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.

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Sunday 8 October 2017

Pantries and Preparedness. Swaps!

I have always loved bartering!  There have been times when I have done lots of it and it's been wonderful.  I do think bartering is a way to build up your pantry, save money and build up other areas as well.

Recently I have been looking at how to do more of this and suddenly I have had several opportunities.  I am following a local group on Facebook that meets up and exchanges produce.  Then I had a blog reader write to me and ask if I would like to do a swap by mail!  This was interesting as I didn't really think of that due to the cost of postage but it led me to consider small things that can be mailed to make a very nice exchange.
Then my Aunt had a garden day at her home as she is a member of a garden club.  They get together and have a trading table.  And this was yesterday so off I went!

It was a beautiful, perfect Spring day.  An afternoon in a gorgeous sunny garden did me good. It was glorious.  My aunt is over eighty now and she does all this by herself after she established it from plain lawn...

She also has no car and rides her bike to the shops to get her stuff.

This is her front garden. The back and side gardens are full of plum, citrus and Quince trees.  The citrus were covered in blossoms and the scent filled the whole yard.  Honestly heavenly.

There was afternoon tea and endless cups of tea...

My aunts huge dining table was covered in china and homemade goodies.

I took Bay Leaves, homemade soap, magazines and four little potted herbs for the trading table.   This was covered in lots of lovely things.  I loved a tray of baby succulents...

And I chose Borage as this is a herb I don't have yet...

A day of sunshine and gardening was very nice.  I met some lovely ladies and one named Sarah who loves.... op shopping, knitting, gardening, making things...  so you could say we had a lot in common!

Last week I put together items for my postal swap.  Going on the things I knew Tanya liked and might need and what I had I put together a little parcel that wasn't very much to post....

And later in the week I received TWO parcels from Tanya.  One was the swap parcel and the other was gifts!  

There were beautiful handmade things all gorgeous.

And useful and practical things for crafts and cooking...

It was all really beautiful and fun!  Thank you so much Tanya. 

It often turns out that we have a lot of one thing and this gives us something good to barter with!  
There are endless possibilities.  You can swap a service for goods.  Jane mentioned how they look after the neighbours yard while they are away and get produce in exchange.  
You can have a clothing swap party,  a garden day like my aunt.  Bartering any kind of goods, produce or service is possible!   Turning your excess into something else can give you so many new ways to build up your pantry for free! 

Next week we are going to start a Bluebirds swap.  This will be a mail swap so we need to take into account the cost of postage and keep to small things but I just discovered this is much easier than I thought!   Also we will need to remember we come from different countries and take that into account. 

Another thing will be plant goods can not be posted into Australia. 
But still I think there are a lot of possibilities! 

So this week consider what do you have excess of that you would like to barter with? Smaller items could include fabric, yarn, sewing items,  seeds, cards, ribbon, paper crafts, lace, small books, recipe cards, baby clothes, buttons, labels, stickers, teabags, herbs, spices,  .... the list goes on and on!

We will get going next week but if you have items and a photo would be helpful (which is the case with colours and designs etc) then send pictures!  You can email me at before next Monday.

I hope it will be fun, useful and maybe even will lead to some friendships and pen friends.  We will only exchange details like addresses between the two agreed "swappers" behind the scenes via my email so no personal details will be online.

I hope you have a great week.

Thank you everyone.... Chloe arrived to her destination some hours late (which was stressful!) and was pretty worn out after a seven and a half hour trip in the middle of the night so it was over thirty hours all up. All she cared about at that point was a shower!  But she is safe! xxx


  1. Another great post Annabel, so happy to hear Chloe is safe, you never stop worrying about kids even when their adults(my eldest is 34 and youngest 12). I find the whole idea of bartering and a bluebird swap to be a super fun and exciting way to build friendships and share our bounty. You never cease to delight and inspire. I seriously look forward to posts every week, I learn so much. Thankyou.

  2. What a brilliant idea Annabel. I'll look forward to a Bluebirds swap with great anticipation. You and Tanya both did well, and your Aunts garden...well...beautiful! Mimi xxx

  3. Annabel I love the idea of the Bluebird swap. Count me in. Bartering is a way of life in the neighbourhood that I live in. A couple of older, now single males, get me to hem up their trousers and do little mending jobs. In turn I have some beautiful reef fish in my freezer from their fishing expeditions. My 93 year old neighbour needed a new cover for her chair she likes to sit in to watch TV. She refused to let me make the cover for nothing. Up behind her shed she had a pile of pavers. I got the pavers to edge my garden beds and she got two chairs recovered.
    This morning Bluey mended another neighbours mower. He was given a bottle of homemade whiskey in exchange. We have pumpkin cooking in the slow cooker for soup. The pumpkin came over the fence this way as dried tomatoes in herbed olive oil had gone over from us. It is a system that works so well. Sometimes the exchange is not immediate but it all levels out. No one has ever been taken advantage of.
    My brain is in overdrive for 'swap' ideas. Love it.
    Life is good.

  4. It is so much fun to barter. I did a little of it in our previous house with a neighbor. Have a lovely time doing it! Nancy

  5. What a great idea! My mind is in hyper drive thinking off all the possibilities for barter. I have no idea where to start... the wonders and ideas are endless. I'm in.

  6. I'm like Jane my mind is in overdrive for swap ideas that I could do! This would be so fun and I loved hearing about your Aunt. She is a go getter! Have a great day!

  7. Hi Annabel your Aunts garden is beautiful and good on her for keeping it so well maintained without a car. Carrying heavy things on a pushbike is no easy feat.

    I am so glad that Chloe is safely at her destination, and thinking more for you so you can stop worrying as much Annabel. As parents we never stop worrying about them no matter how old they are. So happy you had a reprieve and a wonderful time at the swap at your Aunt's home.

    How exciting a swap that would be lovely and count me in :) . I can either post to overseas or Australia and just adjust accordingly the contents as I am used to posting overseas as well with my homemade items. Now to think about swap ideas, hmmm :).


  8. Dear Annabel,
    Can I be friends with your Aunt? A garden party, tea, and bicycle rides...I think we must be kindred spirits :) What lovely gardens, and how amazing for her to do all of that at her age! I bet everyone just had a delightful time.
    Count me in for the swap, too! I'm with the others, my mind is just brimming with the possibilities.
    So glad Chloe is safe.
    With love, Kelsey

  9. My goodness, what a beautiful garden!! And my mouth watered when I saw the tea and biscuits! I bet you were feeling pretty special with all your wonderful goodies. :)

  10. Bartering works around here too. I have bartered freezer beef for piano lessons for 5 of my children for going on 9 years now, and my neighbor down the road and I pass things back and forth all of the time. This year we traded garden produce back and forth as each of us had some "fails" Last week I traded a loaf of blueberry zucchini bread for a bucket of green peppers. It is a fun arrangement for us both.

    1. Dear Sarah,
      This sounds wonderful! I am really trying to get back to this as much as possible. So mutually beneficial with your neighbour! I agree that it is a lot of fun too! With love

  11. Annabel,
    Your aunt's lawn is lovely and seeing photos of food is one of my favorites. It is funny you swapped for borage and it grows wild in my yard and the guys wack it down. Well they wack down everything anyway. I have a few ingredients to gather and wait until you see the dessert I am going to make! I love to swap and barter it works well for us and we usually do pretty good. We traded tomatoes from our garden for butchered chickens and just this last week I traded rolls of toilet paper for mums I love mums! I hosted a pantry swap a few years ago and it was great! Everyone brought pantry items they didn't use or had too much of and anything that nobody wanted at all got donated to a food pantry.

    1. Dear Vicky, You do great with swaps! I am thinking about this... sending you a message instead as have an idea! :)
      A swap party is such a good idea. I have been to ladies clothes and accessories ones... plus childrens clothing ones. Plus really good fun! With love

  12. Hi Annabel
    I also love the idea of a swap, I'll send you an email this week. I have recently joined a community garden, I'm hoping that I'll be able to swap some jams and pickles made by me for excess produce from the members beds. We do grow some vegetables and fruit at home but we have limited space so usually only end up with what we use most of and not much extra variety to work with. A friend recently hosted a book swap at her house which was a great success. Books not easily posted though! The day at your aunt's house sounds wonderful :)

    1. Dear Amanda, A book swap is a great idea! I didnt think of that one. The swaps coming in pictures are already amazing so this is going to be pretty interesting! I am glad to have you in! With love

  13. Your aunt's garden is beautiful! And what an amazing woman to still be riding her bicycle to transport herself. It revives my spirits to hear of older women who have rich, beautiful lives. My mother is in her late seventies and her life is severely restricted by all the things she says she cannot do, it saddens me. She is physically capable of doing more than she does - her restrictions are more mental than physical. I do not mean to be negative when you posted such a positive post, I just want to explain why it is so heartening to me to hear about people like your aunt, and to see photos of her stunning garden.Thank you.

    1. Debbie I understand what you are saying about your mother - mine is the same, always has been. Last year she caused a rumpus with me and I had reached the end of my patience with her. I have a wonderful mother in law who is 92 & 1/2 who has had quite a few things wrong with her but it never stopped her from doing what she wanted to do - now her health has caught up with her and she is no longer able to get out and about. So glad that I had her as a mother in law.


  14. What a beautiful garden and such an inspiration. I love the idea of a swap!

    1. Hello! Please do join in! So far I already have amazing pictures to show on Monday! xxx

  15. Dear Annabel , your aunt is a treasure! and inspiration . I visited two of my aunts today, mutual love abounds :-) Goods news about Lucy's safe arrival.
    With love Maria x

    1. Dear Maria, There is a lot to learn from Aunts. I am working on copies of my Grandmothers recipes too with the help of my Aunt. Many thanks! Love Annabel.xxxx

  16. Dear Annabel,
    The day at your aunt's sounds wonderful. She is living proof that age is just a number! I loved reading about her. I'm also glad that Chloe is safe!!

    Like the other Bluebirds my mind is busy thinking about what I have to swap. Count me in! Blessings,Cookie

    1. Dear Cookie,
      I think you will have treasure troves to swap! Its just thinking of things small enough to post. Wait until you see some of what has turned up so far! (crafters heaven)! With love

  17. Your Aunt's garden are absolutely beautiful. she sounds like an impressive lady.
    Looks like a good time was had, and what lovely items you have received this week.
    great fun!

    1. Thank you Cheryl! It was so enjoyable!xxx

  18. Annabel, I fear I am so far behind on comments!

    You are always so caring and generous with all of us, I so wish I was your neighbor so I could help in any way I could with all that you have going on right now. Plan some restful days for yourself and enjoy your beautiful garden! Your aunt's garden is so pretty with all of the blooming flowers. What do you call the pink flowers on the tall stalk? We call those Snapdragons!

    Prayers said for Chloe while she is on her trip and for her safe return as well.

    I am excited about a swap as well!


    1. Dear Jeanette,
      I think we should be peignoirs too. We need the Bluebirds are Nesting neighbourhood! :)
      I think they are snapdragons. She also had amazingly huge irises.
      Thank you for the prayers! And I am very glad to have you in the swap too! With lots of love,

  19. Your Aunt's garden is gorgeous, I have serious garden envy! I just showed Wayne the pictures before he left for work, and told him that's what I'd like for our next home - he rolled his eyes and muttered something about never being able to retire bless his little cotton socks ;) I love swaps. I sometimes manage to get to our local garden club swap and always come home with amazing things. And we have a swap table on card day and everyone brings all sorts of things to swap - I've been able to collect jars (precious to me), paper and pretties for card making and scrapbooking, wool, flannelette, vintage sewing kits, plants for the garden, fresh veggies, magazines - all sorts of things. This week I'm adding more Christmas cakes and puddings, getting the dignity bags ready to be dropped off and planting some lavender and geranium strikes I took a few weeks ago. Zucchini were very cheap yesterday at a local greengrocer so I bought 10kg to start making pickles for the pantry and hampers, it's going to be a busy week :) Thank you for sharing the photos, they've really started my day off beautifully. Love Cath.

    1. Dear Cath, Tell him retirement is over rated! This is how I like a garden too and it is too crowded for weeds!
      I got my Christmas fruit from Aldi today. I already had some from specials but now I have everything so Im set! I hadnt realised they had it then I saw you mention this... and it looks just lovely.
      With love

  20. Dear Annabel
    Thank you for sharing photos of your Aunt's garden - I do so miss the rambling cottage garden style.

    So glad that Chloe arrived safe, though a bit late. She will just be getting over all of the travel and then have to make the return trip. I am sure that you will be there waiting with some TLC and much loved favourite foods.

    Would love to be in the swap.

    Have a great week


    1. Dear Lynette, Thank you! Yes she's going to just relax then have to go through the reverse trip!
      I am so glad to have you in the swap! There are amazing things lined up already! With love

  21. What a fantastic garden! What a time you must have had.

    We mamas worry about our babies no matter their age. You shared with the right group. She was covered in prayer probably at all hours of the day. ;)

    Would love to do this swap. Are you having us U.S. ladies swap with one another and you Aussies have a separate swap?
    Oh, forgot to applaud Tanya's lovely goodies. Thanks for blessing Annabel, we appreciate her hard work on this site!


    1. Dear Leslie, I will leave it up to everyone to decide. I know the price of an ordinary envelope and an A# envelope to the USA and Im happy to send to the US because of this. But I will have everyone state their country and people can decide. There are already a lot of amazing swaps coming in pictures! Its already going to be over at least two weeks! Im a bit excited! Thank you for the prayer too I appreciate it so much! With love

  22. Hi Ladies,
    Fairly new to this but HELLO!
    Count me in on the swap. Was super fun to swap with Annabelle. I have tons of ideas but want to personalise the swap for whoever I may swap with... I have given Annabelle some ideas. I would love if someone has some extra time to sew me up a few things?? Looking forward to the swap. Blessings Tanya


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