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, 20 October 2015

Pantry and Preparedness. Skills that save money and get you through hard times.

Recently I was reading about skills that people used to get through such times as the war years and the Great Depression.  My Grandparents lived through this time and I knew a little through them. More recently I watched Wartime Farm a series on You Tube and that was so interesting! Another one I love on You Tube is Cooking with Clara. Clara lived through the depression and shows what she cooked. She is a delight. She passed away since I started watching her but her great advice lives on!

When I was a teenager we holidayed in a farm house a long way from a town. There was no electricity. We didn't mind and it never occurred to us to mind. Mum and Dad has a big book called The Encyclopedia of Country Living by Carla Emery. It was thicker than a phone book but with no TV I was undaunted.  I LOVED that book. I must have read it cover to cover many times. It covers everything from butchering chickens to soap making, how to grow everything, how to can anything and pretty much anything you can think of. 
So kind of by accident I was learning a lot!  At the farm this book is still in the lounge room just as it always has been so I have little revision sessions. If you are interested in preparedness and self reliance etc. see if the library has it as you will love it! Actually just owning a book like this means you at least have on hand the practical instructions for an awful lot of things.

Skills are such a big part of preparedness. Recently something on TV prompted Mum to say how people did not have any practical skills to know how to get through a crisis. They don't even have a shovel she said in disgust! 

Whether we are talking about really hard times or personal hard times skills help you get through. Some of the skills are general ones like the ability to adapt and the ability to make do. Others need some practice like learning to mend, light a fire, cook a meal with what's on hand... cook on a fire... 

Even in ordinary and good times skills are a huge asset. They save money, enhance your life and entertain as well. They can also be used as a currency as skills can be traded or sold. Your skills can be a back up plan when you need extra income. New skills are worth learning and current skills are worth polishing up and improving on.

Apart from what we know already we probably have skills that we could sharpen up and others that we could learn that will save us a lot of money and help our families.  They say when you are ready to learn something the teacher comes along... I have found this so true!

When I was little Mum and Nan taught me to knit and crochet. I was pretty good at four too, lol, if you can imagine! Mum had to "turn the corners" for me on my knitting. I learned to sew too although I got banned from sewing in bed at one time due to consequences of that! (rolling on needles in my sleep etc)

This is Mum and Chloe taken last year and I had my work with me too...

Mum would never sit down and not work on something.

Later I have used You Tube to greatly add to my skills and learn a heap of new stitches. You Tube is the best thing for adding to your skills!

When Chloe was a baby my neighbor over the road was called Dorrie. She was wonderful. She taught me stretch sewing. I would get up to a point and run over for Dorrie to show me how to add banding to a cuff or some such thing then run home again with Chloe under one arm and the sewing in a basket.  Little by little I learned the basics. 

I lovely lady taught me embroidery and over several years I expanded on that and this became an income too for me for a few years. Later I learned heirloom sewing, pintucks, insertion laces and so on.

It is hard to think of all the things I've had a go at over the years! Over time I think we learn things as we need them ie learn to make baby food when you have a baby up to that stage. Learning to make curtains when I found my windows were not standard size...

I learned to color my own hair when I got fed up with it at one stage and the hairdresser charged like a wounded bull AND messed it up. I learned to cut it after the same scenario only that took me longer. The girls learned to do each others hair as they went a long and still do. (saving a huge amount per year) This extends to Dad (their Grandpa) insisting they cut his hair when they are at the farm.

(He 's still working as they cut his hair but looks like he's kind of enjoying it!)

I think just cooking all our meals is one of the biggest savings and being able to use what we have to make something.

Crock pot cooking is a great help to me.
Making my own stock and soups is a skill I am so glad that I have. Making soup is a great one, you can always feed your family well and inexpensively if you are a good soup maker.

The same goes for pie making. Left overs become pies and frozen soups and pies are always on hand. How much has this saved me over the years?

Jam making, how to make preserves has meant so much fruit that comes my way is never wasted. 

Baking.. I don't do anything complicated but cakes, biscuits, scones etc are all so cheap to make and make good gifts as well.

Growing some herbs and vegies, washing something that says "dry clean only", bread making, raising chickens, mending, taking up jeans... goodness there are just so many things that you can do yourself rather than pay someone to do.

Last year I learned to plaster a wall. Andy built me a new kitchen (good skills!) and we removed cupboards first. Then we needed two walls re plastered.  I decided to learn. The man at the hardware store told me I couln't and would need to hire a professional. Pfft.  Thanks to You Tube I did a pretty ok job of re plastering two walls!

What to learn next?
All year I have been wanting to learn more on modern day preparedness and I have had great teachers come along!  I look at this year as one of the years I have learned more than any other. It has been really fun too. 
Some things I would like to learn now are fermented foods including sour dough bread.
Re acquainting myself with soap making. 
New crochet patterns.
And cake decorating.

If you have teachers don't waste them. If you are lucky enough still to have your Grandmother get her to teach you skills you can use in your life. Listen and learn, she will not be around forever. You might know someone with the skills you would like to learn. Most people are delighted if you ask to be taught!
Then there are on line tutoirals, books, the library, courses, You Tube...lots of ways to leanr what you want to know. All skills take practice! I am amazed that i hear peole say they are terrible as something they tried once!  I've had to bury my first goes at most things lol

Deciding what to learn next might be a case of opportunity decides for you, so take it! Otherwise thinking about what is costing you a lot that maybe you could learn to do yourself is a great way to decide.
If takeaway meals are costing a lot then maybe learn to make great pizzas or learn to use a crock pot.
If birthday cakes are a big expense maybe learn cake decorating. Mimi does this and makes cakes for her Grand daughters and special occasions saving her family hundreds. Many people pay huge prices for cakes!

Set goals to learn new skills. I noticed Wendy set a gaol to learn soap making this year which she recently achieved. (with great success too!)

In hard times or a crisis you might need to mend and make do, make a meal from what you have... make gifts from materials on hand... all your skills are going to be very handy! The more we can do the more we save, are less dependent on the shops, have skills we could sell or barter with, can help others and improvise.

Skills are worth a lot. If you work on them the benefits are huge.  "Do you see a person skilled at their work? They will stand before Kings." (Prov. 22:29)

What skills help you in our life right now? What new ones could save your family a lot of money and add something wonderful?  What skills could help you in a crisis or provide an income should you need it? To top it off it is a wonderful feeling to be able to do things yourself. A feeling of accomplishment and satisfaction. Take every opportunity to learn new skills!


  1. I have thought so many times that skills learned are just as important as stocking up!

    1. Dear Brenda, I think so too. I am happy my husband has different skills to me, too. This means we cover more things we need to know together. He is the type of guy who can fix things which is so handy! Many thanks,

  2. Dear Annabel,

    When our children were growing up we always made sourdough rose rolls for Christmas. I used sourdough a lot during that time period and the rolls were so delicious. We filled them with apple pie filling and cherry pie filling and put a powdered sugar icing on top. I would make homemade sourdough cinnamon rolls with another batch of the same dough - YUM! Thanks for mentioning sourdough and bringing back a very pleasant memory for me.

    Love and hugs,

    1. Dear Glenda, THis sounds so nice. Anything with apple pie or cherry pie filling sounds wonderful to me!
      Oh also cinnamon rolls.... oh my goodness.
      I will invite myself for Christmas if you are going to revive making these!
      I hope your week is going well! With lots of love,

  3. Dear Annabel. What a thought provoking post. I had to go away and mull it over before commenting. I cannot imagine how many skills I've absorbed in my lifetime. Like you I was embroidering, knitting and making fondant roses from the age of four. Each Friday, I'd eagerly await Mums arrival home from work because she would have new embroidery floss or an inked outline on starched linen for me to work on. Sadly I did not keep up those skills and they're now a little rusty. However let me list the following I have kept or resurrected. They include cooking, baking, cleaning efficiently, laying a beautiful table, dog grooming, gardening, sewing clothing, budgeting, being frugal, DIY everything celebratory from cakes to bridesmaids dresses and Christening gowns, and just making the every day special. It's only as I've grown older, that I've come to realise that not everyone can do those things. Of course the personal grooming things come into that too, and simple things like neatly manicured nails and a sleek blow dry or neat hair style made anyone look a million dollars. You are all very inspirational and a great example to others. I must seek out that book too! Love, Mimi xxx

  4. I'd like to add to your great post, Annabel. I, too, have learned many skills and have so many people explain they haven't the time. I'd like to remind your readers that it takes time only at first. There is a learning curve. Once you get the skill down, it takes very little time. When my fourth child was born, we were gifted with a ton of pears. And yes, I canned 40 quarts with a newborn to care for. But I had a system in place.


    1. Dear Leslie, That is a great thing to add. I agree. Many things seem daunting at first and then next thing we are doing them without even thinking. They just become part of life and sometimes quicker than arranging someone else to do them. ie the other night I took up four pairs of jeans for Andy. It was all done so quickly. Yet I heard someone else say they have to drive tot he city, pay parking, pay for jeans to be taken up and it would take a while afternoon (let alone cost!). Well it was done in minutes. A little time invested to learn is well spent!
      That is a lot of pears! Well done! Many thanks,

  5. No wiser words have been written. Your sewing skills are breathtaking, I sew but nothing like you. I am plus size so I make most of my clothing saves me a fortune. I also like to wear more dresses than not and with the cost of material I find all cotton sheets and make the prettiest dresses from them.

    1. Dear Tealady,
      Thank you! I love dresses. Sewing would save you so much and get you the cut and designs you want. I used to sew a lot of nighties (night dresses) with lace and in pretty soft floral voiles etc. I buy pretty sheets any time I see them!
      I see you collect tea cups! And like Emilie Barns. So do I! I will post a pic of my nicest tea cups on an upcoming post so you can see! Mum is coming for afternoon tea so I will take a photo. With love,

  6. Annabel, knowledge, know-how and skills will go a long way in seeing us through difficult times. I am constantly learning, the more I learn the more money I can save our family! I am currently learning how to crochet and have fallen in love with it. I can think of all kinds of things I can do with this skill once I get better at it.

    1. Patsy you have taught me a lot this year. I know a lot more ways to keep food and add to my pantry. I take a lot more opportunities too.
      I love crochet and yes it has so many uses. I made so many crochet gifts. Once you are good with single and double crochet you can do just about anything. Most patterns are just those. I just love it and its relaxing! Keep at it! With love,

  7. I've said it before on other blogs.....we've bred skills out of our youth. Our grandmothers made pies from scratch, our mothers from canned filled and frozen crust, my generation went with frozen pies, and now....well you just go to the ready baked section as its just too much bother to turn on an oven.

    When things became cheaper and ready made, it became in fashion to just purchase them. (you can just hear the sniff and the upturn of the nose, Oh you maaaade that.) They don't teach home economics in schools any longer as computer skills are deemed much more important. Important yes, but instead of? All the typing and searching on a computer will not repair a zipper for you. Those lessons should be taught in the home. I'm 51 and many my age already do not have those skills, let alone the ability to pass them on.

    I finishing up a bathrobe for myself. Sure, I can just go purchase one...cheaply made.....from the store. But I wanted flannel and a certain really took no time at all. But if you have no clue even to thread a machine? (although it wasn't a cheap sewing project as I broke a serger cutter in the process...ouch$$ I purchased one and replaced it service bill!)

    Its never a problem not having the skills, unless you run out of money. There's always someone in line to make a living from your lack of ability.

    Our only hope is that we make ourselves available to mentor those who wish to learn.

    1. Opps sorry, your reply is one comment down and it looks like I didnt reply! xxx

  8. Good morning Annabel, I am so happy to see these photos of your sweet family all do-ing. And I'm still chuckling about the not having a shovel. She is right, so many people don't have a clue about what they might do if hard times come.

    1. Dear Rhonda, I am glad you understood Mums comment! It was in relation to lack of sanitation issues... mmm say no more. But yes a basic!
      She despairs at apparent total helplessness when it comes to simple and practical things!
      My husband sees us all working on things and says it is all very pre industrial revolution around here! I am happy about that! I hope you have had a lovely week, with love,

  9. I think it will be my mission to breed skills back into the youth and anyone I can find! What you say is true. I do notice a great interest in cooking tv shows and some passionate gardeners. That gives me hope!
    Improvisation is a good skill in a shortage for instance or a power outage then it's usualy up to us to figure out what to do.
    I love the sound of your bathrobe, just the colour you want. Very nice! Xxx

  10. I am blessed to have a mother and have had a grandmother who had practical skills and made efforts to share them. I was foolish not to learn more from them when I was younger, so I'm catching up and can do "a little" of many things. I've made clothes and quilts but most of my sewing is limited to mending or refashioning things, particularly thrift store finds. Cooking and canning are my sweet spot but I need to get better at gardening so I'll have more produce to cook and can (bottle).

    One skill not yet mentioned it the ability to manage a budget and live within one's means. That's a skill I acquired with mistakes and effort and that I’ve been asked to teach others. I think those of us who blog have an opportunity to share our skills as we share our passions for creating beautiful, useful things and managing our pantries and caring for our families and stewarding our budgets. It would be wonderful to help replace our culture's prevalent attitude of entitlement with one of contentment and gratitude.

    1. You make a great point. The ability to budget and plan is a big skill. If you have a budgeting post I would be glad to link to it. I think step by step "how tos" are really needed to teach from scratch. People are wanting to learn. I am wanting to learn!
      The idea of hand outs and entitlement is fast coming to a grizzly end I think and needs replacing with hard work, inventiveness and gratitude. We sure agree!
      Thank you very much. You have given me food for thought! With love

    2. You are so sweet to offer to share a link, unfortunately, I don't have a "How to Set Up a Budget" post. I've written some general advice in various articles ( and shared some of my husband's sermon thoughts on finances ( but not a specific how-to-write-a-budget article. I have all of my handouts from teaching but I need to break them down because it's too much ground to cover in one blog post.

      I'll take this discussion and your kind offer to share a link as God's prompting that I need to get that material written and shared as soon as possible! Thanks for your offer to share the material and for the gentle "shove" in the right direction!

  11. I agree with everything here, most young people today buy everything ready made or pay someone to do things for them. Actually it is not only young people, people our age would sooner pay to have things done too.
    If I don't know how to do something I will google it and most of the time there is something on youtube or tutorial somewhere online. I have a varied lot of skills like you and I enjoy doing them as I know I am doing something to help myself or my family. Sometimes it is hard when you work outside the home but I find time to do these things as I really enjoy doing them, Glenn said to me when he first met me 12mths ago and I was cooking dinner that I looked like I really enjoyed being in the kitchen and cooking for us.... I really do!
    I bought my boys up the same and they can cook,sew, knit and crochet (well they could) not that they would tell anyone that. They have renovated their own homes and they did a better job than most tradesman. I am really proud of them.
    I have often thought of maybe running a workshop of older skills that young people need to learn, knitting, crochet, sewing, cooking from scratch, breadmaking, soap making etc then I wonder if young people actually want to learn these things.
    A great post Annabel, I hope you have a wonderful productive week. Debbie xx

    1. Dear Debbie,
      It is wonderful your sons have renovated their own places. The savings would be unimaginable. This would put them far ahead.
      There is a cooking school here in the city and it is always busy and a lot are young people. That is a good sign. I think as the economy is not good there will be people who decide they need to learn skills to better things and people who lose hope and decline. Some people just want hand outs and some people want opportunities. I think though for those wanting to learn there will be a big need. If you have a venue to do workshops I would say go for it! Otherwise you could think of doing you tube clips. Seriously... you do your demo but film it. If you have ever seen Cooking with Clara... it doenst have to be fancy to be wonderful! And then you can impact so many people! Or have a blog with how tos... think about it! I could feature Debbies breadmaking tutorial etc !!! Can you feel me pushing you along as I think it is a really good idea and there IS a need.
      Debt is a big problem. What you said is true, people would rather pay someone to do stuff but they add to their debt rather than decrease it. They dont seem to think oh if I did this myself I can pay $60 off my credit card.... I am hearing more now people trying really hard to get rid of debt.Doing things themselves and learning skills would help them get there.
      I admire you a lot as I agree working outside the home and still managing cooking etc is pretty hard and a long day that is for sure.
      All your skills though are a wonderful asset! With love, Annabel.xxxx

    2. Ps Debbie... read Lorax's comment re her daughter...x

  12. What a fun good blog - gotta go now, but I hope to be back. ~Diane

  13. I don't think I have mentioned it here but if you want to learn more learning tutorials go to Gonna stands for Grandma Donna. She and her husband are living this year as if it was 1943 including rationing of their food. Her site has places at the top and bottom to click onto and up comes many stories to go to on many subjects. She has many tutorials and enjoys taking care of her home.
    I enjoyed the Wartime Home and Garden u-tubes too. Then naturally they show similar ones and I have watched other WW2 u-tubes on home work and learned more. I think we would all be surprised if in our home journals we listed all the skills we had. Also the many things we actually know how to make ourselves and not buy anymore. I know I want to learn to make more soups,chili and stews and and can them.
    I have stocked more purchases of things to have in case water is very precious. Like big cleansing towelettes to wash with if bathing is not an option. Smaller ones to wash hands and such. Check and make sure there is not much or no alcohol in them as it will sting sensitive areas. Also watch fragrance and such in case the family is allergic. Also the disinfecting wipes for counters and sinks. Disposables have their place in our stock. Don't forget rubbing alcohol, witch hazel and peroxide too in you stock.
    Liquid Clorox too but they say it weakens after 3 months. Some say you can use the dry pool chlorine in your water to purify it watch it does not contain any other ingredients. Many do. Study this subject first thoroughly though. Be safe. AND also read and study how much to add to the water. It is concentrated and a teeny amount is all needed. It is shelf stable I think unlike the liquid Clorox. BUT study this first!!
    This is all a learning process isn't it. But so worth it! No one is ever done with preparing and there are many areas of preparing. Yet anything we do is one thing done and it makes us more comfortable knowing we have accomplished this much to take care of our families. Thanks you for all the great posts you do and the many people who comment and add to it all!!! Sarah

    1. Dear Sarah, I love gDonna! I only recently found her via Tanias blog One Contented Homebody.
      I am reading and exploring as I get time. But already I got some great tips that I am using. Thank you.
      Cleansing towels and ways to save water are very good ideas. I have read of so many people with water issues and contamination lately.
      Thank you for this comment, it is very helpful. With love,

  14. Annabel there are so many skills that are not able to be utilised because they have changed things so much - I learnt how to change fuse wire when I was in my early teens. Now you use to be able to buy fuse wire just about everywhere and everyone had some at home 'just in case' - now they no longer have fuses that need to have their wire changed and of course finding fuse wire is as rare as hen's teeth.

    Likewise I know how to change the tyre on my car but because they now use mechanical means to put the nuts on I can no longer remove them to change my tyre - now I make a call to RACQ and they come and change my tyre for me.

    Depending on how far you are down the line you are you may have to wait a couple of hours.

    The same as most men would have done a basic service on the family car - now with computerised this and that we have no choice but to take our cars into a mechanic's shop where they hook the computer up and it tells you the life history of the car.

    This morning I am heading out to a fabric shop - my sewing machine came out of storage last Friday and while I need to relearn how to use it (it was fairly new when we packed and moved over 3 years ago) I am in need of some time spent amongst fabric.

    I have a list of other things I will be doing whilst out and about so it is not just a trip out to see what fabric is around.

    I too have been picking up sheets to use for sewing, now I just need to find my patterns.

    Have a great week everyone


    1. Dear Lynette, Its excellent that you have found sheets suitable for sewing projects. There is so much fabric in linens, I just love them! Sewing itself is a great skill that has so many uses.
      The ability to make a meal from what you have, improvise, be inventive etc all stands you in good stead.
      Not to mention your wonderful knitting skills! As a good knitter you could also sell items if ever needed to but meanwhile it is a great thing that you do this for charity. Very good skill to have. I need to improve my knitting...
      Many thanks Lynette, with lots of love,

  15. I am one of those who had the skills bred out of me. Sort of. Just no-one to have taught them to me.

    I recently was taught by online friends to knit (just enough to make what I wanted....some slippers).

    Today, I got taught over the phone how to fix our leaking toilet. No skill required as such, I just needed to replace the rubber valve that connects the cistern to the bowl. But, like everything there is a 'trick' to it that makes the difference between being able to do it and not. Which makes the difference between being able to do it or paying a plumber $150 to do it.

    My 15yo daughter likes being self sufficient and capable. And knows that her parents simply don't have a whole skill set that would be useful (it's true...we don't). She was saying that she wished there was a network for older people to exchange usefulnesses with younger people. (Bless her....for most people that 'network' is pribably called 'grandparents' but she has never had any). So that they aren't being 'jollied' along doing some activity they aren't really interested in when they could be passing on important knowledge that they ARE interested in. She was saying that she would love to just sit and listen to some old person's recollections of times past and in return she could weed their garden as they talked to her...and maybe she'd pick up some important gardening knowledge (part of the skill set her father and I don't possess). She was saying that she thinks it is a tragedy for them and for young people that our older generation gets taken along to play bingo when they could be involved in much more meaningful and interesting interactions for them and the people they are with.

    1. Lorax my MIL plays bingo - she takes herself there - it is her social outing and has been for many years so she goes by choice.

      Have you seen any older people in the area at all? Perhaps a knock on the door and DD15 may have a new found friendship and learn the gardening skills she wants.


    2. Dear Lorax,
      You are a good example of learning skills with out someone having taught you early on. And I am thrilled really about your knitting! I know how you love those particular slippers! truly I find knitting very good, in more ways than one.
      I agree with your daughter. She could be onto something big. We visit a lady, as you know... she is smart and sharp. The activities they have for her are an insult to her intelligence. She could do her version of Claras cooking honestly. For those that like it like Lynettes MIL then an outing, social interaction are at least something... however for someone like me I would sooner put my head in the oven and hope its gas not electric! Many people are full of wonderful skills and memories and I could fill pages with ideas such as knitting for cold children in orphanages and a million good useful and valuable things to do. It is a terrible shame. Cath, the lady we visit, knits. And writes letters. They are her outlets mainly.
      Well done on the money saved not calling a plumber. That was a good days work right there!
      I wish I lived nearby as I would be (and gladly) a pretend Grandma to your girls and do crafts until the cows come home. I do hope you have some that rill these roles.
      We all add to our skills as we go and as we need things.
      I think DD may have an aptitude for helping older people... occupational therapy or something...
      With thanks and love,

    3. Have her volunteer at senior living homes or nursing homes. I did that as a teenager and I took lots of classes with seniors then too. Deneen

  16. Annabel,
    LOL great post! We are living on our skills! Rick is good at fixing so many things and we are very frugal so we have been able to make it work so far. Budgeting is an extremely important skill and as you know I until recently was teaching the basics of this at the church, but that is a hard thing for many. There is a general attitude of I work so hard I deserve this or that. Simple living is not understood. I try so many things and am not successful at many, but I always say there are no mistakes only room for creativity and just try to work around it. Do you know I have talked to many ladies who have never mopped a floor by hand. Have never grown so much as a tomato plant and think clothes pins are craft items. There is a lot to be said for skills even the simple ones because even those simple ones are lost to many. I love reading what all of the ladies can do, although I fear I fall short! I need to improve! My next skill I want to work on is bread making. I can make French bread and a barely passable roll. Also crocheting this winter I am not very good at it and I have never tried to knit. I just love the edging you do on the dishtowels and facecloths!

    1. Dear Vicky,
      I think it is the power of advertising that has convinced people they deserve things now and must have them. A great con of course though.
      I hope you work on your crochet as I can help with that and I already put up tutorial on those edgings... they are really easy if you know single and double crochet, then you are set!
      You have a lot of skills and it is wonderful to have a husband with many. that makes you a good team! With love, Annabel.xxxx

  17. What a great post. We were just talking about this the other day. I seemed to learn something new every day. Small things but they all are important. Last week I went to a class to learn about garlic and will be planting my first garlic crop this week. Your never to old to learn I think.
    I think listening is one of my favorite tools. It's amazing what you'll learn if you listen to other people and pick up great ideas from them.

    Have a wondering day.

  18. Dear Vicky, Thank you! I feel like you. It is so much fun to learn something new especially when it will help in some way.
    Garlic is a very good thing, very healthy.
    Older people have a lot of knowledge, I ask questions then listen. There is so much to learn! Many thanks, love

  19. Great post! I have a similar one being typed up as well! :) Also, we love the Encyclopedia of Country Living too. My daughter is always quoting "Carla"... Yes, she knows her on a first name basis and I think she memorized the entire book! Supplies are great to have on hand, but skills are the gift that keeps giving!

  20. Long time reader, first time posting. I really love your blog, and this topic was excellent. Greetings from sunny Arizona! Thank you for your ideas and thoughts, it really helps me keep making progress.

    1. Dear Hilogene,
      Thank you for commenting! Truly it is the comments that keep me going and feeling well someone is reading and being helped or motivated... I am so happy to hear that! Every little bit of progress really adds up so just keep at it. Thank you so much, Love

  21. Keep an eye out for used do-it-yourself books. They have them in many subjects. Needlework, home repair, appliance repair, gardening and others of course. Reader's Digest has good ones. They update the books off and on. Check what is covered in the books you see. If you are interested in fixing a VCR you might want an older version of the books. If say a front loading washer the newer one would more than likely have that.
    If you have older neighbors or are around some at church or other places do be encouraged to get to know them. They will more than likely be happy to answer questions about any thing or time you might want to know about. If not they have friends that will. How do I know? I am one of them! We have gladly lent a hand to younger people. Teaching all we know about or answering questions. One comment though,.. older people tire more easily than you do. We may not want to have company for hour after hour. Limit the visits length. Just ask. We will be honest. And please do call ahead. We too have things we go to and do and might have other plans. We have lived a long time and collected a lot of information we would love to pass on to help you. Everyone wants to feel needed and we can help you. As I said we gain knowledge being around younger people too. It is a total win win. We know your lives are full with learning now or a young family and work. You might think we don't want to be bothered but no one will know till they ask! If at first you don't find a good match ask another. Keep the first person in mind though cause your friend who needs help or information might be the perfect match. Some older people have felt useless or whatever and be leery of new friends,.. older or younger. Like you might be too. But do try.
    I heard of a young couple that lived by an older couple that they noticed started having junk piled next to their communal fence. It irritated the young couple. One day the older couple was outside and the younger man asked him about it. The older man said he was sorry. He had had a son who could take his things to the dump when needed but he had moved and he could not find anyone willing to do it anymore. The young man said he would take theirs when he took their own. The 2 couples got to talking and through the years they got to be so close their children called the older couple Grandma and Grandpa. What started out being an irritant and a misunderstanding turned out to be a God send to both couples. :-) Sarah

    1. Dear Sarah,
      Thank you! I have a long track history of having a lot of older friends. My best friend when the girls were teenagers was Rhonda. She was in her 90s and I was in my 30s. She was my best friend ever and I miss her so much. But she taught me so much. I agree with you there is a lot to learn and a great thing to ask older people who have the experiences. Plus as you say it is a win win in help and friendship.
      Thank you so much for your comment. With love,

  22. Hi Annabel, the lack of skill in young people is very sobering. I wish it were different but it is up to those of us who do these things to foster the growth and education of others. You are doing a superb job at that. My ds and his gf were out at the bonfire with us a couple of days ago and she said let's get takeaway for dinner. I can pay. I said do you have cheese? She said yes, I said well we can have individual pizzas ready in less than five mins. So we used our greek yogh/flour mix and bacon, chicken and camembert and they bought ham and cheese and we laid them all out on the bench and cooked our own individual pizzas. Much better than takeaway they both said. I give them soap and homemade cleaners and try to encourage more 'doing' less buying. But at the end of the day all I can do is lead by example. And yes, we do get takeaway from time to time but certainly not a regular thing.

    I too have Carla Emery's book, one of my faves. I have the 10th edition.

    I love reading your blog. Have a great weekend. Fi xxx

    1. Dear Fiona, Well done on your little demo on making do and saving. And that is teaching and helping a lot. I love it.
      I love that book! Mum and Dads must have been an early edition... it must be 40 years old or so at least. Did me good, that book!
      Takeaway is surprisingly expensive by the times you x it by each person. The last few times we have had a shock. So who knows what people spend but lots.
      Have a lovely weekend. I am tired! I cannot see much progress today but a rest instead! With love,

  23. Sorry to be late to comment. This week I haven't been able to catch up on all the lovely blogs I follow. This is because I am cutting back on my screen time as you know. I really miss checking what everyone is up to.

    This is a great post Annabel. So much information for everyone to utilise.

    My one goal left is to make soap. I buy organic ones at the moment. This is something that I have put off over and over again. I have all the ingredients etc, just too chicken to give it a try. I need Wendy to come visit :)

    Card making is another skill I want to learn. I have started but I need an area I can set up without having to pack it away all the time. I will get there as soon as I get my rumpus room sorted. I have decluttered our house and all the clutter has ended up out there! Now I need to sort it out and donate...I have purchased some stamps to get me going with card making :)

    I learned most of my skills like cooking, knitting, sewing and crocheting from my mum and grandmother. Even now I still ring mum when I need advice with cooking lol! Growing up on the farm I learned how to take care of animals and how to garden. All these skills have come in handy throughout my life :)

    Hope you have a lovely week,


    1. Dear Tania,
      It is lovely that you have had a Mum and Grandma that have taught you heaps. I was lucky this way too and then we keep learning!
      You have done a lot this year. Soap making and card making can come next year!
      I found the same with soap making. I put it off worried about caustic soda.
      My tip is to have old jugs etc especially for soap making and to add the caustic soda to the liquid outside. It heats up and thats where you get the fumes. I would do that bit outside then bring it inside to mix in with the oil part and go from there. It is really amazingly easy. And fun! I am planning to re start and looking for nice molds etc so saving things up for it. My best soap was olive oil and goats milk. It was lovely and I still have that recipe. You would like this I think.
      Lots of love,

  24. What an excellent read. I was not raised with much skill teaching. I was an 80's US baby and my mom hit the workforce. What little skills I learned was through summer visits to my grandparents. I have had teach myself cooking, shopping, checkbook, and baking. Amongst other things. I treasure blogs that help me., thanks for your beautiful blog.

    1. Dear Chrissy,
      I am sorry you have been sick and this has messed up your plans! But you will get back on track, dont worry, you cannot help being sick. I hope you are feeling much better.
      Well done on all the things you have learned. I know you are a good cook. And you keep your house beautifully.
      Also I know your children will know these skills when they leave home. A great advantage.
      I am learning so much and blogs help me too. Encouragement and new skills help so much.
      I hope you are feeling much better! With love,

  25. I wanted to add that improving your skill does not have to mean doing everything. One great piece of advice I learned in one book I read was to just come up with One Meal that you can make so well that you would be proud to serve it to company. Start there. That One Meal will make all the difference. I used that idea to teach myself one great cake. I don't make lots of cakes well, but I do make one cake well. It's the one cake I give to people who have a baby or lose a loved one.

    And it reminded me (after I started this) that my grandmother did the same thing. She had one pie recipe. She made that for everything she had to participate in.

    The idea of One Meal means that when something comes up, I can just resort to habit to help me.

    This year we have had some tough times. The times have been so stressful that if I were having to learn new skills at the same time, I wouldn't have been able to do it. But I could rely on the One Meal skills. The things that were such a part of my being that I found it easier to keep doing them. They helped.

    Thanks for the post. Yes we need to skill up. But start now while things are peaceful. It's much more difficult to concentrate on those things when life is stressful.

  26. Dear Cristy, That is awesome advice! One good cake is all you need to make a treat and use as gifts, birthdays and so on. And being good at one is doable. This is really smart and would make it less daunting.
    Your next bit is awesome too... learn skills and get good at them now not when things are in crisis or too hard. Gosh Cristy... this is a good comment. I hope you see this... would you like to email me if you dont want to thats ok!
    I am sorry you have had some rough times this year. I hope you have a wonderful Christmas and a much easier 2016. With love and thanks,


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