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.

Friday 30 September 2016

An extra post this week. New ways to save!

Thank you for all the messages and comments yesterday. I will be replying properly as the weekend goes on. Our state now has a lot of flooding and is in quite a crisis but our family is not in the flooded areas. We used to live in one of them and know the areas well. So that is still unfolding. There are still widespread phone and internet outages but we have internet today so here I am!
My friend Nerilie lives in Pt. Lincoln which is a regional city and beautiful place and quite remote. Last night they still had no power, supermarkets were empty, no phones, fuel, schools shut, shops had shut, and the towns water supply which is pumped was also under threat. They were in pretty big trouble. NEVER in a thousand years would I have thought this possible!
I have reached the stage I'm writing things down in order to remember them and learn.
This can happen anywhere I guess! In a world of weather events we also have internet hackers and terrorism etc. We always just hope nothing will ever happen.

I have to tell the truth and say I have a really strong feeling about this. It is almost two years since I felt very prompted to start preparing and got busy on it. I wrote a post about that at the beginning of the series I wrote. I just had a nagging feeling and I heard others who said the same.
Now I have a very strong feeling and it is that trying to get prepared was not for this event. That this event is a practice run and to learn from it.
Normally I don't think I would talk about feelings in this way. But I am stepping out and saying it. My whole life if I ever ignored a really strong gut feeling about something it never turned out well! So I have learned my lesson there. Trust yourself when you have a strong feeling about something.

Now to my Saturday post! I have been excited about this!

Over the last three years I have really learned a lot! Each year I seem to have found new ways to save and get ahead and each time I find something new that is a big saver it is like an exciting light bulb moment!

I can even track some of my biggest savers and the things that have made a difference. Some things are little and some are huge! When you realise the value of things and work out the savings it can be a shock! Vicky says you can't bet the best price which is FREE!

Last week I had a bit of a discovery and it was the result of reading Strangers and Pilgrims on Earth. Jes often gets a mention here by both readers (i.e. Kelsey the other day showed recipe cards she had printed from her website,  Maria had just been baking with recipes from there as well!)  and myself as I find so much there that helps and inspires me.
Jes has written an e book called 100+ DIY Projects to make with fruit scraps.

Now, I already felt I make the most of any fruit that comes our way.
I love to make jams for my pantry and for gifts. In winter when we have oranges I always make the Sunshine cake and when I have lemons I go crazy making Lemon Butter, lemon icing,  I freeze the juice and slices and drink the juice daily.
I have even made Lemon Vinegar for my cleaning cloths.
I thought I am pretty good at using all the fruit we can come by in summer.
Last year we had lots of figs! I was making fig jam and figs in so many meals... fig pizza became a new favourite here!

So imagine my shock when I read Jes' book and a few pages into it I start to seriously regretting every orange peel, lemon peel, apple core and peel that I have thrown away.  She literally has over 100 uses for these things.  After a few more pages I was having flash backs of mountains of lemon skins I threw away last time I had lemons from Hilde!

According to Jes I could have made Lemon Essence, a myriad of beauty and bath products, soaps, Vitamin C Elixir, cleaning products and beautiful things.  The peel is packed with nutrition, vitamins and scent. So we throw all this away then go and buy vitamin C tablets! haha

Worse still I realised I could have used my lemon peels in my next batch of soaps and I enjoyed soap making so much earlier this year. She has recipes I am dying to try that will use up all my future peels with gorgeous citrus scents.  Also my favourite soap was the one I made with Lux flakes which are soap flakes. Her recipes are just as easy and the results are like in the stores that sell homemade soaps for outrageous prices.  I never thought of citrus peels to add scent, colour and even texture to my soaps!

To top it off beautiful labels that you can print are supplied. So you have the correct name for the product and a professional finished for gift giving. This looks lovely in our own cupboards too.

Overall I found so many things I can't wait to make that will fill both my pantry and gift cupboard. Many of these I will be using for next years gifts. A lot of things are ways to build up your pantry for practically free.

I have already pretty much eliminated the chemicals and cost of most cleaning products. The last frontier was the oven and now I don't need chemicals for that either!  For many people cleaning products, air fresheners etc amount to hundreds a year. Really you can eliminate the lot! The recipes Jes gives you are just lovely and your house will small beautiful. This eliminates another area of spending on air fresheners etc.

Jes has you making things you never really dreamed of, makes it easy and fun and her recipes do not require expensive or fancy ingredients. It is not real economy if you have to spend money to use these things up. Her ingredients are mostly stuff you already have.

We have summer ahead of us. Here we get winter citrus and masses of fruit in about January and February.  I keep a jar cupboard and build that up all year for this time! However now I will be doubling my efforts and saving bottles too as fast as I can.  The stuff I mostly throw away will all become gifts, cleaning products and things to store.

I am sharing this because I just love it. I am not being paid or anything like that! Jes gave me a copy of her book and asked me if I would review it which I did on Amazon.  This is just a world of savings to me and a way to use things I regularly have thrown in the bin!

So save your bottles and jars and your fruit scraps. They are going to get us a mile ahead with many projects form now on!

This is the link to Jes' page if you would like to get the e book. You can read about it further there as well.

Do you have any wonderful recipes that use the things that we all regularly throw away? Stocks and bone broths come to my mind.  These are another thing that are full of nutrition yet many of the ingredients regularly are thrown in the bin.
I think the skills to use all these things are great to learn in good times and would be incredibly helpful in bad times. We are surrounded by resources if only we know how to use them.
Who doesn't love free ingredients!  I still can see the huge pile of lemon peels I threw away some months ago. I won't be doing that again.

Between October 3 and 5 Jes is selling the e book for a discount price. If you enter the code
loyal reader the book will be $5.99

If anyone wants to buy the book would you think about leaving Jes a review as these are so helpful when you are trying to get a book off the ground.

This has really opened up a wonderful subject for me. What do you make from things that people routinely throw away?  I am going to have a post coming up just on things made for basically free because they use up scraps. Roseanne already sent me pictures of some of the things she makes!  So please share on this as it is really quite amazing when you discover something wonderful has been right in front of you all along but you didn't see it!

Have a lovely weekend. Here it is Grand Final day in the AFL football. We will have the whole afternoon relaxing and watching.  It is really fun. Provided the electricity stays on of course! xxx

Jes is offering the book to us for $5.99 instead of the regular $9.99. This offer is between the 3rd and 5th of October. You need the code... loyalreader

Thursday 29 September 2016

Feather your Nest Friday, 30th September, 2016.

What a week! And today is the last day of September.
Thank you for all the comments and well wishes on Wednesday's post and via Facebook also. I usually reply properly to everyone but I think I have to give up as I am so far behind due to the storm and power outage. We came through it very well although overall our whole state didn't! More about that soon...

The first part of the week was pretty normal. Some of the ways I saved money and feathered my nest included:

I had repainted my dining room chars. I got these for $20 each years ago. I wanted them to look Shabby Chic but not too shabby...

I made Quiches with sundried tomato, spinach, onion etc. After all this I guess they are not really Quiche exactly but they are nice anyway.  I made one for Chloe to take home too.

I got some Vanilla Essence started for Christmas gifts. This will all go into little labelled bottles and then into some hamper gifts when it is ready. It is really fun shaking it everyday and seeing it get darker! 

The next part of the week wasn't so normal!  We had warnings that a big storm was coming. Now the weather reports are not terribly reliable so I view them with one eyebrow raised mostly. However the warnings were coming. Lesson 1. Listen to the warnings!
Anyway I did listen and started warning the girls. 

We have an action plan and this is the first time I really needed to use it. This was good and works if you get confused in a crisis. You consult the list! 
We had more than 24 hours to get ready. So in that time Andy started up the generator, we checked fuel supplies, I filled prescriptions, shopped, washed and dried everything and so on.
The warnings then intensified. 

The morning the storm was meant to hit I got out torches, candles etc plus tarps, plastic sheeting, making tape and so on. We were warned of very high winds and there is a big tree out the back...
As it got closer I used electricity for everything I could think of and boiled the kettle several times and filled a big thermo with coffee and another with tea. 
All this time I had my phone changing  plus iPad etc all fully charged. I messaged everyone to do the same.
I warmed up the house as much as I could and got out the battery operated radio.

Then the storm hit! Andy was working and still out on the streets. 
One worry was it is only two weeks since we had flooding around here and the ground is already soaked. So rivers and creeks were going to flood faster this time. 
The power went out soon after the storm hit.  
The WHOLE state lost all power. That is, size wise, for the US ladies... about the size of Texas plus the size of Kansas combined. No one had power.  I don't know of this ever happening before. 

I thought of Patsy as she has been running scenarios where you think of what you would do in various situations and plan your preparedness steps. Well, this was a real life one! I was about to test the preparedness we have been working on for almost two years now! 

Unbelievably just at the worst moment Andy's van broke down and he was stuck. Luckily this happened before a huge number of people were stranded later and he got help quite quickly. However he got home later without the car which went to the workshop. And as we found out as the evening went on some of our emergency supplies are in the van!  

We did some things right and some things wrong. So we learned a heap. 
The biggest thing  we did right was we knew our power supply is not reliable and we bought a generator. It was wonderful. It worked so well for us! 

Here's some of what we did wrong:
We expected our power outages to be in the summer if there's a heatwave. Thats when our state uses maximum power which we don't believe they will have. So we are more summer outage prepared than winter and it is wintery now even though we are in spring!

I had spare torches and lanterns that were new. They needed to be opened and started and two of them were painful with tiny instructions and one had screws and you had to take out the batteries and put them back in to make it work! All really annoying in a crisis so open things, read instructions and practice everything while you have time, light etc and avoid these aggravations!

What we did right:
We had plenty of light and  no worries about running out of things. We would be ok for weeks.
We had a lovely dinner cooked on the BBQ. It was crumbed chicken with carrots,  asparagus and garlic butter. 
While that cooked we had a big pot of water also on the BBQ.
That was poured into a big tub I bought and keep in the cellar. Its kind of the size of a baby bath.  Andy poured the hot water into it (I sat it inside the big bath) and I added a little bit of cold. I stood in that and gave myself a pretty good "shower" and wash. It was really good. I felt clean and happy. We repeated the process for Andy. After a long day that was much nicer than no shower!

We ran the generator for a couple of hours. We watched the TV updates and news and ran the fridge and freezer for a while.

Otherwise we listened to the battery radio. The station we listened to was wonderful. They helped everyone so much with updates, advice, calming words. At one point I felt that a battery radio is one of the most important things you can have in a crisis. We knew what was going on and what to do.

Overall we were fine.  We stayed dry and safe and off the road. We ate hot food and had coffee and tea until midnight from the thermos.

What I learned: (So much!)
Firstly within the first hour or two candles, matches, torches etc had sold out across the state  And stores closed early. People were yelling at supermarket staff desperate for these things. 
I think if people are yelling and desperate after two hours how would they be after two days or two weeks? 
Patsy said this too. She was affected by the fuel shortage in the south of USA. The gas stations had no fuel. After only one or two days people were very upset and abusive. This is scary. It makes you wonder how long it would take for things to become violent.

Public transport failed. Our trains are electric with no backup! 
Phones failed. Mobile phone towers use electricity and have LIMITED back up then they don't work!
Many hospitals had no power! Who knew you need to take a torch to hospital (let alone the more serious ramifications of that...) In one hospital people on respirators etc had to be hand ventilated. 
Roads were blocked. Fuel doesn't pump so people who needed petrol/gas couldn't get any...
Plus boom gates across railway crossings got stuck down and traffic lights all were out. The roads were very dangerous. You do not want to be on the road in a mass power outage. Avoid it at all costs!
WORSE you do not want to be out when a big storm hits.  People were stuck in elevators in department stores! EEK! (my worst nightmare!) 
Shops just shut their doors once the power went off.
000 (the same as 911 in the US) stopped working. Guess what? It has limited back up power then doesn't work. (Impressive) 
At this point... when roads are blocked, the phones are out, 000 doest work anyway etc you are on your own. If you could call for help it isn't coming anyway.
If you are not prepared you are crazy.
Last year I posted a weekly series on getting prepared. And I worked week by week on our own preparations plus all this year I have tried to keep building on it and our skills as well. 
This crisis was small really and short i.e. the worst was over in three days. 
I have a list of things I need to add to what we have. One thing is an electric hotplate or electric frypan.

Yesterday afternoon things had calmed down and I went to the store nearby. It is less than 1 kilometre away.  The stores shelves were empty in every section to do with power loss...
Here are the matches:

The torches (flashlights):

The candles:

People were asking staff if there were any out the back? (we all know the answer to that!) 
And when would they be coming in? (The answer was they had no clue)

You cannot buy these things when you need them. You must have them ready at home.

It's a wake up call and a good lesson.
The girls were ok. Chloe found out she needs cast iron cookware for the fireplace.
Lucy cooked risotto on the BBQ which I thought was pretty good since I find Risotto daunting in the best of circumstance! 

The weather is still very rough. I am treating this as a real life test of our preparedness and basically it has shown me that we need to keep going with this as boy do we ever depend on electricity a lot! 

Next year I think I will go back to a weekly preparedness post. 

To not be prepared when a crisis hits must be absolutely terrible. Get prepared as much as you possibly can.

Before the wheels fell off this is what I did towards my 100 day challenge:

Friday I cleaned and painted inside and around a window.
Saturday I cleaned under big cupboards that don't get moved.
Sunday I washed down a gate and fence ready to paint. I cleaned the fronts of my kitchen cupboards and sanded a door frame.
Monday I started painting a fence.
Tuesday I touched up paint in the kitchen. 

And you know the rest! 

How did you build up your nest this week?  I hope it was a good week for you! 

Tomorrow I have a special post that I hope is going to help us all fill our pantries, gift stashes and 
cleaning cupboards using very basic and inexpensive things along with stuff that we normally throw away!  I thought I was good at not wasting things but it turns out I have been terrible at it! 

Sorry for such a long post!  Thank you for all the messages and prayers. xxx

Tuesday 27 September 2016

The Christmas Challenge. Grub roses.

My Christmas Challenge has been going along well and I have been still working on crochet edgings.  I started a big bottle of Vanilla Extract this week which will end up in little bottles and part of some of my kitchen/foodie gifts.

I am trying to post early today as we are expecting a big storm. Now the weather report isn't famous for accuracy. But if it is what they say it is we probably won't have power later on!

Quite a few of us have been working on crochet edgings and I am pretty thrilled that there are some of you giving these a go and learning them as they are so useful and fun to do!  The beauty of them is you can take something inexpensive and personalise it and make it special all fro very little money!

The other thing I have found so useful is knowing how to do Grub Roses. I have had several requests to do some sort of tutorial on these.  And I am working on it! This should be interesting as it is all tiny and close up photos! But I am doing my best so that is coming very shortly!

In the meantime  I am going to hopefully encourage anyone who doesn't embroider to give it a try! It is so lovely to do. Plus small and portable. I can't take my sewing machine on holidays or to the waiting room at the Doctors but I can take my hand sewing! The same with working in the evenings... small things you can do anywhere!

This is another thing that is surprisingly easy when you know how! Also I am focusing on roses but this stitch can be made into bees, bunnies and other creatures... and thing like little trains which are suitable for boys. I might get on to that later. Basically this stitch will help you with a lot of things.

Today I am just going to hopefully give some ideas of what you could do with Grub Roses.

I have worked a lot on baby clothes. I tend to add one rose in the middle of the neckline of little t shirts, under garments, one on the outset side of a baby sock or in the middle of a back pocket.
You do not need a lot. They are like a little kiss!
They look so sweet. In this way you can buy a ready made garment and just add a touch of embroidery and it is a lovely gift. Or make the whole garment of course if you want.

Currently I have been working the crochet edgings on face washers, hand towels and bath mats.
On a face washer or bath mat I will just work on rose in one corner. That is enough and looks right.

On a hand towel or bath towel I will work a little line of flowers on one end and centre them so that when the towel is hanging up it shows nicely.

I have worked a lot of baby sheets and wraps and the edge of pillowcases. 

You can make little clusters and fill in the gaps with simple french knots.

Using wool instead of cotton you can work these and other roses on wool fabric so then you have things like rugs, water bottle covers, children coats etc.

I made my Nanna a pink rug like this one Christmas. It had rose sprays in each corner and a wreath in the middle. She really liked it!

There are just so many applications. I hope I am convincing you how useful they are!

I have worked quite a lot of cushions and pillow covers.  You become kind of addicted lol and this led me to ribbon embroidery which I might also add some tutorials on sometime soon.

I cannot tell you how much fun it is! The basics really do get you started and take you a long way.

Babies in the family really do give you extra chances to use your embroidery but all of us would probably love touches of ribbons and roses on night gowns, linen etc.

Now we are at the end of the month! You know what that means! Its time for Show and Tell! I already have some great photos that have come in!
We would love to see what you have made or what you are working on!  These posts have given us all heaps of ideas and inspiration.
You can post on the Bluebirds Facebook page or email me at

Do you embroider or would you like to give it a try?

I hope you are having a wonderful week! To the South Australians stay inside and stay safe!xxx

Sunday 25 September 2016

The Vicky Challenge. Revisiting Christmas.

My Vicky Challenge last week was a bit quiet. I didn't have any major bargains at all!
I wrote in my savings book though that I had $100 in savings from packed lunches and $300 in the painting I did for the week.  So that is $400 I recorded.

Luckily I have other stuff to talk about or that would be the most dismal blog post ever!

My savings subject this week is "Revisiting Christmas" as Vicky would say. Like anything else we can go along doing the same things for years and years but a revisit or review can be a very good idea.

Christmas can be tricky because many things are family traditions and any change will cause a revolt.
But Christmas should be wonderful and not a nightmare and certainly not something that goes on the credit card or ruins your budget.
A review is good.
Hopeful the Christmas Challenge has helped you get ahead and make lots of things towards your gift giving. And we still have quite a bit of time yet. In October I begin making Christmas cakes and so now is a good time to think about what I am, and maybe are not going to do, this year.

Making cakes in October is fantastic as they improve with age and then there is less cooking to do in December. A whole heap of gifts are made.

Last year I had a bit of a review. Dried fruit is fairly expensive and this cake does cost quite a bit to make. I was making four double batches. So last year I cut it right down. I made them for Andy and for Dad and a set of mini cakes in Texas Muffin trays. I individually wrapped those.  This was a lot less that usual.

(The recipe for this cake is here.   )

I realised I could give a giant round of shortbread (which looks and tastes really good!) for a lot, lot less.
Also my coconut ice is much less expensive and the kind of thing you only need a small amount of as it is so rich. So small slabs of that seem big!

A review of the food you buy and what you cook can really be a good idea!  Over the years prices change! The number of people we are feeding and giving to can change a lot as well. The choices are more also. Once we could buy a turkey. Now we can buy turkey in all sorts of cuts and sizes and the same goes for most of the foods we buy.

The same applies to food we might be contributing to an event or going to someone else's home. This used to be a bring trap for us. Generous and delicious doesn't have to me it cost a fortune. Andy used to contribute trays of seafood to a family event costing him a fortune.  Some of my ideas presented he thought we great i.e. giant potato salad, tray of baked veggies, spectacular layered trifle dessert, beautifully presented Pavlova with berries...  all which came out at $10 and under versus the $150 he was spending!

My revisit so far this year has had me decide to change my wrapping paper theme. I love gifts to look really nice.  Over the years I have had all kinds of themes. One year I had white and sparkles. Another year I had brown paper and rustic. Another was pale blue and silver. One year I did silver and pink.

This years theme is "everything that is left over from all the other themes!"
Yes there will be a sea of differently wrapped gifts. They will still look nice. I have plenty of paper and ribbons to use up!

Another is I am not buying any decorations! No matter how gorgeous they are!  The last couple of years I have used things I have found to decorate with, apart from my collection from over the years.

I picked up pinecones at the farm and sprayed them and I collected deer antlers as well which looked lovely.

The year before I decorated my parcels with gum nuts I collected. This looked nice and was basically free (except for some glitter)

Laine's words have always stayed with me. It is more important to stay within your budget than to give fancy gifts.  She was clear on that. I think of it often. In her story she was in a difficult situation where she needed a gift and only had $3 left (from memory I think it was $3!) and she made it work!

Table settings and floral decorations can also be things you have. Bowls of glittery gun nuts would be beautiful! One year I used bottle brush (This is bright red for the US and UK ladies) and I have used deer antlers, pine cones and garden flowers. You can also use decorations you have. I saw a table settling that was a row of little glittery houses and twinkly lights. It was the ladies collection from over the years and instead of keeping it on a shelf she made it into the table feature. Beautiful!

A review of the gift list is another. There could be a few on the chopping block. I am feeling brutal and think if I have had no acknowledgement or thanks in two years from gift giving then I would rather give to charity.

And charity is another one! A couple of years ago we had a serious review about this. Many are not in fact charities at all. When the CEO of a charity is driving a car that costs more than your house then I think you can smell a rat. We decided to cut out the middle man and found ways to give that we know everything is going to someone who really badly needs it. We feel know we are doing a lot more good.

Could we give a family gift rather than individual ones?  Are there expensive parts of Christmas that we can change in some way?

My childhood memories of Christmas are beautiful! The best things to me were... the anticipation! The fact that Father Christmas (Pa) repainted the swing set every Christmas Eve. The carols and lights on the  houses and sitting under the Christmas tree.
Chloe and Lucy tell me their best memories were the drives we took to see the lights and eating supper under the twinkly tree.
mmm all these highlights were basically free stuff!

Lets have the best Christmas ever and do it in such a way that come January 1st we are starting a new year without any kind of burden from December spending.

How did your Vicky challenge go? (Or how did your savings go last week?)

What are your savings tips for December? What areas do you feel cost you too much and how could you change these?
One thing I know for certain... last minute shopping is the worst! When we are in a hurry and desperate we are more likely to pay something we wouldn't normally consider. So that is one reason I do everything I can early.

Potentially a revisit here could be a big saver. I hope so!

Have a good new week! xxx

Thursday 22 September 2016

Feather your Nest Friday, 23 September, 2016.

After being away there is always the catching up and washing to do and so on. I also wanted to get straight back into my 100 Day Challenge!  Somehow my week flew by and I am not ready for Friday yet!

Some of the ways I saved money this week include:

I finished painting the living room!  (except for the window frame as Andy is doing a repair there, then I can do that too)

I made all the lunches and meals.

All the things from the op shop were washed up and put to use. I have gifts, new tops, a new cardigan and Andy has a new jumper and two pairs of good trousers.

Some of the ways I built up the nest include:

I planted Oregano and Capsicums.

Painting in the living room plus I re painted my dining room chairs. They look really nice!

I cleaned out the fridge top to bottom,  washed all the compartments and drawers etc. Also I added shelves to my fridge. I might be the last person to realise this but you can add useful shelves! As long as air circulates freely you can add stands and shelves!

First I added an under shelf basket. You can get these from cheap stores, IKEA etc. Mine cost $3.

This gives me so much room and less stacking of things!  The bottom line is if you can see things better you waste much less.
The shelf liners are IKEA placements, not new just washed and put back. These plastic placemats can be cut to line any size although mine fitted just right!

Next I put a wire stand on the top shelf.

In real life it has worked out really well! My jars and things go under the shelf and my little jars go on top. I don't know why I didn't think of this before but it is working!

Feeling smug with success I applied this to my cluttered kitchen island storage space where things are always stacked and ready to topple.
I just added wire stands and made myself two extra shelves...

Plate stacking shelves and all kinds of tiered shelves are available really cheaply now. IKEA has so many and the $2 and cheap stores.  As the week has gone on both the fridge and island shelves have worked really well!

I also added an under shelf basket to a laundry cupboard. No more stacking things! It is awesome!

Some ways I got ahead:

More went into my gift cupboard.

I added several things to my storage and pantry including batteries and honey.

My flannelette is torn up into super large disposable hankies plus cleaning cloths.

For my 100 Day Challenge this is what I wrote down:
(I did ok but didn't paint everyday!)

Day 27.  Saturday.
Cleaned the kitchen island shelves, added wire shelves, re arranged and sorted.

Day 28. Sunday.
Cleaned out fridge plus underneath and behind. Added shelves and re arranged.

Day 29.  Monday.
Sorted a laundry cupboard and added under shelf storage.

Day 30. Tuesday.
Cleaned skirting boards in lounge room.
Painting...  painted skirting boards and painted dining chairs.

Day 31. Wednesday.
Cleaned the dishwasher inside and out.

Day 32. Thursday.
Cleaned all the mirrors in the house to sparkle.

This brings me to today! Today is the only sunny day of the week! I have sheets on the line!  I might get some painting done this afternoon. Notice I am non committal... I am not sure yet!

How was your week? How did you build up your nest?
If you are participating in a challenge how did you do with that?
Truly, I always say it, but a little bit each day or even every week gets you there! Things just add up!
I think in terms of saving money, getting ahead, building up my pantry and gift cupboard, building up emergency supplies and back ups, doing something to make things work better, run smoother... and pre emptive strikes where you just know something is coming up and if you can get in early then it will go better!
There are good times when we can get ahead. Make hay while the sun shines!

I have a special and extra post in about a week. I just found a whole series of ways to save money, fill the pantry shelves and make gifts that are new to me. This is exciting as just when you think you are doing pretty well and you find some huge savings then it is pretty exciting!

Have a wonderful weekend! xxx

Tuesday 20 September 2016

The Christmas Challenge. Thinking of themes.

I have been working away on finishing edging a pile of towels and mats that I had ready to do and have found that all the soaps I made earlier in the year are going to go nicely with these! They make sense together which is more good luck than good management!

When putting things away themes do help. That is something worth thinking about. Even colour themes are lovely as then things look good together.
I am going to show you Kelsey's gift that was mentioned in her Feather your Nest Friday post as there were a few requests to see and she has sent me a photo!

Her friend was getting married so she made an apron for her, recipe cards and a rolling pin. The recipe cards are gorgeous ones you can print for free from Strangers and Pilgrims on Earth. This is the perfect example of a theme working so well.  (A set of those recipe cards is a lovely gift for mailing someone!)
I remember Marion did this to great effect with a cookbook and an apron as well. These just seem so complete and lovely.

My gift cupboard has two main themes going. One is clean/cleaning as in soaps, power, powder puffs, towels etc.  The other is Pantry... which is labels, jam tops, recipe books, Bay Leaves etc.  This is good as any of these will go nicely with the cooking gifts I will be making soon and could go into hampers.
I have also saved small baskets towards making up hampers in December.  These complete the gift. I have several little wooden crates for the same purpose. I do not want to be hunting for these things in December.

There is nothing wrong with mixing hand made with purchased.  I have some heart shaped cake tins that were a huge bargain after Valentines Day. I have crochet edged kitchen towels.  I am thinking to add some pretty cake sprinkles or make up some of Mimi's edible glitter. Then I have a theme and a complete gift!
If you have friends who bake then this Edible Glitter is so so pretty. Start saving lovely little jars to put it in and do a few colours. This is so cheap to make and yet tiny amounts of this are really expensive in the shops. It is a gorgeous gift!  If you were feeling particularly generous you could write out the recipe on one of Jes' recipe cards and include it!

If you know what you already have in your gift cupboard then you can watch out for little additions that make you feel will finish the gift off.  It doesn't take much. I always think good packaging is a big thing too.

This all makes a gift seem thoughtful and lovely!  Working away all year really sets you ahead. This is really going to be paying off soon! And it is not too late to get a huge head start on Christmas!

The ultimate is having enough gifts for everyone and finding you have more than you need! I have been able to give something to a few extra people that I thought could really use some kindness and as well have had gifts for some Birthdays and other occasions well ahead of time.  This is like your pantry. It's as good as or better than money in the bank!

I hope your week is going well! It is so cold and like winter again here.  I am watching for specials on Christmas cooking ingredients. In October I make the Christmas cakes. So I know I need dried fruit, tinned pineapple and baking basics.  Putting away the specials towards your Christmas cooking really helps. They are never on special at Christmas!  All these little things save a lot and make December much easier. We want Christmas to be wonderful. Not a financial strain or stress, just beautiful! xxx

Sunday 18 September 2016

The Vicky Challenge. A catch up!

Last week we went away for a few days to the beach at Moonta Bay. I don't think it's sensible to announce going away online so sorry to just vanish.
I bought three nights on a travel auction early in the year. We got one night extra free as we went at a quiet time. I am so glad we did this!

We had a rest, (especially my painting arm!) and did lots of op shopping!

First I will catch up on my Vicky Challenge that I missed posting last Monday.

My main savings were all the painting for the week, cutting Andy's hair, work lunches and cleaning the oven top to bottom!  For that week I wrote $545 in my savings book.

Last week while away we still found ways to save although I can't say any painting or spring cleaning happened!

The first thing I do for a holiday is pack a basket of things for meals, coffee, tea, milk and treats. I am pretty sure I can safely count a saving of $100 there.

I did my nails and toes before we left to look nice! another big saving compared to a salon.

For the purpose of the Vicky Challenge (and to follow what Vicky actually does) I looked up some retail prices for things we found in our op shopping trips.
I am glad I did. This proved to be very educational!
i.e. one item alone was mind blowing. We bought a boxed and new set of Waterford Crystal Sherry Glasses for $5. I love crystal glasses!
When I checked online they are $199!
While I would never pay that we enjoy gorgeous crystal for pennies basically!

Other things I got that I was trilled with included three tops for myself, a gorgeous cardigan,  a wooden rolling pin, silver desert forks and old fashioned nets to cover a baby pram. (but also could cover food and picnics I thought)

Andy is a reader. Novels these days are $20 or so. He came home with about ten new ones for between 50c and $2 each. New they would have been $200 or so. He also got a pure wool grey jumper and two pairs of wool blend good trousers. Looking up the prices for these blew me away as well! They are really beautiful quality items that are really expensive. Yet he basically never pays more than a few dollars and this is a big part of our holidays. The country trips give us the time and the old style op shops that have such wonderful things for so little.

I found seven beautiful, as new, nighties for Kath in the nursing home. This is something she desperately needs. I bought her a new one recently and it was $30. Based on that  means the seven would cost me $210. But they were all around $3 each.  I have washed them up and scented them with lavender. They are in boxes with tissue paper ready to give her. So many that I did a pink box and a blue box. (Also I know she is fine with this as her only purchases are op shop ones but now she cannot get out to do this herself.)

Another find was a pair of beautiful old rose pillow shams with lovely pleated ruffles. But the rose blooms got me! They were 25c each!  ahhh happy days!

One op shop we went into was in Maitland.  This op shop is one I really like.  There were two lovely ladies in there looking after everything.
After a little while one of the ladies came over to me and asked if my name was Annabel?  I thought I must know her from somewhere!
When I said yes she said "from Bluebirds are Nesting?"
Yes...   This was Jo who has commented here before and she said she recognised me and the fact that I was looking for flannelette sheets did it! She knew it was me!
Jo was just gorgeous and we have a great chat.  It was so nice to meet you Jo! You made my day!
When we got into the car Andy said "Just how many people read your blog exactly???" hahaha and he felt famous as Jo asked him if he had been fishing!
It's a small word!

I must add I did find two sets of flannelette sheets later in the day. Some plain green for making mens hankies for when ill and the rest pale blue with flowers. I have washed them up and added fabric softener. They are on the line. I will get a huge quantity of my emergency super soft hankies. I might use some for dusters as well.

So it was a great week and in spite of terrible weather! Adelaide had flooding! Thankfully we were all ok and for us it means a well watered garden and farm. Spring has disappeared for now.  I had one day of sun between rainy days and I got almost everything washed and out on the line and dry! I had to finish a few things off inside. But it is all done!

Adding up my Vicky Challenge I can see we came out a mile in front. Books, clothes and treats all amounting to far more than we paid for the four nights away. I am amazed by that. And it was a lovely rest and great fun. So very happy. The tops and cardi for me, the trousers and jumper... each thing I checked the price of was $80 to $200! So you can  imagine how this all added up!

Thank you for all the beautiful messages for Jane and the prayers for Bluey! Jane asked me to thank you all so much. And today she is able to bring him home!
Now as far as I understand he still has an operation ahead of him but this time at home is a wonderful thing. So keep up the prayers. You are all so good and kind thank you.

My 100 Day Challenge had a five day glitch! So I am just adding five days to the end. And I am back to it, especially the spring cleaning!

How did you save and get ahead these last two weeks?  All these little bits and pieces count. Whether you are trying to reduce costs, build your pantry or savings.... or whatever... a little bit extra every week soon gets you there!
Have a wonderful new week.  xxx

Friday 9 September 2016

Jane and Bluey.

Many of you feel like you know Jane and Bluey as they have become such a part of our little community here!
So you know Bluey has been in hospital and Jane has been giving updates.

Yesterday Jane messaged me and said she isn't going to be up to posting for a little while and that Bluey now faces a major operation and weeks more in hospital.

We need prayers for Bluey.  He has a lot to get through.

If you will pray for him or want to leave Jane a message I will make sure she sees them.

Thank you so much.


Thursday 8 September 2016

Feather your Nest Friday, 9th September, 2016.

We have had everything this week including beautiful sunny days and a huge storm, torrential rain, lightening and everything in between!

Mostly though there are signs of spring everywhere and also signs hat all the pruning we did is going to pay off as things are shooting and growing fast! And the first blossoms and roses are out!

My 100 Day Challenge is going really well! Lets just say I have been sleeping like a rock!

Some of the ways I saved this week included:

Made all meals and work lunches etc. as usual.  This included a triple batch of Butter Chicken and all the sides. I gave the girls some of everything. The best thing is fresh Raita made from Mum's mint. That was delicious!

I changed some of my clothes over from winter to spring and changed handbags. I did it all shopping my own wardrobe. Plus I cleaned summer shoes.

I cut Andy's hair.

Some of the ways I feathered the nest include:

Loads and loads of spring cleaning and painting! I will add those things in to my 100 Day challenge further down. But it is really showing! Also this is decluttering as I go and I donated quite a bit to the local op shop.

I cleaned the oven as part of Spring Cleaning. This has to be the worst job in the house!  However this time I used a recipe from The Cheapskates Club that you can find  here.
The cans of cleaner from the supermarket take my breath away and are awful. This is natural, safe, no fumes and works like a dream! I made about double the recipe and left on overnight. It worked so well! I will never use anything else now!

I got ahead by adding things to my new storage including tinned fruit and evaporated milk.

For my 100 day challenge here is my report:

Spring cleaning:  Started oven clean by making up mix and coating everything.

Spring cleaning: Finished oven.
                           Took apart bed, turned mattress, washed wooden underlay in wool mix.
                            Both came up beautifully!

Spring cleaning:  Took down bedroom curtains. Cleaned dressing table.
Painting:              Scrubbed the frame to laundry window and sanded it. (was terrible mess!)

Spring cleaning: Washed makeup drawers and cleaned out makeup and cosmetics.

Spring cleaning: Cleaned skirting boards and washed them.
                           Washed window sills and inside windows and screens in bedroom.
Painting:             Painted a window frame, plus last of skirting boards in the bedroom.
                            Painted outside laundry window.

Spring cleaning: Washed bedroom windows inside and out.
                            Washed two wool blankets in wool wash to put away.
Painting:              Painted a small cabinet.

Spring cleaning: Cleaned window sills and inside tracks at back windows.
Painting:             Top coat on laundry window! This window was a wreck and now it is like new!

This brings me up to today!

It does me good to write it down and see how much I did do this week so far. A bit each day really adds up. I am almost finished the bedroom which is a big room and I painted all the furniture. I have the mantlepiece to go. The painting looks lovely and the whole room is fresher and brighter with sparkling windows and refreshed bedding! It is good as when I walk in I can see what I've done and the difference it has made.

I hope you had a good week!
How did you build up your home?
Please feel free to list what you completed if you are doing a challenge.
Today is day 19 of mine. I haven't painted everyday but I have just kept at it every day I can.  I am getting there!
The bedroom will be finished today I think then I can move on. If the weather is ok this will be back to the front of the house.  It is going to take several weeks I think. That's ok I will have 80 days to go!

Have a great weekend! xxx