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 21 August 2016

The Vicky Challenge. The Victory Garden and Pantry.

I had a fairly quiet week as far as the Vicky Challenge goes. It was a busy enough week but I am not sure I saved a lot of extra money!

The main things were the work lunches and coffees which I count as $100 saved plus making my Uncles Birthday present which was boxed up shortbread biscuits. I will say $25 for that. 
I invested in some things such as seedlings and seeds but they have to produce before I can count those! 
I might be having brain fade otherwise it is the lowest amount I have written in my saving book all year! 
However I do know what I am averaging per month and my yearly total is looking amazing! 

This weeks saving subject is very motivating!  Vicky has been working away and she told me that she had started her garden with a name which is "The Victory Garden".  Just like in the war years when they had the "Dig for Victory" champaign. I just love that. With a name like that how could you not want to be working in your garden!  
And to add to that she had called her new pantry and cellar "The Victory Pantry" which of course I love too.
In out chats I get updates on how things are going in the Victory Garden and Pantry.  A fortnight ago you saw how she had a freshly painted cellar and new shelves so here you will see an update. 

I asked Vicky to explain her idea for the Victory Garden and Pantry so over to her...

The Victory Garden and Pantry:

Why did I decide to call them this?  I believe that the history of the women who came before us and the things they did to make a home or support their families or pave the way for us is a true testament to the strength and resilience we all have or can choose to have and I find such inspiration from these women that I don't want to just say it I want to live it. During WWII women showed great strength and creativity. They did a beautiful job with rationing, getting creative and did their part in every way. They were encouraged to grow a garden and home can and that is what they did. They grew Victory Gardens as part of the war effort. 
Not getting into politics here, but some things are just not good and I don't like the direction things could go. When we started planning our garden we decided that 2 would be 3 and 3 became 4 and we need a strawberry bed and some blackberries and blue berries for the grandkids and so and so on. 

Some of the days harvest in the kitchen! 

While I was out weeding one day after we had planted a neighbour stopped by to chat and was telling us he had lost his job also and wasn't quite sure what his family would do? 
We have planted so much and there will be lots extra so I thought to myself this year will be my Victory Garden and Pantry! Like the ladies before me I will grow and grow more and can and can some more and add and add some more until my Victory Pantry is filled with the bounty I harvest and add to it each week. 

Taking inspiration from a time when people helped one another I will have plenty to help someone who has a need from circumstances they cannot help. The older couple on a fixed income who can't stretch the money any tighter, the family that lost their sole income or the homeless gentleman who would like something fresh for a change and a nice warm blanket, or the older woman who can no longer garden, but still wants to be in her kitchen working with fresh produce. To be able to help others and bring them joy even in small and humble ways is a real victory to me! 

This is the start of a vegetable sauce Vicky makes up.

I think if you have a mission in mind (plus a plan) then you can really achieve great things. The savings for Vicky's family here are huge. But then you add the other benefits... helping others, bartering, getting ahead, healthy meals full of fresh produce, filled pantry shelves and freezer and on it goes!

Vicky's cellar shelves are starting to fill! 

Just to inspire you even more I am going to show you Jen's garden. (This is Jen in NS) Just take a look at these! 

Jen has her own Victory garden that is just glorious. I loved seeing this as each week she mentions making jam, harvesting and baking and now I can picture her out in this garden. Thank you Jen this is a credit to you and your family.

We can all have our own Victory Pantries and plans. Working towards your goals and overcoming the obstacles along the way is a victory!

This week I am back to painting. I am kind of daunted by what I have to do!  I want to get it all done by Christmas and be finished for when Lucy is very pregnant and the baby arrives. I have the whole front of the house to do, two more rooms inside, outside woodwork around windows plus a big area of latticework inside the back fence. And a dodgy arm. I worked out by the time I am done it would be a saving of over $20,000 this year in painting alone! And I am more than half way. So here goes..! 
Motivation is such a big part of achieving our goals and saving!  I know we will look back on this year having achieved a lot! 

How was your Vicky Challenge last week?
I hope this week is full of progress and good things! xxx


  1. Wow is about the only thing I can think of to say, what amazing gardens! And all of those jars in Vicky's pantry - gorgeous.

    I baked last week, a lot! I made four foccacia loaves, two regular loaves of bread, gluten free cupcakes and biscuits, regular cupcakes and biscuits, and my 6 year old son baked pizza scrolls yesterday. And we ate from our freezer a lot as I am hoping to turn off our larger freezer so I can defrost it properly.

    I managed to get around the baby blanket that I have crocheted for a friend with single crochet but I'm not happy with it so will have to buy another ball so that I can give it a decent border.

    My son is turning four on Wednesday so tomorrow will be another baking day.

    I made a pie for dinner last night, total hit! I also found gluten-free pastry the other day at the supermarket so made four pies for my son for less than half the price of the ones from the bakery near us. He was really happy.

    I hope the painting goes well this week, I also need to get back into it. Just the minor issue of stripping wallpaper first ...

    Have a great week

    1. Dear Jen,
      Thank you! All your baking is wonderful! And I am glad about the pie! So many bits and pieces make easy pies and so many left overs! Keeping some frozen is so good too.
      Happy birthday to your little boy for Wednesday!
      Stripping wallpaper doesn't sound like fun. If you can get that out of the way even in bits and pieces as you have time then it will feel better after that. This afternoon I am filling a whole heap of gaps, cracks etc with polyfiller. But the sun is shining so I can enjoy being outside. I figure if I do something everyday I will get there. Then I am paining a window frame. Little by little...!
      Have a great week Jen, with love

  2. I honestly enjoy your posts so much, they are very encouraging to me, to try and keep going. The photos are wonderful!

    1. Thank you so much Annie! I really appreciate your encouragement! xxx

  3. Dear Annabel, thank you for another great post . I love Vickys Garden and pantry and the name of them is great. I also love Jen in NS garden too.thank you ladies for sharing with us your victory vegetables!.
    My Vicky challenge week included: 5 meals from my parents $50
    4 serves of soup $20 ( also from my parents)
    Saved $50 on meat because I usually share the cost of meat with my parents and my contribution this time was meat from a meat tray I won in a raffle , my parents wouldn't let me contribute any more because I also gave them two discount Meal vouchers to use for lunch.
    I saved $40 approx on 2 hours of subsidised cleaning.
    I saved $90 into my extras account ( I call it my extras account as it is for any extra items I need or want) .
    I saved $50 on transport by getting rides with my parents .
    I am on the safety net / free list for medication so this week I saved at least $30 on medication.
    I received a gift from a friend but I won't count that.
    I think that might be it Annabel. Total for this week is $330. Thanks again for showing us your Victory gardens and pantry Vicky and Jen in NS . Love BarbW

    1. Dear Barb,
      Thank you! You had another very good week! that is a great total Barb.
      Your extras account is a great idea!
      I hope you have another good week. I know you are saving up for your holiday so that is great incentive and that must be getting close too! With love,

  4. Dear Annabel,
    Thank you for showing us Vicky and Jen's Victory gardens and Vicky's new pantry. It's very gratifying to be amongst women who share the same thoughts and values as to our roles in keepers of the home. Of late I've been reading books from the library concerning how our foremothers got through the WWII years, including ones on making the most of food and fuel during the rationing years.

    My Vicky Challenge this week included a little end of season shopping for shoes and clothing for next year. Thanks to clearance and 60 percent off the already clearance prices I got $275 worth of shoes and clothes for $44. With the 30 pounds of peaches I made 3 large peach cobblers, 2 peaches and cream coffee cakes, froze 4 quarts of peaches, and made jelly using the peach skins and peach pits and made peach preserves. I'm not sure I can even guess what the baked goods would be in the stores because I've never seen them there but the frozen peaches be about $15 and the jelly and jams would be around $50. There was no food shopping done last week except for a couple of pantry snack items, like popcorn, nuts, etc. I got 3 books that were on hold for me at the library, which saved $40 since I didn't buy them. All meals were eaten at home. I probably did a few more things but can't remember them right now. I put a total of $380 in my book for this week. Today is the big job of defrosting the freezer and taking inventory of whats in there. Wishing everyone a beautiful and productive week. Cookie

    1. I ***totally**** love peach jelly made with pits and skins!! I am glad you made that.

    2. Hi Cookie!
      Your peach jelly/jam made from scraps sounds lovely!
      I am waiting for confirmation on the citrus 'jam' recipe, so will let you know when I can!!
      Have a good week!!
      Rachel Holt

    3. Dear Cookie,
      It was really good getting things put away for next season at such great prices. This is truly getting ahead!
      Everything you did wth the peaches is wonderful and down to using the skins and pits! That is brilliant. You will be enjoying peaches for so long!
      I hope your freezer inventory went well! Thats a big job! The savings were very good and you have me waiting for peach season! Many thanks Cookie! With love

  5. Congratulations on another grandchild! Somehow I missed that before now. The big savings was the $3000 saved on the new flooring which was finished up on Friday. I mainly tried to stay out of the way of the workmen in our house so not much was really done. Early in the week I did bake 36 banana chocolate chip muffins which would have been a dollar each at the bakery. They are stashed in the freezer for lunch boxes. I am a terrible painter and hubby is only a little better at it. We do need to do some painting but I hate the results of our work and I also hate paying to have it done even more. The project also involves our 2 story foyer. You have done so well to do all that work yourself!

    1. Dear Lana.
      Thank you! Yes I only mentioned this last week.
      It is lovely you have the new flooring done. And at such a saving!
      It is so interesting how our prices are so different. We have to go by our local prices of course. Here a muffin in the bakery is $3 or $4 usually. 36 was a lot to make too!
      I have painted since my first house when Lucy was a baby. Im not sure I am great at it but I find it is 3/4 cleaning, sanding and other stuff and the actual painting is the quick and easy bit. I am starting on the front of the house today as it is lovely and sunny. On not so good days I am working in the bedroom on woodwork. I feel a bit daunted at the moment! But I think I will do some most days and sooner or later I will get there. I am going to take my before photo today!
      Have a good new week! With love

  6. Wow! I just love Vicky's story and that she actively plans for helping others, too. It looks like her new pantry is filling up nicely!

    I'm sorry the garden photos are so dark...I took them at twilight and though there was plenty of light, the photos I took without the flash turned out all blurry. I don't know if you can make out that each row is covered with deer/bird netting which is pegged down with sticks. :) (Though that doesn't help the trellised runner beans, etc.) The photos are of just part of my garden, though I took them from two different angles, I just couldn't fit it all in. It extends quite a few row past in length from either shot. You might be able to just make out some trees in the background of the second photo...these are our apple and cherry trees (and red currant bushes) and our early apples are just starting to produce now. We content ourselves with giving apples away to our neighbors as the food banks won't take's really too bad, but unless it's all packaged up and from a store, they have safety concerns and won't take it. And even one tree produces so much we just can't keep up, though I always try! :) Just off to the left of that same photo are my raised herb beds. I always swore as a kid that I would never garden and I would never can...famous last words from a person who loves good food!

    I sure envy Vicky's tomatoes...we get blight here and I've only ever had one successful year with tomatoes. Each year I would plant 60-80 plants only to have them all turn black and rot in the space of a week mid-summer every year. Heartbreaking...I love tomatoes! I finally stopped planting them to try to keep the disease from spreading any more in the soil. But I just bought 75 lbs of tomatoes on Friday so will be canning them up when they finish ripening. So I am swooning over Vicky's tomato photos!!!

    Yes, looking at the whole remainder of your painting job does indeed look daunting, but as you say, the little bits all add up! Take care of your arm, Annabel! Can't wait to see photos of your nursery room when it's done.

    xx Jen in NS

    1. Dear Jen, The photos were fine. I could see pretty well and boy am I impressed! Plus you have such neat lay out and no weeds! Thanks for pointing out the apple and cherry trees. Wow. They are amazing. You live in a beautiful place and this land is such an asset! And you have used it well.
      Have a good time with all those tomatoes! If they don't grow well for you then it is probably better to do what you have done as everything else you grow looks like it does very well.
      Thank you re the painting. Today I start the front of the house. Its going to look so pretty! With love

  7. Dear Annabel,
    I am so proud of my Vicky she is a busy person!!

    Vicky's Mom

    1. Dear Vicky's Mum.... I am glad! You should be! She is a great friend and such a hard worker. And funny! We have some hilarious moments!
      I am glad you help her so much! I love when you comment! With love

  8. My daughters and I read about Victory Gardens in an American Girl book not long ago. My mother-in-law grows a wonderful garden every year and we are blessed that she shares it with us from corn to green beans and more we enjoy these harvests yearlong.

    1. From one Bluebird to another! What a good MIL to share her produce with you that is lovely. The Victory Garden idea is great. If you are interested watch the War Time farm series on Your tube its so interesting. I enjoyed that so much! xxx

  9. Please be careful of your arm Annabelle. Take it slow and listen to your body. :)

    As always, I learn so much from your posts. I really appreciate Vicky's perspective.

    1. Hi Cristy

      We love the jelly too. I also make jelly using apple cores and peelings which is yummy as well. Both something I learned from my Nana. Cookie

    2. Dear Cristy,
      I am taking a break right now and called it a day for painting. I got started on the front of my house now. Thank you so much and for commenting on Vickys writing too. With love

    3. Cookie, I found my recipe for the peach jelly online when I was moving away from my favorite peach tree. I was worried I wouldn't have access to a peach tree after that and wanted every drop from the one I had. (It didn't work out that way. I have a peach tree in my new home.) I am glad of it though, because I love that peach jelly recipe. If I ever have an abundance of apples, I'll look up the apple cores and peelings jelly. Apples are hard to grow where I live because I am too far south. --Cristy

  10. Lovely gardens! I am starting slow here. We have plenty of land and I've often said we could make a real homestead here but my husband has no desire at all to any such thing. He's always lived in cities with good supermarkets and farmer markets and he sees no point in growing what might be bought. When we do talk of gardening he wants a tomato plant, a squash plant etc. I am going to plant garden peas, lettuce, carrots and beets in pots. I've done this before and gotten small harvests but it's what I can do on my own. On the other hand, since giving our smallest freezer to our daughter, I am limited on stocking up on meats. John suggested I use the money I'd normally spend to amp up the dry pantry. I think it's an excellent idea and just in time to take advantage of the canned goods sales that we ought to start seeing here in U.S. now that Fall is approaching.

    1. Dear Terri,
      Ohhh you have land! That is such an asset. Firstly I am thinking could you grow pumpkins and things that take up a lot of room but kind of run freely, produce lots but don't take much work? I would love to have a field of pumpkins! Next.... I think that overall dry goods are a bigger asset for long term back up. If the power is out or anything this is not impacted. So that could be very good.
      We are seeing the change of seasons too and today was sunny and lovely as we will be in Spring soon. Have a good week Terri, with love

  11. Hi Annabel!

    This work of yours is wonderful! I appreciate the encouragement I find when I see that Vicky, Jen, you and others have such wonderful plans, too. Conquering the obstacles, day by day, is a real challenge!! This, then, makes even the little things such valued achievements!

    Vicky, somehow I had imagined that you had brown hair! Now I see you as a Victory woman, with stylish workwear!! If I could choose new neighbours, you and other 'Bluebirders' would be my choice!! So there! I'd like to be more like you!

    Jen from Nova Scotia, you've actually done really well with your gardening! All those luxuriant greens are wonderful, and your garden is a magnificent size. Be proud of your work! (Watch out for next year!)

    As for our Vicky Challenge, my husband has made winning purchases. Mechanical oil on sale, with free oil filters (more of a saving for our car), .. & able to buy more than the maximum official purchase. Diesel at $1.07/Litre was as low as it has been for ages. (@$1/ L, this costs 20cents/kilowatt, as opposed to mains 33cents/kilowatt plus added fees). We moved to a 10kg regulated gas bottle. This uses less gas, refills cost less per kg, and the bottle was filled for free (worth $28). Mechanical chains and parts from an engineering firm cost only a fraction of what usual retailers charge. Coles are not stocking 500g salt reduced butter. Instead of paying more for smaller blocks, we are buying 500g unsalted butter at Aldi. This is energy shopping!! He has done well.

    I've got to go!

    Rachel Holt

    1. Rachel,
      It usually is brown! I dyed it awhile ago and being in the sun has lightened some, but yep it's brown! I would love to have you and all of the BlueBirders as my neighbors too! I imagine we would have one busy neighborhood.

    2. Dear Rachel, I thought it was lovely to have a photo of Vicky hard at work in her kitchen and looking so happy! Now we can picture her when she is writing here.
      Well done to your husband for the good shopping. Aldi wins again on prices too I notice!
      You will be noticing it warming up there I think. I am hoping that your seedlings are coming on and that chooks are in the not too distant future. Chooks eat weeds! You can have chook lawn mowers. This is a big help. Oh and they eat bugs too another help.
      Have a wonderful week Rachel! With love

  12. Hi Rachel,
    Many thanks for looking into the particulars on the jam. I love new recipes as does my husband. Blessings. Cookie

    1. Here I am, Cookie!!

      Now, regarding the 'citrus jam', this could be quite interesting!

      Firstly, I am thinking that the original Coles 'Taste Magazine' recipe is at the following link

      Secondly, Dad wrote .....

      "Our jam session has 2 grapefruit(large), 2lemons ,2lemonades,2mandarines,
      2 red oranges and 3 or 4 small oranges πŸ€”or what ever is on the farm.
      It varies every time πŸ•‘,another batch has just come off the line."

      The above citrus fruit (the whole fruit, cut up) were soaked overnight (12 hours) in enough water to cover them, without the fruit pieces floating. One kilogram of sugar was used, but may need to be adjusted to obtain the desired taste and consistency/thickness.

      So, you see, I can only pass on estimates. However, I found the resulting citrus jam, kept in the fridge, refreshing, luscious and fruity! See what you think!!

      With warm regards, as we are under a drop of rain that saves me having to start watering my garden!
      Rachel Holt

    2. Hi Rachel,
      Thank you so much and please thank your Dad for me. I'm really looking forward to making this when good citrus becomes available. Right now any citrus fruits in the stores here are all thick skin and hardly any of the real fruit. Hope the chokoes are growing well . Blessings. Cookie.

  13. Wow! What gardens! I always imagined that I would grow my own produce.....but I seemingly can't. I failed to grow a choko vine which is supposedly impossible. I managed to not grow one THREE times.

    I can grow mint but that's about it. Our lemon tree produces no fruit, likewise our orange tree. Last year we discovered a small peach tree. Well we knew the tree was there but not that it was a peach because it had certainly never shown signs of being peachy. But last year it grew twelve delicious peaches. Notice I say IT grew them. WE had nothing to do with it.

    Yesterday I went to a market to get spring plants for pots and DH told the lady selling them "Don't sell her any. She's going to put them in the ground and THEN kill them. You are sending them to a sure death."

    My garden beds grow lovely luscious grass. My lawn? Not so much.

    So, the only Victory aspect from my garden is that there are some hardy plants that survive my care.

    I love your gardens though (and Vicky's Prod Mom made me smile).

    1. Dear Lorax,
      Your husband was just trying to save those poor plants lol
      I have an idea your garden has a lot of shade. That could be it wiht your lemon tree... but not sure on this.
      Thank you for your kind words on the girls gardens. With lots of love,

  14. Annabel,
    Thank you for sharing my work. It has been a good week and the produce totals are adding up. I was flabbergasted at the store though. They are selling Dandelion greens! people try like heck to get rid of them and the store is selling them and dumb people will pay a high price for them at the store and destroy the free ones in their own yards? How dumb is that? Your painting is going to be so lovely!

    Jen in NS your garden is beautiful! Such goodness you have there!
    Lorax if you can grow mint I am sure you can grow other things keep trying. Maybe try again with some of the really easy things like green beans and go from there. You can do it!

    1. Dear Vicky, Dandelion greens! Well I have heard of them being used but not buying them!
      Thank you for so many great photos. This has inspired a lot of people! With love

  15. Hi Annabel,
    Thank you for sharing Vicky and Jen's produce and gardens.
    The fresh veggies look so appealing.
    Looking at Vicky's preserves brings back wonderful childhood memories of visits to local farms and orchards with my DGParents and parents in order to purchase cases of fruit and veg. These were then preserved in Vacola preserving jars and stored for later use.
    I noticed that BigW were selling a preserving kit in their last catalogue, so maybe the art of preserving is seeing a revival.
    Best wishes,

    1. Dear Janine,
      I have seen there are a lot of books on preserves plus the jars and canning kits! I think all things cooking and kitchens are back! Its wonderful.
      Thank you for commenting on the girls gardens and encouraging them!
      With love

  16. Dear Annabel,
    The gardens are lovely as are the photos of the produce from them!

    The saving you will see from painting is amazing! Great work!

    I had some nice savings from coupons and sales at the grocery and drugstore. Found a bottle of antacid on sale for $8.99. Combined a $4 store coupon and a $4 manufacturer's coupon to get it for $.99. I used a rain check and coupons to get 6 boxes, $29.94 worth, of cereal for 4.82, which was less than the regular price of one box.

    As I mentioned, I transferred some of my husband's prescriptions to mail order so they will be free and shipped to our home. I didn't write down the prices, but think it will save us about $175 per year, plus being convenient.

    We attended a very enjoyable free concert that I am guessing was a $50 value.

    All totaled, savings came up to $348.95 for this week. I continue to be amazed and encouraged by my savings, as well as your posts and the comments. I hope everyone is having a good week!

    Love from Arizona,

    1. Dear Elaine,
      Excellent savings! Sorry for my late reply Elaine I am way behind!
      I hope you are having a lovely weekend as here it is Saturday and sunny. With love

  17. Dear Annabel, How exciting for Lucy!!:) Be sure you take it easy with your arm. You are doing an amazing job, and such a huge job also! Slow and steady is best! :)

    Vicky, What a wonderful Victory garden you have! And I love seeing all your jars lined up!! Just beautiful! Harvest time is a busy time but very rewarding.

    Jen in NS, You, also, have a wonderful Victory garden! How blessed to have all the fruit trees, also! I just finished canning over 50 lbs. of tomatoes. We grow a few to eat but never get enough to can.

    Annabel, I love all your recent posts. Things have been pretty crazy for us plus canning (today I finished canning 38 quarts of green beans) tomatoes were last week, plus keeping up with my regular chores. Have a good week everyone! Love, Teri

    1. Dear Teri,
      Sorry for such a late reply things got away from me!
      I am going along steadily with the painting. Being careful.
      Well done on the green beans! And I am glad you had tomatoes as well this is good. Thank you for commenting on the girls gardens too! With much love

  18. Dear Annabel,
    What a lovely post! I was going to say I started watching a show called War Time Farm, but I see you mentioned it above!
    Vicky, I love that you call it a Victory garden and pantry. All of your fresh produce looks wonderful! So do those shelves lined with home-canned goodness. That is a lot of work, but I can imagine the feeling of satisfaction each time you look at those shelves. How nice of your mom to be so proud, too :)
    Jen, your garden is simply amazing! Beautiful and lush! Thank you so much for sharing.
    I hope everyone's week is going well!
    With lots of love, Kelsey

    1. Dear Kelsey, Sorry for such a late reply! The Wartime Farm series is really nice. There are also others in this series. I am imagining your farm next spring as there are so many possibilities! Very exciting! With love

  19. Thank you to Vicky for challenging us on her Victory garden! Thank you to Annabel on last weeks challenge on making meat pies. I will use both of those ideas.
    My total savings for the week of August 14 was $1514.45! Wow! this included a new stove as our old one was under warrenty. We were able to replace our broken stove with a store credit plus the new stove was $43 off so I included that in my savings. Our other savings came from harvesting wild plums and canning discounted peaches. Also we save by making our own laundry soap (recipe found on Prudent Homemaker).
    This week we saved $391 on making homemade gifts and cakes for our birthday girl, Eden. She turned 10 and her special treat was a visit from her pen-pal who lives 2 hours away. The children made up their own party games and us adults enjoyed visiting.
    Have a good week everyone and thanks for being such an inspiration!
    Blessings, Leslie


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