato or pumpkin
cheeses... grated, left overs chopped up, crumbled feta,
sliced tomato, cherry tomatoes, sliced zucchini or grated zucchini...
anything you think that sounds good... I have to say roast pumpkin and feta is a good combination.
Any combination of any of these! The whole point is to use things up! I really add a lot of ingredients.
Pour over your eggy mix and bake in a med. oven until puffed and golden, about  an hour or a bit less, keep an eye on it.

Serve warm but once cold it is lovely for lunch boxes.

The other use it up special is zucchini slice.

The basic recipe is -
An onion or two, fried,
a little ham or bacon or sun dried tomato,
chives or parsley,
6 eggs,
a tub of ricotta cheese (500g)
1 cup SR flour.
1 large zucchini grated. (or about three smaller)

Mix your wet ingredients. Then stir in your onion, ham, grated zucchini etc.

(You can add spinach instead of the zucchini).

Pour into a lined (use non stick baking paper) baking dish or roasting pan.

Bake 45 mins in medium oven. It will plump up and be light golden and look a little like a souffle.

This cuts into lovely thick wedges. Serve with salad and relish. Also wonderful for lunch boxes.

My aunt phoned me tonight and I have plums to collect! So I will post what I do with them later and also my easy jam making recipe. I still have about 4 dozen peaches...

My husbands lunch box for tomorrow has "Spinach and Sun Dried Tomato Tart" and Zucchini Slice with salad, piece of Peach cake and a fresh peach. :)

What a nice start to the week! I hope to make the most of what ever comes my way as long as produce is coming in. Sometimes I have ended up with a huge amount of something and I have had to search for suggestions. If I have an ingredient and not enough ideas I use where you can type in your ingredient and it gives you a huge selection of ideas. There are many sites that do that but I used Taste as all the recipes I have ever tried have been very good.

Have a wonderful week full of abundance and good things! xxx

Thursday 15 January 2015

Feather your Nest Friday, January 16 2015.

It has been a different week. And not in a good way really. The van was not covered by insurance but it did turn out to be fixable in spite of what we were first told. So fixing it and trading it in became our course of action before anything else goes wrong. There have been too many lost weeks from it.

So next week I am hoping things are back to normal and on track. Getting on with what I could this week was the only thing to do! It was a week of "do the next thing!"

Some of the ways I saved money and built up our nest were...

Andy used two days off the road to fix cracks in the walls and repairs. (In Adelaide wall cracking is an ongoing problem!)

I called into an op shop and found a stack of six gorgeous cut glass plates for $2. These are so lovely for serving just about anything! I also found a glass cake stand for $2. I was really pleased!

I filled up the car at $1.06 per litre.

I washed the "good" pillows. We have two feather pillows that are the favourites. I wash soak and wash them then they need tumble drying for several hours. This re fluffs them and they are like new. They smell fresh and feel better. They are the only thing that a really hot day will not dry.

I picked peaches. There is a tree in the lane that leans over and all the peaches fall to the ground. The birds just started on them so I took this as the signal that it's now or never. I picked 3 buckets full.
We have just started eating them fresh and they will be our fruit for the next week or more. In the evenings I slice them up and squeeze a little lemon juice over them and a sprinkle of sugar. In the morning this is the nicest breakfast!

Plus now I have peaches for peach pies, poached peaches and peach cake... all of which I can freeze to use during winter.

Knowing this I cleaned out my freezer in readiness. It always amazes me how much room is created in a clean out and re arrange.

Plus this resulted in an easy dinner with pasta sauce from the freezer that I used up. Domino effect...

I gave Lucy some of the peaches this afternoon and she was very pleased.

Brandy (The Prudent Homemaker) always talks about gleaning food. She takes every opportunity to collect fruit or whatever is available. I have always done this too. When I lived in the country every year we took a drive in March to a far off dirt road with the hugest apple tree. One of my friends also visited that tree every year. I would make a years worth of stewed apples and apple pies from that days fruit picking! We had a similar place to pick figs. Those days didn't just save money they were so much fun! Driving home with boxes of apples I would have a happy heart thinking of all I could make!

Lovely Colette sent me photos of a lemon and orange tree that overhang her yard and she is allowed to pick this fruit. Thank you Colette I loved seeing this! How wonderful and healthy does this fruit look!?

I also notice Colette has some vegies growing... lovely sunny backyard and garden. Very nice! (thank you so much Colette)

How did you build up your home and save money this week? I really hope it was a good week! Such a lot can happen in a seven days. I really want to feel like I am making up ground in the next seven!

Have a wonderful weekend! xxx

Tuesday 13 January 2015

Preparedness 5.

Now we are into 2015 this is it! The challenge to fill my cellar with supplies. In previous posts I've talked lots about the reasons for building up your pantry.  Some of the things covered so far have been getting started, places we could use to store supplies and getting our emergency numbers all lined up. Plus how to have a shopping list ready for stocking up IF there is a warning so that you have an opportunity to use that warning time really wisely.  To me a list pre thought out is going to help as thinking of everything in a crisis is just hard! That is of course on top of what you might have been able to store up already. 

First of all I have to confess there is just nothing picturesque about my cellar just yet. So I am going to share some photos of the week! It was my birthday and I have to tell you what Andy did. He asked me what I would like to do and I said sleep in. Yep, that is a good start to me!  So he snuck out of bed when he woke up and quietly shut the door. Now he has no van (as you know) and so he did mental calculations and estimated what time he thought I would wake up and how long it would take him to walk down the road to the shops, buy me a fancy breakfast and coffee, from a store he doesn't like (but I do) as a birthday treat! His calculations proved correct (and how predictable I am apparently!) and he had hot coffee, a lemon tart, roses and a card the mimute I appeared. This was what I got delivered in bed...

Inside the card was a little card Andy made on the computer with Bluebirds! :)

My family took me out to dinner as well so it was a really lovely day.

 This is Mum and me... it is nice to get a picture with Mum. Lucy took this I think. It was just lovely!

Ok back to pantries...

Today I want to add something to consider. We have all seen images of empty supermarket shelves when there is just nothing left at all! Before a cyclone hitting or flood coming people move in and buy everything they can get their hands on if they think this may be their last chance.

 But what are the items that are the first to go? The things that become valuable commodities in a crisis? This is something with a lot of variables. You can google this for your area as climate comes into it. And some areas are more prone to certain things... your area might experience flooding. Our area (the farm at least) it is bush fires. 

This list will also vary according to the type of disaster about to hit. Is the power likely to be cut? Is drinking water affected? Maybe its a cash or supply crisis in which case it may be food and supplies that are low rather than utilities.

In a situation that means the power will be out for any length of time generators, torches, candles, matches, lamps, lanterns, wicks etc all fly off the shelves.

If clean water is going to be an issue every bottle and box of water will be gone from the shelves in record time. These are things we can't really even hope to find on the shleves by the time we make it to the store! Thats why preparedness is vital.

Funnily people rush to get all kinds of things. In an emergency they say beer, spirits and cigarettes are the first thing lots of people rush for!  So I guess people rush for what they value the most and it's not always what you think!

It is worth while to think over what would fly off the shelves first in your area. Add these things to your pantry list and keep them on your emergency shopping list as well until you have them. This just gives you double the chance of having these items when you need them. If there is something vital to you that you know would fly off the shelves and be in shortage that is something you really need to stockpile if you can.

Some areas to consider are:-

Water. Drinking, cooking and for washing. 

Food.  You might be able to have a few days worth of fresh items then canned and long life goods, dried goods. If you have a baby this might include formula. 

Fuel. Gas for cooking or wood for your fire.

Communication. Batteries for radio. Car charger for your phone. 

Light. Torches, candles, matches, lanterns.

Warmth. Blankets, wood, gas burner.

Sanitation. Toilet paper, soap, feminine products, nappies if you have a baby. Plastic bags. 

Medical. If you have warning filling your prescriptions is on your to do list. Fist aid kit. First aid book. 

Comfort. The thing we know is if you are depending on your emergency supplies SOMETHING has gone wrong. Whether its a financial crisis or weathering a storm things are not usual. There is no time more than these that some comforts could mean a lot. It might be the ingredients to make a simple thing like pancakes or pudding. Or a stash of chocolate or the ingredients to make hot chocolate. A tin of sweets. What can you add to your stash that would bring some delight and comfort? 

Pets. Think of stashing some dry or tinned dog food or whatever it is your pets need. 

Sanity. Books, things that require no power to entertain the children. We used to play marbles and board games in long power outages. The kids thought this was fun! A deck of cards is really good. 

Your own personal not negotiable list. mmm we all have things that we would be in dire straights without. Think of these and stash spares. One of mine is pain relief tablets. Bad headaches and migraines in a crisis is just not going to help. 

Anyone who has been through a crisis will tell you things like toilet paper, deodorant, water to wash in, a toothbrush and tooth paste suddenly are worth more than gold to you. The things that keep us feeling human! The things we take so for granted but without them life is just awful. 

It is impossible to be prepared for everything but thinking over these things  and adding what we can, when we can, we can really improve all kinds of eventualities.

This last week I have seen THREE of my lovely blogger friends are having a very hard time affording food. And in two different continents.  One wrote a very good artcile about it called  Nobody's immune. And no one is. 
And as I watched people targeted in Paris for going to their local grocery store I felt that if I was there I would not be going to the sotre for a while. That is terrible I know, we must not lose our freedoms from intimidation but I would still be thinking twice if I am honest. 
So all around I am seeing convincing reasons to get my pantry and supplies built up to the best levels I can. It's as if I am being reminded how important it is!

I do have a photo offering of actual progress on the cellar. This is Andy fitting the shelves we found. After a clean up he got them down into the cellar and secured them so they are stable once loaded up. Amazingly they fitted just perfectly. So for zero cost we have good strong shelves. So I have these shelves, a bottle rack on the left and an area behind the steps that will fit buckets or boxes. All up I should be able to fit in a lot. Where Andy's hand is on the right is a kind of square cubby hole that is quite deep. I have stacked tarps, masking tape, candles and matches into that space. 

Every step is a step in the right direction. I hope in my next post my shelves will have started to fill! 
On Friday I am visiting a friend and getting to her place involves going right past a discount grocery store. I will visit there with my stockpile purse and high hopes.

In everything I find that taking lots of little steps gets you there. Whatever you can do this week to add a little to your pantry, build up your first aid kit, print out emergency numbers, set aside some food for storage, add a 10 litre box of water to your pantry... it all adds up week after week. At the end of the year we will have amazed ourselves! 

I hope you are having a good week! xxx

Sunday 11 January 2015

Doing what you can with what you have, right where you are.

I have followed Flylady for years! Her essays are so wonderful and I couldn't pick a favourite but what I love most is she says we don' have to do things perfectly for them to bless our family. We don't have to be perfect.

House work doesn't have to be perfect to bless your family! This can be like headline news especially to those of us who can be crippled by feeling such things as we don't cook as our cooking isn't good enough, we don't sew as our sewing isn't perfect ... and so on!

Flylady is all about doing what you can and making the most of what you have, the most of your time and being happy and grateful!

My friend Helen said something to me the other day. Helen is so hardworking and so careful to be a good steward with her time and money. I think she's wonderful. But she said to me something big. She said she felt bad that she is a terrible early riser. This was like a confession of sorts. She said she wishes she was but she just isn't!  We both love Proverbs 31 and have followed and loved wonderful Bible Studies and blogs full of great encouragement for women and it's pretty much a standard that an early start is a big thing.  And Laine (who you all know I love) is up so early with her Bible and praying before the daylight starts. If there is anyone I want to be like it's her.
So for Helen to tell me this I thought it was a big thing.
And I felt bad. As I have never told Helen how I am just terrible in the mornings.
I have never been a morning person. I have adapted and survived early mornings and for many years but this never made me a morning person. Even when terribly tired all my good ideas and creativity hit me at night. It is 10.15 pm now and I am just getting started! But I did discipline myself and we always had organised school mornings and the girls were never late for school or anything like that. But even as little kids they knew Mummy spoke in syllables not whole words in the mornings. Later came actual words. Much later came sentences. Sentences that made sense! But I managed and mornings were efficient, thanks largely to much evening before organisation and planning.

But something changed a few years aago and it was something bad. I went through a period of pretty severe depression and it was terrible. One thing I didn't understand turned out to be a fairly common thing. I would wake up in the mornings with by far the worst feelings of the day. In fact it didn't make sense. After a good nights sleep you would think waking up would be good! But I had unexplainable feelings of dread and would feel sick. As I would make my way down the passage to go to the bathroom in the morning a wave would come over me. It was terrible. It was a wave of "I can't even walk to the bathroom I might just sit down here on the floor for a while and cry". I seriously would feel I could't even make it to the bathroom! The morning walk down the passage was the walk of doom, for no apparent reason.
Finally I talked to my doctor and described this. It turned out to be a form of depression and it is the worst in the mornings. And when it is bad it is awful!
I tried different things. Pushing through it didn't work. I would feel worse and think I was going to be sick. Hurrying through it didn't work. I would feel like crying and start to cry.
I found my way and I did everything to get better but to this day it still happens sometimes (to a lesser degree) and  I am very careful about it as I remember too well that time.

So today my time is mostly my own and I can plan my day and how to go about it. And I allow for  my morning issues and I try to look after myself as you only need a few scares to realise how precious your health is.
The upside is it has given me empathy for women with depression or really any health problem that they need to work around.  We do not have to be perfect. I lost days to migraines when the girls were little. I had several years of severe iron deficiency! (Oh that was bad). But these things are minor compared to what some face!

I have mentioned my Nans' friends before. There was Loris Smith and Mrs. Mann. Loris had polio as a young woman and almost lost the ability to walk. But she walked again with crutches and so to move around at all she used them. She raised her children, cooked, ran her home and did everything with the help of crutches. Loris made me beautiful sewn baby layettes for both Chloe and Lucy. She was dynamite. She made gorgeous baby clothes for every baby far and wide. And she was so cheerful what a lovely friend to my Nan!

Mrs Mann was in a wheel chair. I still don't think I have ever known anyone as productive or generous. She knitted beautiful baby clothes for both the girls and also for everyone she knew. Mrs. Mann was always happy and busy.

Well, you would have to say both these ladies were Proverbs 31 women and both had to adapt to do it. And adapt they did! They could just have easily decided that they were disabled, that it was all too hard for them and they should be looked after. But no, they did the looking after!

Well, we all have to adapt. There is no use thinking that if things were prefect we would do this that or the other! We have to do what we can. And its amazing what we can do!

Years ago I read a testimony on Flylady and I've never found it since. I keep looking! But it was from a lady who could only stand up for a few minutes at a time. So she followed Flylady and in three minute bursts she did her hosue work, washing and all the things that need doing and what could be done sitting down she did this way. Her three minue bursts of activity kept her on top of things and she managed. Even when I have been sick I think of that lady! Whoever she is she blessed me so much! So I will do something for a few minutes and as many times as I can I do a burst of a few minutes. Over a day all these add up and the mess you expected from being out of action is not so bad!

There is no way of knowing what hurles people face in private, many times we would never guess. But I'm sure many of the people we have looked up to as great examples have had to overcome or work around something. It doesn make you less, I think it makes you more. Imperfections, illness, difficulties... whatever it is, we can do what we can.

I love and aspire to be the Proverbs 31 woman. I can see the depth and scope of her work and that it is a life long thing. So I see all the things she did were not in one day, they made up her life. There are times when you have a tiny baby and just getting dressed is an accomplishment! There are seasons in which we do different things.

Just now I am more the Proverbs woman who works into the night, who's lamp goes into the night than the getting up before dawn woman. Please tell me she didn't do both at the same time or I will feel defeated!  I don't think so as the Bible refers to rest and quiet time.  And I believe we should look after our health so that we can go ahead and achieve the things we need to be doing and should be doing. We were made that we get weary and our bodies need sleep. We were made that we need nourishment. To get our work done we need to look after ourselves, get our sleep, drink our water, eat healthy food and work like little ants!

All kinds of circumstances can strike, health issues are a big thing in our lives. The can be game changers or they might be temporary. Acceptance is a part of getting on with it., finding strategies where we can manage the best we can.

It took me years to learn that I would lose less time over a migraine if I stopped and did what I could for it early rather than soldier on. It was Dr. Oz on TV who taught me more than any doctor I had ever been to about migraines. He said pain can be like the sea. If you get a little ripple on the water you have a hope of calming it or stopping it. But once it becomes a raging sea storm no one has a hope to stop it.
When I accepted this I acted immediately and rested and was less sick and lost less time to terrible headaches.

If a health issue is slowing you down please focus on what you can do and find happiness if you can, in what you can do. Look for ways to adapt and strategies to help you cope.

One of the biggest things helpful to me is to know when I have most energy and in those times have half hour sessions of just going as fast as I can to get as many things done as I can! Flylady makes it that you set a timer for 15 minutes and do as much as you can. My friend Mimi has Nifty 150s. They are  times she puts in two and a half hours solid efforts in the kitchen (or elsewhere) to get an enormous amount done. She might prepare loads of meals at once for instance. You adapt it to suit yourself. It might be three minute bursts like the lady I admired so much. But a few intense bursts of activity can have a huge impact on your days productivity!

Whatever it is I think everyone has health issues of some kind sometimes. We don't have to be perfect. Do what you can with what you have, where you are and your love and efforts will bless your family so much. xxx

Thursday 8 January 2015

Feather your Nest Friday, 9th January 2015.

I really hope you had a good week. I think goals and resolutions come into play as we get into some "ordinary" back to life days after all the holidays and celebrations. Keeping them at the front of your mind and keeping them from drifting away is the thing. I just re write them in some form every week or write some steps I need to take this week and that helps a lot.

Here it was very hot and now we have rain. As we had heat and bush fires the rain is wonderful! The garden is soaked and I can have a break from watering. That is my first saving to mention. It looks like I might not have to water for a week. What a help!

Today I had a lovely day as I visited my aunt. All the following photos are from my aunts garden.

Firstly I am allowed to have plums which are almost ripe. There are not buckets of plums to pick, more like wheel barrows full. Knowing this gives me time to prepare. I am planning to bake a plum cobbler that Helen makes as I can freeze those. Along with jam and eating fresh ones of course.

I came home with Hollyhock seeds which I hope to grow. They are between a cream and a lemon colour. I would love these in the garden.

The other things almost ready are Quinces. I just adore Quinces. Cooking them is just a joy as they turn from rock like to soft and deep ruby pink. They also have a wonderful scent.

The whole garden is inspiring as it is an ordinary size really with a huge amount of fruit trees all covered in fruit.

Plus flowers! I am pretty easily side tracked by flowers. The whole afternoon did me good. And the promise of fruit is lovely. I have jars saved up and pie dishes etc now I will stock up a little on sugar and things I need to make plenty of pies and also freeze stewed fruit as I love stewed fruit in winter.

Now to how I build up our home this week...
I have nothing to brag about with finances. We are waiting on the insurance company in regard to Andy's van. So that is a big thing this next week or so.

Otherwise I used the heat to my advantage while I could. I washed the underlay on the bed. It is a very thick wool underlay. If you did this in winter it would have to be tumble dried or professionally cleaned. By doing it in the heat it is dry and back on the bed by evening. I wash it in the machine with wool mix and I add Eucalyptus oil added to the wash. This kills dust mites plus makes it smell lovely.
It came up beautifully and after the day in the sun it was lovely and fluffy. Back on the bed it smelled of sunshine. The next hot days I will do the doona and pillows. This is a big saver and no chemicals either. Sunshine is a wonderful freshener and cleaner.

Also I have found something that probably most of you already know! I bought a beautiful old tablecloth from an op shop in white and it had yellowed stains. But the fabric was beautiful vintage damask so I risked it. After soaking I washed it and I could see that the yellowish marks remained. I decided to dry it on the line and that I would cut it up and use what I could. After two days on the line in the sun the stains were just gone! So after that my whitest whites tip became to leave things out in the sun for as many hours as possible. It makes them so white! And amazingly removes stains. (For free!)
The reverse is true for colours and black. I hang all the blacks in the shade so they never see the sun at all!

All the water from the washing was used on the garden at a time when it was needed most.

I bought a cooked turkey at a wonderful mark down. It gave us cold meat during the heat without ever turning on the stove and was so good. It was too much to get through fast enough so I froze two portions enough to make two pies or some into a mornay. So that is a couple of meals taken care of later.

I made a big rice salad and added lots of things. That was really good and used up all kinds of bits and pieces.

During the heat I covered all my smaller plants with umbrellas and sheets. It looked terrible but saved everything. In past years even tough things have burned. So now I have a box outside where I keep covering materials and out they come when it hits 40. This is a big saver.

Cleaning and arranging gave me happiness and made things look and feel nice. These things are no cost ways to improve the atmosphere and just feel better ourselves.

Today I am going pram shopping with Lucy! We are off for an afternoon of looking at baby things! Really this amounts to one of those diamond days in our lives. I will treasure it.

My aunt had a bowl of blossoms in her kitchen. Just blossoms in a little water floating in a pretty bowl. They smelled divine! So simple, lovely and stylish. And free from her garden.

How was your week and what did you do to save money and improve your nest? I note we all come from different places in the world and weather is a wildly varying factor! But everything else remains the same. The things that make a house a home, the things we can do to make a difference and the Word of God, this is why I think I can feel like someone I have never met is just like a sister! Because when we meet we are all sisters in Christ and there is a certain instant understanding. Many of us will have experienced finding it hard to connect with other ladies that have the same interests as they can be thin on the ground! This is probably why when I found Laine my heart just leapt to see there was someone who was exactly the person I needed right there for me! The beauty of the internet and blogs etc is that we can widen our net and make the most wonderful friends and location is no issue!
This is how I have found so much encouragement! Thank you! xxx