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, 9 February 2016

The Vicky Challenge. Week 5.

We are out of order this week so that there would be a little more time for Valentines Day ideas. I have just counted my Vicky Challenge as usual with the two extra days.

I think I got February off to a pretty good start. If being busy counts then I have!  Also I started my soap making which was a goal for this year and have made five types of soap! This gives me a lot of soap to store plus a lot of gifts! Next week soap will be the theme of the Christmas Challenge. A lot of ladies have said they would love to make soap and it is fantastic and makes great gifts. It also goes with the beautiful towels, wash cloths, crochet cloths etc that many of us are making, giving gift sets which is lovely. My aim is to show several ways to make it so that absolutely everyone that wants to will feel confident to get going. Start saving moulds! (cartons, biscuit packaging, silicone shapes etc)

Ok this week my savings were....

I packaged up my wool mix so that I have a good supply for my own use and several gifts. it is hard to guess the savings here but giving it as gifts adds a lot, I will say about $50.

The instructions for use are on the tag as well as the recipe. I wanted sweet presentation to make them seem "gift worthy".

Next I made Rachel's laundry detergent. I made it two ways, as a liquid and as a solid like the wool wash is. I am pretty sure I have a years supply of laundry detergent! 

Rachel kindly wrote out the recipe for me and I had a lot of fun making this. I think it will last me a year so I will count a savings of $100. I will put up the recipe next week as part of the soap post.
Stat saving big jars and bottles!

I made the fishing trip picnic for two. $50.

All work lunches $100.

Bubble bath $25.

Got more painting done including a tray, a table, touching up, doors and skirting boards. $200

Made six powder puffs as gifts. (still have fabric to make another dozen or so) In the stores large luxurious ones, if you can find them at all, are $50. I will count them as $20 gifts = $120.

I was given a big bag of large store gift bags. A few minutes on each to cover store logos and decorate them gives me nine gift bags. Large ones are about $4 each here so this is $36!

Three pots of parsley are up and running in recycled pots, soil and the seeds from my gone to seed parsley. So I have three lovely pots to give as gifts in a few weeks $30.

I made three types of personal soap... the first was the glycerine soap and I got both Valentines Day gifts plus flower soaps for later gifts from this.

All up this made 15 soaps. Thank you Helen for this melt and pour soap! I loved it!

Then I made cold pressed soap (that is with caustic soda) and I got 18 soaps. It did turn out speckly though so I learned a lesson there on how not to add colour. I'm just going to pretend it's meant to be that way!

And then I made re batches soap from Lux Flakes. Ohhh I loved this! I got 15 from this batch.

Overall this was 46 soaps and if I say $3 each (and shops like Lush are much more) then that is $130. When packaged as gifts maybe more. I have the idea to package them in flat boxes as if they were chocolates...

Of course I did all the usual stuff, cooked all meals and cleaned and washed etc etc but I do not count any of that.

This still came to $811. So I am happy and I am so glad I am doing this. Firstly, it is like Feather your Nest Friday, looking back I know I was busy and productive but adding it up and looking at it I feel really pleased!  It is easy to be busy then wonder what on earth you actually did!

I really hope you have had a good start to the month and feel inspired to make and do more than ever.  xxx


  1. Annabel, you were so productive! Love all the types of soap you made, and your savings this week amazed me again. Well done! I am (blessedly) on vacation with my in-laws, husband, and daughter so my savings are not huge. But, I have been carefully spending our vacation funds. Meals have not been extravagant (several cooked in our rental condo kitchen). Souvenirs are postcards (35 cents each), digital photos (free), card making supplies (bought on sale or with coupons), and a lovely lilac and white scarf with some sparkle in it that I LOVE and wore today out to dinner. My savings?? Maybe around $100 for the week. Better than nothing! Remembering these challenges (Vicky and Christmas) has helped keep my spending modest, so thank you! Blessings, Teresa

    1. Dear Teresa,
      Have a lovely holiday! We need time to recharge and relax. It is very good!
      I always feel I am full of ideas when I come home from a break. Enjoy every minute! Love

  2. I think your speckled soaps are just lovely as they are. They are too lovely to give away. This week hubby went off to the food bank where he spent $8.50. I used the food catalogues to add up what it would have cost to purchase the same products as supermarket specials then took away the $8.50. It was a saving of $32.80. He also shopped around the get a plumber to supply and install a new loo. We ended up with a price difference of $100. Counting this as a saving. Made all my coffee and lunches for work $125. Picked lettuce, sweet potato and passionfruit from the garden$9. Used burn antibiotic cream we already had rather than buying new when I scalded my arm, $50. Used ice cream containers and gifted take away containers for classroom storage $20. Homemade cookies in a mug for a present $10. Washed the couch covers $100. Cleaned the microfibre suede recliners $200. Gifted a woollen coat $200, blazer $50 and three pairs of tights $30. Total savings for this week $926.80. Wow!

    1. Dear Jane, Thanks! That was great savings at the food bank. And the work lunches is a huge saving, I was shocked the first time I worked this out. How lovely to be given a coat and blazer. Overall that was an amazing week!
      Recently I did my couch covers. Overtime I do it I am shocked how much better they look! In my case they cover a lounge that is over 40 years old it was my parents. I still love it thanks tot he covers. Hows that for economical!
      Thanks for sharing your week! With love

  3. Annabel,
    It may have been a boo boo, but I think your speckly soap is very pretty! Your savings are fantastic and rightly so you turn out amazing gifts that in shops would cost a fortune! I babysat all last week and working at Mum's house all this week so not too much to report plus we are doing our yearly fiscal fast here at home so the busyness works out pretty good. But here is what I do have to report:
    was gifted 3 dozen homemade dinner rolls from a neighbor lady that Rick tills her garden $15
    Rick was gifted wire wheel brushes new in the box $60
    was gifted a small bag of books $6
    used a gift card from Christmas and got tulle and crochet cotton $10
    was given a Sunday paper $1.50
    found 26 cents on he ground
    so nothing amazing this week, but soon!

    1. Dear Vicky,
      I should have just said I went to so much trouble to get this speckle look... and I just thought it would be amazing if I used it in blue and do eggs.... blue speckled eggs are a real thing!
      You have been working hard and long hours I know. Well done. Its not just your household you look after but do a lot for others as well! With love

  4. Love all the soaps! Especially the speckled ones. lol. Well done. Hope you post some recipes soon. Would love to make soap as gifts. Getting ready to decant my homemade vanilla into little bottles this week. It's been sitting with the vanilla beans for a year and smells delicious.
    Take care.

    1. Thank you Crystal. The recipes will be next Wednesday and possible also the following week if my post is too long. I am sticking to easy and everyone can expand from there i.e. most soaps you can add the colour or things you want. I did one with goats milk that I really like!
      Vanilla Essence is just beautiful. Lovely gift! Strangers and Pilgrims on Earth has free printable vanilla bottle labels that are so nice and make a gift look really special, if you need labels. With love

  5. I LOVE the Speckly soap. It looks so pretty.

    I've made two batches of jam and bread this week. The jam alone would be worth about $50 - $60

    1. Thanks Wendy! I could make speckle eggs! That would make sense.
      Well done on the jam. I haven't had fruit for jam yet. I would love to make apricot jam... however I think I have some figs coming! With love

  6. Dear Annabel, I love all your soaps!! They are beautiful and the speckly soap is amazing. You have been very busy this week!

    I am curious about the Lux flakes. Do you know what I might look for over here? I'm looking forward to the post on soap making! :)

    It's amazing how much money is saved each week packing lunchboxes! I always take my snacks, tea/coffee and water when heading to the city and it saves a bunch also.

    Tonight for dinner, I made potato dinner rolls and was able to put two pans of unbaked rolls in the freezer and serve one. Plus, this recipe called for mashed potatoes, which I was needing to use up from dinner a couple nights ago. I'm not sure how the savings of this one item would add up but I'm grateful to have added to my freezer pantry! I also made a double batch on pecan coconut granola stirring in my own dried fruit and it's delicious. I used Brandy's recipe as a basis but used half honey and half molasses plus a tablespoon of homemade brown sugar and a big shake of cinnamon! All ingredients were in my pantry! :)

    I love how you made enough laundry soap for a year! That's a great savings. Well done! Love, Teri

    1. Dear Teri, They are pure soap flakes. They are biodegradable and really versatile. I saw a company called the Pure soap flake company and the pure soap flakes look the same. However I don't know the cost.
      Also I found Soap flakes by Dri-Pak is available in the US. That also looks the same. So google and see there might be other brands... they are flakes and white.
      I love rolls with potato in them! They are the softest ever! It is a long time since I made something like that. Yum.
      Honey, molasses and brown sugar sound amazing, also the pecans in the granola. Oh and the dried fruit. I will look on Brandys site about this. Also I have been reading about the health benefits of molasses. I love honey and believe that is very healthy too.
      Thanks for sharing what you are up to Teri. With love

  7. Annabel, how did your soaps looking speckly? They look great the way they are. I imagine you were trying to make pink coloured soap ;-) You make so many gifts. I am not sure I even know that many people who I could give all those to. LOL! You are very generous.

    1. Dear Nanna Chel, well it was a stuff up basically. I SHOULD have dissolved the pigment in some oil, blended THEN added it at the end bit. However I just added the wider and blended... hence the speckles. Handy information if you actually want speckles. i.e. speckled eggs. Now I know! I plan to give some in sets of four or six.. in a box like a box of echolocates only soaps... which reduces my number of presents a lot.
      You got me going thank you I am having a great time! With love PS if you want some pink colour I have a life time supply I was given so let me know I will post you a

  8. Dear Annabel, You have had a great week savings wise. I love your soaps they are beautiful Annabel. My savings former the Vicky challenge this week included: savings on groceries $30
    Had 3 no spend days , saving on taxi fares, lunch out and the few things
    I might need. $150
    5 meals from my parents $35
    Making treats at home rather than buying biscuits etc$10
    Subsidised cleaning , a saving of $72
    I think that is it this week Annabel, another quiet week for me this week. A total savings of $297. Thank you for another great post Annabel. Love Barb.

    1. Dear Barb,
      I am doing the same... on Sundays I plan what outings I have to do and then do other things at the same time so that I can be home the other days. In my case that saves petrol but also a lot of time Then my home days I get so much done! It is a big saving in more ways than one!
      Now and then I get out of control and am out too many days! But it isn't good... so I have to re organise myself again and make sure I am home more. I get so much more crafts, cooking etc done and feel better too.
      You had great savings! Well done! Love

  9. Annabel what a lovely busy week you have had, love the soaps and agree with all the other comments - speckled soap is lovely. I think the wool wash looked great too in the jars.
    Are you going to divulge the powder puff hearts pattern? I'm thinking they might be padded?
    Nothing to report here but do enjoy your posts.
    Fi xx

    1. Dear Fiona,
      Well at least my soap making is up and running! I make the powder puffs as you would a little pillow. Yes I put in layers of smaller hearts cut out of some fleecy or you could use stuffing. They need to look plump and before you do this they look kind of limp. So you are right about that.
      Then they look luscious. I have a heap more to make but I got six finished for Valentines Day. Mainly Im on hankies... until the end of the month I think. Then back to crochet!
      It has been a busy week so far. I paint for a little while most days even if its half an hour and its adding up! With love

  10. Your soaps are really pretty,i had a go at making the wool mix over the weekend as i had some Lux flakes left that i wanted to use up,not sure if i did it right but when i turn the jar up side down it stays there lol do i need to add more hot water?or is that the way its meant too be like soap
    have a wonderful week.

    1. Thanks Mel! You did it right... to wash in a bucket take a teaspoon or so of the mix and dissolve that in a jug or jar of hot water. Shake or stir that. Then pour that into luke warm water to wash your woollens. Then go ahead as usual. I think you will like the results! It also keeps for years in the jar. In the washing machine I would dissolve a bit more i.e. a bigger spoon and still do a warm wash. not hot though! Well done on making it, try washing something that needs it to try it out. With love

  11. Hi Annabel!

    Your soaps look good enough to eat - especially the speckled ones!! I am following your soap making with interest. They can go so well with stored clothes.

    For me, it has been a good Vicky week. I am thriving on life off mains power. It is so satisfying! My focus has been on using the foods that need using up - since it takes time to adjust to running fridges by generator. Also, I am building on the projects begun last month - more preserving; finding how to have a floating candle wick; collecting more pretty bottles for laundry liquid; writing wool wash ingredients up on the shopping list!; washing jars, & removing labels; (washing & drying the potato & onion storage box ready for a new supply); a little knitting; & making plans for machine sewing in a generator world!!

    We have had extra quality in our life. We've had beautifully soft fireplace-cooked corned beef on sandwiches with pickles, & moments of bread & passionfruit butter, or even honey. The candle light at night is so relaxing. We are saving on electricity at the same time.

    Enjoy your homemaking. You are doing good work!!

    With warm regards,
    Rachel Holt

    Sent from my iPad

    1. Dear Rachel,
      I haven't lived power free since I was a teenager on our holidays but we got on very well with it. I actually liked it. It was more work for my Mother no doubt though.
      I would very happily have a treadle sewing machine. I wish I had Nans. I learned to sew on that and it worked perfectly well. The treadle action was rather soothing I thought. Later she spun her own wool and again I found the treadle action so nice! Maybe you will be spinning your own wool next?
      I am enjoying my homemaking and I can see you do too. I had a great time with the recipe you gave me. I have been washing with it today. This will be on the blog next Wednesday for everyone.
      I loved soap making! Very good fun and amazingly easy. Many thanks Rachel, love

  12. Annabel- you really have made great strides in getting Christmas gifts ready! I need to get going on ours- with kids and grandkids, there are 51 of us!!
    I thought this was a smaller savings week until I looked at my notebook! Thanks for this whole idea of journaling our savings! That brings it all into perspective!
    So, this week we made 8 ham,cheese and egg breakfast croissants ($19.12 saved),bought groceries to replenish my pantries ( saved $116.88). Canned 18 quarts of green beans using mark down beans (saved $28.44), got $16.88 in ebates, 2 free Papa Johns pizza with points and promos- ($28),made DIY repairs and improvements ($60) , made a flannel baby quilt using stash fabrics ($50 for material savings). Hemmed 2 pairs of hubby's pants ($15), gathered free scrap wood to make planter boxes ($30), received $100 credit on phone bill which will pay this month and all but $20 of next month's bill too!
    Had $519 deposited into our HSA by our employer to use for our medical bills (used it to pay down hubby's pacemaker surgery!)
    Kindle books and quilt patterns downloaded for free, washed ziplocs, made 8 dozen cookies.
    Saved a total of $1203.82 and because of that, we were able to add an extra $222.85 to our savings account! Thank you so much, Annabel and Vicky!!!

    1. That is fantastic gardenpat! I am so glad your able to add to your savings account that makes my heart happy to hear that! Keep going your doing a wonderful job!

    2. Dear Gardenpat, We have a big family plus extended family and friends and I haven't even counted but it is a lot!
      It was very good you got that money from your employer, that would have been a help I am sure.
      And the end result of adding savings to your account proves your good result! A very good week! With love ps I especially liked the baby quilt using what you had!

  13. All of your gifts are so beautiful! I love your speckled soaps. I think they look just fine!!

    1. Thanks Tracy! At least I know what to do now! And how to make speckles for speckled eggs! xxx

  14. Annabel, the little pale pink scoop is darling, and I would have sworn the speckled soaps were meant to be that way. Beautiful! I love that you're introducing so many different ideas for everyone to consider. Really, it's about finding the thing we're good at, and then becoming quite expert at it, so that our gifts are welcomed and anticipated. Mind you, I think anything from Annabel is welcome and anticipated! Love, Mimi xxx

    1. Dear Mimi,
      I love scoops. They add a lot! Plus are actually useful!
      Thanks Mimi. I have had a lot of fun on soap and they will go in with many gifts as the year goes on. With love

  15. Dear Annabel,

    You do such beautiful and professional looking work at whatever you make! I love the soaps displayed on your tiered trays; they look good enough to eat. I am looking forward to your soap recipes.

    Have a blessed day.

    Love and hugs,

    1. Dear Glenda,
      Thank you! The white soap would be very suitable as a craft to do with your Grand daughter its so easy and no caustic soda etc. It has beautiful consistency too.
      With love

  16. I love all the soaps you have made Annabel. They look like gourmet white chocolates. :-)

    This week I added more to the pantry redeeming my rainchecks for half priced items like dog food and cordial. I also bought fruit and veg specials with bananas 99c kg and stone fruit specials. The last of my flybuys credit yielded free groceries and more free items from the library. An op shop trip yielded a savings of $80 or maybe more by buying a cute skirt and blouse for my youngest DD and tablecloths that I am cutting down and remaking for tea towels and napkins. All these items are $1 a piece on cheap Tuesday. My eldest daughter bought good cheap cotton fabrics ($1 a piece) to make handkerchiefs for her husband. (Your inspiration Annabel!) A total for me of $280, which doesn't seem much, but for the amount of time spent to achieve it, to me its a great result.;-)

    1. Dear Kaye,
      I hope I get to see your tablecloths turned into tea towels and napkins. That is so good. I love napkins also.
      I love that your daughter is sewing hankies. Op shops are wonderful for fabrics.
      Excellent savings Kaye! Have a good weekend with love

  17. Hello Annabel
    I love all the soaps you have made! I have dabbled a little in making my own and its something I want to do more of this year. As ever, you are inspiring...
    Pretty quiet week on the home front with savings of approx $190 with the normal activities of baking, careful shopping, mending, etc. Did make the decision to join Costco - the fuel prices are very attractive particularly for diesel. Otherwise have just been busy with normal stuff and ensuring all the family is settling back into the school routine. I have one in Year 12, one in Year 9, one just started High School in Year 7 and one in Year One this year. My youngest has some additional needs and she really needs the extra support I can give her by being at home and available. Its her birthday tomorrow so I'm off to wrap presents and bake a cake (more savings...)
    Hope everyone has a good weekend
    Kind regards

    1. Dear Angela, You are a busy Mum. It takes a lot of coordination to manage different grades and ages and all the activities etc that is for sure.
      I hope your little girl has a wonderful birthday and loves her cake!
      Getting back into school routine and new term is a busy time. I still remember this, well it is ten years ago since the girls finished school!
      Many thanks Angela, Love

  18. Dear Annabel, I am late but I wanted to report anyway! Last week, I made four sweet potato casseroles and seven batches of sweet potato fries for the freezer, received a free carton of ice-cream and free ice, saved on groceries, purchased bone meal for the garden on clearance, and added a few wardrobe staples to my closet that I purchased on clearance. I also did my laundry at my father-in-law's (since my washer broke), which kept me out of the laundromat. I cleaned his house while I was there, and I took the empty egg cartons he saved for me. I cooked breakfast, packed lunch, and sent coffee with my husband on work days. I also purchased fifteen pots for ten cents each at a yard sale. In all, I saved about $167.71. It doesn't seem like much, but considering I get to be at home doing what I love, I'm very pleased with it :) Love, Kelsey

    1. Dear Kelsey,
      I am happy you reported in, never worry if a few days late or anything is fine!
      Well done on all the sweet poets dishes in the freezer. They will all be very handy. It is handy to have a back up way of doing the laundry too and nice that you help your FIL. As well as savings you got ahead in freezer meals. In a way they then become a savings on another day. When I have meals in the freezer I know I don't need takeaways for instance.
      Have a lovely weekend! With love

  19. Dear Annabel, I love to look at your website, it is most inspirational.
    Thank you.
    Kindest regards,

    1. Dear Jacinta, Thank you very much that is a big encouragement to me! Love

  20. Lovely soaps! I think you've inspired many of us, including myself.
    Last week was full of lots of organizing paperwork. But we did manage to save a total of $93. My husband alone saved us $50 by installing his own brakes.
    This week looks good as I'm using up lots of leftovers and baking. I had fun making cookies with Hershey Kisses for gifts. Not only did I save $46 but I also made $90 by selling two milk goats. My husband was very pleased as it's 2 less animals to feed.
    Our family is looking forward to a special Valentine's Day. My daughter's are making cards for the local nursing home residents and staff. We plan to take them tomorrow. My children had such a great time caroling at the nursing home in December, that they are looking forward to going back.


    1. Dear Leslie,
      That was a busy week. I love goats! I used to keep a goat and just love them. I love the sound of your cookies too. The nursing home visit will be wonderful. What a good thing to do. You will make the day lovely for a lot of people.
      Well done on the savings and cooking! With love

  21. If you had not said anything about the speckled soaps I would have never known that they were not supposed to look that way. I think they are lovely!

    1. Thanks Debbie! I am really pleased wth the number of gifts this all gives me. Plus it was a lot of fun! If I can find egg moulds I will do speckled eggs for easter! xxx

  22. Annabel! You have certainly been a busy bee! All those lovely gifts! January and February are my most busy months, so I have not had a lot of time yet to stock my gift closet.
    Those speckled soaps are divine!
    This past week I made a gluten free cake for a birthday which saved $39.99! I made all kids lunches for a savings of $60. I also colored my hair at home which saved $60!

    1. Dear Jenn,
      Making birthday cakes is a big saving these days. Cakes much such a good gift also. It seems everyone is thrilled with a cake!
      Well done on doing your hair. $60 is a big saving, it saves time too not sitting at the salon etc.
      Well done! Don't worry, we all have busy times but the year will work out with lots of gifts! With love

  23. Annabel,
    All your soaps are lovely and the speckled ones don't look like mistakes at all. They are lovely and the laundry and wool soap jars are beautiful. Those items would be quite expensive here.
    I haven't had time to get my list together of insource savings this week but $800 would be about right. We are having a big birthday party today and we raised and butchered a hog for it and I made all the sides. For example one gallon of potato salad is $25 from the deli and I made two gallons. I'm making brownies and cookie cakes which is saving a fortune. A chocolate chip cookie cake from the mall is $30. So the party savings are huge. I already mentioned clothing, birthday presents, and valentines savings in the Christmas challenge post. I finally worked up my courage and did my hair coloring at home. I couldn't believe it as it turned out better than going to the beautician. It cost me $16 at home instead of $150. Daughter also wanted to try darkening her hair. Her cost was $10 versus $150 because her coloring kit was on sale. So big week of work but lots of savings.

    1. Dear Ginger,
      Well done on your hair!!! And yes! it can easily turn out better! one time I paid a lot to have streaks put in my hair. Years ago... and at the end the stylist said they were very subtle. They were subtle alright, no one could see them least of all me. All this for $100 or so. Never again!
      You can watch for your colour to be on sale and always get them then. I am a big fan of colour. I have fine hair. Colour adds thickness and shine so even if the exact same colour as your hair I would always use it. Big difference.
      I am not sure if you have had the party yet, I think so... I hope it went wonderfully. You made massive savings doing so much yourself. Well done that was a huge week! with love

  24. This was perfect to share at Five Star Frou-Frou this week Annabel. Thankyou, Love, Mimi xxx

  25. Dear Annabel, I loved your soaps and powder puffs so much, I've featured them at Five Star Frou-Frou this week. Love, Mimi xxx


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