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 29 November 2016

The Christmas Challenge. Show and Tell for November. Part 1.

I already have quite a few pictures for November so I thought I would get started on show and tell for the month.  I hadn't even mentioned it yet but everyone is getting in the swing of it!  However my usual notice is that I would love to see what you have been making! It benefits us all! We gather tips and ideas and inspiration. Plus it is motivating to me to know I will be showing you what I made so I am always thinking how I better get cracking!
Please email me at and even projects still being worked on, foodie gifts etc are all welcome!

Being the very end of November we are really getting close to Christmas! But the next few weeks are an opportunity to finish projects, make a few more things and make it to the finish line!
It has been fantastic!  My own present cupboard has been so full and it is wonderful I can go and put together a great gift for almost anyone.

I am already starting to plot and plan what I will make next year. And I will be starting in January like I did this year.

Firstly we have Jane. She says sewing is so joyful for her.  I am amazed by what she gets done even when obviously really busy with heaps of other things.
There are Angels, A Christmas tree, crochet, gift tags ...

Then we have an Australian Christmas romper and Christmas stocking for her little Granddaughter.

Jane also made her new Great Nephew a soft toy and his own first Christmas stocking. And this amazing bag! Truly beautiful work!

Janine S made so many things and she feels that she is not a fast worker! Her display does not show already given Birthday gifts etc. She knows that she has used over 70 yards of fabric this year!

There are still things she has been finishing including toiletries bags and pj pants for her nephews.  There are little outfits, t shirts, socks, placemats and so many things here! What a selection! Well done Janine! I am pleased to say that Janine says she will be doing this again next year and is really happy with the results!  This is what I mean about how things add up!

The range of items Jane and Janine have made could just never be achieved in December alone. The whole year approach is the way to go!
I think also to use the months of the year that you have more time. In winter I just get more crafts done as the garden takes so much more work in summer.  I get some sewing done when it is really hot and I just need to keep busy inside the house.

Mum has been knitting kitchen towels. They are a beautiful cotton. She has also been making things for Harper and the new baby!

Tomorrow I am putting up the Christmas tree! Today I have my first Sourdough bread rising and hopefully cooked in time for dinner.

I hope you are having a good week and am looking forward to seeing what you have been making in November! xxx

Sunday 27 November 2016

The Vicky Challenge. Saving on food gifts.

My Vicky Challenge last week wasn't very huge but it was ok!
I counted making all the lunches, cutting Andy's hair and quite a bit of painting.
I wrote $345 into my savings book.

My savings topic this week is baking for gifts.  This can also include what to make when we are taking food to a combined event or when you just feel its appropriate to cook for someone.
I used to fall into the trap of feeling I had to spend a lot on these things. This is amazingly obvious but it took an article by Wendy to make me wake up to it!
Then I thought it over. Andy had taken a very expensive platter of food to a family event.  I had taken a huge bowl of trifle to a family dinner.  I noticed the desert was raved over and talked about for a long time so that was a success for sure. The difference between the two costs was over $150!
Wendy was really onto something here!  If you arrive with something generous and delicious that is the main thing.  It does not have to be expensive ingredients to make something that would be expensive in the stores or to be enjoyed by everyone.
Since then a friend was worried as she was asked to bring something to a large gathering and the hostess asked her to make it a cheese platter.  My friend really has a tight budget and a huge cheese platter was going to cost a small fortune. I suggested to her that she ring up and offer to make a giant potato salad instead.  And she did! Everyone loved it and this change saved her a huge amount and she was so relieved!

Chloe makes biscuits as her foodie gift or contribution.  They are delicious and everyone goes crazy over them! For gifts she packages them up nicely.  They are cheap to make and have variations.  I asked her for the recipe.

Butter Biscuits
(this makes around 25 biscuits)
125g butter, softened (this is about one cup or two sticks US) 
½ cup caster sugar
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
1 egg 
2 cups plain flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 tablespoon milk
Icing sugar to dust

Preheat oven to 180. Line 2 baking trays with paper.
Using an electric mixer, beat butter, sugar and vanilla until pale and creamy. Add the egg and mix till combined. Sift flour and baking powder over the butter mixture. Add the milk and stir until just combined.
Roll into balls (I make mine small so like 2 teaspoons of dough) place onto trays (allow room for spreading) and press with a fork to flatten slightly.
Bake for 12-15 mins depending on how big  you made them until lightly golden (I do 10-12 as I like mine kinda squidgy). Transfer to a rack to cool and dust with icing sugar.

These can be varied with a cherry on top, a nut on top, make an indentation and add a dab of jam etc.
180C is a medium to fairly warm oven.

On the weekend I needed a gift for my Uncle.  So I baked Gingerbread cookies. They are one of my go to recipes to give.

I have to apologise as I realised I had made a mistake when I posted this recipe ages ago! I have fixed it now!  The recipe is here.

I made five dozen and packaged them up leaving some for us this week.  These have given me several presents!

My Uncles gift became one of my little Christmas Cakes, a jar of farm honey, a large Gingerbread cookie in the shape of a Moose, a packet of cookies and a bag of my hand made goats milk soap.

He seemed to love it! 

My other go to recipes are shortbread, coconut ice, orange cake, banana cake...
My favourite things to take to a gathering are potato salad, rice salad, a cake or pavlova, nuts and bolts (snack) or a tomato bake that my Nan always made.
A beautiful cake or pavlova is always a massive hit as they look so spectacular!
Baking someone a birthday cake is always an amazing success. This is a great gift!  It makes people feel special!

A little bit of strategy and thinking can be a huge saver here! Using what you have would be the other obvious tip. Contributing or giving something fresh from your garden would be perfect! 

What is your best recipe that is suitable either for gifts or to take to a shared dinner?  Feel free to suggest your ideas and the whole recipe if you would like and lets build a selection of ideas. 
If you would like to contribute a photo as well then email me at and I will put together a future post of these recipes.  Think of taking a photo too as the Christmas season goes on as I would love to see!
Being almost December this is a good time to be thinking about this and suggestions will be so helpful!

When you have recipes in mind you can also accumulate the ingredients over time and keep them on hand. This means you can buy them all on special as well. Kaye keeps a tub especially for her Christmas cooking ingredients and saves them up. I love this!

How did you save last week? I hope you had lots of opportunities to get ahead and do well! 
And I hope this week will be a good one! xxx

Thursday 24 November 2016

Feather your Nest Friday, 25 November, 2016.

Look at the date! One month to Christmas! Happy Thanksgiving to all the US readers as while it is Friday here I know it is still Thursday in the States and it is Thanksgiving. How wonderful to give thanks and celebrate.

It was a quietish week here as I just worked on finishing little areas of painting. I did a small hallway area and my linen cupboards and doors. This really brightened things up and is another bit finished!
Andy is working on the weekend so I will try and finish the new doors and frame and that will be another thing ticked off the list. I am getting there...

Some of the ways I feathered the nest and saved this week were:

Many usual things such as making all the lunches and dinners. So far we have not had takeaway food this year. Last year we have takeaway food one time!

I cut Andy's hair. It was a rug. He must be much cooler now!

I planted more basil and 6 capsicum plants, 2 red, 2 yellow and 2 green.

I have been adding herbs to the big pots we have with trees in them to utilise these spaces.

We have enjoyed flowers in the house as roses are still going and the Hydrangeas are just starting to come out.

I had an exciting parcel in the mail!  Nanna Chel makes sourdough breads. Her blog is Going Grey and Slightly Green which is on my side bar. She really got me back on to soap making with her tutorials.  I was thinking I would give Sourdough bread a try next.  The thing that holds me back is the starter and feeling like it is a science experiment and what if it goes wrong?  WELL yesterday a little parcel arrives and it is some of Nanna Chel's started Gertrude (yes it is alive and has a name!)  and I have been given links to read and learn how to revive this starter then keep it growing and make my bread from this.  Last night I read for hours learning about feeding your starter and making loaves from it etc.
Next week I will get started. I need some bread flour and to get myself organised.  Stay tuned! Thank you Nanna Chel!
Providing I don't mess it up this will make great gifts. My Dad LOVES crusty loaves of bread. I could keep everyone in bread actually!

Today I am up to day 96 of my 100 day challenge! Most days I have painted, prepared an area and/or spring cleaned. It has been a ridiculously long challenge but it turned out to be about right to get all this finished up.  My main goal was to be finished by December and it looks like I will be!

I used mince from the wholesale butcher to make a giant batch of spaghetti sauce. We had this for dinner last night. I simmered it for three hours, the key to the flavour I think.
The rest I divided up into meal sized portions. One lot for the weekend and the others for the freezer.

I chop oregano and parsley from the garden to go into it and a sprinkle on top.  I find this very good in the freezer. It can be a meaty pizza base, over noodles or zoodles, with tacos,  corn chips or even toast.  It is useful and yum.  

Some Christmas presents were wrapped and cards written.

Once a week or so Andy drives past an Aldi. Our local one is still a few months off. So I study the catalogue and he has a list so that if he has time to dash in her gets the best specials we can use. This little system has been a big help and saver! He is there today!  Of all my savings this year Aldi would account for most of them. 

How did you build up your nest this week?   How did you get ahead or save?
Have a wonderful weekend! xxx

Tuesday 22 November 2016

The Christmas Challenge. Ida's Christmas and inexpensive Christmas ideas.

This week we are looking at inexpensive or free Christmas ideas.  This is not to say there is anything wrong with spending on Christmas rather to say that if money is tight you can still celebrate.  It can be a real crisis for a family to feel they cannot give their children a wonderful Christmas due to financial stress.  While I think it is much harder with teenagers little kids do not know what costs money and things are magical to them no questions asked!

The photos in this post are from our farm Christmas.

To get us started lets think about years ago when Christmas was just a wonderful time and it did not mean maxing out the credit card at the mall!

Vicky went to visit Ida and asked her about Christmas when she was in her children were small. So we are travelling back eighty years or so...

A Simple Christmas with Ida:

Ida being very young herself had a childish joy about the season that went beyond material things. She was mature enough to understand that times were hard and that her and her husband wouldn't be participating in any lavish celebrations since money was so very hard to come buy and had to be used wisely. 
Ida learned very on to hoard away part of what they could get since waiting until the last minute never really seemed to be her style. Back then everything had value and could be used, even something as simple as the string. So she kept everything and always looked for things that others threw away. String and bottles and paper or broken things that were discarded. She thought she could make something with these things. 
She had a small amount of things that she had collected and decided that they would celebrate! 
So she had her husband cut a very small tree because they had such a small home and she had him break the bottles gently so she could take some of the pieces and tie them with string to put on her little tree. She cut paper stars from butcher paper that she straightened out and hung those from string by her little table. 
A local church took donations for the poor so she went there to see what she could find for her little family and proudly walked away with a wool coat that was full of holes, a sheet that was really threadbare and 1 roller skate. Intending on having a wonderful holiday she took her treasures home and made her husband a pair of wool liners for his holey boots, her little girl a doll from the old sheet and for her son they took the roller skate and her husband made him a truck out of it. All handmade and all special. 
Ida's little family had pancakes for Christmas dinner with sugar on them. That was a big treat. She said sugar wasn't expensive, but since they didn't have much money she saved hers for special occasions or for jam making. Ida and her husband enjoyed each other's company immensely and decided that Christmas would always be a holiday where they would just enjoy each other so they ended their little celebration with a walk in the snow. And a new baby 9 months later!

I know that when Dad was little he played farmer with sticks to make cattle yards, walnut shells were cows and knuckle bones were sheep. He played for hours with his farm animals. So I know the truck made from the roller skate was probably loved!

The girls tell me that highlights of Christmas included looking at the lights on the houses. On Christmas Eve it was our tradition to have a late night and drive around with Christmas music playing to look at everyones lights and decorations. In Australia Christmas is in summer and so it is a little later before it is dark enough for all the lights to come on. When they were little they were asleep before the end of this and I would lift them out of the car and they would wake up on Christmas morning!  Later on it served to make them sleepy and drift off to sleep happily.

Another thing they loved is having supper under the Christmas tree. They would bring their pillows out and make a nest under the tree and the twinkly lights and have a cup of "tea" (milk) and a biscuit and be in this little magical world. Reading a story next to the tree was another.

Christmas movies were also a tradition that we all loved! Old fashioned Christmas movies were the best! 

Going to an event with carols was wonderful. The town always had a carols night. Sometimes we went with our church on a bus and sang carols outside of peoples houses that could not get out to such events. This was so much fun and you really felt the emotions of Christmas! 

We always left Santa a snack and a note. Usually it was a glass of milk and cookies. Santa was a fairly messy eater as there were always a lot of crumbs and an empty glass. We figured this was because he was in a pretty big hurry. 

As there are deer at the farm I gave a friend a deer antler and she put it in her front yard late on Christmas Eve. Her little boy found it on Christmas morning!  This was substantial proof that one of the reindeers had dropped it when they were on the roof. You have to love scientific thinking. My friend told me this was just wonderful!

Some of the other free or almost free ideas are to sneakily decorate your neighbours letter boxes with tinsel.
Decorating biscuits, gingerbread men etc.
Making paper decorations, stars and garlands.
Playing Christmas music and decorating the house and the tree. When I was little putting up the Christmas tree was so exciting. Putting the angle on top was the best thing for me I think out of everything!
Making a nativity scene. Every year we did this at school starting with a cardboard box. I loved this!
Acts of kindness especially for Christmas.

Setting the table beautifully and using your best things!
Making things sparkle with lights and candles. Creating a magical atmosphere really sets the scene!
You can really up the excitement Christmas Eve. NASA has a Santa tracker and you can watch which country Santa is delivering to and his progress!  I still watch this myself haha!

Even now it is the lights, carols and finding ways to make someones Christmas special that do it for me. Plotting a surprise. Doing something special that no one expects.  Helping someone you don't even know.  These are the things that give me that special feeling of Christmas. Money doesn't buy any of this anyway. 

If you have unused decorations or a tree set it up for someone who doesn't have one. I decorate Kath's room at the nursing home. It takes very little time and she just loves it!  Already I have been asked when am I coming and am I bringing a tree?  Yes I am. It is like one foot high but it is a tree! 

Make a hamper of cooking for someone you think might be alone for Christmas or a family that could use it.

Start a tradition like reading Christmas stories at bedtime or having a family story next to the Christmas tree. These are the things that wonderful childhood memories are made of!

Now over to you. What are your best memories of Christmas as a child? How can we make Christmas wonderful that doesn't involve a lot of money? 
I would love to hear your Christmas stories. I have not experienced a white Christmas! Usually it is hot here!  
We have been making gifts, we will be cooking and wrapping. Now lets see if we can add those magical touches!  We are almost exactly one month to Christmas Eve! 

I hope you are having a great week. I am working on finishing off jobs and projects! xxx

Sunday 20 November 2016

The Vicky Challenge. Being industrious.

This challenge was much easier than I imagined to stick to! I thought it would be a long year to write down our savings every week but it is an easy habit now. It has opened my eyes even further to the value of all our work. The Vicky Challenge considers the dollar value of what you do which is very interesting to find out. This is over and above all the other benefits of building up your home and a happy household.

This week I wrote in my savings book:
Making all work lunches $100.
Chloe cutting my hair and the whole month of DIY beauty series $240
The bucket of honey that we were given $20
I cleaned the car inside and out $45
Total $405

The pictures in this post are just various things I have made this year. 

I continually notice how hard working you all are! You are industrious! I love and admire that so much! I was brought up that hard work was a good thing. Mum and Dad still work very hard. Teaching your children to be hard workers is such an important thing.  This is what helps the generations to come and the work you do now impacts the family far more than you know!

Another thing I notice is how most of us put fairly low values on things which in fact in the retail world would be worth much much more. I am very guilty of this too. But I was reading Proverbs 31 and I noticed something...

"She is a hard worker, strong and industrious.
She knows the value of everything she makes...." (Prov 31. 17 and 18)

It turns out what we are doing here is just what the Proverbs woman did! Knowing the value of things means we can charge accordingly if we are selling our goods. It also means when we are giving gifts we should feel we have given a valuable gift and be proud of that! When we make things we are adding that value to our household.  The Proverbs woman is not underpricing herself. She knows the value of everything she makes!

Then we get to the verse "she is generous to the poor and needy"
Well, all your hard work not only looks after your family but often enables you to give to others!  This is like Vicky and her massive vegetable garden and all the work she puts into it then gives generously to others who need some food. Or the enormous work Patsy puts into her pantry and this has enabled her now to be feeding clean up crews after the hurricane in their local area.

Hard work is very rewarding. Being industrious is a wonderful thing! When I read what many of you have done in a week I am amazed! There is so much industry!
Industrious means diligent, hard working, steady, persistent and many other wonderful things.
Of these diligent is one I love. Diligence and watchfulness! There is a lot in scripture about all of these things. I love those words. Prudent is another that is worth studying.

The Proverbs woman is "always busy and looks after her families needs. "

In society today you can get a lot of flak about much of this. In many circles you would be brave to admit you love to look after your family, your children, your husband and such basic things as these!
I shared how when the girls were young I endlessly had bad advice directed at me to put myself first and not the kids. I was always told the kids would grow up and then what would I have? I shared that here in a post called "Your time."

Knowing the value of what you make and do means you can count it in your income and feel confident in your financial contributions as well! Also you know what your goods are worth if you are selling, trading or giving this is important. It is not a bad thing to know their retail value at all! It is very handy too that we have many ways to check the value of our goods as apart from stores we have online sources and it is fairly easy to have a check around.
When you know the worth of something you tend to value it more. It can inspire you to take up new things or expand what you are doing.
Many times during this challenge I was floored to find the value of things. Early on I had made several dozen muffins and I found out at the shops they were worth over $200.  This then happened with sausage rolls and much of my cooking. I never had realised how much baking had added so much value to the household. It was an eye opener!

Jes has a beautiful series on this called "The Blessings of Old Fashioned Work" It is wonderful!
Reading this does me good as I need a motivator to finish painting my house before December!
This is also a study for me as I am starting to think on my plans for next year.

One of the hardest workers I ever knew is Laine. If you need encouraging and uplifting reading go to her articles. They can be found here at Laines Letters. If you have never read any of these read just one and you will see! 

How did your Vicky challenge go last week or how did you save money? I should ask how were you industrious?

Have a great new week!

And in case anyone missed this news on Friday KELSEY IS HAVING A BABY!   👶

Thursday 17 November 2016

Feather your Nest Friday, 18 November 2016.

This week hasn't been as big as last week but it has been a good week anyway. It is funny how each week is so different even with doing many of the same things.

Some of the ways I feathered the nest and saved money:

I found ham on the bone at a good price and baked it in the crockpot. It is so good this way. This gives me lots of lunch meat as well. After Christmas sometimes I get hams on special but I watch all the time. My tip is if a ham is too large and you think you can't use so much in time before it goes stale I use it fresh for the first days and then bake what is left and this starts the clock again and you have more days from it. Plus is is different! Yes you can also freeze it but  many hams here have already been frozen before you buy them I think. So I do this. Plus you can use ham in so many ways. My Dad always cuts some off and treats it like bacon with eggs.  I chop up heaps for fried rice, in quiches etc. as well.

We still have lots of roses and the hydrangeas are close to flowering which will be lovely.

Since I had ham I made a giant rice salad. This keeps several days and gets better and better. I gave a big container of it to Chloe to take home as she loves it.

Later in the week I took inspiration from Teri's garden salsa salad and used up some almost too ripe tomatoes, half a red onion in the fridge, two left over red capsicums,  half a left over cucumber, parsley from the garden and added a tin of corn. 

This also keeps a couple of days and gets better and better! So handy to have salads ready in the fridge.

I was given a bucket of honey from the farm! Bee keepers have hives on the farm and once a year they give honey in return. I love honey. Some of this will go into my Gingerbread in a couple of weeks.

Chloe cut my hair. I need help with the bits I can't see/reach. She is a great cutter. 
I did my nails as well.

I cleaned the inside of my car and set up an esky (cold pack) for grocery shopping since we are coming in to hotter weather.

Despite the hail a week ago our apple tree has lots of tiny baby apples on it and the Quince tree has about 20 Quinces. The apple tree is only in its second season here since we planted it. 

I tried to take a photo of the supermoon since it was the biggest moon of my lifetime! 

It was bright light all night! We actually had bats fly over which would have been a great photo however they weren't very good at posing for the camera! 

I got ahead a little by wrapping some presents and seeing aside some others for January birthdays.

This weekend I hope to finish some other things on my to do list. Andy has to work over the weekend so I will paint and finish off some odd jobs.

I hope you have a wonderful weekend!

How did you build up your nest this week? I hope it was really good and you feel you accomplished lots! xxx

Tuesday 15 November 2016

The Christmas Challenge. The handmade Christmas.

This is the third year that I started making Christmas gifts in January.  Making things all year has made such a difference and also has covered birthdays and all the other occasions along the way.  I am guessing but I think overall I have made about 80% of the gifts and probably reduced my costs by something similar. The best bit is I end up with a lot more to give.  Just now with going through the present cupboard I found I could donate another four rugs to charity and I can make up some spare gifts to give away as I see the opportunity. It is all a win win!

The challenge serves a few purposes for me... it motivates me to try new crafts,  saves a lot of money and keeps me more content in the winter months.  An extra bonus has been seeing all your crafts as well!

Many of us also make our own cards, decorations, table centre pieces, wreaths and all sorts of things!
So really it is quite a handmade Christmas! This is something to think about! Making someone a wreath for their door or a table display is also a great gift to give.

Today I want to think about things we can make for Christmas besides just the gifts.

I love to look at catalogues to see what people buy and how much they pay for things.  So many things that are easy to make are considered wonderful gifts and with price tags to match! The companies that put together hampers ... take a look at those! There are just so many things that we can quite easily do for a fraction of the cost.

 I saw a local florist had Christmas wreaths starting at a couple of hundred dollars. A neighbour had hers delivered by a van and she threw it out at the end! A pool noodle is a great base for a wreath! Or a Hoola Hoop. They come in larger or smaller sizes.  I used a large Hoola Hoop and made a wreath for our door plus one for Mum's. The greenery was an old cut up Christmas tree. Mine cost well under $20 to make.  Actually tearing apart an old tree will give you greenery to decorate a mantle or a table centre, wreaths and a lot of things. Last year I got a Christmas tree for $3 in the sales just to rip it up and make wreaths as gifts.

Other years we picked up pinecones and gum nuts.  I sprayed them with glue and sprinkled glitter over them. We made so many of these! One year they decorated the table and another they were heaped up under the tree.

I also glittered gum nuts and used them instead of bows on the parcels. You could use leaves, flowers, shells... whatever you have!

Another year I piled up anything sparky I had including jewellery onto a tiered cake stand. I just added little birds and that was my centrepiece.

Baking can give you decorations, gifts and special treats to share. I am always packaging up baking to give.  I made Shortbread every year. It is not expensive to make and a whole round of Shortbread is a spectacular gift! Otherwise I cut in into wedges and divide it up.

I always make Gingerbread as well. That is usually given to neighbours and Andy's work mates etc.

Quite often I need baskets especially to give little hamper type gifts. These might be a small Christmas cake, some biscuits, coconut ice, a jar or two of jam and even some fresh herbs or dried bay leaves. Having lovely baskets to pack things into and having them on hand is the thing. All year I watch for suitable ones in op shops and pay 50c or a $1 for them.  I wash them and some years line them up and spray paint the lot silver or sparkly paint.  This year I have several and they are a nice natural french grey basket so that can stay as they are.

Mimi makes her own wrapping paper by using butchers paper and writes lovely script  across it wth Christmas or Birthday wishes. It looks so stylish and is a fraction of the cost of buying gift wrap.

Tulle cut into strips makes very cheap and beautiful ribbons and bows. I love floral fabrics just torn for a shabby chic kind of effect. Glitter helps everything!

I save up store bags and recover them and then have new gift bags! Old Christmas cards work really well for this and bits of sparkle.  These were some I did a couple of years ago...

The act of settling a table beautifully is part of your Christmas decorating and creates such an exciting atmosphere! I have crystal plates and glasses that I have collected over the years. All the sparkle looks amazing.  Mostly I will cut flowers from the garden or use something I have  to make the table look nice. Be inventive! Your craft supplies probably hold all kinds of things you can use.

On the farm Mum places deer antlers and pinecones that she picks up next to the front door. This is her country Christmas decor.

My own Christmas tree now is a $15 tree in a road side pot. It is small and sweet. I used to have a giant tree when the kids were little but now I have gone simple and I like it! It just does not have to cost a fortune is my point!

If you run strips of tulle through your sewing machine you get glorious garlands of tulle!

Truly you can put together a beautiful Christmas without breaking the bank!

Fill vases with greenery and pick Holly if someone has a bush of it. We have a lot of native things that flower in right red and look wonderful brought inside for Christmas.

What do you make that makes Christmas special at your place? What would you like to do this year that maybe you haven't done before?

I have not put our tree up yet.... that is in December for us. But I am wrapping and making! And I have some gorgeous fabric Paula gave me and loads of glitter!

Coming up we have a post about how Ida celebrated Christmas when they had no money and in the depression.... and another about 100% free glorious things to make Christmas memorable and wonderful.

I hope your week is going well! xxx

Sunday 13 November 2016

The Vicky Challenge. More from Vicky's visit to the nursing home.

I was looking forward to my Vicky Challenge as last week had lots of things that came in and I knew would really give a boost to my savings!

These included all the lemons from Hilde. Lemons were $1.75 each in the supermarket. I had 44 huge lemons for free which equals a ridiculous $77 retail.  This makes me realise to use every lemon to the maximum! Thanks to Jes that also includes using the peels!
The crabs Andy caught were 2 kilos of Blue Swimmer Crabs value $44. Plus then also there is the saving of not needing other ingredients to make his dinner for two nights!
Others were 4 herb plants. Here a small pot of herbs is about $5 = $20
Op shop items I saved on = $60
Savings on buying meat from a wholesaler. $50.
I made four pizzas from scratch. The cost of the ingredients kind of meant I paid for one pizza and the other there were free saving $60.
I made all lunches =$100.
Packed the fishing day picnic = $50. (including drinks for the day)
I made four dozen fruit balls and froze them = $25
A huge potato salad cost very little to make and I gave everyone containers of it for the weekend. $20.
I made up a gift from items I had made saving $25.
All up it was a busy ad good week although I dint get any painting done!
I wrote $530 in my savings book.  Have to be happy with that!

Recently Vicky was telling us about her visit to a nursing home and the stories from the old ladies who
lived through the depression. Lots of you asked if Vicky could share more of these stories.

Canned Black Olives.

(The photos in this post are from Teri. She has been busy canning and making the most of every
 opportunity! I love seeing these! Thank you Teri!)

Peach and Nutmeg Jelly.

Over to Vicky:

I have been talking to old ladies and I do mean some of these ladies are very old, but they are living history! They have much to share if we choose to take the time to listen and to share with them as well. We can all enrich ourselves even just a tad bit from the past. And maybe some of it will seem familiar, but we can at least take heart that others have been there. 

I learned many different things from simple happiness, quiet hope to desperation to things done for sheer survival. It was a different time for sure, but I have such respect for all that lived it.

One of the biggest things I learned is that a woman can truly make a home anywhere and I think it is one of our greatest gifts. A dirty old chicken coop, an old boxcar, a little shanty or a crowded rooming house, apartment or house they all strived to do their best to turn it into some kind of home. 
They did it with very little and in very little space at times.

Ida: Ida was 13 when she married in 1929. She had her first baby at 14 then 15, 16, 17, 18, 19. Ida is a whopping 100 years old and has seen many things come and go and lived through many times of good and bad. 
Being such a young wife and mother especially during the Depression she had to grow up fast. When she got married they were gifted 2 chickens, a tablecloth, a few bed sheets, some dishes ,cooking utensils, some canned goods and $10. At 13 she felt rich! 
Ida and her husband who was 17 although young were very resourceful, they moved from here to there while her husband looked for work and finally settled into a shanty that they built from whatever they could find. To others it was crude and ugly to Ida it was their first home and beautiful and she endeavored to make it homey. They made furniture from what they could find that was free boards and fruit crates. She found a pretty teacup that the back half was broken so she put it on a shelf and only displayed the front. 
Money was hard to come by and when they could make some they did what they had to and then did all they could to make the meager amount last as long as possible and not waste anything. They were very resourceful as most were back in the day. 
Ida was given a few tomatoes and a small bag of green beans. She saved the seeds from the tomatoes and dried a handful of the beans so they could grow them the next year. They lived more on a country side so they foraged. They picked Dandelion greens, berries and nuts. They would spend hours shelling nuts and she would trade some of them. They picked apples and dried them on a bed sheet. She said it didn't matter what they looked like it was cut up and dried. They would pick wild onions for weeks because they were so small it took hundreds to fill a bag, but pick them they would and she dried the tops for flavoring and used the little tiny onions for various things. Anything edible that they could add to the table was harvested. She said food wasn't plentiful for the poor and so many people were near to starved that they would fight over trash. And although they didn't starve they were never stuffed either. When they had any money they always bought food. She served a lot of baked beans and bread or biscuits a rabbit here and there. A man they knew helped them make a wood stove and because their shanty was so drafty it was never warm and her babies were always sick with "the cold" so they stuffed newspaper in all of the cracks. When the chickens quit laying they ate them. And wasted nothing. Ida made it through and so did her family and when I asked her how she felt about this she said, "Well you just do what you have to do crying doesn't make it go away." "You usually don't find the blessings by sitting on you butt you work to deserve them." 

A lot of us probably wish we could ask out Grandparents questions and learn skills from them now. I learned a lot and was influenced enormously by my Grandparents but I still wish I could ask them more!  If you still have your Grandparents find out everything you can now! Write down their recipes and tips. Learn everything you can! They went through times we cannot even imagine! 

Cherry, Pear and Almond Jelly.

A lot of old time skills are extremely valuable. Life saving even in a crisis.  

Teri dries her own fruit to make my Christmas Cake!

How did you save and get ahead last week? I hope it was a good week for you! 

Fresh Salsa with home grown tomatoes, onion and garlic.

Fresh flowers from Teri's garden.

Most of the old time skills are big money savers. The more we learn the better off we are.  What did you learn from your Grandparents or maybe someone older who has taught you sometime in your life?
I had an older lady that was a big influence on me when the girls were small. Yes she taught me skills but her biggest influence was she taught common sense and wise priorities.  She also taught hard work and she was just very frugal and practical. Having people like this in our lives are such a help! 

Vicky is still visiting Ida. If you have a question you would like her to ask Ida please ask away! 

Thank you to Teri! It is beautiful to see what you have been doing! 

Have a wonderful new week! xxx

Thursday 10 November 2016

Feather your Nest Friday, 11 November, 2016.

I have a lot to report this week as it has been really busy.  My list of things accomplished and savings lives on the fridge and I love seeing it grow and be able to add things to it.  I think even keeping that list is motivating to me.
Fridays review is a really happy time.  I feel so happy with what I got done!
It is so important to look back and feel good about what you achieved and take a moment away from everything that is still to be done!

So some of the ways I build up the home, saved and got ahead this week include:

I had a day where I visited my friend Hilde and shopped at Aldi, a great fruit and veggie shop and several op shops. It was a big day!

Yesterday I turned some of the lemons into Lemon Butter. It always looks and tastes glorious!

Lemons, Lemon Butter and yellow roses! This is how my kitchen turned out yesterday! 

So back to the beginning....   Hilde sent me home with two big baskets of lemons.

It was a beautiful day. Just being out in the garden picking lemons was such a happy time!

Hilde also gave me Oregano, Thyme and Sage plants! She has them coming up everywhere and we dug some up. As soon as I got home I planted them and they are looking fine.  We have a lime tree in a big pot. Now it has baby herbs around the bottom.

After I made the Lemon Butter I used some of the peels to make Lemon infused Glycerine.  This is from Jes' book.

One of the things I plan to make with this is her  Lemon Liquid Hand Soap. I can't wait to get on to that. This mix has to develop first.
Then as Jes' instructs I saved every other lemon peel and they are out drying in the sun right now. These are going to end up in soap and cleaning products.
So now I can say I use all of each lemon!
The next lot I cut up I am going to start my own Lemon Essence as well.
Jes' has her ebook 100+DIY Projects to make with Fruit Scraps on her blog Strangers and Pilgrims on Earth.  I will never waste a lemon or orange peel again!

The trip to Aldi was wonderful.  I have still been discovering more savings there. I came home with meat at excellent prices, fruit and vegetables and basics like sugar, butter etc. It was quite a stock up and the price was amazing.

I also op shopped and got a lovely top and beautiful nightie.

When I got home I had a huge car load of lemons, plants, op shopping, groceries etc and it took me ages to unpack and sort. Made worse by the fact that I was listening to election results coming in and can say I saw live every big announcement and lucky I kept my hands busy unpacking or I would have no fingernails left at all. How everyone handled the stress I don't know as here I am so far away!

On the way to Hilde's I found kerb rubbish. There was a child's play lawn mower, vacuums cleaner and puzzle toy, all as good as new. I grabbed those! Harper likes anything she can push along.  I have cleaned them up and they will help keep her busy when she comes next week. They are fantastic!

All week I enjoyed roses. Each day I cut the finished flowers and saved the petals. I have baskets of petals everywhere!   I kept bunches of roses inside as well.

The house smells of roses and I have to say being in the sun everyday trimming and picking them has been beautiful. The world looks a lot better when you are outside among the flowers and birds. It has been just lovely. 

Even collapsing flowers look gorgeous. But these are all going to become bath products etc.

My baskets of petals are lined up behind my kitchen bench. Remember that time the chicken tried to lay an egg in one of those baskets? Well I could hear a lot of noise and went to investigate. Then I saw rose petals flying through the air! This crazy chicken thought to come inside and make a nest in rose petals. I wish I took a photo but I was more panicked by the mess unfolding! 
And just like last time later she laid an egg (she has been off the lay for a few weeks). 
I really should have taken a video of that! It was a pretty mess at least. 

During the week I made a double batch of pizza dough and let it rise all day in the window sill. That sorted dinner for two nights and all the lunches.

We got a refund for $100 and this was money we had just about given up on. But we got it back! Andy took that to the wholesale butchers across town. I had googled their weekly specials. Oh my goodness we got a lot of meat and filled up the freezer from that. I think except for huge bargains I will no longer get meat at the supermarket ever again. It was well under half supermarket prices, many things more like a third. For Adelaide people this was Thebarton Specialty Foods. 

Andy caught Blue Swimmer Crabs. He feasted on these for two nights! 

The rule is every time I lean in to take a photo like this one of them suddenly moves! 
But Andy had a great time catching them and eating them! 

I made fruit balls and froze several batches.
Also a giant potato salad for the weekend and taking some to Lucy's this afternoon. Lots of home grown parsley sprinkled over the top.

I needed a present. So I grabbed a little basket I had and put in some hand wash in a bottle I decorated, a jar of the wool wash and a label of instructions and six of my homemade goats milk soap. It looked lovely! The beauty of having a gift cupboard! 

I picked our first radishes.

In the evenings I was wrapping presents.  Just one or two each day. Mainly the ones that need posting early.  I think of that as getting ahead. 

And I re arranged and organised the kitchen pantry a bit more and the new shelves and baskets are my back up supplies like a little shop. It is so good! The extra space is amazing!

My painting was zero! But I did do more spring cleaning most days!

So that is my week!  I can't wait for the Vicky Challenge and to work out my actual savings.  I think it will be one of my better weeks savings wise.

How did you feather your nest this week? I hope there were lots of ways to save, get ahead and just make things lovely.

Have a wonderful weekend! It has been a big week! Some rest and relaxation are needed! xxxx