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 17 January 2016

The Vicky Challenge. Week 2.

I had another very interesting week! I also had a few things that I needed to figure out how much of a saving they were and a few things easy to add in as I already knew the amounts from having worked them out earlier.  I know this made me watch for more opportunities to save and do things myself.

Also I realised the things I do save other households especially the girls. Babysitting and homemake crock pots of baby food and all kinds of cooking etc must also help Lucy's household and I don't count those savings but I am very glad of them. We can really contribute to someones weekly budget with the gift of help or a meal or surplus produce.
My Nan always said that an ounce of help is worth a pound of sympathy. I always remember that!

This week I am going to include a letter from Vicky about some of the things she counts in her savings. She has opened my eyes to a lot of possibilities and you might find some ideas or have a moment of revelation as I did!

Last week two things helped bolster up my savings. One was picking peaches from a tree in the back lane. I picked about 25 kilos (double that plus a bit equals pounds) and I was beaten. Even on a ladder, with a broom, I couldn't get the high up ones. Andy headed off to the shed and made me a fruit picker with a very long stick! So I then immediately picked about another 7 kilos and even more today. I think I am at around 35 kilos.  This stick took a little practise but highly motivated as I am about fruit I treated it as a sport and if it was only an Olympic event I could represent Australia as I got pretty good at it! :)

At the moment in the shops peaches are on special down to $3.50 a kilo so I will go by that price and say our efforts produced $122.50 off peaches!
Like everything this will become more as I turn them into peach crumble, pies, cobbers etc much of which I will freeze. We will also not buy any fruit so another saving. Much of this week will be spent on dealing with peaches. But how fantastic!

My next saving was painting the laundry. I used the found paint as it was white interior wall paint and I tinted it yellow with a sample tin which gave me lemon. So the whole laundry repaint cost under $20. It is really hard to work out the savings. There are online price guides to painting if you hire someone and going by them I saved around $300. So that will do! It took a day and was fiddly as there were lots of things to paint around the edges of! But it was worth it. It looks so fresh and clean and nice. I have the door to go which will be white. Pictures coming soon!

Otherwise my savings are usual i.e. lunches and a few good specials from the supermarket.

I put the weeks savings at $522.50.

In my savings book I have a page to a week and the total at the bottom of the page so it is quick and easy to add up the month, then the year.

I had a sneak peak and the month is up to $2331.50. This has been helped along by a few big things like our day getting out the old carpet, the painting and doesn't count all the work Andy has done in the yard.

So I am pretty happy to see this and it is an interesting experiment for sure!

Now I will let you read Vicky's letter as it is full of things to consider:

Here is a list of things we do that saves that I add to my savings book. Some are not added monthly, but maybe yearly or seasonally. I add any extra income that is not from the paycheck and some may actually save in more than one way so I call that a double dip. Some may be silly to others, but when my ultimate goal was to become debt free I was a determined woman. Even just cutting back on things or stretching them to make them last longer or getting the most bang for my buck all helped achieve that goal. It may be a little harder to do now because of circumstances, but seeing the things we have changed makes me realise how much better we will be later on because of it. Planning ahead is a wonderful thing to implement into each season. Always plan for the next one, get ahead and stay ahead of things if possible. 
So here's my list: Ways we save/earn
clearance items
homemade laundry soap(I get other laundry soaps free with coupons as well)
gardening, canning, freezing, dehydrating
starting our own seeds
accepting used items
paying bills online and over the phone( saves stamps and checks)
recycling cans and metal (makes money)
shutting things off to save electric
hanging clothes to dry 
free samples
product tests(equals free stuff)
coke points
my points
bing points(gave my son 3 months of Xbox Live for free using these so free Christmas gift)
putting ads on craigslist instead of paying for an ad
homemade dog food
if we eat out we have a great coupon (this is rare though)
no renting movies(we used to do this a lot)
using the library for books and movies
some homemade gifts 
rewards from stores(free money)
doing repairs ourselves 
scrubbing carpet ourselves
hunting and fishing
one tank trips(to save gas)
stocking up
home haircuts
homemade birthday cakes
cutting back on soda
fuel rewards(saving on gallons of gas)
not buying magazines(I used to be a magazine junkie)
burning wood in winter(we used to spend a ton on fuel oil)
getting free wood
not buying fuel oil
not having a water bill(the water pump is electric so I still try to save on water usage)
yard sales and thrift stores
chickens for eggs(plus the poo is fertilizer)
free plants(either for the garden, flowers or herbs)
cooking smaller, simpler meals
eating fresh veggies from the garden
free produce given to us or foraged 
putting the printer in draft mode to print or using only black ink
keeping the air conditioner off as much as possible
using newspaper in the chicken coop and less straw
2 huge rain tanks to catch water off of the barn(we water the garden with it so no running the well pump)
when winter is really snowy I melt snow(free water) for emergency use and keep in a water barrel 
blowing out the filters on the vacuum( this has saved me from having to buy filters and keeps the suction like new)
dumpster diving(this a paper only dumpster) and finding free items set out that someone is getting rid of
doing my own mani/pedis
doing the bulk of animal vet care myself
found money
leftovers from parties(if someone offers and you can use it)
homemade cleaning products
cutting back on paper towels (haven't gotten my husband to give them up yet)
negotiated for better deals/interest rates
How did your week go? I really hope you are seeing the enormous contribution financially that your work makes to your life and family. I always want to stress that this challenge is about the financial side of things but that does't make it the most important part of what we do. The most important part is loving our family. We are largely responsible for setting the tone and atmosphere of the home and making it a sanctuary from the world. There is truly no place like home. Home is our little nest, that's how I think of it!
There are so many parts of building up a home and certainly making any money coming in go as far as possible is a big part of it. We can be good stewards of our income. It makes a big difference!

I hope you had a great week and this new week is full of possibilities!xxx


  1. Hello Annabel,
    I love your Nan's quot about help and sympathy, it is sure true.
    You are amazing to forage all those nice peaches. Peaches straight from the tree are so much nicer than the ones that have been trucked and sat around in grocery stores.
    I have been slowed down by a long lasting cold and am ready to get back to this challenge.

    1. Dear Rhonda,
      Thanks. Nan was very practical. She thought a lot of people were all wind and so substance I think!
      The peaches are a big bonus. Each day I am making something and adding to the freezer. I hope you feel better! I can't even imagine how cold it is there let alone having a cold too. Many thanks, Love

  2. I love reading about your days as I'm staying inside with snow on the ground and temps -0 Fahrenheit. Fresh peaches. Yum.

    1. Dear Brenda, Thank you. I love reading your insights and this week was excellent! With love

  3. Annabel, you and Vicky and I share a love of tallying that's for! I'm going to say we saved at least $2000 on our recent holiday by eating 'at home' and 'al fresco' as we usually do, teaching my now 16 year old daughter to cook, making cakes, relishes and sweets like rocky road, and passing on skills to her like crocheting and embroidery, that kept us away from markets and trendy homewares stores selling the very same things for inflated prices. Even on holidays, you can plan ahead, take things to keep hands busy, and not feel the least bit 'deprived'. I'm looking forward to seeing what everyone has been up to! Love, Mimi xxx

    1. Dear Mimi, I loved hearing about your holiday. It would have suited me down to the ground. And it reminds me so much of how things were when the girls were teenagers!
      We have a little holiday planned, I have a basket of goodies started to take and letter writing and crafts lined up. I add to these as it gets closer. And a picnic on they way of course.
      What this all saves per day I don't know but eating brie and crackers on the beach is no hardship! lol thats one of the things we like to do!
      Glad to have you back! With love

  4. Annabel
    I know that your girls really appreciate the ways you help to build up their homes. And I am looking forward to pictures of your newly painted laundry room. Your cost estimate is a very conservative one. I think it would have been more to hire.
    My savings came in several ways this week. The biggest is that by staying home our income is at a level that qualifies my children for state insurance. This alone saved us close to $1,000 for my son that has pneumonia. In one week he had three blood draws, 6 shots, 5 prescriptions, and 3 doctor visits. Another big savings came when my friend's college aged daughter cleaned out her closet and gifted my daughter with an entire WARDROBE of name brand like new clothing and shoes. My daughter was over the moon excited- cardigans, scarves, long sleeve tees, short sleeve tees, hoodies, skirts, and 5 pairs of shoes. This was a huge savings and a wonderful blessing. At the thrift store my daughter bought 3 beautiful skirts for $1 each. I got a very expensive blouse there for $1 as well. I also found items for crafting and presents from .25 - $2. So for a small amount I added to my present closet.Then savings for groceries, packed lunches, homemade copycat coffees and smoothies etc. My total for staying home comes to $1,710 for this week. I never ever made that much in a week working.
    Oh, also I want to let you know that my son is improving. His breathing is much better thanks to an inhaler and his stomach has settled and is keeping medicines down. Thankfully this is a long weekend as tomorrow is Martin Luther King Jr Day and schools are out. So this week should be much better for him.

    1. Dear Ginger,
      Thank you for letting me know how your son is. I am very glad of the holiday too. Rest and sleep are sometimes the best thing out.
      Well your savings are amazing. We have different medical systems and I hear a lot from the US ladies about medical costs and medical insurance. I am so very glad for you that you were spared big expenses from everything needed lately. That is huge.
      Also the clothes! They would be worth such a lot plus the happiness they brought your daughter as well!
      What a great week. I hope your son continues getting much better. With lots of love

  5. I love the fruit picker that you made. Ingenious!

    1. Dear Debbie, I got about another five kilos today thanks to that picker. Love it! Now to get cooking peaches! with love

  6. I thought that after last week, when I tracked $1055.35 that this week would have been next to nothing! But, I kept track anyway and here's what happened:

    I cooked and shredded 6 ziplock meal size bags of crockpot beef -$18. Savings
    Got a refund check from bank for $7.62.
    Made a payment over the phone- 49 cents
    Renewed hubby's Pradaxa discount card- $660!
    Deposited extra money into savings- $8
    Used 3 overripe apples, leftover sour cream into cake- $12
    Changed internet service- $120
    Changed Amazon Prime membership- $26
    DIY cream of mushroom soup- $2
    Bought gas during errands - $1.80
    Bought window plastic on sale- $8.85
    Krogers- M& Ms clearance plus coupon- $47.15
    Laundry detergent sale plus coupon- $27.50
    Free mac & cheese- $1.
    Free popcorn- $2
    Free butterfingers- 59 cents
    2 free yogurts- $2.49
    5 Gatorade on sale plus coupon- $1.50
    Toilet paper on sale- $4.98
    Kroger gift card- $5
    5 boxes of fruit snacks on clearance- $12.45

    Making a grand total for this past week of $969.42!!!!! Wowsers!!!! I had NO idea that in our normal ways of trying to save money that we would see these kinds of totals!
    In this coming week, I want to sell some clutter and renegotiate or change our car and homeowners insurances! We'll see how that goes!
    Thanks so much for starting this challenge!!!

    1. Dear Gardenpat,
      Wowsers indeed! That is fantastic. I am glad it smokes as s cook to you what it all adds up to!
      Good luck with the new week and selling things plus the insurances. You never know what this all might result in...
      I like the way you had big and small savings and it all added up to a massive amount! Well done! With love

  7. Dear Annabel, you have had an amazing week of savings and I am happy to say that I have too. I have 5 small pages of savings in my Vicky challenge book totalling $600
    Yes Annabel $600 this includes: small savings of $5 for making 2 cards and $10 off using 4 cards to send to a new friend $10 saving as well as buying household items on sale $30 savings ,
    Having 3 no spend days this week $120 ( 3 days at $40 a day for taxi fares lunch or morning tea and " extras" )
    Also , making my own pizza for tea one night $ 10 saving
    There are bigger savings too like de cluttering my bedroom and finding a skirt I bought last week on sale( and forgetting I bought it's was looking for something else)
    $40 saving and also having gifts I bought on sale in a box put away ( all bought on sale) $50 saving approximately.
    I also counted this week saving $ 100 approximately on craft classes by teaching myself via YouTube and magazines as I was going to take classes
    As well , I have saved $7 per meal on 5 meals this week plus $7 extra for a shepards pie ( small one) from my parents.$42
    I am also saving my mum $ 200 approx by giving her my in good condition DVD player as I have a DVD recorder now. I don't know if I should count that because you didn't count helping your daughters Annabel.
    I am saving $20 a month approximately by having my own produce ( small amounts)
    Made by own hot chips ( twice instead of buying take away or frozen) $10 savings ( 2 lots of $5)
    Will be saving on cleaning $15 saving a week by getting my subsidised cleaning / home help.
    Saved $30 on a movie trip and snacks by watching movies on TV and making my own snacks.
    I am going to repurpose a filing/ cabinet style drawers with a good surface for working on with a chopping board instead of buying an island bench for my kitchen ( I have seen these for $300) I will save $150 .
    So that brings me to my total , over or approximately $600
    I am so happy with my savings and there could be more as I gave more meals etc coming from my parents and other things I did not add in.
    I hope you have a great week Annabel. Thank you Annabel and Vicky for today's post. Love Barb

    1. Dear Barb, It was lovely you could give the DVD to your parents and save them the money as I know they help you as well so that worked out so well.
      Also I love that you watched you tube for lessons! Truly that is so good and we can just keep learning new skills for free, how lucky are we?
      Well done also on making you own pizza and chips! Big saving there too.
      You did very well! I hope the next week is as good! Many thanks Barb, with love

  8. Goodness me, Annabel...all those peaches. They would have fruit fly in them if they were growing up here unless they were sprayed. That us going to keep you busy for a while. Look at all the money you have saved already this year. It sure adds up doesn't it?

    1. Dear Nanna Chel, Fruit fly must be awful. No sprays here on these at all. With Andys handy picking devise I got another 5 kilos of really big ones today! Tomorrow is a dedicated day to peach cooking.
      Many thanks, Love

  9. Annabel, this list is so helpful, thank you and Vicky for posting it. It has opened my eyes to some things I do that I hadn't thought about as savings! You had another great savings week!

    I included my Vicky's Challenge in my Pantry Challenge this week. I had a good savings week but not as good as yours!

    1. Dear Patsy,
      I am about to head over. I love the theme this week of adapting when times are tough. I hope I can contribute something everyday on that. We have to have plan A, B and a few more!
      Have a good week! With love

  10. Hi Anabel, I'm still getting my head around all the ways we can save money and show it here. This past week from Vinnies I bought a QS White flannel sheet set, a pice if green quilting fabric and a white shower curtain. I plan to make this up into modern cloth nappies for my grandchild. A saving of at least $40. I also purchased 2 near new dresses for $7 a saving of $33. We were gifted some onions and tomatoes saving $5. We were gifted two large bags of mangoes. Working in a cost at the markets if $1/mango a saving of $30. I then cooked these mangos up into yet more chutney and jam, saving $30. Another gift of tea bags and a packet of sweet biscuits, saving $5. We purchased 5 bales of sugar cane mulch hay from a local farm costing $22.50. If we used the equivalent hay from bunnings would have cost at least double this so saving around $22. I cleaned out and reorganised the pantry so we would know what we have quickly and easily and so nothing we have goes to waste. The passionfruit vine is dropping fruit left right and centre. I have given away bags in the last couple of weeks. I've made four bottles of passionfruit cordial saving $15. This tastes like old fashioned Passiona when mixed with soda water. A conservative saving of $180.

    1. Dear Jane, What a good idea with the nappies. I notice the modern style nappies are expensive. Also they are a very good idea.
      A little while ago I clipped a lot of Mango recipes for Helen as she gets a lot of mangoes at times. I wish I copied them now to send to you! When I have a lot of something I google "things to make with..." and sometimes get ideas I never would have thought of. Need to do that with peaches just now!
      Your passionfruit also sounds divine. To me it all sounds so exotic and healthy! It is an amazing abundance to have such beautiful things in great quantities. You week has been great. Putting things to great use is a big part of it. Fruit has a window of opportunity really. My day tomorrow is dealing with a lot of peaches for that reason!
      Many thanks Jane, with love

    2. Annabel,
      Have you ever made peach salsa? It is lovely. used to buy it at the farmers market. Maybe there are some good ones if you look at all

  11. Another bountiful week for you Annabel, that was a heap of peaches !Lovely :-)
    My week has been the usual chores,and ones that get forgotten.Hubby sharpened the knives for me.I got checked at the chiro ,and have sore homework :-( Trimmed our two front door lavender bushes.Made a lamb casserole in the slow cooker for one dinner and 3 lunches,and a new recipe for muesli slice also for his lunchbox and my cuppas.
    Took my car for a check as it was making funny sounds and need a new motor yikes 6K! but as the mileage is low and it's just out of warranty we don;t have to pay phew! So that's a big saving ,for the surprise my car sprang upon me.Have a beautiful week everyone ,love Maria xxx

    1. Dear Maria,
      I love that you have lavender bushes at the front door, lovely.
      What a relief about the engine. That is a huge amount and what a close shave with the warranty! I am breathing a sigh of relief with you on that one.
      Yummy cooking too. Have a good week to you too. I think you had a great week. With love

  12. Started off with a bargain of an air fare and took my lunch to work each day, bought petrol with a discount voucher, bought school shoes $26 off, bought DD a second hand school uniform saved $30 there, a gift bought on sale for 50% off at $7.50 saving, "shopped at home for DD's back to school stationary saved $50, saved dessert and made something instead, I picked up two different shifts saving $144 each time or making it, ran out of scourers and used a rag instead, used a $10 every day rewards points for groceries, shopped around for dental work saved $112, bought my Grand Daughter a gift at an op-shop saved myself $20 plus. So total savings this week was $707. Wow I tired myself out just reading that. Great peaches score Annabel...........Hope your luck continues on your fruit search

    1. Dear Mel,
      Well done! What a great total. It is a great idea getting quotes on dental work too. I hope you are staying cool its a pretty warm week so far! Awesome on the extra shifts. Have a great week Mel. It is so nice to see the savings add up like this! With love,

  13. Wow Annabel, you are so fortunate to have such a plentiful fruit tree so near to you.

    So far this week I have saved money by shopping at a nearby farmers market and then on the way home we stopped to pick some almonds, grapes and peaches from the side of the road. We are going back there next weekend to hopefully find and pick some more.

    We were also given 7kgs of apricots so today we made another 37 jars of jam, of all different sizes.

    Our nectarines are starting to ripen so I will be picking some of those this week and for the next couple of weeks. I picked our grapes and have them drying. I also picked tomatoes and capsicum today from the garden. I have dried some tomatoes and may dry some more or make relish, I am not sure yet.

    And it is only Monday!

    Oh and I love the fruit picker, clever Andy!


    1. Dear Tania,
      Roadside almonds, grapes and peaches! I would have done the same thing! How fantastic! All your produce and jam making is my idea of wonderful. I am working on peaches each day I go through them and pick out ripe and must be used. Some are in the fridge too for fresh use. So far I am keeping up, today using new recipe... keeping up is the thing!
      I know utmost be hot up there, it is hot here. Stay cool. With love

  14. Hardly bought any groceries at all this week except rock bottom bargains on dairy at NQR. Bulla cream 300ml for 25c, at least one week to use it, but all but two frozen. (Had to buy 12 for $3) made cupcakes and a smash cake for GD on her first birthday. Had a windfall of $428 not expected this year and therefore not budgeted, so a real bonus! Bought half price summer clothing to put aside for Samaritans purse and school items also at half price. Bought half price or less summer nightwear. Hired books and dvd's for free from library. All up my week yielded $673.

    1. Dear Kaye,
      You get some awesome bargains Kaye. The cream is one of them! That is so useful. So glad about your windfall also! I know you will do great things with that.
      And You got the nighties by the sounds of it!
      That is a great total. I think these totals show what is possible. The savings are huge. With lots of love

  15. Annabel,
    I love the peach picker Andy made for you that is ingenious! I had a very slow week savings wise since it's winter here and it's mostly slow for me this time of year, but Rick saved $20 negotiating the balancing of my new tires he put on, I made a few small gifts for my gift trunk, I didn't leave other than to babysit a few days so saved on gas, used up leftovers and made dog food. I did get some much needed things done until I hurt my foot! LOL

    1. Dear Vicky,
      Yes the picker is working a treat. I have about 15 more kilos (30b) of peaches so far because of it! Will be handy in the future. Think I should keep it in jar just about!
      Hope your foot is on the improve. That had to slow you down a lot!
      With thanks,

  16. Dear Annabel, All of those peaches are such a blessing! That is a huge savings and I'm sure everything you make with them will be delicious.
    I was almost certain I would have zero savings this week as my husband and I went on a small vacation to celebrate our five year anniversary. We have never been anywhere together just for the fun of it (we didn't even have a honeymoon), so it was very nice and refreshing, and I just felt so pampered. The reason we were able to do this was because we had been saving in the first place, so this was also like a little reward. I actually did manage to save while we were away, as well. The main thing was by not buying anything at the specialty shops and boutiques in the town. I learned a lot about what things were selling for, and how we save by making things ourselves. I thought about you, Annabel, and all the ladies on here! I saw quilts, body powders, soaps, dried flower bundles, crocheted baby clothes, etc just like you have been talking about being sold for ridiculous amounts of money. And most of it came from China! So what do I do when I end up in a nice town? I go to the local thrift store lol! I bought a wicker lounge chair for $10 (these go for about $250 so I'm saying I saved $240), a needlepoint pillow for $15 (saved about $45), a vintage beaded purse at half price ($7), and vintage sheets, table runners, and plates/china for just a couple dollars each (not really sure how to count that). Also, since my husband was away for work the week before last and we were away last week, that is two weeks we have not had to buy groceries ($100). We paid a bill over the phone (.49) and my mother-in-law surprised us with a combined Christmas/Anniversary gift of $140. So my savings this week ended up being about $532.49.
    After all of that, it is so nice to be back home and I am ready to get back to work! Thank you Annabel and Vicky and all of the ladies contributing. This is so encouraging! Love, Kelsey

    1. Dear Kelsey, Happy anniversary to you both and I am so glad you did this! Especially as you didn't have a honeymoon. It sounds like you had a great time and you absolutely did what we would do! I always go tot he thrift stores! I also would have bought the wicker chair! What good things you found.
      Looking in the stores I get ideas. I will even take photos on my phone so I can remember the details and price (discreetly!) and it motivates me as I think ok people are paying this amount of money for these things and I can probably make that. Lots of inspiration to be found which I think is really fun.
      You had such a nice week! Im so glad and you had great savings too. It sounds like you came home refreshed. That is wonderful! With love

    2. Well done Kelsey!

  17. Your lovely peaches have me longing for summer on this frosty cold day here in the US. What a wonderful blessing to have all of that free fruit!

    We have paid out a good bit of money to a painter of late but since our son in law is also a painter I know that painting does make a living for some. We are terrible at all that detail trim work. One valuable thing I have learned from our painter is that you can take a paint chip and have the color mixed in lighter percentages of the chip. For our kitchen ceiling we are doing 25% of the wall color and I may do 50% in the half bath right around the corner. We looked at real fixer upper house over the weekend and the entire house was full of wallpaper. It sold before we could even make an offer but I would have had our painter take down all that wallpaper and then we could have done the entire house in one color by doing varying percentages of the one color. This is something we had never even considered before our painter talked to us about it.

    1. Dear Lana, That is a good tip re the different strengths of the same colour. Another thing I love is you can take in a colour from anything i.e. fabric or china and they can match it perfectly. I think its amazing and handy.
      I love seeing how clean and fresh new paint looks.
      I am dealing with peaches everyday. Making peach crisp which I think you told me about in the first place and it became Andys no 1 desert of all time! He talks about that often so now it is time!
      Have a good week, with love

  18. Dearest Annabel, I thought I'd commented, but I must have forgotten to press! That is a fantastic week, and I'm so impressed with your Olympic standard peach picking! What a wonderful windfall! Well, you know that like you and Vicky, I do love a good tally up at the end of each week. We've been away on our little homespun holiday with lots of picnics, crafting and reading on the agenda. Hard to do a tally on that, but compared to a family we are friendly with, who also holidayed nearby and spent over $3000 not including accomodation, I'm going to venture a saving of $2000. And that's just by taking crochet and knitting materials, a few good books, and deciding ahead of time, that this was a holiday for relaxing and learning new skills, not for spending money. A New Years Eve outfit was procured for my 16 year old daughter from the thrift shop for just $3 when a celebrating opportunity presented itself, and that was about it apart from groceries. You would have loved the homewares stores and I got lots of wonderful ideas from browsing there...but no spending! Chunky knitted rugs are still the rage, as are framed pictures made from pearly little white buttons, vases of driftwood, cushions trimmed with fringe and fur and tulle, beaded velvet serviette rings, oversized candles poured and moulded in all manner of glass containers, large and small, and fresh flowers in pastel tinted water and clear vases. So much inspiration, and like you say, only 24 hours in a day. Are you sure we need to sleep? Love, Mimi xxx

    1. Dear Mimi, I was just slow to post. Sometimes comments go to blogger and not my inbox for unknown reasons. Thank you for this as it gives everyone ideas of how to greatly cut costs and afford a holiday that is still beautiful.Love

    2. Oh, I just thought I had had a bout of random! Not you at all! I knew you were busily painting too. Love, Mimi xxx

  19. Thanks Annabel & Vicky for this challenge. With a new baby and two other kids under 5, I often feel like I'm running around in circles getting nothing done but feeding and cleaning up. Writing it all down has been amazing!
    It was very funny on the weekend when I was reading your post about the peaches I had an epiphany, grabbed a basket and took off to a local roadside tree that I have had my eye on for a week or so. I have been waiting for them to be ripe, but then I realised I could pick them while they were still hard. Lucky I did, I drove past this morning and the tree was covered in rosellas having their breakfast. So I got 8kgs of peaches. Very happy!
    So here is my list for the past week. I haven't costed it, but I think it would be a few hundred. And reading Vicky's suggestions, I will probably have more on it next week.
    Baked 5 x loaves bread
    Made muesli
    Made neroli & lavender deodorant 
    Made 4 tubs of Buttersoft
    Picked a kilo of zucchini 
    Received raspberry plants, boysenberry & blackberry cuttings, fig cuttings, rose cuttings, artichoke plant & borage plant from neighbours who are moving
    Made 2kgs yoghurt 
    Grated Parmesan and Cheddar cheese in food processor for freezer
    Made hommous
    Made double batch of miracle spray
    Bought a breadmaker for $5
    Bought 5 kids tops & a hat for $5
    Gratefully received wooden train set, wooden garage with cars, hand carved wooden chess set & bag of wooden blocks from neighbour whose grandkids have outgrown them. Will give her a jar of farm honey as thanks.
    Made homemade fudge
    Stewed foraged highway apples with some garden rhubarb 
    Made 4 apple rhubarb pies & 4 chicken vegetable pies
    Started a batch of apple cider vinegar with scraps from apple pie
    Made 3 jars chutney with old peaches & nectarines
    Made paneer for a vegetarian curry
    Made pizza dough in breadmaker for homemade pizzas
    Picked a big basket of peaches from a roadside tree
    Cooked all meals from scratch as usual

  20. Sorry, forgot to sign off on previous comment.
    Peach x

    1. Dear Peach,
      Well done on all that fruit! People always say they didn't get the fruit as the birds got it. Mostly once birds are eating it it will ripen if picked and brought it. Plus there is nothing to lose in those circumstances. This tree we are picking from we needed to do that. Over a week it has ripened and I am using it now.
      I am so glad about you writing all this down and seeing how much you achieved! Its a huge amount and especially considering you have a new baby! Seriously, you should be so proud of yourself!
      And the train set and toys! Your week must have equalled hundreds.
      I think you are a hard worker Peach. Well done! Love

    2. Peach,
      It sounds as if you are doing very well with three little ones to tend to. You are a valuable asset to your home with all of the ways you are saving so I would like to say god job! And free food is a wonderful way to add to the pantry and help the budget!

    3. Thankyou!
      There is so much shared encouragement here, it is lovely.
      Peach x

  21. Oh, your lovely peaches have once again made me green with envy. Or maybe it’s the lovely weather you have in which to pick them? It’s below freezing here with wind chills even lower. Brrrrrrrr!

    The bitter cold means our home improvement project, which currently is removing cabinet doors and painting cabinets, must be completed indoors because the garage is too cold for the paint and for the painters! Including what we did today and all of our work on the powder room last week, I estimate we put in about 32 hours of DIY effort, which would have easily come with a four-figure price tag had we hired out the work. I keep taking and sharing pictures to keep myself motivated as the project (unsurprisingly) wears on. It will be exciting to have the cabinets painted because it will make a dramatic difference in how the kitchen looks and will really brighten up the room.

    Speaking of brightening up a room, Annabel, I’ll bet your yellow walls look cheery. It’s so much nicer to attend to one’s work in pleasant surroundings!

    I’ve done very little shopping since we have been otherwise occupied, which means I had limited opportunities to spend money, a very good thing for us right now! My husband took a couple of coupons to the hardware store and got a free screwdriver set and free flashlight. When I did shop for fresh items to supplement the pantry meals we’ve been eating during this season of chaos I stacked sales, coupons, and rebates to keep costs down. I used milk purchased on sale and a cup of yogurt purchased with a rebate to make a batch of homemade yogurt in my slow cooker/crock pot. Purchasing yogurt to equal what I made would have cost five times as much.

    My biggest non-home-improvement accomplishment was baking and decorating cupcakes for a party. Similar from-scratch cupcakes with piped frosting, sanding sugar, and handmade chocolate candy toppers would have cost a fortune at a bakery, but of course homemade tasted wonderful and the party honoree was delighted with the personalized treats.

    I see that Vicky counts so many more things than I have been tracking. I think I’ll choose to keep limiting my list a bit. If the goal is to assign a value to one’s contributions to the household then I am content with recording a lower number since my husband and I are happy with how we’ve divided the work in our home even though my part of the work doesn’t draw a steady paycheck.

    US ladies, please keep warm and safe. It seems many of us are experiencing rough weather right now. Ladies who are enjoying summer, please soak up a little extra sunshine for me and enjoy your fresh produce!

    Blessings, Leigh

    1. Dear Leigh, Thank you! I have been watching your home improvements and the enormous amount of work you are putting in. Also sympathising with the dust part. I can't imagine what it is all saving you apart from the results you will get!
      You did very well to also cook and get other things done!
      I can't wait to see how the cabinets turn out! Painting their cabinets is on a lot of peoples dream list I think. I would do it as I love white so I slap white on everything! Have a great week, with love

  22. Dear Annabel,
    Love the photos of the peaches and so happy that you have been able to pick so many! I have been looking at your peach picker. We usually borrow one from our neighbors to get the tangelos from the top of our tree. I considered buying one last year until I saw that they cost about $30. We have several wonderful neighbors with whom we share a variety of things and also save each other trips to the store.
    Thank you for sharing Vicky's letter. It was encouraging that many of the things are already things I do.
    Between sales, discounted items, coupons and catching errors on the receipt, I had some helpful savings ate the grocery store.
    I've had a couple of trips to the doctor. I saved a trip to have my knee brace adjusted by popping in the office by the doctor's office and inquiring if they could take a peek since I was there. He was able to see me and adjust my brace. Better still, he had suggestions about another brace that might be more helpful and things to mention to my orthopedic doctor. I didn't put a $ amount on this, but could be worth a lot. With his office being so close, my doctor is familiar with working with him, as well.
    The mailman brought coffee samples, a full-sized deodorant and vitamins.
    I've processed some of my citrus---3 jars of lemon butter, lemon juice, grated lemon peel, jug of orange juice and some fruit eaten fresh.
    I've downloaded several free books for my Kindle. There was one I wanted for $12, but I get so many free or very cheap ones that I just couldn't do it.
    My total is $124.93.
    Have a great week! Love from Arizona, Elaine

    1. Dear Elaine,
      Well done and especially well done on all you achieved even though you have a knee brace as well!
      The citrus sounds just beautiful. I love all the things you have made with it.
      I love free kindle books! Almost every day the A working pantry Facebook group features pantry, cooking etc related free ebooks. That is a help and I grab many of them.
      Have a good week and thank you so much for sharing your week! With love

  23. Hi Annabel!
    Can I just say that I thought your response to the mum who is having a hard time at the moment was really beautiful. I'm so glad she saw it and it helped her. It made me so sad to read her comment, no mum deserves to feel like that :(
    I really hope things improve for her.

    I have been a bit hopeless at recording what I've been up to, but I've also had my eyes opened by reading your posts and everyone's comments. The major things I've done since the start of the year are baked a friends wedding cake (didn't actually save myself money, but saved them plenty :) ), baked my sons birthday cake, made a piƱata, sewed him a mask, bought some platters that I will gift with treats on for $3 each, down from $40, and pretty much just the regular stuff like making meals, baking, shaping eyebrows etc.

    Where I feel like my eyes have been opened is the 'regular stuff'. I have never really thought of what I save by being at home with my children, but the reality is I would be spending hundreds of dollars a week on childcare if I wasn't. Particularly during school holidays. And there is no getting around that, I would have to pay it if I was at work. I don't bother counting things like cleaning because I don't think I would pay a cleaner regardless ( I suspect I would just have an awful looking house lol). But many of the things I've been thinking of as regular are actually genuine savers, I'm just so used to doing them that I forget to include them. So I'm trying to really write everything down to get a more accurate idea. That list from Vicky is great for that, thank you!

    1. Dear Jen,
      Vicky has talked me into counting the things like the baby food I make for Harper... therefore you can count the cake.. her logic is that these things we are doing as gifts for others. We want to be giving gifts of goods or help and we did this or that instead so it is still a saving through our efforts. So I think thats another $300 or so at least you saved! I will count my gifts of cooking, food, etc now as well as I can see it is the same as saving in the gift making challenge.
      I am glad you are seeing the enormous savings in the everyday. Jen it is all so much, I can't even see how it would make economic sense to pay others to look after children especially in the school holidays to go somewhere else and work. It must all counteract anything actually made and end up at square one!
      I always think you do heaps, and you do! Hope you are taking photos too i.e. of the birthday cake etc! With love

  24. Hi Annabel!!

    I finally got here!!

    First, to contribute to your previous post on time, I find that Proverbs chapter two is encouraging. There, a worthwhile wife is associated with wisdom, & the traits of being a guard and watchman over her household. As you have shown, how can a woman guard her household if she is not at home?

    Secondly, to address the Vicky Challenge for another week ..... Well, I had a week of being an assistant to my husband for an outdoor project he is doing a lovely job on. Sure, to have some kind of modern tradesman do a similar job would cost, we estimate, two to three thousand dollars. Nevertheless, we are simply seeing this as a job that has to be done in order to move on to other tasks. I did fit in little additions to my knitting, though!

    To encourage others, I recall that a timber & hardware company had printed on their invoices, "The secret of success is constancy of purpose". We can see this in the comments above. Some women have had a week sweetened very well with fruit! I remember that I used to do well to put aside even thirty dollars in a year - mostly, from continually gathering small savings from fuel dockets & Myer One points (which also came with green grocer purchases). Our general rule was not to change our spending habits; the savings had to fit our shopping. For that kind of money, once a year, one can buy a fruit tree & strawberry plants. I know. I did it! I now am at the end of my first small crop of oranges - five years after planting, as the bible describes. How I value that tree!!

    I am looking forward to the days ahead.

    Rachel Holt
    Sent from my iPad

    1. Dear Rachel,
      Proverbs is my mot loved chapter of the Bible. I just love it. This is a good point. How can we be watchful over our homes if we are never in them. Somewhere there is a verse that I think of often where a misguided woman is described and it says she rarely puts foot in her own home. I see that a lot and I think if we rarely put foot in our own home it is lost or ruined!
      Well done on being the assistant on the outdoor project! I like that you still could knit in the breaks!
      I really like your thoughts on savings being invested into something that will yield bigger savings over time... i.e. a fruit tree or strawberry plants. That is true and multiplies the savings so many times and into the future. I love that!
      Have a goo week Rachel! With love

  25. I always read all the Vicky articles and all the comments. They are something I really enjoy. It's harder for me to comment these days, but I wanted to comment this week.

    On Saturday, I was able to pick up 3 truck loads of mulch for my garden for free. I didn't even have to load it!! Our local beautification board grinds up old Christmas trees and gives them out free to gardeners one day in January. This year they had changed the location and weren't good with getting the word out, so the organizer told me to just keep coming back as long as they were there. Such a real blessing!! Saved us bunches!!

    I am loving all your posts, so encouraging. I really liked the one about Your Time. It's really important to know what our mission is so that we can measure all the things coming at us against it. (ie, Does this fit with my mission or undermine it?) Great reminder.

    1. Dear Cristy, Thank you for commenting I do really appreciate it.
      That was wonderful about the mulch!
      Also I am glad you liked my time post and I really love the way you put it, is something helping with our mission or undermining it. Exactly! It becomes much clearer! I have really found that!
      Thanks so much, love

  26. I really enjoy reading all your posts ( and the comments!) Annabel. I feel like I'm just getting me feet back under myself as far as housework and meals. It's taken a bit longer this time but I'm chalking it up to 7 th baby:) I haven't counted but am wondering if I should: we canceled a vacation saving us a minimum of 6000(!!). We aren't out any money as everything was far enough out or not paid for yet. Last week ended up being a bit expensive as we had our firsts broken bone which equaled an er visit and many X-rays. Thankfully my daughter seems to be doing ok and it looks like she won't be needing surgery. We have a very high deductible on our insurance so we will be out the whole bill, which I'm guessing will be at least 2000. Plus we need to follow up with an orthopedic and we have 2 other children with regular appointments and 7 dental appointments coming up in the next two weeks. I'm glad to be keeping track of what I'm saving as it makes me feel a bit better when looking at all those medical expenses!
    My biggest savings come by just not doing things-reminding myself that if I don't get lunch or treats out I'm saving at least $15 every time. So a few of those this week, and remembering to bring water bottles which saves 2/bottle plus I can refill them for free around town. I also saved $40 on birthday presents by using items at home and planning ahead so I didn't have to buy bags and tissue in town along with presents.
    Had $38.82 in coupons/sales savings on groceries. Also by going to the gym and running errands at inconvenient times, even if I really don't want to I'm saving money on babysitting as my husband can have the kids. It cuts down on family time and time for just my husband and I but even the high school kids charge $15/hour for babysitting regardless of how many kids they are watching! So my total savings this week are at &355.82.
    Hope everyone has a good week,

    1. Dear Elizabeth,
      Congratulations on your baby! I think you are doing really well to achieve so much.
      Medical costs can be huge and staying ahead of those costs plus dental etc is important so well done.
      I hope your daughter is doing well. A broken bone is no fun and it is so good she does not need surgery.
      Excellent savings! Many thanks for sharing your week, with love

  27. My list will probably be different than most. Both of my children are grown and gone, and I work outside the home. Still I have the following:

    Both DH and I brought lunch to work each day, and I also brought breakfast, drinks and snacks. Estimate saved $100.
    I trimmed my own bangs - $8.
    Received two sets of queen size microfiber sheets - $100
    I bought cheese for 99¢ for an 8 oz. pkg. the original cost was $3.49 each - bought 16 so saved $40.
    Bought ham for half price - saved $26.
    Other groceries on sale - saved $10.
    Made 8 small pizza crusts for the freezer and also homemade pizza sauce for the freezer - saved $36
    Made broth - $5
    Did recycling - $18.65
    Was paid for surveys - $6.

    This makes a total of almost $350.

    I did not count making all meals at home, cause we do that anyway. also did not count shoveling the snow - it took DH and I together 45 minutes. this had to be done in order to get our cars from the driveway.

    Anyway, I am trying to get more creative at recording what I did - this is really fun!

    1. Dear Nancy, That is a wonderful amount and we are the same, the girls are grown up so at home it is just us. But there are various ways we help the other households as we can. You got some very good food prices.
      Sorry for my slow reply things got away from me! With thanks,

  28. Dear Annabel,
    What great savings you are having. Those peaches look so good. What a blessing. They remind me of My great grandmother. Every time we went to her house she was peeling some kind of fruit or veggie. She was a master canner. She always had tons and tons of food canned. She had a 2 car garage lined with food she put up she was always giving away her canning to help others. It was her ministry. You could take what you needed just bring back her jars. She had many people bring her flats of fruit and veggies. She always had a pot of soup on the stove just in case anyone was hungry. She did daycare for years so lots of the kids she helped with came to visit when they were grown. I do not think I ever went to
    her house as a child when she did not have someone visiting.She was never lonely.Sorry so late to post. We went to grocery outlet it is a ways from our house so we do not go often.We needed to be in that area so we saved on gas. We did a big stock up we found wonderful prices.
    We had to get a second cart to carry out to the car.It was just a little over $100.00 we saved $267.00 !!!!Packed all lunches and snacks $50.00 Filled our travel cups before we left the house with filtered water.We used to buy bottled water now we have a filter. Not sure how to figure that. Cooked meals and desserts from scratch at least $100.00 maybe more. Washed all laundry on cold and hung to dry $50.00. Made a draft dodger $30.00 got the idea from Patsy(thank you)Saved on other misc. $138.00 Total $635.00 Also did not run the heat ya for mild weather. This has been very encouraging.
    Thank you Annabel and Vicky.

    1. Dear Patti,
      Wow what a week! I am so glad you posted it. I enjoyed reading it very much. Well I would have loved your Grandmother. She sounds awesome. How I would have loved to see her "pantry" or even pictures of it. She was one industrious woman and I bet she helped so many people.
      You did amazing shopping! That takes work, comparisons and many things but you saved so much. I am happy you did a stock up too. I am doing the same.
      The money saved on the making of the draft stopped will be added to by the heat it keeps in as well.
      What a good week and I am glad you find it encouraging to see just how much all your work saves your household. Have a lovely weekend! With love,


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