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 12 November 2017

Pantries and Preparedness. A teachable heart.

This year we have focused on several main things,  getting ahead with our pantries and preparedness, leaning new skills and building up our homes.  The year has gone too fast for me.  It is still going too fast!   But I can report we made a lot of progress with general preparedness.   My pantry is in good shape.  We added a better generator and a rain water tank.  But most of all I learned new skills.

Whatever you store away will only last so long.  After that we depend on our skills.  And our health and fitness!  I have been thinking a lot about that.

This year I learned how to make sourdough and became pretty good at breads, scrolls, buns, raisin bread and I think I got a lot of people started too!


Suddenly making dough became a routine thing and I never have to buy yeast!  This all is a big family feeder.  It also gives me gifts to give.  A tray of sticky buns pretty much makes you welcome anywhere! 


I learned to make yoghurt and I churn that out and use it in cooking, in place of sour cream and buttermilk and it is really healthy and a big money saver as well.
I learned to really menu plan and build up an inventory of meals.  This was a huge thing!
I started to shop a far wider variety of shops and much further afield. (With amazing results)
I got the hang of Aldi and I love it!

Some small things were making all my soup and spice mixes.  These are a big saving and there is nothing artificial in them.

So I no longer need to buy packet mixes for Butter Chicken or soup mixes etc.

I learned how to make enchiladas. I made so many trays of these as they are a hit with the family!

Vicky taught me how to make my own Enchilada sauce and it is so good!  

Also I have been studying the relationship between pain and inflammation and what we eat.  I have a lot to learn here but I have pretty much completely changed my way of eating and almost all of my aches and pains are gone!  I have more energy and can exercise and even want to! It is a big change to eat in a completely different way.
My Doctor told me years ago that given a choice of dying or changing your diet most people will choose dying.  We are very attached to our favourite foods, traditions and ways of cooking.   But still this shocked me.  And it is odd to radically change I have to say!  

I know the next weeks will be busy with getting ready for Christmas,  it becomes pretty warm here and watering and the garden becomes busy too.  But I have started thinking about the year and what do I want to learn next year?  The last few years I have learned a lot and so much that it has been quite exciting!   I want to keep going!

It is funny how we learn. I notice if I don't want to learn something I can't even listen. It is beyond boring and I absorb nothing. The more it is explained the less I understand it!
But if I want to learn something I can concentrate and absorb and ask questions and try and try!  Then I can learn!    So I think that is the key. We have to want to learn.  We need a teachable heart.

People say they are bad at something, like they are bad at embroidery, and it will turn out they only tried once or twice.  No one is instantly good at any of these things!  It all takes practice practice practice.  Patsy wanted to learn crochet.  She got started and went on a challenge to crochet everyday. You should see her work now!  I bet someone will say to her "you are so lucky you can crochet so beautifully"  No she is not lucky she worked and worked at it that is why she can crochet this way!  Truly, very few of us are overnight experts!  We have to work at it!

So we need a teachable heart and be willing to commit to putting in the effort.  It is ok to fail too.  I remember when Jane first started with her sour dough.  Her first bread she forgot the step of making the "sponge".  Tons of people would have just said it is too hard. But she got it right the next time and has gone on to produce the most amazing bread and scrolls etc.    She is the most fabulous cook!

I am not sure what next year will hold but I can think of many many skills I would like to learn and lots of things I would like to be doing.  I would like to be dehydrating food.   I ideally would like to plant an orchard, have a lot more chickens,  have a huge veggie garden and plant pumpkins.   Some of my dreams would require living in the country I notice!
I want to learn much more about essential oils and natural remedies.

With Christmas coming it can be a good time to think of next years projects.  Maybe put in a request for a dehydrator or something that will be both fun and a good investment for the household!

What did you achieve so far this year toward your pantry and household preparedness goals?
What new skills did you learn or improve?  How has this helped?

Recently I asked what new skills would you like to learn next year.  I got some great suggestions for some tutorials.   As I get on with Christmas and end of year plans I am thinking on all of this.

Next week we have a post by Laine.  She has improved her health so much with her diet and she started with a very painful chronic illness.  From what she has written I have already implemented a few new things so it has already been very helpful to me.   This will be useful to anyone suffering with pain.  Sometimes we have to be in a pretty bad place before we are willing to try new things! haha that was me!

Have a great new week.  See you on Wednesday!xxx


  1. Dear Annabel,
    This is a very wise post. A teachable heart never stops learning.
    I can relate to people who feel like they should be excellent on the first try. Perfectionism is not a good trait. Endurance and persistent get us further in life and we end up more successful.
    I am so glad you are feeling well. I am looking forward to Laines post.
    Love and hugs,

    1. Dear Glenda, Thank you so much. Well I have always been impatient about getting good results. But over the years Ive learned that many people I admire with wonderful skills worked for many years to get any good! So I think this was good to realise. Also I like that passage in the Bible that says if you perfect a skill you will meet kings! This is true! Well ... important people will want your work and be willing to pay for it! So I keep working on my skills but so far no luck with the kings! haha!
      Laine's post has several things I have added. She is years in front of me with food, allergies etc. Thanks Glenda, with love

    2. I love that verse if you perfect a skill you will meet kings how beautiful. I guess I completely missed this post. It gives me something to think about for the new year. What would I like to learn in the new year?
      Thank you Annabel.
      Love Patti

  2. How true that practice makes perfect! A thought provoking post Annabel. I am looking as a fresh new year and I too have lots of ideals and goals.

    I love your new chickens and am sorry that Chloe lost some of hers.

    Fi xx

    1. Dear Fiona,
      Thank you! Lets hope next year we both get to work on our sewing, embroidery and other lovely things. I am impressed with Chloe's new chickens too! And they are laying already! Also they are huge! And they are free range already in the day. I would like some like this! More chickens! Have a good week Fi, with love

  3. I've been learning so much this year from you, Annabel, and your bluebirds! It has really been a delight!
    Looking back on this year, we got our very first chickens-2 of them in May and by July had a total of 8 laying hens! We were getting just over 4 dozen eggs/week. It's tapered down to about 2-1/2 dozen/week now that winter is here. The daughter of a dear friend has given me lots of encouragement and education about chickens since she has had hers for years! In exchange, I have been teaching her about canning for convenience- ready to go meals, sauces, condiments,etc to make meal prep faster!
    The exchange of ideas/learning new skills with her has been exhilarating and we both have formed a connection that ignores the age gap between us as we consider each other as contemporaries!!!
    I have been expanding my list of home canned ready to go meals- this week I will be adding chicken pot pie filling and beef stew to my pressure canning repertoire!
    I learned via the Internet just enough crochet to make 4 sleeping mats for the homeless using recycled plastic grocery bags cut into "plarn"! I never thought I could do even that much crochet! So maybe there is hope for me. I just need to commit the time to practice!!
    I am looking forward to learning and becoming skilled in lots of new things in 2018!! I figure, I'm never too old to learn!!
    Thanks again!!

    1. Dear Gardenpat, I knew you would love chickens! This is a match made in heaven! How wonderful to have someone to help you get started and to be able to teach her new skills in return! And a friendship has come out of this too!
      I would say now you have the basics of crochet you will be shocked what you will be able to do as basically everything is made of three basic stitches. You would know chain, thats one. You would probably have been doing single crochet on the mats. Double crochet is another wrap around... with these three you can pretty much make anything!
      I hope 2018 is a big learning year too. I could tell how much fun you had with the chickens. This is the beauty of it, it is so much fun to expand what we are doing! I also liked your boxes of scraps from the green grocery. I thought that was excellent chook food (plus some human food!) Wonderful! With love

  4. I don't know if you are familiar with the book, "Eat Right for your Type" - a father a son (both naturopaths), discovered, over the the course of decades, that each blood type group responded very differently to eating the same foods. Overtime, they determined which foods contributed to optimal health for each group, and which caused inflammation - so helpful to understanding why what worked well for a family member or friend, does not necessarily work for you.
    At almost sixty, having followed their method for fifteen years, I have been blessed with wonderful health - no doctor's visits because of illness or other medical concerns in all that time. On the occasions when I introduce foods not best suited to my type, mild joint pain quickly follows.
    If it's not a book you've looked at as you explore the causes of inflammation, I highly recommend it.

    1. Dear Judy, I have heard of it I think. I certainly notice that what suits one person doesnt but another. I will look into it thank you.
      I know that inflammation seems to be the base of everything as far as pain, chronic disease etc. Thanks so much, love

  5. Great post! What a great topic, to review what you have learned and then start to review what to learn next. Thank you, this post started me thinking! Hilogene in Az

    1. Dear Hilogene, I am thinking too! Its making me appreciate what I did do this year and makes next year seem full of new possibilities! With love

  6. Dear Annabel you have achieved a heap this year no doubt about that and as you say when the heart is open to teaching one learns the lessons best .
    It's been a year of many happenings in our family, our eldest son wife and wee boy moved countries and back to ours . Health has been on my mind more with my own issues I've had this year so it is interesting to read about yours and other Bluebirds health and how all have tackled their health in their own ways .
    I made Christmas cakes early so that job is fine .presents are being tackled st the moment not so much made as some good of you have done but what suits my recipients is being worked in here .
    The backyard is tidier and that is still a work in progress . Our youngest got engaged while travelling overseas so that was welcomed by both families .
    Yesterday we went to meet some of the new family to be and had a lovely time .
    That is all for now I have school pickup to do .
    Lots of love , Maria xxx

    1. Dear Maria, It is wonderful news about your son! I know it has been a very full year for you. This year has had some challenges for us both!
      Health is a big issue. It sneaks up on us and we try to look after everyone and it takes a toll on our own health but we need it to keep going. I am on Christmas presents too... will do a lot of sorting next week. Hope you are having a good week! With love

  7. Good evening, a teachable Heart is key just about any change.
    I hope I never get so set in my ways that I refuse to learn.
    Looking forward yo Laine’s new letter.

    1. Thank you Rhonda. I hope I don't get set in my ways either. I think we are finished if we stop learning! With love

  8. Hi Annabel and fellow bluebirds, what a wonderful post and I do have to say everything takes practice to master, although some appear to be naturals from the word go :).

    I do have to say that from my previous post I have learnt to trade/swap better than I ever thought was possible and I am not afraid to ask when I see opportunities arise. Point in hand was the tree next door contractors were cutting down and I got DH to ask we could have the wood and that supplied us with a whole winters firewood for free and delivered to our front lawn in longer lengths. Trading the use of our land for 15kg of honey each year by letting our friend put bee hives on our property.

    I suppose what I am saying to everyone is never be afraid to ask or propose a trade when you see trading opportunities. It does pay to ask as you never know the blessings that will come from it or how much needed food or other items it will provide for your family that you don't produce yourself and also the benefits for the other person in the trade too.

    Another thing I have got better at is bargain shopping and looking out for bargains and specials whenever we are out of town or on other errands on everything and in my not usual shopping places. This has saved us so much money we have put into our savings account to pay for having our home built.

    We are also working on our health and fitness and now going for a few bushwalks now DH has got over and been treated for his Q Fever and our wonderful doctors have sorted out a good pain management plan for his back injuries.

    I hope everyone else blossoms and learns and masters more new skills both the rest of this year and the next too.


    1. Dear Sewingcreations, You are doing so well on the trading. Also the selling of the seeds and things you make. You have inspired me and I am noting some of what you do for if we live on the farm. I would love to be getting more honey this way. Mum and Dad get some honey in the same way as you are.
      Also you reminded me... shopping more widely etc is a skill. I think we were all sort of led along to believe that supermarkets are the cheapest and most convenient etc and to some degree I went along with that for a while... only to discover it isn't true! Some time and effort comparing around pays off BIG TIME!
      I can see you really saved a lot and you must be pleased. And your new home fund must be growing! This is wonderful! Thank you for so many good ideas, with love

  9. Annabel, Thank you for your encouraging words regarding my teaching myself to crochet. I credit your beautiful work for putting the fire in me to learn. Now, you've inspired me to sit down and take a look back at this year and all that I've learned. After that I'll be looking forward to making a list of things I want to learn how to do in 2018. This is such an inspiring post and timely too!

    1. Dear Patsi, You came along in leaps and bounds with the crochet. Someone will say how lucky you are you just wait and see as if being able to crochet fell from the sky and landed on you! haha!
      This would be a good subject....what we learned this year and what we hope to next year. If we make these things a serious goal they would be more likely to happen for sure! With love

  10. Annabel,
    I love this post it makes my teachable heart sing! I love learning new things. If things aren't quite right I live by the mantra that there are no mistakes only room for creativity. Our world is only as beautiful as we make it. I am so glad you are not having a lot of pain and are getting more energy. That is so wonderful! I am ready to start the new year with a teachable heart!

    1. Dear Vicky, Thank you! Some of the best things are kind of happy accidents! :) We want to wrap up our current projects and get on to new ones! Can you imagine that! Since we live twin lives I think this will happen! With love

  11. Hi Annabel, I love, love, love this post!!

    And you sound so happy and content, as well you should, with all you've been doing :)

    Angela (from SS & FB)

    1. Hi Angela! Thank you so much! Your soap making helped inspire me to get going with that! Its a bit addictive actually!
      I hope we can learn a lot of new things next year! xxx

  12. Hi Annabel,you have learnt so much over the year and i have enjoyed reading all your blogs and learning along side you, i tryed the zuccinni noodles with my pasta sauce the other night and i really injoyed them, better still if i give up pasta and bread or at least cut back for a while, i hope to see a slimmer me and less aches and pains too keep up the good work i just love to read your blogs each week and read fellow bluebell readers remarkable stories too have a great week xx

    1. Dear Melissa,
      This is just what we are talking about, you now have learned to make zoodles! I think they are great. Also if you slice zucchini thinly longways you have lasagna noodles. This is what Im doing for lasagna. Also thin sliced sweet potato or eggplant can be in place of lasagna noodles or even a layer of each.
      Thank you so much for your kind words. I think half the blog comes from what you all share and the way everyone helps! With love

  13. Dear Annabel,
    Thank you for another lovely, encouraging post. Having a teachable heart, along with persistence is so important to growth! I'll be thinking about what I have been learning and working on and what I can do to improve or add something new.
    Love from Arizona,

    1. Dear Elaine, Thank you!This will make the new year exciting as we have some good teachers here and a lot of skills to learn! With love

  14. Annabel this post speaks to my heart. I love learning and am keen to try new things. I believe in life long learning and plan on still being ready to learn right up till the end.
    This year has been amazing in the skills I have learnt for developing the home front. Thank you for your comments on my sourdough making. If you had not taken the time to send me the dry starter and tutorials, I would probably still be reading about the process but not actually doing it.
    I had planned on getting into making home mixes but life kept intervening. This skill is on hold for when everything settles down once more.
    Like you I want to learn more about natural healing methods and processes. I would like to understand more of what to look for when someone is unwell and intercede prior to them becoming very unwell. Yes I'm thinking of my Blue man here. Turns out he had blood sepsis as well as the double pneumonia.
    There is always more to learn and this makes everyday that little bit exciting. Life is definitely on the improve.

    1. Oh Jane I am so glad you have a positive outlook.

      Poor Bluey pneumonia and sepsis what a bad combination:( . We both had pneumonia here this year and it floored us too, whatever strand it is it is pretty nasty everywhere. I remember standing at the end of the bed as I felt dizzy and then DH's face over the top of me asking me if I was okay. I passed out and hit the floor from a standing position and at the same time frightened the life out of DH as he was asleep and heard me hit the floor.

      Hoping he improves steadily over time and he will feel rather weak for up to a month or more after the pneumonia too.

      Sewingcreations15 xo.

    2. I am trained in applied kinesiology along with some knowledge of herbs and such. We rely heavily on essential oils for our health here. For anyone in the USA and I do not know if they ship overseas but, Lung Support from is extremely valuable for any lung infection or even bad coughs. It can be diffused or even just dropped on a cotton ball and kept near the patient. I used a lot of this for my husband after he woke up from the coma in January. His lungs were quite sick from being on the respirator for 10 days.

      I am so glad to hear the Bluey is on the mend.

    3. Dear Jane, I noticed a lot of things you did and you went ahead in leaps and bounds with the sour dough which was fantastic.
      I think its good you know the cause of what happened with Bluey. I always feel more comfortable with an explanation and a diagnosis and then you can focus on him getting better. You will get to everything else some time down the track! With lots of love

  15. Dear Annabel and Blue Bird friends, this post reminded me of something that happened when I was in my second year of secondary school - this was when we did cookery.

    One particular week we were split into two groups and learnt how to make a sponge, the next week the other group made one.

    Eggs were expensive then so that was why we were split into two groups.

    So I got to make my sponge the first week,turned out perfectly and I got a really good mark. The next week the other person was to make her sponge but she had been away the week before and insisted that I make her sponge - I told her that she should but no she walked away and left me to it.

    Of course the sponge failed - big time.

    I believed that it had caught onto the angst that was in me while making it.

    I have used that sponge recipe every time I have made a sponge since then and never had a failure, ever.

    My plans for this year got set aside while I have worked on my health issues. This has been my learning for the year.

    I hope to learn the things that I wanted to learn this year, next year but, just one will do.



    1. Dear Lynette, I like the "sponge justice" haha!
      I think what you have done, focusing on learning the way forward with your health, has been time very well spent. A change is a big adjustment. We have to adjust not just our diet but our thinking and routine and habits!
      However it is worth it. And it takes a lot of experimentation plus getting used to. I think all a good investment.... and this takes a big willingness to learn and do things differently. I think you have come along way in the year as I remember a fair bit about the journey. Well done on tackling things head on as you have. Also for helping me so much. With love

  16. Annabel,

    It is so true what you say: You have to want to learn in order for the info to stick! (Definitely the difference between learning new things being drudgery vs. being fun!)

    I love all the photos from Friday of the roses!!!

    I find it very interesting what your Doctor said. I think this applies to many things...sometimes habit, even if you know it is hurting you, seems to have a stronger pull than anything new! (Think relationships, jobs, where you live, etc..)

    I have a lot of thinking to do, about what I might like to learn this coming year!

    Lots of love,

    Jen in NS

    1. Dear Jen,
      It is funny but if we move to the farm I would like a goat so then I will need your help on miking goats and what to make with all the milk! I really have always liked goats.
      Habits are very hard to change. As you say this applies to all kinds of things not just food. I am convinced a lot of things are addictive and behaviours probably are too. So radical change is hard but can be done. I look forward to what we can learn in the new year too! Lots I hope! With love

  17. Your doctor is absolutely right about people changing their diets! On my food allergy journey I had to eliminate a food and feel better and then try it one more time and myself horribly sick before I would believe it.

    I want to learn to crochet better. I can do it but I make things so terribly crooked and lopsided that they are quite funny. That has worked for dishcloths but nothing else. My husband is working on improving his wood working skills and we hope to make grandchild gifts soon.

    I covet everyone's prayer s for my husband's disabilty to be approved. His termination date for his job is just weeks away and he cannot return to work due to his brain injury. We will receive a check in November but have not been approved past that.

    1. Dear Lana,
      Oh yes I hope your husbands claim is approved. With a brain injury you certainly would think and hope so. But it will no doubt be a big relief to you knowing it is approved. I will pray on that.
      I wonder if your crochet issue is because you accidentally increase or decrease each row. You can take a photo if you want but I bet thats it. This is easy to fix when you see it. Don't give up! Otherwise... try Granny squares rather than rows.... this can be easier to keep square. Hope this helps! With love

    2. I do drop stitches. I need to have my daughter in law help me figure out why while she is here for Thanksgiving next week.

  18. It's funny what you can give up when necessary. I always said I couldn't give up Pepsi but when I was diagnosed as a diabetic, that was the first thing to go. Now if I take even a sip, it is so syrupy sweet that I find it awful. As an aside, I've had many doctors and nutritionists through the years and the one "food" they all agree we should avoid is high fructose corn syrup. Which, at least in the States, is in so many processed foods and very high amounts in soft drinks.

    1. Dear Brenda, Giving up soda is a great leap ahead for health. So many things I think have an addictive factor. Really strong!
      I think we have the corn syrup in stuff too. I don't buy packaged things and we don't have take out so I think I avoid it. But these things are hidden in unexpected places too! Many of these things are only used in the first place because they are cheap! Too bad about our health! Brenda I think you are a type 2 diabetic? I am seeing a lot of people trying grain free with this with good results. Andy is type 2. He is fine with no bread, no fruits except berries, high protein. If he follows the diabetic nurses advice his readings go off the chart. They tell him to eat all these carbs. Now he does much better eating protein and very low carb. So the improvement has been really good! I hope this helps... with love

  19. Dear Annabel and Bluebirds,

    This post just speaks to my heart and soul. Some of the sage advice from my Nana that is always with me are to "always remain reachable and teachable" and to "stay green and growing".

    This year seems to have passed so quickly. I learned so much from all of the Bluebirds and with your encouragement ,Annabel, I learned how to crochet. Not ever being a techie, so to speak, I learned how to take pictures using the camera function in my computer. To me that was huge. My pantry looks even better than ever and might even be overstocked, if there's such a thing, and this was due to applying techniques I learned here with saving more money in the process. For my pantry I learned that frozen food could be dehydrated which made more room in the freezer.

    I've also had a radical diet change and learned so much about inflammation and autoimmune diseases.

    I'm looking forward to the coming year and all of the good surprises and inspiration for learning that it will bring. Blessings, Cookie

    1. Dear Cookie, It sounds like you had a good Nana!
      You did well on the crochet and the photos! I forgot about tech type things... I have had to learn so many things even to start this blog as I was CLUELESS! But one thing at a time we can learn!
      A week stocked pantry is wonderful. The dehydrating is a massive space saver which is why it is tempting me so much... plus if the power goes out it is fine.
      You have been the hugest help to me with the inflammation, pain and diet. Also you have helped me with recipes I can use thank you so much! This is a case of how having the blog has helped me learn a heap, meeting people like you.
      This was a lot for one year! Not bad! With love

  20. Great post, Annabel! I can hardly believe this year is already coming to an end!

    I have learned so much from reading your blog and studying up on Laine's old posts. Learning to stock up on supplies and ready to bake meals in the kitchen has been the biggest victory for me! For years now I've had a big deep freezer sitting in the garage. All it was holding was a month's worth of meat and not much else. Now it is overflowing with meats that we've stocked up on at a good price, cooked beans, cooked rice, spaghetti sauce, meatballs, Laine's enchilada sauce, trays of enchiladas, soups, pizza dough, ect! This has been so helpful for me as my husband and I both work outside the home and have two small children. There have been so many nights where we would have went and gotten takeout or ordered a pizza because there's just no time to cook. And I'm finding myself more and more dissatisfied by restaurant food since we've been cooking so well at home! I always think we could have made this so much better for a fraction of the cost! And I've learned to really pay attention for the good deals and shop around at different stores, which is saving us a ton! Our grocery bill has been cut more than in half.

    More than just the kitchen savings, I've learned to be content with what we have and stop trying to feel like I need to keep up with the world around me. God has me right where I am for a reason and He's blessed us with so much more than we could ever deserve! I am enjoying making our home a calm and relaxing place and not feeling like we need to run around like crazy people with activities and social engagements all the time. It's been so much more peaceful.

    We also made some progress with out disaster preparedness. That is one area that I'd like to keep improving on next year. I'd really like to purchase a generator and also stock up on more drinking water as well as come up with a plan with extended family about what we'd do in case of an emergency and not being able to reach each other.

    So much more to learn and I am gaining so much wisdom by this blog and all of its contributors. Thank you all so much!

    1. Dear Tarin,
      Well done on such great progress! Having meals ready to go is a wonderful thing. I am so glad you are reading Laines Letters. I still learn so much for them. I always felt they energised me into action!
      Your attitude is just lovely. You are right. We need to ignore a lot of the ridiculous stuff around us. Somewhere there is a talk that was by Elizabeth Elliot called The Whip of Hurry. Well I think that is what it was called. It was about how too many activities are awful and stressful fro children and how a peaceful atmosphere at home, meals together etc is much more important. I always remembered that.
      Preparedness is something I have found that if I do something weekly or add something weekly it gets me a long way. In fact Im amazed! So small chunks!
      Thank you for your kind words! Sorry for slow reply. We had a family member in hospital and a few other things... with love


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