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.

Sunday 30 August 2015

The change of seasons.

We are just about to go into Spring and for a couple of weeks it has been obvious, the change is evident in it being lighter in the evenings and blossoms appearing on trees. Spring is a lovely time of year but I realised I have a bad attitude to summer and it was ruining my enjoyment of the new season. (Just because spring leads to summer!)

In the garden today.

Every season probably has things we love as well as things that are tough about it. Depending on where we live of course. I know many of you have cyclone or hurricane season, we have bushfire season. Probably the thing that I don't like about summer is we can get really hot days and nights. Adelaide will get quite a few days at 43 or 44 and sometimes 45. ( 45 is 113 I think)  Some nights it will stay around 30.
I don't like it! It is hard on people, animals, the garden and fires often accompany it. 
But where ever we live there are some hardships with seasons. We do not have to go through being snowed in or tornado's or anything like that as many people do. 

There are things I DO love about summer.  I love the beach, swimming, eating dinner outdoors on warm evenings. I love that it is fruit season and that I usually get free and cheap fruit and I will have days making jam, stewed fruit, pies, crumbles. I save jars all year waiting for this! That part is wonderful.

I do know that the change of seasons is a lovely thing. It gives us rest and variety. It literally gives us a time to plant and a time to harvest. My favourite is going into autumn. I love the colours and that is the nicest season here weather wise. Lovely days and cool nights. Beautiful! 

I don't want to have an attitude of not liking a season. I want to have an attitude of making the most of the season we are in.  
I loved winter and yet years ago I found the end of winter quite hard. I get a bit sun deprived and have less energy. But the last few years I corrected it by being outside as much as I can, taking some Vitamin D, throwing myself into absorbing crafts and making a lot of my presents for the year. Using the indoor time to do a lot of things I love to do. This made winter kind of snuggly and lovely. I have a mountain of presents made. It is the time to do it as once it is spring then it's time to be out in the garden and in summer we swim in the evenings, water the garden and are barely inside at all.

So each season has its good bits and things we need to be getting busy with. If we miss this opportunity we miss out. If we work with the season we will achieve heaps more. I wouldn't attempt to do the sewing I have been lately in summer when I am dealing with fruit. That would be nuts! I need to get the fruit preserved and with something like peaches you have to keep going until its done or they start to rot. There isn't time for anything else then! If I am busy with other things in  spring and miss planting then that would just be silly. We need to try and go along with the season and make it all work and take advantage of the time we are in rather than wishing for another time. Or worse complaining about it.

There is a lot of scripture on the seasons. Both the seasons of life and the seasons of the year. Basically we are unwise if we don't do the work that goes with the season we are in! If we don't plant in spring we will not harvest in summer. If we sleep through summer we will fail to make the most of the harvest. If we fail to get ready we will not be ready for winter. There is work to do in each season and a limited time to do it. We need to use the time wisely.
The only way is to embrace where we are, make a plan and get busy.

We can also do a lot for our own comfort by getting ready for the changes in weather. Last summer I bought a little fan for our bedroom and it was just lovely. It was a small thing that made us more comfortable.

In winter I bring out soft rugs onto the lounge and the end of the bed. It is a time of the crock pot running full of soup or stew.
In summer we have a lot of cold meat and salads, BBQ's and picnics. I love all these things. Packing up a picnic basket and going to the beach for dinner! Swimming at sunset. 

I know the US ladies are going into cooler weather and here we are going into official spring on Wednesday. Even though we are in different seasons we are adjusting to something new. After a lot of watering, jam making, fruit picking etc I know I was worn out and ready for winter and crafts! 
Now I have had a few months of winter I am kind of ready to get out in the garden and get planting.  I want to enjoy it and make the most of it!

There is something so lovely about gardening, seeing things grow and even the daily watering. I know it is good for me to be in the garden. I feel good, I sleep well.

I will not complain about summer... I will plan picnics, save jars, organise life so we go to the beach and make the most of the bits we love. I really love fruit picking and making jam! That bit alone is enough to make me thing too bad about the heat!

This weekend was sunny and a hint of what is coming. Everything looks like it is about to burst into flower. 

I need to get my recipe books out. I actually forget some of the good things I make in the warmer months. I need to brush up and plan. I have a rice salad we love that lasts for days in the fridge. 
There are a lot of things I make that are portable and good for packing a picnic. 
I think we have to embrace whats happening instead of swimming against the stream. Get ready and get the most out of it.
I really think I got the most out of winter. I loved it. 
Now to get the most out of beautiful spring and even hot summer!

What is it like where you live? What are the best things of the season? And what is the important work that goes with the season?

How can we make the hard parts of the season easier or safer, healthier, happier? 

Be like an ant and get busy on what we need to be doing. There is a season for everything.  Grasp every opportunity. Make hay while the sun shines :) xxx

Thursday 27 August 2015

Feather your Nest Friday, 28 August 2015.

It is nice to sit down and look back over the week and see that I got quite a bit done. It does go by so fast that it can be a bit of a blur.

Anyway, in between everything else I did a few minutes of sewing and when this happens often enough it really adds up. I was happy as I was still on pink sheets I had found. And my sewing pile is nearly conquered... unless I find more material of course! 
I finished kitchen towels and am just starting serviettes. 

This is super soft cotton that is just lovely. I used up a heap of different trims on them.

I always end up with material that isn't big enough for more kitchen towels. Sometimes I make pot holders with that or serviettes. One set of sheets also came with another sheet I didn't like much but they were sold together. It was still very soft cotton so I tore it up into squares. These become either dusters or lovely super soft hankies if someone is sick. They can be treated as disposable if someone is really ill. You don't appreciate how good these are until you have been through 20 tissues or hankies and your nose is sore. THEN these are bliss.

I keep some in the medicine cupboard and some in the laundry cupboard and they are so handy.

My uncle loved his little succulent garden in a bowl. This was a big success! Now on to make more for up coming birthdays.

I used frozen bananas and made a cake and muffins.
Used a lemon a day in my morning water, sliced and froze some more and am making lemon butter again this weekend as gifts.

I got a present on the side of the road. We see a fair bit of stuff put out on the kerb. My eyes look at it all as I go past going "junk junk junk.... then !!!"  I got this pretty window! I cleaned it up and am using it to pretty up my bathroom. I love it! 

This week I built up my home by:
Adding to my pantry. I added tinned tuna, corn, flour, oil, water, tinned milk, tomato and a few other things. Most were good special buys. 
We added to our emergency fund. We also have the bottle to fill with $2 coins that Tania showed us. So all $2 coins go in there. When that is full it makes an extra $1000 in the emergency fund. There is probably a US equivalent but this is for Australian $2 coins. I am amazed filling a small bottle equals that much money but it does. This is the link that explains it... it is a sneaky way to save an emergency fund. It is another example of little bits adding up fast!

I got a demonstration of how fast things can go from just fine to not just fine. That can be a good thing if it inspires action. It's easy to get a bit complacent about our pantries and savings etc.  But we need to stay on it!

How was your week? I hope it was a great week. How did you build up your home or save? 

Today I might get a bit more sewing done. I am washing and drying linen and various things before the rain returns.
Have a lovely weekend! xxx

Tuesday 25 August 2015

Pantries and Preparedness. Prudence.

Monday night after Australia's terrible day on the stock market I sat up and watched the US market open. So I witnessed live the Dow plummet 1000 points in four minutes and saw the reactions. It is not for the faint hearted! I did witness history though! Various opinions became part of the news stream and one was from a former advisor to the UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown. He tweeted three pieces of advice. They were to get cash now. Get bottled water and a month of food. Do not rely on banks or ATMs. That we need these things because of what could happen and that what he thinks could happen could be "twenty times worse to 2008".  Once I verified who this was and that he indeed held that position I re considered what we have.  And saw people who clearly had no preparations at all wondering where to start. Which made me want to cry as it meant they had no idea about the various things going on and why they should be prepared. 

Now we do not know what might happen but there are a lot of worried people and there is a great amount of volatility and uncertainty. Days are being renamed "Black Monday" actually I think we have now had "black Tuesday" and "black Wednesday"?

This brings me to the word prudent. It is a great word and I never appreciated it's meaning until I was repeatedly faced with the blog title "The Prudent Homemaker". Understanding it kind of snuck up on me. Now it is my number one word associated with preparedness. There are many scriptures that use this word and also about it. 

It means careful ie exercising caution, circumspect ie heeding potential circumstances, provident ie providing carefully for the future, responsible and wise.
You cannot be prudent without also being watchful. You cannot prepare for a coming storm if you do not know the storm is coming.

"The prudent see danger and take refuge, but the simple keep going and pay the penalty" Prov 22.3

And this is what I thought when I saw people going "oh, do you think I should prepare?"  I felt like screaming "well, yes that would be a good idea" at the screen! 
Prudence is also action. Just knowing things isn't prudent but acting, making a plan etc is.

It is really interesting how learning one word can make a difference! It made a difference in my understanding and my plans. It gave me something to aspire to!

It is prudent to prepare for a storm. If the storm passes you by then we have useful assets. If the storm hits you will survive.

Last week I posted about using inexpensive items for storage. I am saving baby formula tins for a new set of canisters but it is going to take awhile to get the six I am needing!
Vicky posted me some photos of how she made things to match her kitchen which is black and white. She has been getting large buckets with lids from her local bakery. These are wonderful. After cleaning them up they are very good storage for free. She purchased vinyl to cover them (I think we would call this contact?) and this one she has packets of noodles etc stored in...

I love it! How handy would some of these be!? Ask at your own bakery, take away store, cafe... they are around and free if you will wash them up. They have good secure lids and are air tight. They are strong and also stackable. And I am getting some! Andy currently is delivering goods to several restaurants. He said if I want these buckets they all have them! So I am going to use Vicky's trick and clean them up and make them over. 

Vicky cut down boxes to form trays to hold various packets. She covered these also and made labels. They look so nice!

As an extra storage space Vicky uses a tote that matches, it sits on her floor looking nice but is full of shampoo, conditioner etc.

When you think about it a tote, basket or trunk can hold an enormous amount and be used as extra storage space.

She made herself labels for the jars she had saved up as well...

Cans have the date written on them so she can rotate them successfully.

(I need to be doing this.)

And she uses clear tubs for packets. These can be stacked also.

One of the tips I loved :

"Rotating things in the pantry can be quite a chore at times and space a real issue so a few little things can make a big difference and save time as well. For example if it's too small make it bigger. 
And if i's too big make it smaller. Sometimes the packaging takes up valuable real estate in the pantry so what I did here is take pasta dinner mixes and downsize them to a plastic shoebox and cut the directions off the box and put I with the mixes." 

This is so true. Packaging can be so bulky and deceptive. I know I reduce a lot of boxes etc using my jars as the storage and getting rid of the packets. But considering if bulk packaging is worth keeping is a good idea. Vicky cuts out and keeps recipes and instructions from the back of packets but not the packets themselves. Good thinking! When space is important these ideas are really smart.

I just love seeing in other pantries! These were wonderful too because Vicky has done it all so inexpensively. I know she got more buckets from the bakery just the last week as she has been cleaning them up and building her collection. Thank you Vicky for sending these to me! 

I love practical solutions that look nice! 
At the Cheapskates workshop part of the discussion was getting non food items out of your pantry and finding new homes for them. Then your pantry has so much more room for food. When I did this I was shocked. My pantry "full" of food was in fact half empty. Suddenly I had so much space! This subject is Wendy's current topic on The Cheapskates Forum. I was able to re home all kinds of things and this made a big improvement to my pantry. Reducing packaging and re homing non food items combined to create a lot of room I never knew I had! It gives you a clearer idea of what you have.

Have a prudent and diligent week!  That's my new saying! Remember every little thing you do adds up! xxx

Sunday 23 August 2015

Money saving beauty tips.

This week I thought I'd do a little bit of an all round "saving money on beauty" post.  Beauty and clothing. 
Joan asked me to consider something on looking well groomed and well dressed on a small budget as she has admired someone who looks so stylish yet knows has a very small amount to actually spend. This reminds me of my Nan B who even at ninety was still always well dressed, smart and stylish. She was like this her whole life. It wasn't until after her death that I saw how little she owned. From memory she had three very good dresses, four pairs of shoes... lovely scarves... overall very little. She always looked so nice. She proved a few well chosen things are better than a crammed wardrobe any day.

Many of us have probably spent a fortune over the years trying different looks and in search of what suits us. It can be a never ending quest. I followed a fashion blogger for a long time that had great tips. She was funny and brutally honest. She often said some things from cheap shops and brands look cheap. But if you choose classic colours then they look expensive. This was her number one tip. It is true. Classic plain black, navy, caramel, burgundy etc look expensive and some colours and prints look cheap or dated. I notice this everywhere. Remember the movie Pretty Woman in which Richard Gere played the rich businessman? He wore black and tan/caramel. And he LOOKED rich. Yep, that is just a rich classic combination and if he had of worn lime green and orange he might not have looked so rich! It is that simple.
You may not want to look rich or care! But classics do look stylish and smart and mostly all go together too.

The other tip is most of us wear a fraction of our wardrobe. We develop favourites that we feel best in. We think something suits us best and feels the nicest. If we feel we know both what suits us best and what feels comfortable then just wearing those things is like being set free of all the other stuff!
The same with colours. If you feel you know what are your best colours and just wear them then mostly your wardrobe will all go together. No endless "what will go with what?" issues! Last week I mentioned a post about wearing and accessorising with the colours of your eyes and hair. You will always look wonderful. Things will always match since you are always wearing your eyes and your hair! My wardrobe is made up of four main colours and I don't really have to work out what goes with what. If I got dressed in the dark it would probably work out ok. This is so simple and shopping is simple too.
Simplifying your wardrobe and life is bliss. I would now never go shopping because I had an event. I would wear one of several basic black dresses or my red or blue dress. I have shoes and accessories to change these to just about any look.  That's it. I'm done! 

If you look around you will see that if you go out neat and tidy with clean and styled hair you are well ahead already. Being basically well groomed looks a million dollars!

Many of us own nice jewellery that we don't wear or don't clean. If you have lovely pearls that you inherited or a beautiful ring I would say wear them! Sparkling jewellery looks beautiful. Not counting pearls most jewellery and gems can be cleaned yourself at home very well. I use half windex(window cleaner) and half dish washing liquid plus a small soft toothbrush. Dip your jewellery in this and give it a good clean. With rings that are old or dirty take some time over this and do it over a bowl not the sink! Things come up just amazingly and look brand new in no time. Then you sparkle! Every now and then sit and do this and you will truly be amazed. It is like having new jewellery!
Similarly cleaning up your shoes and handbag will make them look like new! My leather bag and shoes I use vaseline which is  rubbed in and polished off. The difference is staggering!
A more recent trend is layered necklaces and twisted/chunky feature necklaces. Just wear several of your necklaces together and it looks the same. I really like this look.

You can make new and interesting pendants by taking odd bits and pieces and grouping them in clusters on a chain. I seem to be a bower bird and have a little things I like, many from other things that have broken... grouped on a chain they are really nice...  all of these I added to existing chains and had a change around. Sort of new jewellery for free! And personal. With a theme in mind these could be lovely gifts.

If you have ever had a manicure or pedicure this is a good thing as you know what the end result feels like. I think especially with a pedicure the results are pretty major and it feels so nice. These are things you can do so well at home. The main failure in this is we do a very quick version and wonder why the results are not the same. But if we put the same time into it they will be pretty much as good. At a salon a pedicure takes about an hour. It truly is the time that makes the difference. If you give yourself a pedicure while watching a movie you will have an hour and a half or so.... then you will get salon results! Beautiful painted toenails in sandals look so nice! For tough skin a tip is to soak cotton wool in Hydrogen Peroxide. Hold against the hard skin for a couple of minutes. It will then rub away like butter. The saving will probably be about $80!

Most things you can learn to do at home. From eyebrow shaping to lash tinting they are all easy to do as long as your eyesight is ok.
You can learn just about any skill on you tube or search tutorials and have a study up. Each thing you learn to do yourself is another saving. We have shops like Priceline and Price attack. Ask for DIY kits for anything from brow tinting to waxing. It is all easy and will save a fortune. The staff will usually happily explain how it's done to you as well and how easy it is. A brow tinting kit, for instance, will cost about $20 and give you several years worth!

In the world of skin care you can save so much money. A little snooping will reveal that many brands own other brands and in fact sell the same formula's in different packaging. The difference is the packaging and price but the formula is the same. This is not all products but many. Examples are Loreal is Lancome and Nivea is La Prairie. It gets very interesting when the ingredients are the same but the price difference is $300. It takes some close comparing to find which products are equal but there are quite a few! Others are so similar the difference is not worth worrying about.
Another one is makeup... the same as above applies. But you may have a total favourite colour in an expensive brand and love it so much... online you will find the world of "beauty dupes". If you want to find an equivalent that is cheaper to any favourite product in makeup or skin care search beauty dupes. Include the name of the shade if you are searching for a particular colour. You may find a match that is a faction of the cost of what you have been paying.

In the world of perfumes the price differences are huge. Providing  you know your favourite brand etc if you search online you will beat department store prices by so much you will be amazed. I have a perfume I just love and I used to buy it in a department store. Never again! Downstairs below the department store is a chemist warehouse and it costs 50% less there but I never knew this! 

Another trick is to identify what is the active ingredient in something that might be a good thing...  Many times there is some truth about a product and a good active ingredient but the cost of the product is just huge. An example I had a while ago was an expensive brand of cosmetics and their hero product was a small bottle of 100% organic rosehip oil for the price of $99. Now rosehip oil is a good ingredient so that bit was true. But you can go buy that same thing yourself for under $20. So why pay $99? 
Many times if you can find out the active ingredient you may be able to do better. 

Many products you can do without altogether! Lots of products have multiple uses. A lip gloss can be used as a highlighter on your cheeks, a lipstick can be used for cream blush... just go by the colour and consistency and use things however you want! 

If you have skin problems many times your doctor will be able to give you a prescription for a product that will make it much cheaper than buying something over the counter. For acne, scaring etc there are really effective things that can be prescribed. This is worth checking and can save you hundreds.

You can custom mix your products. If you have a foundation that is a little dark or too thick... blend it with some moisturiser or a lighter shade. You can alter things with mixing to pretty good effect. I think cream blush is much more flattering than powder blush but I was given so much powder blush! So I use it and dab a tiny amount of vaseline on my upper cheekbone. Then it looks glowly and dewy just the same as if it were a cream blush. 

We have covered making your own scrubs. It is also easy to make your own luxurious body powder. Scented body powders can be really expensive. So can lovely powder puffs. I LOVE powder and powder puffs. After having trouble getting anything other than a depressed powder puff I started making my own from fur. These make lovely gifts!

 Next,  powder is easy. In a sealed box or crystal container (think op shop) this is a beautiful gift too. You can use unscented powder or use cornflour or arrowroot as your base. Or a mix. Arrowroot it very silky and luxurious.
To this you can add any scent from essential oil to a luxury perfume. In an enclosed container three sprays of scent will perfume a whole container. Mine is Chanel No 5. It really works and is lovely! If you took a look at the price of a classic perfumed powder it is expensive! Provided you have a perfume on hand this is very economical!
To a body powder you can also add shimmer... or sparkle. 

This is really lovely and combined these two make a gorgeous gift that will all up cost a dollar or two.

At the end of the day we all end up with products that are duds for one reason or another! It happens to us all. Apart from re gifting new things there are some great uses for products...

Talcum powder is wonderful to de stink the inside of shoes. It makes great dry shampoo. A tiny fine sprinkle between your sheets re freshens them and makes them feel surprisingly wonderful. The most expensive hotels in the world sprinkle bed powder between the sheets. This might sound nuts but once you have tried it you will understand. If you are unwell or overtired this will give you one more day of fresh sheets. It is a tiny fine sprinkle...
Talcum powder will also refresh carpets instead of carpet powder.

Shampoo you don't like is good for handwahsing clothes. Also possibly for making bubble bath (see my Hollywood recipe) or filing up your hand wash containers.

Conditioner you don't like can be used as shaving cream on your legs or as fabric softener when washing knitwear.

A moisturiser you don't like might be fine for your hands or feet. Or add castor sugar and do a hand or foot scrub. (this works really well!)

Toothpaste you don't like can be a cleaning product with a little toothbrush. It is like Jiff cleaner or an abrasive cleaner. Will get anything off!

Lots of things can be used in other ways. My number one is wearing pearls which were once quite formal but now you can wear them with a t shirt to great effect!
Use tiny evening purses that are pretty but just too small as a makeup case or small kit in your handbag.
Use an evening clutch that is too small as a travel wallet.
A handbag you don't love will make a great bag to carry your hair drier and things on holiday. Or even a great knitting bag!
Use a brooch as a hair clasp or pinned to a purse.

Use your nice things. Polish them up. Shop your wardrobe and wear things differently. 

These are areas we can be inventive and save so much money. It is kind of mind boggling! 

So much of the beauty industry is about perceived effects. How it makes you FEEL. Cath was telling me about an ALDI moisturiser that is fantastic. I went on and did some research on this. I will post about it on an upcoming post. The bottom line is this product that costs just a few dollars rated in blind tests to beat a best seller anti wrinkle cream that is many times the price. This is ALDI Lacura range which I believe is $3.99 (we do not have an ALDI yet but I am counting the days).  This is just the perfect example. Price and quality do not necessarily have any relationship in the beauty world.
Information is power!

I also accept perceived luxury is important. I love things to look nice, feel nice and smell nice! While many inexpensive and effective things will work and be lovely lots of times the packaging is awful. For my own sake I use pretty containers and bottles. I just collect them in op shops. So a cheap shampoo that I might make into bubble bath ends up in a pretty bottle and the end result looks nice, smells nice and works! I will enjoy it and it FEELS luxurious. It is a bit like outwitting myself, honestly, but it works.

If you are like me in this then decanting things into lovely bottles and containers works well. I tend to do it even with dish washing detergent etc. as the bottles are usually horrible.
I have heard ladies say that their family would object to some brands, generic brands etc. and I always think 1. too bad and 2. why not change containers? They'll never know! 
Like perceived luxury expectations have a big effect. People can decide they don't like something long before they even try it! Lovely packaging convinces you it's wonderful and that is why expensive products are in fabulous containers!

I hope you have found some money saving ideas and maybe some gift ideas as well. Take the savings and add them to your pantry fund or your emergency fund! 

Have a wonderful week. I have been talking about how I have come to love the words "prudent" and "diligent". The other day Vicky wished me a prudent and diligent week. That was awesome I thought! Have a prudent and diligent week! xxx

Thursday 20 August 2015

Feather your Nest Friday 21 August, 2015.

Last night it rained gently all night. It was lovely. I just listened and willed my garden to soak it up! Soon spring will be here and the days of having to water will be back. But it is so nice to have a soaked garden for free. And rain does good that hand watering just can't do.

This week I saved money by:

Sewing. This week I concentrated on making kitchen towels. The last few weeks I have posted pics of kitchen towels that I have purchased and crocheted an edge around. Now I am on to making my own. All year I watch for pretty sheets, doona covers, curtains etc in op shops. This is the way to get loads of fabric for very little. I wash them up and line dry them. For kitchen towels I try to find soft cottons and I sew them double thickness. If it is a gorgeous print I will extend that by using the pretty bit for the front and using something plain for the back.

I have two friends with pink kitchens! I love sewing with pink! And I make some pink things for myself as I basically can't resist it.

And kitchen towels are useful. Aside of wiping dishes they are handy for wrapping food and keeping it warm, under the lid of the crock pot, line a basket and fill with warm scones, in your picnic basket as a cover and so on...

Then I added trims. I had these already and was very lucky with the matches! 

I have some smaller bits of this left so I think maybe I will make a set of serviettes. 

This one was a doona cover (quilt) and I backed it with an old thick white sheet. Loving the pink roses!

On Wednesday I visited Hilde for her birthday. I got a sheet set in cream with little pink roses all over it!!! So that is what I will work on next week. Fabric wise this means I can make kitchen towels for something like 50c each or even less...

Hilde has a lemon tree. It is HUGE. 

Behind that tree Hilde has a balcony where she stands with a fruit picking stick and sends the lemons falling to the ground where I am collecting them. 

All this means more when you see the size of these lemons. They are the biggest lemons I have ever seen! 

It did occur to me that it would be a fitting end if I was knocked out dead under a lemon tree. There was a lot of laughter and I survived though. 
So I came home with a huge bag of lemons and we made no impression on the tree what so ever.

Hilde's husband died before Christmas. Just before I arrived she had flowers delivered to the door. Her favourite flowers in her favourite colour! They were from him! Plus a card from him in his words with a message to her. He had obviously arranged all this before his death thinking that far ahead.
That was a bit of a moment.

At the workshop last weekend Tania gave me the most beautiful mandarins. The hugest bagful!

These are just a few on my kitchen bench. Mimi asked me what was I going to do with them all and I realised I forgot to answer that (sorry Mimi!) so here it is:
Andy one a day for three weeks or so.
Fishing trip 6
My niece who is mad on them 2 dozen.
Chloe 1 dozen.
Lucy 1 dozen.
That is where I am up to! they have been so handy and appreciated, thank you Tania. They are the juiciest mandarins ever!

I filled prescriptions at Chemist King instead of the local chemist saving about $50.

I made formula tins over into canisters (shown Wednesday).

Did all the usual things, made all dinners, packed all lunches etc.

Some of the ways we built up our home...

I added to the pantry and cellar. I added batteries, matches, tinned fruit, water.
We got a little ahead in some medications.
I added a bit to emergency savings.

I hope you also had a good week! How did you save money, get ahead, improve your pantry or preparedness this week? Were you blessed with any produce or great bargains?

Sometimes it is just amazing what comes your way when your eyes are open. It might be a great special, free fruit or two miles of cream fabric with rosebuds for a few dollars! But it all helps! xxx

Tuesday 18 August 2015

Pantries and Preparedness. Storage.

At the Cheapskates Workshop on the weekend a lady asked about storage containers for the pantry. It seemed she was inspired to start building up a pantry (insert happiness from me!) and was wondering about containers. Cath suggested saving jars as one thing to do. Right there I thought of so many things that are so effective and so cheap to use for pantry storage. This is a subject all of its own!

Now, there are some containers worth paying for. The vacuum seal containers Glenda showed us in last weeks post for instance. These greatly extend shelf life and are a worthy investment.

Today I am talking about the run of the mill containers we need for the things we have on high rotation and shorter term storage. It is easily possible to spend thousands on pantry containers and I have been to product parties (years ago) where hundreds and hundreds of dollars filled a shelf or two of containers. In what we are trying to do I think it's more important to spend out money on the food! 

In earlier posts I have shown my beloved jars I have collected for years.  Most have been 20c or 50c and later years there are a few I paid one or two dollars for.  Many have been free. I love them and glass keeps things very fresh and does not contaminate food. 
I do not live in an earthquake prone area, this is the only thing... so possibly this is not for those who do. However in normal use I have never even broken one!  
I still collect jars. The best are the really old thick and irregular glass. LOVE.

Old tins are another favourite! They keep things fresh and I love them! Tins can be painted... I add transfers.

More recently as I have been adding a lot to my pantry I have been given large coffee jars. These are big, have a great seal and have been free from a lady who drinks this coffee. I now have 14 of these...

I am still collecting them and sent the lady jars of jam I made as thanks. I am encouraging her to keep saving them for me!

There are other brands that have coffee in giant jars. Mum is collecting some with red lids. These ones are Moccona Coffee jars.
So you can ask around for jars as well as watch op shops etc. 

If you know someone who works in or owns a bakery, cafe, hotel, caterers... you can ask them to save you large containers. They get many buckets with lids suitable for bulk flour etc. I had friends with a bakery. They had amazing containers and were glad to give them away. Truly, ask around.

Just now I have baby formula tins. I looked at these and thought !!! storage! 

They are a good size, they seal and they are free. Now I'm aiming for sets but I started with these. 

I just covered them with wrapping paper and fancied them up.

If I can get more I am going to try painting them and adding rose transfers. I am thinking of really pale pink or blue and roses. :)
But anyway, they are good storage, free and you could have rows of these labelled in your pantry. 

There is just no need to buy expensive containers when there are so many free ones or really cheap options. You could try asking around, asking on face book, placing a free ad somewhere...  soon you will have so many!

There are also inexpensive options at cheap shops. I have large plastic tubs in the cellar. I use them to group together and protect supplies ie candles and matches, batteries, spare blankets and a;; kinds of things.

At the workshop on the weekend Cath and Wendy stressed the importance of the pantry as a buffer in all kinds of circumstances. As your food security. In the real world we can not always just run to the store for this or that. And every time you do it increases your costs in time and fuel etc. If you drive to the store for one thing that is a very expensive thing! Without a pantry you would mostly be paying full price for things. With a pantry you never pay full price for anything! 
Effective storage containers are a big help. You can do it so simply and spend your savings on food and supplies instead. 

Keep at it, use every opportunity and it will add up faster than you think! xxx

Sunday 16 August 2015

The Cheapskates Club workshop.

On Saturday I attended the Cheapskate Club workshop in Adelaide. I also presented some tips on how to greatly reduce your beauty budget and some things you can do yourself, for little cost, that are very helpful and pampering.
It was a lot of fun. The best bit though was meeting Cath and Wendy! I feel as if I have known Cath for years but have never met her. And I feel like I have known Wendy for ages but had never met her either.
It is funny how we can truly become good friends without meeting.
Then to top it off I met Tania from  One Contented Homebody. as well. She travelled down from the edge of the outback to come. What's more she brought a huge bag of mandarins from her tree all that way! It was so lovely to meet another friend.

Cath had asked me to talk about pampering and saving money. This is a huge area we can save in. We all like to feel nice and look after ourselves but the whole beauty industry is full of tricks to get us to apart with money on products that really don't work. And then buy things we don't need! At the same time there are treatments we can do at home just as well as a salon for a fraction of the price.
We can spend this money in much better ways. Whether it is building an emergency fund or building up your pantry saving money in this area can be a massive help.

At one time I had a lot to do with a lovely beauty salon here in Adelaide. They did a range of treatments and I got to meet all kinds of specialists including plastic surgeons, therapists, podiatrists, nail technicians, you name it! I was often the voluntary guinea pig and girls training in the industry practised on me! I got to try heaps of things! Consequently I have tried a lot of things! And I asked a lot of questions!
When Chloe and Lucy worked for Lancome, Clinique, Napoleon Perdis, Revlon etc I sure learned a lot too and when Lucy studied makeup artistry and hair styling etc I was also the guinea pig at the academy she studied at. Well, this was all very interesting!
There are some things that work and some good products. But there are a lot of things that are all smoke and mirrors!

I soon learned not to spend my money and learned how to do all kinds of things at home. It was very handy!

The other day Helen was telling me about someone who spends $400 a month on her hair. I told Cath this and she said that is more than their entire food budget! Yes, it is a lot. But I went to two local salons to price the things I do every month and if I went to the hair dressers I honestly would be almost spending that much. But I probably only spend about $30 a month. (I never go to hairdressers ever). So that saving alone is kind of mind boggling. Chloe never goes to a hairdresser and nor does Lucy.

It doesn't look that bad! Chloe actually solved all her hair problems by stopping most of what she was doing and just letting her hair do it's own thing! She used to curl it, straighten it... now she just wears it how it is naturally which is a bit curly! And ta da! People ask her who is her hairdresser? I wish I knew what the three of us collectively saved. However Chloe does cut Lucy's hair. Her style is short and that is a harder thing to do... so she has Chloe cut it.

The thing is you would be surprised what you can do at home! Hair colour is one of the easiest things to do at home, that is so handy and such a big saving.
If you know a hairdresser and go to their home or they come to you then you are probably getting great value hairdressing. But going to a top salon is a very expensive thing. And they are required to sell you products, a lot of products! Some of these add up to the cost of the hair services again. Many like clarifying shampoo can be replaced at home by an Apple Cider Vinegar rise for a few cents. That will get product build up out of your hair and restore shine instead of the $30 shampoo you might be encouraged to buy. And this is just one example!

I have written a few posts on beauty related things... there is an index on the side bar... go to beauty and you will find a few posts. So far I covered...

A very good way to DIY your own microdermabrasion. Ok. it is not really mircodermabrasion but the results are the closest thing I have ever found and are fantastic! Really fantastic! This is a really massive thing for your skin. If it is well exfoliated moisturisers etc go in! Your skin feels soo smooth. Makeup glides on. You look fresher. Truly it is lovely. You save a couple of hundred dollars every time you do this. My post on this is called The Softest Skin.

I also have posted about detox baths and the power of bathing for relaxation.
The use of silk pillowcases for beauty and your hair. And how they can be made very cheaply if you find 100% pure silk scarves or possibly a dressing gown in the op shop!

A simple way to accessorise... use the colour of your eyes and the colour of your hair. You will always look great as your hair and eyes go with you everywhere. So wear those colours or carry a bag one of those colours etc.
Use the colours of nature for colour combo ideas. This gives amazing schemes we would not normally think of. ie brown loves blue.

How to make bath soak and luxurious bubble bath...

So after this workshop I have decided to add some more posts on ways to save lots of money on beauty and pampering. Some things will make beautiful gifts as well. Saving is saving.

One way to work out what areas you could really save in and so would be worth doing yourself (or finding an inexpensive alternative) is to work out your annual spend on each area. Sometimes things sound quite reasonable until you hear it as an annual cost. Then suddenly it seems shocking! THEN you think what else could I do with this amount of money? You can have a huge impact with this!

I have been so passionate about building up the pantry and emergency fund that lately I didn't blog about beauty treatments etc. But here is a way to possibly free up some money and use it to do both of those things in your household or perhaps save for a holiday, pay off debt....

If there are any subjects you would like covered would you please let me know?

This is me, Wendy and Cath.I felt proud to be associated with these ladies. Both have been on TV so many times. On Saturday there were TV cameras again and neither bat an eyelid or get frazzled by that!

 It was lovely to meet so many people wanting to learn how to save, how to stretch their food dollar and how to do better.
Several ladies asked me questions afterwards and I invited them to ask anything here in comments and I will try to help. Hello to those ladies if you are here!

Cath and Wendy are so passionate to help people cope with their budgets. Learning new skills can be the biggest saver of all. Making your own items from condensed milk through to washing powder can save a fortune. All of these recipes are on  The Cheapskares Club website.

Wendy runs a discussion on The Cheapskates Forum  which is a $300 a month challenge. This is based on a family of four. Reading it through from the beginning is fantastic. Each month she covers a new subject. Her blog is My Abundant Life.

I hope you had a great weekend as I did!

And now for a new week! I am heading off to do some shopping and errands so that I can get the week moving well. I hope we all have a wonderful week. We can learn a lot in a week! xxx