The little birds...

If you watch little birds you will see they are busy and happy! Using whatever they can find they create the most gorgeous little nest.
I would be the little bird with some glittery thread in her nest!
We can be like this. Happily working away with the things that are available to us to create a beautiful and happy home.
All the while with a little song in our heart.

Banner by Free Pretty Things for You.

Sunday 28 August 2016

The Vicky Challenge. Planning ahead.

Last weeks Vicky Challenge was much better than the week before! Getting back to painting has helped as hiring someone to paint is very expensive. 

I counted:
Andy cleaned the house and shed gutters saving about $150 (going by what we were charged one year when we paid someone)
I made 41 small and 12 medium banana cakes. Based on local prices and taking off my costs this saved a whopping $150! 

Painting and preparation etc each day of the week I think saved around $500.

I had a turkish bread bargain with two for 90c each saving about $8.

Also at the end of each month I count my hair savings which according to the two nearest salons = $240. At that rate I couldn't afford to have hair! 
I feel like if your hair looks nice you feel good. Nothing makes you feel and look either lovely or terrible like your hair! And hair can be something that makes such a difference. We have all seen people look drastically younger or older according to their hair. 
A while ago we were all looking through old family photos. the girls noticed how my Mum looks younger now than at one stage about thirty years ago. How is this possible? All the difference was hair colour! And its true, in those photos Mum seems to have aged in reverse! Miraculous!  But hair is something that you can save a fortune on and have looking lovely!

Anyway my total to write in my savings book is $1033
That makes up for last week! 

I should have called this the Vicky Series. This weeks savings are well timed as I think when we are at the change of seasons some planning ahead is a big help.  Mind you planning ahead is always a good idea in many ways.

Over to Vicky:

The Pantry and Planning Ahead:

So I have the big gardens and I am canning and freezing away all of the juicy goodness that comes from it. Well summer is a good time to take advantage of meat sales since most of the time it's a lot cheaper at this time of year. By eating the fresh things we grow and not purchasing them I can use those funds to stock meat. I plan ahead. I will be canning sauerkraut soon so I got a huge pork loin and cut it into 5 roasts for pork and kraut or a roast with veggies. 

I will be using ground pork, ground beef and chicken and I got it all for less than $2.00 a pound. I precook about 5 pounds of the ground beef and freeze it for nights when I am in a hurry. I take more of it and mix up meat loaf and meatball mix while I'm stuffing peppers and making cabbage rolls. So I have a plan and now know what other deals I need to look for. And I have planned out part of my winter menu as well!  For example chili is a winter staple here, and hot soups, green bean casserole as a side dish, baked chicken with stuffing, or a very simple dumpling soup that only requires a nice stock or broth, so when any items I need happen to be a great price I be sure to try and think ahead of what I will be using. 

Why besides cheaper prices? Well if you live where winter can be really bad or the heating bills get high you have security. Or if your like me and just prefer to be at home and enjoy winter from the windows. Or when I used to work outside of the home the last thing I wanted to do was grocery shop and slip and slide in the snow and freeze my fingers off pushing a cart to my vehicle and loading groceries when I had already worked a full week. 

You can just go to the pantry and freezer and part of the meal planning is already done.

I had to ask Vicky recently what is a Peck and what is a Bushel? 

So sent me this picture as these explain... the box is the size of a Peck. The smaller basket is about half a Bushel and the larger one about the size of a Bushel. Now I've got it. I thought other Aussie girls might find this interesting.

I sent Vicky some labels for her pantry. They all say Vicky's Victory Pantry!  I got them made up here. I love this name for her pantry so much. Maybe she needs a sign on her garden gate or somewhere that says Vicky's Victory Garden!

And this is Vicky's yellow watermelon! I have never seen this!

That that was a little bit of this and that! 

How did your challenge go? I hope you have had great savings and can see the amazing value of your cooking, management, gift making and all the things that you do.  
Have a great week! I am up to day 8 of my 100 day challenge! I can see progress! 


  1. I agree with you about the hair, you can feel pretty confident and then catch sight of your hair and it all goes! I was raised by a woman (mom) who cut her own hair, mine and my dad and brothers' hair. So I learned to do my own, when I got old enough to want long pretty nails, I paid for about 3 months and watched very carefully what she used and her technique, went to the beauty supply store and bought my own stuff, my nails cost me about $5 every two or three months and I have ladies ask me who does them! It was a worthwhile investment to me! Amazing what we can do if we want to. It is canning season here too and we are deep in 101 things to do with tomatoes and cucumbers! When it gets cold I will miss them, but for now I am running out of good ideas! I even made cucumber and green pepper slaw today - tastes pretty good! Always enjoy your posts, try to comment now and then, but I read all the time,

    1. Dear Kathy,
      Well done on doing such a good job of your own nails! Nails are quite tricky but they look so nice! That is a huge saving! If you added it up over the years it would be mind-blowing!
      Tomatoes and cucumbers! I love to make spaghetti sauce and relish. I can't have too many tomatoes they are so useful... but it is a lot of work!
      Many thanks Kathy, with love

  2. I haven't seen yellow watermelon either, Annabel. Why did you bake 41 banana cakes? I wouldn't have room to freeze all those but I guess you were giving them away. You certainly achieve a lot in a week :-)

    1. Dear Nanna Chel, I thought the yellow watermelon was such a surprise! I actually made 53 little cakes all up. 4 went on the fishing trip, half a dozen into lunches, a dozen each tot he girls and the rest frozen for lunch boxes etc. I had bananas that needed using from a big special and it was enough for 3 x the recipe. They are so useful to grab. I keep a shelf for lunch box fillers (in the freezer) although they can be deserts too.
      I always tend to cook bit batches. Its a big help. I have done this with lasagne since and made three big trays. We are set for ages with individual portions.
      Have a great week. Almost spring! With love

  3. Dear Annabel and Vicky, this series has been really motivating. I find that if I don't have my little tally at the end of the week to look forward to, I'm far more likely to go off the rails, financially speaking. This last week, my daughter and I trimmed each others hair, and I gave mine a toner and conditioning treatment too, saving $150. We did our own mani-pedi's using Jamberry vinyl wraps, saving another $130. And we made a Glycerine and sugar scrub, and buffed our way to skin ready for Spring, saving $90 each on Spa treatments (assuming we'd ever actually go to!). So that's a very happy $460 saved just on self maintenance. I do understand why people visit Spas and's lovely to have a treat for sure. But it's nicer to have the money in the bank! Other savings were made replanting our herb garden, cleaning and refreshing our home, bathing the dog ourselves, and shopping at our favourite thrift store for new additions to our Spring wardrobe. All up, I'd very happily call that over $1000. Have a wonderful week everyone! Mimi xxx

    1. Dear Mimi,
      The tally up helps me too Mimi. I have an extra surge of effort because of it!
      I love all your hair and beauty treatments AND that you are teaching your daughter how to do all of these things plus have the fun together.
      It surely adds up and is very satisfying to see it.
      Thank you Mimi! Love

  4. Annabel I have joined in on the 100 day challenge but may have to alter the amount of days as I have to take days off to deal with Bluey in hospital. He's 300km south of home so it's a bit of a trip.
    I have often wondered what a bushel looked like. Thanks for getting Vicky to give us a demo. He garden and produce is simply beautiful.
    This week has been up and down but I still managed to get some savings happening. My savings came in this week just over $300. Very happy with this.
    I'm not counting it in my savings as it's just gold. I arrived home tonight, after being down south with Bluey, to find that the garden fairies, my wonderful neighbours, had been in and had mowed, used the weed eater and had also used the blower on my veranda. I feel so very blessed. This sort of help is just gold!
    Vicky, Bluey is very close to the same colour as your melon. What type of melon is that? The closest to yellow melon I've ever eaten is a Honeydew Melon.
    I know life is good and I'm constantly looking for the beauty.

    1. Jane we have been praying for your Bluey and you. And to answer your question it is a yellow watermelon called Yellow Doll. The outside is the same as a regular watermelon. It is very sweet too.

    2. Dear Jane,
      I am glad to have you on the challenge and totally understand you have a lot to deal with right now so you do the days you can.
      Well done on the great savings! You neighbours are a great help. I am sure this is because you are also wonderful to them.
      The yellow is very pretty on a melon but I am not so sure about a person! I hope things are much better, please say Hello Bluey we want to hear he is home and well! With love

  5. You have had a very productive week Annabel. My savings are down to the basics such as taking all food to work and cooking meals at home. I am exhausted at the moment as work is so hectic mostly due to the Winter viruses that take hold every year in Nursing Homes. The death of my oven/stove recently has seen me out buying a replacement and the cost was double what I expected but that is why we save our money so that when we need something we have it.

    Off to Sydney tomorrow night after work to spend five days with my parents. Praying you are safe this coming week and Lucy is having relief from her Migraines.

    God Bless you my friend this coming week

    1. Dear Mel,
      You will be headed off tonight! Have a good trip! I hope it is somewhat of a rest for you. I know nursing homes seem to get taken over by bugs, we are sometimes locked out of visiting a lady we visit.
      Oh no about the oven! I am sorry you had that extra expense.
      Have a good flight and break. With lots of love

  6. Hi Annabel!!

    It's a wonderful thing that Vicky is doing, and I am glad that you are supporting her with pantry stickers and encouragement! Well done to both of you!! Pictures just cannot convey the exhilaration that comes with watching your very own garden grow! I am very interested to learn about bushels and pecks! Also, in Queensland, I am thinking that Eden Seeds (& maybe Greenharvest) would likely stock seed for yellow watermelons!

    I had a great idea for chalking up value in our work. That is to count a minimum of, say, ten Aussie dollars for each photo submitted for Show and Tell, and more if it is a special photographic effort! This is for the Vicky Challenge. How's that? Some people earn a living via photography! Roll up for Show and Tell contributions, readers! (Is the 'blog secretary' allowed to say that?!) This includes the photos in your posts, too, Annabel!

    One cute way I am currently saving money comes by way of my watering can. In years past, I had been pleased to buy a plastic watering can at a good price on account of the drought. Although it had been kept under cover, it became brittle and useless. As I did then, I am doing now. An old 800gram tin can without sharp edges has nail holes in its base. This can makes for fast watering out of my bucket of water. It suits my work!!

    The old timber wire spinner is still saving us money, as we use it to wind up old trellis wires. This saves buying a new one. We also found, some time back, a good old set of US hardened steel, long handles pliers that had been lost in the grass for over twenty years. With soaking in diesel, and spraying with WD40, they were able to be prised open, and are now working well again. They would be worth over one hundred dollars. These are not found in our shops anymore! These are quality savings!

    While my garden is growing, I get value out of working some meals around Dad's garden greens. This meant that, tonight, we had 'comfrey fish' (crumbed comfrey leaves) - a nourishing, depression era food, with mashed potato and thin-leaved dandelion greens, and mostly cooked on the fire! As I write this, I have a lamp wick-making trial simmering on the fireplace, and I will soon be able to add a project or two to the firebox of hot coals. I am using what I have (with help) to, potentially, make items of significant value for everyday living. That's all the hints for now!!

    As for Jane, you might have heard of 'the doctrine of signatures' in herbal medicine. This means that the appearance of a plant can bear significance in relating to the conditions that this particular plant is good for. For example, knife-like aloe vera leaves can assist in the healing of cuts. ..... Yellow watermelon? Yellow Bluey? Who knows?!! Yellow watermelon could be his medicine!!!!! Take care, you two.

    I am looking forward to The Show!

    With warm regards,
    Rachel Holt

    1. Rachel we found soaking rusty tools in a bucket of molasses also worked a treat in giving them a second life. Not sure if Bluey could stand anymore yellow in his life. He has a drain coming from his belly to allow the bile to flow out of his body. He has found wearing the hospital gowns to be the easiest way to manage. These are purple. Purple and yellow are not a good combination. Your hints have me quite intrigued.

    2. Dear Blog Secretary Rachel! Well my mind boggles as if I count all the amazing helpers, contributors and photographers that send me things it is all worth more than gold! I do appreciate it so much. Plus I am often just in awe of what everyone comes up with plus is busy doing and normally not many people would even know about it all!
      Comfrey is a very good thing and full of goodness. My Pa always grew comfrey.
      I also have had a plastic watering can become brittle and is breaking up. Will not get another one!
      I hope you are having a great week Rachel! Wiht love

  7. Annabelle, Painting is hard work and costly like you said for someone else to do it. So worth it though! We need to paint our bedroom but now I think I will wait till Spring. Your hair savings is great! I can cut my bangs but that's just about it!
    Vicky's garden came in so good -I love fresh produce and canning. Meals in a jar!

    1. Dear Vickie,
      I am working on my bedroom painting today! The difference is so huge it is exciting! It is a mild day so I have all the doors and windows open to ventilate. I am so pleased with it.
      Thank you... long hair is easy to look after trims wise. Huge savings! Plus I wouldn't trust bangs to anyone else!
      Many thanks with love

  8. Dear Annabel,
    I, too, have joined the 100 day challenge and thank you for initiating this! I know you started it for yourself, but it will help all of us that want to join to set goals for our work and household. You are, as always, an inspiration.
    I am trying to simplify life around here for the future. John's diagnosis wasn't good, so I am trying to think ahead and praying they were wrong. Right now, he is doing pretty good and headed to painting the kitchen, dining area, and my study this week. We are determined to take each day and enjoy it doing things we like doing.
    Savings aren't great right now, but a new budget is in the works for September. It's part of the challenge :). I, also, want to get peaches and apples canned in September, along with whatever I can get from the garden. This is the first year for the garden here and not as good as it will be in the future.
    Vicky, your produce is amazing and ideas good as gold, as always. You and Annabel, are both such thoughtful people.
    Have a blessed day.
    With love and hugs,

    1. Dear Glenda,
      As you are taking one day at a time, may you find His mercies new every morning. Great is the Eternal's faithfulness.
      With warm regards,
      Rachel Holt

    2. Dear Glenda,
      Welcome to the challenge! A bit each day really is amazing over a little time.
      Now I am a big believer that medical diagnosis are to be challenged and defied! My Dad was told 19 years ago that he wasn't likely to make it. Then he did and he was told if he was VERY careful and lucky he had five years. Well he want very careful (but he might have been lucky!) and it is over nineteen years now. He still works full time and expands his business. He took no voice what so ever of his diagnosis.
      Now Drs can be wonderful and helpful of course and we take their help but not bad forecasts. So I hope John too can beat his and overcome this challenge!
      Enjoying each day is the best thing we all need to be doing that.
      I hope you are able to get your reaches and apples canned.
      Thank you for commenting on Vickys work too. With lots of love

  9. I had never even considered our bushel and peck measurements being a mystery! I really wish hubby and I were good painters. We just do a horrible job and slop paint everywhere no matter how hard we try.

    Our second refrigerator stopped cooling as it should. We removed all the food and crammed it into our deep freeze and inside refrigerator. Then I called my Dad who used to be an appliance repairman. He said to turn it off for 24 hours and let it completely thaw out. It is back on and doing great at this point. Savings? A new refrigerator!

    1. Dear Lana,
      Yes! Total mystery to me! I was like what the heck is a peck! We just don't use these measurements.
      I have been painting today. I just do a bit at a time and slowly I am getting there.
      That is a handy tip about refrigerators! How good your Dad has experience with them! That was a big help! I hope your week is going well Lana, love

  10. Dear Annabel,
    It's always so inspiring and motivating to see how your week went, as well as others who are participating. I really enjoy seeing what Vicky is doing. I am a kindred spirit who would rather enjoy the winter from the inside. In the last few years we've really had what I would call hard winters and I love the security of having stocked my freezer and pantry and eliminating being out in the cold, snow and ice. I don't know if it happens in Australia, but the first word of snow or ice sends a lot of people here in the US making a mad dash to the grocery store for bread, milk, and snack items.

    The only food purchased in the last week were more peaches, which I'm canning today. I harvested green beans, cabbage and okra from the garden. I've sold myself short on the savings on vegetables as when I got the peaches green beans had gone up to $4 a pound, and cabbage had reached $1.79 a pound. I feel really good that I've grown these vegetables. I would say this week in just harvesting there was a $36 savings. I haven't figured out the savings in processing them yet. Like Vicky I will be making some sauerkraut and also freezer coleslaw. I paid $10 for the 15 pounds of peaches which will translate, I hope, into at least 10 pints, maybe more. And I will again make some peach pit jelly. Aside from the peaches I didn't do any real food shopping last week.

    The cardigan that is getting the crocheted edge is coming out beautifully. I improvised your instructions making the edging longer by crocheting 3 rows of the double crochet, chain 1 etc., which created a mesh, and now I'm proceeding with the rest. If this had to be purchased I feel certain it would be in the $50 range if not more. All meals were eaten at home and from our garden and freezer. My husband cuts our grass which is about a $40 savings after gas for the riding mower. I put $126 in my book so far but will be adding more after everything is processed. Blessings. Cookie

    1. Cookie,
      You are doing fantastic with your savings and all of the things you do! The way you are going you will be set for winter!

    2. Dear Cookie,
      We don't have snow here although some areas in Australia do. I think it would be like here if people are told a cyclone is coming the shelves can get stripped bare quickly! From what I have seen and heard now I think being really well prepared before winter would be such a good idea. People risk their lives going out in storms to get a carton of milk etc. Just nuts!
      I love how you have lengthened the crochet panel. I really want to see how this turns out! It sounds wonderful!
      Well done on your canning and all your savings. The peaches sound lovely! I just love peaches.
      It is great your husband does the grass. these things are big savings! With love

  11. Annabel,
    You are doing so much painting that I know you are saving a small fortune doing it yourself. A friend's husband is a painter and when she tells me how much he gets for jobs I am always flabbergasted. My painting is not perfect, but the price is good! LOL
    I added to the pantry with a $35 gift card that I got for doing a survey, 3 dozen eggs from my girls, Rick fixed some things and sold some things and made $700 and he got a nice blower from the curb and is fixing it so since it was free it will be all profit minus any parts, I added quite a bit to my compost which will be a savings later, hung clothes on the line and when I went to Walmart they had eggs down to 18 cents a dozen so I got 3 for the dog's food and milk is .99 a gallon! That is crazy.
    I have a plan for those pretty labels you sent me and as soon as gardening is done I'm on it! There is a basket rack at the grocery store that they use to display things in and I want one so I look at it and I am trying to figure out how to replicate it? Since Rick and Coty both weld I am sure one of them can do it for me!
    I hope everyone has a great week!

    1. Vicky,
      Belinda over at frugal Workshop shared acoupon for 1 dollar off milk on her blog this. I have never seen coupon for that much off milk before.It won!d. Ake yours

    2. Dear Vicky,
      Haha thats a good one! My painting isn't perfect either but the price is excellent!
      Wow... Rick is doing well and finding the blower! That is fantastic!
      I can't wait to see what you do with the labels!
      If you take photos of the basket rack hopefully the boys can come up with something... I want to see that!
      Well doen Vicky! I know you have been going flat out but it is all amazing! With love

    3. Vicky,
      Thank you for your kind words. I really enjoy the glimpses of all that you're doing. It has been a very busy and productive summer, and I can't believe it will be September this weekend. Soon the fall apples will be harvested and the acorn, butternut and pumpkin squashes will be in. I was wondering if you've ever canned these? I've always frozen my squashes but thought it might be convenient to have a few cans. Warmest Regards. Cookie

    4. Thanks for the heads up Patti! Free milk?! That would be awesome!

    5. Cookie,
      Yes I have! 25 min at 10 pounds pressure for pints. Pumpkins you can in chunks, but you can't can it if you puree it you have to freeze it.

  12. I happened to hear from an online friend that Dollar General had a clearance sale going on their veggie seeds so I went over on Friday and bought 76 packets of various veggie seeds for a total of $3.15!!! That was averaging 2- 5 cents per packet! I used 10 cents worth to plant lettuce, spinach, beans, peas and beets for my fall garden! All had a short grow to harvest time (45-50 days from germination)! I'm sure we will get more than our 10 cents' worth!!! Savings- easily more than $80 for the seeds!

    I also bought (3) 72 cell mini greenhouses for seed starting that I will use in the seed starting shelving unit hubby built from free pallet wood supports! The marked cost per greenhouse was $5 but they sold them to me for 25 cents each!!! A savings of $14.75!
    I was tempted on several busy days to get take out dinners but resisted and instead Pinterest and I made quick and delicious dinners all week using ingredients I had at home and the family was pleased! Savings- $100!
    We sold a wholesale order and made $100 profit this week using more free pallets! A $300 debt was repaid to us that we never thought would be so our bank account deposit was an extra $400!
    We went up north for my nephew's wedding and I made them a large lap quilt (actually twin size because they are both tall!)! I used a sampler quilt top from my UFO tote that were in the color pallet that she loves and a vintage sheet in my stash that had cost 99 cents at Goodwill. Batting, binding and thread to quilt it were all from my stash and so there was no out of pocket cost! Savings- $100?

    Going up north to wedding (a 5 hour road trip)we packed our own breakfasts, snacks and lunches- saved easily $40 round trip.
    Stayed overnight in hotel- they gave us senior discount + because when we checked out, we told them that our free wifi never had worked on my iPad even after we were on the phone with their tech guy for 45 minutes, they discounted our room cost by an additional 25%!! - Saved about $75!
    Decluttered and gave away 3 huge bags of clothes that don't fit which saves me space in my closet and extra clothes to wash!

    So at least $800 in savings this week, including $400 that actually got banked!!

    1. Dear Gardenpat, Your seed bargains were incredible! And the green houses! I know you will put all this to such good use.
      I love everything you are doing with the pallets. Savings plus earnings really add up!
      I am showing everyone your quilt in tomorrows post! It is stunning and the most gorgeous gift you could give.
      I hope beautiful clothes just the right size now come your way. Im sure they will. You look lovely and younger! With love

  13. I have been very negligent in keeping track of my savings. However, I always find it so fascinating how much pre-made things cost as I hardly pre-make anything. We are a gluten free household and this past week we celebrated two birthdays. I made gluten free chocolate cupcakes with peanut butter frosting for one and a gluten free carrot cake with cream cheese frosting for the other. I just looked up how much both of these would have cost from a local, specialized gluten free bakery and it would have been over $65!! I had all the ingredients on hand, too.

    Also this week I taught myself how to de-bone chicken thighs. Now I can buy the less expensive packages of thighs ($2-3 vs $7-8), take off the skin and de-bone, and make chicken broth with the discarded bones!

    1. Dear Jenn,
      Your own cooking is a huge saver but even more so with gluten free. I have seen the prices of some gluten free items. Birthday cakes themselves can be so expensive let alone the GF factor! So well done!
      Plus another well done on learning a new skill! The broth is a bonus too.
      That is a good week plus a busy one with two birthdays! With love

  14. Hi Annabel,
    WOW! What great savings. Painting and any other household chores can be quite costly if professionals are required. I grew up in a family where DDad (and also DBs) could turn his hand to most tasks, unfortunately, DFIL was not of the same mindset and always called in "the man". As a result, my DH is not so handy, though he has picked up some skills over the years from DDad - DS on the otherhand, spent a lot of time with his grandfather and is very handy.
    Not much in the way of savings this week at all here, in fact, with 2 car registrations, along with green slips, council rates, water and electricity, I feel as though we are haemorrhaging money! Even though we budget for all these bills, it would be nice if the various government bodies spread the timing of their accounts.
    I've been inspired by all the pantry/stockpile photos here and have been looking for a suitable place that I could turn into storage. I am thinking, with a bit of reorganising I could use some of the area under the stairs which lead to the bedrooms. This will be my task for the coming week.
    Thanks for the inspiration,

    1. Dear Janine,
      All these skills are so handy! Some can be learned but many things you really need a teacher and your story shows how lovely it is that your Dad taught skills to your son. I am sure he will pass them on too! Really they are a great asset!
      We all have weeks with a heap of bills. It feels like they conspire honestly the way they all come at once! (regular happening here)
      Under the stairs has great potential. Most of us do not have big pantries or anything special. But some cunning re arranging, sorting, shelves, good containers and all sorts of things can mean success! So good luck as this is a really great back up to have. Its like insurance! With love


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