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 2 June 2015

Pantries and Preparedness 3 June 2015. Sharpen your Skills.

Last week we were all inspired by Teri's Pantry. Having a peek inside someone's pantry is really educational and fun. I feel that each week I am learning something new.

What I have noticed from those who have excellent pantries is that they have used a whole series of ways to build it up. Through friends, blogs I follow and Patsy's e book I can see common threads. They all consistently follow the "do what you can ,with what you have, where you are" rule. Nothing is wasted. They work hard!

To this they add the Proverbs 31 woman traits... they bring home food from far away places and working into the night! (with Proverbs 31 results too as they are not afraid of the winter!)

Each one treats having a good pantry and being prepared as their responsibility to care for their family. It is caring for basic needs everyday but with thought for if hard times strike as well.

And each have learned and use a whole range of skills to get all this done. They have collected, dried, frozen, canned, preserved, grown, bought, sold, swapped, cooked, dehydrated and thrift shopped their way to success!

When the girls were little I constantly read them Brambly Hedge. These little mice were busy! They were storing up, drying goods, making jam, you name it! Ahhh so beautiful!

Most of us already know how to do some of these things. Last week Teri answered questions on how does she dry her goods? It is possible to air dry or oven dry herbs etc as well as use a dehydrator. There is so much to learn.

I want to treat it as a challenge to learn new skills to build up our pantries. What skills do you have already that help in your kitchen and pantry? What skills do you think you could learn that would really help? There are so many to consider...

Canning, Jam Making, Pickles, Chutney, dehydrating, bread making, sour dough, cheese making, making your own stock, becoming a good soup maker...

Also we can consider the garden... vegie gardening, growing your own herbs, keeping chickens, bee keeping, growing fruit trees... we could go on to owning a goat or a cow...

Or others like candle making, soap making, make our own cleaning products...

I can't hope to think of them all and all of the possibilities. I think the best thing is to think of what you have access to that is free or really cheap. ie in summer I have access to lovely fruits. So to me I can take maximum advantage of these if I can preserve, make jams, pies etc.
If I had access to a dairy I think I would quick smart learn cheese making etc.
If I could get cheap or grow my own tomatoes learning how to sun dry tomatoes and making relish would be good choices. So think of what you could take advantage of? What may be wasted? What could be taken advantage of in a different way? ie if you have too many lemons why not make Lemon Butter to use as gifts? Or swap lemons with someone for something else?

The other way to decide what to learn next might be what would save your family the most money? What would make the biggest difference to the budget? If you buy baby food learning how to make your own would save a fortune. Or if you buy little custards for the children from the supermarket making these would save a huge amount.
If your weakness is gourmet pizzas then becoming a great pizza maker would be a great skill.
Think WHAT could I make and learn that would make a big difference in our household? Where is the food budget going? Could you head off take away purchases or school lunch purchases with your own cooking?  We know our own households and spending habits and these can be a clue of what would make a huge impact if you learned that skill.

Either way, money saved on groceries builds up you pantry budget, or time spent on preserving... it all adds to your household.

Between us we have so many skills... Tania was making sour dough breads. Mimi makes soft cheese and yogurt (amongst other things) Patsy makes vegetable stocks and powders, Teri dries her herbs,
Jes dries herbs and makes teas. Cath makes her own condensed milk. Wendy makes jams. Fiona makes lovely soap. Glenda makes her own clothes and grows medicinal herbs. Nanna Chel knows how to make rag rugs. I could go on forever with the skills I have noticed amongst us and there would be so many I don't even know about!

I am going to throw down the challenge that if you have a skill and already have a tutorial then please link to it and I will feature it in the next couple of weeks. If you have a skill think about posting a tutorial and I will do the same.
I will think what tutorials can I do? I am working on my crock pot series and how to make all kinds of things in there and posting step by step instructions. But I will keep thinking! Oh, I could link to my jam making tutorial...

We all have skills and we all could learn some more. It is really fun to master something new that will help us. We have so many things that help from You Tube tutorials to specialist websites to learn just about anything. Think of the money to be saved by learning to do something yourself instead of buying ready made.

When we are trying to save money, build up our pantry and add to our preparedness increasing our skills can open up whole new worlds!
New skills all require practice. No one becomes proficient at anything without it. But this is many times the reason why something is tried once and declared a failure. We have to be prepared to try, practice, iron out the bumps and move on. There is great joy in getting a good result in the end! Things do not have to be perfect to benefit your family!

In another post I will cover skills we need for preparedness. That is a whole big subject of it's own and important. Today this is plenty!

I really hope our eyes can see what we might be able to learn next to make a big difference in our homes and pantries. This is exciting to me! xxx


  1. How exciting to see all those Brambly hedge pictures. I also have the books and a collection of china. In one house I had a built in dresser made in Brambly Hedge style :)
    I am playing with my crockpot and reflecting on the skills and things I do have and don't always use.

    1. Hi Barb! Chloe and Lucy had Brambly Hedge cups and saucers that were lovely. I really love these illustrations so much.
      Good point, sometimes we have skills we havent used in a while but they could be useful again. Or expanded maybe.
      I have a heap of things I would love to learn. I feel like I am learning a lot but theres plenty more to go!
      Hope you are having a good week! xxx

  2. Okay, I'm up for this one! Since you mentioned my soft cheese and yoghurt, Annabel, I'll add the link to that one first of all.
    I love your point that we can all tackle this idea in different ways. What works for you may not work for me. What saves me money may cost you money in equipment or ingredients. It's really all about using whatever ingredients and skills you have, rather than trying to mimic someone else, isn't it? Love it. Mimi xxx

    1. Dear Mimi thank you so much. I will also add this link next week to the main part of my post.
      Yes, we all have different families, needs, tastes and climates etc. I have a friend who had two teenage boys who went mad on Bakers Delight Vegemite scrolls. Yep they could inhale those! You have had teenage sons so you know the job of filling them. Anyway my friend Rosemary decided since they loved these so much she would work out how to make them. And in no time flat she was making trays of vegemite scrolls. Well, you can imagine what making one tray saved her. I think she probably made over 100 at a guess. So this was something just right in her family.
      I love that. How clever people when we can be inventive and find a way.
      I always say there is more than one way to skin a cat lol
      Thank you for this link! xxx

  3. I am really enjoying your pantry series. It is so important to contribute to our home's food security and save money.
    I always loved Brambly Hedge as well. I loved all the descriptions of their store house and picnics and other food related activities!

    1. Thank you Jayne. I agree this is important. Food security is an excellent way of putting it!
      I have heaps of skills to learn but it is real;y fun and quite exciting finding new ways to add to the pantry, preserve etc.
      Many thanks

  4. Annabel, seeing as you mentioned it here is the link to the Rag Rug tutorial as well as one to the Rag Quilt tutorial.

    It is quite amazing the skills some people have and it is so beneficial to others if they can share. We can all learn so much from each other.

    1. Thanks Nanna Chel the rag rugs are an excellent skill to have. I am still saving fabrics for this project. I did finish Chloe's blanket so I am a free agent now for new projects!
      Your towns lessons are really a wonderful way to learn new skills. And meet nice people too I would say.
      I hope you are having a lovely

  5. I don't have a specific link to add, but I would like to comment. To the people who are reading this and thinking of a skill they may need to add to their lives: there is a learning curve. Nobody starts out from the gate successful. Some things fail. The failure doesn't mean that you are costing your family money. It's your investment in the skill. After time and effort, you'll get the hang of it. Don't give up.

    When I have been working on learning a new skill, often it has costed us money at first. Sometimes the sauerkraut had to be thrown away, but eventually, with perseverance, I got the hang of it.

    1. This is so true Cristy. I have had so many failures and other times some little thing isnt quite right and next time you do it better! It is worth it. That is how we learn.
      I am impressed you make Sauerkraut! That is a very healthy thing I think. We are meant to eat more sour and fermented things.
      Thank you for your comment on this I hope it encourages everyone to stick with trying and not give up! xxx

  6. Dear Annabel,

    Oh how I LOVE what Cristy just said in her comment. I so need that grace of allowing myself the learning curve. Just yesterday Bill commented on how I have patience with the children and him and everyone else learning things but I am so impatient with myself. It does no good to beat myself up. I confess I get frustrated or sad at times when I feel overwhelmed, like I cannot do the best for my family. Or food gets wasted because I didn't pop it in the freezer in time, etc. Or I feel inadequate because I wasn't taught how to do many things that I'm now trying to learn. For many years I worked (outside the home) and earned steady income. While I know that what I'm doing NOW in being home is THE most important work of my life, it's the kitchen area that truly challenges me. Bill reassures me constantly that I am doing a great job so I know it's my own problem and expectations that I need to get over. It's a big responsibility to s-t-r-e-t-c-h what we have and be resourceful.

    This pantry series is growing me hugely. Thank you so much for this meeting place.

    My first summer garden is beautiful! Every day I am getting pan scallop squash, zucchinis, cucumbers, pickling cucumbers, the tomatoes are coming along nicely and my pumpkin plant is spreading all over the place. The kids are cracking up over it! I have all my herbs and bunching green onions as well. I'm already planning for next year as I'd like to have A LOT more zucchini to freeze as well as more pickling cucumbers. So much fun!

    Much Love,
    Colette xxx

    1. Dear Colette, Your garden sounds fantastic and I think getting into the garden and seeing all this is so good for us. I get a lot of relaxation in the garden.
      I know you are like me, you love to learn new things and do something that works in the home and see the results! The good news is it never ends and we just keep learning! We will never be bored. There will never be enough hours in the day!
      It is so true... of course we have to learn, practice, make mistakes etc to get good at anything. We can think of ourselves as apprentices. This gives us plenty of forgiveness and the joy of improvement until we get there! I always say perfectionism is a really bad enemy as it stops us from doing things and as Flylady says housework (or whatever) done imperfectly still blesses our family. It is so true! If you saw the number of things I stuff up first you would just laugh.
      I hope its been a good week Colette, Lots of love,

  7. Learning keeps us youthful and our brains have an even greater capacity than we really use them! I learn so much especially from the aged women in my life. It's a gift, learning, a hunger for it.

    Thanks, Annabel!

    1. Very true Kelley. It is so much fun to learn new things and understand new things. I think Im on a steep learning curve...
      Thank you, love

  8. Another wonderful post Annabel. I just love the pictures, the first one reminds me of my need for a stepladder once I get the new taller shelving units for my store room. My girls tease me to get a ladder like the mouse instead, since I'm "vertically challenged" ( I have actually shrunk in height, barely tipping 5'4 in old measurements now!) always a source of amusement in a tall family!

    I have been thinking a lot about everything you've blogged about recently. I do see lots of underworked 'handmaidens' in my kitchen cupboards. There are many things there that I'm under-utilising, so I'm listing what I have available and the items that I can make with their 'help'. This also helps me identify what I can get rid of and what other items might be a good investment.

    I really am getting so much out of these posts, links and sharing in comments. Thanks everyone xoxo

    1. Thank you Kaye! Well, you tower over me since I am five foot one. So I can look up to you.
      I say get all those handmaidens working for you. We need all the help we can get!
      It is bitterly cold here today! My crockpot is making chicken stock mainly from scraps and left overs which is helpful.
      Many thanks and lots of love Kaye! xxx

  9. Annabel, I am so enjoying this series! I have a question, what is lemon butter and how do you make it? Is it butter with lemon juice, powder or peel stirred in?

    1. Hi Patsy, you might call it Lemon Curd possibly... here is the link...
      Traditionally it is made in a double boiler and takes heaps of stirring however it is quick and easy in the microwave. It is divine and addictive!

  10. Annabel, I just love those pictures and now have a new book to look for at the library!! Yea! Next time I'm in town, I will be stopping there.

    It is so important to NOT give up on a new skill(s). I was scared to make soap but a friend said let's do it. I was scared to use a pressure canner but decided we worked hard for all the garden veggies and started to use it. And it was hard the first few times. Then, I started to branch out and try different foods ( meats, broth, beans, etc). Now, I just adjust the heat, set the timer and go work on something else while the canner "jiggles" away. The pressure canner I use is not fancy or expensive but it gets the job done!

    When I wanted to learn to make bread, I got guidance from a friend and my mother in law. Sometimes, we do fail or waste ingredients, sadly, but not giving up is so important! And in the long run, it tastes so much better and saves money.

    I'm attempting to learn to crochet instead of knit. I have a long ways to go but this will be a skill for winter months. I would also like to make a rag rug. That's on my to-do list for winter also.

    This post reminded me that I need to make yogurt tomorrow. lol I failed a couple times with that. I use my powdered milk in the slow cooker and its been a success! I love how we are all learning from each other! I love this post Annabel! I'm looking forward to the slow cooker tutorials and putting that handmaiden to work! :) When I make my own sweetened condensed milk, I make several batches so I can freeze some to have on hand. I do the same with my bean puree so when its time to bake I just pull some from the freezer!

    Thank you Annabel for the encouragement and love you show all of us! :) Love, Teri

    1. I am so excited you want to crochet Teri! I love crochet. So... all you need to master is how to do chain. How to do a single crochet and how to do a double crochet. Thats it. Once you know them tell me. Everything is them in different orders! I use You Tube tutorials to learn new patterns. If you see any patterns I have done that you like I can give you that tutorial. It is really fun to sit and watch and do and rewind until you "get it".
      I was the same with soap. I was scared of caustic soda. And I did burn a hole in my lawn lol. But the results were fantastic and it was so much fun! I havent done that in a while and should make some again.
      It is really good fun and to a large degree relaxing too, to have crafts to work on.
      I have a rag rug planned...
      I hope you have had a good week. With love,

  11. Best post yet ! Raw nerves are tingling. I may have a Brambly Hedge past....

    1. A Brambly Hedge childhood maybe? This would have to be a good thing!
      Thank you! xx

  12. I am excited about all these topics too! :) Just wanted to let you know I will be visiting faraway family this summer so I won't be able to participate much until after. However, here are some links to share~

    Homemade Vinegar from Apple Scraps

    Citrus Cleaning Products

    Learning How to Can

    Make Your Own Medicine from Herbs

    Have a lovely week! :)

    1. Thank you so much Jes! Your tutorials are fantastic, not to mention beautiful. Have a wonderful and safe trip. Thanks for these! xxx


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