The little birds...

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

Banner by Free Pretty Things for You.

Sunday 30 July 2017

Pantries and Preparedness. Savings tips from Laine.

The past few weeks we have looked at all kinds of ways to beat rising food costs.  If we can't do this we have no hope of keeping our pantries built up.  What seems to happen is as the budget is more and more stretched we need to be using everything on hand. This is great for rotating our supplies but I want to be seeing my pantry grow not shrink!

This week we are going to put our heads together for all kinds of small ways to save and they can be in any area since saving in one area can help another! This is one of my favourite ways to save!  Originally I started the Christmas Challenge with the idea that if I could save hundreds in the present department I could use some of the savings to stock my cellar. And I did!  We got a lot of food and supplies in the after Christmas sales.

Working all year to make my gifts has been a huge saving! 

Many times I think of things to just NOT do and use the money instead to build up emergency savings or add to my pantry!  We recently saved thousands by declining an overseas wedding.  Not that we would spend that kind of money when Andy has been out of work and when work is now intermittent.  But there are times when we just need to stay home,  spend carefully and get ahead as opposed to the opposite!

Laine has written us a list of little ways she saves in lots of different areas. Over to Laine!

1- Cabbage and onion sautéed together is a lovely, inexpensive side vegetable dish. I love to get them both nicely brown.

2- We have gotten to know some of the vendors at our Farmer's Market, and a few weeks ago I got a free pound of grass fed hamburger from one of the vendors. That was a helpful item for my food budget.

3- My doctor wants me to have 1/4 protein, 1/4 carb, and 1/2 vegetables on each plate for each meal. This advice over five years has helped me to save money and help my health and that of my family.

4- I love making N'Ice Cream, which is basically two chopped frozen bananas and any added frozen fruit we like, such as a couple handfuls of frozen raspberries or cherries. Put all in a food processor and process, scraping down when necessary until smooth. So delicious and nutritious. A scoop of this is a delicious ending to a meal.

5- A lovely quick frozen treat is to peel and thinly slice kiwis on a plate with parchment paper on top, then freeze. A delicious ending to a meal is a couple of slices.

6- We don't eat snacks during the day usually, rather three full meals a day. So I make breakfast, then nothing until lunch, then again nothing until dinner. My husband and daughter might have a piece of fruit, some nuts, or some popcorn in the evening. I really do save a lot by not buying snacks. 

7- I love to make my own Popsicles for the kids. There are so many recipes on the Internet. And if my grandkids visit, and they are used to having a snack, I have one ready for them in the freezer. My youngest loves to have one after her lunch.

8- This is one of my favorite soups : I sauté half an onion chopped, 2-3 sticks of celery chopped,  1- 2 zucchini chopped, and a bag of frozen broccoli for 5-10min. Cover with water, and salt to taste with a couple dollops of olive oil, and a teaspoon each of thyme, basil, and oregano. Cover, bring to boil, then lower and simmer for 20 min. Purée with stick blender when done. I love this soup!

9- Birthday parties can be expensive with our large family, but we have found a breakfast birthday party to be good on our budget. (Another way is to have a dessert birthday party. ) What we are doing tonight is having four of the grandkids overnight for our 8 year old's birthday party. My 8 year old made invitations for each of them, hats for each of them, and several games for the event. We got 2 children's shows from the library to watch with popcorn, and I made them some mango gummies. I am also making a stir fry for dinner, a special cake, and then in the morning scrambled eggs, hash browns, and some granola bars. I got colored pencils for .50 a box for prizes to our games. Each child will get a box. We have a small kid pool, very small, but I told them to bring their swimsuits for a fun game I have planned. I can't wait for the festivities to start!

10- Almost once a week instead of shampooing my whole head in the shower, I will put my hair up in a high bun and shampoo my bangs and the side of my head. Often that is the part that gets oily the first. I learned this trick from my friend in high school. 

11- I find hand washing dishes to be the best for my budget and our drought here in CA. I handle them once for washing and use a dab of dish detergent on my sponge.  We take fast showers as well to save water. 

12- I keep a gift drawer. This is an area where I put gifts that I find for a great price, even though I don't need them at that time. Then when I need a gift I look here first. It has helped me time and time again.

13- I cut my hair and my 8 year old's hair. I just followed someone on YouTube, wrote down the directions, and then follow them when needed.

14- If I want a bit of greenery in the house, I go outside and clip a bush or a plant and pop it in a vase. I loved one of my daughter's green plants, so she gave me some clippings to start my own plant. 

15- I love buying things at garage sales or thrift shops for fun surprises. I found a brand new dress with a $46 price tag on it for my daughter-in-law last week. It cost $3. She loved it! I found a beautiful clock for $1 at a garage sale for my other daughter-in-law. She put it up on the wall right away. I found a Farm To Table sign for $1.50 for my oldest daughter, she loves to garden so that was a fun surprise.

16- When I am working around the house in the summer I have on the most comfortable clothes I can wear. But before I leave to go shopping or run errands, I quickly put on a dress and a pair of sandals. I love to buy dresses at the thrift shop or garage sales for $3 and under, and keep them lined up ready to go. 

If I think of any others I will jot them down.

Love to you,

It is amazing to me to have Laine contribute to my blog! 
Thank you so much!

Keeping baking basics on hand saves so much. 
Another saving for me is I have never spent much money on food storage.  I have saved jars most of my life and also tins. 

Lets get our heads together and share our savings tips.  Some things we routinely do are not known by others! Sometimes one tip that we can use saves us so much! 

Making cards and gift tags must have saved me many hundreds over recent years.

Over a year ago I read a tip on The Cheapskates Club which was to forget your usual chemist and get prescriptions from a discount chemist. For some reason in my mind discount chemists were where you go cheap perfumes but I had no idea prescriptions were a fraction of the cost.  So I investigated and wrote down the prices of each of Andy's prescriptions.  He has a stainless steel heart valve so he is on medication forever...   I went into a nearby discount chemist and gave them my list and asked what are their prices?  The chemist was so nice about it.  He looked up each price and wrote down their prices next to what I was currently paying.   I took this home and most of his prices were less than half price.  On some this was $15 saving per item.  Then I did the maths.... this would amount to over $660 a year in savings.
Since then that chemist has continued to save us.  Antibiotics, over the counter medicines, toothpaste, cleaning products.... all massive savings.   That was ONE good tip! 

Filling lunch boxes and baking... this has been a huge saving.

Another one was to get prescription glasses online.  This one saves HUNDREDS.  I have an eye test today!  I will be getting the prescription and bring it home to order online.  Last time I did this it saved me around $300. 

So there can be a lot of power in one tip that we can use!  Last week I started making yoghurt.  I am only just realising how much this is going to save me since with plenty of yoghurt I can make so many things. And as a sour cream substitute I can make so many other things!  I am going to do a post on this as it is incredible what you can make! 

Making cleaning products isn't on a saver but also there are no nasty chemicals in your house!

I will keep adding savings tips in the comments as I think of them!

Do you have a tip that could help others?    Sometimes it is a small thing... it may seem insignificant until you work out the yearly savings.  This is how people get into trouble too... two cups of coffee at work a day might not sound like much.... but this could be costing over $2000 a year.   Well, savings work the same way!  Over a year they really add up!

I hope we all have a really good week!  I am off to have my eye test and run some errands.  Before that I have soup to put on! xxx

Thursday 27 July 2017

Feather your nest Friday, 28 July, 2017.

The weeks go too fast! Or maybe there are just not enough days in a week?  I am glad to take a moment to look back and appreciate things or else it is likely to go by in a blur!

This week I had a shopping day and continued on my "further afield" experiment.  I went south again to where my friend lives and had a lovely lunch with Hilde.  So it was a combined day of op shopping (thrift stores) grocery shopping and social.  It was so much fun!  I went back to the shops that I saved so much at last time.  And Hilde took me to her supermarket and her butcher.   From this trip I found two more places to go and I am thinking of doing this trip once a month.
I took a lot of notes and found one place that has bulk meat is about half the price overall even compared to Aldi.  Since Aldi meat is much cheaper than the main supermarkets here this is a big savings.  
This all has really proven that where I live supermarkets are the expensive way to shop!  I never would have dreamed this would be the case!

We also went op shopping!   I got two sets of cups, saucers and plates with roses!  They are Queen Anne and a series called American Beauty!  I couldn't believe my luck!

I paid $5 each set. 

This alone made my day!  Except my day was made over and over!

I also found three huge jars.  I paid $3 each for these.

Two  of these are quite old and are french...

There is only one thing better than jars!  Vintage jars! So happy with these!

Hilde gave me more lemons!  I stopped her at one bagful as I still have lemons from the trip before!

I came home with a lot of fruit and vegetables for the week.  I am making soup, baby food and of course just using veggies in our usual meals.

I also found a beautiful book of birds for my card making. It has over 100 pictures that are quite large...

My next card making session will be bird themed.  I was really thrilled with this find.
I got two more hair colours for 99c each! 

During the week I cooked a tray of chicken drumsticks as they were on special and Andy had these for lunches.
I made a double batch of spaghetti sauce and some of this is for meals, some to give the girls for the weekend and some to freeze.

I cut parsley and oregano from the garden to go with this too.  
Chloe has been up from the farm.  She came to dinner and I am sending her home tomorrow with two lots of spaghetti sauce,  focaccia breads (they are rising now) and a lemon cake. 

Mum sent me lavender from the farm...

This went on the table for dinner and I am using one of my rose tablecloths I made from the sheets I had found.  (You can see in some of the above photos)  I love these tablecloths!

I made yoghurt.  It is years since I did this. I followed Cath's recipe MOO Yoghurt.  This is so so easy.  I am going to do this a couple of times a week now.  It gives you a lot of savings as you can use this in place of sour cream on potatoes and in enchiladas etc if you leave it plain.   A lot of my cake recipes use yoghurt.  The cake I am making this afternoon (Yoghurt lemon cake) will use up two cups as I will make two cakes. I never make one cake!  

I made the first lot plain. Over the weekend I am going to try my favourite which is vanilla bean.  I should mention... I didn't yet have a large thermos.  So I used a jar and placed it in my small crockpot.  I only ran the crockpot twice for a short time. I wrapped a towel around it to keep the heat in, turned it off and left it all day.  It worked just fine!  I started it off with boiling water as well and poured the water 3/4 the way up the jar.  I also had a lid on my jar.  So I will just keep doing it this way. 

Last week I got a $70 Coles voucher in the mail.  Mainly I earned that using these coupons and I had a new set for the next few months.

I sat and cut them out and put them in my diary according to the weeks and dates. Then I remember to use them each week.   

I also used my $70 voucher.  I got everything on special including a hair conditioner I like which was on a clearance for 75c each (usually almost $5) so I slightly more than doubled my money and had over $140 of goods for my pantry.  Free!  I also got rice, tinned fruit, coffee, tea, powdered milk and heaps more. 

Chloe also gave me some essential oils. I am trying to learn more about how to use them and last night I used the lavender blend and slept like a log! 

I made a few cards and packaged up some more gift tags to give as gifts.

For my Vicky Challenge I wrote in $601.  Being the end of the month it included doing my own hair. 
So it was a good week!  

How did you build up your home, save and get ahead?  I hope it was a really good week for you. 

I am off to make cakes, use some lemons and deliver food!  
Andy is flat out working and will be all weekend. So I will get on with cooking, present making etc.  I rang the insurance company as I am tired of waiting.... they say we have two more weeks or so and hopefully we will have the money to put down new floors. I will be glad of that! xxx

Tuesday 25 July 2017

The Christmas Challenge. Show and Tell for July 2017. Part 1.

Everyone has been busy busy busy! Gift cupboards are filling up!  I know you will find ideas and inspiration from seeing what the ladies having been making!

Today we have no electricity! We are treating it as a practice run and Andy has the generator out and running and now I have internet, a hot cup of tea and he can keep working in the office. I am going to run over to Mum's for hot water and wash my hair!

Thank you to everyone who has sent me pictures!  This will take two weeks at least! I am using something from everyone and they are in no particular order!

Firstly, we have Wendy.  I love seeing what Wendy has been making as she is a very good example of how we can learn new things. She used to say to me that she loved my cards but she just wasn't crafty.   I took no notice as anyone can be crafty just like anyone can cook.  We have to be prepared to learn and practice!    So Wendy went from not being crafty to:
Becoming a wonderful card maker!
Encouraging others to learn!
Supplying her own family economy with cards.
And now having an online store where she sells cards!
You can check out her store here My Abundant Life Shop.

These are some recent cards Wendy has made:

If you have something you would like to learn or something you think you are no good at read this Practice Makes Perfect!!   Truly, if we set our minds to it we can learn so many things and then continue to improve our skills.  And it is fun!  I am very proud of you Wendy!
Be inspired by Laine's Letter and by Wendy and work hard at building up your skills, there are so many benefits.

Jeanette made a stair case shawl. This is what she called it....  I love the edging!

Jeanette you are wonderful with colours!  The quilt in the background is amazing as well!

This scarf is crochet.  Beautiful work! 

Vicky found a beaten up old bucket in the shed.  She thinks like me... beaten up can be beautiful. In true shabby chic style she took it and beautified it!

I love it!  It has vintage charm and look at those roses!  Well done Vicky!

Michele has not done any sewing in years and she re started to sew for her Grand daughter. Take a look at this gorgeous little dress!  It is just beautiful Michele! I hope you will keep sewing!  This is nicer than anything you could buy! 

Sewingceations15 has been really busy.  She made a lot of cards...

She turned a Doona Cover (Quilt cover) she had not used into curtains!   They look lovely!

And she has made table settings with placemats, coasters and cutlery holders!

Beautiful work and very productive! 

I really love seeing what you have been making and also hearing the stories that go with the work.  There are so many possibilities.  We can very often turn things we have on hand into amazing gifts or make something for our homes.  I also love to see skills being used and the willingness to learn, practice and then learn more!

What are you working on and what skills would you like to learn?
In some cases it is a matter of what skills would you like to start using again that you haven't used in years!  I used to embroider every spare minute day and night!  I am a bit rusty now but I want to brush up my skills.  The main problem is there are not enough hours in the day!

I hope your week is going well! Yesterday I went half an hour south of here, saw my friend Hilde (who made me a beautiful lunch!) and I found three more amazing stores that I can include in my circuit.  I had already worked out that supermarkets are absolutely not cheaper than small stores anymore for us.  Yesterday I compared a lot of items to some shops Hilde took me to.  Many many things were a quarter the price of the supermarket.  It was a really educational day!  I am thinking I will make it a once a month shopping day to go down there and stock up.  

Have a good day and I will see you on Friday! xxx

Sunday 23 July 2017

Pantries and Preparedness. Merchant Ship Mentality works!

Since last weeks post I have had so many letters telling me the same thing... surprising success with travelling further afield and trying different shops!   This is really paying off for me. Tomorrow I am heading off again on a mission to try out some new shops in an area south of us.  The last trip saved us so much that we are still reaping the benefits.

I have realised a few things that have clouded my judgement have probably been the result of advertising and what I guess might be called "popular culture" .... the ideas that supermarkets have everything you need in one place, no one can beat their prices (which is why so many old places closed down) and that convenience is everything.   I more or less believed these things for quite some time!  The only trouble is NONE of them are true.

The idea of convenience is somehow everywhere. Everyone wants fast, easy, instant.  We are led to believe this is a good thing.  But if shopping around different stores (and perhaps some a bit further away) save a large sum per week and mean you have so much more and better produce why does it matter if its not convenient?  If you save $50 by spending two extra hours a week on your shopping isn't  $25 an hour for your work a reasonable rate?  It's worth thinking about.
And the same with cooking.  I found with making sausage rolls the other day that what I made vs the cost for the same in the shops saved me over $100.  It took me a little over an hour to make them.  $100 an hour? Who makes that!?  This convenience thing has a high price!   It is great sometimes that is for sure but a little bit of inconvenience sure can be a big saver!

As it turns out finding seriously cheaper prices and improving the economy of the whole household is so worthwhile it is fun.   You can quite possibly change the fortunes of your home economy very significantly!

Jen in NZ wrote:

Your shopping trips to different areas have been an eye opener, I have begun to do the same here as I'm often quite disappointed with our local supermarkets. I found a cheese shop selling rounds of brie and Camembert for $1, they are $4.49 in the supermarket. And sometimes they have 1kg of Parmesan for $7, normally more than that for 250g at the supermarket! Now to find fruit, vegetables and meat at a better price! 

I love hearing this!

The photos in this post are recent ones sent in that I think fit our pantry theme.

Baking day with Chloe.

I also want to share this beautiful letter with you all.   Jesse has put the merchant ships mentality to work with amazing results.  I hope this encourages everyone.  We don't have some of the stores Jesse mentions. It doesn't matter!  The principals remain the same.  I have ended up including the whole letter as it is full of good things! 

Beautiful Muffins by Teresa.

Dearest Annabel and bluebirds,
Even though I rarely comment I am truly one of the fold. I so enjoy the spirit of these comments because I too do these things. Being a stay at home mom to three, soon to be 4 children, plus homeschooling doesn't leave me a lot of time for grocery shopping however a few years ago I was so fed up with leaving our local big chain grocery store in tears. I simply couldn't get what we needed there weekly with our budget. So I told the Lord and myself I'd find a new way if He'd help and He really did. Now I travel one hour each way every 2-3 weeks and am able to go to Aldi, B.J.s (like Sam's club) and occasionally another discount store like Ollies. Yes it's a sacrifice and a lot of women think I'm crazy but I got so tired of what They called deals! We have a big family and I love to entertain and now I always have plenty to share. At least some in the US see stocking up as weird but I feel blessed knowing we always have food to share. We live in a very rural area so if we have snow, or some other tragedy we are prepared. I also make an hour trek about every 6 weeks to a massive discount grocery store owned by the Amish. This trip is gold! I leave with two carts, heaped up and over, full of anything you can think of (gourmet, organic, specialty, coffee, cereal, cheese, yoghurt, body products, house products, even gifts) for around $300. Here a normal week of groceries could easily cost that much if you just shopped a big market. So with these trips I feel prepared, my husband and children are blessed, and I can share so many meals! Yes it's exhausting with the boys but it's teaching them so much about the cost of things and what it takes to run a household! My nine year old can spot a great deal! It also helps them have some say in what they get to eat which they enjoy. When we do our Aldi trip we usually splurge and eat a meal out. We can, we just saved a lot of money! Most of our beef and pork we are able to buy in bulk, we eat local eggs and do grow a lot of veggies. We have started an orchard and have many berry bushes planted too. I also grind our own flour, which is an initial investment, but oh so tasty and healthy. Everything else I look on Amazon for and get through subscribe and save for very competitive prices. Overall I can see just where the Lord started blessing me when I was willing to step from my comfort zone and work a bit harder to bring in food. I just recently got a friend to do the same as she too was feeling so sad over how little a grocery budget could do. I took her to the Amish store and when she got home her children and husband were practically in tears at the bounty! On another note Annabel I just recently saw how important it is to have extra bedding! I have always kept whatever extra nice bedding i could (we have 6 beds in our home) so when recently we had missionary friends stay with us our guest beds were lovely. The evening they left they called us with some sad news, they had found some lice on their daughter's head :( We immediately stripped the beds, pillows, and couches. I washed and line dried everything (hot summer sun here in Pennsylvania) and vacuumed (best tool against lice i read.) Now you tell me what I would have done if that was basically our only bedding! I have wiped up too much vomit, baby spit up, and potty accidents to believe that extra bedding and towels could ever be a problem :) I truly strive for my home to be orderly and manageable, which it is, but I draw the line at getting down to one set of sheets per bed! You ladies are such an encouragement to me! I want to comment so often and can't but I'm going to make more of an effort! I always talk about my Bluebird friends. I want to send you some pics Annabel as we have similar styles. Love and blessings to you all! Jesse in Pennsylvania.

Thank you so much Jesse!  Thank you for taking the time to share this! 

Vicky's Cabbages are really coming on! 

During the week I found another wonderful letter on the web archive that Laine wrote about shopping and keeping the prices right down.  I don't know how I missed this one as it is full of information and inspiration.    Laine was doing just what Jesse is doing now! You can read it  here.   It goes very well with the one I mentioned last week.

Laine  also applied this equally to thrift shopping.  Here she was advising someone who wrote to her for advice.  This person had said how she doesn't have a thrift store...

 "If I didn't have a thrift shop in my town, I'd travel once a month or so to a town that did. My mom takes me on one of these trips every year on my birthday. We hit thrift shops an hour away. It's so much fun. Garage sales and swap meets are also great places to save money. "

Just part of Vicky's Veggie garden! 

As it turns out many times you can combine thrift stores/op shops and regular shopping on further away trips.  It becomes a major adventure!

I am heading off tomorrow. My friend Hilde tells me about a store near her that I never have been too. It is right next to a fantastic op shop! 😊
Hilde is a big saver. She can cook anything too so I always learn new recipes from her.
My last shopping trip to her area saved me so much.  I am still in awe of that shop.
That shop reminded me of years ago when I routinely shopped further afield as I was in a very small country town with very high prices.  I went an hour inland once a fortnight or an hour and a half south once every couple of months.  These were huge days.  But they were so much fun!  The girls thought these days were the best fun ever! It was a great adventure!  Just like Jesse, these trips made so much difference to the whole household!

There are lots of ways we can incorporate shopping further afield into our routine. We might be somewhere due to an appointment or visit.  We might have family or friends who can pick something up for us and bring it with them when they are coming our way.  We can be creative with this!

Next week our post is by Laine!  This will be a general savings tips post!

Have a wonderful week! xxx

Thursday 20 July 2017

Feather your Nest Friday, 21 July, 2017.

This was another good week!  Andy has had work each day and yesterday more came in so he will also be working all weekend.  He is very happy (so am I!) and so he is making hay while the sun shines! 😊

Some of the ways I saved this week include:

I made bubble bath. I have been loving my bath so much!  So I made luxury bubble bath from ordinary ingredients.  It is lovely! The  recipe is here Hollywood Bubble Bath.
As well,  I have a rustic "caddy" across the bath for all my bits and pieces.  I needed this!  Its a road side find that Andy cut to fit. He cut grooves into it so it can't fall or slide...

We could have a post on creating luxury for pennies!

I made lemon cakes with some of my lemons.  This cake contains yoghurt so ideal for using up yoghurt as well.

These ended up with lemon icing and I cut one up and froze the slices.  It was really fresh and lemony!

I made a lamb roast from Lamb Mum gave me. The left overs will be tomorrow nights dinner, lamb and tatziki wraps.  Mum also gave me frozen peas and beans.

To use up more lemons I filled several ice cube trays with lemon juice and froze them.

I made a curry and a mint raita to go with it.  To make the raita you just add heaps of fresh mint to a nice creamy yoghurt plus a sprinkle of Cumin.

Then just blitz it and you have a lovely mint dip/dressing which is gorgeous with anything spicy.

I also made Naan Bread.  For this I use my usual bread recipe plus three huge spoons of yoghurt. 

Here is it rising (I took the cover off to show it) with a hot pack around it! It was a cold day! 

Two chickens photo bombed this photo too I notice! 

One batch of dough gets me 16 Naan breads.  You cut roll them out thin and fry in olive oil. 

As I used to buy this I know they roll it out in random shapes so I do this too... and fry them until they are deep golden.  Also I know they are $1.75 each in the shops, meaning one batch saves almost thirty dollars. Plus they are so much better, stretch a meat meal, freeze well... 

I  made Scarlet several batches of baby food. Pureed sweet potato, pureed pumpkin and pureed carrot. I froze it in ice cube trays. 

Mum went home to the farm. She had two weeks here helping Lucy, feeding Scarlett, taking Harper for walks and adventures to the park.  She knitted the girls a ton of hats and warm things. This is one of the hats she made Harper... they come down around her eyes and over her ears and keep her warm.

They are constant buddies!  Whatever Harper is wearing she has a tutu over the top, including pyjamas. haha! 

I mended a jumper for Andy.

In the mail I received a $70 voucher for shopping at Coles!  This is the most I have ever had. We don't have coupons here but we have a kind of loyalty points system in some shops.  This one had sent out vouchers where if you handed in a particular voucher on a certain product purchase or in the right week you would get 1000 points (and other offers) I did this for the last few months until the offers ran out. Well, I got $70!  Now I will turn that into at least $140 worth of goods for my pantry by only spending it on big specials or markdowns.  I also got a whole new series of vouchers for the next few months.  You have to be organised with them so I cut them up and stick them in my diary week by week as they all have specific dates... but look how it paid off!  

I did some pruning in the garden and now it is all done!

I wrote $343 in my savings book for my Vicky Challenge.

How was your week?  What did you do to save, get ahead or build up your pantry? 

Have a lovely weekend! xxx

Tuesday 18 July 2017

The Christmas Challenge. A bit more for my cupboard!

Last week was good for adding to my present cupboard.  After cards, gift tags  and crocheted rugs I went on to a few other things.  I have been trying to use up things I have on hand.
Lucy had given me a fur vest.  The fur itself was beautiful but the vest really made anyone (no matter how young and skinny) look like a pink polar bear.
I made it into powder puffs.  I love these and they make lovely gifts...

I got six. I am keeping one so five went into the cupboard.  The cost was zero as I had the ribbon and I used scraps to stuff them.  Added to powder or bath products, soap etc they will be luscious gifts! 

My evening crochet project has been to edge kitchen towels.  I got two packets of ten on Ebay.  This was much cheaper than I could get otherwise.  Out of twenty I only have four to go!

I stamped some plain cards and envelopes but these are more for my own supplies. I used up a lot of these sending out sour dough starter!

Also, from Ebay,  I bought a bulk pack of heart shaped gift tags.  I love them!  I got stamping and added string ties...

I have been making them up into sets as little gifts...

So 20 sets of these went into the cupboard.  You can see this is my favourite stamp!

I have been following Pasty's sewing challenge.   Everything I have made has been from things I already have.  Here I have used some of the sheeting I got on my op shop day.  There are now tablecloths and matching napkins. 

Cutting up a quilt cover meant I got two table cloths plus matching napkins for under $3! 

I used up some cotton odds and ends and made dish cloths or wash cloths.  These will go with the homemade soap I already made or into kitchen themed gift baskets.  They are a nice absorbent cotton.

I had a pretty fabric remnant so I made that up into two gift bags.  I thought after they could be used for travel bags or something else but meanwhile they would make a couple of gifts look nice!

The other night I had a finishing off night, sewing in threads and folding things nicely. When I put a big lot away into the cupboard I really noticed how much is in there now!  I am getting there!  This is a refreshing change after a slow start! 

After the last kitchen towels I have about a dozen of the gauze face cloths to crochet around. They are lovely for baby wash cloths or makeup removing cloths.  They were also from Ebay at 35c each! 
I have a bit more fabric in my stash but not much!  However... I am going op shopping soon! 

Next week we will start Show and Tell again.  Already I have some amazing things to show you!  If you would like to join in just send me a picture (or several) of what you have been making at or post them to the Bluebirds Facebook page. 

Today I am heading to Aldi.  It is possible a few more items will end up in the gift cupboard if the catalogue is anything to go by!  When I see amazing deals and think a certain person would really love an item,  it is the time to act.  I am so glad of these finds come December!

Even now there is heaps of time to make a world of difference to reduce the costs of a wonderful Christmas.  Not only are the savings incredible but Christmas is more fun and less stress.  

What are you working on? Do you have supplies that could basically become free gifts if you can think of something to make with them? These are the best!  xxx

Sunday 16 July 2017

Pantries and Preparedness. Like Merchant Ships.

The last few weeks I have been putting into practice advice from Laine on grocery shopping.  I had really started to freak out about the cost of meat and vegetables here.  But then, I am hearing that from everyone.  Also the other day our electricity prices went up by another 20% in one day.  It is somewhat scary and daunting!   Most times I run into worries I turn back to Laine's Letters and start studying.  This time I started taking notes.

To get started I studied Merchant Ships Mentality which is full of information.  There are other letters on saving money, pantry building, making the most of food and much more.  We were also lucky enough to have new money saving grocery shopping tips from Laine (written especially for us!) a fortnight ago which can be found  here.

I don't know how many times I have read Proverbs 31 and read vs 14:  "she is like merchant ships, bringing her food from afar."
Not just one ship she is like "ships."  That is really busy!   Merchant ships carry cargo from far away lands,  basically never stop,  they set off well stocked for long journeys,  face storms at sea and the pilots mission is to deliver the goods to where they are needed.  There is so much in this verse!

It was Laine who helped me put this verse into the here and now and understand its meaning in terms of my own shopping.  I am still learning, that is for sure,  but the last weeks have shown me some of the potential of travelling further afield and considering a wider range of ways to shop.

Laine  is working on another money saving post for us.  I notice I have to read and re read these kinds of posts to actually put it all into practice so I can't wait to read the next one! She always says to keep learning.  This is true. We can learn so much each week!

It is funny how we can "know" things or have heard them before but not fully understood them or put them to work.  Also we are creatures of habit.  We tend to establish strong habits and grocery shopping is no different.  I tended to go to the same two shops,  park in the same row if I could,  shop the store in the same order ... week after week.   When we got Aldi I was pretty quick to change over to their store though!

Since then I decided to try shops out of my area,  discover different shops altogether and start from scratch basically!   I wrote down everything I currently have on hand that I can use in meals and everything that we need.  Mostly I buy the best deals then come up with a menu plan from this point.   I also started to pray the night before, pray on the way and pray in the shop!
Well, I have to say the results have been AMAZING.  

I am not the only one!  Cookie wrote to me a few days ago and told me the same thing!

"This trip I prayed while I shopped per Laine. Annabel, I am in awe of how effective this is!  I shopped for one month like Laine does and without coupons the grand total came in $110  under budget!  The only place I want to go now is a family owned grocery in town to bulk buy cherries and cauliflower as these are their loss leaders at $1.99 a pound for the local cherries and $1.99 per cauliflower..."

Thanks Cookie for sharing your good results! 

For me it is not just finding cheaper prices it is adding to my pantry as well.   If I can do both I am very happy.  

From two main supermarkets my grocery shopping has extended to:

Aldi, usually once a week. Mostly for the special buys and best buys on meat and staples. 

Franco's Fruit and Vegies...

This is where there was a harmonica player out the front the first week!  I'm not sure why he has a cow on top!  But you can't miss it! 😊

Specialty Foods for the best meat wholesale specials.  We get the weeks deals  emailed to us on Sundays. 

Romeos Foodland at Morphett Vale.

Lettuce Inn at Southgate Plaza.  (good name) 

Rite Price 
Cheap as Chips
Browse and Save 
The Reject Shop
Adelaide Fresh, Morphett Vale.

I don't go to all of these every week.  I try to check the specials and decide where to go and then do as many as I can in one trip.  
Happily there are some amazing op shops in some of these areas as well!

Before I started travelling further afield and trying new stores I had reached the stage of having enough basics at home to only look at buying them on really big specials.  This included things like shampoo and conditioner, laundry power, toilet paper, rice, pasta, tea... the very basics.
But it did not extend to meat, cheese, butter etc.  
Now I have found myself ahead with everything.  This means there is nothing I need to buy unless it is on an absolutely awesome deal.  This is a much better position to be in! 

The last weeks have been fun, interesting and really have paid off.   Totally worth it.
If you are in grocery shopping habits there is a chance things have changed in recent times, it might be worth a look in other areas,  different shops, markets... who knows what is near by!   Many things I just assumed were wrong!   Somehow something quietly happened.... supermarkets are no longer cheap.  I suspect we were lured in until we were regular and reliable and then slowly this change happened!  

These are the changes here where I live.  Everywhere will be different and we will have different stores, prices, distances etc.   But the grocery bill is something that can vary enormously.  Our  whole household, health and budget are hugely impacted!  If we are like Merchant Ships we can do much more with much less money!  

Have a wonderful week! xxx