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.

Thursday 28 April 2016

Feather your Nest Friday, 29 April, 2016.

This week wasn't very spectacular! We have both been not well and that is rare for Andy especially.
I am behind on replies but I will catch up! The comments and ideas on Wednesdays nature post have been so lovely!

Some of the ways I saved money and feathered our nest include:
Over the long weekend I painted the whole front fence! As there are roses along the inside of the fence by the end I had scratches, splinters, bruised legs, paint in my hair and various other things! But  some of the paint  actually got on the fence and it is done!

You can see the yellowish cream on the house in the background, the fence was the same as this and quite worn in sections. Now it pretty much looks brand new! Also it stands out on the street so much!
Now for the house! But having not felt well, sore arms etc. I took the rest of the week off painting!
I am very happy to have finished this and love the results!

It was Andy's birthday. The fruit cake went on to a cake stand (a cake stand makes everything seem more special!) and he is at work today with a slice of that in his lunch box.

It was also our anniversary!  I got beautiful roses...

This week I found cauliflowers marked down to $1.50. This is really cheap for us and I bought two.

I found turkish and focaccia breads drastically marked down. It had been a while since I found these. They are so handy in the freezer for toasties and an easy dinner.  I got five packs which is 24 individual loaves and saved $20 over the five packs. (They were 99c each so I am stocked up).

From when we pulled up all the carpets and underlays we still had all this on the verandah  to get rid of! Our council has it that once a year we can book an extra rubbish collection for free. All of this is finally gone! 

I made three dozen sausage rolls for dinner, lunches and the freezer.

Also I had milk that I needed to use up. I made a big lot of pancake batter and made stacks of pancakes for Andy's lunch box and desert one night. 

I finished cleaning Lucy's floor rug. It actually came up good as new!

I built up my pantry by adding a dozen cans of soup on a big special and also some medical supplies. 

Last night it rained gently all night! So this is wonderful and the garden is watered.

How was your week? How did you build up your home or save money? 
Every week is different. I love having a long list of things I did and ways we got ahead where as this week it was just about trying to sleep and get better! But the fence was one big thing and it has helped me get ahead with my painting and is such a house improvement. 
Week by week it all adds up. 
I am always amazed by that!  Remember those storage tubs that I bought to slide under the bed? Three of them are full now of added pantry items. I thought it would take forever but each week I have bought something and now they are filling up.
Next week I will use my Coles voucher and get my free groceries and add to them some more!

Have a lovely weekend! xxx

Tuesday 26 April 2016

The Christmas Challenge. Nature.

Thank you to everyone for so many great comments about investments. Some of the savings were inspirational! So many ideas. I am thinking now what could we invest in that would have the same results as the simple coffee cup!

Today for The Christmas Challenge I want to think about how we can use the natural world around us in our gifts. We need our eyes open!
Recently we had a good example of this when Jen used sea shells she collected to hold pretty little soaps. This looked beautiful!

For all our crafts, gifts and decor nature is our best friend! Plus we have what is around our garden and immediate area but when we travel there is a whole world of possibilities! (When I was little the nature table was the thing I liked best about school!)

And it is all free!

If you have looked in a florist lately you will see so many natural elements with massive price tags. Sticks for $60 a bunch an example I saw a little while ago! Bundles of twigs tied up with string, vases of foliage. Giant leaves for $8 each! yes, leaves! I could go on!

Mimi is a star at making up a floral bouquet with flowers and foliage and presenting it nicely. This is a lovely gift anytime or for a birthday. At Christmas this could be flowers for the table or a centre piece. If you study what you have and what is around you it might turn out you can give lovely bunches of flowers. You may even have wild flowers.
Flowers can also be gathered and pressed and used in your card making.

At the farm Mum has a native garden that blends into the bush. So it is full of native flowers. When I am there I pick masses! A bunch of these in the city would be $30 for a posy size and $100 for a massive bunch.  Last year I was there when a lot was flowering so I made up small bouquets to bring home for gifts.

I have to say it was also beautiful just to be out gathering flowers in the sunshine!

When I got home these went into red tissue paper. They worked as presents really well!

Also in Mum's garden I picked bunches of fresh rosemary and Bay leaves. This is a lovely git for a cook. My neighbour went mad over this! Also in the shops they sell these in tiny bunches for a few dollars and these were ten times that size!  I just tied them up with brown string.

I dry the Bay Leaves and have given packets as gifts in with all kinds of kitchen gifts. Also if I am giving a little hamper gift I pop in a bunch of fresh herbs from the garden. It looks really nice and they are useful.  Not to mention the scent!

Another time I dried my own herbs and made Bouquet Garni. I had Parsley, Thyme, Bay Leaves etc. I just air dry them.

I packed the Bouquet Garni into cellophane bags. These were a gift I gave lots of people a couple of years ago. Plus I made a big jar of them for the kitchen!

Also at Mum's I pick Lavender. I give it away as gifts or make it into gifts. Last year I made Lavender Sachets.

In my decorating my dream item is a nest! Basically everyone knows this and so if a nest has fallen they end up with me. I would never take a nest in use. These have blown down well after they have been used.  I would rather a nest than an expensive ornament! (the eggs are fakes!)

I have also used nests in wreaths and loved how they have looked.

At home my hydrangeas give me both flowers to give as gifts and for the house. I also dry them as they make glorious wreaths as well.

Every year they are an asset to me. Also I can give bunches of cuttings to grow these and most years I do that too.

I have to include picking up kindling and wood. It is free at the farm and I grew up collecting firewood. I still love it. I love the sight of it sitting ready for the fire.

A basket of wood is still a lovely gift for anyone with a fire or for my Son in Law for his pizza oven!

We always pick up pine cones too. On our travels we often see gum nuts and pinecones and collect them. Apart from good kindling they make great Christmas decorations! One year I gave away bags of these and another year I decorated my Christmas presents with them...

I often make a cake for a gift. I am no cake decorator but flowers from the garden do the trick and make my cakes a much nicer gift.

I know that I have many more possibilities and need to open my eyes. One I am thinking of is that the deer leave fallen antlers in the paddocks. These are in trendy homeware shops! So I am thinking how can I use antlers... that is at least one more natural element I can use.

What do you have around you that could become gifts and an asset? If you have herbs, a fruit tree, roses, wild berries... ohh ... all these things mean you are set! Run with all the possibilities! If you have roses you can make lovely bunches up as gifts,  decorate cakes, sugar roses, rose petal scented bath products! They might not be your roses. A friend or relative might have a rose garden....
If you have a fruit tree you can give fresh fruit, fruit pies, dried fruit dipped in chocolate, jam, jam tarts, preserved fruit...
You see what I mean. So many possibilities!

This is going to be different for each of us depending on where we live but nature has a way of providing so many beautiful things. Just now on the streets around us there are beautiful giant sized autumn leaves falling. I usually collect some and have a bowl of them inside. Just lovely.

There are so many ways to incorporate natural elements into our gift giving with stunning results and it is all free.

What do you have that might be able to become gifts? Recently Vicky's husband cut down a tree so we had a kind of challenge to see what Vicky could make from this wood. And we came up with so many things as natural "slices" of branches make everything from stepping "stones" to rustic placemats! She came up with so many ideas!

If you have made gifts from natural elements please share!
One of my favourite things is road side gathering! The things you find! My eyes are always busy as I love gathering! I keep scissors and a basket in the car too! You just never know....

Sunday 24 April 2016

The Vicky Challenge 25 April. 2016. Investing.

Because I had a really busy week last week and then busy weekend I had a lot of savings for The Vicky Challenge!
Also we have a long weekend and so today is still a public holiday. We have worked all weekend.
Andy had extra work to do and has worked in the office and I kept painting, gardening, washing etc.

So it has been a big week.

My Vicky Challenge is:

A $5 voucher from Spotlight that I will use this week.
A $20 voucher from Coles that I will use to add to my pantry.
Plus I have my vouchers lined up in my diary to repeat this.

We do not have coupons here but some supermarkets offer points rewards that you can turn into dollars. This one is working well for me.

Lots of painting. I have almost finished the front fence! It is a huge transformation. I love it! Hopefully this afternoon I will finish it.
I will count $300 saved but I think if I hired someone to do this it would be much more.

This is a work in progress photo. You can see the creamy old paint on either side and the white I am painting. Hopefully soon I can show you finished pictures!

I made a picnic for fishing and saved $50.

And the boys brought back about 5 kilos of salmon which would be worth about $125!

This gave us a meal,  frozen meals and some to share.

I made an inventive dinner of left overs and frozen things.

The notebooks I made gave me eight gifts which in the shops would be $20 or so so I will count $100 saved there.

I picked mint from Mums and saved about $4.

The cakes I made saved about $50 for two gifts and a spare.

Lucy had a bit of a disaster. She has a good floor rug that she just loves and it was reasonably expensive. Well it had a nasty accident! And the more she "fixed" it the worse things got! She was upset and fear it was ruined. But Mum came to the rescue. It's not finished yet and drying but I think I have fixed it. If so I don't want to guess how much I saved her but lets say $100 plus for professional cleaning. (probably more I think)

Lately I have really noticed I have saved a lot by going through my junk mail faithfully. I found something Mum was looking for and having trouble finding, a voucher, several special sthat were fantastic that I would never haven known about otherwise. The Aldi catalogue is positively exciting!
I don't know how much that has saved this week but it's worth mentioning as I keep saving money by studying the catalogues.

$100 on all packed lunches and coffees.
So my Vicky Challenge came in at around $760.

And next week we can add up another month! This will give me a burst to have another good week!

My subject to add this week is investing. My kind of investing is thinking of something you pay for regularly that you could possibly find a way around and investing in what you need to make that happen.

I was trying to think of a convincing example to show how much this can save. So I picked Andy's thick ceramic coffee cup that has a lid. He takes it in the van every morning. It holds two normal coffees at least. I bought him this about five years ago. It keeps the coffee warm for an hour or more. He loves it!  I paid about $8 for it at the time.
When I worked out how much this had saved over five years I thought I had made a mistake. So I did it again and again!
This coffee cup has saved about $10,000 in coffee! I can't even believe that but at two coffees a day, five days a week, most weeks of the year then that is what it has saved.
So that was a pretty good investment!

Don't underestimate the potential savings. Think in terms of what you spend per year on this or that.

My other best ever investments are my crockpot. I never need takeaway food because of it. I pop something good in it in the morning...

(I have a whole crock pot/slow cooker series in my index.)  This was just a pot roast I just started.

For times I am not expecting to be unable to cook dinner I have numerous meat pies in the freezer made from crock pot casseroles and puff pastry.

Also so many scraps get made into stock. That saves me money too and uses up so much.

I have a colander that fits inside my crockpot so that I just life that up and the stock is already strained. It is so handy!

I won't even try to estimate the savings I have made from a crockpot but they would be many times the savings made by the coffee cup!

Another is my back door herb stack.  I have two of these. The pots were free, I purchased the soil and seedlings from time to time. This was a great investment! I pick herbs daily and give away many bunches. I pop a bunch of herbs into many foodie gifts too. I always have herbs on hand and never buy them.  The savings must be heaps!

I notice all of these investments are also investments in health!

Andy has made some great investments. Most of his tools have saved us a fortune. From hedge trimmer to power drill the amount they save is staggering. I have to say his fishing gear was a great investment!

Other great investments I can think of are fruit trees, a rain water tank or barrels, a clothes line, an outdoor cooking area, hair dressing scissors and clippers., a freezer...
The list is endless!  I think if we pick an area that is a leaky spending problem that is a good thing to try and invest in.  Finding that solution might save a huge amount.

How did your Vicky Challenge go last week?
What are some money saving investments you have made that paint big dividends?
What is a leaky area for you that maybe an investment could overcome?  If you have a financial leak but cannot think of a solution maybe we can all help you to find one.

As we go along each week hopefully we think of new ways to save and do things. All the ideas coming in have been amazing! I have implemented so many from great comments here and on Facebook. Thank you!  So my Vicky Challenge continually improves and is well beyond anything I imagined!

Have a wonderful week! The sun is shining and it is a lovely day. I am heading out to finish this fence! xxx

Thursday 21 April 2016

Feather your Nest Friday, 22nd April, 2016.

It has been a really good and busy week!

Happily I have a heap to report!

Luckily I wrote it down as I went as I would forget much of it. Day by day things add up! I feel we did lots of things to improve the house, get ahead and feather the nest generally.

Firstly, some of the ways I saved money were:

I added lots of notebooks to the gift cupboard. They cost $1.50 each. In the stores here similar ones are $30!

I gave away bunches of parsley, basil and rosemary as gifts.

Andy caught MORE fish! This time loads of salmon. Kilos and kilos. 

This added to the freezer and an immediate fish and chips dinner...

I finished a gift with Mum's help. I made the rug and she made the hat...

Then I made three fruit cakes, two of them are gifts and one to store...

Pumpkin was on special so I made a huge pot of pumpkin soup. Some to freeze, some for now and some for Chloe.

I picked mint from Mum's garden to make a raita. (Making Butter Chicken)

Also I did some rotating of goods from the cellar. I had long life milk to use up.

In the mail I had a $5 Spotlight voucher which I will use next week.

Also I had mail with $20 worth of Coles dollars which I will turn into $40 by buying only half priced items over the next few weeks. Very pleased with that. 
They also sent vouchers that earn huge points if presented with purchases over the next few months. That is how I earned the free $20. I sat and cut them out and put them in my diary so I use them each week and on the right week. Some earn 1000 points for a small purchase. It takes a bit of organisation then they are easy to use and will hopefully earn me some more free groceries.

Some of the ways I feathered the nest:

I washed the pillows and Mum lets me use her drier to get them dry and fluffy again. They are like brand new. I also did the pillow protectors.

I made a crockpot of lamb shanks. Not really economical but very comforting and I made double so that meant a night off cooking.

My makeup got a sort out and clean up. So my dressing table looks better too.

Finally I am painting the front fence. First I did the gate.  I always wanted a white picket fence. I might get it finished over the weekend, hopefully. Photos next week hopefully.

I added to my pantry with tinned milk and fish in the freezer.

That is everything I can think of except that Andy has extra work and is working most of the long weekend. We are grateful for that. So I will keep painting...

The autumn leaves are falling which is kind of messy but also pretty. This is down in the bottom corner of the garden...

How was your week? What did you do to feather the nest and look after your family?

Have a wonderful weekend! It is a long weekend in Australia due to Anzac Day.  I am having pumpkin soup for lunch then hope to finish the week well with a few more things done!xxx

Here is a quote I saw this morning:

"Any success that happens at the expense of your health, your family or your character is not real success" Dave Willis. 

I really liked that!

Tuesday 19 April 2016

The Christmas Challenge. My progress.

My Christmas Challenge is coming along pretty well! My present cupboard is filling up and that is despite the fact that I think I give away about half of what I make long before Christmas as we are also making birthday presents and other gifts along the way.

Some of the things I have made lately are note books. I am a list maker and endless note maker. I have had a lovely notebook that is slim and light so I can keep it with me in my handbag. It's so handy. I noticed that all that is special about it is a lovely cover. Otherwise it's a basic lined book.
So I thought I cannot be the only one who would find such a note book handy. I bought packs of notebooks (A3 size) for $3. Then I cut up an old Shabby Chic book (op shop $2) and simply covered the ugly covers with pretty images. I then stuck on a sparkly element. That's it!
It is the same as card making in it's easiest form only you get a gift.

I also used a cooking magazine...

I really like them and this was so easy. This is what I started out with...

I haven't packaged them yet but I will use cellophane bags and tie a ribbon around them. I will post how they look when I get it done.

One of the most helpful things is having a few types of projects going. For instance on our trip away we had about 15 hours driving time all up (over five days) and I used that time to crochet. There are not many things I can get done in that time but I can crochet! So I leave behind everything else and take that.  And I made a little boy wool rug which is a gift I will be giving in a few weeks time.
I had left over yarn of each colour and gave that to Mum. She knitted a little hat to put with the blanket that matches! So now it's a collaborative gift.

This is good timing as we are just coming into the cooler weather. So I hope they like this gift. I made a special effort with boy colours as I am always making things in pink!

Most recently (yesterday!) I made fruit cakes. These are the ones that keep for a year. It is Andy's birthday next week so I made a giant sized one for his birthday cake as this is his favourite. While I was at it I doubled the recipe and made a medium one for Dad's birthday in May and a small one as a gift. So this took care of three more presents.

These are not packaged yet either as they were still warm last night.

So they are the gifts I have made in the last fortnight. It adds up. A bit of this and a bit of that as we can manage it. I am happy as I am keeping up and also getting ahead.
In fact the other night I was dreaming away in bed then I had a bolt from the blue and a !!! moment! I thought I had forgotten a birthday. And I almost had! Then in a very satisfying moment I pictured what is in my present cupboard and I had the perfect thing! I felt kind of smug as I solved that one without moving a muscle except for the brief panicked look in my eyes! It was a moment of enjoying being ahead with gifs. Very nice!

Next I am going to make more rugs. It is the weather for it now. I have pale pink chenille yarn and enough blue, red, grey and cream for another little boys blanket.

Also I need to make cards. From the books I cut up I have a lot of smaller images left over as they were not big enough for the note books. But they will make lovely cards. So I must get onto that.

How is your gift making going?

I hope you are having a good week. I have pumpkin soup on and am painting a bit more of the front fence this afternoon. I did the gate yesterday. It looks amazing! However everything not painted now looks worse by comparison! But as I go it is so nice to see the transformation.


Sunday 17 April 2016

The Vicky Challenge. Catching up and saving on holidays.

Having missed last Monday as we were away on holiday I have a bit of catching up to do!

The first weeks report would have been pretty usual... packed lunches, painting, fishing picnic, doing my nails and hair etc. I wrote that up in my note book and am very happy seeing how the weeks are adding up!

Last week we were away most of the time.

Even though it is an expense going away I still count all the ways we saved. However I'm not sure how to add it up or what to include!

Firstly, I think holidays are really important. Even if it's a break for a couple of nights the change of scenery does you good. A holiday does not have to be expensive. There are so many options even camping.  We choose to drive and prefer the seaside. One of our favourite places is Tumby Bay which is about six or seven hours drive from home.  We go when it is quiet which is nicer and also the cabin we hire costs less. This saves about $100.

I love this. It suits me. No airports, no jet lag, no crowds, just the sound of the sea and the tide coming in and going out! Sea air and friendly locals...

Some of the ways we saved are things we always do, they are:

The night before we leave I make up rolls and a picnic that will be morning tea, lunch and afternoon tea on the way. (saving $50 or so on lunch and snacks)

In the morning I make up a thermos of tea and one of coffee. (Saving $24 or so on drinks)

This is also much nicer. We can avoid road houses and stop in lovely places!

I also pack a basket of basics, tea, coffee, long life milk, cheeses, crackers etc. to take. I took Quince Paste I made and frozen stewed peaches for breakfast.  This saves a lot as some of these things are twice the price in the country.

The first night our dinner was things I took. We had a platter of cheese, crackers, tomato etc and watched the sun set over the ocean.

Another night we just made toasted cheese sandwiches for an easy dinner.

One night we got dinner from the bakery. There is a lovely bakery there and that is so handy.

All of these saved on take away or going out.

We op shopped! The town has a lovely old style country op shop.  Chloe had asked me to watch for curtains. I got her BLUE VELVET curtains, in lovely condition and that really thick beautiful old fashioned velvet.  Also some frilly nylon curtains that she loved. Cost was $15.  Value? At least a couple of hundred dollars.

Lucy was needing a baby gate for a doorway. They are normally around $80. I got one for $5!

I got Harper a book that had sparkles on each page. She is mad keen on anything sparkly. I don't know where she would have got that from?

Also some bone china cups and saucers...

And a cushion, pillowcases and quilt cover in soft pink and all covered with ribbon embroidery!

This is just gorgeous. There is meters and meters of this in the quilt cover.

We used a tourist book which had vouchers in it and got free coffees and drinks in various places around town.

I collected maps. Maps are great for card making, wrapping paper etc. I am going to wrap Dad's next present in a map of Tumby Bay since he was born there and loves it.

We had an op shopping day in a nearby town. That was really fun and I got pretty nighties for Kath in the nursing home, a lovely belt, a pretty cup and saucer, a lovely cut glass milk jug, vintage napkins with hand crochet edgings... and other stuff!

These were 20c each.

With travel time included I made a whole baby boy rug for a gift.

Andy fished on the beach in front of the house. He caught fish each day plus a few "big ones that got away". We came home with frozen fish that will give us dinner six nights.  I would say he caught $60 worth of fish.

I "helped" fish too and took coffee to the beach etc and sat in the sun and wrote letters. My idea of bliss!

We are really lucky that we can always have a few nights at the farm as a way to get away and have a break. But we think a holiday does not need to mean a credit card debt or a loan that's for sure. We had a lovely time. It was relaxing and fun. We came home with great finds, something for everyone, and fish for the freezer.

Best of all I came home with lots of inspiration and ideas!

How were your savings?
What tips do you have for managing a little holiday or break of some kind that is refreshing but not budget blowing?
Something I notice is that planning a holiday is part of the fun and having it to look forward to is lovely as well.
Have a wonderful week! See you on Wednesday for some

Thursday 14 April 2016

Our little holiday...

This is just a quick note to let you know that we have been away on our little beach trip and just got home last night.

I hope you had a very good week!

I will get back to posting next week sometime and have lots of good things to report! We had good op shopping, fishing and I rested my arms from painting!

Have a lovely weekend! xxx

Thursday 7 April 2016

Feather your Nest Friday, 8th April. 2016.

Somehow it is Friday already!

It has been an interesting week. The mood here in South Australia is not very good. I am mentioning this because this combined with what some of my US friends are telling me and several friends who's husbands lost their jobs in the last few weeks...  is building a theme. Job losses. And not just job losses but the diminishing hope of finding another one.
Our third largest town is Whyalla. It is an outback town built on the steel industry. Right now it faces ruin and thousands of people face losing their homes and livelihoods. You cannot sell your house and move if no one will buy it! And no one will as who would move to a town with no jobs?
Over 7000 direct jobs are threatened by a company going broke, plus another couple thousand contractors then every job they support from the train drivers, the shops, the school and too many to even think about!

I thought how this morning I could't think straight to write because of how many friends live in towns that this has happened to (or is happening to) or who have lost jobs as they are somehow down the chain from one of these events.

All year last year we did a week by week of building up our pantries. Of getting ahead as much as we can.  Keep going. Get ahead when times are good or even when times are ok.

I follow many blogs and benefit from the encouragement. A Working Pantry. Strangers and Pilgrims on Earth, The Prudent Homemaker and the blogs I have listed on the right hand side of my page are all greatly helpful to me.

I have a wander around and try to find new information too. Except it is not always helpful. Yesterday I did this and found a page that looked good until I started reading. An example of their saving money ideas was this:
When travelling first class and there is a group of you it may be cheaper to hire a private jet.

I am not even joking. This was how to save money. I have a feeling they are not experiencing hard times.

I would need a box of tissues to deal with the tears of laughter streaming down my face except I don't  feel like laughing!

From now on in Feather your Nest Fridays I am going to include pantry building to keep reminding us to be prepared.

So this week I saved money by:

I did more painting. Indoor window frames mainly and some preparation of outdoor window frames.

Andy caught more fish! This time he ended up with a couple of kilos of fish fillets. (Salmon)

I packaged up my soaps that I made earlier this year. I know that packaging is important to how I feel about giving what I have made as gifts. Anyway I am really happy as I like how they look and have so much added to my gift cupboard!

I loved soap making and will do it again next year. It was like when we make biscuits. All the perfect ones blame gifts and the imperfect ones are for us!

Because I also made Wool Wash, Laundry detergent and I am planning on making decorated pegs I could work towards some soap/laundry themed gift baskets as well.

We did the usual things, ate at home, I sent packed lunches to work etc.

We were blessed with rain which was great for the garden.

I got ahead by adding some pizza bases to the freezer.

I added to my pantry. First of all it needed re stocking of a few things I had used up. Then I added long life milk, tomato soup and baked beans.

How was your week? I hope you found ways to build up your nest! Lots of small things add up!

Have a wonderful weekend! xxx