The little birds...

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

Banner by Free Pretty Things for You.

Tuesday, 25 October 2016

The Christmas Challenge. Progress and getting ready for November!

Next week is November! So we will be focusing on getting our gifts finished and all the things that go with wrapping, cards, cooking etc. We are almost on the home straight now!

Saying that there is still time to make a lot of things!
Once it is the first of November I give myself permission to get everything out of the gift cupboard.  That is a really fun day! It is like a trip down memory lane back to January as I almost always have forgotten some of the things I have stashed in there!

I know I have made a lot. Plus it includes little bargains I have picked up that I hope will go in with various gifts.

Lastly I have added cellophane bags, cellophane rolls, sticky tape etc.
I have a lot of wrapping paper and ribbons already.

In Australia we do not have Thanksgiving. I think it sounds beautiful and a good idea but it is not our tradition. That must impact the timing and getting ready for Christmas in America. I assume you would celebrate that and recover before starting on Christmas?
Here for me I consider November a time to get my gifts sorted out and I want to be posting the international things around December first so they are all wrapped in November.

By doing this I have no nasty surprises or panic in December. Once it is December we put up the Christmas tree and I get into cooking the shortbread and coconut ice etc. I go over to the nursing home and decorate Kath's bedroom too.

Last week I made progress getting all the Christmas cakes made. I am so glad and this gives me a lot of gifts. Some will end up part of a hamper gift. I will add shortbread etc later.

Half the fun of Christmas is making extra and having things to give when you get an opportunity.  This is one of the reasons it is wonderful to make things. You can give more!

The next thing I did was decorate envelopes. I have a challenge to post gifts that will fit into A4 and A5 envelopes.  Last year Vicky sent me a gift in a box. When it arrived it had Christmas pictures on top and looked gorgeous! It was so nice! So I decided I will decorate my envelopes so when they arrive it will be a bit exciting and Christmassy! 

Next I will add the names and addresses in bright red I think!

So my little parcels will go into these!

This week I am finishing off a lot of gifts. Each night I am trying to do some sewing. Last night I added Grub Roses to the corners of a stack of wash cloths.

I can't wait to get all the gifts out!  Doing that is really the culmination of almost a year of work and the rewards of starting in January become apparent! From the last two years I know it is another example of how amazing things add up over time, it is a shock!

Next week will we have October Show and Tell. I love to see what you have been making (as does everyone else!)  Email me at
Thank you to everyone who already has! From photos so far it looks like October has been a very productive month!

I hope your week is going well! I was painting with Allie most of yesterday. Today we have new doors being installed then I will get to painting them.

When do you start sorting and wrapping gifts, Christmas cooking and decorating?  I hope everything you have done so far this year towards Christmas is really going to pay off. It was not until December the first year I did this that I noticed I did not have to buy hardly anything! Oh my goodness my usual Christmas expenses were reduced so much! It was wonderful. I hope you find the same thing plus find you are able to give more to others and someone in need. That really makes Christmas so much fun. I can't wait now! xxx


  1. Hi Annabel,
    We usually head up to my brothers place in Toowoomba for Christmas. He's a Careflight pilot and is on call after lunch on Christmas Day. Due to Bluey's health, we will be having an at home Christmas. Our daughter has also just received her roster and she is working Christmas Day.
    This means this year the house will be decorated for Christmas, rather than just the caravan. We don't usually set up the tree or decorate till the 20th December. Katie's Birthday is the 19th. This meant that as a little girl she could have a Birthday before the Christmas hype.
    I pulled everything out of the present cupboard and put it on my king size bed yesterday. There wasn't a lot of space left on the bed. As we wont be seeing everyone this year some of the heavier presents will stay in the cupboard. I put things together and have a gift to send to everyone. I have a couple of little things left to sew and then all is done. Happy days.
    I do need to get some wrapping paper as what I had left over wont quite do the job. I also need to get some more Christmas cards and some photo paper for the printer. Miss Tilly Bear will feature in this years Christmas letter.
    I will be making the Christmas Cake and Christmas Pudding next week. My son has already requested a Pudding of his own for his Christmas present. It's been up around 30 degrees Celsius here all week, so too hot to have the oven on. There's supposed to be a cool change over the weekend.
    Cookie have had you and your hubby in my thoughts. Prayers for a successful operation and a speedy recovery. Take care of yourself. Know that you will use up all your adrenalin and your body will expect it to be paid back. So if one day you simply don't want to get out of bed, don't. It's not being lazy, it's protecting yourself. Much love to you.
    Life is getting better.

    1. Dear Jane, I like your "life is getting better" ending. Soon it will be back to "life is good" !
      I am sure you will make it a very special Christmas at home. I know you will just be glad to have Bluey at home with you.
      It is lovely how your son wants a pudding. We all love Mums. Best gift ever!
      Thank you for your words for Cookie. You are a good person to talk about this having been through what you have lately. I agree, if you need a day in bed have it!
      I hope this week is all going well! With much love

    2. Dear Jane,

      Thank you so very much for your continued thoughts and prayers and really good advice. It is appreciated beyond measure as I'm in completely uncharted territory at this point. We continue to pray for you and Bluey as well. The best Christmas gift ever-- he's home with you. Much love to you as well. Cookie

  2. Annabel,
    I didn't get to comment to you, but your friendship and encouragement and the many giggles I get are wonderful motivation to get things done. Some may not understand and think oh you did this or that big deal, but you and all of Annabel's Mob(giggle,giggle Bluey) know that it is much more than just sharing our lives with one another. We become richer in many areas, we are a wonderful circle of friends that feels like a great big family!
    I love your envelopes those are so pretty! And I can only imagine what your gift cupboard looks like! My gift trunk is full and I would love to start wrapping things. I will have to wait just a bit though. I still have a few things I want to make yet. I love Christmas and the days leading up to it are so exciting! The time is flying by it seems like not long ago you started the Christmas challenge! I think I may be giving a lot of baked goods this year. It is truly amazing how many people don't bake and really appreciate kitchen crafts! Thank you for all of your hard work!
    P.S. I finally added up our savings from the garden and canning! We came in at a little over $2500.00

    1. Hi Vicky,
      I couldn't agree with you more. It's truly a blessing to be among women of like mind and encouraging spirits. You must be so pleased with the savings derived from your garden and hard work. Like you and others, seeing full jars of canned and dehydrated food makes my heart sing. Being able to share our bounty with others who may be in need is a blessing to all. xoxo Cookie

    2. Dear Vicky, We sure do have some funny moments! Really there are so many similar things about us and even our families that we might as well be neighbours. Even and Andy and Rick are similar in the stuff they do, make etc!
      It is mostly the US ladies like you, Glenda, Teri, Patsy.... and others that have taught me much more about food storage and canning etc as that is are here. But I think most it is just about encouragement! I am always thinking I can't wait to tell you this or that even if its just stupid or funny!
      You are right.... home cooked food is big and appreciated!
      The savings you made from the garden and canning are huge! AND you did your big for charity too many times over. You cellar is better than money in any bank I think. With lots of love

  3. Dear Annabel, this is so much fun. I can't wait to get my gifts out and start wrapping! I wonder if anyone will regret not having started sooner, but as you say, there's still time yet. Pillow cases, pillow case nighties, little crochet or embroidery projects, or even home made jams and cookie dough are still ideas that you could start on now, and be ahead by Christmas. I can't wait to see what everyone has been up to this month. Your cards and wrapping are so pretty as always. I'm still dithering over a theme for this year. I've pinned so many on Pinterest, that my heads in a spin trying to make a decision! Looking forward to next week. Love, Mimi xxx

    1. Dear Mimi,
      You have made so much! It is wonderful surveying the years work. I love this part! It all kind of comes together!
      My theme is "use stuff up" haha as I have a lot of lovely ribbons, wraps and all sorts of stuff so everyone will be different but I think it should be kind of fun. Ive had many themes over the years. White and sparkly palest blue or pink is a fav. but you would have loved black and silver. That was dramatic and easy too. Much love

  4. Hi! I also have already started preparing for Christmas, as mostly I do all the presents by hand. It is very interesting, how peole appreciate such gifts, not baught but specially made for them.
    At the end of the month I will also bake two shtollens, based on the 19th century recipe. One if fo us, and the other will make a nice present. Maybe somebody will like to try this traditional German bake, so, here is a recipe:
    please, scroll down to read it in English, my blog is bi-lingual

    1. thank you for giving the link to your recipe Smily! My husband loves stollens and it would be neat to make him some!

    2. Smiley, thank you for the stolen recipe. I've only tried it once, but loved the flavours.

    3. Dear Smily,
      Thank you very much for the link! I love traditional recipes.
      Well done on making your gifts! I agree with you that this means a lot to people and is more special! Thank you so much! Love

  5. Annabel,
    those Christmas cakes are making my mouth water! Yum! I think Christmas cake and pudding is one of the best things about Christmas.
    I can only imagine how many gifts you have been able to make this year. Your stationary is very cute and a very nice touch. I still need to get a couple of things made (I keep being distracted by other things I want to try), but I also realised tonight that I have put several items in a "safe place" and with all the shuffling we have done here of late, I'm having trouble finding the "safe place"!! I'm hoping they will magically appear soon.
    Have a great week,

    1. You're tright about pudding! Totally forgot about it.

    2. Dear Janine,
      The number of times I have put things in a safe place only to not be able to find them! I hate losing things it drives me nuts. I hope it comes to you where you stashed things!
      I am excited to get everything out of the cupboard... and view it all! A years work! I think I will have enough to cover some birthdays as well which will get me way ahead for next year! With love Annabelxxx

    3. Aren't 'safe places' wonderful?!

  6. Dear Annabel,
    Yum, your cakes look delicious. And I love how the envelopes are decorated. Looking back on these months I've learned so many new things from you and all of the Bluebirders that there's quite a variety of new things in the gift closet with more to come in the following months. I'm beginning to feel like I have a magic closet in my sewing room because since organizing the area I've found so many supplies that I didn't have to source to do things like the grub roses, cellophane bags to put food gifts in, etc. I am planning to make several batches of coconut ice for giving and some to stay here, of course.

    Hopefully, I will get into Christmas cookie and breads baking the day after Thanksgiving. This has been a tradition in our household since my children became old enough to realize that the day after Thanksgiving was a huge shopping day of sales and that all of their friends were going shopping. Baking with me, which they really loved to do, changed the whole situation and when their friends learned about it they wanted to come to our house too and bake rather than shop. Last year one of my daughter's friends who married and moved away came home to her family for Thanksgiving and asked my daughter if we still baked the day after as she had so many great memories of doing that with us and when she had children that's what she was going to do. This completely blew me away. We were so glad to see her and had great fun reminiscing as we baked.
    I'm really looking forward to seeing what everyone has done in the show and tell. Blessing. Cookie

    1. Dear Cookie,
      A magic closest sounds so beautiful! That kind of is what a good stash of supplies is!
      I love that you baked that day instead of shopped! This brings back memories for me. We had traditional baking days in the very last two days of school holidays. We would whip up little cakes, biscuits, savoury scrolls and all kinds of things for the back to school lunch boxes. The girls loved this. Now you see you impacted some of the friends too!
      Very clever!
      Thinking of you as I know today is big. (thurs here already) with love

  7. It would be lovely to recover from Thanksgiving before going on to Christmas but the real truth is that Thanksgiving weekend a sort of madness overtakes America. The next morning or even in the wee hours such as midnight the stores open to all sort of deals and people are out there trampling each other to grab what is on sale. It is crazy! Many decorate and put up the tree that weekend, too. I am in total rebellion to all of the madness and usually do nothing Christmas related that weekend and then moan that I am behind. Oh well! It is how it is done!

    1. Dear Lana, That is so totally different to Australia! I have herd about those sales and talk of shops open on Thanksgiving and so on. Mainly I avoid crowds so that would be the end of me! The first of December I really get going on Christmas with some sneaky things starting in November... aside from gift making which is all year. Straight after Christmas is the big sale season here. I avoid them too! Hope you have had a great week! Love

  8. I had to chuckle at your wondering about Thanksgiving delaying Christmas preparations, because so many people here in the States seem to almost skip Thanksgiving entirely in order to get on to the Christmas festivities. Many, many stores already have their decorations up and radio stations will begin playing Christmas music as early as Halloween. It makes me sad to see how easily we bypass our season of giving thanks.
    Blessings, Leigh

    1. Dear Leigh, Christmas carols have been known to play here in stores in September! Crazy. I think the retail world is kind of nuts and its them that bring everything out so early. Desperation I think.
      I like being ready and I love the season but not for months on end! I hope you've had a really good week! With love

  9. Annabel, your Christmas cakes are so beautifully packaged and I love your Christmas stationary. Decorated stationary and cards are some of my favorite things. My gift trunk is full too and around the first of November I will also pull it all out and see what I have assigning gifts to individuals. I'm looking forward to show and tell next week!

    1. Dear Patsy, Thank you! Working out who gets what etc is really the good fun part. I think I have some birthdays taken care of also.
      I want to see how your roses are going! I don't know really how much time you have even had but such things are lovely for rest times if you get them! With lots of love

  10. Thanksgiving is a tradition I would not want to give up! Setting a day aside to focus on thanksgiving and our blessings is awesome. Its a nice chance to visit, eat way too much, watch football games, and play with the grandchildren. Thanksgiving is always the 4th Thursday in November, and the next day is black Friday ~ tons of shopping deals and excitement. The last couple of years, stores have opened on Thanksgiving night, so that's when we go out. We choose very carefully where we go and usually only go to 2 or 3 stores ~ sometimes the grown kids shop longer. Then its Christmas ~ but we have already started listening to some holiday music.

    1. Dear Donna,
      I think Thanksgiving sounds like a lovely celebration. I have heard of Black Friday but didn't really know what it was.
      Traditions are important and lovely family time. My Dad loves Christmas and looks forward to it so much as all the family are around.
      I hope your week is going well! With love

  11. Dearest Annabel

    Just like everyone here I have been busy busy busy. With my daughter's wedding coming up fast we have started the pre-wedding celebrations with my daughter's Hen's Day/Night, with buying outfits to wear, makeup trials and everything that goes with. We have all been sick so that has meant fitting more into the time we have. I started your Christmas Cake today with the fruit soaking and I think I will make one medium and some small cakes (I should have saved the Tuna Tins like my Mother always did to bake mini cakes in. The 425 gram tin is perfect for a small cake. Next year I will do this. I have all the gifts for my eldest three and their wives/husband and some of DD16s (just need to knit her a mermaid tail...I have the wool) and I have everything wrapped for my Granddaughter. Just clothes for DD19 and a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle Blanket (I have the wool ready to start). Great projects ready to be done whilst I recuperate from surgery.

    The garden is doing well and I have been striking Rosemary for the children and also to grow a fence out the front. I love being organised and besides my Christmas Cake I am making chocolate balls, Raspberry slice, Hedgehog slice and Orange Cakes for the freezer for Christmas and the school holidays.

    I too would love a day to concentrate on giving thanks for all our blessings.

    God Bless and have a good week....I am loving Jes' book on using up all my Citrus peels, I just cannot get enough of reading it

    Much Love Mel xxxx

    1. Dear Mel, What an exciting time with a wedding coming up!
      I am sorry you have been sick! I hope you are feeling much better and everyone else too.
      I hope the fruit cakes goes well! They smell really good during the whole process.
      Mel I would love to see the mermaid tail and the Ninga turtle blanket when its done! They sound wonderful and also a challenge!
      I am glad you love Jes' book! its fruit tree coming on this will be so handy for you. Not a thing is wasted and there are amazing things to make. Not difficult either!
      The cooking sounds beautiful. Well done Mel I know you are trying to get ahead before your surgery and you are doing well! With love

  12. Dear Annabel, Your Christmas cakes look so yummy! And I'm sure your gift cupboard is overflowing!!

    I just wanted to thank everyone for praying for our son and family! We found out Jacob does not have a tumor!!! He will, however, need surgery at some point for other issues. Right now, it's a wait and see time for this. God is truly blessing him and us! He did need to start on a new medicine, which takes time to adjust to. I'm so grateful to have all you wonderful ladies in my life!

    I'm hoping to make my Christmas cakes next week. Have a wonderful rest of the week, and try to rest, Annabel! Love, Teri

    1. Teri,
      What fabulous news! This is certainly a wonderful gift for your family,

    2. Dear Teri, Oh my goodness I am so pleased for you all! What a relief! That must be the biggest weight off you. Thank you for telling us. I will make sure everyone hears about it tomorrow. Best news of the week! With love

    3. Teri that is amazing news!

    4. Teri, doesn't this good news make the heart glad! It is like medicine for us all!
      Rachel Holt

  13. Dear Teri,
    This is wonderful news. I'm so glad for you and your family. Cookie

  14. Hi Teri,
    This is wonderful news! It makes me so happy!
    Much love,

  15. Dear Teri, I'm another one, grateful for the news about your son. I'm so relieved it is not a brain tumour. Much love to you and hugs, as I am sure you and your family still need it after all these tests and worries etc. Love, Bridge. Such good news that he is ok!

  16. Dear Annabel, I love your roses, they look magnificent. I bet your painting looks so good and just transforms the whole house. I can't wait to see it. You have been getting so much done. It must feel really good. I love those sheets with the crochet edges- divine! We have been well here, I spent the day (during H's nap time) shopping on the internet for insurances and more white good shopping. I saved over $100 on contents, which I was happy about. Then I made a heap of banana muffins this morning. I have been doing lots of morning walks with the pram (while he still goes in it happily) and it is just so nice. We bought some seafood and it's a real treat to have it for dinner tonight. It can be expensive, but compared to take away, it cheaper, healthier and much more delicious. Plus no trips out in the car at night. Sending you lots of love. Love, Bridge

    1. Dear Bridge,
      Thank you! I am having another painting weekend now! Well done on looking around on insurance prices and the whitegoods. I love Appliances online. They have wonderful service and prices.
      I think there are some good alternatives to takeaway that are healthier and quick and still cheaper plus as you say not going out to get it. Pizza and hamburgers are some of mine and if I keep the things on hand and in the freezer I can whip up "take away" so fast! Love it! I hope you have a great weekend! With love


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

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