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.

Thursday 21 December 2017

Feather your Nest Friday, 22nd December 2017.

It has been a busy week so far and I would imagine this is the same for everyone!   It has been a bit of this and a bit of that! 

Some of the things I did this week to save money and build up our home were:

I made my Coconut Ice for my neighbour and a few other gifts.

It made twenty packs and my rose buds went on top.

I picked tomatoes every day and used them in salads most nights.

I had eggs to use up plus lemons that urgently needed using so I made a batch of lemon butter and froze most of it.

Since little cakes are such a hit with Harper I made her chocolate cakes and took them around.  Most went into the freezer for treats for her.

Also I want to keep my sour dough starter healthy so I make something once a week.  This week I made a tray of vegemite and cheese scrolls.  Most of these will go to Luke for on the tractor.  Andy had a couple so he won't die of the no grain diet.  😊

The first part of the week was hot and we went swimming in the evenings.  This helps me sleep really well and my fitness is getting better!

We have yellow Lillies in the garden now that the pink ones have finished.

I decorate for Christmas really simply.   We have white fairy lights over the front gate and arbour.   My front garden angel has a halo...

We have a little Christmas tree and presents underneath.  I have almost finished wrapping! 

Yesterday we gave Harper her present as it is too big to take to the farm and back.  This was the biggest present of all!  I thought Scarlet will also love it when she is a bit bigger and hopefully it will provide years of entertainment.  
We got her a little kitchen.  I ordered it online and it came in ten thousand small pieces!  Andy spent a whole day putting it together! 

I cut up a pink kitchen sponge into little child sized sponges.  She has water in the sink and most of all liked wetting the sponges and wringing them out and wiping everything down.  Plus washing dishes.   It is a massive hit!   I am making kitchen towels and pot holders for it now.   Her Aunty Chloe is giving her a set of pink enable cookware to go with it!  So cute! 

Today is a gorgeous day.  I am trying to make the most of it.  I have all kinds of things to get done... washing, tidying up, wrapping.
Tomorrow I have things to make like Nan's Tomato Bake that I make every year to go with roast meats on Christmas Day.

I will post again probably next Friday. 
Have a wonderful Christmas.  Have a beautiful time with your family.  Do little things to make it magical.

The days after Christmas are my favourite days of the whole year.  A time to collapse.  A time to think over the year that has just been.  I make a list of everything to be grateful for and all we achieved.  Usually I am surprised by this as it is easy to forget all we did!  
Then I start working on my hopes and plans for the new year and the things I want to change or start working on.  I find the opportunity to start again so exciting!  
Usually I change the blog too. I haven't decided what next year will be like!  

Also I total up The Vicky Challenge.  I think it will be good but perhaps not as much as last year as the painting of the house was such a massive saver in 2017.  But it will still be satisfying to know how much I saved! 

Thank you all so much for your friendship and support and all the ways you have helped with comments, photos, recipes, tips, kindness and love.  It has been so wonderful and beyond anything I could have ever imagined! 


  1. Dear Annabel,

    What a cute present for Harper! I remember when we gave our kids just such a present and spent all Christmas Day drinking pretend cups of coffee! :)

    Your coconut ice is beautiful and so is your front garden angel.

    I wish you and your family the very merriest of Christmases and a lovely few days afterward!

    Lots of love,

    Jen in NS

    1. Thanks Jen! I remember my girls also did pretend ups of tea and pretend biscuits etc. My Dad used to pretend to eat the play doh biscuits and the girls always looked shocked! haha!
      Very Happy Christmas and new Year to all your family!xxx

  2. Annabel thank you for the time and effort you have put into your blog as I am sure it has been an inspiration and encouragement to many readers. I love the little kitchen. Absolutely gorgeous as are your granddaughters. Have a blessed Christmas and I look forward to seeing what decision you make next year about going back to the farm and whether it is still calling you :-)

    1. Dear Nanna Chel,
      Thank you! I hope you have a beautiful Christmas with your family!
      I am excited for next year too, to see what it holds! With much love

  3. Very Merry Christmas to you. I do enjoy reading your blog and marvel at all the savings you make throughout the year.Looking forward to 2018 and what it brings
    Barbara Jackson

    1. Dear Barbara,
      Thank you! There are so many things we can do to make life a little and a lot better! And to save etc. I look forward to 2018 too!
      Have a very happy Christmas! With love

  4. Dear Annabel,
    Thank you for all of the time, effort, and love you put into doing three posts a week. You are very appreciated.
    Harper's kitchen is beyond cute. She looks very busy in the photo😃.
    Have a safe trip to the farm.
    Love and hugs,

    1. Dear Glenda,
      Thank you for your help all year! Wishing you a beautiful Christmas and a very good 2108! With lots of love,

  5. It's just a wonderful time of year. All your decorating and work looks beautiful. Merry Christmas!

    1. Merry Christmas Vickie! Thank you for all your support! Have a really wonderful Christmas! xxx

  6. Merry Christmas Annabel and everyone,
    It is so lovely to be able to read what you are up to and see your pictures each week, and this community is so generous.

    Harper looks so tall in that photo! I love that she enjoys cleaning, how cute.

    I hope the next week is relaxing and enjoyable for everyone,

    Jen in NZ

    1. Dear Jen,
      Have a beautiful Christmas with your family! Enjoy every minute! Thank you for all your support all year!
      Harper is getting quite tall! I am so excited for Christmas because of her! With lots of love,

  7. Dear Annabel, wishing you and the family a magical Christmas. Love Harpers stove!

    To all the lovely ladies that post on here and have become very close to Annabel and co, I wish you all a safe and magical Christmas too.


    1. Dear Fiona,
      Thank you so much! You have a wonderful Christmas too! I hope 2018 is a fantastic year for you. With much love,

  8. Annabel thank you for all you do to make this such a loving, inspiring and yes, magical corner of the internet.

    I feel as you do about the week between Christmas and New Years. A time to evaluate and take stock of 2017. A time to 'collapse' with a good book, a comfy throw and a cup of tea (we currently have 12" of snow on the ground). And a time to plan and gear up for the next year.

    Many blessings to you and yours.

    1. Dear Cheri,
      Those days after Christmas are the best! I enjoy them so much. They are my thinking days!
      Have a wonderful Christmas! It is Christmas Eve here now. I am quite excited! With lots of love,

  9. Dear Annabel, I LOVE Harper's kitchen. That is what my granddaughter is getting for Christmas this year also! I know she will love it and can't wait to play with her!

    I'm finished wrapping and grocery shopping!!! My daughter and son in law that live about an hour away are here and we are ready to just enjoy this Christmas time together. We are going to bake, scrapbook and watch our favorite team play football! I do have one surprise for my husband--I paid off our house today. I'm going to wrap the statement up and give it to him Christmas morning!!!! He knew we weren't far from having it paid off, but through all my frugal doings I was able to pay it off early! I hope he's surprised!!!

    Thank you again for all you do and share with us! I've learned so much and continue to learn daily! Merry Christmas to you and your family and all of you lovely Bluebirds!
    Hugs, Holley

    1. Dear Holley, merry Christmas, what a wonderful Christmas gift for your husband. Well done, that is so excellent . He will live his Christnas surprise. I live hearing stories like this and it inspires me to be more frugal than I am. I hope you and your family have a very merry Christmas and a happy and healthy2018 . Barb W.

    2. WOOHOO! What a fantastic gift to give your husband! Congratulations!

    3. Dear Holley,
      Well done and this is going to be so exciting! I love your idea and hope your husband is thrilled. I am sure he will be... it is a huge achievement and has to be a weight off his shoulders... you both should be so proud! I love having things to celebrate!
      I am sure the kitchen will be a big success too!
      Thank you so much for all your support. I hope you have a wonderful time with the family and beautiful Christmas! With love

    4. Holley you are a very clever cookie. Well done on such a huge achievement.

    5. That is a fantastic achievement Holley, well done

    6. Wonderful gift surprise for your husband Holley , well done !love Maria x

  10. Dear Annabel, I hope that you have a wonderful and safe Christmas. Enjoy your time at the farm. Give yourself some time to recharge as well.
    To all the lovely Bluebirds I wish you and yours a safe and happy Christmas.
    Much love Jane

    1. Dear Jane, Thank you! And the same to you! Thank you for so much help and support in every way all year!
      I think after Christmas we will all need a chance to rest and re charge! It has been a big year. You have had a whopper of a year to deal with. I think you also will be thinking bring on 2018! With much love

    2. Jane you and Bluey had so much to cope with this year, I wish for you both a happy, Healthy and wonderful 2018 x

  11. Happiest of Christmases to you, Annabel, and the rest of you lovely bluebirds! Your food and gifts look scrumptious! I just finished the final quilt for a Christmas customer so now I have made a list of mega-cooking to start in the morning as well as Christmas cookies and treats to make for our 11 children's family baskets!
    Our daughter from out of state will be arriving w/husband and 4 kids tomorrow afternoon so I will be busy getting ready for them!
    On Sunday, we will all go to our granddaughter's church @ 5 pm to see her ( and her husband) sing and play guitars and afterwards we will all go over to her mom's (my daughter)house for gift exchange and dinner. So I need to get food ready for that too! Just 41 of us will be there-the other 3 out of state families won't be able to Jon us this Christmas.
    And, because I'm not busy enough, a friend wanted me to know that extra large pineapples are on sale for 99 cents each! So now, I need to check my pineapple inventory on my shelves and determine if i need to get some more to can up!!
    2 of our daughters and their families (11 in all) will be staying with us for over a week! We may still start work on the third floor bathroom remodel while they are here!
    Sounds like a relaxing holiday, right? ������

    1. Dear Gardenpat,
      Thank you for all your Friday reports I LOVE reading them! You have given me a lot of inspiration for alternative income streams too. I am thinking a lot on this.
      Have a wonderful Christmas with your family! Your plans sound like so much fun!
      And I know you will do something with those pineapples!
      Thank you for all your support and friendship! With lots of love

  12. Hello Annabel and beautiful bluebirds and hoping everyone has a wonderful Christmas and New Year as well. I would also like to thank you Annabel for all the time, effort and love you put into this blog it is really a lovely place for all of us to meet and compare notes wherever we live :) .

    What a beautiful kitchen you gave Harper it is truly adorable Annabel and will offer hours of entertainment I am sure.

    Annabel or fellow bluebirds can you tell me as I am making the vanilla extract today as to whether you use half the amount they say in recipes as I have read on the internet as it is so much more concentrated than the usual vanilla extract we buy here which is diluted with water and glucose or inert syrup ? .

    Our Vicky challenge last week added up to - $155.62 in savings.

    Here is how we feathered our nest and saved money -

    Purchases -
    - Found a chemist in town that was far cheaper for buying paracetamol and purchased 4 x 100 pkts saving $4.40. We use a lot of Panadol here due to DH's military accident injuries.
    - As our popcorn maker finally died after 12 years I price checked online and managed to purchase 1 from Target for $15 saving $15 over purchasing it elsewhere in town.
    - Purchased a 5pk of cotton underwear from Target on special saving $5 over usual prices.

    In the kitchen -
    - Made a large lemon cheesecake with tinned passionfruit on top with Philadelphia cream cheese purchased on 50% off special and free lemons I got from a trade saving $79.78 over buying the equivalent in the cheesecake shop.
    - Harvested remaining spring onions from the gardens, washed, chopped and froze 1kg of spring onions saving about $2.50 over purchasing onions and did the same with harvesting, washing, blanching and freezing silverbeet from the gardens saving around $4.50 over purchasing.
    - Just about to make our own 400mls of pure vanilla extract with traded vanilla beans (thank you Annabel) and vodka we purchased saving $44.44 over purchasing the same amount in the supermarket.

    Water preservation -
    - Used dish rinsing water to water some vegetables in the gardens and used saved grey water from our showers and washing machine to hand water the house lawns all week without using any town water.

    Electricity savings -
    - Used our solar lanterns all week to light the home at night and only turned on the hot water system on once as it remained hot all week as we hardly used any hot water for showers due to the oppressive heat here.


    1. Dear Sewingcreations, I am sorry my reply is too slow! I make the vanilla full strength however I do find there is still life in the pods afterwards to make more possibly or something else like vanilla sugar. I like to keep it going a good few months too. It becomes rich and dark.
      I have found the same with painkillers and medicines that the difference in price is huge. Bulk packs of somethings are so much cheaper you are getting half of them for free basically! Depending on location and what stores are available it could be worth checking online discount chemists... factoring in postage of course. And your price is already good!
      The lemon cheesecake sounds beautiful!
      I am sorry its so hot there! I hope you have had some relief!
      Have a wonderful Christmas. You have achieved so much towards your goals this year! I have loved your Friday reports they are so motivating and good to read. Thank you so much! With lots of love

    2. Thank you Annabel for your continued encouragement.

      I found out from some friends that they use the same amount of homemade vanilla extract as the recipe says to put in. Some on the internet recommended using half the amount but I have found out differently :) .

      Funny you should mention vanilla sugar as that is also what I plan to use the spent beans for when they are done. Also found out when you decant some off you can top it up with more vodka until it turns a light colour as well so the vanilla beans just keep on giving :) .

      I found a wonderful online chemist here in Australia found at where we buy a lot of our pharmaceuticals and natural arnica cream items cheaper than the local pharmacies so we tend to put in a bulk order there once a year.

      As a side note we also saved over our estimated highest we hope we can reach at a push target for our saving for our home this year thanks to both yourself and definitely some divine help from God.


  13. Just love your blog, thanks so much for the pleasure it gives me. Wishing you and yours a very Blessed Christmas and 2018, regards Robyne, S.A

    1. Dear Robyne, Thank you so much! I am so glad to have you here! Have a wonderful Christmas! With love

  14. Holley how wonderful. Well done. Fi

  15. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year Annabel,
    I wanted to say thank you for your blog! I read every week and really enjoy your writings and photos. I have learned a lot and even more importantly, find reassurance that there are others who enjoy life in a frugal happy way. Thanks again,

    1. Dear Hillogene,
      Merry Christmas to you too! I hope you have a beautiful Christmas with your family.
      Thank you for your kind words and encouragement to me! With lots of love,

  16. Greetings Annabel,
    Just to let you know how very much I enjoy your blog - always so positive and uplifting! Something needed in this old world of ours.I read here regularly, but almost never comment. However, I feel as if I sort of know you and the other Bluebirds, and look forward to what you have for us in 2018.
    May God bless you and your family with a very Merry Christmas!

    1. Dear Marie, Thank you so much and thank you for commenting. I agree with you about the world. Around here even I am noticing this and thinking how much more the home is our sanctuary is true and working on this as a theme maybe for next year.
      Have a wonderful Christmas and New Year, with love and thanks,

  17. Andy is your hero for putting together the kitchen! And what a precious picture of Harper. We gave money to our daughter to buy a kitchen for the grandchildren in Germany and our son in law will be putting it together on Christmas Eve. It is from Ikea so I am sure it is ten thousand pieces as well. Our poor son in law has assembled an entire apartment full of Ikea furniture in the last month.

    Our victory this year is learning to live well on half our previous income this year. I have to say that we have not been in want of a thing and have had everything we have needed and then some. God is good!

    Merry Christmas all!

    1. Dear Lana, I know so many who have had a difficult year. You year is one of them but you have remained so positive and I am really thrilled that your husband has come so far and you are doing so well.
      The little IKEA kitchen will be adorable! It is a great gift as it will go on for ages with so much fun. I know they will just love it!
      I hope via Skype or something similar you can see and share Christmas with your daughter and Grandchildren.
      Now lets hop and pray 2018 is a bit easier! Thank you so much for all your support and kindness! With lots of love,

    2. Thank you so much for your kind words. This place is always one of encouragement for me and all who are family here. It is because of you and your kind heart!

      We will see the grandchildren on Skype on Christmas. It is heart warming to see them get so excited when they see our faces there. But our God who knew how hard it would be have given us some children who are in foster care at a friends home. Those little children love us so much and get so excited when we visit that I am sure it was God. It is healing for our hearts to have them on our lives when our grandchildren are so far away.

      Much love to you and yours! It will be fun to see what is in store for next year! Enjoy the farm!

  18. Thank you so much for the wonderful community you have created. Merry Christmas everyone!

    1. Thank you Sarah! Merry Christmas to you too! thank you for commenting! xxx

  19. Dear Annabel and fellow Bluebirds. Many thanks Annabel for your lovely blog we are never too old to learn new tricks, and if we all learn something new everyday, we are travelling along very well.
    Like a lot of others we have had illness through the year and I also had major surgery at the beginning, we are both well now, and getting a lot of things done.
    We are putting an ensuite in our bedroom and DH has got the builtin wardrobe finished except for the drawers and doors, but this is going to take some time, we are hoping to get the floors done, and the ensuite finished and move back in.
    We have an addition to our animal family, one of our Dexter cows had a lovely lively little heifer (girl) on Wednesday, and she is providing us with a lot of entertainment.
    The vegetable garden is growing fantastically well, we have just go to keep watering and sowing and planting.
    We butchered 8 young roosters and they have now been cut up and frozen in foodsaver/vacuumpack and will provide lots of meals for us later in the year.
    Annabel to you and your family and to our wonderful Bluebirds and their families I wish you all a wonderful, Holy Christmas and a Happy , Healthy, and Wonderful 2018'
    Much love Lorraine

    1. Dear Lorraine,
      Thank you so much! You also have had a lot this year! And renovating! What a combination! Well I know what thats like. You have done really well! And a calf at Christmas is beautiful!
      I hope you have a wonderful Christmas too and that 2018 is much easier! Enjoy a break over Christmas is you can. Thank you so much for your support! With lots of love,

    2. Dear Annabel thank you for your lovely reply, yes our health is a lot better, and DH is enjoying doing the renovations, he loves working with his hands and building and making things for us and also for our children and grandchildren

  20. @chookasmum so sorry to hear you and your DH have been sick but glad you hear you are both better now :). How wonderful a new heifer and your gardens and renovations are going well.

    Have a wonderfully holy Christmas and fantastic 2018 too.


    1. Thanks Sewingcreations15, we are both fine and enjoying our life, I also wish you and your
      dh a Happy Holy Christmas and w Happy, healthy and wonderful 2018 xx

  21. Dear Annabel,
    Thank you for all you do! I am soooo blessed to have found this little bit of heaven. It is like a refreshing drink of water in this world. Thank You for letting your light shine. I am truley grateful for the army of prayer warriors. This year has been busy,good busy. It is wonderful to be ready for Christmas and birthdays in advanced so if something comes up we have gifts and a full pantry. Harper and her kitchen are the cutest. We have learned to shop far and wide and learned price points.It is just habit to shop at discount stores now. This is so helpful. We had done our last shop of the year however Kristi was close to a discount store last night so she ran in and got some great bargains.Buying at rock bottom most of the time. We have learned to be handy women by watching You tube. We have cut out part of the mold. learned to fix plumbing and so much more.I am grateful for the encouragement to just try.I believe you said have a teachable spirit. I am looking forward to the new year and what adventures it will bring. Merry Christmas everyone! May God bless and keep you and yours.
    Much Love,

    1. Dear Patti,
      Thank you for your very kind words! Thank you for being an important part of the Bluebirds army!
      I am glad things went pretty well for you this year. I know the house want perfect but it still seems to have been a big help to get away from the smoke etc you had at the other house.
      To have a full pantry and be ahead in many ways is awesome! And a great way to start the year as just think how you might be able to increase that with the new year!
      All the thing you have learned are fantastic! All a big help! You do have a treatable heart! It can be so surprising what we can learn or get help on.
      I hope you have had a beautiful Christmas! We did, I am in recovery mode now lol!
      With lots of love and thanks,

  22. Dear Annabel ,I missed seeing this post , and just read all the replies. That is a fine kitchen for miss Harper and sister,what a cute photo and cutting up small size sponges , what a good idea and yet so simple yet we often miss the simple ideas in the busyness of life. have a much smaller kitchen and med centre that our grandchildren play with, when they visit here .And a playmat carpet piece with cars and little toys on it and a few bigger ones they can take outside if its fine .
    This week I made a bulk batch of biscuit dough for the freezer and have used two lots. Put outside cushions on the garden chairs and tidied up the flower pots here and there in our 'secret garden' as our daughter calls it.
    With the help of hubby we cleaned the foyer blinds and window and front door reverse and glass panels and most of the walls. Which were in not as good a state as Id thought , and with all the furniture and curtains (acting as draught stoppers)not allowing airflow in the cold winter we had and the last poor summer so Ive taken the heavier curtains down , that were there .Then we came upstairs and one idea led to the next.We have 11 blinds I just dread cleaning and procrastinate about and after we'd cleaned teh foyer blinds blade by blade hubby figured out how to get the back door blinds off(the worst affected by damp )and I was able to soak and clean them in the bath . That led me to cleanign all the rest of the blinds in an easier way as they were not as dirty but still not good. Cleaned the 11 panes of glass and then took all the curtains there down as well. Originally I added floor length curtains in addition to the blinds as our youngest used that area for gaming (yep I have produced gamers lol) and it got very cold in winter and hot in summer , but now they have served their purpose , I am deciding whether to leave windows minus curtains or not. I did but shorter lighter weight curtains 60pc off but I may end up returning them. I will see what the family say when they all come here Boxing Day.
    It is so nice to see that area brighter and lighter and cleaner , feel like a weight is lifted off my shoulders haha.
    We had our first Christmas meal tonight and had my brother and his partner come for dinner and gift exchange And our daughter and her new partner joined us later for wine and coffee and nibbles. It's been a year of many changes ups and downs and we are all looking forward to a bright new year in 2018.
    Thankyou once again Annabel for you generosity of spirit and kindness sharing here with like minded souls,and also to the many Bluebirds sharing their work and ideas and support, this is a lovely place to visit.
    Merry Christmas everyone , have a beautiful Christmas whatever day you celebrate , with love Maria xxx

    1. Dear Maria,
      Those little sponges are such a hit. The joy of throwing the sponge in water and seeing it swell up and wringing it out! I will make more! She goes around wiping everything down... cost hardly anything!
      We had blinds on all our big windows out the back which is a lot of blinds and the fabric they were made of could just not be cleaned. I tried everything. They came with the house. So to me they always looked grubby. No one can see into the back yard and also the sun doesnt hit the windows except for in winter. So eventually I took them all down. Well I was amazed how much better the whole room looked without them. But as I say... it isn't a privacy issue there or a sun issue. In the bedroom I have blinds as we need privacy plus darkness. Clean windows also improve everything! I need to do mine at this point!
      Yes it has been a big year! A lot to go through actually. And here we are. It sounds like your Christmas is lovely!
      Thank you so much for all your friendship and comments and photos too!
      I hope you get a bit of a rest now before the New Year. This is my thinking and considering time that I really enjoy. At this point though I am tired! And today is hot too! We might have a swim tonight.
      With much love and thanks,


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