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 26 July 2016

The Christmas Challenge. Joy plus savings.

This week I had a few things on the go! We had pretty terrible weather and I have to say being perfectly happy inside with plenty to work on makes it much nicer.

I also did a review of where I am up to gift wise and it is really exciting to see how much I have put away! Already things have names on them and so many people are organised for both Christmas and Birthdays. This is encouraging! I use snap lock bags when a gift is complete then I write the name on it i.e. "Mum. Birthday."

All along I have said making our own gifts is good on several levels. Crafts and building up skills are good! They can come in handy for extra income, they are good for your brain and relaxing, they keep you busy and content and make you happy! You are also possibly saving a lot of money.
It depends on your previous gift budget. That will be different for us all. However from experience and letters I get I can say some people have gone from spending several thousand per year on gifts to several hundred at most. This is for all the birthdays and Christmas, Easter etc.
Some of us are making all presents and some are doing a bit of both. It is all really good!

From the beginning we have said how there are all kinds of ways to save and all kinds of benefits.  For many of us saving by smart shopping, cooking, gardening, mending, gift making etc means we make ends meet! It does not necessarily mean we have fat bank accounts.
One lovely lady wrote to me and she said how all her cooking means their family eats very well and she manages the gluten free child's dietary needs which can be expensive. So all her cooking means beautiful meals, lovely lunch boxes and a lot of joy! This is saving and wonderful.

So sometimes savings are money banked or maybe an extra mortgage payment. Or it might help your holiday fund!
It might be that a saving in one area helps another.  This is my favourite way of saving.
Last year almost all my savings went in to building up my pantry and filling my cellar. When I first started we built up our depleted emergency fund. For the rest of the year virtually every cent saved went into my pantry and emergency supplies fund.

I found that so much fun and so motivating!

This year we continued with that. Our next aim became rain water barrels.

Saving also meant we have had a holiday each year. Its not an expensive holiday but it is a good one!

I read an article this week that questioned if we are really saving unless we put the savings into the bank.
 I don't agree at all with that. You might have saved here and there and been in front rather than behind come next pay day.  You might have invested those savings into another project. Being ahead rather than being behind is a wonderful feeling!
Sometimes finding an incredible bargain means you can have something you never thought you could! Or give a gift you didn't think you could afford.
Don't let anyone tell you all your work and it's value isn't worth it!  You are not being silly you are being wise!
Also it is a learning process. We might try something that doesn't work then try something else! But we need to encourage one another.

With Greek neighbours I am very conscious of savings in the bank being a good thing until the bank decides to close and not allow withdrawals! Glenda has done a lot to educate me that tangible items are a very good investment! Maybe investing in supplies, self sufficiency, preparedness is sometimes better than money in the bank.

With all of this in mind I thought to share where we are directing savings now.  It isn't the bank. It is to solar panels for electricity.
In our state power prices are the highest in the world and we have been told to expect them to double again. Also they closed down the last of the coal power plants and now we have mainly wind turbines.
These do not produce power unless the wind is blowing. And, get this, if the wind is blowing strongly they turn them off since they aren't stable! So if it is windy you have no power. If it is still you have no power. In peak times the power is so expensive now that many business' are leaking about closing altogether and others are talking about closing on hot days.
In the last two weeks there have been three major power outages here affecting from 10,000 homes to 150,000 homes at once. Yesterday Andy was driving around and many traffic lights were out as well.
The greatest need for power her is our hot summers.  They are already saying that there could be power shortages in summer, cuts or rolling outages. It looks a lot like if there is a heatwave we might not have reliable power.
I can survive winter with no power but not summer!
Aside of this is the enormous power bills.
It is time to get solar.
So every saving we can make is going into this and we hope to have at least partial solar power by summer.

I think this will give us security and enormous savings. I would far rather do this than anything else right now. It covers future savings and better preparedness.

Good investments from crockpots to solar power can help you get ahead in so many ways!
So this is our goal now.

Keep working on your savings and gift making! Come Christmas time you will be so far ahead and have greatly reduced your expenses.
Be encouraged! Your savings in one area (i.e. gifts) will help other areas. It is a win win!

This week I have been working on a rug that is almost finished.

I embroidered two little tops.

Also I have blanketing to work on. And I have my bets hedged with both pink and blue for future babies :)

How did you add to your present cupboard and what are you working on?

Next week we will have show and tell for the month!
Feel free to post pictures on the Facebook page or email me at
If you have been harvesting and preserving I would love pictures of all this too. I want to do a post soon and feature what everyone has been canning etc. To me this is beautiful!

Thank you to everyone who already has!
It is fantastic to see what everyone is making and this gives us all new ideas too.
It is also wonderful seeing new skills and some of us returning to things that we haven't done in a long time or trying something we have always thought about!

I hope your week is going well! I am off to Aldi this afternoon! xxx


  1. Thank you for your inspiration to save in so many ways. I am presently making dish cloths for Christmas.

    1. Dear Janine,
      Well done! Dish cloths are a lovely gift.
      In reply also to your other comment.... I am not an early riser. I am terrible with it. I am naturally a night owl. I struggled with this a lot!
      The thing is to work out when you feel most productive and energetic and do heaps then. Also probably to have a list for the day, the week and goals etc. I have times in the day where I have bursts of getting heaps done. Also I use the flylady thing to put on a timer and go go go!
      So work out what works for you but I am not an early riser I have to confess!
      Thank you too for the comments, I am glad you find inspiration to save. Every bit does add up! With love,

  2. We put in solar panels years ago, Annabel. That is interesting about your electricity problems down south and about the wind turbines. I didn't realise that was the case with them.

    1. Dear Nanna Chel,
      What I will need to learn is how to make the most of solar and run my appliances etc. We could not afford it at one time and then I thought I wanted to wait and get it when we can have battery storage. That all seems to be good now although we will get one battery and add more over time as we can. Maybe they will also get better and come down in price?
      Anyway I am really excited about it and won't feel so worried about the power prices and reliability!
      Any tips on maximising the savings I will appreciate. I am hoping another two months and we can go ahead. Every cent saved and a few items to sell too will hopefully see us set up before summer.
      With love

  3. Dear Annabel, your post rings true for me on so many levels. One that particularly resonated with me was investing in tangible items. Things like real estate don't necessarily make you money quickly, but over a lifetime, our real estate investments are going to help us retire comfortably. My personal superannuation, which I've had for 32 years, certainly hasn't fared as predicted. I was promised $1,000,000 on which to retire when I was 25 and first took out my super (it wasn't compulsory at that stage). I've ended up with one tenth of that. Criminal, I tell you. I've actually invested more than I have received back. If I'd invested that money in another property, I would have at least 5 times that amount. It's a lesson, and not one you can rectify at my age. Fortunately my husband and I have invested wisely since we met 20 years ago, so we are still going to be in a comfortable position. Not so for many others. It's just awful. If you're young, take heed. Don't trust 'investment advisors', the stock market or superannuation. Anything can happen (like the GFC), and that money is gone in an instant, years of your life savings disappearing in a puff of smoke. Invest in tangibles, as Annabel mentions. And speaking of 'savings', I've had this question on my Insourcing posts too. We don't 'save' money as such. We just 'leave' money. We withdraw the bare minimum we need to live comfortably, and the rest stays in the bank. It's a discipline for sure, but one that anyone can cultivate. Transfer it to another account that you can't access by ATM if it helps, and cut up the credit cards! We do not have them. Haven't for years and years. When you understand how the interest rate on credit cards works, it becomes very scary indeed! You're basically paying interest on interest! Your gifts and embroidery are just beautiful, and wouldn't anyone be thrilled to have one of your darling blankets? I love them to bits. Have a gorgeous week. Love, Mimi xxx

    1. Dear Mimi,
      Thank you for this comment it is very interesting. What you say about Super is something I keep seeing and think the whole thing is a bit of a scam and vulnerable to the markets, government deciding how much of your money you can have and so on.
      We do not count on ever seeing it. A piece of paper and a puff of smoke and many things simply no longer exist!
      So you have done well and been sensible.
      I loved your post and re posted it too. Living a much better life is what I think is the most important thing. You can get two families in the same situation and on the exact same income. With that one family might do very well and live a lovely life. The other might spend it all on cigarettes and gambling. Same money, different choices. Some people seem to be able to stretch a dollar and create the nicest things from little. This is what we are trying to do and you do it so well!
      I don't use a credit card except for online. I can see one day we will be forced to but I don't want to. I can keep track of cash. If my purse is empty its empty! I can see what I have. I so agree this helps.
      Thank you for such good sense! With love

  4. Hi Annabel, little Miss Harper is going to look so cute in her embellished tops. Love the little rabbits hugging each other. Your blankie is just lovely.
    I consider any money not spent as a saving. When Bluey got $200 off the cost of the solar panels for the caravan, that was considered a saving. When I make something using what I already have, that is considered a saving. Money not spent is money left in the bank = savings. At the beginning of each month I transfer certain amounts into various accounts. This way I keep our budget on track, the emergency fund up to an amount to get us out of trouble when needed, and I have enough for the bills that are expected.
    Like you have stated, savings can be found in various ways, and each household has their own version of what is considered good savings. Being able to live well and within our budget is the main aim of my household.
    We also work towards saving for various projects. We too are looking at solar panels. Our plan is not to feed back into the grid but to go completely off grid with our power. It will be a big outlay but will pay for itself within ten years. The power bills are out of control and are looking to increase by quite a large percentage.
    This past week I made two more boxy male bathroom bags. These have been put in the gift cupboard for the nephews for Christmas. I'll wait until the after Father's Day sales to get some men's products to go in the bags. I've also made a patchwork table runner. This is to be a thank you gift for the DIL's Grandmother, who will be hosting us when we get to Sydney. I'm adding some jars of pickles and jam just to round this gift off. I found some velvet like, end of mill yarn at Spotlight. I've knitted this into a scarf for our travels. I'm crocheting a rug, single bed size, for myself. This is going to be my travel crafting.
    The medical all clears have been given and we are off Saturday. Woohoo!
    Life is good.

    1. Jane I do as you do with your savings - if it doesn't come out of the account then that is a savings.

      My husband is totally confused with the way I handle the housekeeping money - there is a working account, another account that I am working on getting the balance up to $5000- and then a third account which is at nearly $9000-. The third account has a set amount put in once a month so I do not need to stress at getting that account to $10,000- or beyond. That will happen once I have the $5000- account sorted.

      Glad that you have been given the all clear to travel.


    2. Hi Jane,
      I was happy to read that the infection is gone and you've gotten the all clear. Many blessings as you cuddle that new baby. Cookie

    3. Dear Jane,
      We would also love to be off the grid!
      After all I said above re the electricity supply here last night we heard that the power company is also cutting their maintenance and fix it staff down to the bone. So when things go wrong it is even worse! Plus they are getting rid of the experienced workers and keeping the apprentices. I have nothing against apprentices but experienced staff are good too! Anyway the picture just go even more grim!
      So we are determined about this as there is no security apart from the soaring costs!
      I love to have a travelling project! Being on the road I crochet away! I love the sound of that yarn!
      Have a wonderful trip Jane! With love

  5. Dear Annabel

    Now is certainly a good time to look to solar power as the price of the panels has dropped so. I am praying you get them and reap the benefits. I do feel that it is prudent to have your savings in many different investments and you are certainly doing so. I do know that the big four banks are tightening their lending criteria and this always makes me nervous many people who rely on always being able to redraw from their mortgages are at risk that redraw will be closed, this happened in the USA during the recent difficult fiscal times.

    Banking on our gardens and food storage is a much better bet I think. I often wonder if the time of stuffing the mattress with cash is returning.

    God Bless and have a great week

    1. Dear Mel,
      Interesting times! With negative interest rates in many places it is hard to imagine and I would think in these places the mattress is looking like a pretty good place!
      I think what happens in Europe and the US usually seems to end up happening here, like we are a year or two behind. So I take notice of developments.
      Thanks for your thoughts Mel. I hope your week is going well! It is less cold today notice! With lots of love,

  6. Dear Annabel, Great post! I like the idea of keeping gifts in a snap lock with names and occasion! :-) I love all of the things you have been making. Your mum has done a fabulous job on the little skirts! Gorgeous!

    There are lots of ways to "save". After living for 25 plus years on one income, I like finding new ways even though I have (hopefully) learned a thing or two along the way. ;-) It is not so much what you earn as what you keep. In either real dollar terms or finding ways of living more abundantly on less. I agree wholeheartedly with all that yourself and others have said here about this!

    I have a collection of gathered gifts, rather than home made gifts aside at this time. That is all set to change though, as a recent income reduction has given me the necessary push into being more resourceful. There is a little nest of money aside (christmas club) that will not get any more funds added to, but will be redirected. I also have built up quite a good amount of craft supplies. This will all help to still have a really abundant gift giving budget. Time to get my creative skates on! It is really inspiring seeing all the beautiful gifts that have been featured here! :-) love, Kaye xoxo

    1. Dear Kaye,
      When I make gifts up the ultimate satisfaction is when I realise I have enough for the Christmas present and the birthday present as well! I really feel ahead then.
      If you have credit supplies then I hope you can turn these resources into all kinds of gifts. There is still lots of time before Christmas. I mix in bargains too as you do. Also if you have a category plus age group plus interests and then need to match this to your supplies please ask me as to me that is a great fun challenge... coming up with a handmade gift!
      Pinterest is of course wonderful for this. What to make from...??? and the suggestions are always many!
      I think you will enjoy the creativity and I can't wait to see what you make! With love,

  7. Hi Annabel, I haven't commented for a while but have been reading! You may have answered this already, but what fabric are using to embellish Harper's tops? Is it a wool based felt? They really do look gorgeous. I also love your crochet, they are great colours.

    Enjoy the rest of your week

    1. Dear Jen, I have thought of you and you are the cook I mentioned in case you didn't notice!
      The fabric is suede or fake suede I think. It is good as it feels like a little animal and doesn't fray. I used to get it from samples from furniture/upholstery stores, now I watch in op shops for garments to cut up. This lot I was stuck so I bought suede patches in Spotlight they came as arm patches for sewing onto jumpers. As you only need a little bit this worked out ok. You do not need any turn over.
      Also these were iron on so I did that and then stitched around the edge, it helped keep them in place.
      I find felt pills over time in the wash. Where I have used it on blankets I have found this. The suede never does. Over time it stands up well.
      I hope that helps!
      I hope you are having a good week Jen! With love

    2. Thanks Annabel! I will be on the lookout for suede now. In the school holidays my 8 year baked his own gluten free cake and was very pleased with himself! I definitely like the thought that my children are growing up knowing that making your own food is both easy and rewarding :)

  8. Dear Annabel, I am so enjoying your posts on gift making. What a wonderful variety on show. Could you please tell me what boxy male bathroom bags are? Jane wrote about them. Please keep up your encouraging posts, best wishes, Lorraine

    1. Dear Lorraine,
      Thank you so much.
      Next week I will post a picture of the bags Jane has made for you to see. Jane said her husband has trouble with small fiddly things so she made large bathroom bags for when they travel for him. They are bags for toiletries i.e. toothpaste, tooth brush and so on. She made a loop so he can hang them over the bathroom door handle.
      Very good and practical gift for anyone really!
      Thanks Lorraine! With love

  9. Hi Annabel,
    I love your blanket - the colours really speak to me. I particularly like the way you have randomly worked colours, yet the repeats give it an overall look.
    We have our local show coming up in a month's time, so I'm preparing some items to exhibit (I like to support the show, as I'd hate to see the crafts disappear). Some of these things will go in the gift cupboard.
    have a good week everyone,

    1. Dear Janine,
      Thank you! With the rug I kept to the same number of rows but kind of random colours as I am using things up but kept in a basic scheme I liked. I am on to another similar one in pinks. They are fun to do!
      I would hate the crafts to disappear from the show too and I hope people see what you are doing and are encouraged themselves! Plus its motivating working towards something like this!
      I love to look at the cooking, produce and crafts in the shows. My Nan always entered the floral exhibits and won so many ribbons!
      I hope your week is going well Janine, with thanks,

  10. Hi Annabel!

    This is a wonderful post - pertinent and straight from the heart!!

    Since I'm not an expert on technical things, I asked my husband for any tips regarding going solar and off grid. Firstly, he recommended reading up on battery chargers/inverters and types of solar panels on the internet-based Energy Times Newsletter (free subscription, "All is not what it seems," he says. There are battery chargers that rejuvenate batteries to a state better than they started out, making a five year battery life last to fifteen years. There is information stating that some type of solar panel works best only in good sunlight, while another type works best in cloudy conditions, and also in sun.

    Also, since the G20 summit in Brisbane, the concept of 'bail in', where banks can legally take the money of account holders when the banks are in distress, is a reality. Hand tools and materials are useful - after food, energy, water, shelter, ..... We can't eat money, or gold, for that matter!

    Some of our off grid (diesel generator, wood fire and portable gas bottle) habits are the same as they were when the power was feeding from the power pole, since we have had to hold our belts in for some years. We run the hot water system and fridges (&, hence, generator) for three (winter) to four (summer) hours per day, average (The hot water needs to reach over 55 degrees Celsius to prevent Legionnaire's disease). My husband adds up the wattages on different appliances, lights, fridges, etc and then I just recall the patterns of what I can use together, without tripping a safety switch! I unplug the hot water (the biggest energy user) while cooking or baking, and the two fridges run continuously. I know of a lady who uses timers on hot water, fridges, etc to manage her usage - ON grid. We find the TV and radio unreliable information systems, so don't miss them! A touch of a button on the ipad gives weather updates, as unreliable as they, also, are!! It certainly helps to practise before necessity requires us to go more basic. As for us, comparing grid power to off grid living, we just wouldn't have it any other way. We work together, there are no meter reading time wastages or added service and other fees, and we don't have to bother with area power outages. We have to tend to our own problems!

    Now back to the pretty things! ...... I love your cottontails and pretty pink flowers and ribbons. Your gelato colours also work really well! Did I ever tell you?! .....

    Officially, as a housewife (& I wear that badge with pride, since I have fought hard to defend it!!), I contribute to the non monetary economy (while making my husband's money go further, and adding value to it) and love it! The more basic I go, the more I discover answers to my needs. How on earth could I manage long hair without store bought shampoo and conditioner? How will I light up a fire when high humidity renders matches useless, and when gas lighters break down (or are lost)? That kind of thing. I am finding that there are answers to everything. Going more basic makes life all the more richer. The Eternal has also provided materials for me. Most of what I give does not involve financial outlay. I have received free op shop wool, and otherwise worked mostly with what I have already had. I wouldn't have it any other way!!

    With warm regards,
    Rachel Holt

    1. Dear Rachel,
      I had this comment in my mind and I could not find it! I had not published it and just finally found it! I was thinking about it as its wonderful!
      Firstly thank you for that link I will give it to Andy and he will follow it up I know.
      Also Bail ins.... if anyone reading doesn't know what a bail in is please look into it. Now this is in effect almost world wide it is a game changer. Significantly today a lot of banks are having stress tests with many expected to fail.The governments will not be bailing them out. It will be the depositors. People urgently need to know this.
      I have the hot water system on gas. So this frees up a lot of solar power. This is just the way this house was when we bought it. So we are continuing on as we are not particularly worried about gas supplies. I think.hope this is an advantage with the solar.

      I love your words about being a housewife! They are beautiful! thank you so much Rachel for all of this, with love

    2. Dear Rachel,
      I'm always so blessed by your posts and encouragement. Years ago we read three books, "Debt Free Living" by Larry Burkitt, "The Coming Economic Earthquake" by the same author, and "Your Money or Your Life." by Joe Domingus. These books completely changed our lives and taught us many valuable life lessons. I, too, appreciate your beautiful words on being a housewife. Fondly, Cookie

  11. Dear Annabel,
    What a gorgeous blanket (rug) you are making. I absolutely love the colors and the stitch just shouts warm and sturdy.

    Your posts are true inspirations for all of us. For those of us, who have a myriad of things happening and we can't seem to get to the necessities at the moment, they encourage and inspire us to keep planning. Time will allow for focus on these things once again.

    Things are in true upheaval, worldwide, and whatever people can touch and hold is what will be the best investment. Tangibles are edible and useable; money in the bank is a nice cushion, but the governments can, at any time, decide they want it and take it. This has happened before (Gold confiscation in the U.S., during WWII). Recently, European countries have confiscated accounts, above a certain amount, to pay down Government debt and have gone to negative interest on savings accounts. The same banter concerning negative interests on savings accounts has been discussed amongst Government officials here. Time will tell....

    Have a blessed and wonderful week. Thank you, once again, for a wonderful post.

    Love and hugs,

    1. Dear Glenda,
      It is only in the last couple of years that I heard about the gold confiscation. I was amazed! How soon people forget!
      I find that when a lot is happening I don't know where to look! It can be overwhelming. Then I realise that I need to do the basics and keep things as simple as I can. Do my work, do what I can to get ahead and as you say, be watchful.
      Thank you for the comment about my blanket! I finished it and started another all in shades of pink. It does me good to be crocheting especially in the evenings.
      Many thanks Glenda, much of what I do in a week is thanks to what I have learned from you! With love

  12. Dear Annabel,
    I too love the rug that you're working on, and the embellishments on theclothes for Harper are just amazing.
    The only things that I added to the gift closet this week was the soap. I plan to make some more this without the goats milk as my DIL is a vegan. I found a recipe that just uses grated pure soap and some olive oil and water in place of the milk I'm going to try a small batch of it and see how it goes before committing to a larger batch.
    Years ago we read several books that espoused what your neighbors are telling you and put these principles into practice in our lives. We were just re-reading one of them, and even though it was written 20 years ago, the things that it said have mostly come to pass. A little scary. We learned many valuable lessons.
    Happy bargain hunting at Aldi's today. Cookie

    1. Hi Cookie!!

      I love your nickname! I have met one other Cookie in my life, and that was while working with another forestry crew from Jane's area of the world. This Cookie, while on a pine tree pruning contract, would stop and ask a fellow worker, "Hey, Scottie, are you hungry?" Scottie would say that he was alright. "Well, I'm hungry," Cookie would add. "I'm going to make myself a sandwich!" Off Cookie would go to where a ute would be parked at the edge of the forest block. Some time later, the same thing would happen. "Scottie, are you hungry?" ..... and then, "I'm going to make myself a sandwich!" Apparently, he cooked for the crew, too. It still makes me smile!

      Thank you for replying about chokoes. I make it my business to return to Annabel's previous post to check for things like this! It is a hobby, really!! Back to chokoes, in Australia, they used to be packed in with tins of pears - since they take up the flavour of what they are cooked with. When a vine gets going, it can produce profusely. I find that, in a rural area, the older folk have fond memories of chokoes, and love to eat them, still. In the city, ..... well .. that's a different story! Mum bakes them, and they are beautiful that way. I make 'steam and butter' chokoes on the indoor fireplace, and they make outdoor barbecue potato cakes creamy. Topped with cheese sauce and onion shoots, they are deliciously juicy, also. Grandma's mustard choko pickles are well received here.

      I encourage you to make the meat pie pastry yourself! Here, we cannot keep frozen pastry, and it is fun to just open up the flour jar and bake from scratch, inspired by the concept of camp cooks for bush workers! Also, I cut the butter down by a third last time, and it was still good.
      I love your interest and replies!

      With warm regards,
      Rachel Holt

    2. Hi Rachel,
      The way you cook the chokoes sounds delicious and I will have to try them your way. You had me at butter, creamy and cheese sauce :)
      I enjoyed your story about the other Cookie that you met. My nickname comes from the time I was a toddler and when the family would go to my nana's house I'd always ask for mook (milk) and a cookie. My aunt started call me Mookie Cookie, which as I got older got shortened to Cookie and that has stuck all of these years.

      Thanks for the tip on the puff pastry. It would be so much easier for me to make it than try to source it. Blessings, Cookie

    3. Dear Cookie,
      Olive oil is a lovely soap ingredient. Coconut milk might work in place of gas milk? Or almond milk? But not sure for the recipe where a powder is needed.
      I had a great time at Aldi! I was in luck as some of my usual things were also marked down!
      The soaps are a great addition to your gift cupboard.
      Also... I got mince to make meat loaf so will post that next week.
      Mum used to grow chokes! I haven't seen on n ages. I will ask her how she cooked them now I am reminded of them!
      Much love,

  13. Cute bunnies!

    It is so incredibly hot here in the Eastern USA this summer and it is day after day without a break. I have been so thankful that the power has stayed on and the A/C units have kept working.

    1. Dear Lana,
      I truly hate the heat! Especially when it stays hot all night and there is no relief. We get that quite a bit. Hence my power worries! I am glad you power has been reliable. Its not until we lose it that it hits home how bad it is!
      I hope things have cooled! With love

  14. Annabel, this is a very inspiring post chalked full of wisdom. Solar panels are such a good idea and investment. I dearly love all the embroidery you do on Harper's clothing. Right now most all of our time and effort is going into getting our pantry in top form again but do have a couple of fall projects on the calendar once the weather cools down a bit.

    1. Dear Patsy, What you are busy on now is time well spent! Thank you for your comments on my embroidery!
      It will be wonderful having your pantry filled up. Best thing you can do I think! With love,

  15. Oh, Annabel! I just love your sweet little bunnies and the lovely blanket!
    I think your plans to install solar panels are brilliant. It's something I'd love to do someday. For now I'm happy that we'll soon be moving to a home with its own well so I'm not stuck on municipal water any longer.
    Have a lovely day!
    Blessings, Leigh

    1. Dear Leigh,
      Having your own water will be great! I don't really trust what they put into town water. Your own source will be a vey good thing to have!
      I hope the week is good of you I know you have lots going on! With love,

  16. Very wonderful Annabel and so true. I know many that only equate savings with a big bank account which is great, but then when I talk to someone who is living paycheck to paycheck or has to rob Peter to pay Paul I always ask wouldn't you like to be able to change that? Doing the things we do and getting ahead in different areas has saved us a lot over the years. In the pantry I can cherry pick the deals and get the most for my money, taking the time to get free wood and cut it gets us ahead on winter fuel, making things helps save on the Christmas budget etc. it all adds up and if something does come up and you don't have to scramble to cover all of your bases because you are secure in other areas that is getting ahead. Some do see a boost in the bank account which is awesome and others see that they are not always in the negative and that is awesome too. It makes my heart happy to hear when others are getting ahead and seeing that is does not mean going without and being miserable.
    I love the little bunnies those are so cute and you do them so well. Harper looks so adorable in all of the things you make her. I have not added to the gift cupboard this week, but hope to get something done in that department soon.

    1. Dear Vicky, That is true... once you are far enough ahead you choose hat to buy and at what price or just leave it until another time!
      As you say being ahead beats being behind!
      Your preserves count as gifts. Imagine making up a basket of this and that. You could do this at the end with all the things you are canning etc. Best gift ever! Keep up the amazing work. I know you are going flat out at the moment! With love,

  17. Hi, my name is Jeanette and I live near Kansas City, Missouri in the US. I have been reading along for a few months and have read every post and thoroughly enjoyed myself! I hope you all don't mind my reading along and commenting, I feel drawn to this group and have learned a lot! Hubby and I are in our 50s and nearly empty nesters with our youngest being a junior in college this fall. I'm an avid knitter and crocheter, book reader, and lover of thrift store shopping and antiquing! Warm regards, Jeanette

    1. Hi Jeanette and Welcome!
      My husband and I grew up in Lawrence, Kansas, and lived in Independence, MO, before moving West. We are in our late, late 60's :).
      I love antiques and books, also.
      Blessings to you,

    2. Dear Jeanette,
      Welcome! I am so glad to have you here and thank you for telling me your are reading and also where you live.
      We have a login common too, age, no kids home now, thrift stores, crochet and antiquing!
      Please feel free to join in as this is such a helpful group of ladies who are very generous. With love

    3. Thank you for the welcomes, Annabel and Glenda! My husband is retired from the military, but still working another job and my father is retired military, so I've moved all my life (and my mom is actually British). I work at the Veteran's hospital in Kansas City. We've been busy here making cinnamon crabapple jelly and two kinds of bread of butter pickles (the standard sort and some jars with jalapeno peppers). My youngest daughter's boyfriend has three small boys and I've been making shorts for them and knitting scarves for homeless Veterans. I'd love to share a photo of a queen size quilt I made for my son last Christmas out of his college t-shirts; it was a lot of work but turned out so well, I'm quite proud of myself. Is there some way I can do this? Jeanette

    4. Dear Jeanette,
      I would love to see your quilt and if you won't mind share it next week? Just email it to me
      Well done on the shorts plus knitting for Veterans. It is terrible that there are homeless Veterans!
      Many thanks Jeanette, love

  18. Great post Annabel with so much information and beautiful projects that you are working on. :) I've been busy stocking my gift closet with bargain DVDs for the grandkids along with lots and lots of fun books and crafting type kits. I recently gifted a brand new dehydrator that I found for $2.99 to my DIL who has been wanting one for ages and a brand new pair of expensive sandals that I found brand new at a thrift store for $2.49 to my other DIL. I gave these things to them now because we are in the season where they will be using them.

    1. Dear Debbie,
      Finding a dehydrator for $2.99 is unbelievable! What a gift! I bet your Dil was thrilled. And putting away gifts when they are on special is the way to do it. Well done on your wonderful buys!
      Many thanks Debbie, with love

  19. I agree about the savings account in the banks too. Not completely reliable! When turmoil hits, the first thing to close is the banks! History teaches us this again and again and we are seeing it in modern day times too. It can be heartbreaking to have all your eggs in one basket and then to see them break. However, if you diversify and invest in something (like the solar panels), you have created a "tangible" savings account! And your "interest" is the monthly savings. We just purchased another solar water heater (our first one gave up the ghost) and know that in less than 6 months it will have paid for itself. This is better than a stagnant savings account in my book as we will make more return on it! Love your posts Annabel. Have a lovely week! :)

    1. Hi Jes!

      Since you mentioned your hot water system, I thought to mention a tip that people might find useful. You see, unless one has a long life copper hot water system, then the instructions should show that a sacrificial anode (that looks like a long wire enveloped by the anode substance, sitting in the core of the system). In the same way that anti corrosion mixes protect car radiators, these hot water system anodes are themselves eaten away to protect the hot water system. These anodes last five or six years in a new system. Then the hot water system corrodes. Replacing the anode is a fairly simple procedure, and could save replacing the whole system. There are even flexible anodes to facilitate replacement in tight places. One just needs the correct matching type of anode.

      Regards to all,
      Rachel Holt

    2. Thank you Rachel! We love these kinds of tips! We try to stretch everything we own as far as we can by replacing parts, etc., for a longer shelf life. I will tell hubby! :)

    3. Jes, My husband has just got through to me that, for a solar hot water system, the anode may need to be changed after one or two years. I hope this clarifies things!

  20. Great post Annabel. Wow, interesting info on your power prices and I didn't realize the closing of that coal plant would effect you all in that manner.
    Solar panels are the way to go, our nephew put some on his house in Arizona, he got a government rebate for doing it by a certain date last year.
    I also worry about the banks and if we were able to get our monies out in a crisis.
    I have been doing massive canning, jams, jellies and I tried my hand at doing pickles; waiting to see if they turned out.
    I haven't started any Christmas gifts yet I will have time when canning season is over.
    I have been retired about a month and a half now and playing catch up with all the projects I have gathered up.
    Have a great day!

    1. Dear Laurie,
      I love the sound of all that canning and the jams, jellies etc. I hope the pickles also turned out well!
      It sounds like you have never been busier since you retired!
      There is still plenty of year to make things for Christmas but I think using your produce comes first as there is a kind of window of opportunity there! Well done! With love

  21. Dear Annabel,

    I'm at the tail end of my data usage for the month, so comments are scarce, but I just had to say how much I love the two "hugging" bunnies! I'm also going to give Cookie's suggestion of the bloodmeal a try...the hair hasn't kept the deer out, nor the clanging pans nor even the deer netting, for the most part. Much too "tame" around here, and oh, so persistent. Still managed to get another nice big load of swiss chard in the freezer yesterday. Hot here and we are conserving water!!! It's great that you are going to be able to invest in solar. My husband and I hope to do that someday, too.

    Off to paint a couple of deck boards that I scraped earlier today! xx Jen in NS

    1. Dear Jen,
      Thank you re the bunnies. I call them my "best friend bunnies" :)
      Love swiss chard. Glad the deer dint get that!
      The good thing about solar is that the prices have come down and the efficiency gone up. We really wanted storage batteries and when it first came out there were none you just fed excess power back into the grid. Now, here at least, they give you nearly nothing for that but if you store it then you have it for later. So thats the plan and I am so excited to be free of the worry over power.
      Have a great weekend! I hope not too hot. With love

  22. I appreciate your comments on saving differently. I think that the phrase "putting all your eggs in one basket" applies to that banking article. I am a happy woman when I have a full freezer and pantry.
    Your baby blanket is gorgeous, Annabel! It should be inspiration alone to make gifts. I don't have gifts to give if I don't make them. Shipping is still cheaper than sending the monetary equivalent.
    Have a blessed week!
    P.S. I'll have my husband send photos of our daughter with her jams.

  23. About the savings, I think this is the beauty of the Vicki Challenge. It may not be cash money in hand, but we certainly are living better due to the savings we generate! And how lovely just today my husband was sharing with our youngest daughter that our lives are vastly improved because of the skills I use in our home. If you ever think they don't notice, now and then they will surprise you!


I really appreciate your comments thank you! The aim of my blog is the be a place of encouragement and happiness. Very rarely is anyone rude. Actually only twice so far! If you post a rude or aggressive comment I will read it but not publish it, thanks for

Spam is never published... if you are advertising a product or selling website your comment wont be published. I am inundated with stuff about drugs, horses and weird things! I am not going to publish this stuff! Thank you.